It has been a while. I have been thinking of you and trying to read your updates whenever I can.
I have been thinking of this blog and my lengthy silence. Yet the words have been evasive, the emotions myriad and oscillating wildly.
Parenting a highly intelligent and spirited toddler whose parents fought hard to bring him to life and are accordingly doting and indulgent has proven much more difficult than I could have imagined possible. He loves his baby brother but cannot be trusted with him (because too much love can be a bad thing…) and has developed a repertoire of behaviours to test boundaries and confirm his place in our family.
The challenge of it all has become particularly (and painfully) obvious in the wake of a cesarean delivery followed in short order by a ruptured organ and emergency appendectomy together with a spouse who has had two surgeries of his own (eye, both times) and been wrapped up in trial and other work demands during my slow and occasionally stuttering recovery. It has felt tremendously difficult and often overwhelming, at times soul-shattering if I am being honest.
I have never felt more humble. More broken. More defeated. More desperate and without hope. Not at all times. Yet when it happens my ability to see past the tempest and dark sky enveloping it vanishes.
I have made terrible mistakes. I have said dreadful things to a little boy I love with my entire being. I have cried myself to sleep and back to waking again. The suffering has been great and sadly shared.
Parenting is hard work. The hardest work. Ever.
On the good news front? Baby Azulito is thriving. Adjusted for age he recently measured in the 97th percentile for height and weight. I am finally (as of 3 days ago – yes, it took 10 long, exhausting and tearful weeks) breastfeeding exclusively. I have been reticent to write or say that for fear of my supply disappearing and my baby crying out in hunger because I cannot sustain him once again.
Along the way I made peace with feeding my baby formula. Peace was preceded by tears. And a few scars.
Mommy shaming is real and truly devastating. It needs to stop. It likely never will. Not in my lifetime anyway. I wish it were otherwise. But I have made peace with that too.
Without knowing it, without having or finding words to make sense of or name it, I struggled in these past ten weeks with forming a deep and impenetrable bond with baby Azulito. This too has been deeply humbling. Yet with this too I believe I have finally made peace.
With the Miracle Toddler, the bond crystallized with the endorphin tsunami that swelled and crested with his birth. It materialized in tears that rolled down my cheeks as I looked at his newborn perfection. My heart exploded from the love I had never known or known so intimately and a part of that heart I never knew existed opened up. On it was written the name of my first living child. In indelible ink.
Not so with the birth of Azulito. The writing was there on my heart. In ballpoint. Tentative. Watchful. I was not ready somehow to surrender to the drowning waves of love. I was not even sure if I had gotten wet yet. Something more was needed.
Sometime in the past week that something happened. I do not know when. Nor how. Nor why. I only know it happened. My heart broke open and where once was written haltingly in ballpoint Azulito’s given name are now penned those same letters in the bold, black ink of a Sharpie. The waves of love have crashed. My heart has burst open once again.
If you ask me now what was missing I could not tell you. Not with any certainty. I have some ideas. But they are speculation at best.
Perhaps it was delivering via surgery and not when planned rather than experiencing all that comes with a vaginal delivery?Maybe this is one more instance of how recurrent loss has crushed my confidence and faith that such a gift could really be mine and might actually stick around? Perhaps having chosen to use donor eggs left me feeling once removed? Maybe being so sick so soon after delivering made a difference? Perhaps being unable to nurse at all when I was sick and unable to sustain my baby with what little milk I was producing before I finally sought and obtained a prescription for Domperidone a few weeks ago had an impact on the bonding process? Maybe our struggles with the Miracle Toddler preyed on my self worth (they still do) and I unwittingly erected a barricade to loving and being loved deeply by Azulito? Perhaps all of the drugs I had taken for my rampant immune system had dulled my emotions?
I do not know.
What I do know is that I am in love with this beautiful little person, this enchanting old soul who has come home and into my arms at last. My heart hurts with the depth and breadth of this love.
The ink is indelible at last. And so it shall remain.