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

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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.

Originally published: March 20, 2016
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