I’m sitting on the bus coming home from the hospital (routine blood work, nothing exciting) and there’s a young mom sitting across from me. She’s wearing all her winter gear and has her hands folded across a big baby in a carrier.
I watch her lift the baby’s sleeping head and reposition it against her chest and it gives me a flash of memory. It’s one of those sense memories where you can smell something long forgotten, or feel a sensation of temperature or texture.
As she lifts that sleeping baby head I remember that feeling. Peeling that sweaty cheek off my sticky skin. The weight of my daughter’s head in my hands. The floppiness of her body. The gentle thud as her head drops back down onto my T-shirt. Her legs resting on my hips. Her hands limp, or maybe clutching at me momentarily as she dreams.
I carried her a lot. When she was born we bought a baby carrier instead of a stroller and it was one of the best decisions.
At first I carried her on my front. We danced through the aisles at Ikea. We rode city buses together. I nursed her while pacing the halls of the parliament building. I spent a four hour layover in the Miami airport bouncing her to sleep and then moving gingerly while reading a book from one of the many bookshops as she had a much needed nap. We went through airport security with her strapped to my front, sound asleep.
She got bigger and I moved her to my back. We went up escalators, walked to the mall, still took city buses, and hiked in Gatineau park. If I had had another child she would have had to give up her place in the carrier but since she was my only, I carried her until she was three years old and 35 pounds.
And I’m so grateful for that time. My body was strong and capable and I felt it.
My myasthenia gravis diagnosis came shortly after, but even then it only affected my eyes for the first 7 months. I still carried my daughter downstairs to bed at night. I picked her up when she got hurt at the park. I carried her home when she fell asleep on the bus after a long day.
Now she’s significantly bigger. And now I’m weaker. Which makes those memories all the more precious. Every parent has to set their child down at some point and watch them walk away. I’m so glad that I was able to do that on my own terms.