Belly button of bravery

Today, when Charlie was on the changing table, half-naked, I kissed him on his plump tummy. There, beneath my lips, was his belly button. Suddenly, I remembered that this laughing, wriggling, kicking person had once been inside of me, fully attached, taking in my blood, breathing in my air. But now, every day, he’s a little more his own person and a little less a part of me. Which makes me proud, happy for him and, of course, a bit sad.

While still in the womb, near the end of my pregnancy, Charlie was breech. I worried that he wouldn’t turn around in time for the delivery (which he didn’t) or that he’d turn and get tangled up in the cord. Fear, for him and for me, kept me awake at night and made my waking daytime hours tense. And yet for him, I braved an ECV (to turn him into the correct position) and a vaginal non-medicated birth (talk about fear…). For him, I–a normally shy person–have done what once would have been unthinkable. I’ve confronted strangers, asked intimidating questions and made phone calls to medical workers in the middle of the night. I realized last week, when I interrogated doctors and manhandled nurses, exactly what I was willing to do for him.

His belly button is no longer attached to mine. He can breathe and eat without me. But I’m still his courage and his love, his justice and his knowledge. He can’t be brave on his own, not yet. Until then, I’ll do it for him.

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