You were conceived on November 11, 2012. I first found out you were really here on January 1st, with the help of 5 pregnancy tests your father got me. I had my suspicions, (he did too) but the winter holidays always puts a few pounds on me, and well, I've always been moody. When you came into our lives we had no idea just how you would change things.
On January 31th Daddy, Pookie and I saw you for the first time moving all around, "Party in the womb," as I called it. I could tell you were excited, ready to show Mommy all of your new tricks. You were very much alive, so full of life.
Every day was a new adventure, every momentous milestone celebrated from the mundane to the extraordinary. And every day passed so slow until the next time I could hear your precious heart beat and see you again.
On April 11th I finally got to see you again! You were so big! For a second I closed my eyes and you shared a secret with your daddy - we were having a little boy!
But then we discovered that something was seriously wrong, mommy couldn't hold you in much longer. You were so excited. We were all excited. My body couldn't handle the excitement. So we were taken to a bed where we could lay down and try to keep you in my tummy a little longer.
On April 12th daddy told me your secret and we officially gave you your name Braden Ray Leach, even though I had secretly known all along that's what we would call you. We missed our gender reveal party. We had to stay in bed. My body was weak. But you were strong. You were healthy. I got to hear your heartbeat every day.
Your daddy was right beside us the whole time. Your grandparents came and visited and helped take care of us, your aunts and uncles came, your cousins, friends and pastors. We had a lot of people praying for us, praying for you, praying for mommy's body to stay strong for you.
On April 15 you had reached 21 weeks. Mommy and daddy woke up really early and we got to spend time together as a family, just us 3, and Teddy the little bear your daddy got you. It was 4:00 in the morning, we wondered why we both were wide awake so early. But by 10:00 we knew. This was the day you would arrive. At 21 weeks. Your little body wasn't ready. We knew it, you knew it, everyone knew it. And then, just before we were going to meet you we found you with no heartbeat. My little monkey, my little show off, he wasn't moving anymore.
I never got to hear your little cry, or look into your beautiful eyes, or felt your tiny hand grip mine. We got to see you, but you never go to see us.
And so today, for your birthday, your daddy and I are sending up a single balloon to the heavens. Something we promise to do every year for your birthday.