Saturday, our last day in Columbus. We have a full agenda today. First, a visit with the world’s best doctor for me. Then we are taking lunch to some friends who just had a new baby. We will wrap up the day with dinner with another set of friends. I pop out of bed an hour earlier than my alarm, already preparing in my sleep for our day.
Seeing my doctor is always a treat. The only thing that would make it better is if we were meeting over coffee instead of in her office. But, this way I get to see her and get a minor issue addressed at the same time. I suppose it’s somewhat odd to be friends with your doctor, but I’m not sure why. Who better to trust with your health care than someone who genuinely cares about you?
After my appointment, Pat picks me up and we head to City Barbecue. We are running ahead of schedule. We decide to go to the grocery store first and pick up a few things for our hosts that we have been consuming. Then, we go back towards City Barbecue, still ahead of schedule. We decide it may take several minutes to get our order together, so we go ahead and go in. We order a family pack, but can’t decide on only two sides, so we add two more. When our order comes, each side is packed in a 1 quart container. We have enough sides for about 32 people. You can never have enough sides.
We arrive at our friends house, still a few minutes ahead of schedule. It never fails that all the lights are green when you need to slough off time. We even took the slower, back way to get there. Sara is home with both children. Geoff is not yet back from a grocery store run.
Sara greets us at the door with Lella cradled in her arms. Her tiny pumpkin head perfectly round against her mother’s arm. I am surprised to find myself pleased to see her. While I’m never going to be one of those people who swoops in and snatches the baby out of mom’s arms and goos and gah’s over it, paying no attention to anything other than the baby for hours on end, I feel less afraid of appreciating the baby. I think that in my younger years I felt like I had to reject babies entirely in order to avoid any regrets about not having any of my own. That somehow there was a threat that I might suddenly wish for one and my biological clock would click on and my relationship with my now husband would be threatened as a result.
Having recognized that I would not be the world’s best mother and subsequently decided that the world would be better off if I didn’t reproduce, I have not, as of yet, regretted that decision. While there are times I think my life would feel more purposeful if I had children, I have a hard time imagining giving up on so many of the life experiences I have been able to have because I don’t have kids. Now nearly 45, there is little possibility that I will suddenly awake and want to have a baby.
Today, instead of feeling repulsed by this tiny life, I am intrigued. She is beautiful, this tiny Lella. I like to say her name, “Lel-la.” It rolls on my tongue and feels like “lullaby.” It is both a soothing baby name and a strong adult name. I am amazed that no one ever thought of it before (well, that I know of)
As Lella awakens and looks out upon the wide world before her, her eyes open, big and bright. She appears to watch things across the room and I wonder how far she can see. I remember being told infants can only see the distance from the breast to the face, but she looks so fascinated that I have to ask out loud. Sara also believes she can only see about 18 inches. Lella makes a fist, twists her face, kicks her legs and farts loudly. Henry, her 4-year old brother, is not the only one who is amused. We take her upstairs for a tour of the nursery and a diaper change. I rub Lella’s head and make sure she doesn’t roll off the changing table while Sara looks for something.
I am reminded of a terrifying event in my early teen years when an infant I was babysitting kicked his diaper off the changing table and I bent down to pick it up. The screaming infant, probably suffering from colic, kicked so hard in the instant I bent to pick up the diaper that he flopped off the table and landed on the floor at my feet. I believe this was the first nail in the coffin of my desire to have children. Fortunately, the baby was not seriously injured, but I stopped babysitting infants after that.
Today, I stand next to the changing table with my hand cupped over Lella’s head rubbing her fuzzy hair, relaxed and happy to have this moment to experience baby-ness. I can’t say that I really want to fuss over this tiny infant all afternoon. In fact, I occasionally forget about her as we eat lunch and talk of adult things, but it’s nice to at least feel at home around this tiny, fragile life and not feel afraid that my mere presence might in someway break it.
After hanging out for a few hours, we head on back to our host’s house. We are already exhausted and it is not even 3PM yet when we arrived. Pat heads upstairs for an afternoon nap while I sit and talk with Georgia in between games of solitaire. I keep thinking I will doze for a while, but in the end I never do. It’s just as well–when Pat wakes up, he seems groggy and disoriented. A long afternoon nap will do that to you. I smile as I look at his rumpled hair when he comes back downstairs. Back up we go, smoothing ourselves and making ourselves presentable for our evening out.