She was tiny, my cub. When I first held her, my heart filled with a love so strong I felt breathless. At 5+ pounds she was a wrinkled bundle of gangly arms and legs with a squashed nose. I thought she was perfection.
I held her briefly before handing her back to her father who followed the nurse to the newborn nursery and a waiting incubator. They inserted a feeding tube and placed her under a lamp to treat jaundice.
Less than 12 hours later her father returned to the hospital and we walked together to visit my cub in the nursery.
“If anyone tried to take her from me I would kill them,” I stated.
My instinct to protect her was as fierce as any mama bear. It was a visceral, gut-wrenching urge to keep her safe at any cost. As if a switch in my brain flipped from the sane and civilized to the primitive and animalistic. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so different from animals in the wild.
Although this experience felt foreign and unique to me I know I’m not alone. Inside every good mother beats the heart of a fierce mama bear ready to protect her young. It is an instinctual love; fierce, primal, visceral.