But only a few hours later, things changed.
I got a phone call early that morning. I wasn't inherently worried because I got a phone call from the NICU every morning, telling me how they were doing and preparing me for what I might see when I saw them each day. But that morning, the tone was different. From the moment I picked up the phone, I knew something was wrong.
The neonatologist told me that Whitman had developed an infection sometime in the night. He was on heavy breathing support and medication to fight the infection. I was told it was "very serious".
I hung up and began to sob. I ran to Doug and told him everything I could remember from the call and we practically ran to the hospital.
When we turned the corner to see the boys, I saw a large group of nurses and doctors gathered around Whitman. There were three times as many machines around him now too. I could almost hear my heart breaking.
Doug and I stood by his bed, holding his little hand, sobbing. Doug asked questions of the doctors and tried to understand the gravity of the situation as best as possible. I just stared at his little body moving up and down to the rhythm of the machine and listened to the constant beeps to tell me he was still alive. The nurses needed to give him another injection and Doug and I went into the hallway and collapsed with grief. We did the only thing we know what to do when something like this occurs - we prayed.
We begged God to spare our son. We promised Him anything and everything and offered what was left of our stolen and broken hearts.
That was the only time we left his bedside for days. I remember holding Charleston and feeling so guilty that I could hold him and not his brother. I felt guilty trying to enjoy that moment while my other son lay listless only feet away.
Mostly, I remember feeling completely and utterly vulnerable. I don't know when I gave these guys my heart. I certainly didn't intend to. I tried so hard to keep it guarded for fear of the pain but despite my best efforts, these boys have a key that I am incapable of getting back.
Sometimes I don't like them. Sometimes when I'm taping their swaddling blankets around their bodies so they'll sleep, I think about taping their mouths, or even better, their ever-poopy butts. And sometimes I fantasize about sleep. Ok, a lot of times I fantasize about sleep.
always I love them. I never thought about the consequences on my heart of having children. I knew I'd offer up my love but I never thought they would steal my whole heart.