You're a big sister!
I can't even believe what I'm typing. Honestly, I had prepared myself for every single scenario...except for the one that happened.
Your little brother's name is Dominic Joseph. He was born on May 27th at exactly 12:30 pm. Six pounds and one ounce of tiny, adorable, squishy-ness. And he looks like you too.
I could tell you about the anxiety, about all the normal things that happened the night before while we waited for the call. How we ordered pizza for dinner. How I addressed your brother's birthday party invitations. Put a load of whites in the dryer. Fed the dog.
I could explain how in nine months, I never once pictured holding a baby in my arms. Driving to the hospital I wasn't convinced.
Your father fell asleep that night, but I couldn't. I grabbed the Doppler from the nightstand and I headed for the couch, listened to his heartbeat for ninety minutes straight and I thought of something your brother said to me several months back. He had entered my room and asked to hear the baby, so we listened together. As he waited for me to turn it off he asked what I was listening for. "Mommy, are you waiting for it to stop?"
At some point I fell asleep, waking with a jolt at 12:41 am and noting the missed call from the hospital. It was our turn. It was time.
As we pulled into the parking space I pulled it out one last time. I always listened for his heartbeat in the parking lots, before every doctor's appointment, every NST, every scan, every labor and delivery visit. Once a very busy nurse practitioner couldn't get to me fast enough. She entered the room while I was mid-doppler, in tears. "I can do that for you?" She offered, confused. It's not that I felt his life was ever something I could control, I just didn't want any surprises. Couldn't stand to watch them search ever again. If his heart were to stop, his mother should know. I had to know first.
So we entered the room. The room where we were to deliver a living baby. Or so they assured me. And once the monitor was placed on my stomach I felt a weight lift ever so slightly. Someone else was in charge now. Someone else was watching. I could close my eyes for a moment.
Labor went smoothly, albeit painful. Strange how a body remembers, though. It was never unbearable. The whole time I was thinking, I've felt worse.
In less than twelve hours he was in my arms, crying before I laid eyes on him.
And I think I was in shock. Not the same shock as when I held you. This was a happier, less stubborn shock. I accepted that it was real. This was happening, but I couldn't actually believe it. I think that's the first thing I said when they handed him to me, all pink and crying and magnificent. As your father cried on my shoulder, I looked to the nurse and I told her "I didn't think this would happen."
And everything went quickly, smoothly after that. We held him for as long as we wanted. No one asked for him back. No one took him to a room to keep his body cool. No one asked about our burial plans, our funeral home preferences. There was no sign on our door alerting the hospital staff to our tragedy. A baby was born. Perfectly healthy. People came bearing gifts, and two days later we got to take him home.
Lately, my time is spent in awe. I stare a lot. Mostly in disbelief. I stare at his big, blue eyes, not yet able to focus on the mother who hovers just above their gaze. I stare at his tiny feet and I think about all the times they kicked me, all the momentary relief they provided from within. I think about the person he has made of me, about the person I would be without him. Without you. I think about all the blood thinners and scans and interventions and people who got him here safely. I think about what your father said to me in the hospital after you died. How you have a purpose, how it wasn't what we had planned. How it's a purpose just the same.
This morning I broke the printer. Your brother asked me to print something, and something was jammed, so I attempted to un-jam...and now it's broken. When he left the room I started to cry. I cry a lot these days. For random things. But I think it's mostly because of the big thing we don't really talk about. I think it's mostly because of you.
This baby is amazing. I cannot believe how mellow he is. He eats and sleeps, and I'm not used to it. I'm used to your brother. A year of sleepless, colicky nights. Constant motion. I'm quite surprised that, remarkably, thus far, none of my pregnancy-induced neuroses have permeated this little one's temperament. He is angelic. Perfection. In every sense of the word.
And no one is happier to have him here than me. I watch him sleep and I savor every whimper and I carry him into every room. Even with the night feedings, I haven't slept so good in over a year. The ability to LOOK at him provides a euphoria I cannot describe. So why the tears?
I guess it's because I'm now realizing the gravity of what we lost. All of the things we will never get to do with you. How I never knew what your cry sounded like. How a piece of paper told me your eye color. How I could live fifty more years having never seen your smile.
And I feel so conflicted, being this happy. Because if you were here, he wouldn't be. How does a parent resolve something like that? How does life make sense after that sentence?
So I cry. Over spilled milk (literally) and broken printers and traffic jams because they remind me that all too often, things don't work how they're supposed to. It makes me sad, and it makes me angry. And I say I'm sorry out loud to no one.
Your father entered the room and asked why I was crying. I pointed to the printer and he chuckled. Then he closed the door and placed the baby on my lap, and he told me to look.
"Look at him," he said.
"You did this," he said.
"You took all of your fear, every reservation, and you turned it into that. What are you crying about again?"
And I guess that's the real truth. He is here and you are not. He is here because of something you taught me, how to suffer through something that seems impossible. In that sense, he isn't here instead of you. He's here because of you.
So instead of I'm sorry, I will say something else. Every moment. Every single day until I die.
Thank you, my love.
Thank you so very much.