Twenty-Four and Two Babies

Barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen? Maybe something like that. But I’m thrilled about a second baby, never mind that it’s so soon. I wanted more than one, remember? And the first one is adorable–a handful, a little firecracker, and so smart. I try to toilet-train him before the new baby comes. He walked at nine months and talked at a year. Surely, he can be potty trained, so I won’t have two in diapers.

We move to a small rental house so we’ll have more room, but we don’t stay there very long. We find a house that costs about what an inexpensive car costs these days, and we move again. This house has more space and a huge backyard with a playhouse. Convenient to the hospital. Perfect for a growing family.

I am three months away from my twenty-fifth birthday when the second baby comes. Older baby is twenty months old. The potty training works–until #2 comes. So we have diapers for two, after all. These were cloth diapers, my friends.

The grandmothers have learned their lesson. This time, they hire a nurse to live in for a couple of weeks. This is the cultural norm in the Mississippi Delta. I’m a hill-country girl. I never heard of such. I dont like having somebody else underfoot in my house. My husband, who is now in his last year of medical school, hardly breaks his stride. When I start running a high fever, I drive myself to the doctor. The new baby is a week old. (New moms didn’t drive for three weeks back then.) It turns out that I am seriously ill, and once again, the grandmothers step in. My mother takes the older boy home with her, and my mother-in-law, God bless her, comes to stay with us until I’m better.

Once I’m well, I’m on my own with two babies much of the time, but I don’t mind. This is what I was meant for, remember? I am astonished by these two little boys we have made. I am tired and sleepless, but full of wonder.

Everything seems just about perfect. A house, an ambitious, smart husband, two beautiful children. But things aren’t always what they seem. I won’t tell you that story yet. That’s for the twenty-fifth post, the last of these memoirs, and a good launching point into what would become my future.

First–a look at the little boys:

 

Proud grandparents. Happy mother. Happy, healthy little boys.

It’s a good thing, isn’t it, that we can’t always see what’s coming. 

Twenty-Three: A Healthy Baby–Any Kind Would Do

The day after the baby shower (see Twenty-Two: Death and Life), I went to the hospital, but the labor stopped, I went to sleep, and my poor mother waited all night to see what would happen. My husband was on call at his hospital. He was in his third year of medical school–the first clinical year where the students were actually on call like real medical staff. The following morning, the doctor decided to induce labor. I was terrified and elated.

Oh, how I had wanted this child. I had prayed for a boy. Feeling guilty about that request, I’d prayed for “just a healthy baby, any kind would do.”

Once he was born, I didn’t know what to do with him. I had never been around little babies. I’d never babysat. I was clueless, except for having read Dr. Spock, but reading a book isn’t quite like holding the real thing in your arms. The grandmothers came and stayed for a week each. My mother’s first night with us–our first night home from the hospital–she lay awake while the baby slept from eleven until about five in the morning. Yes, he slept that long, but she didn’t, afraid to close her eyes for fear that he’d stop breathing!

After the grandmas left, Baby and I were alone much of the time. It was fall, so that meant going out with the stroller on beautiful days, and that’s the way I lulled him to sleep sometimes. During the crying times, because all days and nights were not like that first one when the poor exhausted baby fooled us into thinking he would be a good sleeper, I would walk and walk and cry along with him.

I would be a stay-at-home mom. It’s what I was meant to be: wife and mother. Meanwhile, my husband’s every-other-night-on-call routine continued. He was good with the baby when he was around. He just wasn’t around very much.

He was a beautiful baby, my oldest son. Here is proof:

 

Can you pinpoint a time when your identity changed, not necessarily of your own doing?

This is # 23 in the October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge hosted by Jane Ann McLachlan.