She

May 28, 2008

I do it every night now. When it’s dark, when the rest of the house is asleep, or almost, I untangle my tiny newborn bundle from my arms and lay him down in his nest and ease my birth-battered body from our bed. I make my way – gingerly, gingerly – around the bed, supporting myself on furniture, against the walls, down the hallway, to her door.

I open it slowly, holding my breath against the creaks, and slip inside. There, in the dark, is she, my first baby. Rumpled and tangled in her blankets, her breathing slow and deep, strands of fluffy blonde hair stuck to her damp, pink cheeks, she is every inch the baby. A big baby, but still. A baby, my baby. In the quiet, in repose, she is no longer toddler, no longer little girl, no longer big sister – she is just she, my first born, my first baby, always a baby, always soft and vulnerable and in need of me, always in need of me.

I bend over the rail of her bed, and kiss her cheek, and stroke her hair and whisper nothing, everything, about how I love her so, how I adore her, how I miss her. How every nuzzle of her brother’s cheek brings a memory of her; how every clutch and suck and moment of skin pressed against newborn skin makes my heart burst for him and yearn for her; how my love for him has made my love for her grow and stretch and strain and ache.

How I love her, how I love her.

In the morning she will wake, and run past me, blowing a kiss as she clambers into Daddy’s arms, waving gaily as she embarks upon the great adventure of a new day, while I sit, constrained, restrained, by the injuries of childbirth and new motherhood (shredded nethers, ravaged nips), my new love in my arms, my new love demanding everything of me and yielding himself to me, pressing himself to me, in return. I will drink up his love, bathe in his love, as she speeds away, leaving me in her wake, grasping at droplets, holding back tears.

But it doesn’t matter, because, always, she will stop again, however briefly, and rest, and she will allow me to bend over her bed, in the dark, and stroke her cheek and tell her how I love her, my first, my girl.

How I love her.

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    { 112 comments }

    Omaha Mama May 28, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    That is gorgeous. I have a girl (older) and her brother, who came 33 months later. I felt this same way. How I missed my baby girl. The amazing part is that two years later, we are this unit. This family of four. And it all fits beautifully.

    Best wishes for you in the days ahead. Each one that passes will be better than the last.

    Kate May 28, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Amen HBM…Amen.

    Mom101 May 28, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    And now you know.

    Jenifer May 28, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Oh yes, really yes.

    Liz May 28, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    I know I’m seriously hormonal and ABOUT TO GIVE BIRTH, but holy hell, C…this was so beautiful the tears are running down my cheeks.
    I had this very moment last night. And the night before last. And every night, forever and ever.
    Our babies. Always.

    Niksmom May 28, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Oh my. I only have one but I understand. This makes me appreciate the depth of my own mother’s love (I am #3).

    This is simply breathtaking, Catherine.

    Heather May 28, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    That’s it exactly.

    Laura May 28, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    This is just beautiful – what lucky babies, what a lucky mom.

    kgirl May 28, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Yup. That is exactly it. Beautifully said.

    Candygirlflies May 28, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Damn, HBM, you’ve made me weep… because this is EXACTLY the way I’ve felt. Every. Single. Time.

    xoxo CGF

    daysgoby May 28, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    ABSOLUTELY.

    Jaelithe May 28, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    THIS IS NOT MUSH.

    This is gorgeous. And I have no idea how you write so well when sleep-deprived.

    Tracey May 28, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    That was lovely… Raw and real, and made me cry…

    The Estrogen Files May 28, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Oh yes.

    Cee May 28, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    This is such a beautiful post. I love your writing style- simply beautiful!

    Enjoy your two babies :)

    Nancy May 28, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Wow. Just wow.
    I have an older girl and a younger boy (30 months apart) and I do the same thing every night. I think the same thoughts and feel the same feelings. But you’ve expressed it so perfectly – all of it!

    My girl is the brightest star, my sun, my world. But that boy, oh he is just the same but so very different!

    Here’s hoping tomorrow feels better than today!

    Lizzie May 28, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    WOW that made me cry.

    wright May 28, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Ohhh, you made me cry. I feel so ready for a second baby, but then there are times when I stop and am scared of losing my first. How can you do it?!?!?!

    Chicky Chicky Baby May 28, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    *sobbing uncontrollably*

    Mac and Cheese May 28, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    Ditto what Chicky said.

    catnip May 28, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    Oh, that was so absolutely perfect.

    Sharon May 28, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    I have a 5-year-old and an almost 3-year-old. THIS, what you described, is what happens when you have 2 children (or more, but I can imagine). Its an expansion and a contraction of your heart and soul, all at the same time. Its a beautiful ache that you can’t get enough of. You captured it so beautifully. Thank You. Heal well.

    Meredith May 28, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    You sure know how to make a girl who’s 27 weeks pregnant with #2 cry and cry…kudos for such great, honest writing in the first weeks of your boy’s life!

    Dawn May 28, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Such beautiful expression. Wow, I know I don’t KNOW but I feel like I have some clue now.

    PunditMom May 28, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    This is so lovely. I am not as battered as you at the moment, but I steal into PunditGirl’s room every nite to look and watch and listen. How did she get to be 8 already? That is too far from babyhood for me.

    Nina May 28, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Tears running down my cheeks. This is exactly how I have felt these past 3 weeks.

    Rachael May 28, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    You win today for post that made me cry. What a great little story. I can’t wait to have another one, but I know I too will have these moments.

    Godless Sunday May 28, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    That made me cry! I love it. It reminded me of the way I felt after my second was born. It strengthens the bond, doesn’t it?

    Laura May 28, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    This is heartbreakingly beautiful.

    I felt just the same way when my second was born. I can still remember the ache of it.

    The fact that you capture this all so poignantly, mere days after giving birth, is amazing, by the way. Such a gift.

    kittenpie May 28, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    Oh, crap. Now I am sobbing and crying and wondering yet again what I am thinking, because I am not ready for what you are talking about here, not at all.

    marymurtz May 28, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    Oh sweet Moses, this made me bawl. My baby is almost six and I, too, tiptoe into her room after she is asleep to marvel at how much I can love another human being. Thank you for expressing so beautifully how love grows exponentially with another child.

    TZT May 28, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    Just so, so lovely.

    b*babbler May 28, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    Beautiful. Simply oh-so-beautiful.

    Rocks In My Dryer May 28, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    My word, this was beautiful.

    I snuggled up with my firstborn (now a lanky 11 year old) tonight and thought the same thing (though not quite as eloquently!

    Miscellaneous-Mum May 28, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    My daughter just presented me with another Mothers Day card, complete with love hearts and ribbons.

    She doesn’t know I do this either. and yet, does she? Surely she does. hopefully. I think they sense it.

    I see it as nocturnal reconciliation for all the ‘stuff’ – as ‘stuff’ happens – during the day.

    flutter May 28, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    it would be impossible not to.

    Linda May 29, 2008 at 12:37 am

    My baby girl is 33 years old and I still feel this same way. You cannot replace the first..ever. It never meant that I didn’t love the other two exactly the same way, but the first time you wear your heart outside your body is just that. The first time. And my daughter, now the mother of two, feels the same way about her first.The first prepares you for what is too follow, and that is so very, very special.

    Heather May 29, 2008 at 1:13 am

    Sobbing over here!!! I don’t know if “afraid” is the right word, but it will have to do for now…I am so afraid of that kind of love! How is it possible to love two babies so much? I honestly don’t think my heart could take all the love and fear and guilt. You’re awesome!

    MamaDrama May 29, 2008 at 1:14 am

    Oh my. (through tears) That is exactly it. Beautifully.
    She will always be your first baby, and she won’t remember this crazy time.

    Amazing things, those mama hearts, to be able to feel so much for one and then expand for #2. But it’s never quite the same as #1.

    Have been meaning to delurk and say congratulations but sorry it was so painful and scary. Hope it gets easier soon.

    Pearmama May 29, 2008 at 3:07 am

    That is it, exactly. I can’t believe I went through that so many times. Willingly! Half of me would yearn for the time when it was just me and *my other baby*…and the other half would be swooning in love with my new little one. Motherhood is tricky like that.

    Jillian May 29, 2008 at 4:07 am

    I had to go in an kiss my almost 13 year old son (1st in line of 3 – soon to be 4) after reading your post. Sometimes I forget how sweet and innocent he is. My first born. My baby boy. Thanks for the reminder.

    projectmommy May 29, 2008 at 4:16 am

    Seriously. I read this in a room full of people playing wii and I cried like a baby. They all thought I was nuts. I showed it to my mother, who was there as well, and she cried too. Never in my life have I read something that so truely captured my feelings so well. My second is now 9 months old (and co-sleeps), but after she lays down at night I still find myself in the room of my first born baby girl. My god, HBM. My god how wonderful this post is.

    Multi-tasking Mommy May 29, 2008 at 8:03 am

    This post gave me shivers! What a beautiful post.

    Every night, before I go to bed, I go into my bunny’s room and think all of those same things.

    I also think about the fall when I, too will have another new bundle. Oh–the surge of emotions….

    TaraLyn May 29, 2008 at 8:46 am

    You have me pretty damn near close to tears here and I am in the office…doesn’t help that I am PMS’in, but this was so raw, so true, so beautiful…

    Avalon May 29, 2008 at 8:53 am

    So, so beautiful and heartbreaking.

    Perfect.

    Beck May 29, 2008 at 9:12 am

    Of course you love her. She’s your baby, too. And remember that you have not taken anything from her, but instead have given her a lifelong person, someone who will hold her childhood in trust for her for the rest of her life, someone to laugh and remember with 60 years from now.

    Kyla May 29, 2008 at 9:24 am

    My baby, my first baby, is graduating Kindergarten today. Way to tug the heartstrings, HBM. ;)

    Vicki May 29, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Oh my, where to begin? I had twins on my first try and I swear I go in there every night and just watch them both sleep. My heart pulls at each of them equally for sooo many different reasons. They together are my firsts and will always be. I’m working on making #3 but its not going as easily as making the first two on the first try. I can’t explain how loving twins could be any different because it isn’t. They are both magnetic in my love for them because I love them both fully with all my heart. I know I will love the next just as much. As one reader said, now you know. I can’t say I know in the way of a second child but as a mother of two. Your heart belongs to them equally but differently and always will. Wonderful post my dear. So very wonderful…

    Tory May 29, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Perfect, true and so well-phrased. Amazing that you can write so well while so sleep deprived!

    metro mama May 29, 2008 at 10:04 am

    I just can’t get my mind around this yet.

    You’ve described it beautifully though.

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