What she learned over the years is that there’s no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one. Jill Churchill
For me being a good mother was not a part of my vocabulary when I had my first child. I was totally unprepared for child rearing which was quite evident at the hospital a few hours after my son’s birth. I was anxious to leave…six hours for a hospital stay was long enough for me. But, they seemed to have rules about at least knowing how to diaper an infant before being allowed to leave. So, a nurse hands me a plastic diaper with sticky Velcro-like strips and this very patient nurse who attempts to walk me through the routine. Now, I wasn’t a wild-eyed teenage mother. I was 36. But, I always enjoyed a more adventuresome life than babysitting, so was somewhat at a loss. My expertise ended at “I know it goes on the bottom”. However, I did give it a good try. Unfortunately, my hands perspire when I’m nervous and droplets of sweat on sticky tape make it lose it’s effectiveness so no sooner I attach the damn tapes and picked up my son, the diaper slips off and lands on the floor. Oops, one down. Try again. And, again. Finally, after the fourth time the diaper gave up and managed to stay on long enough to get out of the hospital doors before losing it’s grip. I threw it away, swaddled Kai in a blanket, went to the store and bought three dozen cloth diapers and few giant safety pins and never looked back. I found I enjoyed the feeling of cloth as opposed to plastic anyway and I found it hard to justify adding so much plastic to the landfill.
It’s amazing how quickly you learn mothering. And, while I was far from perfect, I did become a good mother. When I was due with my second child (praying for another son as I was having so much fun with the first) I decided at 38 to have a home birth. This was, of course, against the wishes of my doctor who practically told me in uncertain terms that if I hired a mid-wife, he wanted no part of me. So, I hired a mid-wife. She had no qualms about my age, eagerly answered any questions I had. I purchased a wonderful book called Special Delivery and set about to follow some of its suggestions to make the home birth memorable. I called a few close friend to be there along with my husband and almost three-year old son. I had plastic sheeting for the bed, fresh linens wrapped and stored in the oven–with the pilot light on, they stayed nice and warm. I had clean clothes for the baby and since I craved orange juice during the pregnancy, I had that on hand as well. At 4:30 in the morning, I had my first contraction. I now had some experience to recognized the feeling, so I called my midwife. She arrived about 20 minutes later. I called my friends and they came over to get me through what they thought would be an ordeal. However, I am built for babies! I spent the next hour walking around (gravity is a great friend), drinking OJ, joking with my friends, singing. I didn’t experience any pain, but could feel the pressure getting stronger and stronger. Another 15 min. goes by and I announce, “I think the baby is coming”. Sure enough, after a total labor of 1 hr. 40 min. my second son was born. He, of course, is beautiful! The daughter of one of my friends has been diligently baking a cake for the “birth day”, so a half hour after the birth of Jaron, I take a shower, scramble some eggs ,make toast, and we all celebrate with breakfast and a chocolate birthday cake with a big “O” on the top.
A week or two later I stopped by my midwife’s husband’s office, who is a doctor, to pick up the birth certificate. On my way out of the office, going down the steps, a man is yelling for me to wait. He comes up and says, “I wanted to meet the woman who my wife described as having had the perfect home birth.” Wow. A perfect home birth. It was. And, though I would never strive to be the perfect mother, throughout the years, I created a million ways to be a good one.