The day after Ellis left us we took Arlo home. We spent the day making arrangements. We made arrangements for Ellis with the funeral home and we made arrangements for Arlo's discharge from the NICU. The day you bring your baby home from the hospital is supposed to be filled with Joy and it was, but, it was also filled with tears and Sadness. It has been almost a 2 months since Ellis left us but the mix of Joy and Sadness remains.
When I say we took Arlo home I don't really mean we took him to our home, either of them. For about a month we stayed in NYC. I was still not recovered from the complications of HELLP syndrome and wanted to stay close to the hospital. We, also, wanted to be close to Arlo's pediatrician. So we made ourselves at Home in an apartment on the upper west side. During this month Jason and Arlo and I (and Tashi, too) spent our days and nights getting to know each other. During this month we spent our days and nights falling in love with our sweet baby Arlo. I would spend hours staring at his tiny nose and fingers. I drank him in, every bit of him. We spent our days and nights mending our broken hearts. We found ourselves talking and crying and remembering moments we had with our beautiful baby Ellis. Sometimes when Jason and Arlo were sleeping I'd remember quiet moments I shared with Ellis, his hand resting on my chest while he slept skin to skin or his tiny mouth taking in formula as I fed him from a syringe, his eyes alert and looking up at me. I'd also think about those last moments we had together as I sat holding him in my arms and watched him take his last breath and weep quietly. I remember thinking, "be present, nothing else matters more than this moment, right now." Being present, truly present is something, among many other things, Ellis taught me. During this month we spent our days and nights healing, physically and emotionally, remembering and just being together. I will be forever grateful for the time we had in that apartment in NYC. It is where Jason and Arlo and I became a family.
Six weeks after we had left, we packed up all of our things and piled into my dad's mini-van and made our way back to Long Island feeling overwhelmed by the uncertainty that lay ahead. When we arrived at my aunt's house I was reminded why we left our cozy little apartment on the upper west side. My mom and aunt had arranged for my sisters and Arlo's cousins to come over and finally meet him. In fact, the three weeks we spent there were filled with visits from loved ones I just don't get to see living overseas. My Aunt Peggy made a special trip back to Long Island from Colorado just to come see us for an afternoon. Growing up I always admired her and my Uncle Alvin. They are the ones that planted to travel bug in me. I loved visiting their home and looking at all the things they collected from around the world. I remember thinking that someday I'd travel the world just like they did, and I do, and so will Arlo. My sisters and mom planned a lovely "Welcome to the World" party for Arlo. It was the baby shower I never had. I was so touched by the work they put into it and I loved getting to show off my adorable baby boy to friends and family. The best part of that day was that my Aunt Debbie flew from florida in a snowstorm in to surprise me. She had done this to my once before three and a half years earlier when she showed up at the wedding dress boutique, both times I cried. A few days before we left another aunt came to visit. This time it was my Aunt Margaret. She was unable to make it to the party because she had gotten 30 inches of snow 2 days before out by her and the Long Island Expressway was closed. She drove 2 hours to come meet Arlo and share her story of loss. Close to 40 years ago now she lost a baby who had a heart defect. His name was Michael. He is buried next to my twin sister Elizabeth who Ellis is named after. Hearing Aunt Margaret's story of loss and healing was a gift. I admire her strength and feel a strong connection to her. I am so blessed to be surrounded by such strong women in my life, my sisters, my mother and my aunts. This time at home has strengthened bonds that had become frayed by time and distance. I have Ellis to thank for that.
Exactly two months after Ellis and Arlo were born we said our good-bye and boarded a plane headed back to India. With us we had, 1 baby, 1 car seat, 1 dog, 1 crate, 4 checked luggage, 3 carry-ons, 1 diaper bag and 2 bags of duty free. About 20 hours after our departure we arrived HOME. Bestie and her husbo were there to greet us with signs and hugs and helping hands. We've been back about a week now and I can't express how good it feels to be back. The love and support from our community is astounding.
After months of heartbreak and uncertainty I finally feel like things are beginning to settle. I would have said that things are beginning to feel normal again but that's not really true. Things are different now, we are different now. There is a new normal, I suppose, one where the Joy and Sadness surround us and color everything, one where we will always feel as though something is missing while feeling so very blessed with what we have. Forever changed, I am here at home drinking in every moment of motherhood, feeling at peace. And so, the journey continues...