Have you ever wondered what life would have been if you had a brother or sister? Or what if you never had one? What if you found out you did have a sibling?
I had a brother.
I don’t know his name, I don’t know when he was born and I don’t even know him.
What I do know is that he died at birth of a tight nuchal cord.
A nuchal cord is when the umbilical cord fully wraps around a newborn’s neck. There is also the Type B Pattern, where the cord cannot be undone and wraps into a true knot, according to Mosby Medical dictionary, a site for defining medical terms. For my brother, he unfortunately died by suffocation because of it.
In a six-year study of more than 200,000 births, 6.6 percent of newborns are born with a nuchal chord, according to a study by the Journal of Perinatology, the official medical journal of the California Perinatal Association, in 2013. The chances of complications with a nuchal cord are slim to none, according to a study by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health.
He was the first one of three children my mother produced, along with my sister and me.
I found out about this two years ago when I jokingly asked my mother if I had a brother.
She said yes, but of course I thought she was joking.
She then told me that he was my first sibling. I asked for his name and where he was. Then she told me he died.
I didn’t take her seriously at first. I asked if she was joking, but she said it was true.
Ever since hearing this, I never really thought about him, until now.
A few months later after hearing this, I asked my mom why we never visited his grave.
It’s because he was cremated soon after his death since a funeral would be too expensive.
Knowing this hurts. Not just because I had a brother, but now I have this knowledge and have no clue what to do with it.
It makes me think, “What if it was me or my sister who was born first?’ and how different my life could have been if he was around. I could have had someone to relate to and a male role model in the family.
I guess the worst part is not growing up without a brother but knowing nothing about him. There is nothing to remember him by. No grave for him, no picture, not even a name.
And it’s unfortunate because my mother and I don’t talk about it. And I don’t even think my sister and my family knows besides my uncle.
I wish my mother would talk about it with me, but I understand why. Being a young mother in her early 20s, losing your very first child is extremely painful.
Maybe down the line, I will gain more appreciation for my sister and family the more I think about him.
Maybe one day my mother and I can come together to discuss it and give him a name and talk about how he’d probably be annoying like myself.
But I do know one thing: I had a brother. And it pains me every time I think about him.
Email Alex Ayala at firstname.lastname@example.org