My daughter is now eight weeks and three days old and, miraculously, alive, well, and thriving. I say miraculously in the truest sense of the word. I am awestruck at her growth and progress. From the moment she was born, two emotions stood out head and shoulders (if indeed emotions had heads and shoulders) beyond the rest: love and fear.
The love is not really love the way I usually mean it, but since this is English and I have so few words for love to work with, I’ll try to describe it better. I can hear her breathing change in my sleep. Her cries are like words to me now, and each new sound is carefully considered until it’s meaning can be discerned. Every time she smiles my heart hurts. Every time someone else holds her, I become a bear-hawk–watching closely with eyes sharper than my pre-mama eyes, ready to unleash a superhuman degree of hurt or just take her back should things start going south. And I love her with the usual kind of love, too. ; )
The fear is intense, often unreasonable, and it never goes away. It can roar to the forefront at a moment’s notice or hum at the back of my mind but it is always present, soul deep, and seemingly impossible to shake. I’ve been afraid many times in my life before, really afraid, but none of that fear even touches this feeling. I believe it to be the source of my new-found superhuman awareness of my tiny human. All of that said, it is just like any other fear in the sense that the only way to live with it is to confront it head on.
In our case, due to our demented plan to live apart for three months starting two and half weeks after our baby was born, I ended up having to face the biggest boatload of fear I’ve ever confronted in my life just four weeks in to new motherhood.
My husband started his new job on the East Coast and we knew we couldn’t do three whole months apart while he worked and I finished packing our things up. The only option was for the baby and I to fly across the country and join him for a time. So we did.
At two months, our little girl had already flown across the country twice, traveled through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York, and lived out of hotels for nearly three weeks. I was terrified every minute, but every minute also added to my confidence in my ability to care for her under just about any circumstances. At this point, I can safely say there’s nowhere we can’t go together. : )
As my mother promised it would, having a baby has changed my life forever. There are already parts of my life and self before that I miss, but I miss them the same way I miss anything I enjoyed that has come to its natural conclusion. My daughter has opened a new chapter which means closing the one before, just like going to college, moving out, and getting married each held endings as well as beginnings.
Since the morning she was born (an early riser, like me : ), I’ve found the love to be so much bigger and more than the fear. Every time we step into new territory (a near daily occurrence!), our bond becomes stronger, our confidence grows, and I find another mom or dad or sympathetic stranger to share a knowing smile or nod, offer a helping hand, and generally remind me I’m not alone in this wild adventure.
My life has been touched by an angel (who will no doubt grow into a hellion!) and I’m glad. : )