I thought I loved Gabriel before he was born, and I did. I loved the squirming kicking little being that grew every day, I loved the promise of him, the way he was changing my life. I loved the way Josh admired my belly and spoke to it and the way he took care of us.
When Gabriel was born, I loved him instantly. His tiny hands and feet, his dark hair, the way his nose looked smushed from the birth canal. I loved his sweet cries, the way he would quiet when I spoke to him, the way his little arms and legs would wave quickly if you unwrapped him or didn't hold him tight. My mom asked me once we were home whether I already felt the protective instinct over this new creature, and I did, I thought I would do anything to keep him safe.
Last night, in the wee hours of the morning, Josh accidentally pinched Gabriel as he was fastening his diaper. I had rested my head on the pillows waiting for the diaper changing to finish so that we could continue feeding, but when I heard Gabriel's cries, I shot up to see what was the matter. Gabriel was so upset that it took me a bit of shushing and murmuring to quiet him, but it was over as quickly as it began. What wasn't over, though, was the completely irrational rage that surged as I heard Gabe's crying. Josh would no more intentionally hurt Gabriel than I would, but I was still angry that someone, anyone, had caused him pain.
Josh went back to sleep, and I went back to feeding Gabriel, and as I looked down at him, I realized that this was what my mother had meant. I loved him before, but now I love him desperately. Fiercely. I would do anything to keep him safe, a protectiveness that surprises me. I love him in a way I can't describe.
So this is what motherhood is like, huh? How do you possibly handle it when you can't protect them anymore?
In response to my realization from last night, Gabe gave me a gift this morning. Do you think he knows?