Mama Goose Moment: Meryl P.

January 14, 2010

I took a fairly non-traditional route to motherhood.  In the span of about one year, I went from child-free living (ahh, sleeping through the night, how I miss you) to being a mama of three – one adopted daughter, and two foster sons.  For those of you who remember nine months not being enough time to prepare for parenthood, know that somehow I survived a significantly shorter transition period, owing in no small part to Mama Goose.

My husband, Bailey, and I became acquainted with Kelly and her family shortly after we relocated from the New York City area to Ithaca.  Bailey had one of Kelly’s daughters in his classroom, and so Kelly and her family became friendly faces right away.  When we learned in May 2008 that we were going to be parenting a newborn in approximately five weeks, I dealt with the shock like any good American … I shopped. Slightly horrified that the new creature entering our family would be of the female variety (I’d always imagined myself the mother of boys), I found comfort in the fact that little girl accoutrements, at least, were sparkly and exciting.  I became addicted to the baby shopping corner of the internet, and I waited with baited breath for the seemingly giant new Mama Goose to unlock its doors.  The “Big Goose” (i.e.  4,000 square feet) opened just in time for me to stock up on Charlie’s Soap, bamboo washcloths, and all sorts of other things that I imagined I might need. 

On a Friday, our daughter was born.  Her birth mom, a young woman who had recently left foster care herself, had chosen to place her baby with a foster family for an open adoption.  I spent the last month of her pregnancy accompanying her to doctor’s appointments, and I was present as her support person during the birth. While I am eternally grateful for an opportunity that many adoptive parents do not get, and while I whole-heartedly respect those who see only the beauty of the birthing process, I am not one of those people.  Witnessing my child’s birth was simultaneously the most magical and the most terrifying experience of my life, and, when it was over, I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and covered in another woman’s bodily fluids.  Still, Bailey and I stayed at the hospital for the next 24 hours, visiting our baby, tending to her mother, confounding the nurses with our family structure. 

On Saturday night, having planned to stay at the hospital until Corrina could be discharged the next day; we realized that beginning our lives as new parents unnecessarily sleep-deprived was foolish.  (Note to new parents having hospital births: think of the hospital nursing staff as a team of free, over-qualified, completely available babysitters, that you will never again have a chance to call upon.  USE THEM.  Get some sleep, while you still can.)  We spent our last night as a two-person family at home in our very own bed, doing our best to rest up for what was to come. 

The next day, we were up and ready to drive to the hospital an entire hour early.  Not knowing what to do with myself, I vaguely muttered something about needing something, and drove myself over to the Goose.  Kelly saw me come in, and, aware of the impending arrival of our child but unsure of the exact timeframe, came over to chat.  I somehow articulated the importance of the day, and she looked at me a little misty-eyed and said, “Would you like me to walk around the store with you?”  I nodded yes, company would be good, and Kelly and I roamed the store.

Kelly made kind conversation, but I don’t remember what she said.  I bought several things, but I don’t remember what they were.  All I remember is that, as we roamed and shopped, I felt an unparalleled sense of calm, safety and nurture.  In that moment, right there in Mama Goose, I thought, “If this is how it feels to be a mama, I’m ready.” 

And I was.

If you have a mama goose moment of your own to share, leave it in the comments below, or e-mail me your story at meryl@mamagooseithaca.com.

-Meryl at the Goose