I remember sitting alone one day, Briar was napping upstairs and Avery was still a growing flutter in my belly. The sunlight streaming through the window seemed too good to shine upon me, so profound was my shame. I was having a baby and I knew I could not love her the way she deserved. I didn’t have the strength of heart left. I caressed my belly in apology, murmuring promises that I would try my best. I wept, unclear just who my guilt was for.

As the pregnancy went on I made exaggerated exclamations to anyone who would listen, thinking that perhaps I could fool myself into believing. The truth was I genuinely feared what lay ahead. I did not want to meet the side of me I knew was there, a mom who simply loved one child more than another. I could not bear it and worried Sean would hate me for it.

When Avery came I saw my fears realized, she was not Briar, her arrival did not ignite me the same way. Those first weeks at home I did not weep with joy, didn’t stare for hours. I worked and cleaned to escape. I walked in silent terror, the thought of a lifetime of compensating and manufacturing emotions broke me. I never uttered a word of this to anyone.

It’s been building for months now, undulating waves of consciousness. Some days it’s like the wait for Christmas, the excruciating anticipation and all encompassing excitement, others it’s thick, more like wading through an endless week. The other day it finally came to a head.

Unadulterated worship of Avery, and bringing me to my knees, the exquisite understanding that it has always been there.

She is as wondrous as winter’s first snowfall and as precious as summer’s last swim. She is my Avery, and as has been all along, I love her like no other.