~This piece was originally posted on Literary Traces on April, 2, 2013.~
My arms ached to hold her.
I was expecting our first child and had been put on bedrest due to uncontrollable contractions. I wasn’t in labor, the doctor would assure me, but they didn’t want to take any chances. Either did we. My husband and I had tried and tried for this little person. I had fallen so deeply in love with her at the first sight of that positive test, taken the morning of my 30th birthday.
Now, here I was in bed during a beautiful Vermont summer watching my belly move and wiggle with the life that it contained. I couldn’t help but worry. Would the currently painless and harmless contractions get worse? Would they throw me into irreversible pre-term labor? Would she be ok?
My arms ached to hold her.
The first of a string of worries that comes with parenthood. A near constant worry for the safety/well being/happiness of someone you love more than you’d ever imagine. It also felt like the start of my relationship with my daughter.
Before being assigned to my bed I lead a normal, active and sometimes busy life. Preparing for our daughter’s arrival and working full time kept me busy. There would be days that I would only have a few moments to really give my pregnancy, and the baby within my, full attention.
But now, now I was focusing on her 100% of the time. Undivided attention was given to her flutters and kicks. I learned that she loved for me to gently push back when she pushed out with her feet. I also came to know that she loved having her back rubbed. Something that nearly 3 years later still holds true. If she became restless all it would take is a rub of my belly and her daddy’s voice. With every one of her movements I could feel my worries melt away little by little. I was getting to know my daughter weeks before meeting her.
The aching in my arms grew stronger.
After nearly 6 weeks of bed rest I was allowed to resume normal activity. It was safe to go into labor. I was ready when she was. Two weeks later she arrived. Labor was hard and I was scared. My worry peaked with every centimeter that I didn’t dilate. Every contraction brought me closer to finally holding her and with it more worries. 10.5 hours later our daughter entered the world.
She was perfect. Beyond perfect. We were in love. We were a family.
I wrapped my arms around my daughter for the first time, feeling the warmth and weight of her just born body. “There you are.” I said to her. Her cries quieted. My heart swelled. I was finally touching my baby.
My arms no longer ached.
I started to cry as I looked at this perfect little being. The product of my husband and I. Through squinty newborn eyes she looked up at me and reached up with her minutes old hand and touched my face.
32 months later and she will still reach up and put her hand on my face. If I am upset, she will tell me everything is ok and rub my face. If she is tired she lays in my arms and reaches up for a light touch. It is her way of connecting with me and, for a moment, it is just her and I. All my worries melt away.
I focus, once again, on my daughters touch.