Just Like a Woman

When I gave birth to Julia, I thought I knew what it would be like, this whole mother thing. But I didn't. I was like a baby myself, struggling to understand how to hold her tiny little body and how to place her oh so delicate mouth so that it would latch onto my breast. The whole process was frustrating, with nurses coming in and out of my room to check this and that. Part of me wanted to scream, "Help! Take her away, I . . . was wrong. Someone else should be doing this!"

When my doctor came in that first night, I asked her what to do. She said in a very simple and calm voice, "Sing." Oh. I could do that.

It was midnight, the halls were dim and quiet and the only words that would form themselves across my lips were, "Nobody feels any pain," an old Dylan song, "tonight, as I stand inside the rain . . ." and I kept going until all the milk was gone and her soft feathery eyelids closed down upon flushed pink cheeks. That's when my whole life changed. It wasn't the victory of labor that brought me past one part of my life into another, it was the knowledge that I could really be a mother, my secret most intimate desire.

I don't think I really understood what it was to be a human or a woman until that night. And I am still so damaged from my former life—it's next to impossible for me to allow another person to get close to me. But I guess none of that matters now. Not really.

Comments

  1. Amy--
    That was beautiful. I was just thinking about the day we brought our daughter home from the hospital (14 years ago). My husband drove the car with such caution. At one point he pulled over because a truck was too close to us. Then he had a little outburst about the other driver. It was a priceless momment. We then spent the next few days taking turns being awake with our baby...Neither of us expected our lives and behaviors to change so rapidly. A baby is so wonderful and it's truly a gift when someone knows what a treasure having one is...

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  2. What a beautiful vignette, Amy. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. Thank you both. I've always wanted to write out how it felt to be in the hospital that night, and how beautiful it was to have her in my arms. Time runs by so fast.

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  4. What a nice story. How old is your daughter now, Amy?

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  5. Thank you dear Tom. She's five now and is my little artist intern.

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  6. A sweet memory, thanks for sharing. and, I love the Dr.s advice, "sing".

    that simple act can get us through many trials. Sing. yes -- if it be a soulful, sad tune to help me feel my sorrow or if it be a joyous hymn to share my joy, I will.

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