“A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on.”
― Carl Sandburg
Dear Baby Samantha,
I keep having dreams of holding you and it feels like waking up for the first time.
9 months feels like a long time to carry another human being inside you. But my body isn’t just growing you, you’re changing too. My body is becoming engorged with blood. My heart beats faster. The hormones make my head swell. Now when I look at a newborn baby or a bunny rabbit or a bluebird alighting on the fence I hear a symphony inside my head.
People have told me that I’m going to regret you. That you’re going to be a mistake. How can a mistake sing like this? How can a mistake make the sky so blue that it hurts my eyes, make me feel love for the smallest heartbeat? I listen to the cicadas outside singing, a call and return, and I think my body is just working to create another part of the pattern.
All of existence is converging to make music.
At 29 weeks you actually look like a human being. You’ve lost the appearance of a little embryonic skeleton, lost your flippers and your little beady alien head. You’ve got eyelashes and a nervous system and I can feel your rhythmic hiccups and sporadic kicks inside me.
With each day that passes I fall in love with a feeling that used to be unfamiliar to me.
I used to hate sentimental crap like this, but your mom is a writer. Language is the best thing she knows how to do. Maybe you’ll find this letter gross and obnoxious, but maybe you’ll also appreciate it when you’re a little older.
Or maybe I only hate sentimentality because I was raised to believe that any good feeling only existed so that it’d hurt more when it disappeared. Presents were wrapped under the Christmas tree not to bring me joy, but as a test to prove my loyalty, and there was always hell to pay if I wasn’t grateful enough, not excited enough.
I thought I understood love the first time I met a boy in the woods, when I felt the branches scraping against my shoulders and the chill against my throat. The street was devoured in the foliage so it could have been any time, any place, lost in the swallowing dimension of time away from streets and cities and the math homework I still needed to do.
When I closed my eyes he said my name like he needed me and the sound became nature itself. Autumn. I’d never known it could be said like that. I’d never known an all-encompassing attention. I’d never felt loved for being who I was.
But that’s nothing compared to the love I feel for you and your family. That young girl in the woods was just a child screaming for attention, who needed someone, anyone, to look at her instead of through her.
My love for you makes me want to take you in my arms and hold you up underneath the moon so the illuminated sky can see how beautiful you are.
I want to take you to the creek so I can see your eyes light up when you feel water for the first time. I want to hold you in the rush and the stream, and see your feet and arms curl at a sensation you’ve remembered, but never experienced.
You’re in my dreams and you’re in my blood and you’re in my brain and that means for the rest of my life, I can’t be anything else but a part of you.
Your father says he’ll fall in love with you when he first sees you, but he still holds my belly and talks to you. “My baby inside a baby.” Before we even knew your name you were wanted. We always knew we’d love you because we made the space you were supposed to fill.
Neither of us thought we’d ever have a child. Or a family. Or any kind of long-lasting, sustaining love. Your dad and I have always had strangely similar histories. It’s like the ways in which we both hurt were both perfectly compatible with each other to learn how to heal.
I was even afraid to love my first dog. As he curled up on the floor, sad and miserable because of his new environment, I’d read him books and hand-feed him kibble and then later be surprised that he’d be excited to see me when I came home. I didn’t know what it meant to feed something until it wanted to return to you.
For years your father and I wouldn’t even keep guns in the house because of suicidal impulses and bad memories. We didn’t trust ourselves, our worst instincts, our dark habits.
A few years ago I asked for a gun for my birthday because I finally felt in control of myself. It’s funny because it was around the same time I realized I wanted a child. I finally had the wherewithal to get everything into order. I knew I had the discipline, the motivation, the self-assertion I needed.
It wasn’t enough to love you. It wasn’t enough to want you.
I needed to know that I could take care of you.
I want to give you a family so that no matter how far you fall, no matter how much you hurt, no matter what dens, alleyways, caverns, labyrinths, or basements you find yourself in - no matter how much you get beaten and hurt - you will always have a home to come back to.
I’m getting your nursery ready. I play classical violin for you so that it makes you kick, and I can’t imagine how beautiful it must be to hear a symphony for the first time. Just a little longer, baby.
It’s almost time to come home.
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Really poignant. Beautiful really. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability!!