December 28, 1996
I went into labor today. Doctor sent me home and told me to return when the labor pains get closer. I don't know what I'm doing. Presumably they do. See you soon.
December 30, 1996
We've returned to the hospital. Labor pains have gotten stronger, but not much closer. Doctors won't induce or break my water until your actual due date of January 2. They gave me Demerol instead. It doesn't help. So far I've only seen two of the three doctors in my group practice. They are both stupid, old men. "I've done this many times, little girl." That's what the white-haired one said. Here's hoping the woman doctor will be in soon.
If I don't die first, see you soon.
January 1, 1997
The doctor gave me morphine. It doesn't seem to help.
I wish my mom were here. She would know what to do. I feel very alone. And scared. And OW.
January 2, 1997
Dear Baby Girl,
Today you made me a mom, way sooner than I ever expected to be. I'm not sure yet how I feel about things.
You are so much tinier than I expected.
And so fragile. So, so breakable.
And this world is so big and heavy. It weighs on me so hard I am all but flattened by it. And I am so much bigger than you. But small yet. I worry I'm too small to protect you from it.
Nobody told me about the worry. How it will begin to consume you the moment you look into your newborn's eyes. For the first time ever, it's not a worry for yourself, but for another being, and that makes it somehow far more terrifying. You check the fingers and toes. The creases in the neck and the space behind the ears. You touch the bottoms of the feet and watch the toes curl. You slide fingers into the fists and feel the grasp of tiny hugs and never-letting-go. And then you think about germs and skinned knees and drowning water and betrayal and bullies and gossip and lies and people that hurt.
I want to believe I'm big enough, smart enough, wise enough to keep you safe. But I know better. I'm just a stupid kid. Everybody has let me know it, just in case I didn't already.
So there's this fear. As in, FEAR.
The nurse has left me to rest. Your dad went home to sleep. We're alone now. Just you and me, and you're sleeping in my arm, breathing softly, your tiny lips moving just slightly, just lying here totally trusting me, because you don't know better.
Just you and me, alone.
So, yeah FEAR.
But there's something else, something immense, and I'm only just starting to really figure it out. The thing is, I've felt love before. So many happy moments, where love seems to have filled me up. And it's made me weep when my heart has broken. When my dad left. When Johnny **** smashed the baby pumpkins in my mom's garden during my 13th birthday party. When my mom lost her job. When Dave **** broke up with me right before my Biology class with Mrs. ********, possibly the worst teacher in the history of ever, who told me to stop crying or she'd send me to the office.
In all the moments of joy and all the broken heart moments, I thought I knew what love was.
But now you. And now I know the truth.
This is love. LOVE. It is bigger than my swollen heart, bigger than me. Bigger than this awful world. Bigger than fear. You don't love me, yet or maybe never, but I love you.
I. Love. You.
I'm just a stupid kid, but I'm capable of LOVE. That makes me feel really strong. Maybe not smart enough. Or wise enough. But damn it, it makes me big enough.
January 4, 1997
My Dearest Girl,
I was nursing you today, just you and me on the daybed in your nursery. We finally seem to have gotten a hang of this feeding thing. You wrapped your little fist around my finger and looked up at me wide-eyed over my breast, with little droplets of tears at the corner of your eyes, and something broke inside me. Just shattered. You don't care how old I am or how much I don't know. In your eyes, I saw that you know how much I love you. You feel it. I know you do. And I realized today I am wholly and unconditionally yours. I made a promise to you in that moment. I swear to you I will never break it. I will love you as if our lives depended on it.
July 11, 2014
I still love you as if our lives depended on it.