Poppy, you are two.
When I revisit your first minutes in this world I am overcome with sadness and awash with unspeakable guilt. Had it not been captured on video – I would not be able to live with what my emotion painted as an impressively vivid but thankfully false image of your arrival. The moment of your birth sent our tiny family careening down a very long and very lonely rabbit hole. The landing was not soft and the surroundings were foreign. I do not revel in those clippings of time.
As you were entering earthside, I reached down and touched the top of your head. It was one of a very few extrasensory moments in my life. I moved through time and space and earth and thought and truth in an indescribable montage. I was not expecting you, yet. Though, I knew of you since I was small – your appearing left me shaken, benumbed, wrapped in a sudden cocoon.
I cringe with shame at the stripped and sulking spirit that spoke into me as you were pulled up to my chest. It was not mine.
I watch the video, and I am in disbelief. I nuzzled and cradled you. Kissed your tall, peculiar head. Bounced and rocked and rubbed your back. I spoke softly into you. I told you… And I am weeping with this memory… I told you that it would be okay.
I did not cover up your hands and feet – nor did I dare more than a first glance at them.
I hope that what you remember is the warmth of my chest, the sweet scent of milk, and the drumming of my heart as it swelled with both hope and fear. I pray to every god ever named that the cool touch of terror didn’t penetrate my skin and chill you.
It took me eight hours to syphon the strength to roll over and stand up inside the room where I had given birth. It was the perfect place to meet you. It provided a safe place for me to hide when you were taken to the hospital. I feel weak for staying behind. For not insisting they take me with you. But I was not ready yet. Nothing inside of me felt alive. I like to imagine that you pulled the will and strength out of me so that you could survive those first frightening hours. It soothes my shame and flatters my maternal heart to think this way.
When I saw you again I recognized you right away. Not because the dark smears of meconium had been scrubbed from your face and body. Not because you were pink and blinking. But because I recognized the air around you. I recognized the rhythm of your breathing. My body reacted to the sight of you and I became stronger in that dawning than I ever imagined I could be.
You are a light born into a dark place. From first breath you have illuminated fears and insecurities and an army of closeted skeletons. You shine so bright that your brother and I have both had a tough time adjusting to all that we now see. We are better for it, though sometimes still searching out dim corners to rest our eyes and sharpen our claws. I spent a large portion of my life obsessing over the law of non-contradiction. How something cannot have both the property of one entity and have not the property of same said entity. But here I am in violation. You and him. My perfectly balanced babies, or so it seems. I cannot know.
Your first year was about survival. Your survival, my survival, your big Bubba’s survival – and we survived! More than our portion of bumps and bruises – but still kicking. The year was speckled with many tiny morsels of hope. Little words and big test results, physical and developmental milestones. Most of the news in your first year was good news.
This second year has been about realizing reality and letting go. Letting go of the ideas of things that had for so long accompanied us, and making room for change. Turning our heads toward the mouth of the cave and adjusting our truth accordingly.
Change is hard. Cumbersome. Unwanted. Uncomfortable. Annoying. Stifling. Squelching. Startling. Bothersome. I do not like change, but I adore her catalyst.
The little morsels of hope that littered year one were slowly swallowed by some sly creature who came slinking along in year two. Steadily, through the course of the year, you faced battles from which I believed you to be exempt. Surgical procedures and interventions were quietly placed back on the table after being declared entirely unnecessary. New worries surfaced, expert opinions contradicted one another, and Mecca turned out to be a mirage. I felt more alone and overwhelmed in your second year than I was prepared for. I was anticipating “easier” and so I was taken aback.
The financial setbacks that began just over a year ago have wiped me out. The time and energy I spend fighting for what is yours is robbing us all. We can’t get ahead, but I’m grateful we are somehow still afloat.
Amidst the rubble of what once was… I saw myself disappearing. I laughed less often, raised my voice more often, and dreaded the daylight hours. Most of my experience this past year has been a long string of multiple mini-heart attacks. Something had to give.
And so, I chose. I chose to spend more time playing and listening and caring for our family in the simple ways I had been unable to prior.
There were so many firsts in your second year – and those are the moments that should stand out – those are the memories I want to carry with me – not the residual fear of things that did not happen.
Year three is already promising some big changes, surgeries and some more unwelcome financial fiascos – but I am carrying with me a new sense of worth now. I’m remembering that your laughter is just as important as your oxygen – and I’m focused on crawling out of this dreadful hole we’ve been in, marinating in fear, for far too long.
I promise you, Poppy, I will get you what you need, want, and deserve. Happy Birthday, Scooter bug. I am thrilled to be your Mama. Xo.