(I wrote this yesterday at exactly the same time Richard was making his first entry on this blog. Soon we will be finishing each other’s sentences..)
“Is she okay?” I asked the mid-wife about a half an hour after Emma was born.
“She’s fine, probably isn’t hungry yet,” the mid-wife responded.
Something about the way Emma seemed to brace herself against my touch, her seeming discomfort with the air in the room, as though it scraped against her skin and somewhere deep down, I felt the beginning of a worry, a tiny twist in my gut.
Emma is our second child. Nic, her older brother by 21 months, had immediately begun nursing after I gave birth to him. There was a bond from the instant he left my body, a connection that no cutting of the umbilical cord could sever.
When Emma finally appeared after 19 plus hours of labor she squinted at the lights in the birthing room, seemed to push away from contact with my body, she had no interest in breast feeding, she cried and nothing I did soothed her, it was as though an invisible scrim had unfurled, keeping us apart. I shrugged the feeling off and reveled in her.
Eventually Emma became hungry enough that she breast fed, but never with any enthusiasm. Emma did not seem to take solace in breast-feeding or receive any comfort from it. It was fuel and that was it. With Nic I use to joke that breast-feeding was kiddy Valium.
When Nic was an infant we bundled him up in a sling and took him with us to a dance performance at the Joyce Theatre. The couple to my left audibly groaned when we took our seats next to them. About twenty minutes into the performance, Nic stirred. I began breast-feeding him. Immediately he fell asleep. As we were leaving the couple to my left said, “What’s your secret? We never heard him make a sound!” “Breasts,” Richard replied and the other man nodded his head smiling.
With Emma I remember thinking that she was astonishingly independent, even as an infant, that she was following in the footsteps of countless generations of my ancestors; strong women who had blazed trails of their own making, ignoring society’s attempts to dissuade them. Emma was the embodiment of generations of those women, I decided.