Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Baby Talk

They say that having a child fall asleep in your arms is the deepest calm that a human being can feel. They’re usually right about these things.

Kayla is the most recent addition to my friend list, she also happens to be the youngest. At almost one week old, she has captivated everyone that lays eyes on her. It’s impossible to stay indifferent around her and the only worry you might have is how on earth to hold her! Being as tiny and fragile as she is, you end up doubting your grip and become afraid of dropping her. But once you have her in your arms… it’s a whole different kind of feeling.

A colleague of mine who was a young mother at 17 told me that newborn babies aren’t very exciting and that you can’t call them cute until they’re about six months or so. Mother and baby links are things that are built with time and she explained to me that it would take a while for the two to get used to each other.

Frankly, I think it’s been too long since she last had a baby!

I’ve never seen my buddy have such a knack for anything or anyone like she has with Kayla. Honestly! She has a special way of holding and looking at her that it seems like the two have known each other for ages (not counting the nine months they were stuck together). I’m beginning to believe that the bond begins at conception and that link only grows stronger with time. Even animals grow links from the beginning; I believe it’s called maternal instinct. As for the love, I’m not sure where it got a start but it sure is there in her eyes when she looks down at baby.

So she probably will grow up into a stunner and there isn’t a doubt in my mind that she’s going to grow up into a good-looking, bubbly toddler, but once again I think my colleague has a bad conception of cute… Kayla is right down adorable! Sure she might not be able to giggle or respond yet but if you’re patient, you will catch a smile in between all the faces she makes at you… looking at her becomes incredibly addictive!

Before holding her, I tried to imagine myself as a pregnant mum-to-be… the thought scared me so much that I was glad that it was my friend who had to wake up in the middle of the night for breastfeeding and not me. I reminded myself of the wonderful freedom that I have, being able to go anywhere I please at whatever time and take only fifteen minutes to get ready to go. My career also reminded me of the extra time and effort that I wouldn’t be able to put in if I suddenly had a family to maintain. I silently thanked God once again for my independence and my heart broke for the friend who would no longer suggest Daim Mcflurry´s. I didn’t have the heart to tell her, but I sure miss the free time we spent together walking around together.

A radical change is what turned my friend into a mommy. Not mentioning the obvious changes, the ones that are more invisible to the eye have to do with the way she carries herself, her interests and her maturity. I stopped feeling sorry for her when I realised the good that motherhood does for her. Gone is the insecure girl I knew and in her place is a woman with a strong sense of duty and responsibility. Being calmer has contributed to her deeper maturity and her eyes seem to hold all the answers to life’s questions. The change is uncanny and yet she’s still the same person simply living a new chapter in her life.

The only opinion that I agreed on with my colleague about babies is that they bring out a maternal instinct from you whether you like it or not. Just when you’re telling yourself “Hell no, I’m not made for this”. A miracle like Kayla is put in your arms and suddenly you begin to rethink the whole pregnancy thing and actually consider going through the torture of labour. It isn’t an immediate feeling; it’s something that begins to infect your senses slowly. First it’s that baby odour that permeates into your nostrils. Then the feeling of that tiny warm body wriggling in your embrace. The faces she makes slam down any walls you can possibly build around your heart and you’re as good as caught when you see something resembling a smile.

Having a little brother at eleven, made burping Kayla something of a refresh of memory for me and putting her to sleep was no novelty (nor a challenge considering it was mostly what she wanted to do!). But what I wasn’t expecting was to fight back this amazingly strong desire to have a baby myself. Of course this did not make me want to go out and grab the first fertile male I saw, but it sure left me with an empty feeling in my heart. I guess would be easier if I could imagine a baby as something I could plan into my future with someone. But being single means that you imagine pregnancy as being more of a nightmare than the actual miracle that it is.

My colleague has said that if you wait for the right conditions you will never have a child. I suppose I partially agree with her especially if we’re looking at things from a financial point of view… no one has ever said that they’re financially secure… at least not anyone earning my salary! But to me, basic needs require something more important that money… Love. Little Kayla taught me a lesson quite early in her young life; today I realised that the reason babies and pregnancy scare me so much is because I’m not willing to deal with one on my own. I’m not saying I couldn’t cope, being as independent as I am and having the great friends that I do, I’m sure both baby and mother would survive just fine. However, a mother needs and wants more for her baby. She wants a secure and loving home and the promise of a happy life, the kind that takes two to build. Perhaps if there were someone special that I could imagine a future with, I’d feel better about the whole idea. An ocean away I remembered an unborn baby whose father plans on being present for his/her birth and most of her life but won’t be ending his evenings with his/her mother. I have always been of a very strong opinion that a baby isn’t a good enough reason to keep two people together but I can’t help but feel sorry for a woman who won’t have her man to kiss her forehead after the baby’s just fallen asleep in her arms. This shows me of the importance of finding the right person and once again I’m inclined to believe that Kayla is one of the first of many of my friends babies that are born whilst I age single.

Ambition holds me to my career. The love of life and freedom holds me to my independence but I cannot deny that my female instincts makes a part of me willing to sacrifice all of that for a little bundle of joy. I suppose it’s all about priorities and a sacrifice that demands immense responsibility, the kind that turns your life. It’s bad enough that you have to dodge life’s curveballs; you end up responsible for helping someone else over their obstacles too. That personality will depend a lot on the influence you represent. Looking at Kayla, my biggest wish is that life will be kind to her and her obstacles few. Looking at Kayla’s mommy, admiration mixed with instinctive relief tells me Kayla will always be one very loved and happy baby.

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