I can’t think of anything more valuable than new life. I guess I’ve always thought that, but its been reinforced on almost a daily basis for me because of what I do for work. I am a nurse.
I’m a postpartum nurse, to be more specific, and a lactation consultant, which means that it’s my purpose to assist new life with the transition between the world they came from and the one that they’ve been brought into. I’ve been present in so many moments that took my breath away, and I don’t even mean the actual process of being born. Obviously that’s breathtaking enough for all involved, particularly the mother if I do say so myself. What I mean though is just the everyday. Sometimes we get lost in the everyday and the magical quality that it holds, but have you ever really just stopped and looked into the eyes of a newborn?
One of my favorite things to do when my first son was born was sit up in bed with him propped against my legs and just stare at him. This is such a cliché, I realize. The new mom so obsessed with her baby that she sits staring at him. I used to be told, “Yeah, he’s all amazing and everything. That’s a very first time mom thing to say.” For me, I wasn’t staring because I thought he was so fantastic. I was starting literally in awe of the life before me. The life that I brought into the world. The physical being that I created. A newborn’s eyes are almost a portal to the afterlife, or I guess the beforelife in this case. What was more amazing to me when I sat looking at my son was where he came from. I find that when I sit and ponder things, I can be quite existential. I personally believe that our souls reincarnate until we learn the lessons we’ve come to learn. I think ultimately that lesson is love in the deepest truest form, but I’m fascinated by the experiences we may have had before we took our first breath in this life. What life did we lead before the one we are living now? What lessons are we here to learn that we didn’t master before? Sometimes when I’m trying desperately over and over to close the dishwasher door that’s fallen off its tracks and I begin to fill with rage from the frustration of it all, I tell myself that patience is one of the skills I’ve come back to master.
There have been times in my work life that I’ve stood over a newborn doing my assessment of them and taken just a bit longer listening to their heart sounds, or an extra minute to do their physical assessment. I often marvel at their perfectly formed toes, or their delicately placed eyelashes. I think that particularly as humans, there’s nothing more than new life that we value more, even to the point that we put other living things aside because of it. It leads to moral dilemmas, ethical decisions, and heartbreak. We fight harder to preserve the life of an infant that we fear we may lose than in any other situation I can think of. As a mother of three, and particularly with the fact that they’re boys, I feel an immense responsibility to help mold them into good humans. I’m very aware of the fact that someday they will be someone’s partner and father, and the weight of that drives the decisions I make as their mother.
I feel like new life carries with it so much wonder and potential, like a blank slate. For me, that pressure is sometimes daunting, but the beauty in it is also overwhelming. With all of the chaos that this life unleashes on us on such a daily basis, I think it’s important to stop and marvel at beauty when it’s placed before us, even for just a moment. For me, that beauty is found in nothing more profoundly than in a new life.
Allie Barrera received her undergraduate degree in Comparative World Literature and began her career as an English teacher in Rome, Italy. Soon after she received her Master’s degree in Nursing and currently practices as an RN and Lactation Consultant in Southern California. Most importantly, she is a wife and mother of three beautiful boys, ages 7,6, and 10 months. Allie enjoys travel, literature, and spending time with her family.