I always knew that parenting you would fill me with joy. I also knew that parenting you would be incredibly hard. Unlike your brother, you were born after loss. You were born into a world that exists after Evalyn. And as hard as I try, it is sometimes impossible to stop my own anxieties after loss filtering through into the way I parent you.
Someone once asked me if you remind me of Evalyn. The answer is yes. Yes, you do. I remember my consultant holding you up to me the moment you were born and for a second, time stood still. You were your sister’s image and you were beautiful. But in those early weeks, it became hard to seperate you from Evalyn. You were you. But you were also the living image of her. And I felt so guilty that I couldn’t look at you without seeing your sister. I felt guilty for you that all of my thoughts took me back to Evalyn and in turn, I felt guilty for Evalyn for trying to push these thoughts aside. I drowned in my love for you. I could have sat curled up on our sofa holding you for hours. You were everything I had imagined you to be and you were and still are a blessing in our lives. But you were Evalyn’s reflection. You were a beautiful gift of what life had given to us and a hard reminder of what we had lost all at the same time.
And now you’re fourteen months old.
Now I don’t know if you look like your sister. But I imagine that your image is not far from what I think Evalyn would have looked like now. More importantly, you are your own person. I have watched you grow and develop over this past year and I am completely in love with you. We are all completely in love with you. And as I watch you chasing your older brother around the house and the two of you laughing together, I feel incredibly blessed. This is an image I had in my head since early 2015 when we first started to try for a sibling for Ieuan. And it has been quite the journey to get here.
I must admit though, I parent you very differently to how I parented your brother when he was your age. It’s not your fault. It’s not my fault either. It’s just that Ieuan got to also experience me before loss. But you will sadly only ever know the version of me after.
Looking back, I don’t think I ever worried about Ieuan as much as I do with you. I lived in a naive world of parenting where I was free of my anxities. If Ieuan had a temperature, I didn’t panic. If he fell and hurt himself, I would pick him back up and dust him down. But with you? If you are poorly, I can’t relax. I hold you close to me unable to let you go until you feel better. Even a common cold fills me with dread. If you fall, the sound of your tears makes me cry too. I cut your food into the smallest of pieces and watch you intently as you eat. I probably check on you about ten times a night. When Ieuan started nursery school, we both settled into our new routine quickly. But you started nursery and I find myself desperately trying to fill up the time we’re apart so that I don’t think about you and go into ‘worry mode’.
The thing is, you have the raw end of the deal. Yes, we have fun. Yes, we laugh and smile. But losing Evalyn has heightened all of my emotions for you. Knowing how it feels to lose a child has made me want to wrap you up in cotton wool and keep you safe forever. I constantly try to do the same for your brother but he’s six years old now and sometimes manages to break free from ‘mummy’s paranoia.’
I guess I’m writing you an apology in advance. . . .
Sorry for all the times I’ve probably woken you up by prodding you in the night to make sure you’re ok. Sorry for being obsessed with cutting anything you eat into tiny pieces. Sorry for picking you up from nursery ten minutes early because I’ve missed you too much. And when you’re older, sorry for ringing you constantly when you’re out with your friends. I promise it’s done with love.
Sorry for interviewing every boy you like but I only want the best for you. Sorry for being overly emotional on your wedding day. Seeing you in your white dress will, of course, make me think of Evalyn but I promise you it will be your day completely. And sorry for finding myself struggling through any pregnancy you go through. I will be overjoyed at the thought of one day having grandchildren, but I will constantly worry about the life inside of you until you are holding them in your arms as I hold you now.
And maybe then and only then, in that moment when you are breathing in your baby and that love overpowers you, you will understand that your own mum’s anxieties weren’t that extreme after all.
I love you,