Embla and Olympia,
You are one week old. Much of this week has been swallowed in my fear of losing you, in my awareness of every passing minute that takes you further from the babies who were inside of me, further from the newborns whose hair I sobbed into on your very first morning in the world. I have been desperate to document you, to capture you in time, when perhaps I should have been holding you, feeding you, securing you in memory rather than photography and film. Still, I will always be grateful that I have these moments committed to a stronger medium than my mind, that you will be able to look back with us and admire how small you were, how perfect and how precious.
I can hardly believe that I get to spend the rest of my life with you, that like my own grandmother I get to have the family that I had always imagined for myself: my two boys and my two girls. You were a dream that I barely dared to voice, and now you are here. You are more perfect in the flesh than my wildest imaginings could have conceived and I am so proud to be able to call you mine. Whilst I know that your childhoods cannot be mapped out in advance, when I let myself picture all of the things that I want to share with the four of you, my heart is so full. Pony rides, sunset evenings splashing in rock pools, candy floss at the funfair. Know that we would give you the world if we could.
Everything about you is delightful: your tiny hands, your fuzzy peaches-in-sunshine heads, all of your varying sounds and cries. Unlike your brothers as babies, you latch and feed greedily, and you rest deeply and peacefully, with such concentration that one has to wonder what puzzles you are solving in your sleep.
Falling in love with you is a privilege. We have memorised your features and your cries, the weight of you in our arms. In the dark of the night, we can tell you apart by sniffing the tops of your heads. You seem to know us too – the taste of my milk, the sound of your mummy’s voice. She has amassed a collection of slings and wraps and you tuck against her skin as though you grew beneath it. You must know her heartbeat as well as you know mine by now, the salt from her skin. This is the first thing that we have in common: that we all need her the most. Love comes first, but as you grow you will come to admire her so much for all that she does for us, inexhaustibly, patiently, simply. You are the product of longing, of planning, of needles and hope.
As for your brothers, they are captivated by you. Your mummy was quietly confident that they would find you pleasing, that they would enjoy your presence in the family. I was unsure. They seemed too little to be big brothers, only babies themselves. They seemed too rough to be safe around newborns, I watched them play with their ‘babies’ and I was afraid for you.
And yes, I will be honest: you are in danger of being loved to death, of being smothered or suffocated by open-mouthed kisses or of catching some ghastly disease that might cause a sniffle in a toddler but finish off a baby entirely. We have to supervise your interactions closely lest they break your fragile necks lifting you up by your clothes, or ‘rick-rick-rick’ your moses basket so vigorously that we find ourselves facing a shaken baby syndrome accusation in court. They are by no means safe with you, but my goodness, they adore you. You have the most loving brothers in the world.
Thank you for this beautiful week. We cannot wait to share our lifetime with you.
With so much love,