When I mentioned that I was going repost my story about bonding with Aeryn during the first few months of her life, I was asked if I planned to add an update about how much I adore my daughter now, you know, since it was Mother’s day and all. That felt disingenuous. I didn’t want to gloss over the tough moments by sticking a happily ever after onto the end of it. Besides, things don’t wrap up that neatly; I still feel sadness and a host of other emotions over not getting to fully enjoy my beautiful firstborn baby when she was brand new.
But, I believe my God is in the business of healing and restoring, especially in unexpected ways. The birth of my niece, Mother’s Day approaching, and just generally being a year out from some tough events left me feeling pretty vulnerable and emotional about motherhood last week. In anticipation of doing some printing, I was on my laptop looking at our professional photos from last year, and I flipped to Aeryn’s newborn ones. As I scrolled through, I came to her hospital photos which I had completely forgotten about. We hadn’t intended to get them, but they came out so lovely that we couldn’t resist. I didn’t want to be in any of them and mostly I’m not. When I looked at those photos last year, I could appreciate the soft colors and the sweet angles, but I couldn’t feel anything for the baby in them.
When I happened on that first picture this time though, it was magical. It was love at first sight. Her tiny fingers wrapped around her Daddy’s large one, gigantic cheeks, sleepy eyes, her limbs all folded in on each other – the perfect babyness of her left me breathless. Everything about her was utterly captivating. I fell every inch in love with my newborn baby in a way I never did when she was in my arms. Her tiny fists and little mouth opening in an “o” – I just couldn’t get enough. Enthralled, I flipped through them over and over. Instead of stranger I saw the tiniest version of my beautiful, rambunctious toddler, her little scowl already in place. I was even happy that I was in a few of them because instead of seeing someone who desperately needed shower, was in loads of pain, and felt disconnected from the child in her arms, I saw the very first version of us.
I still want to take that little baby and lay her sleepy form on my chest and feel the weight of her holding my world down. I want to stretch out on the couch for hours and do nothing but soak her in the way I did with my niece recently. I can’t get that back. But falling in love with my newborn baby fifteen months later was an unexpected Mother’s Day gift that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
So, my advice for today: no matter how you feel in the moment, take the picture. Always take the picture.