first bond with the wilderness

“Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the Unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into.” – Wendell Berry

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We’ve had nearly a month with Annie, who is essentially the dream-come-true, perfect baby in every sense. I’m getting afraid to tell people how fabulous she’s doing with sleeping and eating, because they invariably tell me I’ll pay for it when she’s a teenager, or, if they are in the throes of a regular baby’s sleeping and eating woes, I think they might throw an exersaucer at me in their sleep-deprived stupor. I was extremely determined not to complain about any part of life with a newborn, but I haven’t even had much worth complaining about. It has been pure joy, joy, joy to have her here and take care of her.

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Maybe because Aaron and I are both extremely inclined to imagine and prepare for the worst possible scenario in every area of life, and because we had a definitively “bad start” with growing our family, this pregnancy lacked much excitement or anticipation. What I really remember most about the past year of anticipating this time is being afraid. So many changes! So many questions! So many new things! We moved into this house knowing I was pregnant, but neither one of us could talk about where to arrange furniture or belongings in order to prepare for the baby. Before nearly every OB appointment, even well past the “danger zone” of the first trimester, I would listen to I Corinthians 15 on my phone and hold Max and cry. When we found out Annie was a girl, I panicked when I thought about how much pink stuff we were likely to accumulate and specifically told friends and family I didn’t want any pepto-bismal-colored clothing or gear. I probably would have been concerned about clothes with too many blue whales and orange foxes or something like that if she had been a boy. More than all this, I worried that the anxiety would spill over in to life with the baby, that it would prevent us from connecting with her, that being afraid of her meant I didn’t love her, that I was letting it steal the joy we had waited for.

But now, with her here safely, I look back and realize Wendell Berry was right in what he said about standing at the edge of the woods. We had the curiosity and excitement, for sure, but the sense of dread for the uncertainties ahead was unshakable. Now I think that fear was part of our first bond together, and I’m sure it’s part of the wild adventure of raising a child. It hasn’t robbed us of anything we need to love and enjoy her now. We really are delighted by every moment with this girl, who is, as Aaron put it last night, “much pretty.” (Proper use of irregular adjectives is one of the first things to go if you are overworked and a little sleep deprived, I suppose.)

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Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will even make a way in the wilderness… – Isaiah 43:19

 

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