All the signs were smack dab in front of me. The positive pregnancy test, the compressed bladder, the blonde nurse standing over me in the blue scrubs-they all confirmed it. Yes, I was going to have a baby.
Nine months fluttered past in a whirlwind, when suddenly, an undeniable gush of water soaked my shorts on a hot August day. I rushed to the hospital where another nurse in blue scrubs stood over me and said yes, I was going to have a baby today.
After hours of pacing, pushing, and pain. I had a baby. I held the tiny, frail body in my arms, all 5 lbs and 13 ounces of her. I softly caressed her brand new skin. I gazed into her dark eyes. I curled my fingers around her miniature hands. Shackled, I sank helplessly into the deepest of loves.
Full of excitement at our brand new world, we took our baby home. Around the clock I was feeding, soothing, clothing, bathing, and loving a baby.
The baby months–a blur.
Suddenly, or what seems like it now, that baby learned how to smile. She mastered rolling over. She sat on her own. She gobbled up real food. That baby cooed, laughed, and slept. She grew stronger each and every day. She rocked until she crawled. She crawled until she cruised. She sought after her first independent steps. She succeeded. I was SO proud. She was so impressive for a baby.
Glimpses of that baby growing up flashed before me with increasing frequency. Every time I blinked, she grew older. Lankier. Smarter. More confident. More capable. More independent. Until one day not so long ago, my eyes sprang open to a new reality.
My daughter was NOT a baby anymore. Where had that baby gone?
It knocked the wind out of me. It hit me so fast, with such severe force. The baby years–a blur. Whipped before me like a bolt of lighting cracking through thick, gray clouds.
My daughter gave herself a bath. She undressed. She turned on the water. She pushed the plug in the drain. She explained how she liked the water warm, so it could get her more clean. She reminded me she needed a wash rag. She scrubbed herself down. She sang songs and acted out scenes from The Little Mermaid. She lay down flat across the bottom of the tub and her body took up more than three fourths of it. She played and played until she was ready to get out. Then she pulled out the drain plug and gathered up all her toys. She maneuvered her legs over the tub wall and pulled a dry towel from a nearby hook. She wrapped it around herself.
The baby years–gone. Just like that.
With sopping wet curls dripping into her eyes, she threw her arms up at me and begged, “Mommy, hold me”. Air slowly rippled back into my lungs. I scooped her up. I held her tight and kissed her damp cheeks. She snuggled back into me.
There she was, as close to me as she could be, my baby.
Most of our lives will blur together. One day, not so far away, all the moments, months, and years will be out of focus. My daughter will continue to grow at a rapid speed. My motherly love will continue to stretch to the perimeter of my heart, the same way her ankles will continue to stretch too far out of barely-worn pants.
Her need for me will change. One day what she may need from me is time, space, distance. Other times she may call out for me in darkness–after a bad dream, bad boyfriend, bad day at school. She may need me to cheer for her in times of uncertainty or celebrate with her through success. But at the end of the blur, when the months, years, and stages of life are gone, one thing will always remain true…
I am her mommy. And she is MY baby.