I am four years old, pressing a toy bottle into the tiny hole of my doll's mouth. Slowly, the disappearing "milk" vanishes. The bottle is empty and my baby is fed. My work feels important and magical.
I dream that night that I am a mother.
Now I am in college. A scare. Please, God, don't let me be pregnant. I am not ready yet. The test is negative and I float with relief, only to sink -- ever so slightly -- with surprising disappointment. Motherhood felt as close as I've ever known. I am growing up. And someday, with the right person, I hope to be a mother.
Now I am twenty-five, dancing at a friend's autumn wedding with my new husband. He is worried that our careers and finances require more stability before we have children. I turn and see a pregnant woman. I have had too much wine. I stare at her belly. I want to be her. I rest my head on my husband's shoulder and cry.
I slog through a job I do not love, looking forward to my weekends volunteering at the women's hospital downtown. I am happiest sitting in the rocking chair, holding another mother's joy, marveling at the tiny miracles around me. I hand the babies back to their mothers. On the bus ride home, I think and hope and pray. Someday, someone might hand my baby to me.
I open a Christmas present the following year from my husband. A silver baby rattle. He smiles. He is ready to start trying for a family and I am overjoyed.
I am twenty six and pregnant for the first time. The shift in my thinking happens instantaneously as I steer away from the "I" and focus on the "you".
For you I play music every day near my expanding waistline and make wiser food choices, take prenatal vitamins and follow every doctors' order. Bedding for your nursery is selected. Pediatrician recommendations are collected. Names are pondered and ultrasound pictures and videos shared.
Your fluttery kicks stop me on a crowded sidewalk. You give me strength. Purpose. Meaning. Joy.
You are what I've always dreamed of.
And now, you are here, finally in my arms.
You are beautiful and perfect, a physical form of the purest love I will ever know. Everything about you enchants me. The tiny nursing blister on your lip. The way you throw your arms out, startled by your own voice. Your scent, sweet and clean with wafts of magical.
You curl into my side as we drift in and out of your newborn hours in the hospital. I brush my fingertip across your cheek, your lashes, your fingertips. You are truly here.
You are older now, but you will always be my dream come true.
You will never know the depth of my love...for it is endless.