One year ago this past Saturday, Amy sent me a text that changed our lives forever, and that’s not an overstatement.
“I think I’m pregnant,” it said.
It’s hard to believe that I wrote this when Amy was just 19 weeks pregnant, announcing to the “world” that we were expecting a boy – the unexpected, the “impossible” was somehow happening.
What an incredible year it has been. It was by no means an easy year, and at times I felt like we were testing our relationship’s ability to bend, but not break. Relentless fear that this was all some cruel joke, anxiety, hope, and a lack of control – because, you know, this was never supposed to happen for us – was a perfect storm for stress and chaos.
I don’t think either one of us really understood how hard being pregnant is (Amy had that pregnant glow everyone talks about for about 30 minutes in July), especially when you already have a rambunctious 3-year old running around the house yelling “uppy” or “I need help” every 30 seconds. There are so many things I would have done differently; Amy often jokes (I think she’s joking!) of trying for a third so we can have another chance at being pregnant.
When we were in the hospital following Ryan’s birth, as we gingerly walked through the hallway, one of the doctors told us “You know, the whole point of having a first child is to make it easier to have a second child…there’s really no joy the first time around.” There it was. Someone had finally summed up and understood what it was like for us. We were second time parents, but it was Amy’s first time pregnant. We had two kids without the benefit of learning anything from the first birth that would help us for the second – two the hard way.
But, that’s not what this story is about. This story isn’t about us; it’s about them. Two little boys – two brothers who each came into the world in such different ways, but each with quite the story to tell. One is from Arizona and the other California. One shares our blood and one doesn’t. One looks like Amy and one looks like me. They don’t know their stories yet, and they don’t care, they only know they’re brothers.
I often wonder what it will be like when they start asking questions. Will it be a big deal or will they just shrug and go back to whatever videogame they’re playing? Will there be animosity or jealousy, or lots of “they love you more” in either direction?
Alex starts his day by climbing into Ryan’s crib for snuggles and a “good morning baby Ryan” (note: it would be nice if Ryan was actually awake when Alex did this!). Ryan smiles and stares wide-eyed at Alex, already impressed by how fast his brother can climb. Alex gets Ryan to burp better than his dad, helps Ryan’s baby swing go faster (and FASTER!) and has become the unofficial baby poop monitor in the household. In return, baby Ryan smiles and smiles some more at Alex and observes his every move as if he’s cataloging every movement, every word for use in a few months. At night as they lie side-by-side while jams are put on, Ryan gently reaches out and touches Alex’s shoulder and Alex’s responds by holding his little brother’s hand. I wonder how they know that a brother’s bond is special.
I hear all the time “just wait” — that this unconditional love will end and snuggles will be replaced with throwing toys at each other. Perhaps I’m naïve, but I don’t think it needs to be that way. Sure they’ll fight, but sibling rivalry doesn’t need to define them.
I’m hoping that their individual stories — our family story — will help guide them and show them how special and lucky they are to have been brought together.
In time, I hope they come to understand that you don’t need to share blood to be brothers; Family is how you define it.
They can be more than brothers.
They can be best friends.