The room is dark and my eyelids flutter. My baby, who is in my arms, squirms and calls out, shrieking, then whimpering. I startle awake and gaze down at him, taking in his round cheeks and elfin nose. His eyes are closed, but out of exhaustion, not relaxation. Cries of pain and discomfort slip from his mouth, no matter how much I hug or rock him. His teeth are coming in and even medicine isn’t quite enough.
In Little Bird’s room that night, my heart twisted. My teeth grit. Why can’t I do anything to relieve his pain? Why I am I not enough?
But somewhere in those long minutes, I realized I was. I was there in his pain, comforting him, rocking him. That was what he needed. Sure, Oragel and baby Tylenol are wonderful things. But they weren’t his mother’s arms holding him.
I also realized that this night was only one of many. I’ve been through so much with my Little Bird already. Following a miscarriage, his was a pregnancy with complications that finished in a rather dramatic birth. He’s already given us more heartache than his brother did by this age.
But despite what we’ve already been through, there will be so many more times that the world will be hard or painful or unjust for him. At those times, there will be nothing I can do to take away that pain.
What I can do is what I was doing on that difficult night: show up. Be present. Don’t ignore or block out the pain. Acknowledge and respect it. Provide a safe space where he can cry or be silent as needed. Just be there for him.
My baby is growing up. Some days, he’s already starting to look like a toddler. It won’t be long until he’ll be too big to cradle in my arms. But I will always be his mom. I hope that in some way or another I can always be there for him no matter what.