|Photo by: left-hand (creative commons)|
My heart did not swell that first moment. I felt the amazement of a new life but my heart was numb. I felt blank. Wasn't this supposed to be that moment when a mother feels overwhelming love for her child? As I examined the small fingers and toes, I wondered when or if the moment would come. Why was my heart not filling up with the sweetness and innocence of a very first meeting? She was God's perfection personified. Thick burgundy hair framed a cherub's face. Her breath warm and syrupy. I inhaled her. She studied me trying to decide what kind of mother she been given. Was I kind and loving or cold and stoic? I couldn't answer those questions as I didn't know the answers myself. It was almost as if the child was suddenly ancient and I could sense her deep understanding of the world. All I knew was that my life would never be the same. An excess of hormones and narcotics blocked further clarity.
"What is her name?" asked one of the nurses in the room. The voice led me out of the thick fog.
I glanced at the child's father hoping for a glimmer of recognition. Was this the child we called Maybe Maddie? Maybe, maybe not. I did not know. This baby was unfamiliar to me. I did not know her.
"Are you Maybe Maddie?" I asked my daughter, expecting a flicker of approval but getting a sleepy yawn.
"I believe she is" my husband answered for the child at my breast.
Maybe Maddie. The redhead girl we dreamt would be our daughter was here and on her own time. That was way she would do everything - on her own time. I did not believe the child was ready to come. She was 2 weeks, 6 days early and just barely to term. Her daddy and I firmly believe we know what happened.
Our Maybe Maddie poked too hard and accidentally broke her bubble world. As the warm bath water drained all around her, Maybe Maddie cursed, "Oh crap!" Then she panicked, "Put it back! I didn't mean to! Uh oh! Here I go!" She began her new life.
Every bit of confidence disappeared once I saw that tiny pink squirmy screaming being. “Are they really going to send her home with us?" I asked my husband.
He smiled and then gave a look of worry. “Yes. I think we’re in charge now.” He sat. “It shouldn't be too bad. We just have to keep her alive and love her.”
“Now comes the happiness,” I thought as we came home - a family of three. I waited. I cried. “Where is the happy excitement of a new baby?” I questioned myself, too ashamed to admit the truth.
It didn't help that Maybe Maddie was colicky. Maybe Maddie cried and ate and cried. Finally, she slept. I slept. I ate. I cried. The phone did not ring. No one called to ask what we needed. I asked. No one responded. So, I sat waiting for the joy to find me. After several days, it became apparent that joy wasn't really even looking for us. One morning, I waited on the couch with a wriggly unhappy baby. I called the pediatrician's office at exactly 8:30 am. “Come right away,” said the voice on the phone.
"She's perfectly healthy." the nurse sat in front of me and studied me. "Oh! Poor Dear." She said, "Motherhood isn't exactly what you expected, is it?"
When we got home, I bundled up Maybe Maddie and we walked. I looked for joy. Maybe Maddie cried some more. We ate lunch and we got in the car. I drove and drove. Maybe Maddie slept and peace found me. This became our new life. We woke up. We ate breakfast. We bundled up and we walked. When I couldn't take any more crying from Maybe Maddie, we drove and Maybe Maddie slept.
Finally, a break. One day, after our walk, Maybe Maddie made a sound that wasn't screaming. I looked down into the stroller to find a happy smiling plump baby. I cried. I ate. I slept. Maybe Maddie smiled. She laughed and she played. I wish I could say I remember the exact moment I realized my heart was full. My memory has so many blank spots. I didn't know what to call it. Doctors call it Postpartum Depression. My mother said it was the Baby Blues. Maybe Maddie patiently nursed me slowly nourishing me with that magical elixir - her sweet baby breath. As I inhaled, I was filled fill light. The darkness was gone. My
tears dried and I was content. That’s when I knew I had always loved her.
That’s when the joy came.
Love can find us in many different ways. How has love found you?
Kirsten is a writer, mommy and a woman trying to have it all or as much of it as possible. She is currently working on a book about her grandparents’ oral history. Kirsten blogs at www.eatingneonyogurt.com exploring motherhood, faith and her quest to shave her head for children’s cancer research. When
Kirsten isn't writing, she loves to cook, read and she spends entirely too much time chasing her 3 year