Protective Layers

When Dmitri and I got married and left Colorado, I– content to live in the place where I grew up for the rest of my life–was angry, sad, and totally afraid. I became an expert on safety nets and contingency plans, just in case things got too hard, fell through, didn’t work out.

Just in case we failed.

I was awfully cavalier about the whole thing.

It’s just marriage, after all. No big deal.

But soon, keeping that wall up started to feel like too much work. And so I agreed to try–really try—to believe that we just might make it. When we found out that I was pregnant, we were thrilled—and I was totally freaked out. A baby—even a planned, welcome, and adored baby— would change our dynamic. Raise the stakes. Complicate everything. And while I knew without question that Dmitri would be an amazing dad, I worried that I wouldn’t be—couldn’t be– the mom that our child deserved.

Nine months later, when the doctor first placed Lily on my chest (just before they whisked her away for poking and prodding and tests), I remember having two distinct thoughts:

    1. If I were watching this on A Baby Story, I’d be crying right now. Why aren’t I crying right now?
    2. How am I ever going to protect this tiny, beautiful, totally dependent person all by myself?

Lying in that hospital bed, I felt foggy and disconnected and utterly terrified. Panic—that old, familiar friend—was beginning to settle in.

This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. I don’t feel like anyone’s mom. Something must be wrong with me.

But then Dmitri was there, holding our swaddled girl, with tears running down his face.

She’s ours, he said, in total awe. We made her.

In that moment, I understood: She is ours. We made her. And I don’t have to do this—the loving, or the protecting, or even the worrying about—all by myself.

And that’s when I started to cry.

Now, several seasons later, Dmitri’s love for Lily and our family still surprises, comforts, and amazes me.

Sometimes, it even makes me laugh.

Especially when it comes in the form of a bubble-wrap baby suit, designed to protect Lily’s head—and my heart—from hard lessons and linoleum floors.

I’m learning: deep breaths, baby steps. No contingency plan now.

But that’s ok. Because this family– our family–makes a pretty wonderful safety net.

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3 Responses to “Protective Layers”

  1. I’ll bet G’ma C is thinking you might be able to ship her to CO in all that bubble wrap!!!! I enjoy your writing. 🙂

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