April 27, 2010


PJ_redshirt I can remember walking into my boss’s office, only months into a new job, to tell him I had screwed up royally on a funding proposal, which would leave us many tens of thousands of dollars short on a project. I remember he sat there staring at his computer screen for nearly a half an hour while I sat opposite him, before he said a word. I was terrified.

I can also remember standing in front of a podium about to address an audience of a few hundred people, to ask them for large sums of money in support of a worthwhile cause, knowing that the cause relied heavily on the success of this event. My heart beat in my throat with unnerving pressure.

I remember the same feeling as I stepped in front of a raging drunk man at a party, as he was about to swing a punch at my good friend who he had mistakenly identified as a swarthy letch who had hit on his girlfriend. Apparently this man had no qualms about hitting a girl and was right prepared to do so to get to my friend.

I had to put my cat down last year after 15 years together. I had to tell a friend of my extreme disappointment in how she had let me down in a big way. I’ve ended relationships.

I gave birth. I’m doing it again. The pain is tremendous and the unknowns weigh heavily. This, and all these situations above, all took courage. Guts. Knowing the consequences (or how they could be), required me to be brave. Many people have been much more brave in situations far more dire. I’ve been lucky, I suppose.

But far and above the one thing that has taken the most courage, and that leaves me shaky and full of breath-holding fear every day, has been becoming a parent. Not the labour, messy newborn stuff where I have to deal with pain or circumstantial crying, fatigue, etc. No, not that at all. That’s nothing. The commitment to this little living thing, and the heart-breaking LOVE I have for my child leaves me absolutely panic-stricken.

I covet my child. I absolutely love her with all of my being. I am not ashamed to say it is more so now than it was when she came out of me, clawing at my insides to make her way into the world. This love has grown strong over time, as I begin to see her personality and we become invested in each other. Now, it’s scary love. The kind of love with an edge that I’ve only come close to in the throes of passion with the man I married. I know he understands this and that it doesn’t mean I love him any less – our love continues to grow and mature in ways that are tremendous, but I’m talking about something that can only develop with a little person you’ve had a hand in creating from your own flesh and blood.

Yes, it is exhilarating. I would stop the world for her, do anything. The feedback I get and the love that is returned is otherworldly. But my god is it frightening to think of *anything* happening to her. Frightening is not the word…. absolutely petrifying, it makes me feel nauseous. If I lost her, I can’t imagine ever coming back. I can’t imagine being able to live. That takes more courage than I’ve ever known, going into every day and night knowing how much I stand to lose, and consciously agreeing to put ones self in that position for basically the rest of your life. I don’t think it gets any easier, I think you fear as much for the loss of your child through your maturity as you do early on.

Of course, I try not to think in these terms and I know I could not have known the extent of this emotion before I had my child. But now I sit, in the wee hours of morning because I can’t sleep due to my man-cold, and my discomfort and my anticipation of the pending birth of Version 2.0, and I can’t help but wonder how there is possibly room in my heart to both hold the love for another child, and to find the courage to become doubly as vulnerable… in a few days’ time. I know it’s the most precious gift and I should remind myself of that daily. I do. I really, really do. In no way do I reflect on this and think “what have I done??” but it sure makes your other moments of back-patting courage seem measly when taken into perspective.

As we anxiously await the arrival of our second little gift, I wonder if I am alone in this neuroses, overanalyzing this state. Is it easier to just not go there or does anyone else feel as … exposed and vulnerable from something they wouldn’t trade for the world?


kirsten said...

Oh my god steph...you are SO NOT ALONE. i know this sounds so depressing and melo-dramatic but what you have described above is exactly what is keeping me from having another. i would not want to live in a world where logan didn't exist. if i have another child, and something were to happen to him, i would have no choice but to go on. i know totally depressing and such a horrible way to make such an important decision. the love we have for our children is impossible to put into words. they are physically and emotionally a part of you.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely not alone. I was pondering this exact feeling the other day and it shook me to the core. I can't imagine a day without my daughter. The more she becomes a little girl, the more in love I fall with her. I'll try not to think on this subject any further because it hurts. you are one brave chick.

Kirsten, you said it perfectly. One is terrifying enough.

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