When he was in the NICU, all I wanted was to tell him how much I loved him. All I wanted was to reach through the glass incubator and caress his little face and tell him it wasn't supposed to be like this. That this wasn't what I wanted for him. I felt so disconnected to him sometimes, that all I longed for was the moment he was old enough to understand that I loved him. I couldn't wait for him to be three, so I could pull him into my arms and tell him how many nights I waited for him to come home. How I missed him so much when we were apart. And how I felt empty when I left the hospital without him. So for me, when I looked through the glass at him (I wasn't allowed to hold him that first week), I just longed for him to know that.
So now, he is a bit older, much more healthy, and is beginning to understand things. I took a shot in the dark and told him to take a drink of his water, which was sitting next to him. He looked down and picked it up and drank it. I couldn't believe it. The next day we were listening to music and I asked him if he could dance. He instantly started dancing. I tell him to wave hello and goodbye and he happily does it. There are other things, too. I know at this age, they do these things, and I know it’s normal. But it isn't normal to me. It’s just a step closer to the day I am able to pull him close and tell him he was the most important person in my life during those few weeks he was born. I remember it so clearly- it was as if you’d been waiting in line for three days to meet your favorite movie star, the one you've loved your whole life. And you've anticipated this moment for a long time. This really important person. Well, I looked at Rowen like this. When he was hooked up to a million tubes, and had a machine breathing for him, and he couldn't be touched or caressed or soothed. He looked completely alone. I remember trying to touch him once, and he winced in pain. They warned me that would happen, but as his little body pulled away from my touch, my heart broke. I actually wondered in that moment if he would ever allow me to touch him. If he would ever be okay with cuddles and kisses and snuggling and butterfly kisses on his cheek. I wondered all of that. I feared he wouldn't. And THAT is why when he buries his face in my neck and softly falls asleep, I adore it. That is why when he pats me on my shoulder as I hold him close, I cherish it. Or when he is sad and crying, and I walk into the room, and he lifts his arms high, tears streaming down his face, as if he’s begging me to hold him tight, I do it.
Every time he understands me, I'm elated. Every time he says "mama", I want to cry. Or when he hugs me with his little arms and clings to me tightly, I seriously think my heart might explode. Someday I may take these little things for granted. But not yet.
I tell him I love him every chance I get, and I hug him tight every chance I get. You’d never know he had a hard time with touch. He loves it now. He lives for those moments when daddy gives in and walks him back and forth late at night when Rowen can’t sleep. He rests his little head on his daddy’s shoulder and closes his eyes. I sometimes will find them, in the middle of the night, both asleep in the rocking chair. It’s one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.
Little Rowen. How I love him. I'll forever tell him so. I'll forever look for excuses to pull him close. To hold him for just one second before he pulls away to find some crazy, dangerous thing to get into.
I’ll never forget those nights I went to sleep without him.
But it's okay.
It makes me grateful now for the nights that I don't have to ❤❤❤.