By Sylvia G. Hubilla
Round Rock, Texas
The nurse lay down this swaddled bundle next to me in my hospital bed. I see the pretty round face framed with tiny black curls peeking out of the knit cap; I see the pouty lips and sleeping eyes I have yet to discover – and it’s love at first sight.
I have totally forgotten the excruciating pain that came in waves and lulls that just made me wait nervously for the next wave of pain to come. All I said was, “Hello, you are here at last.”
I am now officially, a Mother. Voila, I just signed up for a job for life, with no OJT (On the Job Training). Unbeknownst to me, the job has no days off, no vacation, and no retirement. It goes on well into the next generation, with your grandchildren. Of course this never occurs to me at this time.
The baby doesn’t come with a manual. I discovered this soon enough when I came home from the hospital with my first beautiful bundle of joy. I just jumped in and tackled each job that needed to be done, might I say, blindly and full of hope, with fingers crossed.
“I can do this!” I said with conviction. I observed, documented, and filed mostly mentally, every new encounter, to be pulled out as needed in the future.
I now know, that my colicky baby starts getting fussy about 5 PM. She can only take 1 ounce of formula and not more, every feeding time, which because of this, has to be every hour. Otherwise she will throw up, and I and the baby definitely do not want that. I cannot put her down immediately after feeding; she has to be held for about 30 minutes before I could put her down to sleep. In which case, the next feeding time is just 30 minutes away. Which begs the question, where does sleep (mine) come in? I have no idea. Which prompted the yaya to declare, “Let’s all just sit around and wait on this baby all night through.”
I had my “go to” resource persons of course, when things became dicey. There is the pediatrician, who, of course, I cannot just call for every little detail. But I had my aunt, who armed me with aceite de manzanilla and alcamporado.
Apply manzanilla on the tummy for gas and colic. Alcamporado is to be applied on the fontanelle, and soles of the feet at 6:00 PM to keep the baby from getting colds. And of course, the piece de resistance, the remedy for hiccups, is a short piece of thread you pull out from the birdseye cloth diaper, (there were no disposable diapers then) wet a little with water, roll between the fingers, and put on the baby’s forehead. And from the pediatrician – a teaspoon of dark Karo syrup in the formula will take care of constipation.
There’s a lot more of these this newbie mom had to take in. So far so good.
Baby and I are surviving this whole adventure fabulously. At this point, I am beginning to feel very proud of myself. So much so that halfway into hitting my baby’s terrible two’s stage, I find, I am about to become a Mother again for the second time.
This should be a walk in the park. After all, I already had everything I needed to know filed and tucked away under my belt. Until I find out, that no two babies are exactly the same. Each one is uniquely different from the other.
At 28, and 3 beautiful baby girls later, I had my work cut out for me. Of course, my mental file grew with my family. By this time, I was afraid I would become a Jill of all trades and a master of none, by sheer necessity. But as the babies grew from infants to toddlers, to teens and puberty, and into young adults, I too, by force of necessity, grew and evolved into a master of multitasking. Manager, nurse (expert at kissing the ouch away), nutritionist, teacher/tutor (not for long), financial analyst (juggler is a more apt word, I believe), cook, psychologist, counselor, events planner, referee, the BFF (now this, didn’t last too long.) fashion designer (neither did this.), shock absorber, organizer, – you name it, the MOM is it!
If I am asked now, which, of all the roles I had to fill as a mom, is my favorite, I would have to say, that of a NURTURER. Because this one is a constant. It never ends. It is the reason we became all of the above. It defines the word MOTHER.
When I look at my daughters now, all Mothers themselves – I am so proud of them, so proud of the kind of mothers they have turned out to be. And although I have tried to pull out my mental file of “how to’s and helpful tips” and pass them on to my daughters, I’m afraid I have to admit, they want nothing to do whatsoever with the manzanilla and alcamporado. But they did try the little piece of thread on the forehead for the hiccups, to the great consternation of the Dads.
In the end, I have found, babies do not have to come with a manual. Because a mother navigates from the heart.
HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY!
Haiku – The strength of a woman
Fragile leaves push through,
where wood, concrete, steel converge.
Brave and strong, I am.