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May 30, 2005 / allyo

Fear and its departure

I finally got around to sorting and packing up Jamie’s 3-6 month clothes this weekend. (Yes, he’s going on 8 months…what can I say other than things have been nuts.) The night I packed his 0-3 month clothes, Mad Dog came home to find me sitting on the couch, clutching his first tiny overalls from Old Navy, sobbing, “remember when these were big on him?” I couldn’t believe I was already saying goodbye to that tiny infant.

The second round of packing was a little more subdued. Still bittersweet of course, but while the changes in this next set of months have been perhaps more dramatic in some ways – crawling, standing, oh my! – in others they’ve been less. That dawning of awareness, the first smile, giggle, laugh, the shift from newborn to baby, it’s unique and miraculous and heartbreaking all at once.

As I quietly sorted and folded and laid the small (many fleece) outfits in their boxes I thought back to the cold winter months that comprised Jamie’s third through sixth months of life. How concerned and conflicted I was about bundling him up, knowing that babies don’t need as many warm wrappings as we might think, yet the instinct was there to keep him warm, to keep him safe. And I realized, as I thought about my feelings then and my feelings now, there’s something now missing.

Fear.

At some point between the sixth month and now, I stopped being afraid all the time. I’ve been afraid of so much. When I was pregnant, I was afraid of losing the baby, of miscarrying. There was no particular reason to think I would, but it had taken so long to conceive, our marriage had been through so much, had almost not survived, that I could barely hope that my long-held desire to have a baby, to have a happy marriage, might come to fruition.

And then after Jamie was born, I had moments of mind-numbing fear, that we’d fall asleep and drop him, that he’d die of SIDS, that I would wake up in the morning, and in some way, he’d be gone, taken away from me. I sat firmly on top of my fear and for the most part I didn’t let it get the best of me. Every night I laid my baby in his bassinet and forced myself to get into bed and go to sleep.

Even as he got bigger, that nagging, niggling fear, it stayed with me. I would think, “surely this is temporary – it’s at least partly because I’ve never felt such unconditional joy, and my mind and my heart will eventually adjust and accept it.” I knew at some point having a baby, a child, it would cease to be something fragile and new, and it would simply become my state of being.

And I realized, as I folded his clothes, finally, it had.

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