I remember wondering if I would love her from the first moment. I remember worrying that I wouldn't find the right balance between releasing my pent up enthusiasm and anticipation and respecting First Mama's last hours as her mama. I remember imagining what it would be like to finally have her in my arms. And then, she was.
Surreal is still the only word I have for the experience.
I recently came across a notebook as I was cleaning out some piles that had accumulated in our closet. In an urge to purge, I nearly threw it away without looking at it. I'm so glad I didn't, because it was the notebook in which I had scribbled notes during our first three hours with Faith and her Mama and Baba. Those pages are a treasure I would have been devastated to lose. Let this be a lesson - never throw anything away! (Just kidding - we have a hoarding sickness in our house between the Husband's sentimentality and my laziness/frugalness. What if I need this someday?)
Those notes brought me back to how much we didn't know about our daughter. I wrote down things like how often she ate and how to tell if she was tired. I wrote down random things like "wears Huggies." (Why did the kind of diapers she wore matter to me? I don't know.) And I wrote down pieces of information that I only dared hope we would have back when I was praying my Impossible Prayers. Things like where in China her family is from and how her birth parents met.
It was comforting to compare those notes to the mental notes I now have as her Mommy. It was comforting to realize that now it's me who knows the most about her. I know which cries can be ignored and which ones require immediate action. I know the look on her face when she poops. I know the food she likes and the ones she'll spit back out. I know how to scan a room and pick up things she'll eat or things she can reach to pull down on herself. I know that she loves things that make noises and isn't really interested in books other than to eat them.
For so long I questioned myself, wondering how First Mama would respond in a situation. Now I just react on instinct. I know her. I'm her mommy. But I still think about First Mama constantly. We have her picture up several places in our house and we show her picture to Faith. I think about her when Faith is sick and wonder what sort of remedies she would have to soothe and comfort. I think about her when Faith hits a milestone and wish I could see the pride and delight on her face. I think about her when I'm losing my cool and wonder if she would find the same things frustrating. I think about her when I'm watching Faith and Lila play and imagine what it would be like to not have any of your children with you.
Today I was reminiscing this morning about March 27, 2013 and remembering how terrified I was to buckle her into our car and drive away from the person who knew everything about her. What if she cried the whole way home? What if I couldn't figure out how to comfort her? What if something came up that I didn't think to ask First Mama about? What if I didn't feel like her mom? What if she was scared of us? It was all so overwhelming just as it was delightful and exciting.
And now, today, March 27, 2014 we have hit the one-year mark. Faith has been ours for a full trip around the sun. And today I am in the throes of motherhood. Faith woke up with a fever and has been a miserable and weepy mess. But today, I am grateful that I am the one to caress her warm forehead, administer the Tylenol and rock her to sleep.
In some ways it feels like yesterday that we were introducing her to the world. In other ways, it feels like she's been ours forever. Either way, I am grateful - grateful beyond words - that she is my daughter.
Happy Gotcha Day, Faith-baby! You are, as your shirt says in that picture, SO LOVED.