I have always thought Alexander was a beautiful baby. Not just because he's my baby, but because he took my breath away when I saw his picture. I was shocked with myself that I didn't actually hold and take in every part of his earthly flesh after he was born. He was so beautiful. His lips were full just like mine. His nose was a mix of mine and Daniel. His hair was light brown and long that curled oh so slightly (you really have to look to see the curl). His ears were big like his Daniel's. But he was full of newborn baby sweetness that I had never seen before.
Theodore wasn't a "cute" newborn. I'm not sure if it's because he was induced 2.5 weeks before his due date... or if he just wasn't "cute", but thankfully he grew into some cuteness down the line. But Alexander was a cutie. Maybe because he looked more like me as a newborn than Daniel (*snicker* sorry Daniel), but I couldn't believe I lost such a perfect child.
There were about 12 pictures of him given to us on a photo card included with our "you just had a dead baby" package we left the hospital with the day after he was born. They also printed one picture that was in the pillow tucked next to the blanket he was laid against for the pictures. I looked at that picture a few days after we got home from the hospital. I hated it. Who ever was working the camera didn't get enough light in the shot. And it was printed on such a dark setting... it made his already purplish skin tone that much more deadly. I looked at that picture and was horrified that I let what ever happened to my perfect baby happen. I then became so attached to that picture, and held it to my chest and cried ... endlessly some days... and I cradled my son desperately in this two dimensional form.
I'm not sure exactly when it was that Daniel and I put that little memory card into our computer. I know we initially thought that we had to find a camera that supported that card... and then one day, we were like, "hold on just a second here...." and saw that it could be inserted into our laptop. The file appeared and we were taken aback. Like, oh my god... there he is...
There were pictures of him at different angles taken what looked like minutes after he was born. Nothing looked all that flat or sunken. There was one angle in which if I wasn't an expert, and just quickly glanced at this baby... I might not know that he actually was dead. Unfortunately, if you let your eyes study the details, you can see that something is just not quite right. I showed this picture to my family. Proud and heartbroken, I told each person individually, "I want to show you Alexander...". 99% of the viewers wept along with me as the oh god have mercy, why did he have to die hit us once again after seeing this perfect baby.
I wanted to have that image of him printed and in our bedroom. I wanted the harshness of the reality to be softened... have it tinted to make everything look more angelic and him more ... alive. Totally gutted by the task, I had Daniel go to a photo store and have smalls prints done. I fixed the lighting and cropped the image so only the "perfect" parts of him were in the finished print. But the results weren't as perfect as I'd hoped. He still looked dead. And having this image in our home was too heartbreaking for me. I wanted him alive. I wanted him to look alive. And it just wasn't happening.
I knew my desire to have him up in our home somewhere wasn't gone. But at the time I didn't have it in me to press on and continue to find a solution with the very few pictures I had of my son.
As his second birthday approached, I felt the pull to do this. I was so hesitant to really try and complete this daunting task of reproducing an imagine of my dead child because I knew what I wanted couldn't actually be done. I wanted him to look like he was born alive. And because that didn't happen, I knew how impossible that would be to actually produce.
After Christmas, I knew I had to do something for his 2nd birthday. With Theodore so evident in our lives, I wanted to share Alexander so badly. I wanted to make him here a little bit more.
I, like many loss mothers I've seen, contacted Dana and with as much courage and strength I could muster, and I emailed her his pictures. I knew that even if I wasn't 100% pleased with the end result, it was a step towards lightening this load I've carried in my heart about sharing images of him. I didn't hold myself to any obligations to show anyone after they were done, or even frame them or display them. It was just me asking a lovely soul to see my son, and draw him.
And that she did. And they were beautiful.
Today is Alexander's 2nd birthday. Two feels so much different than One. In some ways harder, and in other's, a lot easier. I will try to share more about the complexity of 2 another day.
Today, I will show you my son. Who I love and miss more than anything I could ever express in black and white text. His absence is enormous. And my heart feels it every day.
I love you Alexander. I will pray for gentle days until we meet again.