The first time my baby looked at me was about six hours after we got the call from our adoption agency that she was ready and waiting for us. To say that a million emotions raced through my mind when my baby looked at me for the first time would be only a slight exaggeration. It was one of the most incredible and life-changing moments. My husband and I comment often that we are so grateful that we got to meet her in the hospital when she was still in that blinky newborn phase. She seemed a little stunned, trying to adjust to the light and her new surroundings. We weren't able to be with her until she was 3 days old, but when we locked eyes on that day, our family began.
When we first met our daughter in the hospital, she was fast asleep in her bassinet in the NICU. She was bundled tightly with a hat on, but the nurses had turned her so that we'd be able to see her face when we walked in the door. We cried and held her for a while as she slept, but we were almost surprised when she opened her eyes for the first time, as though we'd forgotten there was even more to look forward to and know about her. While meeting her in her tiny sleeping bundle state was incredible, locking eyes with her was the moment I'll never forget. That was the moment we met for the very first time, the first moment she knew that I was her mom and I'd be there with her to protect her for the rest of my days.
However we met our daughter would have been perfect, but meeting her in the hospital when she was just a few days old means not only did we get the perfect gift of a daughter, we also got the gift of taking in part in that universal experience of first hospital moments with her. We don't ever take those for granted.
"Nice To Meet You"
It's so weird to meet a new human life in their first few moments (or in our case, days) of life. When I looked into my daughter's eyes for the first time, I was somehow trying to communicate to her that I was her mom and that I would keep her safe from now on. I also couldn't help but feel how strange it is that this human wasn't out in the world until so recently, and now everything is new for her.
To say I felt love when I looked into her eyes kind of goes without saying. But because we adopted her and didn't know about her existence until that morning, it did surprise me that it didn't take any time to warm up to her. I loved her as though I had given birth to her instantly.
I also felt so proud to be her mom, proud of her bravery in going through the first few days of her life alone, and proud of every blink she gave me.
Looking back on meeting our daughter and looking at her the first time, sometimes I'm surprised I didn't fall over with the sheer excitement of it all. My first words upon seeing my daughter in her bassinet were, "Can I have her?" I meant can we pick her up and hold her, but I also couldn't believe she was really ours. Sometimes I think I'll fall over from excitement thinking about it now.
Looking into my daughter's eyes meant I was a mom, and that was a relief. After several years of infertility followed by an intercontinental move to facilitate (hopefully) an adoption, there were days I wondered if or when I'd ever become a parent. Looking into my daughter's eyes meant I was a mom, and it was a huge relief.
Mixed in with all the happy emotions was a strong dose of fear. Holy moly, a whole human that we are responsible for! Yikes. And we really didn't have a clue what to do with a newborn. I had a ton of baby experience from nieces and nephews and friends' kids, but thank goodness those NICU nurses taught us everything we needed to know to take care of her.
I was so surprised looking into my daughter's eyes that I felt like I already knew her. There was no family resemblance to pick out, but she was already familiar to me as though we were related by blood.
Oh, the mama bear instinct was instant. How in the world she had survived those first three days without us was incomprehensible to me, and I wanted to spend every second with her from the moment we met. Even though I knew the nurses had been holding her for those three days, the idea of anyone else holding her once we met was scary.
I was so grateful for a healthy baby girl. She was in the NICU but was just being monitored after a slightly traumatic birth. She was healthy and ours and I've never been more endlessly grateful for such a gift.