December 10, 1981: It Begins

I'm a mother. I have a tiny daughter named Jamie Lynn, and I'm very, very happy.

Hospital Notes:

... Looking at Jamie objectively (or as objectively as possible, anyway!) I'm almost surprised by how pretty she is. She's small -- 6 lbs. 5-1/2 oz. at birth -- but her coloring is uniformly peaches and cream, and her features are perfect.

Naturally I've counted all her fingers and toes, and checked to see that everything is in place and in working order ... and it is. She's absolutely, 100% perfect.

More Hospital Notes:

... A few minutes (after her birth) we were back in the labor room, and the baby was in my arms, wrapped snugly in a blanket. Ray held her for a little while, and then he made some silly, offhand comment -- "Jesse, huh?" (Jesse was the name we'd picked out for a son) -- and I realized that he thought Jamie was a boy! Needless to say he was stunned when I said, "Ray, we have a daughter." What's worse, he'd already told his mother that the baby was a boy, and she was calling all the relatives with the happy news. So now she had to backtrack and call everyone all over again, to tell them we've got a JAMIE, not a Jesse.

... We were discharged from the hospital on Saturday, December 12th at 11 a.m. Jamie had her picture taken in the rosebud dress and bonnet her Grandma P. bought for her homecoming. I packed up all our hospital stuff, and then Grandpa P., Aunt Barbara and Daddy brought us home. It was an ice-cold, sunny December morning, and the mountains in the distant west were breathtakingly beautiful ... I thought, "I need to remember this! Someday I'll tell Jamie how pretty the mountains were the day we brought her home!"

December 15, 1981

A-ha. I have just learned my first important lesson about babies, and it is this: a new mother never finishes anything. Jamie cries and I jump. As a result, there are always half a dozen unfinished projects lying around. She is so good, though, and so generally uncomplaining that when she does make a fuss I really don't mind jumping up (after only half a manicure) to tend to her simple needs. There will always be time to finish my personal tasks or to grab a quick nap later, but she will only be this tiny and precious once.

I look at her and I can't believe that she's really, finally here. I touch her cheek ... it is incredibly soft and smooth and warm. I hold her close to me and smell her hair: it has a "new" smell: a baby smell. I'll probably never forget this smell, even if I live to be a hundred.

Today is my twenty-fourth birthday. Waiting for Dad and Grandma V. to come visit. Caramel rolls baking in the oven. Rain outside. Windows fogged with steam, the result of sterilizing baby bottles all morning. Jamie is sound asleep in her basket, only a few feet away from me.

... I float around the house, humming as I bake my rolls, add fabric softener to the laundry, peer out the window watching for my visitors. I feel like a mother. My baby stirs in her basket ... tiny hand flutters to tiny cheek. I bend over her and tuck the little hand back beneath the blanket. A brow puckers; she sighs, deep in sleep.

I am filled.

Impressions of New Baby Daughter:

  • Beginning to think she does look like me, a little bit: round face, pink cheeks, luminous baby-blue eyes, tiny rosebud mouth. My sweet Bumblebee.

  • There is a movement from the basket ... a tiny hiccup, a whimper. I hold my breath. Will she? Won't she?

  • Jamie already loves her Daddy. A positively miraculous change comes over her when he carries her around the house: she is quiet and content.

But all was not peachy in paradise:

Here it is, the day-before-the-day-before-Christmas, and I haven't done one fucking bit of shopping yet. That means that tomorrow -- somehow, in the space of only a few hours -- I've got to shop for sixteen people, and wrap presents, and shower and do my hair/makeup, and drive all the way down to visit Grandma V. and Dad, and go to Grandma S.'s for dinner, AND take care of Jamie on top of everything else. My head aches just thinking about it all. Ho ho ho ... Merry Fucking Christmas.

December 1981

Jamie's First Christmas

Christmas 1981 has come and gone ... our first as a little "family"... and in spite of all the rushing around, the jangled nerves, the fatigue, it was quite nice. We managed to get all of our shopping done in the nick of time, and also managed to visit everybody on both sides of the family. Jamie was relatively well behaved during all of the long car rides and the noise and confusion of family festivities, and since there was always somebody eager to hold her, I got a chance to relax and enjoy myself, too. Santa was exceptionally good to the three of us. Our combined loot is spread out beneath the Christmas tree now ... it looks like we're opening a baby store, what with all the clothes and toys all over the place.

Assorted Notes: Early Motherhood, 1982

Jamie is so alert and strong, at four weeks, that it astonishes me! I had this idea that babies remained inanimate "blobs" for the first couple of months ... that they did nothing but eat and sleep. Such is not the case, evidently.

Tired. I've had a rough night and morning with The Boss, and my jerves are nangled.

Why are her feedings taking two fucking hours each time??????

Why am I so filled with rage, sorrow, helplessness??

When will I sleep through the night again??????????????

There seem to be two Terris these days, co-existing in the same body: the frantic, frazzled mother standing at the kitchen sink at 2 a.m. with a howling baby slung over one shoulder, warming a bottle with tears streaming down her face ... and the Terri I am at moments like this: Jamie is down for what will probably be the first of several brief naps this morning, the house is tidy (rare these days), a cup of coffee sits on the table beside me, and I'm actually feeling well rested and organized, for a change.

I gave Jamie a bath at noon. She hollered once, when I first put her into the plastic "Tubby" bathtub, but then she felt the nice warm water and her eyes popped wide open in surprise. After that, she relaxed and seemed to enjoy herself. I soaped her all over and rubbed her gently with a washcloth ... then wrapped her in a big, clean towel and powdered her and dressed her in clean clothes and a fresh diaper. She drank half a bottle of formula and is now down for a good, long sleep. I hope.

January 1982

More Early Motherhood


My new favorite sight in the world: tiny Baby Daughter peering over her Daddy's shoulder as he carries her around the house.

At six weeks, my little daughter:

Sticks out her tongue and makes little "mmmmoh" sounds to indicate she's hungry.

Doesn't like to be held on my left shoulder, and will fight, squirm and struggle to move over to my right.

Weighs about nine pounds, undressed.

I'm sitting here thinking about all the happy things that Jamie doesn't know about yet, and how much fun it'll be introducing them to her ...

Books. Music. Chocolate chip cookies. Swimming pools. Summer camp. Girl Scouts. Fairy tales, piano lessons and Sunday School. Santa Claus!! Crayons. Easter eggs. Puppies and kittens. Snow ... merry-go-rounds ... Barbie dolls ...

...libraries ... the first day of school. What else? Peanut butter, and Walt Disney, and ... slumber parties! Jell-O! Finger painting! McDonalds! The ice cream man! Balloons! Pigtails! Lemonade!

January 1982

Jamie, Early Babyhood

I love to sit a few feet away from her, beyond her line of vision, and just watch her. She looks at things now and really sees them. I've strung a row of bright-colored Christmas ornaments across the top of her playpen, and she's fascinated when I make them jiggle.

What an interesting period of my life! Learning so many things about myself, as well as about my baby. Exploring the world in a whole new way: through the eyes of my infant daughter. She is seeing everything for the very first time, and in a way, so am I.

She is smiling more now, and when she does, her whole body seems to be smiling.

Even now -- almost two months after her birth -- I look at her and I'm amazed by the knowledge that she actually grew inside my body ... that she came out of me.

Late in the afternoon, when the sunshine streams directly into her crib, I take off all her clothes and her diaper and let her take a "sun bath." She totally loves this! She kicks her legs wildly and pees all over herself and crows with delight. The nice thing is that I can set her up in her sun bath and then sneak out of the room without her realizing it, buying myself a good fifteen or twenty minutes of personal time ... just long enough to eat a sandwich, read a magazine article, check the mail.

Lately she has become attached to one of my old dolls -- the one I named "Sister Belle," the doll with the big, smiling plastic face. Whenever I put Sister Belle into the crib with her, she responds with smiles and chuckles, and tries to "talk" to the doll. Sometimes I tiptoe back into her room and sit quietly a few feet away, watching my daughter connecting with this old friend from my childhood.

March 1982

A Typical Morning

10 a.m. Mommy goes in and wakes Jamie with a soft word. Jamie is instantly awake, all smiles. I change her diaper, wrap her in her blanky and carry her out to the living room, where "breakfast" is ready and waiting: a bottle of formula and a small dish of Gerber Rice Cereal. Her reaction to the cereal: hesitant at first, then enthusiastic. Most of it ends up on her nightgown, though. The bottle is emptied in a flash. We watch an old "Love Boat" re-run on TV while Jamie sits on my lap. She sings, babbles, clutches at my necklace, blows spit bubbles. After a while I lay her across my knees, on her back, and we talk and play a few minutes longer.

11 a.m. I put Boo-Boo in her playpen while I read the newspaper, drink my coffee, put on some makeup. The mirror is on one side of her so she can admire her reflection: her Pink Panther is on her other side. An orange and yellow plastic rattle dangles from a string above her, and she bats and clutches at it happily, chubby little legs kicking wildly.

11:30 a.m. Time to get dressed. Mom dresses Jamie in a gaily striped pullover, bright red pants, yellow socks. Jamie is patient throughout most of this operation, protesting only when the shirt is pulled over her head. I tickle her, nuzzle her neck; she giggles and squeals. Back in the living room I place her on the floor, on her tummy, and let her do her "push-ups." She props herself up on her arms and watches me intently as I dab on some eye makeup. Each time she catches my eye, she smiles hugely and lets out a happy burble. She drools, wobbles her head, clutches at the blanket in front of her, tries desperately to move ... but can't, yet ...

Noon. Fussy time. Jamie begins to cry in frustration. I take her on my lap and give her one ounce of apple/banana juice, then a bit of formula. We watch Rick Kincaid leave Betsy Kenicott standing at the altar on "All My Children." (Good. I hate Betsy Kenicott.)

12:30 p.m. Jamie naps for half an hour on the sofa while I quietly eat a beef pot pie for lunch.

1:00 p.m. Jamie stirs, is fully awake in an instant. I put her on the floor again, this time on her back, and sit beside her so we can "talk." I let her grab my fingers and then I pull her up into a sitting position. She's can't sit without support yet, but it won't be much longer. She's a strong baby.

Next, we try something new ... I prop her onto the sofa with a pillow and let her sit by herself, without me holding her. She loves this! I face her and we have a ten minute conversation ... she runs through her repertoire of assorted sounds and syllables, and beams delightedly when I repeat them back to her. ("Baaa ... aaah ... oooh ... mooo ... mohhh.") While she's sitting on the sofa her little face suddenly turns crimson, and she grunts and strains and turns her full attention to what's going on inside her Pampers ...

When she's finished, I carry her to her crib and change her. She is enthralled by her animal mobile, hanging above her, so I leave her in the crib for a while. "One Life To Live" is on the tube, and I settle into the armchair, hoping she'll amuse herself for a minute or two. No dice. Within seconds I hear the indignant squawk ("Ah-AH!") that is her special call for me. She is back on my lap sucking away at a cold bottle minutes later, singing as she eats, happy as a clam.

Halfway through the bottle she suddenly stops sucking and bursts into tears! Perplexed, I try to soothe her. Nothing works. Finally, I wrap her in her blanky and we walk outside to check the mail. The abrupt change of scenery does the trick, and soon the tears have stopped.

March 1982

Mom and I took Jamie to Sears this week and had her picture taken. Jamie was asleep when we first arrived, so we layed her down on a small table in the waiting area and let her snooze for twenty minutes. When she woke up, she was in a delightfully cheery mood, and she smiled every time the shutter clicked.

April 27, 1982

Some Scribbles

Jamie is the world's most perfect baby.

Today: Sammi Cat jumped into crib with Jamie, sharpened his claws on top of her tender head; Jamie screamed hysterically; Mommy came running from the kitchen, picked up frantic daughter, SWATTED rotten cat.

Bottle upon rising; cereal/fruit/bottle before first nap, at noon; bottle after first nap, @ 2 or 3 p.m.; bottle before second nap, between 5 and 7 p.m.; bottle before bed, 8 p.m.

April 1982

My Dad came over for an hour yesterday and brought Jamie a brand-new stroller. It's beautiful! I'm so pleased. We put it together and propped Jamie into it (supported by a rolled-up blanket) and then I wheeled her all around the house. Her eyes shot wide open in surprise! Maybe later today we'll go for our first walk around the block in the new stroller, if the dark clouds lying overhead don't turn into rain.

As usual, when Jamie saw my father she burst into hysterical tears and looked at me with this frantic, pleading expression on her face. This is a fairly new development: she does the same thing when Ray's parents are here. Dad wasn't upset about it ... he simply held her for a few minutes while I sat nearby, and after a while her tears subsided although she remained guarded and wary.

Caring for Jamie is truly becoming second-nature. I pretty much know what to expect her to be doing, at any given time. Usually. (Let us not become Overly Confident! The Boss might decide to remind us who is In Charge around here ...)

Spring 1982

Two dream fragments:

* Jamie was on her tummy, playing on the floor, when all of a sudden she started to crawl forward. I was very excited and said to Ray, "Look! She's doing it! She's crawling!" But he wasn't paying attention to me and he missed it.

* A small, plain-colored bird was flying high in the sky above me. Suddenly, two vultures swooped down on the little bird; one vulture took the bird's right wing, the other vulture took the left wing. It looked like they were preparing to fly in opposite directions and tear the little bird in half. I closed my eyes because I couldn't bear to watch.

June 1982

Jamie can now roll herself all the way across the living room floor. I have to keep an eye on her practically every minute, or else she wedges herself into some potentially dangerous spots. Yesterday I caught her trying to poke her fingers through the grill of the electric fan, while it was running.

She still isn't crawling, but I expect it to happen any day now. Last night Ray says he saw her get up on all fours, with her tummy off the ground. Life will be utter craziness once this baby starts crawling! But I'm still looking forward to it, just as I look forward to her walking, and talking, and all the other major developments of her life ...

Watching her grow is the most fun I've ever had.

Jamie started saying "Da-Da" a couple of days ago. Actually, I think she's just learned to make the "da" sound, and she doubles it up occasionally to make something that sounds remarkably like "Daddy." (Or maybe I'm just jealous because she isn't saying "Ma-Ma" instead ...?)

I can't believe how quickly the changes are occurring now. She began sitting by herself last week, and now she's giving even more time and attention to learning how to crawl. She can get fully onto all fours now, with her tummy well off the floor, and she rocks herself back and forth, as though she's willing herself to move.

Looking into her mouth this morning, I think I saw the very tip of a little tooth -- on the bottom right gum. She won't allow me to investigate any further, though, so I can't be sure.

I was sick yesterday and the day before, with a sore throat, fever and headache. Yesterday I felt so rotten that I called my mom-in-law and asked if she could watch Jamie for the day, so I could just stay in bed and sweat out my fever. Peg was delighted (I hope) at the prospect of having her granddaughter all to herself for a whole day, and she came over and picked her up at 10 a.m.

Thing is ... I had no idea how quiet and lonely this house could be without my baby. It was nice to be lazy and just lounge around in my robe all day, but I missed my baby. I kept catching myself tiptoeing past her door so I wouldn't wake her up, turning down the volume on the TV, listening for her cry ... I kept forgetting she wasn't here. It just didn't feel right, not having her in the house with me.

I'm hopeless.

July 1982

Jamie crawled for the first time on Monday night. Ray was sitting on the floor with Jamie, watching "The Muppet Show" and playing with CeCe's kittens (Jinx, Mitzi and Norman). Jamie was watching the kittens intently, when all of a sudden she began a slow, wobbly crawl towards them. Ray and I were so excited that we started to shout, which of course startled poor Jamie. She collapsed onto her tummy and looked at us like we were both crazy. I immediately ran and wrote the event down in her scrapbook and her baby book.

I should add that Jamie was sick that evening with conjunctivitis. When I went to wake her up from her afternoon nap her eyes were practically glued shut. They were so red, swollen and crusted-over, she looked positively Oriental. I ran to the phone and called my sister-in-law Judy, and she calmed me down enough to call the pediatrician. The nurse prescribed some eye drops, and I called Peg and asked her to pick them up for us. Jamie hated the drops, and she screamed furiously when I put them in, but I noticed an improvement right away. Anyway, Jamie was sick on Monday night, before the drops had a chance to work, so the fact that she crawled for the first time that night is amazing. She has a lot of stamina.

This afternoon I saw the tooth, or at least the spot where it's breaking through the gums. It's on the bottom right side of Jamie's mouth. She's been unhappy and fussy a lot these last couple of days, and I'm not sure if it's because of her eyes, her teeth or both. Ray bought her some Baby Orajel to help with the teething pain. It's fruit flavored, and I'm supposed to rub it onto her gums with my finger. The fact is, though, that she's pretty darned tired of Mom poking around her face (wiping her eyes, putting in the drops, cleaning her ears, rubbing on the teething medicine) that she yells if I even try to touch her mouth.

July 21, 1982

My period is three days late, and I had dreams last night that I was pregnant again. I wonder if I am.

I'd love for Jamie to grow up surrounded by brothers and sisters. I wish that we had the money and the room to have a whole bunch of children, right away. I'd love to have a whole house full of kids. (Editor's note: Careful what you wish for ...)

If I am pregnant right now, the baby will be born next April ...? Jamie will be sixteen months old then. Would that be too much craziness to ask for ...?

Jamie is scrambling around on the living room floor stalking CeCe's kittens, fingering our new leather furniture, pulling albums out from under the stereo. It's hot and muggy today so she's wearing just a diaper and a pair of plastic pants: her hair clings damply to her sweaty face. Between the heat and the new tooth coming in, she's been almost unbearably cranky today. I've tried to keep her happy and entertained, with the new toys I bought her yesterday, games of peek-a-boo and bottles of cold juice, but nothing amuses her for very long and soon she's whimpering (and then crying) again.

You can see her tooth now, whenever we're allowed to look in the Royal Mouth ... a tiny little bud of white, nestled in puffy pink gums, like a tiny pearl on silk. I know I've said this before, but I can't believe how quickly the changes are occurring with Jamie now. It's like somebody pushed the Fast Forward button.

July 28, 1982

My sister-in-law Judy and I had planned to take the kids (Jamie and Billy) to a park today for a picnic, but when we got up it was cold and cloudy so our plans changed at the last minute. We had lunch at McDonalds (Jamie had two french fries and part of a Chicken McNugget), and then we went and browsed around K-Mart. I bought Jamie a pair of navy blue canvas shoes, with little white anchors on them, and a plastic toy telephone.

I wanted to have fun today, but my mind was a million miles away. Judy seemed to sense this, and she dropped Jamie and I off at our house at 2:30 and went home herself. I came close to telling her that I think I'm pregnant, but something stopped me. I haven't even finished processing the idea of it myself: it's too soon to start telling other people.

Jamie is crawling happily around the kitchen in her nightgown, trying to catch up with CeCe. She loves to sneak up behind our two adult cats, grab them around the waist and drop her head on their backs, like they're her pillows. Sammi and CeCe hate this, and they run any time they see Monster Baby coming. CeCe's kittens are five weeks old now and they have complete run of the living room, but for some reason Jamie doesn't pursue the baby cats as relentlessly as she does the adult kitties.

August 9, 1982

I took my home pregnancy test this morning and it was positive. No surprise!

Well ... here we go again with the morning sickness, the heartburn, the fat clothes, the leg cramps, the weird cravings. What'll it be this time? Fish heads on toast points?

OK. Let's think of it THIS way. A new life? Someone new and special to love? A little brother or sister for Jay? That's the best part, probably ... a little sister or brother for Jamie to grow up with, close to her age, the way Dickie and I were. I was always glad to have my little brother around.* We fought like cats and dogs, but underneath it all we were good friends, and we went through a lot of things together and were special to each other. There was always someone to play with, anyway, when you had a sibling. Maybe we're giving Jamie a wonderful gift: her future best friend. **

Shit. Nothing is coming out the way I want it to. I have so much to say, but everything I write sounds clumsy and half-hearted. Forgive me ... it's just so strange to be feeling all these things again so soon.

* Ah! The rosy glow of selective memory!

** "I HATE Kacie! I can't STAND her, we have nothing in common!" JLP, 4/25/94

Continued ...


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