A little while back I was mindlessly scrolling and came upon a post that said something to the effect of “Remember when what you have now was what you always wanted” and, while I hate this kind of trend-spiration, that sums up the entirety of my life right now. When I’m totally losing my shit I tell myself, “Here, here” because everything I need is truly, right here.
I say “my daughter” in the same way you say a new crush’s name as often as you can in conversation. I still can’t believe it. I look at her and think “I have a daughter” and more often than not, I can put the enormity of what it means to be a women in this world aside and just focus on the fact that she is here and she is mine.
She made her presence known just after I had given up and chosen a solid plan “B”, a post-active-parenting plan. Because this was my fourth pregnancy in two years, I wasn’t confident that she would stick. I went about my life, terrified in every direction but committed to not re-routing my entire life and identity when I had no reason to believe the pregnancy would be viable. Even my baby shower felt ominous, and it was difficult to hold the prospects of joy and loss simultaneously.
Fear looks like cancelling your very necessary scheduled c-section two hours before you’re supposed to check in.
It’s so easy to live and parent from fear. I am worried about dropping her or other people dropping her most of every day. The other fears creep in, but largely I can pull myself back to here. My son is so much older that I remember almost nothing about babies, but I do know that having seen him through to now is a constant reminder of just how quickly this will pass. I’m not necessarily finding bliss in the fussy baby nights and the 98% reduction in my productivity, but I do have some context to know that it is temporary.
We’ve been together for six months now. At first I was feral. I didn’t want to be around anyone, even family. I pictured myself as some kind of animal who could not be reasoned with. I was too scared to co-sleep, but it was painful to have her asleep six inches away from me. I still spend most of the time she is sleeping looking at her or pictures of her. I scroll back to the beginning, notice that my fresh, milky newborn is now a wild, milky baby, and wonder what she will learn tomorrow.
Her father and I call her our retirement baby. We both had challenging babies our first time(s) around, and she’s been so content, so happy. Not at all like the Doris Lessing-style Fifth Child I was worried about.
She is sick today, and asleep in front of me; her cheeks look exactly like they did the day she was born. These are likely to be the last few minutes I have to myself for the next 24 hours, so time for homework.