I’m a working mom, just like millions of other women. It’s hard to leave Maddie in the mornings, especially when she, Mike, and Rigby are all snuggled up in our heavenly bed. It can be hard for me to swallow my jealousy of the bond Mike and Maddie have. She loves him so much. He can calm her down by walking into her line of vision, and the smiles she gives him are amazing. We are lucky Mike works from home and can care for Maddie during the day. I don’t have the same flexibility, so I suck it up and head into the office with a heavy heart.

I sometimes wonder if things would be different if I’d had a proper maternity leave. I was off work for 14 weeks, 10 for bed rest and four for recovery from my emergency c-section. I could have taken four more weeks, but when it became clear Maddie would be in the NICU for a while, I decided to go back to work to help keep my mind occupied. I’d always planned on taking those four weeks off down the line, but it still hasn’t happened. I never got that really intense bonding time with my daughter that typical new moms experience. The most time I’ve ever spent with her straight were the final six days of her last hospital visit, when things were so crazy I absolutely couldn’t bear not being with her. I long for that time with her, more uninterrupted togetherness.

Last night, Maddie was fussy, thanks to teething. Mike had been trying to soothe her with little success, so I took her. She and I went into her bedroom, I turned off the light, and we sat in her plush green rocking chair. I stared into her eyes and rubbed her head until her lids closed. While I rocked her to sleep I sang every love song I knew. During one of them, I choked on the meaning and my eyes filled with tears. I stopped singing and looked down at Maddie. Her eyes opened to the sudden silence, and she looked at my face. Her tiny expression was concerned, then she gave me a huge grin and a little giggle. Her eyes closed, and her body grew heavy with sleep. I finished the song, and then I held her on my chest for a long time. The love was intense. I know we have a bond. It’s not how I expected, but it’s ours.