It’s been not quite four hours since I came out of anesthesia. “Can I go see my babies?” I ask the nurse. She’s very apologetic, but she’s just not ready to let me go yet. I’m so sad, but there’s a part of me that thinks, “Yeah, probably a good call”—I’m terribly unstable, quite loopy, and nodding off every few minutes. The desire to meet my sons is the only thing keeping me awake. Though the exploding leg cuffs help.
I have to pee. The nurse sits the bed all the way up and instructs me to turn myself and put both feet on the floor, which I do with great effort and much wincing. She loops my hands around her neck and lifts from my armpits. We shuffle in an even-more-awkward-than-normal, middle-school slow-dance configuration to the bathroom, where she lowers me gingerly to the toilet. Sweet relief.
Then she introduces me to the best thing about my hospital stay.
I mean, (spoiler alert!) my sons are great too, but have you worn disposable, hospital-issue “knit pants” before? Comfy doesn’t begin to describe. The sexy factor is just a bonus.
The nurse sticks a thick maxipad into them—I’m bleeding profusely—and pulls them up, while I stand with my hands on her shoulders. I did this the other day for my niece after she went potty. It’s an odd feeling, having just given birth to children and temporarily becoming one myself.
Back to bed. I continue to drench myself in sweat. Bru maintains a steady rotation of cold washcloths on my forehead and neck.
Various medical professionals stop in to press on my belly, which is excruciating, and then peek in my sexy new drawers for appropriate blood output.
My sister goes home to tap in for my sister-in-law for childcare of their two broods. Melissa gets to the hospital around 10:00pm. I’ve now been semi-conscious for 5 1/2 hours. I again ask the nurse permission to go to the NICU, and she gives a grudging go-ahead. But first, she hoists me into a wheelchair, gets me a pair of bright yellow socks with no-skid on the bottom, and snaps a FALL RISK band around my wrist. Once more, I’m of two minds—a little indignant while at the same time I want to give her a high-five and say, “Gurl, you RIGHT.”
But there’s no way I’m going to sleep tonight without seeing my babies. That is an impossibility.
We check in at the front desk. The receptionist picks up the phone and dials. “Can mom for Baby Scott come back?” That’s me! She calls another room and says the same thing. “OK, go ahead.” She buzzes the door open.
Scrubbing my hands and forearms for one minute from a seated position, with bands all up my left wrist and the IV in my right, is tricky, but I (mostly) manage it, and Mom drapes a gown over my other gown.
"Which baby do you want to see first?" somebody says. We’re allowed only two at a bedside, and it’s me, Mom, Bru, and Melissa.
“…I don’t know. I guess… Baby A?” I say, so Mom and I head there.
We wheel past refrigerators labeled MEDS ONLY and BREAST MILK, beeping machines, and isolettes with sleeping babies inside, and enter the last room on the left. There are four baby stations. Baby A is in one of the far ones.
I wish I had a clearer memory of the experience. Alas.
But I do remember flashing back to when I had to make the decision whether to abort him or not.
"Would everybody love him the same?" I sobbed to my mom. Of course I wasn’t asking about everybody. Fuck everybody. I was asking about myself. Would I love him the same?
Mom had paused a moment and then, hearing what I was actually asking, said, “I love you three kids equally and in very different ways. I suppose it would be the same with the twins.”
And I haven’t met Baby B yet, but I know this much: I love this boy. I love his slanted eyes and his odd-shaped ears and his little body. And it’s lovelier than anything I’ve ever felt.
Haven’t scientists discovered that an atom can be in two places at once? How do I do that? Because I want to meet Baby B, but leaving Baby A feels like trauma.
My mom pushes me over to B’s room. It’s bigger, spaces for eight babies. My brother and sister-in-law are still at his bedside, but since it’s after hours, the nurse gives us a pass on all being there at the same time.
Baby B is settled in a much less complex rig. Fewer wires and cords. He is classically cute. Almond-shaped eyes, my dad’s nose and upper lip. As I had with Baby A, I put my hands on him and squeeze gently—hand hugs (which make babies feel like they’re back in the womb), the nurses call them.
My sister-in-law turns to the nurse. “Can she hold him?”
"Sure," says the nurse.
I’m stunned. It hadn’t even occurred to me. It was too much. Like in Little House on the Prairie, after Mr. Edwards the bachelor friend met Santa Claus in town, and brought the big man’s presents to Laura and Mary, and each girl got a peppermint candy stick AND a cake made with white sugar AND a tin cup. And then their mother said to check the toes of their stockings, and each had A PENNY OF HER VERY OWN. It was too much. “Edwards, it’s too much!” Pa said.
They are me. I am them. It’s too much that I get to have the babies, and visit the babies, and hand-hug the babies, and now I get to hold a baby?
It’s too much.
The nurse gathers his tubes and wires and lays him in my arms, and it feels like… what?
Magic and heartbreak.
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