Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Don't Think That Means What You Think It Means

When I tell people Kella's been staying up all night screaming, they often respond with a sympathetic head tilt and something like, "Oh, so she's got her nights and days mixed up? That happens a lot with newborns."

But the appropriate response would have been, "Oh, so you're losing your mind a little more with each passing hour of the day or night? That happens a lot with newborns."

That is all.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I slept last night better than I have in weeks. Has it been weeks? Four exactly in another 11 hours or so. And she's finally sleeping between feedings instead of fussing. So on my first night in a long time that included much sleeping at all, I dreamed.

I dreamed that when I looked at Kella, I saw two babies. When she wiggled around on her tummy, another baby wiggled beside her, just as beautiful and touchable and perfect as she is. Grown just as much from that tiny baby I delivered. And suddenly I would remember that Kella had no twin, and the phantom baby would simply disappear like a broken spell. The second time the phantom baby appeared, I called for Tim. I asked him to call the doctor, or someone, because I was delusional. My sub-un-conscious mind was thinking of postpartum psychosis, but couldn't say it. But instead of calling the doctor, dream Tim just sat fiddling with his hands.

When I woke up, I expected to be sad. Sad for twins that didn't happen, by death or by design. But I was relieved. There is only one baby, I thought to myself, and let out a breath. It was all I could do to keep this one baby, and there was no other baby to lose. No child I let down. No overfilled uterus that couldn't hold twice the joy. No overfilled heart with the sorrow of loss. Not this part of my heart. Not the part that belongs to her.

I hold Finley each night before laying him down to sleep, and squeeze him tight with gratitude and a sting of sorrow that where he is, there would have been another, too. The joy of each moment with him casts a shadow, negative space where Oliver would be. Some days the shadow is so short it can hide beneath the happiness. Some days the shadow is long, and the gratitude I have for a living son is overwhelmed with grief. It's like my love for my twin sons was twinned as well, and now my happiness and my pain grow together, communicating in the secret language twins sometimes have.

And then there is Kella. I love her as desperately as I do Finley, but it's a solitary love. She will grow up without a shadow that would have been growing up too, but isn't. And that part of my love for her that is about me—I would be lying if I said there weren't some part of my love for my children that is about me—is whole, and full of joy. One child's worth of joy, and no child's worth of sadness.

I would not go back and make Finley a singleton. Not if it meant never having Oliver. His momentary life was worth everything. But today, I woke up happy to have been blessed with just one.