My name is Tammylynne and I am the mother of two beautiful little boys. Benjamin is 2.5 and lives here on earth. Alex lives in Heaven. He was only alive two months. This blog is dedicated to Alex’s memory and all the people who love him.
Before I start, I should clarify why I’m doing this. I have received so many heartfelt letters and notes about my writings on Facebook that I am genuinely touched that so many people have taken the time to read something that I thought were just the ramblings of a mom struck by grief. The notes that have really inspired me are from other parents who have gone through similar loss… these notes talk about how my words have actually made them feel better.
I don’t pretend to be an author, but if I can share with others how this experience is affecting our family and if it helps others in a situation that is similar, it feels like Alex’s legacy will continue. I love my little boy and it makes me feel better to think that his memory will extend beyond his two short months on earth.
So, I’ll keep putting thoughts out here. I’m not trying to bum anybody out- but at least it answers that question, “How are you doing?”
Alex was born on April 11, 2011. He died on July 9, 2011. These words were spoken by me at his funeral:
“If you say that you believe in God’s will, you can’t pick and choose when you believe. You can’t believe it’s his will when something good happens, and think it’s bad luck when something bad happens. Alex is gone because it was God’s will.
I got to hold Alex for the last time yesterday. We sat and talked and cried and snuggled for the very last time. I said goodbye and thought about all the people he has in Heaven that were waiting for him. Ben’s dad, my beautiful grandmother, my grandpas, my uncles, aunt and cousin Julie- all waiting to spoil him rotten in Heaven. Maybe they got tired of only having old people up there.
Today is a day to celebrate life and to not focus on the tragedy of death. If we can’t find the joy that Alex brought to our lives because we are so overcome with grief, then we are missing the point of his time with us. Alex was brought to us as an angel on Earth. He stayed as long as he could, we just couldn’t keep him.
There are so many thoughts that you consider when you lose a child and when you are in the process of accepting the fact that your child is gone. So many open and unanswered questions-
Your body doesn’t stop making milk because your baby dies. You swell up with milk to feed your baby and when you don’t have a baby anymore, you have pain in your chest and emptiness in your heart. Real and figurative; what do you do with yourself when you don’t have a baby to nurse anymore? The one link that you have left with your child- do you let it dry up, or do you want it to flow like the tears you have rolling down your face?
How do you tell your two year old child that his baby brother is gone? This baby brother that you proudly told him all about as he was growing inside you… Benjamin was so proud to be a big brother- is he still a big brother now, even though his little brother is gone?
I don’t know how you go on maternity leave from work and come back without a baby. Are you still on maternity leave when you no longer have a baby to care for?
Are two months long enough to fill your heart with memories? Will the memory of my dear, sweet boy fade each day? Will I be able to remember all the tiniest details about him for the rest of my life? How bath time wasn’t over until he peed in the tub? How his eyelashes were long like his brothers. How milk would spill into his neck meat- and we would joke that it made my beautiful boy stinky. How our pediatrician described him saying, “his eyes are bigger than his stomach.”
When we had Benjamin it was like we had started our family- and when we had Alex it was like our family was finally complete. Two boys! We would proudly exclaim as we went on family trips. We were so blessed and proud to have the smart, perfect family we had always dreamed of. What are we now? Are we a family of three, or four? What does our family look like a year from now? What if one parent wants to have another child and the other doesn’t? How do you compromise about something like that? You can’t have half a child.
While I readily accept and understand what a miracle life is, I didn’t realize how fragile it was. You have a feeling of invincibility that extends to your children. You don’t honestly expect that anything could ever come and hurt your perfect family- nothing could interrupt the charmed life that you live. I never thought that I could lose a child. I never thought I could lose a child this early. How can you plan your child’s funeral before you have planned his baptism?
You’ve all come here to support us and share in our grief. I can’t tell you how much that means to us. To share in our sadness and pain, to cry with us and to suffer shows that Alex has touched your lives too. More importantly it validates the feelings of loss we have. It confirms that we’re justified to feel all the pain we have. It doesn’t make our pain go away, but by sharing it with all of you, it makes that burden a little lighter.
I can’t go through life believing that Alex was taken from us without a reason. There has to be some sort of lesson or symbolism to something so tragic. I don’t know what that reason is now. Maybe he was taken to make us better parents, to help us have a better marriage, or to just make us better people. I know that going forward Alex has changed my heart. I will pour out my sadness and grief today, but tomorrow I’ll only have room in my heart for love. I will not have room for anger, jealousy, hurt, spite or other negative emotions that I may have had before. I owe it to my special little boy to show him that I became a better person because I knew him. I owe it to him to show him that he has made our lives richer, fuller, better.
I keep looking for reasons to be grateful. Despite this great tragedy, we find reasons to be thankful to God.
I am grateful that I was home. While performing CPR on your child’s lifeless body isn’t something I would wish upon anyone, I know that I would never find peace if this had happened when he was in the care of someone else. We are blessed with caregivers in our lives that we trust implicitly, but as a mother you need to know that everything was done for your child. In times of life and death, seeing is believing- you need to be a witness to ensure that everything possible was done to bring your child back to life.
I am grateful that Benjamin wasn’t home. He was playing with his friends at daycare and didn’t have to witness his brother’s struggle for life.
I am grateful that Ben was at the hospital with me. We were both there to see the heroic efforts of the doctors and nurses that tried so hard to bring him back to life. We were both there to decide when Alex was gone. We were both there to say our goodbyes.
I am grateful that we were joined by our priest and our pediatrician. Two individuals with incredibly busy schedules raced to be at our side. If for no other reason but to help us pray that our sweet little boy would be able to come home to his loving mommy and daddy.
I am grateful that we were able to share two glorious months with him. There are so many families that lose their children before they meet them. There are families who have only a few minutes with their children. We were given the gift of two very special months.
I am grateful that we didn’t have to watch Alex suffer. At Children’s hospital we were surrounded by families that watched their children battle terminal illnesses. Alex never endured pain, and for that I am grateful.
I am grateful we had Benjamin first. If Alex had been our first child, we never would have had the strength to go through pregnancy again.
I am grateful that Alex was baptized before he died. He was baptized by the chaplain at the hospital, and I know that God heard our prayers that he would welcome Alex into his holy family.
When I left Alex Thursday morning at 9:30 he was asleep. Breathing, happy and content. When I returned an hour later he was gone. I can’t make sense of how or why. There are no circumstances that will ever make me feel better about that. They don’t change the outcome. He is gone.
I was addressing birth announcements at the kitchen table when Alex stopped breathing upstairs. I didn’t know. I was so eager to celebrate his arrival with others. I had no idea his departure would be so soon.
I think about how I would have spent the last morning with him differently. What would I have done differently if I had known that he was going to leave so suddenly? I would have done exactly what we did that morning. I nursed him, and we laid together and went to sleep. He loved to nestle up close under my chin. His favorite place was anywhere my warm breath could radiate over his sweet head. I wouldn’t have changed our last morning together.
I wouldn’t change anything now. I wouldn’t want to have never had him to avoid the pain I’m feeling now. I wouldn’t have wanted to keep him longer, if it meant this pain could get even worse. I wouldn’t change the brief interlude he spent in our lives.
As a perfectionist, you can always nitpick the things you wish you could change. Changes about yourself, your life, everything. Alex was the one thing in my life I couldn’t have imagined wanting to change. He honestly was my perfect little baby.
I know you’re not supposed to compare your children, but Benjamin set the baseline for what I expected from Alex. Alex was incredible in every possible way. Alex only cried if he needed something. He would cry if he was hungry or wet, but never cried the way most newborns do… crying was not his primary language.
Alex started sleeping well so quickly. By two weeks old he was sleeping 6 hours at a stretch. By three weeks, he was able to fall asleep on his own. We would nurse, rock and pray and then he would fall asleep on his own. One of my favorite memories is watching him on the video monitor. Swaddled up like a baby burrito. His dark eyes darting back and forth, not making a sound. He would look around and drift into a blissful sleep on his own. By 6 weeks he was sleeping 8, 9, 10 hours a night. I can’t tell you how many mornings I would get up and just wait for him to awaken, eager to share my day with him.
Alex slept a lot, but when he was awake he was alert and engaged. He would follow you with his eyes and try to make sense of what you were doing or saying. He had the presence of a baby much older than only 2 months. Because of this, we were blessed with a much more meaningful relationship than most parents with their 2 month old children. Alex never fussed, was colicky or had reflux. That meant that every moment with him was spent happy and joyful. Never tired or frustrated as we paced the hallway at all hours of the night. His great personality made him such an easy child to fall in love with and adore.
I can’t even begin to imagine what an amazing child he would have grown into. As I was gathering things for the funeral home today- I didn’t know where to start. At two months, he doesn’t have a favorite toy, or animal or blanket. At two months, his favorite thing in the world is just his mommy. And honestly I feel like I’m in that casket with him.
As adults I think we always feel compelled to learn something from tragedy. We want an answer, or a moral. We want to make sense of things, as if that will help make our pain go away. My baby is gone because it is God’s will. I don’t understand. While I can celebrate his life, I can’t yet rejoice that he’s in Heaven. I’m here with all of you, weeping.
All I know is that we need to love our children and celebrate each day with them. We need to love our spouses, support our friends and enjoy our parents. While life is a miracle, it’s also fragile.
As I’m grateful for the time I had with Alex, and am happy you’re all here to celebrate his life with us, I’m unbelievably scared about what the future holds for us. I am scared about living our life as a family without him. I am scared about forgetting the details of my little boy as more time passes. I am scared about living my life as a mother without both of my beloved boys. I am most scared that the best parts of my heart and soul are going to be buried tomorrow with my sweet and beautiful boy.
I want to thank you all for your love, prayers and support. I honestly don’t know what we could have possibly done in our lives to deserve so much love from so many of you. Maybe that’s why Alex was taken from us. Maybe another family wouldn’t have had the support they needed to get through all this.
I can’t imagine a time when my heart won’t ache for my baby. I can’t imagine a time when I won’t long to hold him. I can’t imagine a time when I can think about something else long enough to experience happiness again. But we have faith in God and we need to move on. We need to believe that Alex passed into our lives for a reason, and that his presence has was meaningful and special. Please stay with us as we search for that meaning. Not just today and tomorrow, but next week and next month and next year. Please stay with us as we cope with our loss and search to find the special lesson Alex has brought to our lives.
I love my little Alex. My perfect little baby. My sweet little peanut. My little piggy. He’s not coming back and I miss him.”
I can’t promise that this blog will be upbeat and happy. I can promise it will be real. Thank you for reading. Thank you for keeping Alex’s memory alive.