First Touch (Revised!)
Two pounds, 10.1 ounces, angry dark red skin, my fourteen weeks premature girl lay on her back, arms and legs open at her sides-no muscle tone to hold them close, no fat legs or chubby cheeks.
She was only hours old, and the nurse in charge of me had done her best to dissuade me from seeing her yet. ‘Get some sleep first,’ she tried, looking to my Mom for support. My mother looked at me, and recognized and understood my resolve. ‘You can put her in bed, but I can tell you she’ll only get up as soon as you leave to find her daughter.’ So, here I was, scrubbed from fingernail to elbow, iv tubes beneath my white robe, all my nerves exposed, and needing to see my first child.
She was still in the very first room, where I learned later babies go to make sure they will make it to the first of the most intensive care rooms. I stood in the doorway, white walls, white table. My eyes locked on the tiny creature upon the warming table. My heart felt the wariness of the staff. They feared my reaction.
I saw my daughter, and the fear and shock on the three nurses' faces.
I moved to stand beside her, looked her over. My baby, already too headstrong to follow the rules, wait her turn. My first child. All the times my Father had told me, “You’ll understand when you have children of your own,” came back to me as I stood over this tiny being who was my girl.
"Can I touch her?" my voice cracked, tentative, breaking the pained silence. All three nurses nodded.
She was so red, so small, and I had so many questions.
Her little hand lay open beside her head. Covered in soft, dark hair, her head could have fit so easily in my palm. I was terrified of hurting her, this little being who was now my responsibility.
Gently, I placed my left index finger onto her tiny open hand, a feather light touch, and my daughter clenched tightly to me. Her grip was fierce.
All five of her fingers clung to me, and I remember still how much room was left over on my finger-she didn't take up even the space on the tip of my pointer.
Yet, she filled my heart entirely.
From that first touch, we were united.
She was mine; I was hers; from the first touch.