That night, everyone was gone. Bill curled up on his creaky, uncomfortable bed and Elyse was swaddled in her bassinet. Lights were out in the room, but I was still hooked up to monitors that cast a green glow in the room and buzzers would chime through from other nursing calls. Sleep? Are you kidding me? I would close my eyes and think about sleeping, but know I'd need to wake soon anyway to feed baby once again. I could hear Bill snoozing away and I'd just lay there. And then I'd HEAR HER. She was making little noises. Squeaking. Moving. Getting a little louder. Fussing. Just a bit. This baby - MY BABY. I couldn't handle it. We weren't supposed to hold our babies in bed with us if we thought we might fall asleep. The hospital had a horrible experience just months earlier when a father accidentally dropped his baby after they'd both fallen asleep. Baby fell on the hard tile and experienced a serious head injury (but thankfully survived). The nurses were ADAMANT about this and if they came in at night and saw one of us cuddled with baby we'd have to quickly announce, "We're awake! We're awake!" I risked scolding from the nurse and reached toward the foot of my bed to scoop my my tightly, swaddled baby out of her bassinet. I laid down on my side and put her down right next to me. She instantly quieted. I was astonished by this, but it was apparent she was quickly comforted. She was used to being close to me as we'd been together for so many months. She knew the sound of my heartbeat and the feeling of my warm body. I realized that I was comforted too - having her next to me again as we'd been all these months. Every job interview, every work discussion, every moment - this baby had been with me at all times. Yet, I felt as if Elyse knew me better than I knew her. She knew my voice, my smell. I thought about how that morning when she was born, from the moment she was laid on my chest her eyes had locked on mine. It was one of the most unforgettable moments of my life. These huge eyes taking me in as if to say, "So that's what you look like, Mama!" We laid there together for minutes to hours in the dim light of the hospital room with me rubbing her belly, kissing her cheeks and whispering in her ear. I told her how I loved her. She was my sweet baby girl and how I would always be her Mama. There were many tears - gloriously happy tears. This was our first time together to quietly bond as mother and daughter. There was no going back - I had fallen in love with this sweet little child.
Don't worry - it isn't real. Just a little fun with Picnik to play a joke on Daddy!
My baby girl - thank you for making this our most special Mother's Day. I love you, dear daughter. Thanks for making our family complete.
Courtesy Amanda May Portrait Art - April 2011.