My daughter has existed outside of my body for two months now. For 62 days, Lucille has breathed the air of this world beyond the dark warm waters in which she first came to be. For 62 days I have been a mother. Ask me what that means exactly and I feel like how the Scarecrow looks when he furrows his brow and puts a finger to his temple.
I am both the noun and verb of mother: “a woman in relation to a child to whom she has given birth,” and “to bring up a child with care and affection.” It is a state of existence, a frame of mind, a physical entrapment or attachment depending on how things are going that day, or even the hour, or possibly the minute.
I am still perpetually tired; there is a thin film of haze that lives in my brain, but it's manageable and unlike the heavy fog of the first few days when we brought her home. When given the opportunity to nap, though, it seems impossible. When I put Lucy down, a small bean in the middle of our king size bed (we call it the magic nap bed - cause IT IS magic and she naps better there than anywhere else), and lay down to nap alongside her, I don’t. Instead I end up staring at her perfect little face. I watch her pink bowtie lips purse and smile, the small bubbles that sometimes form. I marvel at her long eyelashes and the ever so kissable cherubic cheeks. I’m amazed at her miniature hands down to the creases in her knuckles. This is what it is to be a mother. To be hypnotized by someone only 62 days old, so much so that you’ll forgo sleep just so you can stare and burn every fraction of their being into your memory, knowing full well you’ll pay for the deprivation of rest later on.
Since birth Lucille has grown 3 inches and now stands (is it appropriate to say this since she doesn’t actually stand yet?) at 23 inches tall, and weighs in at a solid 11 lbs, 7 oz. She’s meeting all her milestones and smiling in reaction to us. She recently discovered her fist and sometimes her thumb and she can, on occasion, roll from belly to back during “tummy time.” In month two Lucy has gotten to meet my mother, the west coast grandma, she experienced her first Thanksgiving, and she met her first friend and future playmate (Big Red's buddy had a baby girl). Lucy tracks both her father and me as we walk into or out of a room and she likes bath time.
The biggest realization I have had in month two of Lucille’s life is that I can do this. I can now identify, with respectable accuracy, her cries – thus nurturing a happy baby. No longer is it just about meeting the need of a cry for hunger or of tiredness or a wet diaper. She is, in ways we probably don’t even know, absorbing the world around her and learning to live in it. Lucy is playing with her tongue more and more, sticking it out, clicking it inside her mouth – a precursor to baby babble? She kicks her legs vigorously and waves her arms when she’s excited; a primitive form of communication, what will someday turn into noises, then words, and then sentences. And then maybe someday into a Pushcart Prize or the Nobel Prize for Literature. Relax - I know that would be me projecting my desires for my life onto her. I refuse to do that. If Lucille wants to be a writer, bravo. If she doesn’t, bravo still. She will be who she wants to be, so long as it’s not a stripper. BUT, if she did actually want to be a stripper, then damnit I hope she’d be the best one out there (all of you gasping clearly don’t know my sense of humor).
In two months, I have come to understand motherhood as both helplessness and as someone who has superpowers (you were right, Pam). The helplessness is the kind that comes with watching your daughter receives her first set of inoculations. How a mother’s heart quakes when her child is in pain. But the superpowers are the innate ability to comfort. She knows me, and when I hold her close, she is pacified. I am awash in oxytocin when this happens – pure satisfaction unlike any other.
The other day as I was feeding her, I asked her, “Do you like me, Lucy – do you love Momma?” I was obviously not expecting a response, but the questions were real, something I’d been wondering for a while. The next day, a friend who lives in Colorado sent me the following text: I had a dream you and Lucy surprised me with a visit at school. As tiny as Lucy is, she was speaking. She said, “Lucy is happy. Lucy loves mommy.”
And there was my answer.
Happy two months, my sweet Lucille.