Friday, July 25, 2014

C.T.'s firsts

This afternoon, C.T. comes to the back door from outside.  He is brave, but visibly shaking. 

Mommy, I think I just got stung by a hornet. 

A small welt has formed on his forearm.  I ask him how he feels, if he's certain it was some sort of sting.  He says he feels shaky and yes, he is sure.  It was a hornet or a wasp.  He had to climb the next door neighbor's backyard fence because he couldn't figure out how to open their gate (and because he was told to stay in the back where I could see him).  I mix some baking soda and water to help with any swelling or pain and tell him everything is going to be okay, that we'll watch for a reaction.  He calms quickly, feeling safe and cared for.  It is obvious he is proud that he didn't cry or panic, that he got over that fence.  We sit and relax, snuggle on the couch, his arm horizontal, to be certain the applied treatment stays in place.  He keeps asking me if his tongue is swollen or has turned a different color,... rumors he has heard about allergic reactions.   

At age six, it is his first bee sting.    


They call me from the car, on their way home, this evening.  C.T. had reeled in his first fish tonight.  He is so proud, talking over his dad, claiming it was a really difficult tug-of-war with this tiny bass. 


This is just a single day, a couple examples, of C.T.'s recent firsts.  Thousands of firsts, new experiences, challenges faced, over the course of his six and a half years. 

My awe and delight in C.T.'s accomplishments and new experiences is painfully overshadowed by the fact that Zachary had so few, will never have more.  He never had the chance to feel the anticipation of a new adventure, the pride at having worked hard and attained a goal.  Not even the warmth of the sun, directly on his skin.

And B.W. never had any experiences at all.   

As their mother, I have missed out on just about everything with two of my three boys.  Almost all of their firsts and experiences taken away from our family.  How am I supposed to be okay with that?  Why must we experience C.T.'s life in triplicate, always mourning what would have been, and twice over?  Will the unintended pressure to do and be everything (that his brothers could not do or be for themselves) crush our only living child? 


  1. I am so sorry. Reading this worries me about the future. As much as i want a brother or sister for Paul, i am worried about how difficult it will be not to project onto them all that Paul was never able to do (asides from all the other aspects that i am scared about.)

    C.T. seems like such an amazing boy! I wish he could grow up surrounded by his brothers...

  2. Yeah, these moments - and there are so many of them - are rough, aren't they? I worry about that pressure on my children, too, though I imagine it is slightly relieved by their being two of them alive to counter the one dead child. I hate to think of all the difficulties that my children necessarily face because their lives and their mother's have been marred by trauma and grief, and I hate to think of it for C.T., too. I have always been so defensive of E within the babyloss community because I feel like siblings' grief and trauma and then the strain and pressure they live with (and I'm sure create for themselves in an effort to make us feel better) is so seldom recognized. Was it you that mentioned C.T. was going to a grief camp for kids? I know how much you hate that he has to go to such a thing, but man, am I glad you have access to it. I hope it is helpful.

    I read a book called Shadow Child a while ago. I think that this is a perfect term for our babies in these situations, where we see all that they missed through the lives of our living children. I'm so very sorry for your boys, that they don't grow up with C.T., with you.

  3. I just posted something on Glow about grief & siblings. Weird timing to see your post.

  4. Gretchen, I am having so technical difficulty writing comments on your blog. My previous comment was supposed to also include the thought that I almost never see someone write about sibling grief and that I'm so sorry that CT is a grieving sibling 2X. I find helping my E through her grief so difficult as I grieve myself. I appreciate your honesty about you and CT. Fingers crossed this posts...