I don't even know how to process the last twenty four and some hours. In over a year, I haven't really been alone for longer than one night's sleep (the second night after you were born) or the length of time it takes to go to and from some appointment or another. Even when we were in Boston and you weren't staying with your Dad and me, I was at least with him, but not right now. I didn't think I would be excited to go back to work - frankly, I am still somewhat terrified at the prospect of interacting with human beings who aren't 100% focused on you or your care (or who are actually you, for that matter - but I think that even one full day alone has given me a sufficient need for meaningful human contact to make any affectionate contact appealing.
Today was weird on many levels. I woke up in your Dad and my bed surrounded by all three of our kitties, which was lovely, but otherwise alone. Nothing woke me up. No one needed me during the night. I didn't even really need to get out of bed, but for the fact that I got hungry and really wanted some coffee. As soon as I was out of bed, however, I was in action mode. I packed away a ton of the stuff we came home from Boston with, re-organized the kitchen (because your Gramma is well-intentioned, but does not put things in the same places as we do), and took a surprisingly unremarkable shower. The whole time, I kept reminding myself "Hudson and Ryan are just in Boston...they're just two hours away..." not because I was worried, but because I couldn't keep my brain wrapped around the fact that you're not just in the next room.
I don't have much to say. I spent a nice chunk of time flipping through photos of you this evening, and even longer this morning putting together a slide show of pictures of you and facts about heart transplants to share with my students tomorrow. I am really excited to see them, and not just because they are human beings who I can have any kind of meaningful interaction with, but because they were kind of my first kids. I've been with them for almost two years, and it is going to be REALLY strange for them to go off to high school and for me to stay in my classroom to receive a new batch of seventh graders. What can I say...I get attached. My big fear is that I will become aggressively maudlin and teary in the coming days without you there for me to fawn over. Obviously I can't just scoop up and snuggle a fifteen year old if I need a hug, but I might get gushy.
It's staggering the love you feel as a parent. I visited a friend in the hospital today who had her third daughter...erm...today...and who was just happily lounging in bed and snuggling her little girl. She so calmly, casually let me hold this incredible little creature she had made while telling me all about giving birth, plans for the summer, her other two girls, and life in general. At the same time, she hardly took her eyes off her daughter. While I was holding her (and holy crap does almost eight pounds feel tiny compared to your thirteen pounds of squirming glory), I was struck by how desperately sad I was that your Dad and I didn't get to hold you for days. Okay, I exaggerate: your Dad got to carry you across the room to me right after you were born, and you hung out on me for a few minutes before you were whisked to the NICU, but I hardly remember that happening at all. (I needed your Dad to remind me that ever even happened, since all I really retained was holding you for the few seconds right after you were born.) Obviously, we're doing our best to compensate now, but it is bizarre to consider the sheer volume of time we haven't gotten with you so far.
Because I'm weird like that, I've been re-reading "The Cider House Rules" by John Irving (which I hope you eventually read and love someday, but not too soon: it's got some serious darkness). Despite the enormous quantity of abortions that are performed or referenced by one of the main characters, Dr. Larch, I keep finding myself using the opening litany from his many written works when I start a new train of thought. "In other parts of the world..." ...parents get to hold their children right from the beginning. Children get to go home mere days after they are born, assuming they weren't born at home. Babies are pink right from the beginning. Some children never even see the inside of a hospital, and many don't feel a needle until their first immunizations, assuming they even get those. In other parts of the world, parents don't need to leave their children every night in an ICU. I am so overwhelmed with happiness for other parents who get to spend every second with their children right from the beginning, and so stymied that we didn't get to.
At the same time, that's all the parenting we ever knew. Seeing a new mother cuddling her baby, changing her diaper, feeding her, casually plopping her up on a shoulder to burp...this was all so weird to me. Beautiful, of course, but definitively weird. I'm caught off guard every time I see a parent grab a small child under her or his arms because we have NEVER gotten to do this with you; you've always been on precautions (which is such a contrived term, but part of our vernacular by virtue of interacting more with medical staff than anyone else in the last four months) because your sternum has always been recently opened. Really...what the fuck? It's pretty devastating not to be able to just wander into another room - or at worst, travel five minutes by car or foot - to see you at any given moment, but I guess in the grand scheme of totally weird shit that has happened in the last chunk of time, this is relatively unremarkable.