This night…I’m as sleepless as I was five years ago, except this time she’s beside me instead of within me. But always within me; always a piece of me…

It’s clear that one of my favorite times with my daughter is snuggling her to sleep at night. No matter what the day brought, it’s our chance to regroup and reconnect – a reset button for the day to come. It’s our chance to be still together, to lay quietly after the noise of the day.

Tonight I lay beside her on her last night as a four year old. This time, five years ago, I laid in a hospital bed, not yet with her by my side. I’d been in labor for 24 hours already. I was tired and ready to meet her. Ready, yet terrified of them opening me up and bringing her out, leaving me raw and exposed. Motherhood can do that to you; leave you raw and exposed. They said it was time.

It was my first difficult choice as a parent. It was the first time I had to put her needs ahead of my own. It was the first time it truly mattered that I had to push through the fear and do it anyway.

We may have already bonded in those first nine months that I carried her with me inside my body, but it was in that moment that I became a mother. Before she was even here I came into that privilege, and made the choices that would put her into my arms, forever.

And I’m still holding her, even today on the eve of her fifth birthday. The baby I’ve watched grow into a toddler and now a little girl. I will never stop holding on. Her safe place can always be in my arms, where we can be still together, forever.

Photo credit: C.Allard

Photo credit: C.Allard