Mother's Day, May 8, 2005
My first-born son
who made me a mother
died five years ago.
I'm no longer a mother;
this day has no more meaning
for me than a day
celebrating the end of war.
My first-born son
was born by natural childbirth.
I had trained for eight months
to be ready for the event.
This morning had gone well.
I'd gotten out the little ladder
hoisted my awkward body up its steps,
and emptied the upper shelves
of the kitchen cabinets,
dusting and washing them,
relining them with patterned paper.
I climbed up and down that ladder
a hundred times to replace cans
and bottles and note what we had
in stock. I didn't notice
the rhythmic tightening of my belly;
I was so busy and happy
with my home accomplishments
that I didn't pay it any attention at all.
When my husband came home,
I stopped puttering and climbing
and took a rest. My water broke!
I told him we had to go to the hospital.
He got flustered, grabbed the suitcase
prepared for the baby's homecoming,
leaving my suitcase behind,
guided me out to the car,
and drove the short distance to where
I would give birth to my first-born.
The process was long.
The steady pulses of pressure
went on for two hours. I kept myself
out of the way, breathing as taught,
avoiding interference with the muscles
that knew their job better than I did,
even though this was the first time
they had ever been used!
Each contraction brought nearer
the advent of my first-born.
At last, my body said, "PUSH!"
in no uncertain terms. The nurses
tried to keep me from doing so
until we reached "Delivery"
and then with utmost intent,
I helped those muscles do their job.
I've never concentrated on any work
that intensely. All was focused
on the moment my first-born would appear.
And he did! In one great, final push
that lasted for utter minutes,
out he slid, with a sense of relief
from pressure and a cessation of work,
and this heavy, eight-pound bundle
on my stomack, outside! Blonde hair!
Loud voice! Waving fists and kicking legs!
He protested the indignities of being born.
I almost held my breath, falling in love.
My first-born, alive and kicking,
healthy, whole, waiting to be loved!
For forty-seven years, I never forgot
that moment or the love, the wonder of it.
When he died, that motherhood died with him.
I am not a mother any more.
Mother's Day is for those whose children thrive
and send their mothers cards and candy,
flowers and thankful love again.
That can no longer happen between me
and my first-born. It is done.