I remember saying those exact words during my 23.5 hour labor...uncanny.

Was Lorna’s 23.5 hours of labor mentioned in her birthing story? She labored long and hard, was cut open, had Alex pulled out of her womb, sewn back up, and recovered from major surgery. Was it all worth it?

I knew I was in baby-love when I saw Alex without the benefit of post-op tremors. Newborns are not “beautiful” or “cute.” They are strange-looking at best and scary at worst. Alex’s face was large, oddly round, and terribly blotchy. Most startling, however, was that he looked Asian. Both Chuck and I are the Northern European type. Alex ‘s hair was black and his eyes were almond-shaped. Hmmm.  But we double-checked the identity bracelets and he quieted down when he heard Chuck’s voice (same reaction I always had), so I figured we were related.

See what I mean? The nursery made special accommodations for Alex so he was comfortable, but we all had our doubts....

He was beautiful to me and I wanted 6 more just like him. This was proof of either baby-love, a hormonal-tsunami, or pain control medication. I chose baby-love.

I enjoyed the warm glow of Demerol for as long as I could. Then the nurses told me I had to get down to the business of mothering. While I was recovering, Chuck took charge and learned all about infant care. Nurses’ instructions, which wafted into my foggy brain then evaporated, stayed with Chuck. He was a great father and changer of soiled diapers. I, conversely, was the boobed-one–I was supposed to offer life-sustaining nourishment to Alex. If my mammary glands had been clued into their new role to started behaving like mammies, things would’ve gone smoother. Incantations involving “Let the milk flow!” and “Produce, dag-blammit!” weren’t effective. Where were “Wet Nurses” when you needed them?

Boo-Rah, for Baby! For Mommy: take a belt-sander to each nipple and rub until entire area is unrecognizable. Then have Baby reject milk by projectile-vomiting over Mommy's clean-but-worn-out man-shirt (the only thing that fits).

Once I was off the barbiturates and Alex was regularly getting something more than sucking noises from my breasts, the hospital kicked us out. The nerve! I wasn’t ready to leave. Did they understand they were sending this innocent infant home with a woman who knew more about dog tricks than changing a diaper? Where  are Child Protective Service workers when you need them?

Because Alex came into this world looking like a 3-month old, I was pretty sure he wasn’t so fragile that I would break him. Still, I knew I had to be careful. There were soft parts even on his skull—an evolutionary blunder of thunderous proportions. With the best of intentions, we muddled through each day. I was focused on some aspect of his survival every waking moment of the day and night, losing myself in bumbled mothering; however exploring Alex’s new world helped me see my old world differently. That part was fun. I laughed and felt little tingles of wonder when he discovered something amazing, like his toes or my nose. The world was new and new was nice.

If only Alex practiced more when he was limber like that. Imagine the Reality Shows we all could be watching him win...

When he cried, I had my check-list of tear-stoppers. When all else failed, I called Doc Baby (his pediatrician). When Doc-Baby began screening my calls, I called my older sister and sister-in-law, both who had children. Sometimes I would just cry along with Alex, modeling empathy and because I needed a good cry. It soothed him to sob in sync. Chuck often came home to two puffy-eyed, blotchy-faced kin. His greeting from me: “Here, take your son. I need a break.” He was happy to oblige. Being a great father was everything to him. Being a wife and mother was only part of my equation. Chuck filled his evenings with “Alex-time.” Then we fell asleep, exhausted, until Alex woke in the wee hours to be fed and changed.

What? I only have one child? I swear I'm out-numbered. They're everywhere, I tell you...everywhere!

Loneliness swelled inside me during that summer. I needed intellectual stimulation beyond what a butterfly mobile and adult conversations with a drooling baby could provide.

Alex thrived despite my sub-par maternal skills. His diapers may have been crooked, but his curiosity and language skills were impressive. His giggle was priceless, too. I’d have him shaking hands and “sitting pretty” in no time. No. Wait. That was dog training… Doc Baby was pleased with his 3-month-old off-the-charts growth and social development.

Still, I was the mother who wanted to:

  • measure his age in years, not months;
  • communicate via words not sounds;
  • travel with tote bags not camping gear;
  • carry snacks not 2 full dinners with place-settings;
  • entertain him with books not the stock-room of Toy-“R”-Us.

I was ready to go back for Year 2 of my doctoral program.

I need a little "stimulation" of the, um, contextualization, no... brainification, yes! That kind! Gee, I really need to be around some grown-ups. Don't you think?

Was Lorna really ready to leave Alex to someone else’s care? How did Chuck feel about 3-month-old Alex going to daycare?