Sometimes I forget about everything that Emmie went through before she even made her appearance on this planet. I mean, I don’t *forget* exactly, but I forget that the little nudger who was inside me during all those surgeries and recoveries is the same amazing baby girl who still loves to kick her way off the changing table.
She endured so much before she was even born, more than some people ever do. A two-hour surgery, a six-hour surgery, then weeks of recovery, including some not insignificant painkillers (although everything they gave me was obviously safe for Emmie and very, very little made it to her). She was there with me through all of it, although I hadn’t even met her yet.
Before she was born, when she would keep me awake with her constant kicking, Peter confessed her had already imagined her as some abusive, hyperactive child. Something similar had occurred to me and we both wondered if she would end up like her uncles (who are lovely adults, but were NONSTOP children). What we didn’t know then was that her constant kicking had nothing to do with how she would be as an outside baby and was just a serious, serious blessing for us during surgery and recovery, since we could always tell that she was doing well from the kicks.
I wonder how much of Emmie’s personality now has to do with what she went through in that third trimester. Since birth, she has been able to adapt quickly to new and uncomfortable situations. At first, she HATED getting changed, but she quickly resigned herself to getting diapers on and off, and getting clothes pulled over her head. The look on her face as we did these things to her told me she was resigned. It wasn’t a happy look, but it was a look that said “OK, get this over with.” Kind of like this one:
(I can’t help it, this picture makes me laugh).
She patiently endures errands, appointments, meetings, and all kinds of boring things Mama drags her to. She never cries, even that one time when she had to be in a little changing room by all by herself for 5 minutes while I had a chest x-ray done. It was amazing.
One night, several months ago, Peter and I were listing her numerous outstanding qualities and who she got them from, as new parents are apt to do. Persistent like Daddy, happy like Mommy. And tough.
“Who does she get that from?” I wondered.
“You,” Peter said, quietly.
Honestly, I had never, ever thought of myself as “tough” until that moment. But Peter’s observation crystallized a new piece of my new self-identity. Our ordeal had left an indelible stamp on Me and how I view myself. I could now see myself as “Tough,” and I could share that with my amazing daughter, my constant companion in the darkest of the hours.