I was shell-shocked, sleepless,

mostly numb for three days straight.

On the fourth day, I was holding our tiny creation, mesmerized by her miniature, spastic gestures,

when I felt a sudden rush of sorrow and overwhelming futility.

Who am I to invite someone new into this crazy world?

Though fierce when provoked, I am so small, my shell hopelessly permeable.

What protection can I offer this perfect and vulnerable creature?

I wept for the confusion in store for her, for the first time she will be disappointed–perhaps by me–

And for the first time her heart will be broken.

Published by

Beret Olsen

Writer, photographer, teacher, and part-time insomniac.

3 thoughts on “Firstborn”

  1. mesmerized by her miniature spastic gestures – hopefully not a gratuitous use of the physical disability equivalent of “retarded” that Americans throw around without a care in the PC world. You write with great heart so I hope (but don’t) that the word was misused (look up the medical term spastic and you’ll understand) sorry for the rant


    1. No apologies necessary, and thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt. I think used in a disparaging context, the word can be terribly offensive. As an adjective, most definitions say “of, relating to, or defined by spasms,” which is exactly how newborns move. Are you from the UK? I have just now read that the word is particularly loaded there. When I have an extra moment, perhaps I can reword slightly.


      1. I appreciate your sensitivity and consideration. The S word is reviled in the UK and while I have not lived there for 20 years the knee jerk never goes away. The medical term abused in the same context as the epitaph retarded is what makes the usage unacceptable when applied to clumsy people. The students and teachers in my daughters American school are prone to commenting about “spazzing” out or being a spaz often in front of my daughter. I find it astonishing duplicitous given the reaction the R word evokes. It’s an uphill struggle but I just wish we could stop it being used.


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