Today Conor’s little brother turns two. I spent his pregnancy holding my breath and I haven’t stopped pinching myself since. While his noisy entrance into this world has brought colour into my life, so much remains black or white; dead or alive. I describe parenting after a loss as “looking into the pram, not just to see if he is asleep/awake but to check he is still alive”. After Conor’s little brother’s safe arrival I spent time worrying about SIDS (previously known as cot death). I could have told you that our baby boy fell into a risk category with his gender and prematurity. I could have told you that the biggest age risk was 2-4 months and that I breathed a little bit easier after he turned 5 months. I watched his room thermometer like a hawk. I know that adverse outcomes can and do happen. My worry has eased somewhat as Conor’s little brother has got bigger and older. He can now tell us when he is “sore” but it rises to the surface any time he coughs or sniffs.

While I worry about health I think I am a more relaxed mother than I might have been with Conor had he lived. Conor’s little brother is alive and happy and most of the time that is enough. I don’t consult child development books. In some ways life is simple. I don’t seek perfection or approval from others. I sing nursery rhymes (loudly & badly) and make up songs not caring who hears me. I don’t stress if Conor’s little brother cries or screams in the company of others having known the pain of silence.

The last two years have been truly amazing. I am essentially a stay at home mother and this has done wonders for my mental wellbeing. For the first time (maybe ever but definitely in this new life) I find myself living in the moment. I see the world from the eyes of a now two year old and I like it. I jump on shadows and throw stones in the sea. I feel sand in between my toes and watch windmills go around. I stop and just watch/listen/feel.

Right now I am planning a Peppa Pig themed birthday party and cake. I am so very grateful that I am getting the chance to do this for a living child. It’s a milestone I thought I would never know. Yet at the same time I am sad that we do not get to plan Conor’s parties. Tears accompany so much of this life’s chapter… Conor’s little brother laughs and I cry. I cry tears of joy for his presence in our lives while simultaneously crying tears of sadness that his big brother is absent…and this is parenting after a loss.