Sunday, May 24, 2015

To you, my love, who would have been.

I’m so angry and I don’t want to let you go. But I also know that is not what you would want for your Mama. I have carried you from the start of your beating heart to the moment that it stopped and I carry you still. In three days every trace of you will be gone but you will remain implanted in my heart. I don’t understand why and when I look at your beautiful big sister the burn stings deeper. I want to hurt on the outside as much as I do on the inside sometimes. I want it to show, I’m so tired of being strong and I don’t want to be silent.

You two would have been so close. I close my eyes and I see her bringing me your diapers and I see the two of you running through the back yard, you still wobbly on your feet like she is today. It would have been a crazy and wonderful ride for us all. But there were different plans for you, my love. I saw your beating, tiny heart weeks ago and you consumed me at that very moment. I finally understood and was confident that I could love someone as much as I love my first.

I carried you every single second of your life and I will love you for every remaining second of mine. What a privilege it has been to be your Mom.

I promise to not be bitter and to continue to hope for more blessings in the future. For you and for your family here with me I am going to resolve to leave the anger and emptiness behind. It the hardest thing I have ever had to do, saying goodbye to you.

You are in good hands. Your great grandparents are experts in love and support. It makes me so joyful to think of you being held and guided by them. It is the only way I can cope. What were their faces like when they saw you for the first time?  Are you with your older sibling who joined them in 2013? I can only imagine.

 I know you are waiting for your Dad and I.  It seems so cruel that we should have to wait so long to see you. But we have a job to do until then and I promise we won’t forget you. We will hold you in our hearts until we can hold you in heaven.

My sweet little love, I miss you so much. You are one of the greatest “what ifs” of my life and your time with me has been so special. My heart hurts so badly and I wish your plan was what I had planned. I don’t have the words to close because I don’t want to have to say goodbye, or even see you later.

So I will just say that I love you.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Harder to Hold

Why is it the harder to hold you become, the more I want to hold you? Each night when we rock I feel you growing taller and near impossible to be held like a baby. You quickly readjust to be rocked head against my shoulders, legs stretched down to my knees. And each time I lug you down the hallway dripping bath water in your towel, I am too aware that the task is becoming heavier.

As you race to your first birthday, I realize now that motherhood has phases and the relationship evolves, something I never considered to occur this early in the game. We’re changing. I watch you constantly on the move, determined to grow up too fast, to walk, to run. The cuddles are quick but the smiles are constant.

With each side step around the coffee table you become more independent, more confident and sure. It is a joy to watch you. I am constantly shocked by your observation skills, you want the food on my plate, the remote in my hand, and the cell phone I just shoved behind my back. You don’t miss a single thing.

My heart thrives on each light bulb moment that you have, the spark that flashes in your eyes when you master a new trick. But I can’t help but view each one as bittersweet. You are no longer the helpless bundle that relied on me so greatly. You hurry to find the tiniest pieces of paper to taste and you shove macaroni into your mouth at speeds I didn’t know were possible.

But what I do know is that each change to our relationship will be a bigger, different pill to swallow. I am dealing with the perplexity of why I don’t remember exactly what it felt like to hold you at eight pounds or even the sound of your little cry. I tried so hard to capture those moments in my soul like a living snapshot. Though my memory is foggy, I am sure that they will never truly disappear.  A mother’s soul is built and sustained on these moments of raw, untouchable love. But I believe that our minds know that we cannot dwell and that we most move forward with our ever changing and growing little ones. The fact remains that there will be moments when I look at you and can only see that tiny, new person who changed the focus of my world. And in those moments an assured blink will bring me back to reality and take my breath away.

Today you refused to sleep without a considerable amount of rocking. Today I obliged and refused to let you cry. Months of being laid down awake has not been lost on your temporary need to be comforted and soon you will refuse to be rocked at all.

I find myself confused and a little lost. I will continue to take each day and independence-gaining milestone as it comes. I know now that that is what all of us mothers do at each stage and tick of the clock. We hold on for dear life. Explore and learn, sweet girl, and I promise that I will be there learning with you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dear Officer

I was leaning over the sink scrubbing dishes when you walked into the kitchen, weighed down with gear. Our baby munched happily on an assortment of peas, carrots, and apples in her high chair. As you approached she playfully smiled up at you and kicked her feet.  With my back turned I heard you kiss her head and tell her “bye-bye” and “I love you so much my sweet girl” more times than my heart could handle. I hate the moments like these.

I don’t know why on some afternoons you lean in for an extra good-bye kiss with that expression on your face.  It haunts me to hear you take a labored breath before finally saying, “See you in the morning.” You have admitted this before and I know that this is one of those times. But my dear Officer this isn’t the last time you will hear “bababa” or see her sweet, gummy smile. My heart feels heavy for hours following these particular goodbyes.

It is no wonder why I can’t sleep when you are gone and certainly caring for a baby could have been easier with less restless nights. Eyes shut, I think of you out there seeing what we don’t, safe in our beds. And a sigh of relief escapes when I hear your boots in the hallway before the sun is up. You met the main objective of your shift and came home.   

I make myself a PBJ or a bowl of cereal for dinner and sit down to feed her before a bath and “night-night.” I hate doing this alone but I know that you hate missing it more. I see the packed dinner that you accidentally left on the counter and I don’t do my usual lecture via text message because I know that your heart was heavy when you left. You wondered momentarily if that would be the last time you looked at your precious girl or the last time you gave your wife a kiss. And even in a relatively safe jurisdiction of service, the future isn’t promised.  Even the bravest are allowed a moment of vulnerability, it is what keeps you human amongst the inhumane.

The evening news is too much for me to bear, I don’t want to see what you and your brothers and sisters in blue face. I don’t understand why so many people look at you as an enemy or even think you are out to get them, because to us, you’re our defender. We know your heart and your cause.  She tries to play with your badge when you hug her goodnight and you wear it proudly because you were called to serve.

So my dear Officer, tonight while we are playing on the floor and rocking to sleep don’t doubt that we will be thinking about you. And know that I see the stressed expression on your face as you constantly try to catch up on sleep during the daylight hours.  I wish that I could make the world good but you are the one who is actually making that effort. I don’t know the burden that you carry on your shoulders but we support you. We will see you in the morning.

God Bless those who are proud to serve.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

What I Didn't Expect

Rocking in the quiet stillness of the early morning darkness, I listened to the little noises she made as she ate.  For the first time I didn’t beg my mind to create a lasting snapshot, instead I just let each sensation wash over me. I drifted as we rocked back and forth.

I knew to expect the tired, the worn-out, and the stretched-thin.  Everyone says, “It gets better,” and it does, quicker than your mind will allow you to imagine in those moments of pure exhaustion and weariness.

Many hours I spent trapped under a sleeping baby as I looked around at the chaos and mess that consumed almost every inch of our house.  I could feel every dust particle and dirty dish weighing on my soul.  I should be able to keep a clean house, right?  I expected that one day I would be able to be cleaner and tidier. 

While my arm muscles grew to accommodate lugging around a fast growing infant, my leg muscles declined from the hours spent lounging with a needy baby.  Never being able to find the time to exercise, I tried not to linger too long in the mirror.  I hoped one day I would be able to find the time to be a fit, healthy mom.

What I didn’t expect is that when she finally started sleeping through the night, many times I would wish for her to stir so that I could cuddle her.  Instead, every night I take one last look at her on the video monitor before closing my eyes. 

And when she started to prefer being laid down in her crib for naps, what I didn’t expect is that I would miss being trapped.  No longer bound, I watch as she takes everything she can in, constantly learning and on the go.  Oh what I would give to feel the heaviness of her sleeping head on my chest.

A million times over I would overlook the pile of dishes and dust bunnies.  And now, we linger together in the mirror, inspecting each other’s facial expressions, both smiling.  I have a little more time for exercise and cleaning but what I didn’t expect was that I would want those time consuming cuddles back, two-fold.

The fact that things need to get done doesn’t escape me but maybe things can go a little unkempt for this insanely brief time in our lives.  Many mornings she still wakes up to eat before the sun is up.  My heart swells as I shuffle sleepily to her room.  A thousand moments of seeing her happy little face in the darkness as I lean over the rails of her crib wouldn’t be enough. And in the still and quiet, before the rest of the world is up, it is just us two.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

When the Words Feel Heavy

My heart aches as I pack away the clothing that now pulls downward at the back of her neck, right below that perfect spot for landing kisses.  Perhaps I am feeling particularly reflective with “You’ve Got Mail” on in the background, doubly lit by my Christmas tree.

No sound has ever been as sweet as the first, second and thousandth time that she exclaimed, “mamamama!” I grew weary when the exclamations went from happiness to a part of crying or whining. How can I not respond right away, she is crying for me? 

I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started this journey, before the swollen feet and sleepless nights. “Mama” is so much more than babble or a name. It represents every need, ones for food and clean diapers and even unusual needs like putting a little hand into my mouth while nursing to sleep for comfort.  

Sometimes when I am beckoned for the tenth (going on hundredth) time of the morning I get annoyed, I am human. Motherhood is a million bothersome and tiresome moments banished by single moments of pure joy. If you make an effort to be present, those joyful moments occur more noticeably and make the “job” a whole lot easier.

Good day or bad day, a gummy smile and silly giggle will turn my world upside down in the most beautiful way. I am HER “mama.” Rocking in the dark, feeling her soft, tiny hand on my cheek, I beg my mind to imprint that feeling in my soul. I never want to let it go. But as time goes on I can’t quite remember exactly what she looked like new to the world and what those first few weeks felt like. No one likes to hear how fast it goes because we all are hyperaware of each fleeting moment when we can be.

Today I pledge (as much as I can) to embrace each “mama,” happy or whiny. One day I will cease to be “mama” and simply become “mom.” I don’t dread it. My heart feels like a hundred pound weight is weighing on it when I think of the years that keep flying by. Soon she won’t want me to rock her, pick her up or kiss her toes. And one day I may even need her more than she needs me, I may even become a burden. I won’t let her ever become mine.

To the new mom, don’t let people talk you into letting your baby cry. Your baby will not become spoiled and will not go to Kindergarten still needing to be rocked to sleep. Take a needed and brief break to breath and start fresh. This is all very temporary and an incredibly small amount of time in the scheme of our lives, although I know sometimes that it doesn’t feel like it. We all need perspective and to be brought back down to earth at times, and it’s ok. You will think crazy thoughts when the stress levels get high, but you are not alone and you will not act on them. Share with those around you, ask and LET people help you. Delegate tasks if you need to.

Sometimes things get heavy, especially words. “Mama” can bring you to your knees with joy and even exhaustion. When family, friends and strangers urge you to enjoy it all because time goes by so fast, it hurts and it weighs on every fiber of our being because deep down we know. We are living it. Don’t be terrified of the future and the threat of years of regret and nostalgia. Do the best you can. Some days you can only simply hold on for dear life. But when you have the time, take a moment to embrace it; the tired, the crazy, the messy, the love.