Posts filed under ‘deep thoughts’

Lucky

It is foolish for me to sit at the computer, having poured myself a thimbleful of scotch, and attempt to write. It is 1:20 a.m. and I’ve just completed the midnight feeding (our schedule is loosening, as I’ve mentioned.) And yet, it seems important, and inexplicably I’m left with a little gas in the tank. This struck me as a special feeding, and it further strikes me that we’re at a rather special juncture in this trip. Our boys are growing. They’re no longer NBs but now 0-3s, and they exert their share of heft on the planet. They are beginning to follow shakers and other cushy black and white toys with their eyes, and their little twitchy, squinty smiles – which they either do, or do not mean to make – are increasing in both frequency and duration. Sometimes when I look at one of those unconscious little contortions of happiness, I think it is almost inconceivable that we would have been blessed with these adorable sons and that they will also smile, intentionally, each and every one of them.

We have traversed our parental path without intentional smiles for perhaps longer than most parents do (it will be ten weeks tomorrow). We have, in fact, been riding without clear outward signs of recognition altogether. I don’t have real reason, thus far, to believe that the boys can distinguish me from any other sentient being (except probably the cat), but that does little to diminish the heartrending capacity of their breath in my ear, or their weight on my chest. I do not offer this thought as complaint, and it causes me not the slightest grief. I love the boys, and if their love for me and all my specificity has not yet fully aligned itself, I know that they need me, just as they need their mama, and that they are grateful for the relief I bring when I remove their wrecked and raunchy diapers, or bring silicone nipples filled with a House Blend of my own laborious concoction (with ingredients provided by God-via-Alex and Similac) to their puckered lips, or wrest their howling and contorting selves from their spot on the mattress and pull them close to me, bouncing and singing, kissing their red cheeks and soothing their woes away. Those boys have it pretty good with me, I’m the second best thing they got, and I feel pretty secure that one day they’ll understand that.

So this is an in-between moment, or better still an on-the-cusp moment. Maybe tomorrow the boys – Pablo first, most likely – will smile unmistakably and on purpose. Maybe they’ll point at me when I enter the room and offer forth some jubilant coo that sounds suspiciously like “Da!”  But in the just-before time, these waning days during which the boys and the cat have more in common in their disposition towards me than they subsequently will, I enjoyed some specialness.

The solo late-night feeds I have described here previously. I have even posted audio evidence. They begin in chaos. I deswaddle the troops, try to keep all balls in the air, but what I really juggle are bawls, and Alex sometimes (as she did tonight) sleepwalks out of the bedroom and says she’ll help. Tonight, as always, I sternly ordered her back: “I can handle this!” The boys and I need her to sleep, to nurture her supply. She complied. And I gradually got the triple team changed and situated and feeding. I lately employ a bottle propper, just one, which I supervise closely, in order to comfortably feed three at a time. Once I got my fanny on the carpet and sucking had begun in earnest, things went smoothly. The boys ate and burped, and even almost patiently waited for me during those interudes when I couldn’t hold their bottle or curve them awkwardly and pound them to release trapped air. They managed not to doze off too thoroughly to be able to continue eating, and they all made it to the last drop. Pablo even demanded a refill – albeit one of which he did not entirely dispose. 

In the minutes after they all finished, the awake time, I had Pablo and Levi on bouncies on either side of me, and Satch dead center in a boppy. The boys were alert, their eyes glistening. They seemed somehow to expect something of me. Well, I’m a rotten story teller. I opted instead for the guitar, which basically lives in one of the cribs for now. I grabbed it and sat back down, Indian style, and offered forth a little concert. I swear to you that Satch – who seems to me to be the most musically sensitive – scowled at the first out-of-tune chord I played, but quickly readjusted his attitude once I worked my magic on the silvery knobs. I sang a few songs, all of my own composition, some old, some new. I closed up with the two recent ones that I’ve posted here on the blog. And as I’m singing these songs, one foot away from the very special audience for whom they were intended, that overwhelming word – one I’ve used before in this space – descended upon my consciousness with force. If this ain’t Lucky, I don’t know what is. I sang and strummed, and watched each boy yawn in turn, their eyelids growing heavy, their small shapes melding into the vessels which supported them.  I am singing these boys to sleep, I thought, alone here in the quiet nursery, after the witching hour, with empty bottles and used up burp cloths strewn about. This is the performance of my lifetime, the audience I have been training for for nearly four decades. It won’t get any better than this.

I let my last chord ring, an E, rich and resonant in the body of my fancy new guitar. I plunked the ax back in its spot, and then one by one, lifted the boys into their crib, where hats and swaddles awaited redeployment. As I carried them in, still singing strains of “Everybody’s going to sleep now” with new, customized and made-up words, I felt a pleasing sensation pushing through the exhaustion, and it was unfiltered happiness. How lucky I am to share these magic moments, midnight concerts in the still and stunning nursery, in the presence of those boylets who are just now learning to love me. 

Well, 1:20 has quickly yielded to 2:14. It becomes simply irresponsible if I continue (but I will edit obsessively for at least another 10 minutes, after which time the current sentence may or may not still exist [it’s still here! but now it’s 2:24!]). Just a few thoughts that amount to I know not what. In the morning they’d be gone though, so I’m happy to have bottled them here and now. And now, we sleep.

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February 1, 2009 at 2:39 am 1 comment

Long day’s journey

Well friends, somehow we’ve gotten to the other end of this mad day. Alex and I are both feeling the kind of well-earned exhaustion you’re lucky enough to ride to sleep upon only once in an odd while. Our boys are sleeping peacefully – occasionally fidgeting, stretching, and practicing karate. Alex made it into a wheelchair and the two of us shared a nightcap with the wee lads, who really do seem to be in the hands of neonatological greatness. The vibe over there in the NICU is utmost confidence, and the nurses and doctors who so lovingly tend to our new kin seem possessed of an almost preternatural goodness. In my emotionally heightened state it’s all I can do to refrain from slapping bear hugs on the lot of them.

My earlier thoughts on the fire outside our window got me thinking, though. It’s easy enough to glance back over the peaks (many) and valleys (almost none) of today and tritely state how lucky we are without feeling it to our bones. I mean there’s no doubt we’re truly feeling SOMETHING in those spots – the wave of emotion that sweeps over you as you look over your newly begotten boy gently fighting to make the Adjustment is well nigh indescribable. Know that feeling, and then imagine it anew and anew and understand how we may just lose our bearings.

But alongside this gratefulness at living a blessing, and really at its core, comes the need to remember, and to think with compassion, understanding and love on those less fortunate. I don’t speak of the general huddled masses – for whom you can be assured I harbor great feeling. But instead for those who so desperately cling to a dream of having a day like Alex and I shared today. You see, we did not arrive easily at this destination, and there were many, many nights when the possibility that we would never have a child of our own loomed terrifyingly large, shattering our sleep and poisoning our wakefulness. It seems so incredibly easy to forget our long struggle in the warmth of our current success, but there were stretches of time where neither Alex nor I could have even risen to extend the kind of heartfelt good wishes so many of you have generously conferred upon us. Times when each new announcement of joy and expectation seemed to tear another hole in us and underline our failure.

It has been good fun today to have 1600 hits on the blog, and to so publicly celebrate our good fortune. But infertility is experienced in private. It often feels like an unsharable burden, and one that can threaten to consume a person or a couple whole. We have somehow crossed over to the other side – as our family and a handful of confidantes assured us we would. But amidst their assurances we knew, we always knew, that there were no guarantees for us. It wasn’t necessarily going to be okay; no-one owed us a happy ending. Sometimes bad things, or sad things happen to good people.

Tonight when we visited Pablo, Levi and Satchel (the second L is gone by popular demand) in the NICU, it was a relaxed moment. Essentially a celebration that our boys were thriving – albeit still in need of a little help. Not everyone’s time in the NICU goes that way. On our path towards triple parenthood we’ve followed the story of so many others traversing the same route, some of whom were unable to sustain their pregnancies to the point that we have, some of whose kids had grave problems upon entering this world, and some of whom ultimately suffered the loss of one or more of their sons or daughters.

I feel lucky that the NICU here is open 24 hours a day, that there’s a team of talented, I dare say brilliant, professionals there at all times, looking after our little bundles with the greatest of care. But so far neither Alex nor I knows the terror of hoping against hope that our child will live to fight another day. In our little cocoon down there, with each of our boys nested in adjoining, private, sun-filled rooms, we know only brightness and love. We hope to keep it that way too.

So I just want to end this magical day with a little prayer of sorts. One that expresses my deep, deep gratitude, not only for all the love and support we’ve received from so many quarters, but also just for our tremendous good fortune, which it is a folly to pretend we deserve. Alex and I feel blessed in a way that my fanciest words don’t have strength to convey. But ultimately I don’t want my prayer to end up being about us, or even about our brand new boys, who lie sleeping (I hope) one floor below us. I want to give my prayer to those who suffer as we once did, or as we never have, and perhaps never will. I want the full force of my prayer to soothe you to sleep, to give you hope, to remind you that you’re not alone, that the darkest, dampest moments will pass. It doesn’t always turn out that way. But sometimes it does.

November 24, 2008 at 6:02 am 11 comments


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