The First Time

Originally published on the Momoir Project.

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The First Time

Most of the early days consisted of staring at my twin boys through the glass of their isolettes. I held one of them whenever they could tolerate it, although often times neither of them could. It was a fine balance between giving them time to stabilize on my chest, and returning them to the safety of their isolettes before they were caused any stress. Having babies that were regularly too unstable to handle my touch was an unbearably helpless feeling.

Fifty-nine days after their premature birth I went to visit them, as I had done every other day, except something was different about the way the staff were looking at me. In a panic, I asked our nurse what was wrong. With a timid smile she assured me the boys were doing well and they thought today I might try holding them at the same time. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing – I was about to hold both of my boys together. I had desperately longed for this, but had been forced to suppress my hope because I was so tired of the daily disappointments. Today it was actually happening and I couldn’t do anything but cry uncontrollably. I had envisioned this moment more times than I could count, and now, it was finally here.

After I composed myself, the boys were very carefully laid on my chest, their fragile bodies almost weightless. Their tiny faces peeked up at me through a mass of tubes and blankets. With every assisted breath, their chests rose and fell rhythmically against mine. I softly touched my lips to the top of their heads and enveloped them with my arms, ensuring they felt each others’ presence. I watched their heart rate monitors and saw that everything was within normal range; they were adjusting well. I tried to relax and take it all in, but sat completely still for fear of distressing them. Holding my babies should have come naturally moments after they were born, and yet here we were two months and hundreds of complications later.

Like always, the room was full of staff, families, and relentlessly beeping equipment, but it felt as though the boys and I were the only ones in the room. I saw the pure joy on everyone’s faces around me and realized that they too had been anxiously awaiting this moment. As I looked down on the miraculous babies I was holding, I felt at peace for the first time since their birth. They still had a long and uncertain road ahead of them, but for those few precious minutes everything was as it should be. My boys were exactly where they belonged.