When Danny was a baby, it was as if he knew all was not right.

Danny wailed through his first year.

The joke around our house became, “Add this to the list of things Danny doesn’t like.” 

That list, my friends, was exhaustive, and it included everything in the known universe with one, lone exception.

Danny liked being held by his mommy.

During his weeks in the NICU and after he came home from the hospital, he spent nearly twenty-four hours a day in my arms. 

His life’s beginning was so fragile, so tenuous. 

The only thing I could do for him was to clutch him to my chest and will him to survive.

During some very dark days, I have the sweetest of memories. 

We spent endless hours, skin to skin, just the two of us.

We existed almost entirely in our own universe. 

We became one.

He was fine in my arms. 

I could protect him in my arms. 

It soon was realized that it was only place he would be comforted, soothed, and settled. 

Despite the attempts of all of our family, friends, and even my husband, Danny would not allow anyone else to hold him.

He would arch back, go rigid, and scream. 

And so I held him. 

I held him without end.

This was not the motherhood I had expected.

I would stare in wonder at other mothers and babies. 

Danny was my first and only child, and I had no reference for normal. 

I’d see babies passively staring at their parents from car seats at restaurants. 

Mothers passing their babies to friends and family to hold while they got their keys from their purse.

Babies babbling and playing contentedly on a blanket. 

My baby did none of these things. 

I didn’t have the energy to experience jealousy in these moments. 

I would just stare, wordlessly and in amazement, and squeeze Danny a little closer.

We were okay together.

And so this is how we survived his infancy, but this is no way to build a life. 

One cannot exist entirely in their mother’s arms. 

As Danny has grown, he still shows a remarkable preference for being held tight, but his world is expanding.

He is healthier, stronger, and more resilient. 

However, I still find it hard to let go. 

I still want to clutch him to my chest and protect him from the world. 

Because he is safe in my arms. 

I can protect him in my arms.

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