He was like a puckered old man; the redness of his face advertising discontent, the bulge of his eyes begging answers, his cry shrill and harsh under the fluorescent lights of the operating room. They placed him in the crook of my right arm and I glanced at him quickly before turning back to the round little cherub with the whittled dimples and shock of dark hair who lay in the crook of my left arm. I turned back and forth from one to the other, feeling more anxious with every turn of my head. I finally began to cry, not the tears of happiness you would expect, though I was indeed happy, but tears of frustration and confusion. I had just spent fifteen minutes bonding with the cherub while pushing out the little old man, who came feet first as if he were already running, and now here I was holding both of my little men and I didn’t know who to look at first. The little old man just kept crying and I wanted to reach out to him, to smooth his wrinkled forehead, to give him a finger, or better yet a breast, to soothe him, but my arms were so full.
On the other side the cherub wriggled, trying to catch my attention again so that I would do some more of that long staring and smooth stroking that had graced the first fifteen minutes of his already blissful life, that is until the screaming old man had come along. I realized for just a moment that he was already learning how things would be, he was already coping with sibling rivalry, but I pushed the thought aside because it was too much to handle in that moment. Instead of gazing in his eyes, I began to cry and my chest heaved and my arms began to ache and the staff of nurses and doctors just danced their post delivery dance around me. At some point I felt the doctor deliver one, then two placentas, and still my arms ached and my heart felt full to bursting.
The old man quieted down and the cherub was taken by his Daddy to find a new window into bliss. I looked into the bulging, questioning eyes of this little old man and I knew him then: he was the trickster that did yoga poses in my womb, the acrobat who moved my sternum up and out more and more each day he lived inside of me, the boy who tickled my ribs with his bobbing head and kicked his brother with his happy feet. There was a fullness of being in him even then, even in utero when so much was yet unknown. He seemed pleased to have displaced the little cherub from my arms and he almost smiled at me then; a smile that said then, as it does still, I know I am loved no matter what I do. I held him tightly and felt the fear slip away, the fear of that moment when I held two and felt that I only knew one. The moment had finally come, the moment that I had worried and agonized over for months while lying inert on my left side watching eight tiny limbs dance circles around my humongous belly. What fear can be greater than the fear that I will not be enough…not enough mother, not enough love, not enough strength, not enough guts…the fear that two will weigh so much more than one.
Finally, they are both together again, bathed and nursed, silent and still, lying on a pillow that circles my still round and mountainous belly. Their heads nestle close to one another, their tiny hands twitch and I think of the movements that are now before me, but were once within me, and again I cry…I cry this time because my arms are strong, my heart is full, and we are, each one of us, enough.
Read more from Taira on her personal blog and see pictures of her little old man and cherub: http://mythreelittleboys.blogspot.com/2012/04/normal-0-false-false-false-en-us-x-none.html