Today's your little brother's birthday. He's 2. It's a day of celebration. Of course we are so so so thankful for him. And so so so blessed to have him here. But to be honest, his birthday brings up some tough emotions too. Maybe not to the same level and intensity as your birthday, but yeah, some tough ones.
Because when I remember Ethan's birth, I remember it being scarier than yours. For your birth we were a bit naive, we didn't know. We didn't know you would die. And honestly, at the time, I don't remember thinking it was a possibility. We were scared, of course. You were coming into the word at only 28 weeks 5 days gestation. But my worries were about your life. How long would you be in the hospital? How long until we could hold you, till I could breastfeed you? Would there be lasting effects from your prematurity?
But when Ethan was born I knew. I knew how scary it really was. I knew all the possibilities and just how awful they were. I couldn't see past them. At 27 weeks 4 days, earlier than your gestation smaller than you were when you were born, I honestly thought he was going to die. So very different than the feelings of your birth. I guess that makes me realize how blessed I am to have those memories and feelings from your birth. The pure joy twinged with just a small amount of fear. The on top of the world feeling I had.
But not for Ethan. For Ethan it was fearing for his life. Wondering if he was going to make it. How could this be happening again?! I do think we were excited, there was joy in birthing your little brother. But it was so overshadowed with the fear and grief flooding us.
And all those emotions were one thing while he I was in labor with him and while he was being born. But another when it came to seeing him in the NICU for the first time. Oh that was awful, beyond awful and so hard. To walk (well I think I was in a wheelchair) through those NICU doors, those same doors we last went through after saying good bye to you. Those doors that represented your life, your death, everything. Those doors that we hoped to carry you out of one day only to come through with empty arms. The place that was yours was now housing your little brother. The place where you lived and fought and everyone fought for you. They were now fighting for your little brother. It all became such a blur. Your moments, his moments.
They knew to keep him from pod 2, your space. Where you lived and died. He was in pod 6. We never went around the corner to your pod. I never even desired to. To see a living baby there. To wish it was you that we were coming back to 13 months later. So pod 6 is where your little brother spent his early days until he was moved to the glass room. But even though it was a different pod, it was so much the same. The same sounds, oh the NICU sounds. Any NICU parent knows them and would jump at the sound even years out of the NICU. The sounds that were associated with you, were now with him too.
And in that pod 6 I still feared your little brother would die too. I can't say when that fear subsided, but definitely not during his first 12 days of life.
So while today we celebrate your crazy, fun, happy, awesome truly truly awesome little brother, I still grieve. I grieve because your not here to celebrate with us, I grieve because his birth experience was so traumatic, I grieve because instead of feeling joy when my second son was born I feared his death. I grieve.
I wish you were here to know your brother and for him to know you. The other night he brought me a "Marcellus's Marchers" March for Babies shirt that has your picture on it. In a way I think he thought it really was you instead of just your picture. He wanted to hand you a car, one that was bought for you. I had to tell him it's just your picture, but that you are not here and never will be again. I told him when we miss you and are sad, we can look at your picture, talk to your picture, or even kiss your picture. So you know what he did...he dove in with open arms and kissed your picture.
I am so thankful, blessed, lucky, however you want to say it to have your little brother. He does bring us so much joy. But baby boy, he doesn't take away the hurt, the grief, the ache for you.
I miss you always, love you forever. I love you right up to the moon and back!!!