When Miya was first born I didn't feel love for her, at least not in the way that I had ever felt love for someone before. What I did feel was fiercely protective and absolutely amazed. I marveled at her and everything she did, from her tiny sneezes to the strong grip in her little fingers. I even marveled that she was breathing.
And while it may not have felt like love, I have never been so able or willing to sacrifice myself for someone before. In the first few weeks breastfeeding was difficult; my breasts were raw and bleeding. Each time she fed I gritted my teeth and curled my toes with pain. But she wanted my breast and I wanted to give it to her. When she couldn't settle I walked countless circles in our house, holding her little body in my arms as I sang to comfort and soothe her. When she would cry in the night, no matter what the hour or how tired I was, I responded to her.
Most of the people in my life whom I love, I love by choice. With my daughter, there is no choice. I have been committed to her since the first time I heard her heart beating inside me. With other people I wait to see if we will get along. But Miya and I get along, not always smoothly and not always without misunderstandings. But from dawn to dusk to broken nights, we get along together, moving in a dance that I am only just learning the steps for.
I don't love her for what she says or does. Yet at the same time I love the little sounds she makes, the way she experiments with her voice. And I love the little things she does - the way she chews on her toes when lying on the change table, the way she presses her cheek against mine when I pick her up after a nap, the way she tilts back her head to look up and me and give me a gummy grin...
I have never loved like this before. Because I do, because I can, and because I will, I feel so incredibly grateful.