When I (and dear husband) decided that Austin was a good idea including grad school for me at the tender age of 43, the decision would yield a bumper crop of babies. Babies who spit up on me, stinky pants. . .who grow into toddlers on the floor with pretend tea, (they just don’t stay toddling long enough!) and then preschoolers who play hide and seek and color with fists wrapped around thick crayons. . .or washable markers (I like crayons better).
And Tuesday, another baby came my way. A friend from grad school had her first boy, Nickolaus. He’s also my godchild, first and probably only. (For the record, I will be wearing wings to the baptism, covered with a nice shawl.) Births are part of women’s choice, as strongly as the choice to terminate a pregnancy. It seems to me how a mother and father want their baby to enter the world is an old world -new world; eastern traditions – western medicine; natural-path, osteopath, aleopath. . .path. And then there’s the part one cannot count out: the body.
We have no say and no clue in how our (women’s) bodies will behave with the first baby. Waiting for Nick was, for me, one hot mess. But he’s home. He’s fine. He’s latching on. His mother is recovering from her ordeal and has her delightful sense of humor back. Dad is learning as fast as he can and he’s a good student.
I have an odd gratitude for this past month waiting for (my) Nicky. I’ve not had the experience of a late baby before. I supported my friends with the choice of a Birthing Center, it’s their plan after all. When the plan had to change, I was there for the expectant dad, because in the hospital the mom was very well looked after.
There are times when we need to bite our tongues in order to allow others the gift of their own experiences. There are times when to offer suggestions but again, let the decision be the younger generation (yes, I accept that I am that old now). There are times when being still, along side another is all that is needed.
This new mom is an amazing friend. When I was desperately ill she (and my MFA program buds) brought my husband and I food when I knew they were struggling to pay the rent. When I said to her, “But you can’t afford to feed me!” she looked me straight in the eye and said: “It’s our turn to look after you. How many times did you drive me somewhere, how many times did you buy my beer or wine or food? Let us take care of you.” I was silenced by her passion and clarity. (Now some are going: wow, she silenced AMMI?). She came to Houston after I had surgery and just sat with me when I didn’t have the energy to talk. She walked the corridor with me when I had to walk. . .she showed up.
Up until I moved to Texas, I had few friends who had babies. . .you know who you are. . .but now there’s oodles of them. In Boston my life was laced with losses and care of my mother who battled cancer and other issues. Also my son was in high school . . . we were a blended family who watched British comedies and Star Wars. I am acquainted with the silent drama of deaths. Texas has brought into my life, the loud, unpredictable journey to new lives. And I get to be the fairy godmother who knows cheap thrills for wee bairns.