The first night back from the hospital, I tried not to cry. In the dark, I squinted at the wall clock. The thick black hand hovered around the three. I lay propped up against pillows and towels. My baby’s body was hot and furious. Her little head fit in the palm of my hand. I was convinced I was holding her wrong. That if I could do it right, she would feed and rest and grow up healthy and strong. But my grip felt weak and wobbly. This might have been because I’d had a C-section and they’d cut through several layers of my flesh. Or because I am generally clumsy. She wept and wept.
I thought about how much I loved her and how uncertain I had been about becoming a mother. Achy, bloated and exhausted, I was not sure I’d made the right choice. This had nothing to do with her and everything to do with me. I did not feel cut out for the task of mothering. I had the support of my family. My partner’s work had given him generous paid leave. Entering parenthood, I had as much safety and stability as anyone could. Despite all these advantages, I was failing to give my daughter the two things she needed: food and sleep.