When I was pregnant with my daughter I always loved knowing exactly where she was, knowing exactly what she was eating and feeling her move inside me just enough to know, roughly, what she was doing. I loved the knowing of it. The stranger inside me that I instantly liked who was so smart she even knew how to grow herself all by herself. Ok, with a little help from me, but my work was more in the looking stuff up on the internet and worrying about it department. Like a lot of first time moms, I sadly and very quickly became one of those women who got a little too into what was happening and when it was happening during her pregnancy. My husband would ask me how my day was and with a straight face I’d answer something like, “today we made eyelids!” I went too far. I see that now.
There was no worrying about why she was late or what was being said to her at school or if she was eating too little of this and watching too much that. She was just ingesting organic, non-GMO foods and following her instincts while dividing cell
s in my abdomen. I’d drive home from my kundalini pre-natal yoga class and pat my belly telling her she was magic. Cause, seriously, how did we make those eyelids? We were in it together, this growing a baby thing. No worries. She was completely safe and we knew what to do. We got this.
Then a friend who is also a mom said to me, “don’t get too comfortable, she’s could be in there wrapping the cord around her neck.” And just like that it all fell apart. I had to somehow go about my day not obsessing if my fetus was inside strangling herself. What if she was? Could I feel that? Would I know? How many sonograms are considered excessive per trimester? Do they sell those machines for home use? There was no way around it. I had to let go a little. I had to face the fact that I wasn’t fully in charge, neither was she and there was no amount of magic in the world that could change it.
Then she decided to come out. Perfectly on her due date rumblings of a new normal began. Hours later at 10cm dilated and with water that was decidedly not broken, the midwife at Cedars Sinai hospital held what looked like a knitting needle aimed at my privates and said, “you know, you’re going to have to let her out at some point.” She broke my water and pretty soon after that I started to lose consciousness. I heard the doctor say, “I need this baby out now” as a shadow of terror washed over my husband’s face that even now five years later I’m not sure is entirely gone. The baby had wrapped the umbilical cord around her neck twice and somehow that equaled neither of us getting much oxygen.
My husband could do nothing besides watch the head make its entrance and try not to scream. By the way, that was exactly what he was instructed not to do. Don’t fall asleep and keep your eyes off my lady parts. Those were his only instructions. Still, a head coming out of what was typically party central is hard to turn away from, I get that. But I was gripped in my own drama doing the impossible…letting go. Letting go a little more, still. She came out. She started breathing, so did I. All was ok.
Then she started doing this crazy thing that all babies do where they grow a little, they go to their own crib, they crawl, they graduate to solid foods. You have to let go a little more, and a little more again. Each incremental step is a monumental letting go all its own. Each stage demands its own, “ok yes, go ahead try that. It’s ok. I’m here.” Then the bigger letting go’s show up, ones like walking. Which they don’t do, it’s really more of a stagger / run hybrid thing from the get go. The “oh no look out for the steps” stage which for many of us overthinking nervous types flows naturally into helicoptering. And the internal fight to not helicopter. While helicoptering.
Like anything worth doing you try and fail but try again and you follow their lead when you aren’t too tired and you try not to but you talk when you know you should listen. And you try not to rescue them all the time. And sometimes you do so you remind yourself to try again. My daughter can smell when I want her to learn a life lesson before I open my mouth. At four years old she smacked her hand to her forehead and said, “oy vey, I got the message already!” when I brought home a book called My Body Is Mine! A companion piece to the other beloved childhood classic, Not Everybody Is Nice! A book that terrifies them, I mean, teaches them to realize horrible people are everywhere. Because it’s all a slow letting go but how do you let go when there are just too many god damn people who aren’t nice?!
Last week she began kindergarten. She is…how should I say it, not a fan. Lately she’s taken to climbing into bed with my husband and I in the middle of the night, something she’s only done a handful of times over the years and usually only if she is sick. “I miss you, mommy,” she’ll say knowing it’s the quickest way to get me to snuggle her up between us instead of walking her back to her own bed. She’ll push her warm feet between my knees and place her little hand right over my face. If someone walked in they would assume she was attempting to kidnap me and just fell asleep while doing it. It always makes me laugh and snuggle her a little closer. She knows me too well. Or maybe she is recognizing this dance of letting go too. And let go we must but maaaayyyyybe not too quickly. Maybe for now, even though she’s a kid and no longer a baby, we’re still in it together. We got this.