When I look at you sleeping in your dad’s arms, or carefully watching me in the mirror as I change your diaper, or lying on our bed giddy over the ceiling fan, my head fills up with words: all the things I want to tell you about these days, about you, about me, the thoughts and feelings I don’t want to forget.
Yet, I’ve spent two and a half months putting off writing this, trying to decide what I wanted to say and how to put it into words. The truth is that you’ve changed our lives so quickly and so profoundly that I feel too much to say anything at all. And you haven’t really given me much time to sit quietly and think about it.
You came a week and a day past your due date. In total, it was thirty-two hours of labor. I was lying in bed at home when it started. So I got up, showered, dressed, woke your dad, and made pancakes, and generally put off going to the hospital for as long as your dad would allow. One day you’ll read this and probably laugh, because it’s a reflection of our natural responses to many things: he will want to jump to action, while I will wait and observe. I wonder how you’ll be.
I’d say you fell into our lives, but that would diminish the reality of it, of you. You burst out. Two months later, I still can’t help cringing when I hear the word “push.” When it was done, when you were finally born, as I dropped my head and shoulders back onto the bed to catch my breath, I heard you cry. Loud. Strong. I felt for your dad’s hand, found it, held it. We won’t talk about the tearing. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever made my body do. And I learned the most important thing: there is nothing you can’t do when you have to.
There is nothing you can’t do when you have to. Proven to be true, if not in childbirth, then in those earliest days. I cried at least once nearly every day for the first six weeks. I questioned the sanity of what we’d done (had a baby) and what the hospital staff had done (sent you home with us), grieved for the simplicity of our old life, felt guilty for wishing that I could undo it all, feared that I couldn’t love you enough.
Suddenly, you’re ten weeks old. It feels like a lifetime; and it is. I remember trying not to cry on the way home from the hospital, despairing, not ready to take care of you. I remember crying when your dad went back to work two weeks later because I wasn’t ready to be alone with you. You, crying. Me, crying. All the time. We were strangers then, but not any more. In fact, I almost can’t remember what life was like without you.
Now, I find myself crying because I’m not ready to let you go. I know this is just the first of so many letting go moments, and I wanted to be brave. But I’m as terrified to face my days without you as I was to face those first weeks with you. It breaks my heart.
You’re learning so fast, discovering new things. You kick your legs and roll up on your side. You make new sounds almost every day. You blow bubbles with your drool. You love to look around so much that we decided to let you face outward in the carrier, and now you won’t let us carry you facing in. You’re ready, I think, to start taking on the world. I’ve never been more scared. And I’ve never been more proud.