Life is really strange. People say stuff like that a lot and when I hear it or read it, I usually roll my eyes at the cliche. And yet, as I sit here typing this, the only statement that feels entirely true is that. Life is strange.
In five days, my twins will turn one year old. When I typed that just now, it felt sort of like someone punched me in my chest-right where the heart is. I’ve known this was coming. Actually scratch that. I genuinely feel lucky that this day is coming. That we have made it this far. Lots of life is tragedy and I am sincerely and completely grateful for what I’ve been given. But I also need to comment on this occasion. Why is life strange? As I said, the babies are almost 365 days old. 365 days of diapers. 365 days of crying for no reason. 365 days of giggles and funny baby toots and milestones like crawling or rolling over. 365 days of my heart growing and breaking and growing again. 365 days of challenges that I am fucking thrilled to be able to have experienced. And tonight, just 360 days after their birth, I am sleeping in our downstairs bedroom alone because my husband is upstairs with a violent stomach bug. And in ten days, it will be 370 days since I came home from the hospital, to this room. Alone. Without my babies. And at the time, I felt like my heart was going to fall out of my body. I sat on the bed. This bed. And I looked around for my babies and I listened for the all night crying I had been warned about and I saw and I heard nothing. Because I was home from a surprise c-section almost two months early and my babies were in the NICU with tubes down their noses and iv’s in their arms without me. Without their mother.
In this room, I felt the joy of my milk coming in and the prospect of breast feeding my two beautiful babies, something I worried about doing for personal health reasons, become a reality. I felt the pain of abdominal surgery as I tried to get up on my own in the night and use the bathroom. In this room I came home from my twice daily visits to the hospital to visit the babies and in this room I felt the first pangs of post-partum depression set in. I can remember sitting on the bed, this bed, and weeping and feeling so incredibly guilty because of it that I almost couldn’t stand it. I hated myself for feeling this way. No, I was physically repulsed by myself for feeling what I had read about secretly in doctor’s offices in the months leading up to the delivery. In this room I felt it. Sitting here now, I can feel so much of it again. I can smell it in the air (frankly it’s mixed with the diaper genie across the room that is filled to the brim with diapers). I can smell Fall coming and with it is a flood of memories of that time. In this room.
But here I am-all this time later-and I am struggling so profoundly with their turning one year old. I want to go back. I want to do it all over again. I want the surprise hospital visit and the IV and the nurse who told me “you’re having those babies tonight darling” and the doctor and the epidural and the c-section and the sound my baby boy made when he breathed air for the first time and the way our baby girl wiggled and squirmed in my arms the first time I held her. I want it all again because even as hard as it was, I loved it. Even when I thought it would never be right again and that I had made a mistake and should have never become a mother, I still loved it somewhere inside me.
Somehow them turning one closes this door and moves us out of a place we’ve been into a place that sounds scary. Toddlers. Pre-school. On the other hand, I am so proud of them for turning one and for being such badass, one of a kind little ones. I love them so much. Every way I try to describe my love for them comes out as a cliche-something that has been said a million times before. I will say this in an attempt to capture it. My love feels like a bruise. Something that is so present and physical and throbbing. And the love you have for your child can be painful which is a strange thing to say when you consider how amazing it makes you feel. But it’s painful because it is so raw and harsh and real that it scares the living shit out of me. I have never felt more vulnerable and more open than I do now.
I know in my heart that I am lucky to have my beautiful children turning one. And I know more than it seems how life can change in one breath of an instant. So I know that I need to shut the hell up and to enjoy this beautiful leg of the journey as I prepare for the next one. So as I sit in this room (smelling their diapers), I am going to allow myself to mourn the moments that are no longer here but to also honor how much I’ve accomplished-we have accomplished in the last 360 days. I became a mother. My husband became a father. My parents and in-laws became grandparents and my sister an aunt. Our lives were changed forever by these two perfect beings and while this room reminds me of the past and what happened 360 days ago, it also reminds me of how far I’ve come. How far we’ve come. And for that I feel proud and brave and strong. In this room.