"You probably don't remember life before your brother in all its intricate details. But I will, and that’s what I’m here for. I’m the gatekeeper of your forgotten memories, and I’ll never forget."
I recently stumbled across an old picture of my first-born. Well, not really ‘old’ given that he is just 6 years old now. But when I looked at it, I was overcome by emotion because it seemed like eons ago that he looked like that.
Where did those chubby cheeks and sausage-y thighs go? That toothless grin? That aura of utter helplessness?
Where did they all go so fast?
Now, he’s the (somewhat) responsible older brother who is adept at warding off his little brother’s tantrums like a pro. He’s a chatterbox alright but not as supremely self-confident as his four-year-old brother is. Sometimes, he gets a bit lost in the glow of his little brother’s limelight.
I do worry about this, that he’s just a tiny bit forgotten in the crazy rush that is life with two kids right now.
But people tell me it’s a non-issue. They tell me that my older child will only remember what life is like now for him – the four of us as a noisy, happy family.
And this is probably right. He won’t remember in full detail the time before his little brother came charging into our lives and made us a complete family unit.
But I won’t forget the time when it was just the three of us, and I want to tell you, sweet first-born boy of mine, these things I will always remember:
I will always remember the absolute void in our lives, as I tried without success to fall pregnant – year after year. The heartache of knowing you wouldn’t be with us, this time too, as cycle after cycle of IVF treatment failed.
I won’t ever forget the day we thought our pregnancy dream had really come to an end as we started looking at other options: adoption, surrogacy.
I won’t forget.
I will always remember the indescribable, incredulous, tearful joy when I finally saw those two blue lines. I will always remember exactly what I was doing at the time I decided to take the test – I was vacuuming our bedroom because I was feeling stressed (yes I clean when I’m stressed!).
I called your father at his office, telling the receptionist that it was an “emergency”, that he needed to come home, NOW. The many subsequent pregnancy tests I took, just to make sure you were real.
The first time I saw your tiny, tiny heart – just a rapid flicker – on the ultrasound, confirming your existence. The happiness I felt with each wave of nausea because it meant you were there and you were thriving.
I remember, even though you won’t, the precise moment I felt you move for the first time; the first time I saw your full and perfect tiny being on the ultrasound, turning somersaults. I remember each long minute of labour.
The moment you – slippery, pink and crying – were placed in my arms for the first time, already nuzzling at my chest for that first sip of nourishment.
I won’t forget.
I will always remember the long, beautiful days when it was just you and me, long walks, precious cuddles, when it felt like you were permanently attached to my breasts, nursing, gazing at me with your beautiful eyes while doing so. The never ending episodes of Teletubbies, In The Night Garden and Play School.
Your first gummy smile, that look of horror on your face when you tasted solids for the first time, how you commando crawled for the longest time, your first step, your first tooth just before your first birthday. A series of firsts that were as new to me as they were for you.
I won’t forget.
I will always remember that you made me a mother. Taught me the true meaning of love, pride, joy and, yes, heartache too. That you changed my world, my life the second you were born, the moment you were placed on my chest, bloody and wrinkled.
It’s true that you won’t remember these moments, the time before your little brother was born – that loud little boy who loves you dearly and who you love so much too, who tags behind you and bosses you just a little bit.
You won’t remember that your father and I once gave you our undivided love and attention. We like to think that this is probably responsible for your sweet, generous nature now.
You probably don’t remember life before your brother in all its intricate details. But I will, and that’s what I’m here for.
I’m the gatekeeper of your forgotten memories, and I’ll never forget.
Please don’t forget that either, ever.
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