Today, My Daughter Turns the Age My Son Was When He Passed Away


Nicole: Today you are 8 months and 26 days old — the same age your brother, Dylan, was when he passed away from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). He never reached 9 months old, so I pray and hope you will make it past this day.

Sometimes I am consumed by my fear that lightning can strike twice. I watch you sleep and touch your arm just to see you move to prove to me you’re still breathing. While you are awake, I monitor your every action, scanning to make sure nothing happens. Every cough, every cry, I hold my breath and wait to make sure it’s not a warning sign you’re in trouble. I hate that I live this way and fight constantly against the fear of losing you like I did your brother. I want to live free from the burden of fear, but losing Dylan was the worst moment of my life and I can’t fathom going through it again if something should ever happen to you.

I wonder sometimes how different life would be if your brother hadn’t died. I watch you play on our living room floor or swing at the park and imagine how much fun you might have had with your big brother, but you will never meet him on this Earth. What would he look like now as he approached 3 years old? Sometimes just for a moment, I see him in you. When you scrunch your face up just a certain way, when you laugh or when you blow raspberries just how he did, I see a glimpse of him just for a second and my heart skips a beat. It confirms to me you were hand-picked in heaven to help me through this difficult time. Losing your brother was like surviving a storm. Choosing to have you didn’t erase the damage, but you do help ease it. The aftermath is still all around us, but I believe God promises to help us rebuild.

Today will be difficult. I will cry, most likely hard and often, and it will be the same on this day for the rest of your life. But it is a testament to how deeply I love each of you. Each of my babies holds a unique place in my heart made up of special moments that are just for you.

I will never be the same — I know this. It’s odd to think you will never know the mother I was before your brother passed away. Your sisters may tell you stories of what they got away with before I was so keenly aware of how one moment can forever change your life. It’s impossible to un-know something once you’ve become aware of it. I know now how fragile life is and how vigilant you have to be to protect it, and sometimes that’s not even enough. The mother you have is wiser, stronger and braver in some ways, but also broken, humbled and cautious. I live a paradoxical life: a mother to three living children and a mother to one child who is missing. But to you, my youngest daughter, you will only know this version of me. I hope I succeed in making you happy, keeping you safe and caring for you during the time I am graciously given to love you.

Tomorrow, for the first time in your life, I will no longer be counting down the days to when you have surpassed the life of your brother. Together, we will be stepping into new territory. I might even stop holding my breath and breathe a sigh of relief. You made it, baby girl: you’re 8 months and 27 days old.

image of two babies side by side
Jenna’s son Dylan (left) and daughter Nicole (right).

Follow this journey on Jenna Brandt’s Blog.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Sudden infant death syndrome

New Study: Safe Sleep Environment Not Only Factor in Preventing SIDS

A new study, published Dec. 2 in the journal Pediatrics, shows that a safe sleeping environment isn’t the only factor in preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In the 1990s, a public health campaign was launched to decrease the number of SIDS deaths by encouraging parents to take “safe sleeping” steps such as putting infants on [...]

Photo Series Imagines Beautiful Futures for Sleeping Babies in Intensive Care

These whimsical images of sleeping babies are more than just beautiful artwork. They’re helping to save lives and raise awareness. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is defined as deaths in infants less than a year old that occur suddenly and unexpectedly. The cause is not immediately obvious. SIDS is the leading cause of all deaths among infants [...]

Watch the Moment When, For the First Time in More Than 3 Decades, This Man Saw Light

Larry Hester has spent half his life blind. Now, thanks to a bionic eye, he’s begun to see again. The 66-year-old has been blind for 33 years because of a degenerative disease called retinitis pigmentosa, Duke University reported. However, doctors at Duke have now made him only the seventh-ever person in the United States to [...]

The Best #ThrowbackThursday Post You Will See Today

The Facebook post below popped up on my newsfeed today and made me smile. What a beautiful perspective. Jamie Goodwin was left paralyzed after a car accident 21 years ago. Our editor here at The Mighty recently did a wonderful profile of Jamie and her journey to lose weight, which she writes about over at [...]