No one discusses the fear of meeting one’s child. The excitement, the anticipation, everyone asks, everyone assumes. Some of the fears, too — fear of pain in childbirth, fear of health problems, fear of lack of sleep, of losing one’s own identity in the needs of another — these circulate openly, well-charted. But no one talks of the terror of meeting someone who has been so impossibly close for so long and yet remains so hidden, such a mystery. When else do we know with such certainty that someone will be part of us for as long as we live, before ever laying eyes on them? I have no image in my mind of my daughter’s face. The murky ultrasounds do not clarify anything — if anything, I find myself substituting photographs of myself as a baby, and this frightens me. Will I recognize her? Will she recognize me? I cannot say which is more terrifying — her possible likeness to me, or her possible unlikeness. Both are impossible and certain. Before she ever took form inside my body she was both me and not-me. I was an advocate for her worth, her particularity, before I had any idea what that particularity consisted of. For the rest of our lives, it will be revealed, for here she is, a person, moving underneath my skin, stretching me, soon to emerge and be cut from me and placed upon my heart. Separation and coming together, but with more senses between us. How will my eyes distort her? I fear both the good and the bad I might perceive, the qualities I might ascribe, the hopes I might place upon her, the close relationship between my idea of her and my idea of myself, an entity I’ve never been fully at ease with. I pray for faith in the forces which insisted upon this new life, compelled me to protect it at any cost, for faith in those strange, dark materials out of which a new family is forged, existing histories soldered together, and we discover ourselves only by discovering others.
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