Mom, your love is good
I thought it was going to be like it was in the movies. I’d tell John I was pregnant and he’d waltz me across the room with joy. How we would celebrate! This was the child I knew he wanted. Well, that didn’t happen.
When I told him the news, his reaction baffled me. He asked me if I was sure I was pregnant. Then, for a couple of days, he didn’t say much until he blurted out that he didn’t feel ready to be a father yet. The responsibility awed him. We had been married only two months and were students with no financial prospects other than ill-paid summer jobs. It seemed bad timing for a baby.
His feelings shocked me. Weren’t we supposed to bask in glowing expectancy? Fortunately, we had nine months to adjust to a reality that did not match the dream. Our baby was God’s gift, however untimely it appeared.
The great day finally came. I delivered a baby girl. She started to cry and, in mid-air, emptied her bowels on me and the nurse who was holding her. The splattered nurse frowned discontentedly, but I didn’t care. Here Rosemarie was, beautiful and healthy. I was so elated, I wept for joy. From the table where the nurse put her, she strained her little floppy neck to stare at me. One look in her bright eyes and we were connected. John, glowing with love, gave her a bath. “The worst is over,” I thought with relief as I watched him gently wash her small pink body. But I was wrong.
First, nursing went awry. Rosemarie had a poor sucking reflex and she failed to find nourishment in my bosom. In her hunger, she wailed. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. From a happy mother hugging her newborn cherub, I was soon changed into a harried wreck clutching a distressed infant. During the two weeks it took to achieve a successful nursing relationship, our car broke down, I split a molar on a stale muffin and John struggled through final exams. Life went out of control.
When Rosemarie finally obtained sustenance at my breast, she derived no comfort from it. She kept wailing at the top of her lungs, louder than her size warranted. Colic was the diagnosis and there was no cure, even in all the fabled old-wives’ medicines to which we resorted.
The constant care required by my bawling infant drained me. I had no life of my own for, day and night, I was totally absorbed in satisfying her needs. Even my diet was restricted, because many foods seemed to upset her delicate digestion. My most basic desires–for a good night’s sleep, for a relaxing bath, for a cup of coffee–were put on hold indefinitely.
Whatever ailed her extended well beyond the three months colic is rumoured to last. I sank into the pit of post-partum depression. Getting dressed became a feat I could hardly perform. I blubbered at all hours of the day. Where was the competent mom, gratified with her darling’s coos and smiles? This wasn’t like the movies either.
One night, alone in the dark, I rocked an unappeasable Rosie. One minute, I was filled with compassion for my struggling baby. Yet, the next moment, I felt burdened with her demanding cries. Powerless and frustrated beyond words, I put my screaming child in her crib and mercilessly punched my pillow.
Then John came to my aid. By and by, Rosie fell asleep in his arms, her small face buried in her daddy’s hairy chest. Peace returned and I prayed before drifting to sleep. God gently soothed my sense of failure with His love. Frenzied baby and frazzled mother would pull through with His help.
And pull through we did. I survived the unexpected strain of Rosie’s first year by reaching out to God again and again when motherly love was in short supply. And yes, there were moments of pure joy to offset the hardships. She built her first tower of blocks and then razed it in a great fit of giggles. And I laughed at the face she made when she first tasted applesauce. Before I knew it, she was two years old and a bright, charming, inquisitive toddler.
One morning recently, I found myself watching Rosie eat her scrambled eggs. Suddenly, she looked at me with a great big smile, and said, “Mom, your love is good.” That good love, I knew, I owed to God. In fact, through the turmoil of Rosie’s first few months, God taught me something about love. It’s nothing like the movies for sure. It’s tougher and more wonderful. And it grows.