Today is my younger daughter, Jessica's, 36th birthday. I made her a quilt for her college graduation and I wrote this that day in 2003 when I was finishing her quilt. She has just presented me with my first grandchild and I am so very thrilled. Happy birthday my love.
As I sat sewing the last stitches of Jess’ graduation quilt I was overcome with memories of her and Addi, me and my problems, and our lives intertwined. When I was pregnant with Jess, I was scared that I wouldn’t love her. I had such an overwhelming love for Addi and didn’t know if I had it in me to love two people in the world like that. Believe me, love for your children is a lot different than romantic love.
Not liking most people is one of my problems. I know I can pretend but not well. I guess that is the reason I never wanted to have children. I was afraid to have this little person thrust upon me and then – what if I didn’t like them?
Addi was so easy because she was so pleasant. When she did cry, she cried so hard that she passed out. Talk about scared! And Addi was so adventurous. Everything was exciting -- bathing, nursing, swimming, the dogs. She was such a pleasure to take care of. I thought when I was pregnant with Jess that I was having a boy. I had sort of wanted a boy with Addi but she turned out so perfect that it didn’t matter. I thought having a boy would be a new adventure for me. I was so afraid that I didn't have any more love possible within me though and I was more afraid of the bond between my new baby and me than I was of having a baby.
Jess’ breach birth scared Rick to death. He was so afraid he would have to tell me that my (our) baby was dead. He was so relieved when she finally cried. I had been anesthetized to give way for the baby’s birth because we were well beyond doing a Cesarean. Jess’ feet were out while I was first examined and I could have had her in the exam room while waiting for the doctor to arrive.
I know how pioneer women and native women must have felt when they found themselves alone and birthing. I needed to push and there was no one near. I was in too much pain to cry out. All I could do was pant and try not to push.
Luckily, I had a wonderful pediatrician and Jess was born amid a melee but was healthy. I suppose the strain of this horrendous birthing experience scared Jess for life. She was caught in the calamity of the moment and still allows this hurricane out of her on occasion.
When I awoke from the anesthesiology Rick was right next to me waiting. I asked him, ”where’s my boy?” He told me that he thought to himself, “I’m so glad I don’t have to tell her that he is dead.” He replied and told me the one thing that he knew would make me relived. He said, “Wilma, our baby is a girl. And she has the longest eye lashes.”
I took a moment to incorporate the shock of another little girl and in my mind’s eye I saw her looking similar to me with my long eyelashes but even longer. Addi had looked like neither Rick nor me and the thought of a little human being similar to me touched my heart and soul.
When the nurse finally arrived and I asked to see my baby, she wheel chaired me to the nursery. She placed this blanket wrapped package into my arms and I looked down on her little olive puckered face. She did have beautiful eyelashes. I began to cry gently. I was sad that the son I would have had was not to be and I was relieved that this child who had scared the living daylights out of an entire maternity ward was all right. And I cried because my question was still not answered. Did I have enough love in me for one more?
One of my tears must have run down my face and dropped onto Jess’ eye. I looked down at her and in that instant I saw the tear fall into her closed eye. At that moment she opened her eyes and looked at me. I looked back and we continued to gaze at each other for what seemed like a very long time.
“It’s going to be all right,” I whispered to her. “I’m going to be your momma. It’ll be all right.”
And most of the time it was all right. We had our ups and downs but they weren’t significant. Only the good times were important and there were so many of them.
As for enough love within me for two daughters – they call me “Smother” because I guess I have too much love.
Jess and her "Pa" traded glasses.
Peace be with you.