Six weeks ago today, I was packing my bag to bring to the hospital the following morning. Gray was a week overdue and with the doctors concerned that his size may cause major problems during delivery, we had scheduled a C-section for the next morning. As I replaced the items I had carefully packed for the labor process with what I thought I may need for recovery from surgery, my emotions were surreal. The moment I had waited for was finally here and my boy would be arriving in a matter of hours. I finally had my endpoint- I had a time given to me that my pregnancy would end. I had been previously convinced that this would bring an overwhelming emotion of excitement and joy, but as I tucked my favorite creature comforts into my bag, I felt…calm. No other word can describe it. There was nothing overjoyous, nothing frightened- just a huge quiet feeling that silenced all the feelings I had anticipated.
The reticent continued as we left our home before the sun and arrived to the hospital. We were the only souls there save the nursing staff and the silence of the ward echoed the silence of my soul.
It happened so fast. In moments I was taken into the operating room, giving pain medication and laid out on the table like the thief on the cross. With my arms spread wide and my body no longer mine own to control, I lay there waiting; waiting for that overwhelming feeling that would surely overtake me as my son entered the world.
Minutes later he had arrived, his shrill screams filled the room and I saw his tiny, red, naked body pop up over the curtain, all I could do was cry- a silent cry. The room seemed to stop and spin all the same time. I can remember David talking to me but committed none of his words to memory. Still I waited. That staggering sense of love must be on its way. But still, my heart was quiet. Instead what I felt was the anesthesia creep its way up into my lungs stealing my breath away and sending me into a panic. For a few moments, I was feeling something more- what it was I couldn’t say but it surely wasn’t this sudden surge of love and joy I had never experienced. It was terror as I struggled to catch my breath. Seeing my need for relief, the nurse brought over my child and held him on my chest so that I could feel his warm, soft skin on mine. Immediately I was relieved. The calm came back and I was at peace again. I couldn’t stop whispering, “Hi, baby” over and over again as I stroked his cheek resting on my shoulder. With each utterance, I felt my heart surge.
They took him away with David and I was alone again. In the quiet and cold of the operating room. Even after he left, I caught myself whispering “Hi, baby” to the ceiling followed by “Thank you, Jesus” over and over again. He had appeared perfect in the few moments I had spent with him. He had all his fingers and toes. He could breathe just fine (noted by his incessant, piercing screams that the nurses commented on more than a few times…) and he appeared to be as healthy as could be. While I was still waiting to be consumed by love, what I did feel was thankful. Thankful and relieved.
“Hi, baby….thank you, Jesus!”
The days since have been slow and a blur in the same breath. That moment of overwhelming joy never arrived and for a few days I was worried. So many people said that it would. I was told my heart would never be the same after that moment, but if I was honest with myself, I felt as though I could recover from it. With all the new challenges I was faced with caring for a tiny human, I forgot all about the feelings and was instead swallowed up by taking care that I was systematically feeding, changing, soothing this small life that was now in my charge.
After the dust cleared, I found myself with some more time to ponder the situation. What I realized was this: a love for a child is not one that happens all at once. It is instead a love that grows. Each day I felt my heart expanding to accommodate the influx of joy this child was bringing to me. It was slow, it was peaceful. It was just what I needed.
That growth has continued every day since. With every small smile, coo, heart pain when he cries, this love I carry for this child has bloomed. It’s been a process, and for that, I’m thankful. I’m grateful that it’s new every morning. My feelings for him grow and grow through the hard nights and tearful mornings. It’s a steady love that isn’t based on one moment in time but rather a thousand strung together. My joy for my child isn’t rooted in his first breath. It’s grounded in his small victories I have been graciously gifted to watch. It’s a love that’s full of joy, peace, pride and relief. It’s one that I’m thankful for. Now weeks out from his arrival, I hold him every morning and still whisper, “Hi, baby. Thank you, Jesus.”
Just as my love for this small child has taken its time, so has his. In the first days I noticed he took comfort from just about anyone. As long as he was warm and snuggled, he was content. These days I’ve noticed a change. He turns his head towards me when he hears my voice. He’ll open his eyes from a nap when he smells my hair, my clothes as I stand over him waiting for him to awaken. He’ll turn his face to mine and smile when others are dancing jigs to get his attention. It’s taken six weeks, but I’m certain of his love for me. Again, I am thankful for the process. I am blessed by his affectionate looks and look forward to the days when that love delivers hugs around the neck and reciprocal morning snuggles.
The waiting has made this love so much sweeter. The process has given us time to grow and develop a strong bond. The time has left room for moments full of tears that are then rewarded with a small increase of love the next morning. Without the gaps, there’d be nowhere for the love to go. It needed space before it could make its home in our hearts. It needed time to develop.
Time and space we’ll give it for as long as we are breathing, and I will continue to wake every morning and utter, “Hi, baby. Thank you, Jesus”.
Until next time!