Finally, I was listening to my iPhone on shuffle one day, in between nursing and diaper changes, and in general just being in over my head in the most wonderful possible way. I was hoping to sneak in an actual meal, perhaps a warm coffee and a warm shower, in that order, and a song I listened to on repeat when Beaker died came on, "Love More" (actually a cover of it by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver). And it hit me, this whole journey, my whole life, has only been about learning how to love more. Over and over again, through the wonder, excitement, happiness, heartache, and sadness, just when I think I couldn't possible give or find anymore of my heart, I stretch and swell to a greater capacity than I ever imagined possible. Finally, I realized this essay didn't have to be perfect, and in the most terrifying and exhilarating terms, that nothing I do from this point forward will be perfect (not that it ever has), and so I sat down and wrote from my heart (then my computer crashed, and all those heartfelt words disappeared, and it has taken me weeks to muster the strength to sit down and write it again. It must be the universe telling me I needed some more distance before I really could reflect on what happened).
I think I have touched on this before, but just when I think my heart has reached its maximum capacity for any feeling, the world finds a way to stretch and swell me even further. I think this life is about continually pushing ourselves and our spirits forward. Our journey is like trailblazing a forest; just when we thing we can't possible cut through any more of the thorny underbrush, our choices open up a new pathway that we didn't think possible. We float to higher heights, and our ability to feel and understand an emotion we thought previously mastered once again surprises us.
He was born at 10:06 pm on October 26th, 2016. Much like most things in my life, it did not go according to plan. He was six weeks early, and was born via emergency C-section during the last inning of the Cubs first World Series game win (he would have to wait a week to see them win it all). I like to think he knew how much it would mean to his dad for him to be alive for it. He didn't want to miss his only chance! It's also bizarre because I had been having some strong premonitions that he was coming early, and I was convinced he would be here in time for it. Maybe I do have a mother's intuition, after all.
I didn't get to see him until the next day. My body was recovering from the shock of having him so quickly and frantically, and from the major surgery. They told me the next morning if I could get out of bed, they would wheel me down to meet him. Clearly they don't know me, because I am all about a challenge. In fact, a mere three days after his birth on Saturday, while he was getting up to speed on life in the NICU, I walked to Wrigley Field to attend the second Cubs World Series home game. The nurses were both horrified and amazed at my tenacity. I was cleared to run a mere 6 weeks later.
The moment I saw him, I knew. A whirlwind of emotion took over and another's life flashed before my eyes. Milestones and birthdays, immense worry and absolute joy, disappointment and fear, my own mortality and unconditional love; suddenly, I was not the thing that mattered most in my life. The challenge, the pain, the exhaustion; in that one moment I knew that none of it would ever be above his happiness.
I'm still extremely sad at the loss of Beaker. I think many people would not understand that, especially in context of gaining a child. But she was the thing that taught me I was capable of loving more. I hold this fragile being in my arms, and I think of her: strong-willed, independent, loyal. I feel so blessed she taught me how to be a mom, even when the times were tough. Because, though people would tell me this before it happened, being a real mom is harder than you can ever imagine. She prepared me for it.
The crazy thing about perfection is that it's meaning can be different to each person. And all I can remember is that for a little while, everything I do will be perfect to one little person. And that in itself is enough to sustain me for a lifetime.