The Other Mother

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There are many ways I could start this story.

“If I have to come down there once again, I am going to have to spank you!” (Opener 1)

“Well, no wonder!” (Opener 2)

“Ay, Senora, of course this is your baby!” (Opener 3)

“I heard a disturbing story about your baby at the hospital. Do you want me to tell you? It might freak you out.” (Opener 4)

Today is Thing 2’s and his other brother’s 11th birthday. Born 2 hours apart in the same hospital in Mexico City, they share Californian mothers. That is about it. Virtual twins they are not.

Like a dog sensing an earthquake, Thing 1 would not stay in bed one evening eleven years ago. Her grandmother had been up and down the stairs to put her back in, her father, and finally me, who HAD HAD IT. On the brink of infanticide, I yelled down the hall to her Opener 1. Naturally, she got out of bed. Having called my bluff, I had no option but to haul myself out of bed and whack her bottom. Waddling down the hall, I felt a slight, but unmistakeable trickle.

After 3 weeks of internal pummeling and unproductive (but not false) labor pains, 6 hours of nondilating Pitocin, and mounting concern, Thing 2 was surgically extracted from me, prompting the Fantastic Doctor Jorba to exclaim Opener 2. Roughly the size of a cantaloupe, my baby’s head was disproportionate to the rest of his body, even though he looked mature with a little fat padding his thighs. Cherubic would be an understatement. No blotchy face, no squishy skull like Thing 1. I was relieved. I was tired. I was overjoyed. But still envious of the 38 or 39 year old woman in the room next door who popped her Thing 3 out in two hours. Mr. Understanding, The Radish and I all heard that baby’s first cry.

“The lady next door just had her baby! After only two hours! A boy! She’s from California too. Her husband is just sooo nice,” my mother reported. Humpf, I thought, as they wheeled me away two hours later to the OR, my womb shut tighter than Jimmy Hoffa’s tomb.

Three weeks later, I was at home and an OBF (Old Best Friend) called to tell me Opener 4. Did I want to know? Of course! How weird could it be? It seems that my child was given to Sra. Lopez instead of me in the hospital (Opener 4). The nurse claimed Sra. Lopez was still hazy from the drugs and could not tell the difference. La Lopez will have to share this part of the story because it belongs to her alone, but in any event, for an afternoon, my Thing 2 was Thing 3 Lopez.

Six weeks later I walked up to a couple dressed as Luci and Desi at a Halloween party and thanked them for returning my son. We agreed to keep in touch and when the babies were 6 months old we met for chilaquiles at Sanborn’s.
Shortly thereafter the Lopez family moved to Santiago, Chile. When we moved to Brazil, we promised we would visit. So last year, for the boys’ 10th birthday, we flew over the Andes to see the other brother, mother, father, and siblings, drink red wine, and see a little bit of Santiago. We did not even really know them that well, just had this unique bond.

It is so hard to keep in touch with the myriad of people one meets in the course of their expat adventures. Some people write you all the time, some you never hear from again, some remain vigilant with their Christmas cards (that would be La Lopez). What was born that day besides two beautiful Mexican American boys? A decade plus of friendship. You never forget the woman who gives you back your baby. She is always and forever on my Valentine list.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO LOS MEXICANOS!

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5 Comments

Filed under Birthdays, Family, Life, People

5 responses to “The Other Mother

  1. Winnie

    I don’t remember this story; es verdad? truly? (I can’t seem to find the little upsidedown question mark on my computer – I’m positive that it has one since everything else I never use is there.) It’s nice to know I have an “almost ‘nother grandson”. With the same birthday too … how easy is that?! Que bueno! (No upsidedown exclamation in sight either – maybe if I type standing on my head …)

  2. Forget the first three openers. The real one is zany enough. For seeing each other so little, you and La Lopez have remained good friends. But you do have interests in common one of which is writing.

    Should you need a guest blogger some day, I could write about the hospital. But then so could you.

  3. Winnie: I can’t find the Spanish keys either. It’s a true story!

    Radish: maybe I will write about the hospital for Thing 3’s bday. But your insight on Thing 2’s birth experience at the hospital would be fun. I did not get around much that time.

  4. La Lopez

    Dear Ex-Pat (and Radish),

    I have tried to respond to this truly lovely and wonderful blog several times, but each time I am overcome with emotion and tears and have to just let it be for a few more hours. Some war correspondent/writer I am, huh?

    What is clear is that you are a truly gifted writer what with your laser-beam recall and cut to the bone insight. Everything you say is true and the details don’t even matter.

    I love you too, co-mother dudette. There is no other baby I would have rather received than your Thing 2. Bonding! Hah! Those other parents don’t have a clue.

    Just for the sake of posterity (and your Thing’s album) I can expand on the following points:

    1. Despite the not-smart nurse’s claim that I was “tired” and out of it from giving birth the previous afternoon, I was not hazy from drugs since I didn’t take any, and in any case it happened that next overnight so had I taken any drugs they would have worn off by then anyway.

    2. I could tell the difference. Your baby was blond, perfectly shaped, longer and heavier than mine and quite well behaved. Mine was scrawny, kind of splotchy and hollered for all he was worth.

    3. When the nurse tried to convince me that Thing 3 was mine, I gave her a very polite but firm lecture about how not all gringos are alike. Then I told the charming and nice Sr. López the next morning what had happened. He raised holy hell with our pediatrician, who raised more of the same with the hospital. I’m surprised you didn’t hear any of the rucus during your hospital stay, but then again, you probably thought the screaming was my Thing 3 expressing himself.

    4. You’re right! We didn’t really know each other before the 10th birthday party, but there’s never been a moment when that felt awkward. Some friendships are just meant to be. This one certainly is.

    La López

  5. Someone has found the Spanish keys! NO DRUGS! Como puede ser? Gracias por escrever los momentos tan importantes y preciosas en la vida! Amor, amor, amor!

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