How incredible! The moments when their little faces light up at something goofy we are doing. Or just because they see me. So wonderful.
And I was thinking about how much extra time we had with them, just to cuddle, while they were in the NICU. I didn't get to hold them very often the first 6 weeks of their lives as they were connected to the walls with tubes and lines helping to keep them alive. But after that, for the next 5-7 weeks (for Dean, then Warren) I got to just enjoy them. I spent all day at the hospital, often up to 12+ hours, and my only responsibility was to hold them, feed them, and pump. While I was there, I was only wishing they would come home. But looking back, what a blessing to have that much time together! No housework, no cooking, no computers, nothing but me and my boys. After each pumping session I had a good 1.5 hours of uninterrupted quality time with one before feeding started again. And the next break time, I could hold the other one. I could read to them, talk to them, rock them, or just hold them close. When I had a little help to get them out, I could even hold them together. And because they were preemies, for the most part they just cuddled up with me and slept. No crying, just peace. Their "newborn" stage where they just want to sleep and be held was so much longer than most people get. How lucky am I?? How many moms get that much time with their newborns? It was hard to never be alone with them, to not be there for them at night, to wait for them to figure out how to breathe and eat (and then coordinate both at the same time!) but I definitely got more time with them in the NICU than once they came home. Part of that is because of my decision to breastfeed and their continued struggle with grasping the concept, but part of it is just life - because at home there are meals to prepare, clothes to wash, chores to do. And at the NICU? None of that. So I am extremely grateful for those early months, for the blessing of extra time together, and for the ability to watch them miraculously grow and develop outside of the womb.