By: Tanya Dodd-Hise
The first few hours after Harrison was born went by in a blur. She arrived at 10 PM, on the hour, and by 11 PM we were back in our room and introducing her to friends and family who had arrived and been in the waiting room. I was running on adrenaline, to and fro between the room and the waiting room. We had quite a crowd, but by midnight we were finally starting to say our good-nights and hoping for some rest. Erikka was resting after her surgery, and they were pumping her full of medications to bring her blood pressures back down to normal while I got to spend a lot of time with our new bundle of beautiful joy. I was having to give her formula in a bottle because Erikka obviously didn’t have any milk yet, and the baby was pretty sleepy after being born to even attempt to latch on and nurse. I remember finally lying down to sleep at about 6 AM, in complete and total exhaustion and bliss; we all slept about two hours before we were awakened by nurses coming in to check both Erikka and the baby.
A couple of days later, as we’re hanging out in our hospital room – a regular room, no longer one of the giant labor & delivery rooms where we had spent the first twenty-four hours – I was sitting on the couch, hanging out with Harrison. She had eaten, I had changed her and swaddled her, and she was lying on a pillow near the window, wide-eyed and looking around (even though I know she couldn’t see very far still). I sat there, as I had been doing most of the time since her birth, staring at her in amazement, with so many thoughts crossing my mind. At that moment, days after entering the world, she was completely perfect. Think about it.
Right now, Harrison has no idea of what hate is. She has been surrounded by nothing but love, admiration, and lots of kisses on her tiny little face (and feet, too). She doesn’t have any comprehension of what it is like to be angry, well, unless she is wet, dirty, or hungry. But it isn’t real, genuine anger. She trusts every single one of us who she was entrusted to, and is secure with her very limited knowledge that we will indeed take care of her. She has never been hurt, or had her heart broken or her feelings trampled on. She doesn’t know sadness, nor does she have any inkling of what it is like to feel guilt or disappointment. Right now, she is absolutely perfect.
How can we protect that? How can we keep her there, in that perfectness bubble where she lives right now? I look at this tiny, beautiful baby girl and know that I can’t do it. One day she will be sad – and it will break my heart. One day she will get mad, at one of US, and I will have to talk her down from the rafters. One day, some little snot-nosed girl on the playground will say something snarky and hurt her feelings, and she will come home crying – and I won’t be able to do a thing about it. We’re not allowed to go scream at other people’s kids when they hurt our own.
I look at her and all I want is to protect her, from all of these things. I pray that the trust that she instinctively has for us right now is a trust that she always has in us. While I may not be able to keep bad, sad, or uncomfortable things from happening in her life, I can make sure that I shield her from it as much as humanly possible. I was worried, briefly, that I wouldn’t fall in love with her as madly as I had the two babies who had come from me, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth. I feed her, I hold her, I change her, I drive her around in the middle of the night if I need to, I bathe her, and I love her so completely. No one would ever be able to say that this child is not mine – and if they do and it hurts her feelings, then they’d better look out!