She Brought Forth Her Firstborn Daughter . . .

She’s four weeks old today, gazing at me from her bassinet, flapping her hands and blowing spit bubbles.  It’s the first I’ve set her down in four hours. Breakfast, shower, nap, or blogging?

On Sunday, she discovered a toy – a black and white butterfly that makes her sputter in delight and holds her wide-eyed attention for minutes at a time.  “She acts like this is the most amazing thing she has ever seen in her whole life,” I said to my husband.  “Oh, wait . . . it probably is.”

I’ve kept her world narrow these first few weeks.  I hated the 24 hours we spent in the hospital post-birth: the heel prickings, the wakings every two hours, the constant stream of nurses, form pushers, photographers, hearing testers.  I’m trying to keep the world away just a little longer.

Now she’s asleep on my chest, a little milk dribbled on her chin, and I am thinking about energy and tethered psyches.  On Saturday, after she helped herself to a generous breakfast, I set her down for a morning nap. She was limp and breathing heavily, so I took advantage of my husband’s presence to steal away to the supermarket. I returned an hour later to a debris of soothing devices littered across the living room. “The moment your car door shut, her eyes sprang wide open,” my husband relayed. “And she began to wail.  I did everything right – swaddling, diaper changing, shushing, rocking, singing. I even pulled out the white noise machine. She started shaking, she was sobbing so hard. She turned pale. And then about ninety seconds before you pulled in the garage, she suddenly stopped crying and looked up at me content. She knew you were gone.  And I don’t know how, but she suddenly knew you were back. It was like her universe tilted in your absence.”

For the record, she normally does not cry much and my husband is very good at soothing her.  When I returned from the store that day, she remained content in my husband’s arms while I put away the groceries, finally falling asleep on his chest. “It’s enough for her to know you are in her orbit,” he said.

I believe it. For 42 weeks, our fluids and hormones and souls co-mingled. She felt my moods; she drank the changes in my body chemistry.  We played the poke game for hours.  I sang “Annie’s Song” so frequently that, on this side of the womb, her eyes begin to flutter shut the moment I hum its opening bars.

I believe it because I know what it is to sense the presence and absence of others, even across the miles.  At least once a month, I reach my husband’s voicemail because we choose to call each other at the exact same moment.  When my phone rings, often know who is calling – if that person is family.  I had one friend who, for a decade, sent me letters perhaps twice a year, but they always arrived on a day I absolutely needed to know I was remembered and loved.  I shared a room with one sister from my birth, and all those hours of breathing the same air created an indelible link.  We sense things about each other.  During perhaps the worst contraction of my 34-hour unmedicated labor, my phone lit up with a text-message of support. She knew, but didn’t know that she knew.  So should it surprise me that I often open my eyes just moments before my daughter opens hers?

In church, when we talk about the Godhead, we usually explain their “oneness” as “one in purpose and mission.”  But that seems too limited, too reasonable.  I think it’s goes far beyond that – for them and for us; a link so profound that it creates a physical ache when that presence is withdrawn. It’s the soul wound I felt when my father died, a severing of energy in this plane of existence. What sense of absence caused Jesus to cry, “My god, my god; why hast thou forsaken me?”  Is there a cosmic loneliness we feel in our mortal separation from our heavenly mother and father?

The only emotion I have ever felt that was as primal as the evening my father left the world was the evening I pushed my daughter into the world. When I let go of conscious thought, my body knew what to do, how to push – and with sheer force that shocked me and that I would never be able to consciously recreate. I wonder what else my body and soul know, what they can sense, that I do not allow.

My daughter will surely begin untether herself from me as she explores her world.  The bond will evolve and she will rightly latch on to others as well. But for now, like Mary, I’ll take “all these things and ponder them in [my] heart.”



Deborah is K-12 educator who nurtures a healthy interest in reading, writing, running, ethics, mystics, and interfaith dialogue.

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34 Responses

  1. Alisa says:

    Deborah, I loved reading this. Congratulations a thousand times over for bringing the precious soul into your world and ours.

    I love how you trust these connections: the connection between you and your father, between you and your daughter, your husband, our Heavenly Parents. I believe in connections like this too, but often I am not trusting enough to allow myself to feel them. Your post is like a balm for my anxiety.

  2. Sandra says:

    Beautiful. I loved it all. Thank you for reminding me about the glue that holds me to my own parents and children- even though lately I am feeling that pull away as my son and daughter grow.

  3. Katrina says:

    Oh this was so beautifully expressed! Thank you for sharing it. Congratulations on your new little one!

  4. Annie B. says:

    So wonderful! Thank you for this beautiful post, and congratulations. 34 hour labor? Go mama!

  5. Corktree says:

    Beautiful; her, you and these thoughts. I love to see the world through our threads of connection to each other and to the unseen, but no less present. I really do believe we are all bound to each other in different ways that can be used for good and otherwise, but this is such a beautiful reminder of the good and beauty that comes from those strings of light that move and flow between us and those we love.

  6. Aimee says:

    How you are able to compose such a thoughtful, poetic and revelatory essay while in the fourth week of motherhood (outside the womb) is a true testament to your literary soul and the depth of your maternal bond. This was a joy to read and a sentiment I deeply relate to but don’t consider nearly often enough. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  7. April says:

    God bless your family at this exciting time. Thank you for this beautiful essay.

  8. Amelia says:

    Love this, Deborah. I believe very strongly in the emotional and spiritual and psychological intertwinings between people. I’ve seen it at work in my life so often. and I love it. Much of my conception of God has to do with these connections. I believe God exists in a bodied sense and that’s important to me. But I believe even more, and it’s even more important to me, that God exists in these connections.

  9. Zenaida says:

    So beautiful, Deborah! I’m so happy to hear about your new addition to the family.

  10. Kelly Ann says:

    I love your emphasis on connections. This is so beautifully written. It makes me so happy for you. Congratulations again on the birth of your daughter!

  11. Whoa-man says:

    I’m tearing up. You say what I feel so well.

  12. ZD Eve says:

    Deborah, I’m so happy for you. Your daughter–and you!–are beautiful.

  13. nat kelly says:

    Deborah. Deborah. This is a masterpiece. Just gorgeous.

  14. spunky says:

    Beautiful, beyond beautiful– this was a spiritual experience to read. Thank you so much, I am so happy for you; and I am happy that she gets to have you for a mother.

  15. Barbara says:

    Beautiful, Deborah! I just had my own baby girl 6 months ago, and this articulated so many things I have felt but never written down (and couldn’t have written so beautifully!) Congratulations on her arrival.

  16. Rachel says:

    This is just wonderful! Thank you for expressing it so beautifully.

  17. Sarah says:

    I love this post. My son was adopted at 2 days old and for 2 weeks we were stuck in the state waiting to go home with him. The day we left we asked his birthmom to come and see him one last time.

    The minute she walked into the room he “woke” up. It was as if his soul responded to just the presence of her being in the same room. He had been such a sleepy baby before this but stayed awake and just watched every movement she made and sound she uttered. We left them alone for the last half hour. When we came back together it was as if our son knew we were the parents now. I can’t explain it. His birthmom said the same thing. Up until that time she said she hadn’t let him go yet.

    Now the connection seems to be between us. I call her just when she needs to hear more about him or she calls me when she knows I’ve been thinking about her. I really feel that our souls are connected through our boy.

    • Alisa says:

      Sarah, this brought tears to my eyes. So beautiful.

    • Deborah says:

      Wow. Thanks for this…

    • Corktree says:

      Yes, thank you Sarah, this was so beautiful to share.

    • April says:

      Sarah, thank you for sharing this. I loved reading your beautiful experience, too!

    • spunky says:

      Thank you, Sarah. You sound like a fabulous mother- to your son as well as his birth mother; maternity is never limited by those who conceptualise true, universal soul-filled love. Best wishes to you.

    • Becca says:

      Thanks, Sarah. I thought Deborah’s words were stunning, but also found myself mourning an experience I will never have. I appreciate you sharing your story; it’s soothing a deep ache inside of me now.

      The mind/body/soul connection with a child is something I’ve attempted to express to my husband before. I’ll send him this link and hopefully it will articulate my sense of loss a little more eloquently.

      • Spunky says:

        Becca, I think that Sarah has articulated that she shares a connection not only with her son, but with his birth mother… to me, that is spiritual, and very powerful.

        Adoptive mothers can breast feed. When an adoptive child is sealed to adoptive parents, church doctrine teaches that the bloodlines in heaven are changed and that child is sealed as if by birth. The physical pain and bonding of birth is no doubt powerful, but the spiritual and emotional connection to a child you have spent years in seeking to adopt is just as powerful, plus you get the lucky bonus of being sealed in a ceremony that reminds us of an eternal bond. A friend who was adopted expressed some disappointment that when she gave birth, her son did not have to be sealed to her. Her own sealing to her adoptive parents was such a huge and powerful ceremony for her to experience as a child that she felt utterly secure in her adoptive family, and no connection to her birth family. She saw when her adoptive parents when through to make sure she was legally, and then spiritually sealed to them. She knew the work. She knew how hard they fought to have her as a daughter. As a mother. she feared her son would lack that sense of security because he was born “under the covenant”.

        Please don’t be sad or feel a loss; you can have a body/mind/soul connection to a child through adoption; it takes a lot more work to adopt a child, but I think because of that additional time and work and energy- the bond can be just as, if not more, powerful.

      • Sarah says:

        Oh Becca, I know that mourning all too well. We had 7 years of trying and 2 and 1/2 on the adoption list. Both different experiences and heartaches.

        Over the years perspective of my situation changed a lot. Infertility and childlessness are 2 different things. Our son cured our childlessness but infertility is still there. Infertility just doesn’t have as strong of hold in me anymore. Once in awhile I have “remembrance” pain. A certain word, person, or place can bring it on and I remember it like an old worn out friend. The wounds will always run deep and strong with infertility.

  18. Becca says:

    Thanks, Spunky. I am trying. Hopefully someday it won’t feel as sad as it does now.

    • Sarah says:

      Just wanted to add that sometimes infertility is in control of your journey and it is normal. Over time you will take over and it will just be the passenger. Mine is in the very back of the car for now but will occasionally take the “wheel.” I don’t know if it ever leaves for good.

  19. Becca says:

    Just wanted to say sorry, Deborah, for hijacking the theme. I hope this detour hasn’t taken anything away from your beautiful, beautiful post. I really loved it.

  20. Deborah says:

    I love heartfelt detours. Love and blessings to you!

  21. Caroline says:

    Deborah, this is so lovely that I just want to shout it out to the world.

  22. Rachel says:

    Thank you for this post, Deborah. It is so beautiful and tender. I love the same connections you made that Alisa pointed out above.

  23. Thank you for capturing with words what many of us have not been able to explain to others…

  24. Melody says:

    I’m crying a little tonight. Because of this. Because of how true it all feels. Thank you. God bless you.

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