Friday, February 06, 2009

I Love . . . Charlie

Yeah, I realize that almost all my 'love-you's' are people, and that that's not so interesting, perhaps, to everyone else, but, it's what I love--the people in my life.

When I became pregnant with twins, it was a miracle. And then when I carried them to 35 weeks, that was an even greater miracle. 

The whole time they were in my belly, Baby B moved around regularly, busily kicking and bouncing from side to side. It was easy to find his heartbeat on the monitor, it was easy to feel connected to him. 

Baby A, however, found his spot in my tummy and stayed there, only moving his little hands and feet, but never changing his position, for at least two months. It was difficult to find his heartbeat on the monitor and because he rarely moved, I rarely felt him, rarely knew he was even there except for the pressure his head caused as it was pressed against my cervix for two-plus months.

Even though his Apgar score was 9:9 (excellent), it was standard procedure for twins to be rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for observation. His brother, Baby B, had much lower Apgar scores, so from the beginning I worried more for Baby B.

After a brief introduction to them, both babies were whisked away, and much to my surprise, it was Baby B who was brought to my room later that day. Baby A, it turned out, was having difficulty breathing on his own and was now ensconced in an isolette in the NICU.

Baby B was doing so well, he was allowed to room-in with me and we bonded instantly. Baby A, remained a mystery to me.

Baby A was not brought to me at all in my room. He was connected to too many monitors and tubes to be moved. I was not able to just pop down to see him whenever I wanted because I needed to be wheeled in a chair. 

I couldn't see him. Or, I didn't want to see him.

I let everyone believe it was the former, but in truth, it was in large part the latter that I did not see Baby A for three days.

When I did finally go see him, he was a stranger to me. He was nearly naked, so tiny and scrawny, his little hat pulled down over his eyes, so many tubes and wires strung around him like a mutant child that had grown strange spider legs. I didn't really want to hold him, but after some convincing by an angel, I did. 

Once I had overcome that first fear, that early resistance to this child I didn't know, I embraced him and had a hard time letting him go when it was time to go to my room. My husband gave him a blessing and it came to us that his name should be called Charles. He had a name now. No longer a stranger, he belonged to me.

But a day later, Baby B and I were released. Because we could not take a well-baby into the NICU with us, for a week afterward I was only able to see Charlie once a day. Meanwhile, Baby B (who still didn't have a name) were bonding and growing in love for one another. 

When it came time to pick Charlie up from the hospital, I was hesitant and nervous. Once again, he felt like a stranger. We had to learn how to remove and replace the Gavage tube that was his source of nourishment because he could not suckle sufficiently on his own. We had to learn how to do CPR on him in case he stopped breathing. I was terrified I couldn't properly care for him. He was breakable. He was vulnerable. I was not a perfect mother. And I was so afraid I couldn't do it.

It took another angel, this time my sister, to help me reconnect with Charlie. She came from Nova Scotia to help me care for the babies, and happened to arrive just the day before Charlie came home. I had been home for a week carrying for one baby, but I was really afraid of what it would be like once Charlie came home and there were suddenly two.

After that, things got better between me and Charlie, but the truth is, I never felt as connected to him, as I did to Baby B--who we named Alexander and called Xander for short. 

I held this truth in my heart like a dirty secret. No mother should have favorites--we all knew that. And yet, I didn' t feel as natural or as comfortable with Charlie, and I feared what it said about me.
me and charlie at about one month old

As Charlie grew, the distance between us remained. I did everything I could to hide it, to pretend, but I can't kid myself into thinking it wasn't there.

Charlie developed behaviors that only added to the distance between us. He favored his dad. He didn't like to be snuggled by me, and any other number of small little things that compounded the lack of closeness.

I have often prayed for him, and for myself, that we could come to love one another. That the boy inside him could shine. I received many promptings that have helped me bridge the gap between us, but still . . . he was so, so far away.

That is, until this year.

As you know, I've been homeschooling the boys this year. I don't know why or how the changes have happened, but it seems that our love has taken on a Superman persona and has managed to leap over tall buildings in a single bound. There is no distance between us now. I believe he knows that I love him. 

And, with the deepest gratitude, I know that I love him too. 

It has been a long journey for us, but like all battles hard fought, the victory is all the more sweet. Now when I hold him--when he lets me hold him--I cherish the moment, I drink it in. This is my boy. And my love for him has finally been sufficient to fill the chasm between us. 

And miracle of miracles . . . he loves me too.