I didn't know that motherhood would cause my heart to swell up so big that every sad story I hear is seemingly felt on a personal level. In fact, every sad story that I hear is felt so deep, so viscerally - at least for a brief moment before I prevent my brain from going down that road - that I find myself unable to breath. Unable to stop the tears. Unable to fathom what I would be without Bella.
I didn't know that I would suddenly have my guard up all the time. I can no longer watch the news. Movies that include the death of a child, mom or spouse are so far off limits that I find myself sticking to G-rated movies or comedies. Books are screened to ensure the subject material won't set off this new and highly sensitive internal alarm. But I can't filter out life. Gritty, dirty, REAL life. Bad things happen to good people. Loss happens. Sad things happen. Death happens. I can't shut my eyes all the time.
I didn't know that I would be able to imagine all the ways I might lose her. The ways she could get hurt or harmed. The ways that might shift my life from one of utter contentment to utter despair. I didn't understand that there was a whole part of my brain just waiting to activate. A part of my brain that insists on showing me what could happen. What might happen.
I thought I knew. During pregnancy, I thought I knew how deep the love could go. I thought I understood that with that love would come a fear of loss. I thought I knew how big that loss could be. I thought I knew. And I was wrong.
And now I think I know. But do I? Or is this only the beginning?
So I do what I can to manage this new and frightening part of my life. I acknowledge the potential, but only briefly, before reverting my brain back to reality. I hug her a little tighter. I tell Husband that I love him. I remember to breathe. I remember that I have this moment and that, in this moment, everything is alright.
I don't think I'm alone in this. I don't think this means that something is wrong with me and that I am anxious or depressed.
I think it means that I am a mother.