Category Archives: Baby

Ruminations on posterity

3 generations

Sabrina, Victoria and me

I stepped away from center stage some time ago, ceding the spotlight to my children and, with it, the drama attendant in staring in one’s own story. Every once in a while, one of their dramas sloshes over into my life or I am invited or even summoned to pull on maternal hip waders and plunge into the guck welling up from the drains . . . This provided that I remember that my role is a supporting one and that any advice I might proffer will probably be ignored. Just as I, during my turn in the spotlight, ignored much of my mother’s advice. To my considerable detriment.

As regards the Afterlife, I put no stock in the Resurrection. There are just too many logistical problems. Which body gets resurrected: the sixteen year old body or the eighty-six year old body? Is there a choice? Because, if there isn’t, I’m inclined to give the whole operation a pass. And the only Heaven of which I can conceive is reintegration into the cosmos as energy, an obliteration of personhood that is surely the opposite of why people conjured up a Heaven in the first place – so that they could imagine a way in which they might continue to exist as individuals. That becomes less and less important to me as time goes on and I realize that, though unique, I am no big whop, and, in truth, the only creatures with whom  I, at present, might long to be reunited are my mother and various, deceased pets, all of whom, in fact, do live on in a way I will explain.

BenchSharonGreek-crop CU (2)

The Golden Retriever

After our beloved golden retriever Buddy died, plunging us into the most terrible grief, I encountered a woman who had owned a string of goldens. She advised me to get another pronto. “They are so alike genetically that, in no time at all, it will seem as though you never lost him,” she told me. She was right. Five years ago we bought our Nellie and now I remember Buddy with great tenderness, love and gratitude, but never grief, never pain. Nellie has effectively taken his place. She has become,  unequivocally,  The Golden Retriever.

Me, Mom, Brina_NEW

Mom, Me and Sabrina, 1990

As for my mother, she lives on in me, in my daughter Sabrina and now in my granddaughter Victoria, whose birth  has caused me to reflect on these things . . . that and the fact that  I have taken on my mother’s last great role – that of grandmother — and, as such, one whose death would not be entirely unexpected.    I may not  long for eternal life in any personal sense, embodied or no, but, when I first looked into Victoria’s navy blue eyes, I realized that it was my mother’s eyes looking back, that Mom was in there all right, tangled up in the DNA that expresses itself in her first great grandchild. Just as I am.  Just as my daughter Sabrina is.

And that’s fine with me.

In the baby trenches

Lauren, Brina, Vicky

Lauren, Sabrina and Baby Victoria

I have just come back from a couple of weeks spent in St. Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, helping my daughter and daughter-in-law transition into motherhood. One forgets what a travail those first few weeks/months of parenthood can be: REM-deprived parents, bleary-eyed and more than slightly unhinged, stumbling like sleepwalkers into traffic, hit first by one transport truck, then another as they stagger across the multiple lanes that stretch between feedings; secretions, everything that can leak leaking . . . and a few you had no idea were capable of it; the mounting, terrible realization that your house, in and out of which you are accustomed to blithely pass, is closing in around you, entombing you. That sound like a vacuum suck? The tomb sealing shut.

Albert Vicky

Albert contemplates Victoria. Future ally or nemesis?

Couple that with night and day turned inside out; the considerable pathos exhibited by the family dog, demoted from First Place, stricken, uncertain now as to his rank within the pack; the sluggish, incessant churn of the breast pump, punctuated by the string of commercials held together with gobbets of news that is CNN in the days leading up to the Iowa Caucus: ads for Trivago and Friskies and obscure medications trailing lengthy laundry lists of possible side effects, “up to and including death.” “You will be able to dance/leave the house without fear of soiling yourself/make love,” they promise, “Although there is the odd chance that you may also have a seizure/stroke/ or die.”

And at the center of this howling vortex, the bright new light of a glowing baby, in this case, my granddaughter, Victoria.

For prospective mothers childbirth looms large. It’s the great unknown, the question mark. Will it be painful? How long will it last?   What if I have to have a C-section? Will the baby be OK?

What they don’t tell you . . . what we don’t tell you . . . is this: , if labor is like charging up a hill in full battle armor under a barrage of enemy fire, the first two months following the birth of your child are like finding yourself trapped within the trenches, thigh deep in foul-smelling mud, exhausted, shell shocked and despairing of any light whatsoever at the end of the tunnel. We don’t tell you this, because you have enough to worry about. We don’t tell you this because, unless reminded, as I was this past several months, we have forgotten what it was like. Indeed, the only memories I have from the period after Sabrina’s birth was waking up in the middle of the day to a plumber taking out the wall in our bathroom with a sledgehammer – apparently, pursuant to a neighbor’s complaint of a leak, he had rung our bell shortly after I put the baby and myself down for a desperately needed nap, and, upon not receiving a reply,  entered the apartment and set about ripping out the wall. I erupted from the bedroom guns like a napalmed-she-cat. Hell hath no fury like the mother of a newborn awakened from a nap.

Lissa and newborn Sabrina_0001_NEW

Me and Sabrina, 1981

The other memory I have is of sitting on the couch for the 2 am feeding, leaden with fatigue, watching a PSA on heavy rotation that time of the night: at the end a long hall a closed door looms. From beyond the door comes the sound of a baby’s urgent wah-wahing. “Before you hurt your baby,” a soothing female voice counseled, “Call the number on the screen.”

Then you turn around . . . and you are a grandmother and it’s your child sitting on the couch at 2 am, your child, leaden with fatigue, holding your granddaughter, but watching American Horror Story instead. And you assure her, “Don’t worry. It will pass,” understanding that she doesn’t know whether to believe you or not, knowing that she fears her life just might be over, when in truth it has only just begun.