“Memory loss is the key to human reproduction. If you remembered what new parenthood was actually like you wouldn’t go around lying to people about how wonderful it is, and you certainly wouldn’t ever do it twice.”
~ Michael Lewis, Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood
He turns four this year. Four, can you believe it? Feels like yesterday when I was carrying him everywhere in his baby-sling, because he would not be content without body contact. Feels like forever since I was actually carrying him inside me for nine months.
Nine months… well, 37 weeks and 6 days to be exact. He wanted to be born 15 days before his expected date. On his grandma’s birthday. Now his birthday, too.
I remember being in the hospital. It was a long night that taught me to absolutely love, nay, worship painkillers. And with the pain and commotion claiming all my attention, to be completely freed from shame. Despite all the eyes and fingers and all the gynecologic instruments present. I was scared and excited. I cried and I threw up and I was not amused when I heard my husband comment “Oh good heavens, what kind of a giant needle is that?!”, when they finally gave me my epidural. Yeah… I think I could have done very well without that comment. I remember waking up in horror when I realized that my baby’s heart monitor wasn’t making a sound anymore. Waking up the husband in panic who was sleeping on a mattress on the floor next to me. Terrified pressing the bell to call one of the midwives. Then being told that “we switched the heart monitor’s noise off because we wanted you to sleep undisturbed”. Sleep undisturbed… while in labor… well, it’s a nice concept, at least. The sun rose and they told me that now the time had come to “start pushing”, whereupon I simply answered: “No!” But whom was I kidding? Some more hours went by. Hours of physical strain. Then there he finally was. So small and soft and fragile. The most precious being in the whole wild world. My biggest accomplishment. I remember thinking “Now I am a mother.” But the meaning of those words wasn’t yet comprehensible. I wanted to cry. That’s what all the movies and reality TV shows tell you mothers do after giving birth. I had no time for tears. I was overwhelmed by all the emotions. I was absolutely taken in studying the little human being on my belly. He had brown hair. One pixie ear just like his father. He was red and wrinkled. And he was not breathing well. They told me to rub his back to stimulate respiration, but I was too afraid I could break him. They told me to hold him close on my chest, skin to skin. But it was no use. The unhealthy respiratory noise stayed, chirping. Like a baby bird. They took him to the pediatric intensive care unit and embedded him into an incubator. I cried. And I cried. I cried exaggeratedly. Hormones and fear and stuff, you know? They told me he’d be alright. Maybe a little infection of his respiratory tract, maybe just the exhaustion from birth. They brought us breakfast. Listlessly I ate a few bites, swallowing some cookies along with my tears. When they told me to take a shower, we realized that the epidural still affected my right leg. Couldn’t feel it, couldn’t move it. It stayed like that for several days. So I went to visit my son in a wheelchair. The first days I had to sleep alone. Our son wasn’t healthy enough to stay with me in my room. Precautions is what they call it. I cried a lot during that time. I remember being overjoyed when they finally let me take him to my room on his third day here on earth. Six days later his daddy came to take us home. Our son looked way to small for his baby carrier. I have never seen my husband as proud as when he was finally allowed to carry his son out of the hospital doors.
“And you do not tell your birth-story until AFTER she has given birth, you hear me?”, my husband tells me. One of our friends is having her baby soon. Countdown: 9 days.
“When I read your birth-story I really do not understand how you are able to want a second baby.”, the husband continues.
“Repression, hormones and love.”, I answer.
… and love