The Moment I Saw You
Someone gave me a lullaby CD at my first baby shower — Nicolette Larson’s Sleep Baby Sleep — with the promise that it was audio baby Valium, guaranteed to settle any fussy baby right down. It sat in the shrinkwrap for a few months because we were high-minded music snobs who only played stuff like Johnny Cash and the Beatles for our little musical genius, but while packing for our first substantial road trip with Noah I impulsively grabbed it *just in case.*
A couple hours into the drive we popped that sucker in and BAM. My three-month-old looked at me like, “Are you hearing that voice? THIS is why I howl when YOU sing. I HAVE STANDARDS.” And promptly stopped crying and dozed off.
(If you’ve never heard of Nicolette Larson, allow me to give a thumbs up to this sweet little album, but with the warning to never, EVER look her up on Wikipedia while listening to one of the more sentimental tracks written to her own baby, because your heart will shatter into a bajillion pieces. Oh, God.)
Anyway. I bring this up mostly because of final track is a song called The Moment I Saw You. It’s a duet with Graham Nash and goes something like this:
The moment I saw you
I wanted to hold you.
And keep you warm
on a cold gray morn.
The moment I held you
I wanted to kiss you.
And welcome you here
on the day you were born.
This song destroys me EVERY TIME I HEAR IT, including one memorable car ride home, when Noah was already asleep and thus I could really have turned it off but instead I kept listening to it over and over again while tears rolled down my face because in my head I could see the beautiful montage video I could make with it, with my still-longed-for second baby meeting Noah for the first time and WHY WASN’T I PREGNANT YET WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH.
(Spoiler alert: I was soooooo totally pregnant.)
I remember that moment so clearly — that first glimpse of your baby, the first time you hold them, kiss them, smell them, nurse them. Neither first look was what I hoped for, as I wanted the naked slimy dumped-on-my-chest moment of victory but instead only saw them while strapped to an operating table, after they were swaddled and behatted. I remember I running my fingers under the hat to peek at their matted hair, boggling at how big Noah was and how small Ezra was, ugly crying as I kissed them, my body feeling completely destroyed from the surgery yet the instinct to start mothering my child coursing through my numbed extremities.
My friend once confessed to me that she wasn’t sure she even liked her baby for the first couple days, even after having her picture-perfect natural birth. I went to visit her in the hospital after her second baby was born and she expressed her immense relief that she felt “the right way” this time, with the immediate rush of motherly love. She’d been beating herself up for years over that initial reaction, which she thought was “wrong” because everybody else would only talk about how it was the greatest day, the most wonderful thing.
I remember thinking breastfeeding was bizarre the first time with Noah, some trepidation (and even a little embarrassment for some reason) over his 10-pound size, some guilt over my conflicting feelings about having a boy. I remember cradling his foot in my hand for a photo and being shocked at how much bigger it was than any newborn’s foot I had ever seen. I remember a nurse instructing me in skin-to-skin contact and giving me the okay to just keep him in bed with me as much as I wanted and only then do I remember falling in love, violently, because oh! Hello! I’ve wanted you for SO LONG.
I remember thinking that breastfeeding was different from the start with Ezra, how much I missed it and how good he seemed to be at it. I remember wanted to talk about anything other than his size, the reality that my c-section was unnecessary and not what I had pictured. I remember worrying that he was not as cute of a newborn as Noah and feeling awful for even thinking that. I remember wondering why Ezra’s eyebrows went all the way to his hairline and if they would stay that way. I remember missing Noah but being exhausted by him and horrified by how big he looked and wanting him to go away after awhile. I remember being alone with Ezra and unwrapping him and undoing my gown and curling up with him close to me and seeing him open his eyes for the first time and falling in love again, so deeply that I gasped, because oh! Hello! I’ve wanted you for SO LONG.
It’s an overwhelming moment where your entire life changes forever…but also so simple. Kiss. Hold. Warmth. Marvel.
Today’s writing challenge: Your turn. Describe what that moment was like, for you. Go!
Photo by jamesbrandon
If there is a question you would like answered by Amalah on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected]Published January 5, 2010. Last updated October 29, 2017.