Tiny Dancer

[October 7th, 2009: About twelve hours before she made her appearance, Delilah did her best to get Nigel Lithgow’s attention while Scott and I watched So You Think You Can Dance.    If you look closely, you can catch a quick cameo by the remnants of a recently devoured bowl of Pineapple.   Oh, pregnancy.][also, this video is kind of long. sorry about that. you’ll get the gist pretty quickly.]

She’s five months old today, and I still can’t believe she’s mine.    Five months ago, she was listening to my heartbeat from the inside, and I didn’t even know her yet.    Five months ago, I had so many fears.   I mean, I was terrified of labor, but that was barely scratching the surface of my angst.    Five months ago, I was also terrified of Delilah.

During the final weeks of my pregnancy, I became overwhelmed by the realization that there was a fully cooked baby in my belly, just waiting to come out.   I could feel every bit of her, her tiny arms, her legs, her adorable butt – all poking out here and there around my abdomen.   What had started in my ovary, had become my daughter (with a little help from Scott) and she was coming out whether I was ready or not.    Oftentimes, in those final weeks, the feeling in the pit of my very swollen stomach was a resounding NOT.

I spent a lot of time wondering what it would feel like when I held her for the first time.   I had a hard time not projecting my own grown-up emotions onto her – I thought about how scary it would be to be born, coming from the womb into the world without warning, suddenly bright and cold with people all over you – suctioning, cleaning, weighing…   In the final weeks of my pregnancy, I would lay awake at night (between pees) obsessing about what the birth experience would be like for the both of us.    I worried about our first moments together.    Would I know what to say?   What to do?   Would she know who I was?    Would I cry?    I would rub my belly and give her pep talks, as if the anxiety I was feeling wasn’t my own.

When she was born, neither of us cried.   They put her on my chest before they even suctioned her out, and she just reached towards my face,  looking up at me with those crazy blue eyes of hers, like she knew she was home.   I knew it too.    There was no awkward “how-do-you-do?”   This was my daughter.   The fruit of my loins. The cause of all my future gray hairs.   I whispered “Hi Delilah, Hi Baby…we did it” over and over, and in the moment, it was the perfect thing to say.    The beauty of giving birth is that it’s hard work, and you know without a shadow of a doubt that that baby is working just as hard as you are to finally FINALLY join you in the world and complete your family.    At least, that was how I felt, while I was laboring down in the wee hours of the morning, white-nuckling the bedrails while Scott stroked my hair and my sister held my popsicle.   We were in this together, Dee and me, and we were going to conquer my fears, get her born, and then Scott and I were going to raise the fuck out of that kid…I was suddenly fearless.

When I don’t have faith in myself, Delilah has it for me.    She doesn’t doubt me.   She doesn’t wonder if I know how to fix what’s hurting her.    Because when I pick her up from her crib in the middle of the night, and she rests her head on my shoulder, nuzzling into the crook of my neck, she’s putting her confidence in me unconditionally, confirming for me with every sweet little hum as I rock her back to sleep:  I am her Mommy.   I am her safe place.   And I am doing my damnedest to make sure that life in this big bad world is just how she hopes it will be.

Feed Me Seymour