A few days after my son came home after spending his first two months living in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at one of Boston’s top hospitals, I started profusely apologizing to my mother in-law.
She and I were standing in my kitchen, watching Briggs sleep in his bassinet across the way in the living room, and without warning I just started (and kept on) crying.
“He’s so small,” I sobbed. “And I’m so sorry. I’m so, so, sorry.”
Without hesitation my mother in-law pulled me close, stroked my hair, and steadily and lovingly reminded me over and over, “He’s perfect. He’s perfect. He’s absolutely perfect.”
I kept trying to interrupt her. To keep saying sorry. For her son meeting me. Loving me. Marrying and making a family with me.
I felt responsible and defective. Like I had somehow purposely caused Briggs’s premature birth, and robbed us (all of us) of that blissful beginning.
And I wanted everyone, especially Ken’s family, to know that I understood if they were upset with me.
But, no one was. Not even for a moment. No one was offering pain or judgement.
All anyone wanted to do was love.
Love Briggs. Love Ken. Love me. Love us.
Love actually was all around – and my initial response was to try and make it okay if they didn’t really want to include me in it.
But they did. They completely did. They still do.
When I have a hard time hearing my best self. My most loving, supportive, and imaginative self, I tend to go back to that day in my kitchen. I see my perfect dozing preemie, and my rooted, strong mother in-law willingly and miraculously holding me together.
And I remember what it is to be held. What a gift it is to hold space. And that it’s okay, to start healing your heart through someone else’s.