He was only 3 days old. I wasn't expecting to be allowed to hold him for a while longer. So when she said I could cuddle him I was overcome.
She was called Rose.
"I'm so excited for you" she said.
She carefully put on her gloves and her plastic apron. She opened the side of his incubator and took what seemed like forever carefully untangling his wires, twisting cables around his feet and releasing him from various machines. I opened my gown as she turned his tiny, fragile body towards mine.
After 3 long days my baby was in my arms. His head was on my chest. His heart was near my heart. His skin was on my skin.
"Hello my darling" I whimpered through my tears.
I gently stroked his cheek with my thumb. The CPAP machine meant I couldn't kiss his head. It huffed and puffed on his face as I sat there soaking up every minute detail of the moment. I can still smell it now, a strange chemically smell unlike anything I'd ever smelt before.
It would be a long time before I'd be allowed to pick him up myself, a while before I could kiss his head. We both needed this moment. His heart rate liked mine and the monitors told us so. He relaxed, he liked my skin. Throughout his time in NICU we constantly walked the tightrope of giving him comfort and causing too much stress on his body because of unnecessary handling. It was a balancing act, one I almost always misread. What muma wouldn't want to give their baby comfort and feel his warmth.
When it comes to feelings, everything seems delayed with prematurity. Things you're typically told you'll feel or notice when your little one arrives. Things like feeling like a family, not a couple. This is seriously effected by separation, but we began today.
This was our starting point. My incredible husband, standing, protecting us from behind. His strong hands holding my shoulders, shielding us all in this precious moment. Our little, delicate baby pressed against my hurting body, holding him as tightly as I could. Never wanting this cherished 3-way embrace to come to an end. We are family.
We really are.
And finally, even superheroes need to sleep.