~the following is part of “Prompted Prose,” a series of posts from the prompts I’m working with during my Spring 2016 online writing course
A baby is on my chest. My son. Our son.
Nothing meets expectation.
Like the fact that I am on my back. Or that my feet are still in the air. Or that I’m in a hospital room with bright lights and blue-donned strangers in puffy, white footwear.
Most certainly, I did not expect that nothing, really nothing, would be here. I had seen plenty of movies, read stacks of books. I had expected labor to be hard. I had expected myself to be pushed beyond my limit. And I’d expected that familiar, on-screen moment: joyful tears of euphoria when my child was placed, wet and fresh upon my heart. I did not ever expect to feel the weight of him (so fragile), see his fingers (so long), only to search inside and come up empty. I expected some emotion, any emotion, but I am holding my newborn baby and there is nothing that I sense but numb.
And there are more unmet expectations.
I had expected an ugly baby. Plenty of stories had been shared of slippery, reddened howlers, sliding in to the world, with pointy heads, and flattened faces. But what instinctively nuzzles down at my breast is golden-haired and perfect. His skin is smooth and flawless, nearly sun-kissed, to a tone the shade of ginger root. And his scent, wafting up through the silky hair of his crown, is the distinct aroma of butterscotch popcorn. I had not expected him to be pristine, immaculate.