And then she arrived, chicken legs and all, red and wrinkly and just so perfect. And I learned that when she cried I just held her close and rocked her. When she was dirty I cleaned her and when she was hungry I fed her. It didn't always work, the rocking or the feeding, and the cleaning was daunting at times. I didn't always know what to do or how to do it and there were many calls (still are) made to my mama. But one thing I know now that I didn't know then is that my fears and anxiety are quelled by the vast, eternal and passionate love that I had for that eight pound little bean. I knew that even if my rocking didn't work, or feeding time was a struggle I would claw through dirt to figure out what would. There was nothing I wouldn't do for my daughter. And there was so much comfort in that realization, so much confidence that blossomed because of that.
Last Friday I laid on a rock in Central Park and took in the views. The buildings towering over the, by comparison, small trees, the children playing tag, the couples making out on very tiny blankets (towels??? washcloths??). Oh and carnival music, there was that too. And then I spotted a couple with a baby girl right around Birdie's age. She was playing on a blanket squeezing snacks between her index finger and thumb in that awkward way that babies around eight month tend to do and it happened... My chest got tight and I started to blink away the tears. I wanted my baby there with me so badly. I wanted to show her Central Park, to take her on a cab ride and to give her snacks to squeeze with her chubby little fingers. I began to worry if she was cold or hungry or sleepy right at this moment and with my cell phone's battery dangerously drained I decided to watch and re-watch videos of her on my phone. I must have looked like a madwoman, replaying the same thirty second clip over and over again of Birdie laughing. But it was day two and my baby wasn't with me and I needed to hear her laugh. I fell asleep thinking about her sleeping. Was she warm enough?? Was she on her tummy? Was her back bobbing up and down every so slightly with every sweet little breath that she takes???
I still worry a lot. I worry about the first time she'll skin her knee or get called names at school. I worry about the first time she'll get frustrated with a class. I worry about her first broken heart. And yet I also have more peace because I know that no matter what I will simply envelop her with my love and we will work it all out. Because in the end it's not about doing it perfectly, about whether or not you breastfed or formula fed, whether you did the CIO method or let them sleep in bed with you, whether their naps always happened on time or not, whether you made organic baby food or bought jarred food, whether you let them watch tv or not. In the end it all comes down to how much you loved them, how much of your time you gave them and how much you listened.
I came home on Saturday and squeezed and squeezed that smiley baby of mine and blinked away the tears again (happy tears this time though). I didn't let go of her for a good two hours. It was absolute heaven. And then a new week began and the laundry began to pile up, the to do list didn't have nearly as many check marks as I would have liked and the house acquired more and more of a less than charming "lived in" look. Then we got thrown a curve ball with a really, really bad teething day. Once again papa bear and I winged it, we didn't really know what to do or how to do it (baby tylenol yes or no? we stuck it out and went with no but I was definitely at the end of my "listening to my baby sob uncontrollably" rope) but we just loved on our baby and hoped that it would all be ok. And it was. Babies are unpredictable, they're loads of work and raising one is probably the toughest job anyone will have but my gosh if it's not the most rewarding thing I've ever done in my life. To have your heart so tightly bound to another human being is the most brilliantly beautiful feeling. I want to always remember that...
“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”
― J.M. Barrie
, by Flora and Fauna