Here it is, the longest day of the year. Her blue eyes match the sky. Her chubby cheeks, full of grass, leaves and curiosity as we sit together on the lawn admiring a beautiful beginning to summer. Her delightful baby voice chattering out her favorite phrase, “Happy, Happy, Happy.” I am overcome with love for this sweet daughter of mine and, at the same time, astonished that there was a time I was not terribly excited about the idea of her. Tolerant, yes…excited, not so much.
I’m dumbfounded about being pregnant again. I have just escaped the survival zone of twin babyhood, barely sinking my teeth into a bite of the future with its promise of adventure. It tastes delicious. But, the plate I am anxious to devour is tossed in the trash with one positive pregnancy test.
I reason, life is complete with our two boys, and the days of desperately yearning for a baby are well-past. I certainly don’t want to go back to the days of tandem bottle feeding twin infants while hooked up to a hospital-grade breast pump to save time because I can’t get the hang of feeding twins at the breast. Every difficult thing is doubled and since this is my only barometer regarding caring for babies, I am not eager to jump in again.
Pregnancy is an inconvenience on its own, but even hearing this new baby is going to be a girl, still can’t shake the gloomy cloud that surrounds me in the early days.
I am slightly encouraged that there is only one baby in my womb this time, and I realize the honor it is to raise my boys. Having one baby to care for has got to be easier than having two at a time. As my belly swells, the inconvenience gives way to empowerment. I realize the special opportunity I have to raise a strong, independent, and grace filled girl. I want to be an example of this for her. I don’t want to shy away from the difficulty that awaits me in welcoming her to the world. I want to be present for all of it. I want to feel all of the pain. I don’t want to coast through it, effortlessly ending up with a baby on the other side of childbirth without the war story to go with it. Maybe that is self-serving heroics but that is what I want. I want to be a hero to myself, and a hero to her. Where did this come from? When did Mama Bear show up? I am surprised at this devotion to my unborn child, because it has been such a struggle for me to accept having a new baby.
Mama bear has been caught in the trap of fear set when the twins were born 6 weeks early.
Staring at my twin babies, wires crisscrossing delicately over their tiny bodies in the NICU– Mama Bear was ensnared down where I hid all the feelings of terror that one or both of my babies might not last the day or week. I waited for doctors and nurses to reassure me they will make it, and gleaning every piece of advice about how to keep them alive when I took them home.
Mama Bear is growling in the pit of my stomach, furious to be free, to stand over her children, teeth grimacing at anyone or anything that might cause them harm. I set her free for my daughter’s birth.
That afternoon on the Summer Solstice the demon of pain, fear and death showed up again but this time Mama Bear was not shackled. I was ready to fight and thirsty for blood. Round after round we went sparring; my courage rising and falling with every contraction. When my doctor informed me I was not progressing and we would need to break my water, the demon unfurled his full power with one water-breaking-hook-shaped sucker punch. The pain was sudden and punishing, and so fast that the baby was in distress because the cord was pinched around her shoulders. Fear poised to swallow me whole, I turned to flee but the doctor said my precious baby girl was in danger and that it was up to me to push her out.
Don’t mess with a Mama Bear’s cub.
Mama Bear tore through the shadowy chasm carved by that demon of fear, pain and death to save her baby. I pushed with supernatural strength. Buoyed by a contraction or not, I would not let up until she was born. Several pairs of hands carried her away to make sure she was okay. Seeing her red hair and steely blue eyes I understand the treasure she is, the source of my strength. She has awakened inside me ferocious courage and confidence to take on all of the fear inducing things without flinching because I can see beyond it to the good on the other side.
I am her hero and she is mine. I stand between fear, pain and death with love and devotion for my baby girl. She is worth it. She is a beauty full of joy, love, curiosity and tenacity. She is my beautiful star, my happy, dear one…the one I didn’t know I needed, but now, can’t imagine being without.