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What It Feels Like

This post originally appeared on our old blog Born to be a Bride.

“I love you.”

“I love you MORE.”

“No, honey. You won’t know how much I love you until you have one of your own.”

- Conversation repeated over and over with my mother throughout my childhood, teen, and young adult years.


Dear Willow,

I really didn’t know what it would feel like. I wanted you so badly, I could almost feel you in my arms. Every time I held someone else’s baby, I would close my eyes and say a silent prayer that the next one I held would be my own. I knew I would love you. That was inevitable! But I didn’t know what it would feel like.

I didn’t know what it would feel like to carry you inside, watching my body grow and change to accommodate your expanding personness. I didn’t know what it would feel like to watch you hiccup from the outside, to experience the magic of those tiny shakes. To find myself barely able to walk at 38 weeks thanks to the shattering pain that resulted in how I carried you. I didn’t know what it would feel like to be so anxious to meet this tiny person, but also so scared that I would never be able to love you the way I loved my own mom, let alone the way she claimed to love me.

I didn’t know what it would feel like after you finally burst forth into the world after 20 hours in labor. I was shocked. I didn’t really feel a whole lot a first, admittedly, because of the nature of your birth and the fear of the moment. I remember looking at your father, shaking so hard with the aftermath, and asking, “Is she okay?” I didn’t know what it would feel like to hold you. I didn’t know that meeting you in the recovery room would be the most magical thing that had ever happened to me.

I didn’t know what it would feel like to lose sleep, to have no energy, to cry, and still be the happiest person alive. I didn’t know what it would feel like to look into your eyes and see all of the potential and beauty this world contains. I didn’t know. But now here we are. On Saturday you will have been here four months. I write to you in a journal, I take too many pictures, I blog about you, and I brag about you to friends. Your daddy and I have so much left to learn but we’re out of the thick of the newborn stage and returning to ourselves. So with some perspective and a bit of time on our side, here it is. This is what it feels like.

I love you so much that it makes me physically ill to think that anything negative or harmful could ever come your way. It feels like a personal violation when you are cold or tired or angry or sad or hungry or anything is going on that I cannot fix immediately and fully, because I love you so much that every ounce of your pain is my own. I love you in a way that makes me think absolutely anything is possible. I have no idea yet what your intellect or passions will be, but I love you with the confidence of feeling that whatever it is you desire, you can achieve. (But I happen to believe you’re very smart indeed).

I watch your eyes dart around the room, taking in the dog, the cat, the sunshine through the window, or your daddy’s silly glasses. The first hint of a smile makes my knees weak. I would walk on hot coals, throw myself in harm’s way, or do any of those other awful things mothers have been listing for generations. I would literally do anything for you, Willow Girl. I love you too much to begin to approximate.

I am fully and painfully aware that we will have spats. That you will continue to teethe and bawl and lose sleep. That you will be a toddler with an attitude who poops on my floor, on purpose. That you will get dirty and be angry and throw things. That you will turn into a teenager and hate me for a while. That you will ignore all of my best, time-honored advice when you get your first big job and are living on your own. I know that you might date or even marry someone I don’t like. But I love you with the full passion of motherhood. Today, tomorrow, and through every challenge. I love you so much that we will get through it all — I’ll chase you down to every corner of the earth to make you know that.

May I always return to the way your eyes dance across the room and the soft smile that emerges when I reach for you in the morning. What it feels like is something I could try and try and try to explain but I just won’t get there. But rest assured, you’ll understand one day. When you have one of your own. 

Love, Mom.

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