Kathleen is one month old today. I've spent the last year counting days without someone. It is nice to mark a month of counting days with someone.
One month and a few hours ago, I heard her cry for the first time, a strong, lusty, insistent wail, and I began weeping. She was here. She was okay.
With those first cries, the first assurances that she was okay, I let go of the anxiety that had been building throughout my pregnancy. Building, building, building. I was so on edge. I was afraid she would have a heart defect like Henry, afraid she would have another major health issue that we had not looked for or looked for but not seen. I was afraid she would need oxygen, be sent to the NICU, come home with equipment, or not come home at all. I was afraid of all the things that I knew could go wrong because they had for us—ambulance rides, codes, surgery, infection—and all the things I now knew could go wrong because I had met other babylost mamas and heard their stories, absorbed their losses.
As we got closer to her birth, I inexplicably gained a some confidence that she would be born alive and healthy, but I became terrified of her getting sick soon after birth. Why was I having a baby in cold and flu season? How would we negotiate the holidays and all the people who were sure to want to see her?
We've been careful. I do make people wash hands before touching her. I have limited visitors some, especially kids. But hearing her cry eased my anxiety. Yes, I'd love to keep her from getting a cold or the ugly stomach bug that's been going around, but I am no longer paralyzed by the thought. I realized that the anxiety had dissipated while we were still in the hospital.
I didn't realize until later that I had let go of an even deeper seated fear—or perhaps that it had let go of me. Since May 2007, when we learned that Henry's small to moderate VSD was in fact a larger, more serious AV canal defect that would require surgery, I have lived with fear. Fear about his health, fear of his surgery, fear when he was rehospitalized for his health, that we would never go home, only briefly that he would die. That fear should have died when he did, but somehow it was buried under my grief and never really left me. And then I got pregnant again and the fear bubbled up again. With Kathleen's birth, it seems to have left. I didn't realize the depth of that fear, the strength of it, until it was gone. It is a relief.
So one month—one month with Kathleen, one month without fear.