I suppose I have heard it a few different ways.
They come from us, but they are not of us.
We make them but we do not own them.
They come through you, but not of you.
Just now I was kissing her chin, nuzzling, her neck and trying my best to eat her cheeks whole. In her exhale was the sweet scent of oven-poached pear. The hint of cinnamon. The wisp of ground ginger. Pears I bought, cored, and pureed just for her. Pears I stirred through a streamer so that no stray bits of skin were left. On her breath, the scent of pears I made. I am inexplicably satisfied by this. By the sensation of breathing her in.
We made her.
Her grey eyes. Her sand-colored skin. Her long limbs and off-the-scale height. All traits I do not have. Her round thighs and butt, her giant eyes, and curious verbal skills are all things I do.
I have grown to expect, but am not used to, the questioning glances people give when we are out together, just the two of us. Only one has actually said, “Is she yours?” before doling the compliments that her beauty and piercing eyes beckon from nearly everyone who encounters her. The attention she grabs is hard for me. I am used to disappearing (hiding?), to not being noticed. I am not used to receiving compliments from strangers, and their exuberant praise of her makes me bow head, stare sheepishly at my shoes.
But I am proud. Shamefully so. I made her. I felt every kick inside. I can still feel the dent on her forehead that jammed so painfully against my pubic bone for weeks, walking any distance could drive me to tears. I almost died for her. I want to take credit. I want all of the good things people think about when they see her, to be things they think about me.
I’m embarrassed that it matters to me at all. I deserve no more credit for her good looks than I do for a stranger’s. After all, she doesn’t look like me. My self loathing side is relieved. My prideful side is let down. My logic side says any expectations I have are wrong and, more importantly, unfair.
There is a hole where my womb should be. Every stage, every moment that passes with her is my one shot. There won’t be one that looks just like me. There won’t be one who takes his time with all of these baby stages, instead of rushing through. My tall, babbling baby looks like a toddler. She is running, galloping ahead of me, and I still can’t go on long car rides without a pillow protecting me from the seatbelt. There’s no mommy and me yoga. No playgroup. No full time breastfeeding. No second chance to get it right…
You only get one shot,
do not miss your chance
comes once in a lifetime
(Thank you, Eminem.)
I don’t mean to suggest that I am resentful. Regrets and resentment are not the same things. This experience is fulfilling (most of the time—sometimes unbelievably so), but that does not mean my reward is equivallent to my investment.
At least, not yet…
I’m working through the expectation that I believe that it should. I expected nine months. I didn’t expect this. And I didn’t expect to want every one I meet to say, “What a brilliant and beautiful baby. Thank you for giving your uterus. Thank you for bearing with all of he pain and that dark, lumpy scar on your belly. You made the world a better place. You did something amazing.”
I know I shouldn’t want it, but I do.