I sat in the wheelchair, leaving the room that had become almost cocoon-like for me in the past 4 days. It was a room I hadn't once left since having entered it. A room that saw both immense highs and dark moments. A room in which I'd gotten to know my husband in a way I'd never known him; gotten to know a new part of myself. It was a room of so many firsts, that small little room. And I wonder now how those 4 plain walls could've contained so much uncertainty, delight, love, terror. Leaving that room, seeing a hallway through which I'd undoubtedly been before but had no recollection of, I couldn't imagine ever having existed in any other room before. And in some ways I hadn't, not the person I was now, because that was the room where I became a mother.
Holding my son in my arms as I was wheeled out of that room was surreal. Passing through that hallway that I felt I'd never seen before. Getting on an elevator, with a nurse standing behind me and my husband beside me, the 3 of us beaming while the fourth slept (deceptively) peacefully in my arms. As people got on and off the elevator as it descended from the 24th floor they smiled, cooed and sometimes asked for the details of how and when we became a family. I never thought I'd describe a ride in a lift as "beautiful" but it was. And I wept.
Four days prior, when I last entered that elevator, I had no idea that I would leave it a changed woman. I expected to be told that my bleeding was the result of my placenta previa and that I was to be on bedrest until my scheduled c-section in 11 days time. When I was hooked up to the monitors and saw that those little cramps I felt periodically were actually contractions, coming in surprisingly regular time, I thought I might be stuck in the hospital until the blessed event. But I didn't expect that event to come in 9 hours - the soonest the doctor on call could come deliver my Memorial Day baby. I didn't know enough to savor the movie we'd seen that night (sadly, Terminator 4) or the car ride to the hospital, during which I was mostly annoyed that I wasn't in bed. And my husband didn't know to pack a hospital bag that contained more than 2 cans of Sprite, 4 bags of chips and a book he'd been reading. But before we knew what was happening I was being wheeled through double doors into the sterile room in which my son would be born, mercifully screaming and pink, 7 lbs 4 oz at 36 weeks.
And four days later, as I was pushed through the automatic doors and out into the rest of the world I was overcome with my good fortune. Overcome with deja vu of sorts, as I heard the nurse (as though speaking long distance through a tube) talking merrily of the excitement yet to come. Because it was nearly 3 years prior when I was last pushed by a nurse out of that very same hospital, those very same doors, having been sedated in another sterile room and having "birthed" my twins. I cried that time, as the nurse told me I could try again soon. And I cried this time, overwhelmed by the journey I had taken in those 3 years, overwhelmed by the poetry of leaving those same doors, perhaps in the same wheelchair, but with my son in my arms instead of just my heart.
Five and a half weeks have passed since I became a mother. Some days it feels easier than that first day and some days so so much harder. Sometimes I can't believe he's been here more than 5 weeks already and sometimes I feel he's always been here. It's been heavier and harder than I could've imagined, but there are moments of lightness when I know we will all make it and be better for having each other. And through it all there's the love, blinding and breathtaking. Love for my son and my husband. Love for *my* family.
and so with pride (and exhaustion) I finally introduce to you my Oliver Robin. Born at 36 weeks exactly, weighing 7 pounds 4 oz and measuring 19 1/2". My big boy. My big, handsome, stubborn, delightful and bewildering boy. A boy named to honor siblings we will never know (siblings who were the size of olives when they left) and the Brazilian soccer player (Robinho) after who he was inexplicably nicknamed just 4 weeks after his conception. A boy who looks like his father and screams like his mother and yet is so completely and uniquely him.