I could look at you all day long, I think as I sit and watch a sleeping Lillian in her incubator. I just put her down, kind of proud of myself. It’s hard letting go of them. Time is moving so slowly, but yet so fast. It seems like yesterday they were brought into the world, but look at them now and all they’ve been through already. It’s incredible what can happen in three weeks. My life has changed so drastically and I can barely remember what it was like before I was a dad. I worried less, I think.
I cast a glance at Teddy who looks to be at peace with our son against her chest. She is only ever really happy when she is with them. I think it gives her comfort to see that they’re alright, to know that she’s part of their life. I don’t know what to do about anything. No matter how hard I try to console her, she still cries herself to sleep every night. She’s so obviously exposing her own vulnerability to me, and in spite of being married to her it’s a side of her I have rarely seen, and I have no idea how to approach the subject. Once the tears start falling, it’s difficult to get comprehensible words out of her, and I can’t tell if it’s guilt festering in her or simply fear that our babies aren’t going to be alright. I’m scared too, and I also feel guilty that I didn’t do more because it’s tearing both of us apart to see them like this. I’m still insistent, though, that all of the events could have occurred anyway. We can’t change any of it.
I get up and make my way around to her, hands running down her neck to rest on her shoulders. I give them a gentle squeeze and smile at her.
“I’d like that,” I say and extend a supporting hand to her and help her up. I press a kiss to the corner of her mouth before we walk out of the NICU after of course having rounded Lillian, so Teddy could make sure she was really fast asleep.
It’s challenging walking next to someone you know so well and not know what they’re thinking about, not know how to talk about it. If it is in fact just fear, there’s not a whole lot I can do. I can reassure her that they’ll be fine, but she knows as well as I do that I am in no position to guarantee that. If it’s guilt, then I don’t know what to do either. I’ve told her I don’t blame her and that she shouldn’t blame herself, but I can’t prevent her from having those feelings.
“Lily is doing great, don’t you think?”
I slide a hand into his with a small smile, fingers twining as we walk into the cafeteria. “Yeah, she looks much better than she did over the weekend. She’s still going to continue to lose weight without eating, but at least it seems like the medicine is working,” I answer while caressing his hand as he places a number of items on our try. I could honestly care less about eating, especially when our babies are barely able to feed. While our sweet girl has lost almost all the weight she had gained since birth, her brother has gained another half pound.
I hold onto my husband’s hand, more than reluctant to let go while he throws a ten down on the counter. Maybe it’s because of the babies or maybe it’s because of the situation, but I’m terrified of something happening to him, too. I find myself clinging to Henry whenever it’s just the two of us. It makes me feel pathetic, but I want him close to me all the time. It makes me feel guilty, too, because we’re a team. I lean on him, he leans on me; as of now though, it seems that he has nobody to lean on.
We walk outside in silence, fingers still entwined as he directs us towards a shaded table. I take a seat and lean back in the chair, glancing around at the beautiful landscaping. How sad is it that I honestly haven’t been outside for more than a few minutes in almost three weeks? I take a deep breath, soaking in the fresh air. “It’s a beautiful day,” I comment, not sure of what else to say. When did it come to that?