Sometimes I question whether life in the hereafter will be a paradise in heaven or a reincarnation that will replant me on this earth for another round as a newborn. I hope it isn’t reincarnation as a newborn, cause I find no appeal in that thinking. And I’ll tell you why.
Too much change. All I can think is that first of all I will be confined for far too much time in solitary confinement in a darkened nursery. Without even the benefit of leaf shadows trapped in a beam on sunlight on the wall to dance for my amusement. Room must be dark. I don’t know why, but it just must be.
And if I scream in protest against this blank environment, without sensory perception and the sweet smell of she who conceived me, with dry pants, and a recent feeding, I’ll be left to scream. No one will ken to my cries between scheduled maintenance. That would throw painfully-held-to routines off schedule. No, it is time for me to ‘go down’ and ‘go down’ I must.
And I’ll get no small firm pillow like I did the last round. And instead of soothing warm sweet milk that I got the first round, I’ll probably get a room- temp bottle with cool gawd-awful gross-tasting formula.
And if I do get a blanket, which is unlikely, as blankets in cribs are no longer recommended, it will not be a lovely breathable fluffy cotton one. Instead it will be some kind of downy soft but yet so miserable acrylic or micro-fibre similar to a plastic bag covering – freezing cold in winter, a humidity trap in summer.
And I will definitely not get those blessed times when I was placed on a soaker pad in the raw and the skin on my little bum allowed to drink in sunlight for a few moments – a brief time of freedom to bath in unadulterated exposure to cool atmospheric breath. I shudder to think that in the next round I will be solidly and consistently wrapped in a stretch-wrap diaper contaminated by plastic or man-made materials and hermetically sealed against the escape of contents from the inside and the injection of air from the outside.
I fear too, if given a second round, I’ll not be swaddled firmly and tightly. I found that so comforting the first time round because it so closely replicated the close, warm, and snugly place I was in for nine long months. Instead I’ll be dressed in nothing more than the stretch-wrap I have already referred to with all my limbs flailing and my head flopping and my little soul so anxious and traumatized without the snug all-encompassing body-wrap security I had grown so acclimatized to while in the womb.
And when traveling, I’ll be put in a car seat and compelled to stay in that thing folded up in an unnatural position feeling no less comfortable than when I tried to sleep in a bean-bag-chair when I was seventeen years old, the first time round, and five foot seven. The car seat wouldn’t be so bad if my head was not unnaturally forced up completely out of alignment with my spine.
The first time round, yeh, agreed, I traveled in vehicles on my mom’s lap which was so not good. But my road trips were very few. For the most part, I traveled safely on hips magically spread during birthing for that very purpose. To provide a hip-saddle for me to straddle. First time around that was my transport. My mother did all she needed to do throughout her busy days with me riding on her hip, one hand around my waist, while I burped up gas readily and eyed from my perch the floor for the most part and occasionally the path ahead. My father used to say, “Woman, don’t you think that child is uncomfortable slung over one arm like a sack of potatoes?”
But my mother knew. She knew how much I loved to perch there despite the sudden pitching and jolting and yawing that came with her picking up things from the floor, reaching high into cupboards, and making beds. I was there for the ride and you can have your Drop of Dome, or Roller-Coaster thrills, cause my thrills were in this accommodating place. And the sudden pitches often left me giggling like any ride at an Amusement Park.
And if reincarnated, I just know I wouldn’t be allowed to gum up buttery toast long before I show promise of a first tooth. No longer allowed to practice the wondrous art of chewing on an almost, but not fully, stripped, turkey drumstick at Christmas or a juicy, but still warm and buttery, bare cob of garden corn. But going back to the toast, I have to be conciliatory about that criticism because God knows commercial bread does not hold together like home-made bread. Even yet, with my false teeth, as soon as I take a bite it clums to the top of my mouth and sticks there like glue. No, you’re absolutely right. One can’t be giving a young babe that stuff to sage the desire they may have to work toothless gums.
But worst of all, I guess, are the plastic chairs. The car-chairs, the lounge chairs. I know if I had a second round I would end up in a plastic lounge chair on the floor in some kitchen in the middle of the winter where the temperature at the floor is ten degrees colder than room temperature (despite sophisticated central heating) but no one would be aware of that except me. Me with my tiny back against shockingly cold plastic augmented by what is foolishly expected to insulate. Can anyone adequately personify how I feel with that acrylic, man-made fiber, or plastic-based fleece that just grabs the cold and fires it into my back and kidneys like a cannon?
If I am to return for another round, I want lounge chairs and car seats padded with wool or cotton or down – even straw would be a better insulator against cold and heat than all those layers of synthetic resins.
And always, and always, to lie on my back. To vomit while on my back. Yuck. I admit, I can’t dispute that it is dangerous to lie a baby in a crib on their stomach or side, because I am no scientist. But the first time around I lived in nest that moved from room to room as my mother moved from room to room. I laid on my stomach or side with a monitor imaging, not only me, but my rate of breathing, the regularity of chest movements, body temperature, posture, and stomach gurglings. A monitor that was more efficient than an electronic device with its beepers and instant digital screen-imaging. My mother monitored me by hovering over my bed like a guardian angel when I wasn’t on her hip bouncing through the day.
And though I may wail, I probably still wouldn’t get a soother. And of course, under no circumstances would I be allowed to alternately soothe my frazzled nerves with my thumb. Cause babies get crooked mouths by sucking thumbs, and soothers. Besides, both are so grossly non-hygienic.
And of course I would not be allowed to partake of vegetables and meat pureed into a smooth warm satisfying elixir until I had completed my probationary sentence of 5 months, 9 months, or whatever my mother’s all-wise Baby Doctor (without children) insisted upon. No thanks, I don’t want to deal with that either. That’s far too much harsh controlled behavior for me to be me.
And since the latest research indicates that colds are caused from exposure to others with colds rather than winds or chilly temps, there is little understanding that a tiny body needs so much more warmth than a big body. And little note taken of the relationship between colds and chilly floors, plastic wrap, brisk winds, and a tiny body.
So no, I don’t want a reincarnation with another run. Not with these kinds of inconveniences and miserable discomforts to deal with.
But was all as grand the first round, as I claim it to be? Maybe not, cause that first round included corporal discipline. The sting of a wooden spoon smartly applied to my bottom when I reached the age of understanding. But you know what? With that kind of self-sacrifice and complete attentive devotion, there was no risk of psychological damage. I was held too long and too close to the breast for me to ever doubt my mother’s love.
So I guess there is something more to be said about discipline. If you take away a child’s blanket, trap them in plastic, feed them cool milk or insufficient sustenance despite their quest for more; and if you ban a soother or a thumb, and regularly isolate them from the body scents that wrap them in security, you best not be slapping them on the bottom with anything. Obviously psychological damage is right there knocking at the door before they have even reached the age of understanding.
I sometimes wonder if all this interchange of cold and separation does not cause the chilled spirits, frigid souls, and unfeeling connections that young people of today possess that so distresses parents. Maybe we are completely off track when we assume it is the result of exposure to violence on TV and the sterility of gizmo-facilitated relationships.