And then there were 3. Or, 5. Or 6? Depends on who you’re counting (just the children? just the humans? all the beating hearts?). I think I’m still in a bit of shock, and definitely in a period of high stupidity from lack of sleep. Ruby (Roberta) Lynne came home to us on Friday January 15th – (my beloved grandmother’s birthday), after what felt like a whirlwind process, just before sunset. Her first Shabbat in our family. I made the blessings over the children 3 times and a certain amount of awe filled me. Considering I was the one who was tepid at best about adding another child to our family, I am happily surprised to report that I am already crazy in love with her. She is warm as fresh-baked bread, cozy as a fuzzy down quilt and simply delicious. She is teeny tiny by some standards, but she’s got all the right parts and is doing what every regular, run of the mill 7 week old is supposed to do.
But as my beloved therapist of decades would likely ask, “so how are you feeling?” I think I can honestly say overall I am feeling quite positive and happy. The endorphins one gets from simply holding a newborn are designed to leave you feeling just that. Mother nature is no dope. But I’m also aware of feeling many other things in addition. I’m relieved in some way. Glad Emily got her heart’s desire, the thing she has been wanting and yearning for for so long. I’m scared. How on earth are we going to manage this, another human being, in our already packed-to-the-gills lives? I’m resentful and angry. I thought we were beyond this stage, being trapped by newborn squalls, diapers and naps. I wanted (needed) to be focused on Joita and preparing her for her future as she looks to completing high school and wonders what lies beyond. Not distracted by a baby. I was enjoying being a family of 4, where we were just on the cusp of being able to do cool things together like go to the glass-blowing school and taking a class all together. I’m also excited to be parenting a new life, guiding and learning and groping and wrestling and figuring it all out again and still. Making fewer of the same mistakes and learning from new ones, watching a new being blossom right before my heart and eyes. There is so much wonder in it.
The trick I think, as with everything else in life, is to just notice and not grasp (or reject) the feelings as they arise. That’s hard enough and I know that. But it gets even more complicated by the fact that I feel like I am navigating the sea of emotions of every other being in our family as they experience and manage what comes up for them as Ruby enters their/our lives. This little being has already had a big impact on each of us. I can see Joita beginning to explore, through Ruby, the whole adoption process. She is asking frequently, “was I like this?” Exploring the commonalities as well as the differences (we will have continued contact with Ruby’s birth mom while we have no information at all about Joita’s). I’m also watching Joita struggle with her disability more as she watches Nina effortlessly hold and comfort Ruby physically in ways that she can’t. I am watching her and Nina’s roller-coaster ride as they wrestle with incorporating this new being into their hearts, traversing the ocean of emotions washing over them and attempting in their own ways to manage it all. I want to make it all better, easier, fix it for them. But I can’t. I can only model my own journey and acknowledge the tides as they ebb and flow.
And while everything feels so different, there are some things that are just the same. I had just finished feeding Ruby and she was peacefully satiated and snoring in my arms when Nina approached me with the look of knowing pity on her face. She shook her head sagely and patted my arm. “I’m sorry mommie,” she said sadly, “You are still the only boy in our house.”