I remember sitting in the emergency room. My stomach knotting with anticipation. I had a pretty good idea what I was bound to learn that night, but there was always a chance it could go another way. Looking back, I don’t think I was nervous about being told I was pregnant. I think I was scared they were going to tell me I was wrong.
I remember laying on the hard bed-table and lifting my shirt. I was terrified. What if they couldn’t find her? Or worse. What if they did, but she was not okay? Maybe they would happen upon a blob with toes sticking out of her third arm. I’m not trying to be crude, but these are thoughts that race through a person’s mind when they’re about to finally see what has been growing in their stomach for the last few weeks.
I remember the crushing panic that swept over me when they told me they were going to break my water. This was it. I was going to have a baby. A tiny human being that I had to take care of. What the hell was I thinking? I wasn’t even able to take care of myself as history so loved to point out time-and-time again. Here I was though, about to push a baby into the world. Now what …..?
I was tired. We all say we’re tired when we stay up just a little later than we should have the night before. That pales in comparison to the exhaustion of giving birth. I couldn’t stop throwing up. I couldn’t breathe. I had people yelling at me to push, but I couldn’t even lift my head. Minutes felt like hours, hours stretched into decades, and there is no giving up. You finish this game. Even if you don’t think you can, you HAVE to. One hour. Two hours. Three …..
I can’t do it. I can’t breathe. I’m so drained, I cannot keep my eyes open. Fuck pushing ….. then suddenly there is a little face next to mine. Suddenly the world stop. Time stands still. The world will forever be just a bit brighter because my daughter is in it now. Everything just changed …. and I am the more afraid I have ever been in my entire life.
The years blur by. It’s hard to remember every little detail, and I guess that’s what cameras and journals are for. One thing I remember clearly throughout each and every day …… the fear. Constant, nagging fear. Is she okay? Is she hungry? Did I do it right? Am I doing it right? Will I do it right? What the fuck is right? Everyday is filled with immense fear. Fear that can stop you dead in your tracks. Cold sinking feelings that grab you deep in your bowels. Fear ….. because you knew from the moment you held her that you could never lose her. To lose her would be to lose everything. You couldn’t survive it, and now you live every minute in desperate agony. Praying you never have to attempt to. So we keep them close. We tell them no, don’t do that, and toddle around behind them to save their tiny bodies from the dangers of the world. A world that changed in your eyes. You don’t see flowers and sunshine anymore. You see pollen that could aggravate her allergies and third degree burns. You don’t see beautiful marble countertops. You see a corner that could break her head with one false move. Even pillows are not safe anymore!
Now I have to dress her beautifully, pack her bag, and send her away from me. Out into the very world I have killed myself to protect her from and I am the one turning her over. Here …. take my little girl, but please bring her back to me.
I don’t know how to do this.
How do I give up control? How do I take the fear that has driven me to do better, to be better, and brush it aside? Pretend it is not there anymore? How can I sit here and not think about the things that could go wrong? What if something happens and I am not there to protect her? She knows me as Mama. Mama = the person who kisses away the ouchies and makes everything okay, Fuck you world, you stand there on the other side of that force field and watch, but you cannot get me while Mama is here.
What happens when I’m not?
I tack on a smile. I feign excitement while buying new clothes. Inside? Inside I am torn apart. Inside, I feel like I am being burned alive. You experience so many different variations of fear as a parent, but this fear, it is the worse. Fear of the unknown. Fear of losing ….. losing the only thing that makes life truly spectacular.
Everyone would say I am crazy. She will be fine. I’m sure thousands of others heard the same thing, but it was not fine for them. I know you cannot live your life running from the unknown. You cannot hide away because something bad “might” happen. You can however, be terrified, and I am.
In exactly one week I have to release my daughter, my most cherished thing, into a cruel heartless world.
I’m afraid ….