Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Life

A young mother friend of mine recently posted a photo of her two week old son on her facebook page. It brought back my own days of caring for a newborn, back in the eighties. Back in those days there were no cell phones, no internet, no blogging, no cable TV. No email, no Facebook, no Twitter. No DVD movies, no recorded TV programs, no Tivo. Jim and I didn't even have a regular TV (What was the point? There was no cable, and only an occasional movie on television.) Only newspapers and radio were available to inform us of what was going on in the outside world. We did have telephones, but there was no such thing as a 1000-minutes-per-month-telephone-plan; long distance calls were expensive and my family members were all located on the east coast. Just how in the world did we survive? It boggles the mind.

Enter into this world a newborn infant, who doesn't really care about news of the outside world, only that he is held and fed and dry and warm. Simple things.

Not too difficult, except that this child's mother has a broken femur, left leg in a splint after two metal rods are surgically placed inside her left thigh, and is on crutches for the first eight months of his life. Getting up from the bed, which is a foam mattress placed on the bedroom floor, is a challenge. Walking around the house on crutches holding a fussy infant is an impossibility. There was no room in our tiny cottage for a rocking chair. I settle for bouncing him on my lap instead, which kind of works, sometimes.

My one-year-younger-than-me sister comes and stays with us for weeks two and three of his young life; she is a life-saver. She walks my young son around in circles in our small living room when he is awake and fussy for an hour at 2 am while Jim and I try to get some much needed sleep. And then she goes back east, back home, back to her day-job.

We had no washer or dryer at the house; the laudromat was about eight blocks down the street. I couldn't drive anyway. Friends came over to help with the laundry. Thank god for the diaper service; disposable diapers were too expensive for us to use on a regular basis. I especially looked forward to the daily 10 second visit of the mailman. Seriously, because once a week we got the local weekly paper, and once a month the Sierra Club magazine arrived. I really looked forward to a certain friend's weekly visit - the friend who came over to help me wash my hair in the kitchen sink, which I couldn't manage on crutches by myself. Showers were out of the question with our claw foot tub; I did sponge baths instead, sitting on the toilet seat, for the longest time.

After my sister left, I was depressed, for maybe a month or two. I would sit on the toilet seat and silently cry for an hour, my head resting on the sink, while the baby was sleeping and my husband was at work, wondering how in the world was I going to care for this helpless infant when I could barely care for myself? What had I been thinking, to believe I could raise a child when I felt like a child myself?

I don't know how I got through those grey, rainy days of February, March and April of 1983, but somehow I did. Jim was (relatively) supportive, we loved each other, and I had this beautiful new life in my hands. Somehow, that made it all worthwhile, to watch my helpless, innocent, sleeping babe, this new life we had created, this hope for the future.

1 comment:

  1. It was such a different time back then! When I was a kid in the early 70's, my mother would have to give 5 bucks to any neighborhood kid who was willing to watch us, so that she could go to work. It was more of a time when people just had to gut it out!

    Funny add on note here. The people who lived next door to us where named the "Roses". Their daughter was the one who watched us most of the time. I went to type my word Verification and it was "Roses" LOL!