When I was pregnant with Xavier I worried that I would not be able to love him as much as I did Isaac. How could I love anyone with the same intensity as my firstborn, my little buddy, my constant companion? We had been each other’s world for so long.
What I had not been prepared for is that the all-encompassing love you feel when your first is born hits you all over again when your second enters the world. I had thought this love bomb had already been ignited when Isaac was born, but here was this intensity once again. The love you feel right to your bones and takes a hold of your soul. A thousand loves impacting you all at once. The only thing vaguely comparable is the obsessive love you feel in the first throes of a relationship when every thought is occupied by your crush. Take that feeling, deepen it and multiply it by a thousand and you still won’t come close. This is the all-consuming love that is born with your baby. Your first, your second, third, fourth – it doesn’t matter, that love remains just as powerful.
Xavier became the centre of my world, just as surely as I was his. Everyone else just orbited the peripheral edges. Including my darling Isaac. He came to see us in the hospital. His three-year old body ridiculously large. His hands and feet preposterously enormous. For a split second, as he shifted in my mind from baby to big brother, he seemed a stranger. I had not expected this. My heart expanded and swelled and there was more love for both of my boys. But my focus had shifted to the child who needed me more.
When Elijah came into our lives I was prepared and I knew that my relationship with Isaac would change again. I also knew that my relationship with Xavier would change. Early in grief I had decided not to relate to Xavier as a newborn – he had a different role in our lives. I disassociated pictures of infants from Xavier – I tried to avoid imagining what he would be doing as a baby and instead focused on the more abstract ways we experienced him. The sunshine, butterflies, nature’s beauty and the kindness of others. It was a way of protecting my heart.
But when Elijah lay on my chest for the first time it was impossible not to think of Xavier. To remember what was and what might have been. But in that moment, I didn’t feel an aching sadness, I felt gratitude for this new life and Xavier’s part in protecting his little brother. My relationship with Xavier continues to shift and grow. My need for a baby in my arms has been soothed by Elijah. This portion of my grief – the fact a newborn was ripped from my arms like the severing of a limb, has been begun to be healed by littlest boy. But my need to still love and mother my middle child has not eased. The fact I miss just him remains – that has not lessened. My relationship with Xavier has become more uniquely about who he is and what he means to me, and less about regret for what we will have never have with him. The way I mother him will change accordingly. Each of my boys with their special place in my expanded heart.