I felt you. Sunday morning. I was in bed, and my body had managed to contort itself into a kind of half twist at the torso. In the stillness, as the darkened winter daylight wafted through the window, there you were—all your tiny ounces aflutter, stretching toward the edges of your warm, widening room.
You felt like a ripple of water under the skip of a stone.
When you first took root, I would awaken panicked every morning, acutely, uneasily aware that you were present and wholly unsure what I was supposed to do with you. This was why I told everyone about you so early. I didn’t trust myself as the sole bearer of such a profound actuality. You were too large an occurrence to keep secret; even before you could be felt, you seemed to me a seahorse, a lavish curl of vertebrae, all this soft and pliant tissue pulling itself into bigger whirls of baby everyday.
In my mind, you have this rich interior life. You’re thinking about the time Before, which was vast and infinite. You’re anxious about who you’ll be on the Outside, terrified you won’t remember the refinement, the satisfaction of eternity. None of us do, once we’re here. I’m sorry to have pulled you from it.
But now I feel you moving. And I must admit: this makes me selfish. The Outside yearns for you now, tangible and finite. I want to watch you swell into someone incredible and I’m desperately impatient about it.
You’ve made my life a precipice. I’m driven by a wave of want, propelled by intricate fantasies of what our lives together will be, pushed toward an ideal apex, a fever pitch of wonder: you’re there.
But in this state, I also feel poised to crash. There are terrors, too, and doubts. I have no idea who you’ll be—or who I’ll be to you. How often will we fail each other? Will we grow old and apart, without ever understanding who the other truly is? Will you read these essays about your pre-self and feel alienated rather than adored?
Is it possible that we will prove to be too much for each other?
As often as I marvel, I’m also overwhelmed. Unlike so much of my life, you will not remain interior. You are not a philosophy or ideal; you’re flesh, incubating. And when you arrive, I will be your only source. I have often been a source, but never someone’s only.
The magnitude of this is enough to pull me under.
You mustn’t worry; I don’t plan to succumb. Mama trades in melodrama and rarely takes leave of her senses. But this bit about the precipice is true: you’re the tidal wave and the undertow. You’re the division between Before and After; you’re the gravest test of my sink/swim mettle.
I do not intend to drown.