In a writing class last year, we were asked to write about the moment that had the biggest impact on our lives. This is what I wrote:
“Don’t you want to hold him?”
If he asked me that one more time, I swore I was going to kick him. Even with the compromising and restrained position, I was pretty sure I could have mustered up enough strength to kick him in the head.
The nurse had offered him to his father pretty quickly when she saw my reaction to her heading in my direction. And the man was holding him like he would a tray of food, sort of in half-outstretched arms. Not close to him at all, but away from his chest, as if to make sure he wasn’t fully committing to the responsibility. Sign of things to come.
He was obviously uncomfortable, though. He had never held a baby at all. He had cousins and a sister with kids, but he had never actually picked any of them up. So, he didn’t want to hold him either, really. I was the mother after all. I should want him. Of course, I would want him. But I didn’t.
I didn’t want to see him, much less touch him or hold him. I just forced a slow “nooooo”, and shot him a warning glare. He didn’t move. Frozen in fear, I guess, from me and from the baby.
I was given the aftermath treatment while the nurse put a little baby blue knit hat on him and wrapped him in fresh blankets. She set him down beside me next to my hip. He sat there, like a tiny doll of a person. Eyes closed, two slits between red, flaky, wrinkled fleshy cheeks, making not one move except for his nose flaring with each breath. It seemed barely alive.
This was it? All that pain, all those months, for this? For a little lump of blanket and hat to just sit there? I felt nothing.
We were wheeled back to our room and forced into a whir of activity, with nurses from every direction bringing me baby this after baby that, each with instructions.
“Okay, here we go!! His first bottle. You ready?”
Raised eyebrows and wide-open eyes to question her sanity, but I didn’t reply. I swore she snickered. Then, she forced us together anyway and left. “Awwww, you’ll be fine. Have fun!!”
And we were alone. His father had gone to make phone calls or something, I think. Who knows. We were alone. Sign of the life to come. And still nothing. He drank the whole bottle, never moving or opening his eyes.
A few minutes or hours (I’m convinced) passed, and they came to get him to officially register him with the human race. He’s leaving!! I could breathe. Normalcy. My life was back. I wanted to go home. Alone.
But not long enough after I got comfortable with myself, they wheeled him back in his little acrylic cart still wrapped like a big sausage.
“Back so soon?”
The nurse ignored me, but he tilted his head toward me, opened his eyes, smiled, and then laughed. Probably a gas thing, but I swore he got the sarcasm. And that he understood.
He let me know that he wasn’t having any more fun than I was. He was just as uncomfortable and just as scared of me. He wasn’t thrilled about being with me either. Probably thinking, her again? Is she it? She’s what I get? Forget it. Put me back now.
And in that tiny moment of apparent connection, he became mine -all mine and just mine. He became the love of my life. And I became his mom.