The young girl had worked herself up into a really frenzy by the time Olivia’s mother picked her up, although it was all soon better following some milk that was administered via a wet rag and a change of clothing. As she rocked the infant back to sleep she closed her eyes and sighed deeply knowing that Olivia’s awakening, whenever it came, would bring another difficult moment.
The old woman slept fitfully in the chair for several hours, occasionally reaching over and placing her hand on the infant girl’s chest to sooth her or feel her breathing. She also went twice to check on her daughter who remained peacefully asleep, the temperature of her forehead easing and the flush of her skin fading away. Fully awake after the last check on Olivia, she sat in the chair wanting coffee but weary enough to keep putting off going to make it. The sun slowly crept up, its light streaming in the kitchen window and slowly moving down the hallway toward the bedroom. She watched its progress and when it had crossed the threshold of her room she rose and went to check on Olivia again. Finding her still resting, she began to straighten up some of the remaining mess from the delivery and the events of the night before. Several minutes later her daughter whispered a faint greeting.
“Good morning Olivia. How are you feeling?”
Smacking her lips together and rubbing her throat, Olivia replied, “sore, very sore and so thirsty. Is there water in the pitcher?”
Pouring a cup in response, the mother checked her daughter’s forehead as she drank.
“So much better.”
“Better than what? And where is my baby?”
“You don’t remember?”
“I, well,” and then she paused, her face falling and a wail escaping her mouth. “My baby, what happened? Please tell me!”
“Shh, your daughter is well, she is well. You don’t remember last night though?”
“Bring her to me mother. I want to see her. Where is she?” With that, Olivia started to get out of bed, however her mother placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Don’t stir from bed. You had a difficult night even if you don’t remember it. I will bring you the child.”
Olivia complied, although the eagerness in her face certainly meant she would not do so for long. Realizing that there was no way to put off the revelation any longer, the old woman walked toward her room, thoughts running through her head. Was there a way to lessen the pain from what Olivia was about to discover? How would her daughter deal with what might be seen as a failure of a mother’s womb? Should she tell her first or let her discover it for herself, as it certainly would not take long for that to happen? Reaching the cradle she picked the infant up and spent several minutes putting it in fresh clothing and diaper, then wrapping her up in the blanket. Finished, and with Olivia calling for her from the other room, asking what was taking so long, she took one more moment to hold the young girl close to her chest.
“You are a beautiful girl, you always will be,” she whispered softly and then wiped a tear from her cheek before heading toward Olivia’s room. Her daughter’s eyes lit up when she entered and she stretched out her arms, her fingers waving the baby toward her. Handing the infant over, the old woman settled into the chair.
Several minutes passed as Olivia nuzzled her newborn close to her face, and then spoke baby-talk as she brushed the infant’s cheeks with her right hand. She turned toward her mother as she began to remove the blanket.
“Was the labor difficult mother? I do have to admit that I do not remember much if it. The doctor was here, I know that, and I hurt so badly when I felt I had to push.”
Olivia’s mother paused before replying, reflecting on the experience that her daughter had been part of but for which she possessed no recollection. She would not say it aloud, however she did in fact believe that this did diminish the motherhood experience. If this trend caught on, this need to remove yourself from life’s trials and pains with drugs, then she had some serious doubts about how the future might look for civilization. For now though that was mostly water under the bridge and she responded to Olivia.
“It was no so bad daughter. You were in some pain as you remember, however not much more than…,” and she paused, decided to skip the point and then continued, “ well, it wasn’t too terrible. But then the doctor gave you that gas and, well you were pretty much gone after that. The baby came after awhile and I cleaned her up.”
“You should have let the doctor do that mother, the doctor is supposed to check the baby once it’s born.”
“Olivia, I don’t know what you may have read or been told, but that man was most certainly not going to clean up a newborn baby. He handed her to me the instant she was out and the cord cut and didn’t seem much concerned after that, not until I had her fixed up anyway. He checked her breathing and, well a few other things and then he made sure you were well before trying to give me a lecture on caring for you.”
“You did listen to him?”
“I took care of you all last night Olivia, and it wasn’t good let me tell you, yet here you are, well and fit. That’s enough said I believe.”
Her daughter ignored the comment about the struggles through the night.
“The doctor said she was well, yes? All her parts, fingers and toes? Healthy?”
Sighing deeply her mother responded. “Well, she’s healthy certainly. And she has all the fingers she can have.”
A blank look from Olivia was followed by her frantically tearing the blanket off the baby girl, who she soon discovered had no right arm.
…to be continued