I found myself smiling at a Cheerios commercial the other day. The mom and little girl in the commercial were laughing and playing together and I thought, Wow. I will have that.
Shortly after I got home from the hospital after giving birth to Katie, my in-laws visited. It would turn out to be the last visit since because of clashes and years' worth of problems, but during that visit my father-in-law said to me, "It sounds terrible, but didn't you immediately check to see if Katelyn had ten fingers and ten toes the first time you saw her? I know I did."
The first moment I saw Katelyn she was lying in a bed in the NICU. It was a tedious experience for the both of us, but at that moment she seemed to be the one in the worst position. She had wires coming from her nose and sticking in her hand. But what I immediately saw when I saw her was not her fingers and toes, it was her. It was the little baby in front of me that I had given birth to a short while before, and she was the little baby who could have had eleven fingers and nine toes and would have still been the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. I didn't see the wires. I didn't see her tiny toes. I didn't see her fingers. I actually saw her breath, her beating heart, her whole being. I saw her. I saw the embodiment of my dreams in front of me. I finally saw the little girl that I had dreamed about for so long. I saw the struggle to have a baby and the heartache of losing babies who would have come before her. I saw the baby who apparently didn't have my chromosomal problem or any other apparent problems, but I realized at that moment it wouldn't have mattered anyway. It would be weeks before I could only see her fingers and toes and not see love, actual love, in front of me.
My simple answer to my father-in-law that night was "no," but he will never realize the answer is so much more than that. He will never understand why her fingers and toes were not important to me or Dan. He is one of many who will never understand anything I feel with all of my heart because they do not love the way I love. It's terribly sad for them.
So now as Katie sits beside me and smiles when I look at her, I don't see any one part of her. I don't see who she will be or who she will love or what profession she will have when she gets older. I see her. I see her.