During the latter half of her pregnancy, Eileen was plagued by nightmares. They were monstrous and intrusive; disruptive to the point where she’d been unable to continue working because of the stress of it all. The trouble began when Eileen saw the sonogram image of our baby. Our daughter, we learned. While neither the obstetrician nor I could see what Eileen claimed to, she was convinced it was something evil. Something non-human. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get her to shake that feeling. And that’s when the nightmares began.
She’d say she heard the baby laughing inside her. Laughing and screaming. Eileen would wake up in a panic and describe hideous scenes of a deformed monstrosity erupting from her body and devouring humankind. I could tell my wife was traumatized, but there was nothing I could do except hold her until the hysterical sobbing stopped.
At the request of her parents, Eileen began seeing a therapist. The therapy seemed to take the edge off her daily trauma, but the nightmares persisted. I’d wake up to Eileen thrashing and clawing at herself, drawing deep gashes into the stretched flesh of her belly while screaming with profound terror at whatever was tormenting her. She began wearing mittens to bed to diminish the severity of the assaults on herself. They succeeded in stopping the scratches, but the horror continued unabated.
We were both counting down the days to her delivery date. Most parents do this with joyful anticipation. Our anticipation was anything but. Eileen had grown resigned to the idea that she was about to bring something evil into the world. I was secretly dreading how Eileen would treat the baby. She’d told me many times how much she hated her; how she’d been praying our daughter would arrive stillborn and unable to hurt anyone.
On June 30th, Eileen went into labor. I could tell she was in excruciating pain, but she never cried out or complained. Her jaw was set with determination and her eyes had locked on a point in space only she could see. Throughout the whole ordeal, she didn’t utter a word. 17 hours later, on July 1st, our daughter was born. Dominique Alyssa Texier.
And she was perfect.
When small, cooing Dominique was brought up for Eileen to hold, she stared at her for long, silent minutes. She blinked over and over, as if trying to determine if what she was seeing was real or imaginary. Dominique reached out and touched Eileen’s nose. The tension broke. Eileen began to cry. It wasn’t the terrified bleating that had filled our last four months. These were tears of infinite relief. Eileen held Dominique and kissed the top of her head. At that instant, I knew my wife loved our daughter. And I loved them both infinitely.
Two days later, the three of us went home. Our love for our newborn daughter has only deepened. The feeling is indescribable. I’d always heard parents say they’d do anything for their children, but I could never understand the ferocity of that dedication until Dominique came into our lives.
Her wide, gray eyes stare into ours with precocious intensity. As the hours and days of Dominique’s new life accumulate, I can feel our dedication and reverence growing. When she smiles at us, which is more often than not, her tiny, straight teeth – another example of her precociousness – gleam with a radiance that reflects the brightness of her parents’ sentiment.
Dominique bathes in the adoration pouring from the two pairs of eyes observing her every waking moment. Every need she has, however infinitesimal, is met. Every action she performs, however inconsequential, is celebrated. Even now, as we watch her breastfeed, it seems like the most beautiful, natural act in the world. The only concern we have is what we should do once she finishes eating the second one.