It’s been four months since Benji was born, and this is still one of the most magical moments of motherhood for me thus far.
When Benji was born, we labored long at the birth center, but ended up giving birth at the hospital. When we left our house that Saturday morning, I expected to return home later that evening (I clearly thought he was going to come easily).
Instead, we spent two nights at the hospital – the first, the night before he was born and the second, the night after he was born.
Immediately after Benji was born, I held him on my chest caught in the numbing incomprehensibility of it all. He ate from my body for the first time. Then we were wheeled from labor and delivery to the mom and baby wing.
Our room’s windows faced into the building’s atrium so that we experienced sunlight, but we could not see other buildings or trees, the sky or sun. Benji and I were inside, in our hospital room, in our hospital bed for the better part of two days.
And so by the time I took him out into the world, the wonder of it all weight heavily upon me.
When it was time to go home, Jesse took our bags to the car and pulled the car to the front entrance while an attendant brought a wheelchair to the room to carry me and Benji downstairs. Still sore, I gently lowered myself into the chair while holding my itty bitty baby in my arms.
Though I would not describe the hospital room as cozy, it was the place Benji spent his first few days. I took it all in – grateful to be going home – and the attendant pushed us down the hallway, into and out of the elevator, toward the exit.
Going through the hallway, I remembered the rest of the world that existed. A young nurse smiled at me when we passed as I came out of the elevator and she went in. We passed an sick elderly man being carried on a hospital bed from one place to another.
Have you ever read The Giver or seen the movie? (You should read the book or watch the movie if you haven’t – both are good.) In the story, The Giver is the designated member of their utopian society who alone holds the knowledge of the world. The Giver knows everything – the good and evil, beautiful and ugly, mournful and heartwarming – in order to protect the rest of their society from the evil, ugly, and mournful.
Though mothers do not have a monopoly on knowledge of the world as The Giver does in the story, mothers do share their understanding of the world with their children.
In the story, a new Giver is chosen and the old one must share all his knowledge with his new understudy. It is through this transmission of understanding that the boy discovers the wonder of life with all its complexities.
As the attendant pushed me holding Benji toward the hospital exit, the late afternoon sun shone through the glass doors. I realized my son had seen light, but he had never before known its source until now. Benji was experiencing it all for the first time 0 the sun and wind, trees, sounds, and smells. This was a whole new world to discover, and I am the one given the gift of sharing it with him.