I was paralyzed, traumatized, haunted.
In my lap lay this beautiful, 6 pound, 9 ounce, curled up living joy. Her chest rose and fell, her soft, thin, blonde newborn eyelashes grazed her cheek.
Above us, over the bed, was a 20-light window frame. 12 of the frames were filled with the images of me holding another beautiful baby. I could not see it, but I could imagine it: if I had lifted her arm and then dropped it, it would have flopped down.
How could I have survived that? How could I have actually given birth to death? How could I have held her in my arms and then actually given her up?
I would look down, over, across, at my new baby, the living one, and I would imagine myself swaddling her first in a white, gauzey blanket, and then again in one with little blue and pink footprints on it. I would imagine myself handing her to a nurse, and watching her leave me, and feeling the imprint of her burned onto my chest, the searing pain of separation.
I would choke, my breath would catch. I cannot do this.
And I was sure then, sure that she would die.
So sure that I was rocked awake several times a night, sure of it.
So sure that I was afraid to imagine what might happen tomorrow, next week, next month.
So sure I almost couldn't call her a girl, or think of her as a little girl or anything more than just a newborn baby, because those bigger words implied growing older and I was so, so afraid.
So sure that I could not let her out of my arms, almost not for a moment.
Sometimes I let her father hold her.
I held her, almost without stopping, for three months.