The nine endless months before she was born, I spent every waking moment, and some sleeping ones, dreaming of what he would look like. I envisioned a personality. I envisioned perfect beauty. It didn’t matter if his eyes were blue, chocolate almonds or brilliant green: his eyes were dreamy.
And when she was born, she was dreamy. Though I had to switch names in my mind, she was Hannah, not Caleb, and she was the most beautiful baby ever born. Everyone knew it too…or so I’d like to have believed. Of course in my eyes, she was. I walked through the mall expecting to be stopped. When she was nine months, pushing the cart through the A+P, I was annoyed when people didn’t stop to acknowledge her innocent smile.
I’d not just imagined what she’d looked like. I’d imagined who she was: an engineer or a medical doctor like my husband. She’d be quiet and demure. She’d unravel the room with her sparkle. And she always did what was right.
The first night on the post partum unit, she lay snuggly wrapped in her bassinette. My husband, exhausted from 36 hours on-call and then my fifteen hour labour and delivery, also slept like a baby (whatever that means!). I lay in bed, gazing at baby perfection only a foot away. I wanted to lift her to my arms, awaken her and stare into those watery blues. But she slept and slept and slept. And after waking from that first night slumber, she didn’t sleep again for another year…or so it felt.
I was flummoxed by her incessant fussing those first three months. I was confounded with her first toddler temper tantrum in Zellers. I was crossing my eyes attempting to teach her to read. I marvelled that she commanded attention on the playground. I actually was surprised that she preferred reading and writing–I hadn’t expected her to be like me.
The package I carried in my belly for nine months, the one that I wondered at since I was a child, well I still don’t know who she is. Oh, I spend plenty of time with her and we’re not disconnected. I am pretty sure I’d know how she would answer a whole host of questions. But I think the ‘who’ of who she is, the id of her person, is a lifetime process, still being unwrapped, continuing to be unwrapped until the end. And so I watch her, and now watch all of them, taking snapshots in my mind at who I understand them to be, expecting the gift to unwrap in ways unexpected.