** TRIGGER WARNING: THIS LETTER IS ABOUT BABY LOSS **
You currently share the space both of your siblings did. You will share the same arms as your brother, bed and even clothes. But you’ll never meet. People assume that you are my first, but I am quick to tell them otherwise. 3 G, 1 P – is how they write it in notes, three pregnancies, one birth [but no babies – they don’t put that in]. A sticker on the front of the book tells everyone that looks at it what’s happened, but they still ask: is this your first baby? No.
The inferno that was your brother, and the ember that would have been the middle child make you – they say that foetal cells live on in the mother for a long time, maybe even forever, in the blood, everywhere, no matter how long the pregnancy. So, they’re both a part of you, literally.
When your brother was in there he slept to the same heartbeat. He had a big belly and a small head, just like you do. When he was born he was big and soft and healthy, and when they left me alone with him I thought I would be overwhelmed and scared but I just wasn’t. He was fine, but somehow I couldn’t leave him sleeping for even five minutes without checking on him. It was a kind of love from day one that I had never felt before – not the kind of love one expects, instead a possessiveness, such a sense of being and responsibility.
He came home, and he slept, and he ate. At four-weeks he was looking at things with purpose. He started to smile. Then he started to make those noises that babies make. He did everything that he was supposed to do, and the anticipation of the next thing was torturous. I wanted to see it all and watch him hit every milestone seemingly to the day. It was thrilling in a way I never knew was possible, and I finally understood the “Facebook mums” – how could I not want to share this amazing thing? He seemed to come from nothing and in one day disrupt absolutely everything. He made the world suddenly more inviting, just better.
He made everything easy, as if in preparation to say goodbye. As if to leave me with the very best.
Suddenly this world without him was offensive and aggressive, ignorant and insensitive.
You won’t meet him, but I will do my best to make sure you know him. You will know me as the person he created.
I want to apologise because you won’t meet him. I want to apologise because you will be the one after the one after. One little thing with such a big responsibility already. And because you deserve better than I will be able to give you. You will have all the love, but your brother has left behind a hole which neither you nor I will be able to fill.
I’m sorry for all the shaking and prodding and poking. I’m sorry for the icy water. I’m sorry for the ultrasound waves from dopplers and scans that seem to be more often than not. Because I’ve learned that unlikely doesn’t mean impossible and I’m scared you won’t make it either.
When you’re born I know that’s only going to get worse. My body kept your brother safe for nine months, it keeps you safe now, but the world took him away from me. I am afraid to bring you into it but I want nothing more. I want to keep you inside, nice and safe, but I want to hold you against my chest and show you off to everybody that wants to see.
So let me apologise in advance for the monitors, on your nappy, and wrist, and bed, for the constant checking, for the fact that “wake the baby to feed them every two hours” won’t be just to feed you. I’m sorry for fact that I won’t let you out of my sight, but my fear is something we must learn to navigate together. I’m sorry for never meaning “when” when I say it, or adding “hopefully”, because nothing but death is certain in my mind – its inevitability a constant. I’m sorry that I will compare you to him, and to the idealised version I have of him in my mind.
As time goes on, I hope that you won’t hate me, because all I have is fear and hope. The hope somehow outweighs the fear, but I am sorry that there will be times it doesn’t feel that way. Fear hardens us all against the world, but hope is the reason that you are here. It may seem like I think of nothing but the worst, but I steel my heart and consider all the possibilities so that you don’t have to. You will feel like I don’t trust you, but it is the unpredictability of the world that I don’t trust. You will feel like I smother you, and it will be cruel, but I assure you that it is anything but.
When you find me crying, know that it is not for what I have, but what I do not have – three.
You come into the world to be the gold that fills cracks in hearts, and there are more than I can count. The world, my world and soon to be ours, loved your brother beyond what we thought love could be, and we will love you with every fibre of ourselves, with more even than we can envision. The infinite nature of the universe, ever expanding, truly infinite, is the only comparison I can make. Even then the universe pales. And that may feel like a lot to live up to, but you already have.