Way back when and I became a mother for the first time, there was never any doubt about the connection I had with my unborn child. From the minute the pregnancy test revealed (and revealed about three subsequent times just to be certain) that I was "expecting", my heart started racing.
I am the little girl who always wanted to be a mom, had to be the mom while playing house and basically ptacticed "mothering" my younger brother until he could take it no more. I dressed up my cat, I stuck my dolls up my shirt and pretended to be pregnant. I "nursed" them.
And so, when struck with this reality during my last leg of college, I was, inside, smiling in my fear of the unknown because I knew that I really wanted to be a mom.
Just about on time (2 weeks early to be exact), our first son was born via c-section. From below the sterile, blue drape and in my foggy, anesthesia-induced euphoria, I heard him cry for the first time. It was like a wind of something from another world entering my body. That's my baby, I thought. The doctor said "it's a boy", I cried and cried and made them count all his fingers and tiny red toes. I waited as they did whatever it is they do beyond the drape before you can actually see your baby. Finally, my husband brought him to me so I could see him, smell him and take him all in, one delicious inch at a time. And just as quickly as that, he was whisked away to the nursery and I was left . . . alone (besides the medical staff finishing the surgery).
I remember laying there, feeling the wetness drip from the corner of my eye, slowly down my cheek to rest in my ear. I couldn't wipe the tears away because my arms were strappped to the table "wings". They wouldn't have done me much good either because I couldn't feel them. All this time, feeling him kick, roll and hiccup inside of me and now he's here. And he's a he! Because all this time, I had no idea what gender the baby was. My drawers were filled with green and yellow. I lay and I wait. I wait for them to finish.
Although I can't feel my body, I know that it is now empty. Empty of the life that it fed for 38 weeks. My mind is racing and I wonder what is taking so long.
They finally finish and wheel me into a recovery room. I vaguely recall my husband coming back to tell me that everything is just fine with our baby and just as quickly, he is off again. I remember that the nurse caring for me is named Carol, which is my Grandmother's name and my legal name also. I remember throwing up.
Of all the memories I have of the birth of our first child, I vividly remember this conversation with the clarity that it may have happened yesterday. The conversation with the nurse named Carol, the nurse caring for my post-delivery, very alone self.
"How are you feeling"
"A little groggy, I guess . . . nauseaous"
"I'll get you something for that. There is someone out there who won't go away (sighing as if she is really put out by this). She keeps peeking her head in every time the door opens"
I cut her off "Who is it?"
"It is your Mom"
I loose it. I am really quite a coward and rarely have the guts to say something to someone who offends me in person (even telemarketers get a kind word from me), but I looked right at this wench, excuse me, nurse and said "LET HER IN".
She does as I command and in comes my mom. Mom, the fixer of all, kisser of bruises big and small, hand-holder and confidant, my Mom. I feel like a little 5 year-old girl whenever I see her and I am the least little bit vulnerable. She shows up and is the chicken soup, 7-up and jello remedy for all that is wrong in the world. That's how I feel about her.
"Just wanted to see how MY baby is doing"
I cry some more, I know I throw up some more and she is there with me to ease the emptiness I feel in my belly. She tells me that she got a quick peek at McRae, but as everyone was shuffling down to the nursery to watch the formalities of bathing, foot printing, heel poking, etc. She wanted to wait until I was okay. Her face tells me that she's been crying too and I feel the shift in our mother/daughter relationship as clearly as if it were written in big, black letters on a white sheet of paper: Mom, daughter, Grandma, Mom.
From that moment on, that shared and knowing change in our world, I was the Mom. She became "Grammie" because that is what she chose (not too old sounding, not too cutsie and not Nana because that is a dog in the Peter Pan movie). Our connection to each other will continue to grow through the children that have passed between us from Mother to Daughter to Son to Son to Daughter, these are our lifelines, the souls who teach us more about ourselves every day. Oh boy, I had better get her to write down that egg drop soup recipe for me!