At this time a year ago, my wife Kristen and I were thrilled to be expecting our first son, William. Just ten days after a perfect anatomy scan, William died. It has been almost exactly a year since that day. Now we are expecting another little boy, Noah, who is only five days behind where William was on this day last year. A lot of the things that are happening in our lives right now remind me of last year, and that’s made me think about the strangeness of being the father of an angel while watching another baby grow.
Well, with Noah, it’s not just watching anymore. As of last Monday, we’re able to feel him kick and punch and move from the outside. I had been nervous about feeling Noah. I felt William for the first time just days before he died. Would feeling Noah make me sad? Would I be able to feel happy about this new little life?
Being the father of an angel baby while watching another baby grow creates a strange mixture of emotions.
Love. I love Noah, who is growing and thriving in my wife’s womb. Grief. Noah wouldn’t exist if William had lived. I can only feel my greatest joy because I have lived my greatest sorrow.
Often I have to make a deliberate choice to focus on my love for Noah, and my love for William. That does not mean that I shove my grief aside. There is great social pressure on men to do this. Just since William died, I have been told, by various people, that I need to “just get over it” and that “eventually you will forget that this happened.” Both of these statements are ridiculous. I envy the people who said them, because they must not have suffered profound loss. But I have. And so, as Noah grows, I know just how precious he is, and how lucky I am.
I will always love William. I will always love Noah. I have two sons, and they are both amazing.