Finding Our Rhythm

Galit Breen essays

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Her cries bring me back upstairs. I take slow steps into the buttercup nursery. The sun glistens through sheer curtains. I barely notice.

My eyes, bleary. You can do it.

My hair, messy. Yes, you can.

My heart, achy. You have to.

I place my hands on the crib railing. It’s cool beneath my fingers; I grip it tightly.

I take in my baby, my baby, less than two months old.

Enveloped in a cornflower sleep sack, impossibly tiny. She lolls on her back. Feet scrunched close to her belly. Fists floundering.

Her fingers clench. Her face reddens. Her tears drizzle. We are a mirror image.

What if nursing is hard again?

What if she keeps crying?

What if Jason has to work late?

What if I can’t?

My eyes, bleary. You can do it.
My hair, messy. Yes, you can.
My heart, achy. You have to.

– Galit Breen


Becoming a Mother was not how I imagined.

I was baby bluesy, overwhelmed and under-rested.

Nursing was difficult, endless and painful.

Jason smoothed into fatherhood with breath-taking ease, which was helpful. And humbling.

I craved holding my baby at all times. And I craved just as strongly to pass her off to Jason, assuming -knowing- that she was in better hands with him.

But when he was at work I had to stretch my Mama skin. I was terrified.

Today I look into my daughter’s seven year old eyes. They still mirror mine. Different shades of cocoa tinted almonds, but the same endless wells of serious and stubborn, sensitive and knowing.

Although I’m struck with pangs of never-ending gratitude for the bond we share, those thoughts pretzel-twist to how we started out.




Like I was that morning.


I stand flat-footed by her crib and let my tears fall.

Slightly shaking, I reach down. My body drapes in as I scoop her up. One hand the length of her back. My fingers tighten around her as I lift her towards me and bring her close.

Her heartbeat against my chest, her cheek against my shoulder, her breath against my neck.

Her tiny feet curl in, her bottom scrunches out.

I place her pacifier in her mouth, not yet ready to start another round of nursing, holding it in place until the soothing sound of her lips taking over ring sweetly in my ears.

And I sway.

The age-old dance of mothers created with the sole purpose of lulling babies to sleep, and 
Mamas to peace.

My feet, my hips, my chest all move to the imaginary beat surrounding my baby and me.

My hands cocoon around her. One rests on the back of her neck, feeling her silky newborn 
strands between my fingers. And one pats her bottom in its own pace, the drum beat to our duet.

In unison, we release our held breaths. Her pacifier slips between two perfectly pink lips. Her 
eyes close in sleep. Mine do the same, but in relief.

Still learning each other’s heart strokes, we will start the cycle anew when she wakes. But for now, we just move together.

About the Author

Galit Breen

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