BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT: Congratulations to Diana, Arianna’s best friend, on the birth of her first baby. Baby Andrea was born on Wednesday, September 16. Que tengas buena suerte y felicidad en tu vida, pequeña.

In a time when everyone pretty much knows where babies come from and how babies are made, when birth control is semi-effective in preventing conception (and f*ck what the church says about it being a sin, does anyone remember that they think that actually having sex is wrong to begin with too?), when abortion is still legal (albeit controversial), and when having a baby on your own no longer considered the end of the world — becoming a mother is now a choice rather than fate.

At least that’s what I think.

Admittedly, I have some very strong views on motherhood. Something along the lines of the fact that once you have a child said child comes first always. You have basically decided to dedicate your life to the care and welfare of this other human being and that’s your job for a very long time. And that means that the baby comes before your love life, before your ambitions and before every single thing you want or thought you wanted.

Harsh, true. But then, I don’t really think I’ll ever be a mother.

Okay. Now that I’ve put that out there, let me say that one of little sister’s best friends just had her first baby. And seeing her as a mother is traumatic enough. Diana is practically an honorary sister. She went to high school with little sister. I took them to San Antonio for the weekend of their graduation and got them both drunk the day before we had to come home. They worked together at a movie theater and quit on the same day. They moved in together a couple of years ago and stayed roommates until Diana moved in with her now husband and little sister moved back in with our parents. They are close friends, honest and accepting of each other as only true friends and can be.

She’s not ready. She can’t be a Mom. She’s not ready.

I don’t like her husband.

I’d like to be able to apologize for that. I really would. The problem is that he’s a jerk and I can’t find one single redeemable quality in him. The problem is that he’s a selfish jerk, an immature selfish jerk. And I’m really trying to hold back the icky, stinging, honest, four-letter words I’d like to use.

He left her one week after she found out that she was pregnant because he “wasn’t ready to be a father.” And, yes, they were already married. When he came back she welcomed him into her life without hesitation or demands (I’ll talk about women and their stupid choices when it comes to men on another day). When she started to gain weight, when she started to show, he would frequently tell her that she was gaining too much weight. He would tell her that she was eating too much, that she was going to have to work at losing all that weight after the baby was born. And he was adamant about that. He told her over and over and over and over that she had better lose all that weight afterward. He doesn’t want a fat wife.

She weighed 98 pounds before the baby.

Now they are the proud parents of a little girl. He was, of course, disappointed that they weren’t having a boy when they first found out. He’s accepted it by now, but you should have seen his face that first week. I know that that little girl is going to wrap her father around her little finger. I can see it in the way he treats her. I only hope that she has her mother’s love of life, so she can give him a few gray hairs. (Pitiful, aren’t I?)

I took off work early yesterday to visit Diana and Andrea in the hospital. I didn’t go on the first day because I don’t think that a person who has given birth in the last 24 hours wants 20 or 30 people to populate her hospital room and gawk at her as if she were the eighth wonder of the world. From what she told me yesterday, that’s exactly what happened. The only reason I went to the hospital at all is that I called her and she seemed hurt that I hadn’t paid her a visit already. So I used some of that comp time I have coming from all those evenings and weekends I’ve put in and I drove into downtown to see her. And I didn’t take flowers or balloons or stuffed animals. I figured she already had too much of that. And I was right. Her room looked like a florist’s overstock display and she had the customary balloons and assorted bright things. I added my pastel-colored card to her collection (the card was for her memory book; and, for the record, I’ve already given her a gift, at the baby shower). I also smuggled in two pints of ice cream and some soda. She was very grateful.

I watched her awkwardly handle her new daughter. She looked wrong with the baby. But that’s probably the big sister in me talking. We talked about how long she was taking off from work. We talked about who had gone to see her and what they had brought her. We talked about the fact that her mother-in-law is going back to México this weekend. And we both thanked God for that. (Her husband has to get that winning personality from somewhere, doesn’t he?)

She was having trouble breast-feeding. And may I just say, breast feeding . . . eeewwww! I have always been uncomfortable around breast-feeding. Even when it was my sister feeding my niece. I think it goes back to when I used to live in México and took public transport to school everyday. Once or twice a week a woman would get on with a baby and end up feeding him/her on the bus. I mean, she would just plop her breast out and not even cover up. I always thought it was kind of . . . well, gross.

So here I am, minding my own business, just visiting my friend, and a few minutes later I’m trying not to stare at her efforts to feed her little girl. She hadn’t bought one of those bras yet, so she had to take off her hospital gown. And that left her exposed. Very bare and very exposed. And I know that the kid has to eat, and I know that I could have left or something, but I’m always amazed at how much pain women will endure to feed babies. I mean, in case you didn’t know, breast-feeding hurts.

So it’s Andrea’s second day and her Mommy was trying to feed her. With the patient help of the nurse. And I made a comment that if she was having so much trouble, then maybe she was going to have to look into feeding her with a bottle or something. Diana’s mother gave me a horrified look and informed me that the proud papá didn’t want the baby to be bottle-fed. Not even water. To which I responded that maybe he should feed her.

Diana just laughed.

Throughout our conversation I got this clear picture of a woman who had no idea what she had gotten herself into. It is, of course, stupid of me to think that parents should always be prepared before the kid is born. I don’t know if I’m ever going to have kids. It’s not a question of wanting them, but of whether or not I’ll be able to do a good job. Coming from the weird kind of family I have, I don’t feel equipped to do the job justice. So I may not approach the job at all. I do know that that makes me a coward. I’m okay with it. Some women don’t aspire to motherhood. Some women aren’t supposed to be mothers. Just because you can have kids doesn’t mean that you have to.

Motherhood is a serious thing. Maybe I’ll find a significant other, though, before I give this any more thought.

Image source: PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

Author: Paloma Cruz

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