once more, with feeling
A been-there, done-that mom gets another chance to experience the little miracles of babyhood.
My eggs,” I informed Dr. Brown with some authority, “are overripe. Pregnancy is simply impossible.” He looked at me strangely, perhaps not recognizing “overripe” as a medical term. He mumbled something about women over 40 having babies all the time and escaped to his next patient.
“Have you had a tubal ligation, dear?” the nurse asked gently. “Why, no,” I replied. “Then you’ve been abstaining from sexual activity?” Obviously a woman who doesn’t know my husband. “No,” I admitted.
“So ... why can’t you be pregnant?” Why? Why?! “Doesn’t anyone understand?” I cried. “I can’t have a baby now! I’ve got three teenagers at home!”
Teenagers. People who think $100 sneakers are high fashion and that Diet Coke is a food group. People who hide their dirty laundry and set their VCRs to catch South Park.
Over the past 16 years, I’ve forgotten about diaper rash and prickly heat. But I’ve learned many more important things: that ’N Sync sounds nothing like the Backstreet Boys. That my sons will not answer to “Sweetie” in public. These things I can remember.
But can I remember the words to Itsy-Bitsy Spider? Can I still deliver Green Eggs and Ham with the proper amount of gusto? Can I identify Elmo in a lineup?
My husband took the news bravely. He disappeared into his La-Z-Boy and did not move or speak for three days.
We took a childbirth refresher course, where we were surrounded by blissfully ignorant women who planned to wear mascara to the delivery room. I left one class in tears. “I was the only woman in the room who was alive when Kennedy was shot!” I sobbed. Then Jenna patted my hair and Nicky eased me into a chair. “You’re not alone, Mom,” Joey said. “We remember when Kennedy was shot.” I saw Nicky roll his eyes. “He wasn’t shot, stupid,” he whispered. “It was a plane crash. Am I the only one in this house with a brain?”
At lactation class, the nurse kept correcting me. “Why do you keep doing that?” she asked when I used the 1984 “cigarette hold” instead of the 1999 “football hold.”
“Maybe because I nursed three children like this,” I said without a trace of sarcasm. Maybe, just maybe, I might possibly know what I’m doing. And maybe, just maybe, I can do it all over again without going crazy. Without panicking over a 101ÞF fever or the kid next door with chicken pox.
Maybe this time, I can make more mud pies and do less laundry. Dance and giggle more. Listen harder, lecture less. Maybe this time, I can enjoy it more and worry less.
Unlike our older kids—born early in our marriage—this one would sleep in a brand new crib. He would have a treehouse in the backyard and clowns at his birthday parties. A college fund, a new car at graduation, ski lessons …
When I went into labor, my kids played loud hip-hop music in the delivery room to keep me entertained. Within a few hours, my newest son be-bopped his way into the world. Giving birth was just like I remembered: We were both a little gooey, a little tired, but pretty content.
“Hi there, Handsome,” I whispered. He blinked, then stretched. A gurgle, nice and loud, escaped his tiny mouth.
I leaned my head closer to his, just to make sure ...
I think he said, “Wazzup!”