He took us home, despite his legal training and better judgment and I remember rambling on in the cab to our apartment on the Upper Westside that I was going to write an expose about my hospital experience, that I would do it while the baby was napping (right !) Who knows if my husband even heard a word I said, he was holding Jake, all 9 ½ pounds of him, and looking like he had a bomb in his hands that might go off any minute if he weren’t careful. The cab pulled up to the corner of 79th street, H handed me ‘the baby’ while he paid the fare and I started to cross the street watching the traffic coming in either direction on West End Avenue. “Oh my God”, I thought as I took my first step ”this baby, this creature, this living thing in my arms is now totally dependant on me, no hospitals to blame anymore, if I take one wrong move, I could be responsible for killing this child, if I hesitate, that truck careening up the avenue could knock him out of arms only to be crushed dead by passing traffic.” The fact that I literally now had this baby’s life in my hands almost paralyzed me. It still does when I stop and think about it. Luckily, during those early childcare years, there’s not enough time to stop and think about it.
Jake started crying as soon as we arrived on the 12th floor at the door of our apartment and didn’t stop for 3 months. I was so overtired, I couldn’t even sleep in my own bed and H, well, lets just say, he was really happy to go to work the next day and get a break from us both.
“We need to go to Amagansett! ” I insisted, once his secretary got him on the phone. “Everything will feel better there”. Was it the magic of the water? the smell of the air?, the special light that had brought artists out to these parts years before we discovered it?, I don’t know. All I knew was that even through our worst fights, my husband and I were always able to recover and enjoy ourselves at “the beach”. If it worked for that, it would work for this. It had to.
We struggled with the new car seat and got little Jake finally tied in. Of course we hit traffic on the LIE and, of course, my breasts felt like they were ready to explode by exit 30. Jake cried the whole way and while it had only been three days since his birth, I was already feeling like a terrible parent. We stopped in Manorville and I tried to nurse the baby, it relieved my engorged breasts but not him, hardly the scenario they described at Lamaze of the tranquil, loving experience of breast feeding. Jake kept crying the rest of the trip to the house. While H unpacked the car I went up on the deck and tried to nurse Jake again. This time I cried too. “You take him, I said” once H had lugged the last bag up the steps, “maybe he needs to be diapered” The diapers were in place thanks to the IGA, but nothing else was. I scrutinized H as he struggled with the tape on the Pampers then took the baby back abruptly “I need to sleep”, I declared and carried the baby, loose diaper and all, with me into our bedroom.
‘This isn’t going to work, “ I thought, “he’s all agitated and I certainly won’t be able to relax. “ I placed the baby in the middle of the bed and stared as he turned beet red, as if already furious with me. I put a sheet over him carefully and his body twitched and got rigid. “Maybe I shouldn’t have left the hospital so soon, “ I thought, “maybe that nurse was right when she said that in my “condition”, I couldn’t be trusted to care for a baby”. Gingerly, I sat down on the bed, carefully making my way toward the middle, worried that I might crush my new baby if not make him roll off the bed onto the floor, then I timidly put my hand on his forehead and my finger in his mouth as the lady at Lamaze had demonstrated. He began to settle down. It felt like a miracle. As he got more peaceful, so did I, As his breathing slowed down, mine did too. Had there been cell phones then, I would have dialed my husband who was watching a game in the other room and whispered for him to “come quick and see the baby sleeping”. Instead, I tiptoed to the door and got H’s attention and pantomimed for him to come in and see. “ Little Jake was still in the middle of the bed and his diaper was still on. I took H’s hand and together we approached the bed afraid with our every step that we might disturb our new sleeping baby. I looked down, my husbands hand still in mine, and a lump bigger than any I had ever felt before started traveling up my throat till it got to my eyes and started overflowing as tears. This creature, this baby of ours, was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my whole life. I loved my husband but this was different.