So here's the thing. Baby girls are hard.
I mean, specifically, newborn baby girls. Very hard. For me.
I have held three since you died. Drove myself to the respective hospitals and braved the elevators toting pretty pink bags with pretty pink bows and shaking. Just shaking.
It's not that I'm not happy for them. In contrast, I am very, very happy for anyone who has a baby. Only now do I realize the one million things that have to go right, just so, for a healthy baby to be born. Alive.
It's just that I'm also so sad. For me and for you, because not all one million happened. Maybe nine hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine, but that last one...that last one.
Two months ago your aunt had a baby girl. A glowing, gorgeous baby girl with a FULL head of dark hair and piercing brown eyes, and I am in love with her. So completely and so helplessly in love. I drove to the hospital that night, the same hospital we never brought you home from and I held her. I held her and I took her in, and I told her I loved her and I kissed her perfect cheeks and her tiny fingers and then I had to leave, because the truth is I can't wait. I cannot wait to take her shopping and play with her hair, to buy her dresses and the leggings with the frills at the bottom and the matching little girl boots. I can't wait to marvel at her prom pictures and help her with college algebra and promise never, ever to tell her mother about the guy she likes. But that doesn't mean it wasn't hard. Very hard, to say hello.
Someone said to me once, "Well, you almost had a daughter." And it might have been the shock that caused me to just stand there, mouth open, not saying what I really, really wanted to say to this person. Or it may have been that it was a work setting and I would like to keep my job. So I shifted my weight and I changed the subject quickly and I hurried away, nearly running into the wall and probably stuttering a bit because let's be clear, I have a daughter.
I have a daughter.
No they cannot hold you, but I have. As completely and as tangibly as I held my sons, you were in my arms. And perhaps they cannot see you, but I do. I see you in them and in me and in everything. Every day.
I can remember a time in the night, before your delivery where I looked at your father and I said "I can't do this." And I really, really felt like I couldn't do it. Everything was progressing so quickly and doctors and nurses were coming in and taking blood and testing things and saying how it was probably the cord, and all I could think was how you would never open your eyes. I knew what was coming and I didn't want it to, and I didn't think that I could.
He told me yes you can, so matter-of-factly. Like there wasn't a question. Of course you can do this. And I appreciate that, because at the time it seemed impossible. And the way he said it left no room for the question, whether or not I could, and so I did. Looking back I'm sure that confidence was quite the opposite of what he was feeling. Because how does anyone do? That.
I have done the impossible because of you. And no, I haven't run a marathon or climbed Everest or created world peace or cured cancer, I have done the impossible. I delivered a baby, knowing she would never take a breath. I held her and I handed her away and then I WALKED out of the room. Two months later I drove to work, taught one hundred adolescents how a cell makes a protein. I went to lunch and when someone asked me about the weather I smiled. Smiled. I used the copy machine and graded essay questions and responded to emails. And then I drove home.
I have done the impossible. All of these things, after you and without the potential of you. Impossible. The hair brushing, pancake making, dress shopping, road-tripping, Christmas wrapping, wedding dancing, impossible.
Held a baby.
Had a baby.
Held my baby.
And any one person might think it cannot be, that they couldn't possibly have done all that I have done, after all that I have done. But I know it to be true, because I could, and because I did. And I have you to thank for that. My daughter, the one they cannot see and will never hold, the one that doesn't live but exists in every single impossible thing I do. The "almost" in their dense beliefs and the "definitely" in mine.
My daughter, who danced to the Strokes and jalepenos. Who loved the sound of her brother's voice and who was calmed by NPR. My daughter, whose pink bear resides in her brother's room, my daughter who definitely lived because she definitely died, whose name we carefully selected and whose toes we definitely counted.
Definitely missed. Definitely real. Definitely loved. Eight days a week and a zillion times on Sunday. Definitely, not almost.
I definitely have a daughter.