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by Bitsy Parker
As a little girl I never played with dolls nor dreamed about being a mother. Perhaps my distance from these maternal feelings made the birth of my first child the most shocking and outrageous experience of my life.
My husband and I married when I was 30 and he 36. He brought with him to the marriage two daughters from a previous marriage. We were content with two children and didn’t plan on having more, but we decided that if I did become pregnant, then we would be happy. When I did become pregnant (after about 10 seconds), I thought that my husband would be the main caregiver for the new baby. He was a father. He knew how to handle children. I was a selfish, only child and a busy career girl with no previous baby experience. In my mind, having a baby was like a company buying a subsidiary – in this situation, the baby wasn’t under my direct division, but I would provide necessary support as needed. Go team, go – let’s acquire a baby!
Realistically, I knew that the baby would require my attention, but I viewed the forthcoming baby like I would view a charity asking to host an event at my house – I knew there would be work to be done – plant some flowers, wallpaper the bathroom, buy fresh flowers, and I would probably have to leave work early, but ultimately, the charity staff would handle the details like nametags and follow-up letters. I would birth the baby, buy the clothes and order the diaper service, but my husband would do the heavy lifting like teaching the baby to walk and helping with any emotional needs, if there were any.
What a shock it was when my daughter, who over-stayed her nine months in my womb by two weeks, was finally knifed out of my gut. After the nineteen hours of wrestling an uncomfortable knot from my uterus, the doctors, nurses and family left my hospital room. It was twilight, and I was staring at the wall in the darkening room wondering what had happened to me. The nurse plunged into the room dragging a streak of fluorescent light with her. She dropped a baby on my lap and left the agitated infant screaming in my arms. The door slowly closed and the harsh light faded – in the dim light I went to work on the little ball of flesh. Instinctively, I undressed the baby and freed her from the hospital clothes that were unnaturally clinging to her body. I, too, took off my mistake of clothing. Skin to skin, I pressed the little baby to my chest and she stopped crying. The power of knowing how to care for this new life was equivalent to the caveman starting the first fire. The “rightness” of this action had enough energy to engulf the hospital in flames. From that moment I knew that my husband was not sitting first chair on this project – I was lead counsel on this case.