As I sat sewing diapers late one night, I was thinking about Carter as I usually do. I was thinking about how incredibly much we love Cohen and how much I know we would have loved Carter if we had gotten the opportunity to raise him and watch him grow.
We love our boys with all of our hearts. Honestly though, and I hesitate to admit this, my connection with Cohen came with time. We have always loved him, he is our child, but there is something about staring at your baby through a plastic box that doesn't exactly allow for a lot of bonding. That moment when the baby is born and the doctor holds it up for you to see, you hear the baby cry, and then eventually you get to hold your baby on your chest and cry happy tears...that obviously didn't happen for us. Both of our boys were immediately taken away, as they needed to be, without out us getting so much as a glimpse. The first time we got to hold Cohen was when he was 10 days old and he had so many tubes and wires, I think I was a little in shock.
Aside from the all of the unnatural aspects of parenting in the NICU, we were also grieving for Carter. There was a part of me that was afraid to love Cohen. I was scared to get attached to him because I knew the incredible amount of pain I was already in from losing Carter and I just didn't feel like I could take any more. Cohen was sick and we didn't know if he was going to make it. It probably sounds strange, and many of you may not understand, but it was our reality. Looking back, I feel a little guilty about it now. Afterall, what kind of mom doesn't want to bond with her child? I think about all that he went through, how could I not have given him 100%?
It's hard for me to think back on that time because we love Cohen so, so much. My love for Cohen has surprised me in several ways. I never imagined the depth of love that I could have for a such a little person. And then the cycle goes that my deep love for Cohen brings me back to the love that could have been with Carter. Of course we love him, but knowing how much we treasure getting to raise Cohen and watch him grow, makes us realize all the things we are missing out on with Carter. In some ways, I think we are loving Carter through Cohen. We are experiencing life in new ways that we may not have understood without having gone through the death of a child as well as having a NICU baby.
And now, this baby that I was once afraid to love, has me completely wrapped around his pudgy little finger and with every one of his mischievous little grins, I love him more. I went into his room to watch him sleep as I often do and this time I tell him that I'm sorry. I tell him I'm sorry that I wasn't the mom he needed me to be. I tell him how glad I am that I was wrong about thinking that I could somehow prevent myself from loving him because he has captured our hearts. I hope and pray that I can be the kind of mom that he needs for the rest of his life. I am so thankful for both of my boys and the things they have taught me and continue to teach me. I can't imagine my life without Cohen and we are so happy we are to be their parents.