My first journal entry in my “Mom’s One Line A Day” book, which has space for every day of baby’s first five years. I didn’t write much before Sacha was born, because I was afraid to project onto him and I wasn’t sure how to avoid doing that.

He was about 32 weeks along, and a coworker whose pregnancy began after mine had already given birth to her baby prematurely. Her tiny baby was safe & sound in the outside world, but smaller and younger than the boy growing in my body. That was (and still is) such a strange and complicated thought to wrestle with. It led me to think of Sacha more fully as a complete and separate person.

I was incredibly thankful that he had not been born prematurely and that I was still pregnant. Sacha would be born in the Year of the Horse instead of the Year of the Snake. I felt so lucky to be able to give him extra time to grow and develop — and to continue hanging out together 24/7, because I hadn’t quite sorted out what was going to happen next (as someone who “knew too much” even before Sacha’s death, I didn’t allow myself to start planning for him – or celebrating him – until beyond 24 weeks, because I feared that assuming he would survive before then was terrible luck). I was jealous of my sisters-in-law in Peru who mother as a matter of course, bringing their babies and toddlers to work with them each day. They’ve never even heard of things like breast-pumps or nanny-cams. Meanwhile, I was facing a limited maternity leave, and struggling enormously with complicated logistics and a tight budget.

My 2014 resolution for my little family-in-one was to banish avoidance. I was the mom (and I was also the dad), and I had to be realistic and practical. I would be very brave and very calm, and face what I needed to do. And I would take advantage of all our moments together, attempting to nurture the 32-week-old in my uterus just as I would if he had been born prematurely. To make sure that we started off on the right foot. He would come into the world already sensing that he was fiercely loved and protected.

We meditated, took long showers and long walks (even though it was winter, it was easy to keep him bundled up). We read The Grapes of Wrath and The Goldfinch. We read and re-read Our Babies, Ourselves. We learned about bilingual parenting (OPOL was not an option since we only had OP, so ML@H was the method for us). We apartment hunted and found a good place for a baby to grow up. We learned about daycare, and worried about daycare, and found a good-enough daycare. We played with the dog and made sure to really laugh at least once every single day. We avoided the flu and got all our shots on time. We stretched with pressure-point balls and we meditated some more. At least twice a day, at least 20 minutes at a time.

He was not (we were not) sick yet. I have an ultrasound print-out from January 7, and his little head was just perfect, with his tiny nose and pouty lips, and his forehead sloping back just like any other baby forehead. We did not start getting sick until the very end of the month.

I was with him last year – but also not. I could feel him kicking, but I could not see his expressions. I knew when he was asleep and when he was awake, but I couldn’t be sure what memories he was forming. I knew how he was positioned, but I didn’t know how he felt (“If I feel calm and safe, he feels calm and safe too”, I hoped – and I sought out epigenetic research to back up that hope).

This year, I’m again with him – but also not. My heartache reminds me of how much I love him, how well we were bonded, how determined I was to learn from him and give him the mothering that he needed. I can still feel him. But I still can’t see his expressions, still can’t know how he feels.