So I gave birth to a little girl on Wednesday evening. All is well. Her three siblings are loving and gentle, and we’ve all enjoyed the unexpected flower arrangements and cute stuffed animals that have arrived at our door these last 48 hours.
A few thoughts on the early days of new motherhood, fourth time around:
How can my stomach, which appeared to be carrying a party of five just a few days ago, have given life to something that is so scrawny and small? Newborns are teeny, tiny, frog-legged, chicken-torso-ed mini-freaks. So, SO small!
On that note, the miracle of a mother’s love is such that one can find this little being so absolutely adorable and fetching and superior to everyone else’s frog-legged bundles, yet also know, deep down, that she pretty much looks like Vizzini from The Princess Bride.
I am also spending my time, while not nursing or bouncing this little bundle, looking for things to do while standing. I spent the last month of pregnancy calculating how many seconds of standing/walking I’d reluctantly have to do to move from Point A to Point B. Today, I would walk 500 miles happily if it meant my bottom never, EVER again grazed any surface.
Finally, I gotta give a teary-eyed shout of gratitude to all delivery room and maternity ward nurses in the world out there. Nurse Jackie stood by me for just short of 12 hours in the delivery room and by the end of that time, I was ready to ask her to be the godmother. Yeah, yeah, my OB was great, but Nurse Jackie (YES, she’s heard that joke a million times) made the painful, exhilarating, humiliating, and otherworldly experience of delivering a baby seem like something we were doing together, cheerfully, carefully, knowledgeably, and with love. Did I care what her political party was? No. Did I care if she went to Harvard or Yale? I did not. She will forever have my heart, and I tear up a bit knowing I’ll probably never see her again.
I can say the same for Nurse Dawn who ushered me through two evenings in the maternity ward, helping me complete the most basic aspects of human existence – moving, lying down, sitting up, using the bathroom – with dignity, compassion, and humor as I shook with pain. We were strangers at 8 p.m. on Wednesday night, but after getting me into bed and giving me gentle advice, medication, and words of wisdom about how to handle BabyVizzini in the first hours – one forgets these things, oddly enough, even after doing it three other times in the past 8 years – it felt like we were kin by 11 p.m.
I’ve written before about how a person can just be born for a certain profession. It takes a special gift from God to either walk someone through the days of death as a funeral home director or to carry someone over the threshold of that complete and embarrassing physical breakdown after giving birth and setting them down gently onto the tentative but joyful life of being a new mother.