Tuesday, January 10, 2006

the enormous dare

I’m finding it increasingly incomprehensible that three-ish months from now, Finn will be born. Dave and I have accepted the most enormous dare from the universe. In fact, we dared it to dare us.

How much do we dare to love a person?

I’m afraid that we’re going to find out.

I don’t know what to expect, but I'm imagining a sort of tidal wave when Finn arrives. I’m fascinated and terrified by accounts of what mother love is like. A tidal wave is what I imagine, in which we’ll be flashing between swimming and drowning for, I don’t know, maybe the rest of our lives.

We’re planning for a water birth at home. A small sea creature is going to wash up on us. I can’t imagine the moment of his birth any more than I can imagine the moment of my own death. And the little sea creature is going to have to trust us. We’re whom he’s going to have to trust. We’re the parents. He’s looking to us. We’ll have to keep him alive, and that’s just the beginning.


I have the vaguest memory of being awake at nighttime as a tiny person, I have no idea how old, awake and alone in my dark bedroom with the little night light. Everything was stopped in the house, and my parents were gone. I had no idea how this worked, or if this night would end. Where did they go, my parents? Why was night so long? Where were the sounds? Was my brother at peace with this situation?

My parents were at their largest at night. If they weren’t gods during the day, this shifted after bedtime.

I’m horrified to think that a tiny person could regard me as some sort of saving god. “Please let that lady rescue me from the vastness of night.” I’m daunted that there’s no way around this. I will have to rescue Finn from the vastness of night, over and over again. I’m afraid to feel his little fear in my chest as my own.

Is the heart seriously built for this? If a heart can take this, and by taking it become something larger, then that’s thrilling and it will all be worth it. But that is the dare, whether it can take it, and how much.

T minus three and some months.


laura said...

I wonder how I can be a parent and the world for this child when I feel like a child still myself. How do kids who actually have kids survive? I'd just freak out and run away I think.

Also, I'm terrified that I won't have that connection instantly with my child. I know I'll love him more than anything ever, but say that doesn't happen the moment he comes into this world?

I love that you are having your baby the same time as me, it's just so comforting.

(egg) said...

That's really beautiful, Tina.

It just occurred to me that I can't picture you as a tiny child person. Post a picture!


Tina Rowley said...


Word. I feel just like a child, myself. And I wonder the same thing, about if there will be delay in the love reflex. Like the alternative version is that Finn's born and I'm like, eh.

I'm really glad you're having your wee smore at the same time, too. I totally know what you mean.


Thanks, love. And perhaps I'll put a childhood photo up there. I gotta get a scanner. I no got one.

Eve said...

I am so excited for you!!!!!!!!!!!
(jumping up and down, clapping hands!) And I can't wait to hear your tale of the HOME BIRTH! (Holy cow!) And I really can't wait to read all about the amazingly beautiful things that Finn will do to your heart and soul upon his arrival. (more jumping and clapping!)

Kris McN said...

Laura -
Here's the thing with the loving - it doesn't have to happen right away. It turns out it doesn't matter. I didn't love Linus right away. I was completely overwhelmed with strong emotions, of that you can be sure, but I don't think it could be called love. But, if he cried I was moving before thinking. I had no other directive than taking care of him and making sure he was ok and happy NO MATTER WHAT. That's the great thing about being the product of evolution. You MUST take care of them, and the loving can come later. Which it does, HOOBOY! When Linus was a month or so old, I'd get these inklings of just how much I was going to love him. I could tell from the first stirrings that it was going to take me over in a way previously unimaginable. In the meantime, we hung out together (in a sort of master-and-slave kinda way) getting to know each other. (Sometimes you can get other moms to admit to not being instantly in love, but usually only if you cop to it first)

Don't panic! Like most things baby, they sort of ease you into it. It seems like it's all going to happen at once, but not really.

Eve said...

kris mcn- I second that, well said! It happens in many different ways, so don't panic Tina, if it is a slower flood instead of a tidal wave. Point is, it will be magnificent, however it unfolds for you. :)

kww said...

So interesting, I read your post and was quite moved, and thought about my expectations before Simon. I too believed that the amount I loved the baby (pre delivery) would just be magnified a million times once in my arms. And I also have these memories of childhood that haunted me about fear and lonliness which I think prompted me to latch on to the "attachment parenting" literature.

I remember I read this book "Three in a bed" and it described how you develop a sense of time only by living it. So, a 50-60 year old actually has a sense of a decade, and a 30 year old may have a sense of 4 years, and a jr. high/high schooler can understand the concept of next year or a single year, but then get down to 8 and next year is forever away, and at 6 4 months is forever away, and at 3 the weekend is forever away and so at 1 day/ 1 week/1 month/3 months, how long is a minute/3 minutes/ 5 minutes--but FOREVER, a significant percentage of time alive (and of time awake)--and hence my baby slept in my bed or arms until practically yesterday because I can't bear the thought of my baby feeling abandoned for any part (real or perceived) of forever.

And then, I did love him, but not in a tidal wave kind of way, and almost in a "I know I should be feeling..." kind of way. And my love for him grew over time, but often in these horrible realizations/thoughts of "I need to kiss him so much that if I died tomorrow he would have kisses to last his lifetime" or "oh my god, what if I fell down the stairs with him in my arms and I crushed him" and then a deep swelling of love and fear let me know that I was much more tied to him than I had realized. I have thought of more horrible things that could happen to me or him in the three and half years of life than I had ever thought of before in 28 years combined.

On a lighter note, it is fun to remember my earliest days and feelings by recognizing some part of Simon's lived experiences. He can say something, or respond to something and suddenly the feelings and the memory flood back and prompts me to respond (probably sometimes completely irrationally). I hope he doesn't go through that phase I went through where I was sure my parents had a false skin, and took it off after I went to bed and I used to try to pry their skin off to see what they really were. That never worked.

Strangely though, despite all this, I am hoping that it will be different this time. That maybe be having more "realistic" (read lower) expectations, I will be overwhelmed when they give me my baby. That I will be surprised this time that there really was a tidal wave of new feeling that somehow in the dramatic event of birth I missed last time.

I applaud the home birth--in water--that sounds great. I took Bradley classes last time, and felt they did a job preparing me for a birth outside the hospital. Thanks for your post, and thanks for letting me ramble on...

la Ketch said...

monkey! monkey! monKEY!!!!