Four years ago this week, I was 38 weeks pregnant. I didn't know you then. I didn't love you then. I was two weeks away from meeting you for the first time. I willed myself to have maternal instincts, but they just weren't there. I took care of you, by taking care of my body that was housing you, but I was just a caretaker. I wasn't your mother then, I was somebody else.
I wonder if I'd been able to see the future what I would have thought. If I didn't feel ready for motherhood, how on earth could I have been ready for special needs parenting? What would my intact heart have thought about the thousand times it would break?
Would I have looked at you, my sweet, amazing, resilient, determined child and known how proud I would be of you? Would I have been surprised that there are people all over the world who love and root for you every day, cheering at your small but significant successes, some without having ever met you? I'm not the only one to take delight in your your extraordinary everyday achievements. Back then, I didn't know any of this.
How would I have felt knowing that I was giving life to such an incredible soul? One who giggles at jokes the rest of us don't hear, but are so captivated by that joyful sound that we join in, wishing one day we would understand. One who sees things differently. One who is so much more. One who sometimes feels with such intensity that she has to shut herself off, and withdraw even from those who love her best. I didn't know then the ache of not being able to reach you, or comfort you.
As I was packing my bag for the delivery room, I didn't know how hard this world might sometimes be for you to live in. I didn't know how strange and scary it might seem. If I did, I might not have been wishing that you vacate that cozy refuge. If I'd known that some people might misunderstand your unique ways, I might have been content to shelter and protect you as long as I could.
I didn't feel any of that, I felt nothing but a fear of what a more than 9lb fetus would do to my body. Me. It is a good thing I put myself first then. I didn't know that once I met you I'd never be able to do it again.
That nothing that I felt exploded into everything when I first saw you. When I held you in my arms and you looked up at me, the switch was flipped, and I became who I am now- your mother. I'm still awed by the intensity of your gaze, when I'm fortunate enough to receive it. My heart was flooded with those elusive maternal instincts, so I said the only thing I could manage. It wasn't profound, it betrays all the love I have felt for you then and since: "You're my baby." And four years later, you still are. But now you're a sweet girl who dazzles everyone who meets her, and one day you'll be an incredible woman, and I look forward to meeting you all over again.