Mateo Rai was born on May 20th. He was 8 pounds 7 ounces and 19.5 inches long. I was induced and he was born 10 hours later. It was a significant improvement on the 50 hours of labor it took to give birth to Marc.
Yes. I know. That was four months ago. To be honest, I only thought about writing a post about his birth twice since he was born. It’s partially because things have been so busy since then. It’s mostly because I have spent that time just absorbing every moment with him. I know what it’s like to have your time cut short. I know what it’s like to look back and wish you could spend more time enjoying a person. I spend as much time as is reasonable with Mateo, loving on him. Maybe more than is reasonable. I don’t know.
I finally feel like I am who I am supposed to be again. He is the light of my life. He is my rainbow baby. He is my sweet little boy.
Everything feels so similar. Everything feels so different. Some days, it’s the worst deja vu to see their similarities and a relief how different they are. Other days, all I can do is marvel at the two beautiful souls I brought into this world and feel blessed that I got both, even if for only four months with Marc.
They look especially alike when asleep, which is scarier than I could possibly explain. I can’t tell you how often I stop what I’m doing to listen for his breathing or to watch for the movement of his chest. We upgraded from an audio only baby monitor to a video one that has night vision. We can see him breathing while he’s in bed. It’s given us great piece of mind.
About my baby boy:
I feel like, this late in the game, it’s better to just show you his growth in pictures. (I hope you like fat baby faces.)
He is loud and opinionated and we love him more than life itself!
He doesn’t roll over, but he loves to stand.
He walks while we hold onto his arms or hands. He takes such sure steps for such a young age. It amazes me every time he does it.
He sits up unassisted now. Yeah, sure. It’s only for 5-10 seconds. But it still counts!
He farts. A lot. A lot. Really. And they smell. Bad.
He loves to talk. Well, not really talk. He likes to scream and shriek, but in a happy way. He yells loud and loves to tell us exactly how he feels. Like I said, opinionated.
He is definitely a second child in personality and behavioral traits. It’s odd, in a way, how he is like that. I figured those things were environmental, but he is still this way without his older sibling around.
He is a ray of sunshine.
He is exactly what we all needed.
How am I? The answer varies from day to day.
I try to be okay.
I am amazing.
I am wonderful.
I am in love with my life.
I had the best day.
I am not okay.
I do a really good job of pretending to be okay.
I do a bad job of pretending to be okay.
I can’t get out of bed.
I love being a mom.
I didn’t even think about it, I was so busy.
I am excited because Mateo did something new.
Difficult days have come and gone.
May 22nd was the day we brought him home. It wasn’t our first baby. We knew what to do. It wasn’t the first time bringing a baby home. We weren’t nervous like first time parents. But we were scared. Our constant fear was that Mateo would be taken from us too. He was here. It was real. But was it too good to be true??
July 9th was the anniversary of Marc’s death. It was like Mateo knew what I needed that day. He just slept in bed with me until mid-afternoon. We made a good memory by taking Mateo to the pool for the first time. He loved how cool the water was on such a hot day. We ended up having a lot of fun.
September 20th, Mateo turned four months old. The weeks leading up to that were hard. We were so stressed. We fought more. We slept less. We worried ourselves into a frenzy. We accidentally scared each other a time or two, checking on him when we were scared by how still he was or how pale he looked. The day that he turned four months, everything changed. It was as if a collectively held breath was released by us and our families. We are still scared, of course. The intensity of our fears seems to have subsided for now. I took Mateo to the funeral home that took care of Marc and introduced him to the staff. They were so sweet and helpful with Marc and through the process of taking care of him. They were amazingly patient and kind when we were trying to get his death certificate. When I went to pick it up, I was very pregnant with Mateo and promised to bring him by after he was born. It took until September 20th for me to be ready. I just knew when I woke up that that was what we were going to do that day. It was a good experience for myself and the funeral home staff. They every rarely see the healing after death. Often, they only see people on the worst days of their lives. I think it was amazing to them, to see this literal example of a life coming after a death.
September 26th, Mateo was four months and six days old. He was as old as Marc was when he died. I tried not to think about it. I tried not to stress myself out with the what ifs. “What if the same thing happens on the same day?” After a while, I decided to do what I seem to do best: conscientiously make a happy memory on an otherwise bad day. I went and bought candles and tiny cupcakes. I went around and thanked people for their help with Marc and celebrated Mateo being four months and six days old. I went to the funeral home. I left a cupcake for the coroner with the director of the funeral home. I went to the friend that let us stay with them the night that Marc died. I went home and shared cupcakes with Moises and our roommate that was with us the night that Marc died. I needed to make dinner, so I left the rest of the cupcakes to give to the rest of the people that helped us for the next day. I ended the day doing my best to relax with Moises. We still Frequently checked the video monitor to see his breathing. I guess the fear will never completely go away.
September 27th. I guess today should be a happy day. He is now older than Marc will ever be. Every day he lives, he is less and less likely to die from SIDS. He had a checkup. He is now 17 pounds and 27 inches. He is getting so big! He got some shots and I cried. I think I’m more traumatized by his vaccines than he is. We’ll leave dropping off the rest of the cupcakes for another day when he is feeling better. We had a visit with a friend and her son. I had wine and ice cream with a neighbor. I spent the rest of the day mourning the things I lost with Marc. I mourned Marc’s four months and seven days that he never got. I mourned the fact that his little brother is now and, from now on, will always be older than him.
What I spend most of my days doing is worrying. I worry that he will die too. I worry that we will be so wrapped up in doing things because of Marc’s death that we won’t raise him the way he needs to be raised. I worry that we will spend too much time comparing them and Mateo will feel as if Marc is this perfect, impossible thing to live up to. I want so badly for him to grow up to be his own person and love it!
I secretly do side-by-side picture of them just to see my boys together, even if it’s only in editing. I like to look at them together and see the differences and similarities. I just don’t post them on social media because I am trying to set an example for how I want things to be. Not to say that I would be angry with someone for doing it. I just don’t want Mateo being a rainbow baby to be the only thing people know about him. I don’t want it to be his only defining characteristic. I want him to be free of those things, free to be his own person.
I feel like, because I am so determined to keep that from happening, it won’t. I can only hope that I can be the mom he needs as long as I live.