I had gone to the birthing class and recalled something about finding a focal point in the room and breathing. But those things didn’t help. I pushed and pushed. My friends waiting in the hall took bets with the nurses on time of arrival. They lost and eventually, the next doctor came in for the morning shift and told everyone to prep me for surgery.
There was a pause. Longer than I wanted but I’m sure it was just a few seconds and then a much expected wail.
They cleaned him up and stitched my abdomen back up and the nurses manhandled him, like he was a rugged tough animal who had been around for awhile, rather than just an 8 lb boy only a few minutes old. I waited on whatever painkillers they would give me, he waited for someone to explain why they hell he was no longer in the safe comforts of my womb. He came out with hair that was almost black, dark skin and pale blue eyes. This was not the blond haired child we were expecting. This was not the birth we had planned. And that has to be part of the beauty of motherhood and life. It never goes as planned.
And everytime the nurses came in, they were so incredibly rough with this little tiny man that me and my husband had made. The hit him hard on the back to loosen up the fluid still in his lungs and flung him around like a bag of flour. The first time I had to dress him or change a diaper – I remember being so fearful that his little arms or legs would snap. That I was going to break him. This fear didn’t leave me until carrying him down the stairs from his one year check up. Thinking the nurse should have given me a sticker and a dum dum. Because I had somehow kept this kid alive for an entire year.
And still, to this day, I sometimes need a little reminding that my kids are stronger than I give them credit for. Strong enough apparently, that they actually let us take him home.
He ate and pooped and slept in short spurts and cried. On repeat. Just like that for days. Months even.
And I wasn’t sure what motherhood was all about. It had to be more than sore nipples and bad daytime TV and even worse TV in the middle of the night.
Because growing your heart apparently takes an awful lot out of a girl.
This time, I packed less for the hospital and had less of a plan. But I still thought it would be so much easier the second time around. Because I knew what to do.
The first year of her life, my daughter taught me nothing else, other than how little sleep I could live on, how to make the pediatrician fit you in even if they are full and that people, even when they have almost exactly the same DNA couldn’t be more different.
I’ve read before that the days and long but the years are short. And today, while my daughter calls me “mamacita” because she is learning to speak some "spinich" at school and offers to set the table by sticking an opened stick of butter right smack in the middle of the table and nothing else. It has been a fantastic, but long day and I want to pour myself one more glass of wine. And break off another hunk of crusty bread and wipe it right across the butter she laid out.
And maybe that is what motherhood is about.