Friday, August 23, 2013

Snuggles and injustice

My younger sister, Jillian, was here for the last two weeks. I love it when she visits, and it's even more fun now that she has kids. Her son, Sam, splits the difference between Rose and Eli (they were the triple threat), and Emmy is two months old and a little bundle of love.

A two-month-old is a full-time job. She eats every two or three hours, and when she's not eating, she wants to be held. And when you set her down, you can barely resist picking her up again because she is just so darn cute-- so tiny and adorable and smiley. She fit just perfectly up on my shoulder, and since she only weighs ten pounds, she was pretty easy to cart around everywhere. Between my mom and my godmother and my grandma and the kids, I don't think she got set down much the entire time she was here.

But for me, holding her was a little bittersweet. It reminded me of holding my own babies, which was wonderful, and which I miss (although I do not miss being woken up in the middle of the night, but that might be because my two-year-old still likes to keep that memory fresh for me).

Every time she cried, and I held her, or someone else rushed to pick her up and walk with her, it made me think about Rose and Eli. When they cried, who held them? Was there a nanny who walked the halls with them at 11:30 at night and they were fussing? Was there someone who burped them and wiped up their spit up? Was there someone who changed them into cute outfits and cooed over how adorable they were? In my revisionist mama heart, I hope that there was, but I doubt it. I can tell from the way that Eli still doesn't cry when he wakes up-- we have to go into his room and get him, even when he's awake. I can tell from the way that Rose holds on to me so fiercely, and pushes me away with just as much strength.

And there's nothing I can do to change that. There is no way to go back and fill up every empty place that grew inside them when they cried and no one answered. As much as I would love to turn back time and hold their two-month-old selves, the reality is that I didn't even know them in pictures at that age. Rose was five months the first time we saw her, and we had to wait six more, knowing she was lying in a crib all day, until we could clear the red tape to become her parents. Eli was six months older than that. And that's so unfair. Those babies were just as sweet, precious, and deserving of being held, adored and loved as Emmy, and as their mom, I feel guilty for not being able to protect them from the times they cried and wanted love.

I wish I could say that the love they have now would make everything all better. Maybe it will. I do love these babies fiercely. We all do. But sometimes I'm tired, busy, lazy and don't give them my all. And that makes me feel even worse than when I occasionally ignored my bigger kids, because even though I've failed them time and again as they grew, I was there for them every moment when they were infants. I only hope that somehow, some way, Rose and Eli will be able to heal and overcome the lonely and isolating first few months, and that love and family and effort will make up the difference.

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