I was lying on the hospital bed exhausted, feeling disembowelled. I felt like I was three stories off the ground. As the doctor suctioned the baby he said, “She’s biting me,” and in my Demerol induced stupor I imagined my baby with razor-sharp little teeth. What did I give birth to? And then the doctor asked me joyfully, “Do you want to hold your baby.”
I said, “No.”
That wasn’t the way I’d imagined reacting to the birth of my first child. In movies women always cried with joy. Not me. I watched my husband walk the floor with her and name her when the doctor asked.
I’ve learned that I don’t usually react the way I think I should, or the way others think I should to exciting situations. I think of it as emotional constipation.
So when I got the call that the proof for my book was in, I excitedly drove over to see it. In the spring of 2015, it will have been five years since I wrote it. The subsequent years were spent revising and then giving up on it for a period of time and hiding it in folder called, “Completed Manuscripts.” It hid there with the others.
So how did I react upon seeing the product of five years of work? I was reluctant to hold it, but took it anyway. I turned it over in my hands, read a few words. Yep, my words. Weird. So weird. I’m still feeling weird about the whole thing. Am I so used to striving after something and not getting it, that I don’t know what to do when I get it? I mean, five years of critique and rejection and work, work, work. I can’t process that it’s over (for that manuscript at least). I want to be jumping up and down with excitement. I don’t want to think about how the dream looked when I first formed it in my mind because logically I know those were pie in the sky dreams, but I’m also having to get over a sense of failure that I didn’t achieve that old vision.
A week after my daughter was born, I caught sight of myself in a mirror, holding my little girl. It finally hit me–this is my baby. So I’m waiting for this to hit me too–to finally get to take some joy in my first published novel.