i’ve been thinking about love. the last couple of nights have been hard. for some reason, Zi has been waking even more than usual and, after midnight, i was up giving her a feed. i sat there looking at her changing face, her eyes closed in trust and surrender, her soft fingers stroking my face and i felt my heart pulse, pushing at its edges, hurting for the split-second that it felt ready to burst. i was so conscious of the present moment, i couldn’t believe it.
this is what it feels like to love.
when did i begin to love her so fiercely, so physically? my friend Makeda, who’s beautiful baby boy is mere months older than Zi, says she loved her son from the second he was born. Stone says he loved Zi since she was in the womb, something i had no idea he felt until months after she arrived, quiet guy that he is.
it took me about 7 weeks before i think i began to love her. my friend tracy will tell you how in the first month or so i was still saying that i was happy to have her and that i felt care and responsibility and even awe, but i certainly had not experienced the overwhelming pressure on my ribcage that i felt last night.
at first i thought that it was only me. but then i read that its quite common for mothers to take a few weeks for love endorphins to settle in their system. It has to do with getting to know your baby, this new person, and through the slow nurturing of familiarity, coming to like and look forward to and love the relationship that develops.
it makes sense. i’ve been best friends with stone for over a decade and even when he became my boyfriend, it took me a long time to fully love him. it took me three years of mutual caring to give 100% of my heart. it took two more years of trust and togetherness to know he was the one. i used to wonder how people knew someone was the one. then one day i realised that it isn’t that the universe sends you a sign. you know someone is the one when you can decide that they are. when your head is quiet and your heart is loud, and there is no point asking any more.
i don’t remember when i started to love Zi. i do know that one day i realised my heart was no longer in my chest, but beating in hers. i had given it over. one of the things that most amazed me about being pregnant was the fact of carrying two hearts, beating at their own rhythms, in my one body. so miraculous and surreal, those rare months with those two hearts.
then one day, we had made an exchange of sorts. it wasn’t quite the same, but now she carried mine near to hers, mine that would tremble at the thought of anything murmuring hers. mine that was no longer mine. my heart that felt like wings beating against my body, aching to fly to its companion in her chest, when i looked down at her feeding sleepily, unaware and serene.
this could only be love, i thought last night, held still by the loudness of my heart and the attempt by my head to quickly catch up. 10 years ago i never would have known this so surely. i woke thanking life for lessons that take partners and babies and time…and an open heart.