It all feels just a little bit skewed. I'm no longer pregnant--no longer waddling around, feeling kicks, wondering what is to come. But I have no baby at home, either. And when I'm at home, giving birth, having Annika, all seems like a dream. Life seems normal--taking care of Katrina, thinking about what to have for dinner, planning playdates and trips to the playground. I'm pumping around the clock so that Annika can have breastmilk, but other than that, moment-to-moment, it seems like nothing has changed. Except a vague feeling that something's missing.
Until I arrive at the hospital, and see my baby in the isolette. She's becoming familiar now. She no longer looks impossibly small--even though she still is. The lines of her face, her cleft lip and slightly flattened nose, her long fingers, her muddy bluish eyes...she's no longer a stranger. I stay as long as I can, just holding her, a little gnome wrapped in a towel, sometimes looking at me, mostly sleeping. It is often peaceful in the room; monitors beep every few minutes, but nurses generally speak in hushed tones. And I talk softly and sing softly and feel the weight of her on my chest or in my arms. And that missing part falls into place, and for the only time that day, everything feels right. I am where I am supposed to be, holding my child, cupping her small head, telling her I'm her mama.
And then I have to leave, to tend to my beloved older child, to go home and pump once again, to eat, to sleep. So I give my baby back to the nurse, and tell her good-bye, and walk away.
And it just feels wrong.
So I give myself a pep talk, and try to put aside my longing, and go home. And again home feels the same, yet different.
Something's off. Someone's missing, a someone who hasn't even been here yet.