My daughter is expecting her first baby in August. Yes, I’m to be a Memé again. In going through some old file folders I found this little piece I wrote not long after having her.
I loved being pregnant. As my belly grew, I wallowed in the glory of all the preferential treatment I received and the mounds of pecan pie that I consumed. Visions of cherubs filled my dreams. My waking hours were spent decorating the nursery and devouring parenting books and while I fought a loosing battle with girth control, I developed a stout determination to be the best mother that ever walked the earth.
What could possibly go wrong? After all, they’re only babies, nature’s most adaptable creatures. It would be easy to get an infant on a reasonable schedule within two weeks right? Yes, those were the blissful days filled with pleasant dreams and anticipation of giving birth to the Gerber baby.
Someone once told me that when something seems too good to be true, it usually is – I went into labour three weeks early. Now most people know me as a cool and quite competent woman but I must confess that when my water broke, I lost it. Had it not been for the composed demeanor of the seasoned head nurse, I most certainly would have forgotten everything I learned in prenatal class.
Once I got it together again and resigned myself to the fact that this baby was going to be born before I got the garage to put the snow tires on the car, the delivery went well. Apart from a brief moment of respiratory arrest when they made the mistake with the epidural and froze me from the waist up instead of from the waist down, it was eight mercifully brief hours of labour, delivery in a regular hospital bed and back to the ward in time for supper.
After the delivery I was consumed with energy, ready to tackle anything that came my way and when they brought little Jennifer to me I nursed her like an old pro. Shortly after feeding time was visiting hour and with my cooing bundle nestled in my arms I held court like the Queen Mum. Exuding confidence I proudly exhibited my latest accomplishment and boasted that I felt so good that I felt like going home then and there.
Before I knew it visiting hour was over, my new daughter was finished her final feeding and was whisked off the the nursery until the wee hours of the night when she would be returned to me for another fix. I settled down in bed to rest and dream about which of her new outfits I would bring her home in.
The morning bustle of the hospital roused me with vague recollections of fumbling in the dark with a screaming infant – surely a nightmare. When the nurse came in with my baby I asked her if anyone got the number of the bus that hit me. She giggled, placed Jennifer in my arms and on crepe soles squeaked away to get the rest of the layette.
Jennifer was wide away and hungry. Our eyes met and at that moment she began to howl. Perhaps I should have combed my hair I thought. Oh well, maybe if I feed her she might like me better. Calmly I began to go through the motions of breast feeding and as I pulled my baby towards me the reality of the situation overwhelmed me. I was condemned. For the next eighteen years I was solely responsible for this child.
Instantly my bravado dissolved, I was utterly inept and it wasn’t long before I was howling louder than the baby. I spent the rest of the morning sobbing into my pillow, inconsolable, trying to bear the disgrace of knowing that my baby was in the nursery being bottle fed.