from a few days ago, when I wasn’t feeling well and he was my nurse
In my heart, I’ve always been a New Yorker. It’s been over a decade since I lived there, yet every year around this time I get really nostalgic for life in that magnificent city, and I miiiight have poked around Craigslist for apartments (ha!) in the midst of a “what if” moment last night. MAKE OF THAT WHAT YOU WILL, UNIVERSE.
But that is not what this post is about.
This post is about how, 35 weeks and 6 days ago, at 35 weeks and 6 days gestation, my sweet little babe – and he really is a little Babe, it’s uncanny – came into the world a month earlier than we had planned, in a way we could never have imagined. It was like a scene straight out of a television medical drama, surreal and terrifying. Although some time has passed since that day, the pain is as fresh today as it was when I woke up from anesthesia with no belly and a baby in the NICU. Each morning and night, as I massage my scar with rosehip seed and frankincense oils, I can’t help but recall the way it felt on that table, under those blinding lights, with those strangers who cut me open.
A lot of scary words were said that day. Brain damage. It’s too early to tell. We’ll just have to wait and see. When I was finally allowed to meet my brand new baby, nothing could have prepared me for the agonizing helplessness that washed over me as I gazed upon his tiny body riddled with tubes and wires and was told I could only touch him, not scoop him into my arms and cradle him close to me, just as all new mothers are wont to do. The tears flow freely as I write these words, and yet this is a happy story!
Tomorrow, Roux Huckleberry Baker will have been in the world longer than he was in my belly. And he is thriving. While a part of me will always mourn the tragic way in which our time together abruptly ceased, his life will always be a miracle. Yes, all babies are miracles, but he truly is my miracle. Each of those awful things that were said, all of the medical terms and conditions? None of them have come to pass. Not a one. His doctors could not be more amazed at his development, how far he has come since those first few dire moments when everything was uncertain and there were so many questions but not so many answers.
These days, the only real question is: why aren’t you sleeping, baby?
The thing about babies is, you love them so much, they feel like they are part of you. Like you are part of them. It’s an achingly beautiful experience, motherhood, and it’s one I’ve never taken lightly. Every moment, every milestone however big or small, every kiss and hug and eye roll (I do also have a preteen, ahem), they are all things I can’t bear to forget. But life is a long time, and memories do fade. And babies sure don’t keep. My tiny guy isn’t all that tiny anymore, in fact he’s rather mighty. Yet mightier still is my love for him, how deeply I have treasured these early days of his life, as fleeting and excruciating as they may have been.
The day he was born altered me forever, and I have a visible, tangible, physical reminder of exactly what I went through to bring him safely into this world. It clearly marks the end of a very special time, when I carried him inside my body. I’ve chosen to mark this day as well, so that I may have a memento of the end of this special time, having held him in my arms now as long as I held him inside.
It wasn’t actually until I had a scar, I mean a real gnarly scar, that I ever thought of my tattoos as a sort of scar. I’ve been collecting tattoos now for seven years, each one an important story. I’ve asked my own fiancé to do the honors this time around, utilizing this fancy kit, and so it is in commemoration of this momentous occasion that a new tattoo shall henceforth adorn my arm, right where my Huckle has been, and where he shall be forevermore.
here is the deepest secret that nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that is keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)