I lied after the boys were born. I remember my mother asking me one day in the NICU, whether I felt the circumstances of their birth were impacting my bond with them. "Of course not." I believed myself. I loved them, and that meant everything. I had my babies. We were all, ultimately, going to be okay.
It is entirely possible to be blind to things sitting right in front of your face. My first impressions of Rhys: I would have known he was my baby in a lineup of a million others. And I felt like he didn't need me. My 5lb, 2oz preemie just seemed so strong. So independent. I kept this thought to myself. And refused to consider what it might mean. My first impression of Quin? Hardly exists. I don't remember the first time I saw him. Or held him. I remember laying alone in recovery, and the NICU doctor coming to explain to me that Quin was experiencing respiratory distress syndrome. In a haze of postpartum hormones and god only knows what drugs from the delivery, I couldn't register the seriousness of the conversation. I wavered between feeling giggly and overly, confidently relaxed. It will be okay. It will alllllll be okay.
I know that I held them for the first time the next day. I don't remember it. I don't know who I held first or what I said or who was there. I don't know how long I was with them. I desperately wanted to try breastfeeding and somehow convinced the nurses to let me try. What I remember from that is trying to hide from all present the fact that I kept passing out, or falling asleep. Slipping away.
My intentions were so good. My desires were so grand. The next year, two years, perhaps, revolved around one thing and one thing only. Survival in the best way we knew how. There was no time to think. To reflect. To mourn.
It wasn't what it was supposed to be. It became its own, as life does. We went with it. We survived.
But somewhere, hidden below the surface, I fell further and further into the rabbit hole. Things don't just fall away. I never had a chance to grieve the lost first moments of motherhood. We were okay. I had no right to be anything but grateful.
I wish I had seen Quin's face. I wish I could write out the emotions of the first time I cradled them in my arms. I wish I could describe to you the lioness inside of me who awakened to fight til the death for my vulnerable newborns. I don't have any of that to share with you. I don't have any of that to savor for myself.
And that is why I broke.
But this is our journey. It is not what I'd dreamed about. Our beginning has fractures. Holes. Heartbreak. And grief. Oh the grief. But it is our shared history. I don't know why. But it is ours. My boys and I. We are strong. Resilient. Enduring in our love. Forgiving. Letting go. Our roots begin with the understanding that we don't get to choose how it will be. Only how we grow from it.