Bug's been feeling under the weather this week. A few days after our very first trip to InstaCare on Sunday evening for what turned out to be not a UTI (but did result in a very traumatic experience involving a catheter), I noticed that Bug sounded just a tiny bit hoarse when I left for work. Halfway through my shift, I began getting updates from Schmoopsie.
"Bug's voice is totally gone," he sent in a text message. And then, "she's coughing a lot. She can't seem to catch her breath." Finally, near midnight, "she can't breathe when she's laying down. I'm snuggling with her downstairs."
I snuck out of work early and dashed home. I ran down the stairs, peeling off my blouse (because who knows what kind of germs float around in an ER) and pulling on a clean oversized t shirt before snatching up my miserable baby and planting a kiss on my exhausted husband's forehead.
Here is something I have learned over the past 22 and a half months. Motherhood suits me.
I mean, don't get me wrong. I fail quite often. There are many days where Bug eats too many fruit snacks and goldfish and not enough vegetables. Sometimes we stay in our jammies all day with nary a comb to touch her orphan hair, and occasionally we find ourselves watching too much children's television (which is brutal on the Mommy half of the equation, but hey. Laundry has got to get folded somehow. I'm looking at you, Handy Manny.)
Shortcomings not withstanding, I think motherhood suits me. I struggle to find words to describe the bond with my copper haired daughter that aren't cliche, that haven't been echoed by mothers for generations. You know the kind-- the sort of hokey "heart walking around outside your body" sentiments that are probably overused but nonetheless frighteningly accurate.
The best I can come up with is this: there is a part of me, a part which I suspect is located somewhere just below my throat, underneath my sternum and between my lungs, that was empty and lacking and somehow I didn't even know it. I can feel it there, lighting on fire when I see her soft, chubby cheeks smiling in the morning or her naked little bottom trotting away from me after the tubby. It's a part of me that swells until I think it may explode, and a place that is, coincidentally, directly linked to my tear ducts.
It's the part of me that hurts when I swoop up my feverish little girl and tuck her warm forehead into my neck underneath my chin. I feel her weight melt into me in the rocking chair, and run my fingers along her narrow little back. It's a place that is filled by her, but somehow has room for more.
One day and one croupy diagnosis later, Schmoops and I stood shoulder to shoulder, gazing into her crib and watching her chest rise and fall in time with the wet sort of wheezing sound she made. I saw the way her tall body fills up her crib these days, and the way her long hair splays out across the top of her shoulders while she sleeps.
She's just so BIG. We've been noticing the signs a lot recently. New words pop unexpectedly from her lips every day. She softly "counts" the items in her number book, two, five, two, five, which sounds in her little girl voice more like "tee-yew, fih, tee-yew, fih..." She climbs and runs and jabbers constantly. She is less a baby and more a child every day.
Like all mothers, I am proud and I grieve. I pridefully grieve. I prieve.
Turns out there's no stopping this incessant growing up. And so several months ago, the Schmoops and I decided there was only one thing to do.
Grow another one.
So we are.