When Penny was born at 3 lbs 3 ounces, she was swept away to the NICU, and I was drugged and confused. To be honest, it wasn’t a great day. Alice’s birthday, on the other hand, is one of my all-time favorite days, but Penny’s birth was scary and full of unknowns. After the surgery itself, the first thing I really remember is being in a hospital room full of my family, who told me that my blood pressure was too high, and I broke down.
“Heather, why are you crying?” someone asked.
“They didn’t even let me hold my baby. I haven’t even seen her or gotten to hold her yet. They just took her away.”
My brother or cousin, I’m not sure who, then brought over a camera and showed me a picture of me holding Penny.
When I think about it now — now that my beautiful baby girl is almost four and healthy — it’s funny. Sometimes, I even tell that story and laugh. But at the time, doctors were warning Josh and me of a possible guarded future for our newborn. They told us they didn’t know how she would function neurologically. They said she might be a little “slow.” It was a wait and see.
In all honesty, it took me a couple of weeks to really bond with her. I was hurting physically, scared for this little girl, and unsure of our future. But not Josh. Josh fell in love with her that very first night. He couldn’t stand her being out of our sight. I could barely move, but he constantly left to check on her. The first time he didn’t come back (for an hour and a half!), I thought something was seriously wrong and he’d come back bearing bad news. I braced myself. Instead, he came back with a smile on his face and a pep in his step.
“What’s wrong? Why were you gone so long?”
“I just couldn’t leave her there. I’m sorry. Were you worried?”
“They said I could hold her! So I took my shirt off and held her skin to skin.”
He beamed as he told me all about how she felt against his chest and the little songs he sang to her, and I knew he was hooked. I knew that he would take care of this little girl better than anyone in the world. I knew that she would always be safe in his arms. I knew that no matter what happened, he was the perfect dad for her. Because that’s who Josh is. He is full of love.
I tell you this because, as we go through this hard time, I find myself feeling so sorry for Josh. I find myself thinking that he just can’t take all of this. Or shouldn’t have to. There’s so much pressure on him right now. It feels like I am falling apart, and he’s not allowed to. His workload is incredible and time for himself is non-existent. He is so tired. I can see it in his face. I can hear it in his voice. But he tells me it’s okay. He tells me that we will get through this and move on.
I guess I just wanted you guys to know that he, too, is struggling. And that he is pretty amazing. The way he loves Penny is the way he loves Alice is the way he loves me is the way he loves his twin brother is the way he loves his mom. He’s the guy that wouldn’t take no for an answer. (I canceled, like, three dates before going out with him.) He’s the guy who, after only a date or two, showed up at my work with a winter coat because he didn’t think mine was heavy enough. My girlfriends and I weren’t sure whether he was suuuper creepy or just that nice. He’s just that nice.
Unless you hit on me right in front of him. One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen was Josh putting one of my older brother’s friends right in his place with absolutely no qualms.
After a few catcalls and in jest, but lewd comments, Josh walked right up to the guy, looked him straight in the eye, and extended his hand for a shake,
“Hi. I’m Josh.” He points to me. “And that’s my girlfriend.”
He turned around and walked back over to me without even waiting for a response, and the poker table they were all seated at erupted in laughter, along with my girlfriend and me.
Early on, though, I didn’t think he was the “right” guy for me so I tried breaking up with him once or twice. He talked me out of it. He had so much faith in us that, after only a few weeks of dating, he bought us concert tickets for EIGHT MONTHS LATER.
Whoa there, dude. Calm down. You’re freaking me out, and is it hot in here? I can’t even commit to these shoes for the next eight months. Let’s just slow this train down.
But yeah, we went to that concert. And during a time when I don’t know what’s up or down and I can barely hold myself together, I’m glad that Josh is always so sure.