It didn’t hit me when, after seventeen hours of mostly calm and gentle labor, my baby, the child I was thinking of as Charlotte (or maybe Josephine), burst out with a splash, my waters breaking with the head’s emergence. I heard my doula exclaim, “Look at him!”
It didn’t hit me when Ben came to visit us in the hospital the next morning. I couldn’t take my eyes off my first born, so suddenly grown-up next to his baby brother, so proud in the button-down shirt Tony had chosen for the occasion. Ben didn’t even glance my way; he went straight for the plastic terrarium and hovered his hand over Elijah’s soft head, unsure about touching this unfamiliar creature.
It didn’t even hit me the day I was changing Eli’s diaper on the bathroom floor while Ben was sitting on the toilet, and Eli took advantage of the diaperless moment to shoot a pale fountain in the air, and Ben started laughing so hard he missed the bowl and oh, it all hit me. But it didn’t hit me.
It didn’t hit me until Tony and I went to see The Squid and The Whale (Noah Baumbach, 2005), several weeks after Eli’s birth. Watching the film’s mom talking to her boys, calling one Pickle and the other one Chicken, I leaned over to Tony and whispered, “Hey! I’m the mother of sons.” And Tony gave me a look that said, “Well, duh!” and ate another piece of popcorn.
Read more about The Squid and The Whale in my column at Literary Mama.