Cutting the cord. It sounds so final, so definite. A snip of a string. Like scissors through paper. But it’s not so, is it? The connection of two bodies may have been severed, but the intangible bond endures. Because of the nature of their birth, I did not see the doctor cut the cords that joined Avery and Lily to me. Sometimes, I imagine a cord remains, invisible to the eye, because I know what they need without knowing how I know it, what they will do before they do it, what they feel before the expression can pass across their faces.
They do not depend on me for blood and oxygen as they once did. Just seven and a half short months, I sheltered them inside me. With every new development my daughters make, I feel a twinge of pain. That scissor cut deepens, some days imperceptibly, other days incisively. Each new syllable they utter, each new tooth pushing through tender flesh, each bite they grasp in their sweet fists and plunge into their little mouths, the incision between us widens. Yet, I am the one cutting the apple into tiny cubes; I am pressing their hands to my lips as I form sounds for them. I savor when they reach for me, yearning for nothing more than the joy found in my proximity; but, when their new-found legs tremble, and they tumble to the ground, I stand them on their feet again. Disregarding the ache in my heart that would be soothed by nestling them to my chest at each moment of disappointment, I stand them back up, ever widening the cut. My daughters will know how to stand on their feet, no matter the price I pay. I am learning to live in the space between pride and pain, loving someone so much that you endure the pain required to give them what they need.
Avery and Lily received several baby dolls for their birthday. Avery loves them. She tenderly strokes their yellow yarn hair and clutches them to her body. She will look at me wide-eyed and joyful and say, “Ah Bay!” I brush her hair from her forehead and reply, “Yes. A Baby.” Like looking through a telescope, I see the distant future; a cycle continues; my daughter holding a baby. She will be strong enough to endure the price of parenthood, because I will have endured it for her.