I always forget how to hold newborn babies until I’m presented with one: the small face, old, wise, young, perfect. It’s not just that I forget how to hold them, though. It’s the feelings a newborn baby calls up inside me. I held my newborn nephew Saturday and it made me remember the joy, and also the stark fear of being a new mother. Holding him I had, as I always do with newborns, this sense of grace and awe. And also the irrational dread of accidentally tripping and dropping him. Note to my sister: I’ve never done that before, not with my own kids, or with someone else’s. But newborns, they seem so fragile, so otherworldly, and I feel protective and devoted and clumsy and scared around them, all at once.
My mother loves to hold her grandbabies. I watched her and her tenderness, and she reminded me of the poignant poem, “Holding My Grandson, Come to Land This Morning,” from the Roots and Branches issue of Segullah, by Judith Curtis. Some favorite lines:
I cradle you, my hatchling child, and ponder
what your birth reveals about origins;
how water is our first world, then air, then earth,
and it is left for us to tell how we have tried
to solve the mystery of fiery flesh
that welds us to the ground and
subtle spirit that lures us up to seek
what came before and
what is yet to come.
Go read the whole thing. And tell me about the most recent newborn you have welcomed to this world.