Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Friend, the Cow

As a bridesmaid, I have seen many girlfriends walk down the aisle, look into the one they loves' eyes, and vow to stay together for better or for worse.

But what comes after the marriage?  You got it:  the baby carriage.

Three of my gal pals who I have played bridesmaid to, are now mothers of little girls.  My oldest friend is among them.  

We have been friends since the tender age of 8, but really solidifying our friendship at 11 when I spent a week at her cottage.  We bonded over our shared love of Anne of Green Gables and Paul Christie (or was it Brent Hobday?)

Nearly two decades later I stood up for her on her wedding day and then became 'auntie' to her adorable little girl.  I went to visit them last month in Toronto and discovered things that one can only discover when someone who is your sister, or like a sister as I am an only child, has had a baby.

Knowing someone for as long as I have known her, makes it a bit easier to say things like "what happened to your nipples?" or "they had to put stitches where?"

Not that I stared at my friends' boobs, they just happened to be right there, practically in my face.  Baby M was not latching on that day and I simply looked over when Ali said "come on M, get it".  Get what?  I think I recoiled somewhat as I discovered that the 'thing' baby M was supposed to get was the 'thing' formerly know as Ali's nipple.  It had been replaced by some alien formation that resembled a large swollen cookie.  At my shock, Ali nodded and said that yes, this is what happens to ones nipples when one breast feeds.  Oh.

I was then informed of the stitches that comes when one gives birth.  Excuse me?  Readers, I am not that dumb, I know there is some tearing.  But when I hear the phrase 'stitched up like a turkey' I can only run to my nearest doctor and request a lifetime supply of birth control.  STITCHED UP LIKE A TURKEY?  GAH!  This isn't even Ali's phrase!  It's her doctor who said it!  Shouldn't he have a better bedside manner?  No woman should ever hear those words.  

Later in the evening, Ali's hubby was helping me on my computer.  I was paying close attention to his words when I became distracted by an odd sucking noise.  I looked up, and there was Ali on the couch, an odd contraption at her breast and her holding a remote in her hand.  She looked at me and said flatly, "I'm a cow".  I nearly fell off my chair.  She pumps her milk so that dad has some bonding time with baby M - which is sweet.  But I had never seen a pump in action before, well I have, but only on an actual cow.  The resemblance was uncanny.  I was in hysterics.

Having a baby takes all the modesty out of you.  Never before in our two decade friendship would Ali (a) show me her breast (b) talk about her nether regions as if they were some country in Europe or (c) discuss the consistency of poop but here she was doing all three.

I stood back and watched her:  feeding her baby who has her eyes and saw something way beyond the cow pump and alien nipples.  My best friend is a mom.  The way she looks at her baby makes me feel like she joined a club to which I am not a member.  I love my mum and I love my boyfriend and I love my dogs.  But I don't love anything the way Ali loves that baby.

So even in the embarrassment and discomfort that childbearing brings, it has also brought something else to my friend that is magical and lovely, and mysterious to me because I don't know what it is . . . yet.  

Welcome to the world baby M!  

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