I am watching my daughter Thea sleep right now. Her body ever so gently moving with every breath. The sound of her breathing soothing me. She is holding on to her little cloths she cuddles in her sleep. She is so beautiful; such a wonder every single day. Since the birth of our first child, Marlon, I have tried to comprehend this magical process of childbirth and I have failed. It is beyond my capability to understand how this can work with such efficiency, how a single cell can grow into a being with her own personality. I saw her achieve so many things: gripping my hands, practicing to nurse, learning to roll over, getting up the first time, uttering her first sounds, imitating words, learning to giggle, taste testing a huge variety of foods, her first attempts at interacting with us, watching birds and squirrels, tasting everything in her reach, including dirt repeatedly, falling and crying, matching objects, shapes and colors, sharing toys with other kids, climbing up some stairs, wondering how to get back down the stairs… The magical moments are endless. I think I could go on and on.
My heart wants to burst with pride that I am her daddy. And it aches. The pain of missing her brothers is overwhelming in these moments. I watched Marlon take his last breath and then his body stopped moving; his eyes closed forever, before we could experience many of these milestones, including finding out what color his eyes would be. And all those magical moments with Thea just remind me of all that we did not have with Marlon and Tobias.
I wish I could just enjoy these moments in the perfection that they are, I wish I could have observed all my children sleeping; tired from the exhaustion of exploring the world around them; looking forward to getting up and exploring more of that fantastic world; feeling safe and loved. It is during my sleep that my fears reveal themselves. Fear of what could happen to Thea – things that we as parents have no chance of protecting her from. Similar tragedies that took our boys from us. I wake up at night, frantically searching for her, fearing the worst, and I won’t find sleep until I hear her soft breathing again. For now she is safe.