I can now use the following word to describe myself: mamma.
I made a new person. I get to feed her, diaper her, force her to take piano lessons, and make her “just taste it”, along with all of the other privileges of parenthood. First, though, I need to learn how to mom. Before I had a baby, I thought I had all the answers. Now, I realize I didn’t even know what most of the questions were.
Books on parenting offer advice and information on everything from teething to lazy eyes. They provide detailed instructions on taking an armpit temperature, explain babies’ rooting reflexes, and describe how to clean your baby’s teeth. Thank goodness for informative books like these, because they keep parents from waking pediatricians at 3:15 a.m. to answer routine questions about colic and cradle cap.
Once the baby was born—before I assumed the position of 24-hour-a-day mamma—I stayed for a brief time in the hospital. I like to think of it as a mini-vacation, a little thank you for helping to keep the Earth populated. People fed me, changed my sheets, asked me how I was feeling, and taught me baby tricks like swaddling and burping. I was doing the mom thing, but I had major backup. Much transpired during my hospital stay: sharing the news of the baby’s arrival, relaying vital information like the baby’s weight and hair colour. (Most new parents have a name selected, but my little one went nameless for a week. Friends were calling her “President’s Choice”, the generic brand.) A number of visitors tried hard to attribute the baby’s cutest features to me, my husband, and favourite relatives. I worked to master the quick and easy diaper change, discovered products like soothing nipple cream, and expanded my vocabulary to include “latching on”, “colostrum”, and “fontanelle”.
After this crash course in parenthood, I returned home.
Prior to April 21, I had never been puked on, pooped on, or peed on. I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts. I slept all night. I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin. I never sat up late at night watching a baby sleep. I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay. I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much.
The contractions started while I was at the office—two days past my due date; fashionably late, I would say—as I was reviewing this issue’s cover. The team was congregated around our art director’s computer conversing about masthead colour options and other details when all at once I felt it. “It’s happening,” I said. Four sets of eyes stared at me with that deer-in-headlights look. Twelve hours later, at 5:12 a.m., I gave birth to my baby girl: Inessa.
And so, in the ensuing days, the team finalized and wrapped this summer issue. We have an arresting cover with Jean Paul Gaultier, l’enfant terrible of the fashion world, gracing. This summer, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts hosts the most comprehensive exhibition on Gaultier to date. The international debut of “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” will be on display from June 17 until October 2.
Also debuting within these pages is National Ballet of Canada principal dancer Greta Hodgkinson, who celebrates her 20th anniversary with the company; Prosper and Martine Assouline of the namesake book publishing company; architect Brian MacKay-Lyons and his acclaimed Shobac Cottages in Nova Scotia; chef Rod Butters of RauDZ Regional Table in Kelowna, British Columbia; and plenty more.
I leave you to discover as I continue to forge through the precarious and unpredictable world of motherhood.