It was a rocky start. The baby crowned and then receded, not once but twice. I remember the discomfort as the doctor reached in to relieve her shoulder from the constraint of the umbilical cord. And then she was born.
She was healthy except for a few bruises on her face from her dramatic entrance to the world. There were people pressing on my abdomen and novocain shots in the most excruciating place, and stitching. And the mother thing didn’t kick in right away.
Then the nurses came in and out and the family swarmed and gave her the first bath and the first diaper change and the first swaddling. They put her to my breast and they watched to make sure it all worked the way it was supposed to. The doctor came and left.
When they told me it was time to go home, I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know why. I just needed another day or week or month.
Once the home care instructions were given, my bags packed, the papers signed, like a magic spell everyone disappeared. Nurses went off to dote on other patients. Family left for home. Her dad went to get the car and we were alone, she and me.
I turned her to face me on my lap. I looked in her puffy dark blue eyes and I asked her if she was ready to come home. I told her about the alphabet border I painted around the top of her bedroom wall; about the clothes and crib we had readied for her arrival. I explained that we had never done this before, and that I understood it was all new to her too. I promised that I would always be the best mom I could, and that sometimes it might not be good enough, but that I would always love her with all of my heart.
Suddenly and without warning I was ready to go home. Though she’ll never remember it, she gave to me the greatest gift of motherhood, and I’m ever grateful she saved it for just the two of us . . .
she and me.