Where to begin…The moments following the birth of our children were…too many things. They were amazing, overwhelming, uncertain, humbling… All of the things.
I was escorted from the operating room by a couple of nurses. I kissed Aly’s forehead and told her I’d see her soon, but I needed to go with our babies. They thankfully didn’t have any NICU time, Bella being just above the weight limit required. We were taken to Recovery to wait for Aly to get out of surgery and to do the first of several assessments on the babies.
I struggle to find words here to describe what this time was like, but I’ll try. It was beautiful, and heart wrenching, it was intimidating, and defining. We, meaning, myself, Arabella, and Bennett, were taken to a curtained off room. Empty, save for some medical equipment I knew would be used to monitor Aly once she arrived. The nurses wheeled in Bella and Benny and started doing some quick vitals. All I could do was stand at what I thought was a respectful distance (this seems funny to me now, they’re my children afterall). I watched the nurses do their work and make sure that our two latkes were doing ok. Bella seemed so much smaller than Benny. In retrospect, it was only a pound, but, since then, we’ve taken to calling her “delicate” and him “stocky,” so the difference looks much more severe than it is. , Really, the only difference in their vitals was that Bella had a little trouble maintaining her body temperature, so they turned on the heat lamp overhead of her bassinet and told me she was perfect and so was Benny. I already knew this.
Once the vitals were done, the nurse that had been attending to Benny turned to me, and asked me if I wanted to hold him. My response to this question now, makes me chuckle when I think about it, and I’m sure it always will. I wonder how many new parents are like I was in their uncertainty about their new role as a parent, as I answered, “can I?” I asked the nurse permission to hold my son, really hold him for the first time, and she laughed and said, “of course” before placing him solidly into my arms.
My son slept soundly as I stared in awe. I had pulled up a seat, so that I could be stable holding him for the first time, much as you would do for a child who is being introduced to a baby for the first time. Again, this is humorous to me now. She placed him in my arms and after making sure I had him well in hand, quietly stepped out of the room. This moment was one of many humbling ones I had that evening. I searched my mind for what to do next. I loved him already, this was absolute. I looked up into the bassinet holding his sister and confirmed, yes, this was true for her as well. My heart belonged to both of them and their Mommy, with whom I was very anxious to be reunited and share this moment. I began a light rock in the chair on which I sat and inadvertently began to hum the first tune that came to my head: “All Is Found,” from Frozen II.
I alternated staring at both Benny and Bella as I hummed, unaware, and uncaring if anyone else was hearing me, or I was off tune. I was in awe and this song, and his warmth in my arms, and her sleeping form in front of me, grounded me to the moment. I missed Aly terribly and when Bella’s nurse came in to check on how her temperature was progressing, I asked if there was any news on when she would be out of surgery. This was the first of many inquiries over however long it took until she was being rolled into the room we were waiting for her in, her son, daughter, and I. While I waited for the nurse to find out, I stared again at my beautiful children and tried to let that sink in. They were my children. Our children. They were here. And my God, how stunning were they? I ran my hands softly over every feature of Benny’s beautiful face and placed my hand on Bella’s head inside her bassinet, not wanting to disturb whatever treatment she was getting from the heat lamp overhead.
It’s funny, three weeks in, I reflect on these moments and consider how I treated them exactly how I thought I would. Like crystal. Like they were breakable because I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing.
Aly was eventually rolled in from surgery and, even in her medicated state, she was just as in awe as I was at the beautiful children she had made in her tummy. Shortly after getting her settled, Benny’s nurse came in and asked if I’d like to help feed them. Again, I answered with the same apprehension, and anxious anticipation. “Can I? I’d love to.” And then I was holding Bella in my arms for the first time, feeding her and it hit me again. This extraordinary love. Aly and I have taken to calling it, “crazy.” I don’t know how many times a day we say, “it’s crazy how much I love them. They’re perfect.”
While we were in recovery, for the 8 hours we were there, I fed both of them and held them both, and comforted them both, each time, growing more confident in my ability to do so. At first, when they cried, I was only brave enough to place my hand lightly on them and rock them back and forth, not having had permission from the nurse to pick them up. Again, this is funny to me now. Aly had skin to skin for the first time with both of the babies there as I looked on and fell in love again and again.
In the days following, while Aly recovered, I slowly shed the apprehension I had felt in our beginning moments in recovery and the babies and I got to know each other. When Benny had his first poopie diaper, I asked the nurse to teach me how to clean him properly and every change since then, has been relatively without fear (there have been some doozies that have left me with a healthy level of fear, lol).
Since we’ve left the hospital, Aly and I have only fallen more for our latkes. We spend an inordinate amount of time staring at them. I take an obscene amount of pictures and live for the smell of their skin and feel of their hands wrapping around my fingers. I never expected parenthood to be like this. So, all-consuming. We freely admit we’re obsessed with our babies. Lol. We’re absolutely crazy for them. Aly said to me, “if there was anything else in the world that interrupted our life as much as these babies, we would loathe it, how can we love them this much?” To which I responded, “I don’t know, but they do, and we really do.” That’s to say nothing about how you all of a sudden are able to function on exponentially less sleep than before they got here. It’s what I’m calling, the “parenting phenomenon.” Though I’m sure there’s something much more scientific about it. We keep saying we’re swimming in Oxytocin and that’s what’s giving us our superhuman energy.
I get life now from the moments when they fall asleep against my chest and when I feel and see them growing. It fills me with joy when Aly cuddles with them and I am in awe of myself, to be honest, and the side of myself that I didn’t know existed but comes out around these babies so naturally. I am unabashedly silly and unrepentantly affectionate. I kiss feet and noses and smell heads and in the moments between feeding, and playing, and changing, when we have some quiet time, I wonder how it’s possible that I didn’t know I was meant for this more than anything else.