Emily's Story
Excerpts from a new mom's journal

BIRTH ... Before I knew it, she slipped out of my womb, all wet and slippery, and was delivered to my warm belly by the midwife. Kay had an elf-like look with her wide grimace and petite features. A ruddy red complexion. “We love you baby!” I spontaneously cried out over and over again. I did not care nor was that curious about the baby’s sex. It was my midwife who encouraged me to look between her legs rather than tell me her sex. She was sucking on my nipple within 10 minutes of birth and remained on my belly, skin-to-skin, for her first hour of life.

My husband seems to be bonding rapidly with Kay - for some reason this surprises me. He’d nuzzle his face up to hers, touch her all over and smell her sweet newborn sent from the top of her head. I seem to be taking longer to bond — distracted, perhaps by the pain in my perineum from the unnecessary episiotomy and 15 stitches.

DAY 1 ... I feel too emotionally overloaded to call anyone about my new daughter, especially after my husband just spoke to most of his kin. It takes too much energy to socialize, break the news and recount my labor and delivery story to my extended family.

DAY 2 ... Home from the hospital. I couldn’t sleep during the night with Kay in between us in bed. All I hear is my husband's snoring and baby’s stirrings. Sleep deprivation has already set in despite a postpartum high.

In the wee hours of the night, I went into the guest bedroom to sleep a few hours leaving them peacefully sleeping beside on one another. My husband later told me that when he awoke and noticed I was gone, he thought he’d had a nightmare — that I had been abducted and he was now a single father.

Kay briefly opened her eyes for the first time. Slate blue. We have been on a blissful newborn high all day today, reveling in her angelic blank-slate perfection. Appreciating her velvety soft skin and sweet baby smell. Laughing when she kicks her legs when being diapered. Lips smacking, grimacing, smiling; eyebrows raising, and an occasional high pitched squawk ... My belly button is now an “innie”!

DAY 4 ... It’s a wintry 15F outside yet warm sun pours in through our bedroom window onto our bed. Kay lies naked and completely relaxed in the sun, wearing only red sox over her hands to prevent face scratching with her long nails. Those nails are difficult and nerve wracking to trim. We took an entire role of film of her just basking in the sun (later we learned the camera had no film!)

My husband wants to connect more with his family and mine, now that we have a child. Talking with his brother on the phone today was sobering. (H recently married a woman who already raised her kids and has no desire for more). He sounded sad, like he’d just realized he’d never know what it was like to be a father.

DAY 7 ... Finally a relatively good night’s sleep, up breast feeding only 3 times last night. I wore ear plugs and eye shades in between feedings so I wouldn’t hear every gurgle. My perineum feels better although it still hurts down there when I cough, sneeze, or blow my nose. How does the rest of my body now feel after childbirth? More feminine with large swollen breasts, a belly pooch and now more hip-py.

We saved Kay’s first finger nail clippings. I placed them in an Indonesian locket my husband gave me for my birthday. I am wondering if the dreaded postpartum blues will set in. I must stay rested, connected to my family and friends, and eat well.

DAY 8 ... I am tired. I need rest, a massage, a hot bath, someone to wait on me so I can just nurse and love Kay.

2 MONTHS ... I am totally overwhelmed and stressed out with my husband being out of town for 9 days. It’s just me and Kay, 24 hours a day. How do single mothers do it? I am educated, healthy, and capable, and family just a phone call away. I now have compassion for those irritable mothers I’ve seen in Safeway, snapping at their kids, seemingly at their wits’ end. It does take a village to raise a child and keep one’s sanity.

3 MONTHS ... At the 3 month mark, where I hear of many women going back to work, I’m grateful I can afford not to work and be with my baby. I don’t miss my career right now with all its obligations. It would feel like a major, unpleasant distraction to go back to my work right now. All those milestones of Kay’s I don’t want to miss. Would I feel different about my career if I were 27 years old rather than a new mom at age 38? All I know is that I love the 24 hour immersion of caring for my daughter, by choice.

I would now have a 12 year old child had I not had the abortion while in graduate school. I know I would not have been so available as a parent back then as I am now. If I had married back then, it would have been shotgun style. I doubt I could have been as happy for I was not in love with the man who was father.

I need to be mothered so I can feel nourished enough to mother Kay. We traveled to my parents to introduce Kay to the whole clan. Mom has transformed. She’s gone from being a self-centered, career-oriented professional to a loving, compassionate and generous mother and grandmother. I am blown away by this transformation. It’s as if she’s finally given herself permission to mother me as an adult. Three generations of females — mom, me and Kay — all nourishing one another in our own way. I’m glad I’ve got a daughter.

spring 1997

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Having worked for 7 years in family medicine and women's health care, Emily has shifted her career at age 38 years old to full-time Mom.