Tonight I closed my eyes and willed myself to remember these moments.
Clara is getting her top two teeth and had a fever of 104 most the afternoon. She whimpered and cried and clung to me, her hot skin pasting to mine, her forehead warm on my lips, her voice cracking in pain. I cried with her a few times, sort of sinking beneath the desperate inadequacy of my mothering at that point. I bathed her in lukewarm water, I fed her Popsicles, I comfort nursed (which I absolutely never do), I texted friends and sisters for help and advice; I held my girl close. Eventually she fell asleep in my arms as I swayed to her soft song of moans, and for the first time in months, she let me hold her while she slept.
Our baby is an independent sleeper. She does not fall asleep while she nurses, she does not want us to rock her to sleep, and she shifts in discomfort if we try to hold her after she’s drifted off. She wants to be in her own bed by herself, much to our dismay. But tonight she let me rock her. Her glossy fevered eyes closed, her mouth opened slightly, and she laid her limp head on my shoulder as I rocked and rocked and rocked.
I prayed for her to rest. I prayed for her teeth to break through. I prayed in gratitude for her life. I prayed for her future. I prayed for myself, as her mother, as an influence in her spiritual decisions.
Then I realized, as I rocked and prayed by the soft glow of the nursery nightlight, that I mostly pray for babies these days.
I pray for friends whose babies are already here, for the mothers and fathers and the overwhelming wonderful pain of parenthood.
I pray for my friends who are growing babies, for healthy deliveries and for healthy newborns, for fingers and toes and developed lungs.
I pray for my friends who are suffering the cavernous depth of loss.
I pray for my friends, my sisters, who lay awake in the still of night and ache for their own children. Whose wombs serve up empty disappointment month after month. Who still get up each morning and bless us with their yearning hearts, their dreaming. Theirs are the babies that change us, by the way. Theirs are the families that grow our faith, the babies who matter most.
Tonight I closed my eyes and willed myself to remember these moments. When the earth is full of mothers. When Sam and I are making a family. When our friends journey beside us. When all seems possible and yet all is so utterly precarious, one teeny tiny heartbeat away from tragedy. These are the days. These are the summer branches drooping with oranges, the bushes thick with berries, the river rapids deep and thunderous. This is our season.
What a time, you know? What a time to remember.