Tomorrow is M’s third birthday. E turned three when I was pregnant with Anja and her birthday remains one of my most treasured memories. She went to daycare in the morning so she could enjoy being the birthday girl there, wearing the birthday crown, having cake for snack, her little friends singing to her. My sister and I picked her up at lunch and we all walked up to the Christmas Market where we met her father. We wandered the stalls, shared pretzels, visited Santa and rode the carousel. I remember how carefully she picked the horses we would sit on, the purplest, glitziest ones she could find. And I remember going round and round with her, laughing, smiling at her sweet blond head of curls and chubby red cheeks, with one hand on my belly, wondering what her sister would be like and knowing we’d find out soon. Three weeks later, Anja was gone, and that day, for a long time, was too painful to think about.
And tomorrow he will be three. The little boy I carried so anxiously, whom I cried and worried over. Yesterday, I was remembering what it felt like to be carrying him inside me three years ago, knowing there were less than 48 hours before he’d be out, and a single word popped into my mind: danger. That was it exactly: it felt dangerous to be pregnant with him, and dangerous to be the one with all the responsibility for his safety. I’m sure we’ve kept him more of a baby than E was at this time, because we all remember, with a certain part of ourselves, all the time, how scary it was to get him here.
I can’t imagine telling him a baby sister or brother had died. He is so little. He is so innocent. How did we do it with E? We had to, so we did, and it was awful. We stumbled. We said stupid things. We scared her. We did the best we could.
I used to think: he’s not supposed to be here. But, of course, it doesn’t matter what is supposed or not supposed to happen. It matters what does happen. And to us what happened was this: she died; he lived.
And look at him. Just look at him. Three years old tomorrow. After they pulled him out of my belly, the nurse came to me, before I’d had a chance to have a really good look at him, because she knew I was anxious, and said: ‘he’s perfect. He’s a real peach.’ That he is.
Happy third birthday to my little peach. Oh, how we love you, Baby Brother.