Sylvie’s cry pierced the darkness. I ran to her, forcing my nighttime legs to move, tripping over a shoe, stubbing my toe on the hamper.
“I’m here,” I whispered into the darkness.
As soon as my voice reached her ears, she fell instantly to sleep.
“I’m here”: enough to scare away the monsters of her imagination, enough to calm an aching stomach. Enough to send her into a peaceful goodnight.
My lips have kissed a million boo-boos. My chest has cradled three sleepy heads in the early morning hours. My hand against three sets of cheeks has been enough.
My last class for the day exited the room. I sat for a minute, collecting my papers and myself, entering grades, responding to emails.
I don’t normally answer unfamiliar numbers. This time I did.
“Hello. Mrs. Gallo?”
“Yes,” I answered.
On the other end the receptionist from Maternal Fetal Medicine scheduled an appointment for a follow-up ultrasound that I knew nothing about.
“Didn’t you talk to your husband?”
“No. I didn’t.”
“Why do I need a follow-up ultrasound?”
What followed was a series of questions that a medical receptionist is not qualified to answer. What followed that was sweaty palms and a racing heart, breathlessness and frantic fingers googling things I have no business googling but have every business googling.
And then there were days of phone tag for answers that can’t really come.
I don’t know when it happens that “I’m here” is not quite enough, when Mom’s presence, her silent hush in the night is not quite enough.
But I wish it were.
I believe in the power of prayer. I do. I believe this little one who has been kicking me for weeks is strong.
I believe the doctor and other medical professionals when they say, “I’m hopeful. And the research I’ve done confirms that hope.” And others who say, “In all likelihood, this will clear up on its own.” I believe them.
But I know a thing or two about fear and worry. They live and breed in a different place than rational thought. They come out when everything else is too tired to fight.
In those moments when fear wins and my mind races, in the moments when it’s my worry piercing the darkness, it’s then that I wish “I’m here” from my mom would be enough. It’s then I wish the simple presence of her next to the bed would be all I need to quiet a quickening pulse.
But I’m mom now.
All around me, even inside me, are little ears that need to hear my hushed promises.
That has to be enough.