I spent most of my pregnancy convinced I would do something wrong. Trip and fall. Get food poisoning. Not drink enough water. Take a shower that was too hot. That all the karma from every awful or thoughtless action I had ever committed would catch up with me in a sudden cruel whoosh and I would find myself with an empty belly and empty arms; babyless. For months I would lay awake silently begging our little guppy to move so I could know at least for that moment she was alright. And then after eight and a half long, long months of waiting and worrying my water broke, not like the movies in an epic gush but in a few obvious trickles.
Twenty-one hours later I was listening to the nurses scramble to find Harper’s heartbeat on the monitor as I was rushed to emergency surgery. I couldn’t help but think “Oh god, not now. Just let me meet her, let me hold her.” Then I heard her. Loud boisterous cries. ‘I’m here” she said. “I’m cold and my lungs are in perfect working order” she screamed and all I felt was relief. Not love or joy but overwhelming relief.
While I dealt with the mental and physical aftermath of birth, Guy had the love part covered. His first words upon seeing her were “She’s so beautiful…and not just because she’s ours.” Fifteen seconds and he was already in love just as I knew he would be. And as I puked and shook and got sewn up, I looked over at him holding and talking to Harper. Never had I loved him as much as I did in that moment. Every sweet nothing he’s whispered (or more frequently sang) since has made that love grow exponentially. And watching him, I learned how to love her because she is ours, little bits of him and me mashed together to make a whole new person.
The weeks that followed were rough. Breastfeeding did not come easily. Standing was painful. Guy returned to work the week after Harper was born and I was I left alone with this itty bitty person who I would willingly die for but barely knew how to take care of. I was so lonely some days I could do nothing but huddle up in bed with my dogs and my baby, listening to newscasts streaming from CNN.com just to hear someone’s voice. And then slowly I adjusted and one day I woke up and the time spent alone with Harper seemed more of a blessing and less of a curse.
Now, seven weeks later I find myself wondering how we ever thought a full nights sleep would even trump Harper’s sleepy milky smile after her midnight feeding. Or that I ever believed there might not be room in my family or my heart for Munch.
Sometimes I weep at the sheer gravity of motherhood; the beauty, the responsibility, the spit up, the late nights, the sad sad little pout, the sweet smell that catches in the crook of her neck and mostly the panic that wakes me at night and guides me to the railing of her crib. Holding my own breath, I wait for the rise and fall of her chest. Often I am impatient, and I gently poke her, delighted as her arms flail in surprise and her eyes shoot open and stutter closed again. She lives and breathes and so do I.