Alone together

Little One,

In the first few months of learning to be your mother, I surrounded myself with people. With learning to pump 8-12 times a day to feed you, it made it increasingly hard to do everything on my own. So after your father’s three-week paternity leave ended, I continued to invite people over, terrified to be left alone. And to some degree, it was good to have people in your life surround you at that time. People brought us meals, and offered to hold you while I pumped.

But now, you are five months old. The near-daily visits have stopped. You and I are alone much of the time. With your godmother in Arizona and my mother’s newfound job, I don’t have nearly the help that I used to. And when those changes occurred, I wept in terror that I couldn’t be the mother you deserved without constant help.

It’s been a few weeks now and I’m finding such a deep love for you and for our time together. Pumping and taking care of a baby can be a lot to juggle, but I’m finding solutions and rhythms that make it work. And between pumping sessions, I’m getting to really enjoy you. Sometimes I get no housework done all day and have to get it all finished before bed when your father is cuddling you, but it is so worth it to take you for walks down to the cemetery and eat lunch under a big oak tree. To wear you close to my heart when your teeth hurt. To read you the book you love about Carl Sagan over and over.

And I think you’re starting to really like me, too. I think it took awhile to strip away my anxiety that coated my body so I could finally hold you against my skin. The other night it rained so hard, and while your father and his friends were inside, the two of us slipped away, invisible, to stand on the front steps. Just shielded enough that we didn’t get drenched, but close enough to the downpour that we felt the mist on our faces. I held you and we watched the occasional flash of lightning while I sang old songs in your ear, and occasionally you looked at me and smiled before lying your head on my chest again. Thank you for giving me time to learn how to let you love me.

Love,
Mama

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Community

Little one,

 
I’m sitting in the rocking chair in your room, belly bound in the wrap meant to hold you to my chest when you get here. I’ve heard it can help to alleviate the pain in my hips brought on by the ever-growing responsibility of being your mother. I’m waiting for your Auntie Rachel to get here, playing music for you and reading poems about a sin-eater. When she gets here, I suspect we’ll chat about boys and our familial dramas awhile, then bake a cake, eat dinner, and find a good sitcom to watch while we knit and sew. I imagine she will be here doing much the same thing after you’re born, punctuated by holding you while I cook/clean/shower/rest. She wasn’t born into my family, but I trust her heart to nurture you much more than my biological sister. The amount of presents she already enjoys buying you is evidence enough that she’s excited to meet you. 

Imperfect music

Little one,
 
I have always loved the written word. As a child, I always had books in my hand or in my backpack, accompanying me everywhere I went. In school, I was often asked to read aloud because of my attention to punctuation and cadence, knowing I couldn’t just read one word after another, but how they were meant to be connected (It should be noted, however, that though I read well, I was always nervous and read too fast. My first grade teacher learned very quickly to turn the book upside down before asking me to read, and though that helped for awhile, I learned to read upside down just as quickly. Oh well.). But there comes a time in everyone’s life where you stop being asked to read out loud. I don’t know why this is, but it seems that we associate reading aloud with childhood, something to be outgrown. But I continued to read voraciously, hearing the rhythm of the words in my head, loving their music.
 
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Potential energy

Little one,
 
This week has been a strange one. Remember all the snow I told you about? Well, we got a little respite from it. The sky warmed up, the warm and cold fronts met, and instead of a marshmallow world, we got a thunderstorm (In Michigan! In February!). There hasn’t been a storm here since before your hearing developed, so this was your first encounter. And as I laid back in bed, looking down at my naked belly, I saw your kicks, and felt you roll with the thunder. There are things in the natural world that have always given me solace, and the rain may have been among my first loves. I hope you know when you’re older and it’s warm and the rain kisses the earth, you and I will venture out, conveniently forgetting our umbrellas, to feel the sky give our skins tiny, nourishing gifts. I put my hands on you, separated by an increasingly small barrier, and knew I had a little pluviophile in me, just like your mother.
 
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Winter Dreams Of Spring

Little one,

The snow lies heavy on the world now, but the sun is out today. I can hear the big icicle that hangs outside the kitchen window dripping onto the steps below, a premature taste of the thaw. When you get here, the snow should be gone, the sun ready to warm the brown earth back from dormant slumber. It seems I’m ready for the same, waiting for the moment you’re not so quiet in me. Having a spring baby to look forward to makes me wonder how people ever have babies at any other time. The rebirth of the world seems like the only time you should ever be brought earthside. But, for now, the snow tells us to wait patiently a while longer.

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Listening

Little one,
 
Your uncle broke up with his girlfriend today. And though I’m sad for him, when I asked if there was anything he wanted in a care package and he mentioned an ultrasound picture of you, it warmed my heart to know that the guy who ‘doesn’t really like babies’ loves you. In addition to that picture of you, I’m knitting him a hat right now to go with all the other goodies in a traditional breakup care package. It matches the one I’m making for you. I can’t wait to get a picture of you two together. I hope you know the thought of you cheers up the broken-hearted.
 
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Afraid But Brave

Little one,
 
Lately I’ve started to become a little anxious. I know you’ve probably felt it. It started with worry about your birth, something that I know people do successfully all the time, but, at the back of my head, the fact that the phrase ‘died in childbirth’ exists haunts me. Before I knew you, I was never afraid of death. I knew it was a natural part of life, something that can even be beautiful, something that would happen to me when it was supposed to. And then, when I was no longer one person, my heart began to panic. What if I left you alone with your father to try and make it on your own? What if I bled out and you never got to be comforted by my arms? What if? For once in my life, death is a possibility (however remote) that I have to consider and prepare for. And it makes my heart race.
 
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