The newest addition to our family, our daughter Reese, arrived March 12th, 2012. She weighed in at 7.1lbs and measured 18.5 inches long. We are happy to welcome a healthy baby to our family. Reese has been sleeping well and eating even better. Danny has been loving and tender with her and has shown no signs of jealousy yet. He tries to be helpful by getting diapers, shaking the formula up, and giving her a pacifier if she starts to cry. Sometimes it’s a little too rough but he’s only 18 months old and doesn’t know his own strength but it’s been encouraging to see him love his little sister so much.
This past week, as expected, has been an extreme ride on an emotional roller coaster. In addition to our new arrival, we had to deal with some scary news. Vanessa had a mole removed from her leg a few weeks ago that turned out to be melanoma. A week ago- less than 48 hours after Vanessa gave birth to Reese- Vanessa had to have Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy surgery to remove more tissue from around the mole and to remove two lymph nodes. We got the news this morning that there were no traces of the cancer spreading. (Suck it, cancer.) Spending the first week of my daughter’s life waiting for results to see if my wife’s skin cancer had spread or not was overwhelming at times. Needless to say, we breathed a huge sigh of relief when we found out Vanessa is all clear.
We are overjoyed to have a new baby while at the same time extremely sad that Reese will never know Charlie. While we both know that this feeling will always be with us, I don’t think either of us expected it to be this intense this past week. We both know and feel that Charlie can never be replaced. However, I do think that we both subconsciously thought that maybe Reese’s birth would help alleviate some of our pain. It hasn’t. Not even a little. It’s actually been magnified because having a baby is an emotionally charged experienced and we’re carrying sad emotions everyday. In addition to being parents to a new baby girl, we’re parents to a dead son. That’s a fact. So every high that we experience will always have our grief attached to it (like that anchor I wrote about in my last post). It could be three, ten, or fifty years from now; we’ll still be grieving Charlie. It’s unfair to both of our living children but this our life. There’s nothing we can do to change it so we’re going to continue to live it how we see fit. That means making both Danno and Reese aware that they had an older brother through stories, pictures, and videos. That means not avoiding our emotions and guilt but talking about them openly with each other and those we trust.
The guilt keeps choking me out. I feel guilty that I subconsciously thought that Reese would be able to ease my pain. It’s unfair of me to saddle her with my grief and think she can carry this for me. I am proud of myself -amazing, I know- that I recognize this and know that I cannot allow myself to think Reese is here to make things better. Can Reese and Dan help me? Absolutely. But I can’t expect them to do the work. I have to carry it and make sure it doesn’t drag them down or make them feel inadequate because they’re not Charlie. I’m going to love them for who they are and not dwell on who they are not. I’m going to try to take this guilt I have and use it as fuel to get back to being the father I know I can be for Dan and Reese.
To my daughter Reese,
I’ve loved you since the moment I laid eyes on you. I promise to be the best father I can be to you. I promise to be here for you whenever you need me. (And probably when you don’t need or want me to be there too.) I promise to love, encourage, support and protect you all of the days of my life.
Here are some pictures of our daughter Reese:
Here is a picture of Danny, my niece Natalie, Reese, and my nephew Mike. My sister Colleen delivered Mike on February 26th. Danno gently put his arm “around” Natalie when we started taking pictures. He kept it there for the majority of the “photo shoot”. We all got a good laugh. He’s quite the character.
Here’s a picture of Danno and Reese by the brick that was dedicated in Charlie’s honor at the Park Ridge Public Library. It makes me sick to know that Danno and Reese will be brought to places with plaques and bricks that honor their older brother that they’ll never personally know.