Every day you break a little more.
First as the waves of contractions hit my swollen body three days too soon with a fierceness I name my daughter after. I wait and wait and wait hoping each sleepless night is a reckoning and stumbling into tomorrow still full. They say you will know when the labour is real because it is nothing you have felt yet, nor can imagine, but the pain is a constant driving thing and so I will remember this as the first of their lies.
Ten days past due they admit us, and there is relief in knowing it will soon end and everything else will begin.
Eleven days past due you join us at the break of dawn your head in my hand, your body on my chest and all those waves cresting into salty tears that cover us both I can’t stop kissing you still warm from my womb. Still open on the bed. Your hand clutches around your father’s finger and he joins us in this flood of emotion—a tsunami of recognition. We know you already.
Later they will say you’re jaundice and keep you under light but for now you are ours in all your messy perfection. Your grandfather whispers your name to you: Morning Dancer. I whisper your name to you: Nina. The first of your kind.
The day we take you home it’s raining lightly and we’re careful not to let it drip onto your face. Quiet in our house there is only the sound of you: your breath, your whimpers that echo and fill every corner.
Each night after with cracked nipples and no sleep we learn to accommodate each other. My body is no longer my own, it belongs to you. My heart is no longer my own, it belongs to you. The relinquishing of who I once was is harder than I ever thought it could be. I am torn in every part of myself and where the cracks are the light breaks through.
You are the light.
In each new gesture, the smile and the laugh and the sense of humour. Your personality that delights and amazes us. You are of us but completely you own and we can’t stop admiring every angle.
They say the time goes too fast and they’re wrong at first and then too right. Already I can imagine a day you no longer need me and then I remember that we always need our mothers, especially as we become them.
So I can’t help but make promises that surely won’t keep: you will know no pain, you will never go without, you will not break.
But we are our mother’s daughters and so I allow one caveat.
If someday you do carve in two, try to remember, there is still beauty in the breaking.
That’s where I found you.