Since my first post on this blog, it’s really just been my voice you’ve heard. My perspective. When I shared her birth story – it was also one-sided. It’s been 17 months and I’ve never shared Bo’s story. Truth be told…and this will sound shocking to most… I didn’t know his story. It is almost absurd to admit- I had never asked what happened to him that day. And I didn’t know what made him so strong all the days after.
Bo has supported me in so many ways since her birth. Allowing me to be the emotional one, while he remained the stoic, grounded one. Sometimes, I would mistake his grounded and centered reactions for some inability to share his emotions. How could a parent not cry when their child went under anesthesia? I just didn’t understand it. It would be an undercurrent to our previous tension. Yet, I never paused long enough during my emotional freak-outs to ask him.
My sweet husband surprised me with a wonderful night out for Valentine’s Day. We got dressed up and drove over to one of our favorite places in this little beach town. We laughed and drank and told old stories and spent time talking about our new house, Charleston, our parents, and New York memories. We then pivoted to our family. We had talked earlier in the day about the possibility of a second child. It was a hard conversation- one I’m struggling with daily. And as we revisited the topic, I finally asked Bo how he was able to be Landon’s dad and never, ever break down. To not find things as challenging as I do. And for the first time I asked and really listened… finally… to my husband as he told me his birth story. His version of Landon being born and what his day was like September 6th.
I sat there stunned with tears in my eyes and so much (SO MUCH) love in my heart. He told me what it was like when I went in for emergency surgery. When I was wheeled away from him. What it was like to wait in full scrubs behind a curtain for what felt like an eternity. Nurses coming and going – doing their work with other c-section babies. He described, with a quiet voice, what it felt like for 10 doctors to enter the room and how it felt when the head NICU nurse told him… “She has Treacher Collins. You’ll notice her ears. She has some deformities. She will be moved to the NICU as there’s a lot we don’t know yet.” The word deformities stung. Is that really the word she used for our new baby girl? He said that everything became blurry. Treacher? Teacher? Something… Collins. He called my sister and realized he didn’t have the language to describe what our little baby had, what she’d face in her young life. He described how he walked into the operating room and I was unconscious. I looked like I could be dead, he thought. Then in the corner of the room, he saw her in the tiny incubator. He saw her with her hat on, pink and kind of squished. Then he saw her ears. He saw her eyes. And his heart broke wide open.
He told me how he walked to get food with his dad early in the morning after I’d called and demanded he come back. They walked a few blocks and there on an Upper East side street, he sat down and wept. For all to see and hear. He openly wept on his dad’s shoulder. He cried for himself, for me, and most importantly for Landon. He told me that he specifically cried for her and what she would face. He then said something that I am still processing. He told me since that breakdown on 70th Street, he decided he would never think of her differently again. Never feel sorry for her. Never shed a tear over what gifts she’s been given. He would worry, but not because she has Treacher Collins. Not because she has hearing loss. He decided this would be his way to make sure she never felt sorry for herself.
I learned that night why we are such amazing partners in this journey. His perspective since her birthday will bring my feet back down to the ground. His lightness during the heavy times will lift us up. I learned the most valuable lesson of our marriage on Valentine’s Day. That asking and listening to my partner is just as important as listening to myself. My view during this wild ride of parenting isn’t the only one that matters.
Since leaving the intense New York world in which we lived, we’ve had a rebirth in our marriage. Everyone has roller coasters and I’ve shared some of ours on here. And now our love for each other is just as present as our love for Landon. We focus on each other more than us as individuals. This love and connection has always existed… from our very first date… but our journey has been a hard one at times. But Valentine’s night sparked something so important… a conversation that should have been had over a year ago. This lesson has been one of the most important ones I’ve learned on this journey. To listen. To ask how he feels. And to remember his strength when I feel weak. What a great night.