She takes my breath away

She doesn’t know it, but she makes it hard to breathe.

She took my breath away the first time my eyes landed on her. It was like being sucker punched in the stomach; the air left my lungs in a rush of air and I struggled to breathe. Just because she was perfect. All of her was perfect, her blue eyes, so curious, searching mine for answers to questions she hadn’t asked yet. Her nose, so small in the middle of her face, pressed against my skin, getting familiar with my scent. Ten fingers, ten toes, tiny, so incredibly perfect I weeped for hours every time I counted them.

I had no idea what they talked about before that moment, so captivating and joyous. I didn’t know what to do with myself. They said it was like falling in love, just a thousand times more heartfelt. They said nothing in the world could ever be able to compare to that moment. They said I would never be able to love another being more . And when I held her for the first time, I understood what they meant. When I held my little baby girl for the first time, I knew I was completely and utterly wrecked.

At first I thought it was a faze, that I would eventually be able to take a full breath, that the amazement would become normal, and that my love would settle, that I would eventually be content. But I still lose my breath whenever I see her, either from fear or amazement. Like when she rose for for the first time, her tiny hands clenching the edge of the table as she pushed herself to stand. I didn’t think it was possible to feel fear and pride at the same time, but I did that day. Pride for her achievement and fear that she might fall and hurt herself. Or like when she took her first step without holding my hand. Or when she rides her bike.

I have now realized that it will always be like that. I will always be amazed when she does something new, when she grows, or tells me one of her stories from kindergarten. I will always think her drawings are the best, I will always strive to answer her questions when she gives me that searching look. And when she curls up next to me on the couch searching for comfort, I will always kiss her forehead and hold her tight. I will protect her, I will love her unconditionally. I will sacrifice absolutely everything for her, including my life.

I know now that’s how it will always be. I know now that’s what mothers talk about when they see their children for the first time. I know now that I will never be able to explain how profoundly I love her or how deep the well of my love runs for her. I will forever and always be unable to take a full breath, because having a child feels like wearing your heart on your sleeve, exposed and vulnerable for everyone to see. You can’t hide it, and theres only so much you can do to shield it from harm. And you hope against everything, that it will never, ever be taken from you, that it will never be broken and that you’ll never loose it.

That tiny catch in my breath will always be there. That tiny intake of air will always get stuck in my throat. But it’s okay; as long as she’s alive, happy and well, I can live on half a breath.

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