oh my goodness. there are so many things.
i guess i'll start at the beginning.
but i never did get to share this photo i took of myself and this little jellybean when i found out he existed, back when i was SURE he was a girl. part of me feels bad about that, and then the other part of me is like, well luca was sure he was a girl too, so.
it is worth mentioning, though, that amidst the excitement about his existence, there was also an underlying feeling of ...how is that going to work, exactly? and it's a question that could only be answered once he arrived.
i've said it before, that meeting luca blew my heart wide open. and in some ways, it feels like he taught me what it means to really love another person with your whole self. he changed and rearranged my understanding of the concept. to be quite honest, i often wondered not only what it would be like when he had a sibling, but when i had my own kids. i know somehow it all works out, and a mom love is different than an aunt love, but it shocked me, with luca, to learn how big love could be. and while an even bigger and broader kind of love was something i believed existed, i just couldn't wrap my mind around the reality of it exiting in me.
but if meeting luca was learning what love is, then meeting jack was learning how love can expand, how there's room for more, how it goes deeper and wider than i ever knew i was capable of.
it happened the instant i saw him, and it is so real it feels obvious.
of course. of course it's you. of course i love you. of course my heart is big enough.
last tuesday, after i got home from work, is when i got the text. THE text. which is not the text you think it is. it did not say "i'm in labor." or "you should probably come now." it was actually more along the lines of "i'm having the same kind of contractions i've been having for a few days." followed by "it could be something. he may not come for another week, i don't know." and then "definitely don't leave." but also "i want you to be here but i can't tell you what to do."
it wasn't the words she said or the progression of her contractions (both were uncertain), it was the tone of the conversation and the way she had, in that moment, decided to tell me about "nothing." it felt exactly like last time.
i hopped in the car, without being totally sure how the next five days would play out, but five days were all i had. and then i saw a rainbow, and i still didn't know whether jack would come quickly or stay put for another week, but i was suddenly sure.
whatever happened, it was going to be good.
we spent wednesday walking around target and home goods (both of us + luca in the cart) and pacing the kitchen and doing squats in the living room (her). she asked me if i felt nervous that i'd come and she wasn't in (active) labor yet while she laid on the couch with her feet up, only to have her contractions slow and stop once she did.
i'll probably write more about this later, because i can't help myself, but i was never worried about the timing with jack like i was with luca. i went to bed that night thinking about a post i'd read recently about how waiting for active labor is like watching for the water to boil––staring at it doesn't make it happen faster––and how true that is. i fell asleep quickly.
maybe we just needed to stop looking, because three hours later, we were up again.
it was all very exciting, getting up at 1:30 in the morning to then sit in the living room while timing contractions. without any frame of reference, having not been there for this part last time, it felt like time was passing very slowly, in increments of 6 or 7 minutes.
by 4am, i had gotten ready, put makeup on my face, drank two cups of coffee, and eaten breakfast. lee teased me about eating oatmeal at 2:30am, but guess who wasn't starving at the hospital before jack was even born? ME.
we got to the hospital around 5:30, and for a minute it felt like a small eternity of more waiting. when they're checking you in, you can only have one person with you, so my mom and i waited in the waiting room, trying to lounge on tiny couches and over multiple chairs. this seems wildly dramatic when you consider that we were the only two out of anyone who got any sleep that night. my defense to you is this: just because i got three hours of sleep that night doesn't make three hours enough.
she got a room pretty quickly, bumping the girl in front of her because that girl wasn't as far along as T was. this type of thing is what made spending all that time waiting at home seem worth it.
then, she got the epidural (during which my mom and i had to wait outside, loitering in the hallway) and then some oxygen and then, shortly after, a baby.
i got to cut the cord. my hand was shaking and my eyes were blurry with tears and i laughed at myself. like the love was exploding out of me. of course, of course, of course.
i still get weepy when i think about it. (with the added weepiness that comes with living so far away.)
these parents, y'all. he doesn't even know how lucky he is.
also, T is eating because (1) the kitchen was closing for an hour so it was either now or never (or, in an hour) and (2) she did not have the option to eat oatmeal at 2:30am.
that photo cracks me up, but that is what real life (and love) looks like.
pre and post bath.
luca meeting jack was pretty casual. he does things at his own pace, so there wasn't anything particularly noteworthy about them meeting, it's more about them being.
for example, he was very excited to see T and lee, and he knew that because pops was there when he woke up that it meant he'd be meeting the baby too. (T and lee did a great job preparing him in general, but also for this process.) he came in the room quite excited, got one look at jack, and then remembered he had a donut waiting for him. but later, he would ask T what she was holding, and then answer his own question.
he was interested when he was, and not interested when he wasn't.
i don't remember if him holding jack was his idea or someone else's, but once he was on board, he reached out his arms and very impatiently told my mom "over here! excuse me, over here!" (he said this again when he asked to hold him at home a few days later too.) and while his face isn't showing his cheesiest smile here, he is wearing his lowkey excited face. the one where, i think, he must be thinking i'm trying to play it cool but OH MY GOSH THIS IS SO EXCITING. i love it, and i recognize it easily, also because my dad has this same face.
a baby is not a very exciting thing to a three year old, but you can tell the love is there. he sings to him, he says "it's oh-tay" when jack cries, and every once in a while, when he hears jack make a noise, he'll look over and check out the situation. otherwise, he eats his donut and plays with his toys and watches his tv show.
then, finally (FINALLY) after T and lee and mom and dad and luca, i got to hold him. and i couldn't stop staring at him.
eventually, we all headed home. luca needed lunch and a nap and i couldn't stop thinking about how there are two of them. that this split is a forever thing now. do i go back to the hospital with jack, or stay home with luca?
this one felt like a no-brainer. my whole morning was jack, so it only made sense that my whole evening would be luca, and i am so, so thankful for it.
we took that first selfie because i happened to think of it just as he asked for my phone to take photos. i'll let you take pictures if you take one with me first. and also i need a kiss. and also i could eat him up, with how cute and sweet and lovey he is.
this is the thing. he has learned how to take pictures and it's probably his top favorite activity, or maybe it's near the top, just falling short of smacking balloons (from his birthday, and also the "big brother" balloon he got in the hospital). and, in pure auntie style, i cannot delete a single one, though they are all of his toys and the floor and his finger covering the lens. i taught him how to say "photographer" and of course he doesn't say it correctly, which only makes the whole thing better.
we played legos and ate dinner and facetimed with my siblings and took videos of us talking and laughing and i gave him chocolate and let him stay up past his bedtime.
it was the best way to end one of my very favorite days.
the rest of my visit looked like this.
until next time.