The Making of a Mother

My job as a recruiter demands hours of sitting and staring, dreaming up searching strings and praying that they unearth the candidate(s) that I’m on the hunt for. Oftentimes, a bad string can introduce you to the most unlikely of resumes.

My co-worker Darrin knitted her eyebrows together and with concern, blurted out the title of a resume that showed up in her feed.

“Lactation consultant.”

“Yes. Also known as ‘Nipple Nazis’.”

Darrin threw her head back and laughed wildly. A buxom woman with auburn colored locs and a set of very pretty lips, it’s hard not to join her in laughter.

“Girl, I ain’t never heard that before. ‘Nipple Nazi’, you said? Whooo!”

I nodded and cackled wickedly. Lactation consultants are very passionate about their jobs, I added.

“They can’t wait to get in there and get their hands on your titties.”

“Girl. It’s like they’re waiting outside of the delivery room with their little nursing kit and powder scented gloves!”

“I remember when one of them told me that learning to nurse a child would probably be easier for me if I was in Africa…because I’d have my mother, all my aunts and sister around me to teach me how to do it.”

Shemmice, who sits to the left of me, rolled her eyes and denied that anyone would ever say something so stupid. I promised her that it was said, and that they day they invented a machine to retrieve and record memories I would prove it!

Shemmice’s build is similar to Darrin’s, though she is more conservative in her dress. Instead of a loud, gregarious laugh, she often employs a soft chuckle to show her amusement. She speaks quietly as well, hardly ever raising her voice above an audible whisper.

“They can get pretty aggressive,” Shemmice conceded. “I remember one walked into my room and proceeded to unhook my gown without asking. I put my hand in her face like ‘this’.”

“You face palmed her?” I gasped as Shemmice demonstrated the action with wide-spread fingers.”

“I sure did,” she said quietly. “Didn’t nobody tell her to grab ahold of my titties. You touch me, Imma touch you back.”

Still waters do run deep indeed.

In that moment, something magical happened between the three of us. We were bonded and transported back to a delivery room and date that was most impacting for us. Darrin has one child. Shemmice has three. I have four. All three of us had delivered our children via c-section (which if you’re a Black woman in America is not by coincidence, but that’s a discussion for another day).

“Do you remember the first time you had to stand up after you C?” Darrin asked. She was about to launch into a missive about the pain that comes after the drugs have worn off when I cut her off.

“NO. Let’s talk about that first DUMP you have to take after you C!” I hissed.

We both spread our legs and gripped our cubicle walls.

“I may not have given birth vaginally, but I sure did have a baby out my ass!” Darrin roared. Shemmice joined her in contained laughter while I snorted.

One of these dumps is not like the other...

One of these dumps is not like the other…

“I took a picture of my deuce,” I revealed. When I was asked why, I was shocked. “I had never seen anything like it! It was massive.”

Darrin wiped a tear from the corner of her eye and leaned back in her chair, recounting how her daughter was born.

“I remember I was having contractions, but they weren’t nothing. I was so ready. The nurse came in the room and asked me how I was doing. I told her everything was fine! ‘But you’re having contractions’, she said. I told her yeah, I could feel a little something, but it was like a tickle. It wasn’t so bad. She gave me one of those ‘I hate you’ looks, you know?

Anyway, I ended up having to have a c-section because the baby’s heart rate had dipped down into the 60s. It was supposed to be 120 and above. They rushed me to the surgery room and took her. All I felt was this yanking and tugging…had my titties beating me in my face!”

Shemmice and I nodded knowingly.

“They did the same thing to me,” I said pensively. “Lying on that table is brutal with all the tugging, sucking and pulling.”

“They sewed me up and sealed my wound with glue,” Darrin added. “My doctor doesn’t believe in staples.”

“Same for me,” Shemmice said. “My line is a thin sliver.”

“I had staples,” I added mournfully. “They hurt like hell when they took ‘em out. I have a scar as thick as my pinky finger.”

Darrin and Shemmice were aghast. Using staples was absolutely medieval, as far as they were concerned. Of course, our conversation turned to needles – the epidural, to be precise.

All but one of my epidurals sucked. Darrin’s was a breeze. Shemmice didn’t have time to get an epidural for one of her deliveries.

“What?” Shemmice and I asked in unison. Unbidden, she proceeded to explain.

“I was feeling so sick that day. I asked my man to take me to the hospital and he did. Then I started feeling even worse when I felt like my water had broken. I asked him to take a look and he went almost white when he started yelling for the nurse to come it. I thought my water had broke, but I was hemorrhaging.

The doctor came in with a stack of forms and was yelling at my man ‘It’s him or her. You gotta decide now, now, now!’ They didn’t ask me about procedures or nothing. He signed the paper and they rolled me into a ball. They put four needles down my spine and took me into surgery. Can you imagine that? Six months pregnant and my forehead was touching my knees. I’ve been scared of epidurals ever since!”

I looked at Shemmice quizzically. She had 3 girls. I had never heard her mention a son. I broached my next question gingerly, afraid to hear the answer that I feared I already knew the reply to.

“Did the baby live?”

Shemmice nodded and looked at me with a smile tinged with regret.

“He did. For 17 hours.”

We each grew quite, reflecting on our private thoughts for a good while before returning to the world of Boolean searches and resume formats.

There is a saying that I read a while ago that says “The moment a baby is born, so is a mother.” For some women, connecting with their child begins even earlier, some as quickly as the moment they see a (+) on a home pregnancy test! Some women, by the design of biology or socio-political circumstance will never know the joy and heartache that comes with conceiving and bearing- and yes- possibly losing a child; but as my First Lady says “You don’t have to carry a child under your heart to carry one in your heart”.

Of course, my mind is always turned towards my sisters in Nigeria who will no doubt receive an outpouring of sympathy on this Mother’s Day as they continue to come to terms with reality that their daughters have still not been returned to them. I also mourn with the others who had their sons slaughtered in their sleep in their dormitories when all they wanted was an education and to make their mothers proud.

So today, I join the millions of other people saluting their mothers as I say “Happy Mother’s Day” to you all. They were brought to you from your womb or brought to you in the adoption office, whether they’ve been yours for 30-some years or for a mere 17 hours, they are and will forever be yours.

God bless you mothers!