I am strong and wise and I know no fear
But the truth is plain to see
She was sent to rescue me
I see who I wanna be
In my daughter's eyes. "
From Martina McBride's song, "In My Daughter's Eyes."
Becoming a mother...the happiest day of my life.
Just six weeks ago I stepped into a new role in my life: single mother. As unplanned as my baby had been, so was my delivery of her. Just a few hours after reconnecting with her father (he stepped away for a few months out of anxiety), my water broke. Twenty-five hours later, my daughter arrived at 34 weeks’ gestation. Someday I’ll share the terrifying details of her delivery, for now, I’ll just tell you how life has been.
Dagne Gwendolyn Hudson was a mere four pounds and three ounces at birth. She was 17 inches long with no body fat whatsoever. The first time they placed her in my arms; it was like holding a breathing bag of feathers. We looked at each other with a mixture of confusion, fear and love. Then I put her to my breast and all those things they say about becoming a mother kicked in. I found myself fiercely protective of this tiny stranger. It was odd for me to love someone so much, especially someone I barely knew.
Her father showed up at the hospital the day she was born. His hair, which was short and curly when we first met, was now long and slightly unruly. I remember teasing him about it. In reality, I was just glad he was there. I didn’t expect some Hollywood ending to our daughter’s birth; I just wanted her to know her dad and never question where he was. He was there. That’s all that mattered.
I was Okayed to leave the hospital a few days later. My tiny daughter, who had been born blowing bubbles out of her mouth at birth and completely healthy despite her small size, had stay a few extra days. Like many babies born at 34 weeks, she was a slow eater who needed extra help getting nutrition into her. Ten days after she was born, we were given the go-ahead to bring her home. I was grateful and scared. I had five days to sleep in my own bed without disruption at night. What if her tiny cries didn’t wake me? What if something bad happened? What if I wasn’t cut out for this mom business? And I kept reminding myself that I was 100-percent on my own.
Dagne’s father had a girlfriend now. I knew this before he told me from peaking on his Facebook page. I didn’t begrudge him happiness: I was actually relieved in a weird way. After having watched the movie, “Knocked Up” where Seth Rogen’s character ends up blissfully driving Katherine Heigel’s character and their new daughter home to his apartment in the end, I knew this wasn’t a scenario I wanted. Sometime in the middle of my pregnancy, my daughter’s father disappeared for a time and we remained out of touch. I knew from that point on that while I wanted him to know his daughter, I wanted nothing to do with him romantically ever again.
The first night alone with my daughter was much easier than I expected. She settled into her new bed with no problems. She woke twice in the middle of the night, needed a few diaper changes, enjoyed her bottled breast milk and went right back to sleep. It all felt so natural and nice. A few days later, she decided to remain awake much of the night, but that was just that one night. I was so relieved.
It’s hard to believe six weeks have already passed since giving birth. This past weekend, Dagne’s father got much of his family together to finally meet his daughter at his mother’s house. It was nice to meet his siblings and mother as well as his young nephew. I was delighted at how quickly they all took to her, especially her grandmother who is my daughter’s only living grandmother. The drive home was a bit of a challenge; Dagne cried most of the way since it was her wakeful period and she wasn’t used to be confined to a car seat during that time. She settled down once we got home. She’s a remarkably easy-going baby so far.
Right now I face my biggest challenge: letting go. I am due to return to work next month and I am struggling with how to do that. I still haven’t found day care for her and since I’m only working part-time, I am figuring out how I will pay for everything. The hardest part is leaving my tiny baby in the care of someone else. I’m having extreme anxiety about this. I know I’m hardly the first mom to experience this.
Perhaps the best thing to come from all of this is just how focused on am on improving my future so that my daughter’s future is more secure. Every time I look into those big blue eyes of hers, I just know I have to do whatever I can to make sure she’s got everything she needs. She has given me everything I ever needed, even though I didn’t know how much I needed it before. It’s funny how that happens.
My little "Thumbelina." Dagne Gwendolyn Hudson at one month.