Rosie said last night that she’s seen in movies how people are changed when a baby comes. She cited “Waitress.” You guys don’t seem very changed, she announced. (She’s a tough crowd.)
Steve told her that in the movies those people weren’t ready for for the change, and the change surprised them. We were ready, our lives were prepared for this.
I told her that our lives already changed, we already have kids. Steve was, according to the way he tells it, detaching from reality before Rosie was born. She brought him back to earth, away from heady philosophy and typical 20-year-old selfishness. When I met Rosie I was a rich Catholic super-educated privileged selfish 23-year-old. It took a massive pivot in my sense of the world in order to be the person this particular nine-year-old (and her three-year-old drooling sidekick) needed. Rosie brought about the biggest change in me, more than anything else in my life.
I also told her that a lot changed in order for us to choose to have Henry. We were changing as we were deciding to go through IVF, to love one another under such trying circumstances, and changing as we prepared our home for this person we hadn’t met yet.
I also told her that often change happens afterward — the baby comes and then a year later the parents are ready to alter their lives. Or it takes that long to kick in.
What I wanted to say is that I have changed since his birth, even if the change is visually subtle. I feel incredibly grateful: blessed. With all the chaos and pain in this world, one healthy boy survived inside of me and came out whole and strong. Since his birth, I’ve stood in the shower and cried for all the women who went through the nine months of transformative tending and then the pain of childbirth — to give their baby up. I’ve cried for all the mothers in Haiti giving birth without even a hospital, under circumstances so much more chaotic than what they had pictured.
Just after Henry was born, my friend gave birth to a 1 pound 5 oz boy who is right now fighting for his life, and so there is no way I can be so terribly upset that my nipples are bleeding from the trouble I’ve had nursing. I am not opposed to adversity, and I believe that we are given the lessons from which we can bear to learn, but at night the shoulders of this new boy stick out from the blankets beside me, and he’s managed to squirm so close to me that our breath is touching, and I am awash with gratitude. I feel connected to all the mothers and babies, and shocked by this kind of love that is for one boy but really, without trying, it’s for everyone.