She slept by J’s side the first night in the hospital. The nurses said she would be much calmer and feel much safer that way. I was too afraid of hurting her, accidentally rolling over her, so I asked J to have her by his side. Did we sleep that night? Any of us? Did I wake up and look over at my husband and my brand new baby girl? Was I too exhausted to even notice I was in a hospital bed wearing clothes that weren’t my own? I can’t remember.
Breastfeeding didn’t work at first. She was bottle fed. The nurse, the one we really liked, came in with the bottle and said that our baby girl needed something to give her energy. She showed us the bottle. I looked at it. The amount of milk surprised me. A newborn baby has a stomach the size of a walnut I had been told and had read in books. I felt as if the content of the bottle was more likely to fill a stomach the size of an orange rather than a walnut, but who was I to question the experts at the hospital?
We were sleeping. It was the morning after her birth. I had finally dozed off with my daughter by my side. I had finally rid my fear of rolling over her, of hurting her, and there we were. Two strangers in a bed. Two strangers about to embark on the adventure of getting to know each other, of connecting like only mother and child connect, and just then J snapped the photo.
She is eight months today. Eight months! I feel like I have known her forever and don’t know her at all. She makes me smile like no one else and she makes me desperate like no one else. It is a love I have never felt before and it is great, the greatest. It is a love that makes the trying and the crying – of right now as well as of in the past – all worth it.
(I looked at Ryan’s photo of Tessa and Cole sleeping and felt a sting. Why didn’t I have a cork board photo like that? Turns out I do.)