Wednesday, March 21, 2012

With Love, Worry

We were sitting in the pediatrician's office after my daughter's one-year well baby check.  She was in her diaper sitting in her daddy's lap, playing with a magazine, completely oblivious to what was about to happen.  I sat across from them, biting my lip and tapping my feet as the familiar pool of anxiety started to bubble in my stomach.

She has no idea, I thought to myself, looking at my beautiful daughter with her big, innocent grin.  She has no idea that the worst has yet to come.  

A light tapping on the door preceded the entrance of the resident who was going to give our daughter her vaccinations, followed closely by a flamboyant and talkative nurse who was there to guide him through it.  We agreed to let the young man give our daughter the injections as part of his training, though we shouldn't have.  The nurses who normally give the vaccinations get it over with within seconds:  Stab, stab, stab done.  The young man in the clean white coat took his time, and it seemed that just when the shock of one needle wore off and her crying wavered for even a second, another needle poked through her tender skin and the whole painful, scary process was repeated.  

Seeing the tears streaming down her cheeks as she sniffled and choked on her own misery was too much to bear, and I broke down with her.  We looked into each other's eyes, a baby in pain and her empathetic mother.  I held her close, apologizing and covering her in kisses, wet tears salty on my lips.  She eventually regained her composure but it took me a little more time.    

Then I wondered to myself, How can I go through this kind of stuff all over again? as I rubbed my belly, bulging with a son ready to be born within the next three weeks.  We packed ourselves up and took our daughter, now giggling and waving at strangers, to the lab to have her blood drawn as the bitter cherry on top of a horrible day.  How?

The Love, and the Worry, Grow On

We're curled up in bed together, happy to bid good-night to a long day.  The fan blowing gently, my fingers tapping on the keys, the occasional car driving by are the only sounds that permeate the silence as we lay here, Evie's back pressed against my stomach, both of my children sleeping motionless.  I know that these nights of perfect peace are soon coming to a close as my son's entrance into this world draws nearer, and I want to breathe in every second that I can, as if I could store them in my lungs so that with every frustrated sigh that will soon come with sleeplessness, I can release these memories and know that peace will be restored with time.

I never doubt that I am blessed; I never doubt that these people created brand-new in the dark stillness of my womb have been gifted to me for a reason.  With each child that I carry, I learn that love isn't a commodity of which we have only a set amount to mete out into the world, that it isn't decimated by each additional object of affection.  It is a living thing, like a tree that continuously grows and bears more fruit to feed those who hunger.  I never doubt that I will have enough love to nurture my children.

Still, I get scared.  If love is a tree, its bitter cousin, worry, is a locust.  One hungry insect can't take down something mighty and strong, but it can feast and grow and reproduce and flourish right alongside its food source.  I'm learning this, too, that worry is a parasite that grows in the shadow of love.  We worry the most for those we love.

Pain Like None Other

When Evelyn is scared, when she's hurting, when she's confused, it is a pain like none I have ever experienced in my life.  It isn't my personal pain, shallow and fleeting, not a pain that I understand and can calm on my own.  It is a pain that eats through my heart, a primal emotion that doesn't thrive in a place that my reason can access - I can't think my way through it, I can't remove the sting.  I am powerless against it, and in its face I crumble.

I know that I'll be weaponless in the battle with my son's fear, too.  I know that I'll feel his misery and helpless watch him suffer through eyes clouded with tears like I did with Evie today; that somewhere inside, I'll be crushed.  I'll never know from where parents hemorrhage, and I'll never know where to apply the pressure to stop it, but I think if you don't bleed with your children, figuratively if not literally, then you live with a barren plot where otherwise empathy would grow.  

I don't know if I'm completely ready to face this.  I don't know what the future holds:  If I'll suffer through postpartum depression again despite my preemptive attack with medication; if my son will keep me up all night as he cries with colick; if my daughter will feel anything negative as my attention is diverted to care for her brother; if, if, if.

All I know is that I have a love whose roots run deep and wide, and though there may be some holes chewed into the leaves of that tree, it will feed us for a long time.  

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