December 9, 1999
Coming Home

 


 
I know, I know.

I called you yesterday and warned you that there wouldn't be anything on the website today about your birthday ... explaining that I am absolutely "buried" at work; that David is STILL SICK (and those dorky nasal strip thingies aren't working, so neither one of us is sleeping); that I just don't have the time or energy or the *creative focus* to write anything right now (read this: I'm still blocked tighter than a plastic Barbie shoe jammed up a toddler's nostril) ...

... and I further explained that I'm trying to stay off the computer as much as possible during my precious non-working hours, using my remaining four molecules of energy on other critically important stuff -- like combing my hair once in a while ... or blinking ...

... and that lately the whole website thing has become a source of stress and guilt and anxiety and pain-in-the-buttedness, and that it's a minor miracle that I've posted anything in the last month or so, and that I'm probably just going to sort of take a break for the holidays and see if maybe some of that ol' creative juice returns after the first of the year: just in time to create the fabulous new résumé ...

... and that I didn't want your feelings to be hurt if you came here to *FootNotes* today and there wasn't some huge splashy public acknowledgement of your birthday posted here -- preferably accompanied by an embarrassing baby photo -- for all the world to enjoy. ("Are you sure you don't mind if I don't write anything?" I asked you, over and over again, and you assured me that you were fine with it. Sometimes I forget that the only person who obsesses over this website is me.)

I know that's what I said, anyway. But that was yesterday.


1981



A year ago I posted a fairly graphic account of your birth, right here on the website. Remember that?

Mostly I wrote about how nightmarish the labor part of it was ("Why hadn't they just come right out and TOLD me that it was like passing a steel-belted radial through your nostril??" ), and how undignified the delivery part of it was ("How could God take something as intrinsically wonderful and miraculous as childbirth, and allow it to turn into this degrading, dehumanizing chamber of horrors? This last blasphemy as I lay on the delivery table, nude from the waist down, in front of eleven people ... shaved ... spread-eagled ... attached to assorted tubes ... writhing in pain ... and thickly smeared in something resembling yellow Jell-O") ...

... and how very little any of that mattered, once you were safely delivered into my arms.

I'm feeling every bit as sentimental about your birthday this year as I was last year (and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before ... well ... you get the idea). Maybe even a skosh more so than usual, since a daughter's eighteenth birthday is one of those *landmark* birthdays that really makes a mother stop and reflect and reminisce and look at photo albums and listen to "Nellie the Elephant" and get all weepy and eat stale Hallowe'en candy and wax nostalgic about the good old days when she [sort of] had a waistline ...

... but I digress.

I don't want to write about your birth again. BTDT. Today I am sitting here recalling a different Early Jaymi Memory ... specifically, that icy December morning when we brought you home from the hospital, eighteen years ago.

Here are some of the things I remember about that day:



 

  • I remember that it was an achingly lovely winter morning, like stepping into a Christmas card. The world was all crayon colors: blue sky, green pine trees, white mountains, golden sunlight. And it was cold: once in a while you would heave a microscopic sigh, nestled in my arms, and a little puff of REAL baby's breath would escape from beneath four layers of yellow receiving blanket.

  • I remember how foolishly conspicuous I felt sitting there at the curb, clutching a newborn, while we waited for your grandpa to bring the car around. They might as well have painted the words *Terrified New Mother With Absolutely ZERO Idea What She's Doing* across the back of the wheelchair. And I felt dirty: I hadn't had a real shower all weekend, and I was wearing the same pee-and-amniotic-fluid-soaked maternity pants I'd been wearing when we'd arrived at the hospital, four days earlier. (In all of the confusion and celebration, it hadn't occurred to me to send my clothes home with your dad and have him launder them for me.) I felt deeply tired, even though you and I had just spent four days in bed, being waited on hand and foot. And on top of everything else, I felt anxious about how *unprepared* your father and I were. We still didn't have a crib or a car seat for you, I only had enough diapers and Enfamil to get through the first couple of days, the holidays were coming up and I had no idea how I was going to get anything done ... I'd only made it to Chapter Eight of Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, and I still wasn't clear on the Baby Oil vs. Baby Lotion Issue: what the hell was the difference? ...

    ... and the bottom line is that I was 100% certain that you and I were up Shit Creek without a paddle.

    Or without a diaper, as the case may be.

  • I remember that you smelled so good. I was absolutely in love with the way you smelled. I kept burying my nose into the peach fuzz on the top of your head and trying to figure out what that new-baby scent reminded me of. Baked potatoes? Freshly-ironed sheets? New leather gloves? I finally decided that it was simply one of those unique sensory experiences that cannot be compared to anything else -- sorta like KFC Honey BBQ Chicken -- and that I was going to enjoy the heck out of it while it lasted. (Which, in retrospect, proved to be a good idea, as it wasn't very long before I wasn't always quite so "in love" with the way you smelled.)

  • I remember that they played "Bette Davis Eyes" on the car radio.

  • I remember that your grandpa drove us home from the hospital at approximately .000354 miles an hour. It was the longest car ride in the history of car rides. I sat in the back seat, wedged between your dad and your Aunt Brenda, and held you in my arms (see: no car seat yet) as though you were the world's costliest, most delicate, most fragile flower. You slept. I looked at the range of mountains in the distance -- brilliant white against that expanse of cloudless blue sky -- and thought, "Someday I'll have to tell Jaymi how pretty the world was, the morning we brought her home from the hospital."



I also remember this: that even though I felt foolish and conspicuous and terrified and exhausted and anxious and unprepared ... even though I was worried about my ability to be a good mother, and when I looked at the future I saw nothing: just a big white blank nothing, like an empty page, with no way of knowing how this whole motherhood thing was going to turn out ...

... even though I smelled like a four-day-old bedpan ...

... I still knew, instinctively, that this was going to be one of the finer mornings of our lives, you and I. So I just held you a little tighter, sat back ... 

... and enjoyed the ride.


self-important blurb #1 will go HERE: thanks for letting me know the package arrived safely. thanks for copping to the truth and admitting that you opened it a day EARLY. and thanks for indulging me: i know that a watch wasn't exactly your first choice of birthday present. but it seemed like an appropriate gift for a daughter's 18th birthday ... and it was fun picking it out ["gold or silver? round face or square? Mickey or Minnie?"]. so do me a favor and drag it out of the bottom of your underwear drawer and wear it once in awhile when i'm around, willya?

self-important blurb #2 -- probably having something to do with the WEATHER: yep ... we're having weather alright.

special *howdy* to: dr. charles heffron ... wherever you are


a year ago

here's where i'll ask a *relevant* question:
can i have the rest of your Koala Orange Mango juice?

it's still in our fridge


amazingly profound thought of the day: ~ Dorky Song I Used To Sing To You ~
[Before You Were Old Enough to Run Like Hell]

How I love my pretty baby
My sweet and precious pretty baby
How I love my pretty baby
Honest to goodness I do! [boop boop!]

She's my baby, I'm her mother
And I love her like no other
[Someday she'll have a baby brother!]
Honest to goodness I do! [boop boop!]



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