I had the worst dream a few nights ago. I dreamt that I found Molly submerged underwater in the sink. She wasn’t breathing, and despite my best efforts I couldn’t revive her. I remember thinking, if I pray hard enough, will that be enough to bring her back? I was praying fervently, and then I woke up.
I guess that’s my answer, right? I prayed hard enough and she came back. I’m not sure what is scarier to me about that situation… that I could lose Molly like I lost Alex, or that it would be my fault that she died. Either way, it’s enough to keep me up at night. It’s enough to eek the joy out of an otherwise pleasant day with the kids.
I knew that losing Alex would have an impact on how I parent Molly. Having a baby die changes your whole outlook on life, especially your perspective on parenting. I’d like to think that having and losing Alex has made me more present as a mother. More low-key, more relaxed, more available. Even if it hasn’t improved my approach every day, it’s been enough to help me consider what’s really important. I try not to get caught up in trivial things like I used to. I used to track my kids’ milestones like their college acceptance letters depended on it.
Today? Molly can’t sit up unassisted… it’s okay. It doesn’t mean that she’ll never sit up, it just means that she’s not sitting up yet. Benjamin still goes to bed at night wearing a Pull-Up. It’s okay. Molly probably wouldn’t want to wear all those blue Pull-Ups when she got older anyway…
When I consider the impact Alex had on our lives, I realize it’s not just the two short months we had him, or the nine months I carried him for. It’s all of the plans I had for him in our lives. It’s all the things I thought we would have as a family with two boys. There are times when I feel his absence much more strongly than I felt his presence.
Molly has moved onto things that Alex never did. She hit four months and reached the all-important milestone of rice cereal! We’ve tried it a few times. She’s not a huge fan. The highchair is still packed away in the garage… I can’t take it out of storage yet. It’s like having her move onto things will be confirmation for me that she really is a different baby. There are times when I’m feeding her, or when I’m rocking her where I can drift back and think about that sweet little boy that isn’t here anymore. As soon as Miss Molly starts crawling and eating solids, it will be too late for her to ever remind me of Alex.
I should be happy about all of this. I should be happy that Molly is doing well, that she’s alive and doing things her brother never got to do. It just occurs to me that this is my last chance to savor these baby moments. When I’m missing Alex in the future, I won’t have Molly to remind me of him. She’ll be walking and talking, so much bigger than the big brother she never got to meet.
So for now, I think about Alex, and when I do, I snuggle Molly Mouse and savor her soft cheeks. Not sure what I will do when she’s running around and she’s too quick for me to hug her whenever I want.
All my Alex memories are neatly packed into two Rubbermaid totes. I kind of wish that I had been able to keep his room as it was. That when I was thinking of him, I could go to his room and just sort of surround myself in his scent, and his belongings…
I still think about Alex, but it’s different now. Still sad, but more of a wistful longing for what might have been, instead of the harsh tragedy of knowing he’s gone forever. I am grateful for all my children. I know that I will always have room for Alex in my heart. I guess as my kids are achieving milestones here on Earth, Alex and I will reach our own milestones together.