In general, I have always loved babies, and Rowan was not only amazing and alert but also quite beautiful. Her features were perfectly formed, and she looked like an angel. But I felt no appreciation for the little miracle. Although I didn't dislike her, I wasn't sure I wanted her living with us. In addition, I could hardly stand on my own two feet because of the sheer mass and weight of my body. If I had been in the mood to joke, I probably would have made a comparison between me and a sumo wrestler, but I had lost my sense of humor. I had become bruised and sore because my skin had expanded and been stretched so tightly it ached. My ankles and wrists looked like they had tight rubber bands around them. The indented skin had become dry and cracked. Besides the fact that I was physically incapable of performing many of the basic mothering duties, I also didn't feel like I wanted to get too close to Rowan. I wasn't afraid she was too fragile; I just felt no desire to pick her up. Every time I have ever been near a baby, any baby, I have always wanted to hold the child. It shocked me that I didn't want to hold my own daughter. I wished I had I Dream of Jeannie powers so I could blink myself into a warm, loving embrace with Rowan. Instead I was more like the distant and unsympathetic Endora from Bewitched.
I felt guilty for not being the one tending to my daughter, so I forced myself off the bed and waddled over to the old dresser that was substituting for a changing table. We hadn't yet gotten the nursery in place. I stared down at the tiny infant whose cheeks were dark red and whose eyes were like the Grand Canyon, and I began to feel faint. The plastic from the diapers they had given us at the hospital had a powdery odor, and the minute I smelled it, my knees got weak and I almost threw up. One whiff and I might as well have been back on the operating table. Again I thought it was due to sleep deprivation, but I couldn't stand there one more minute smelling that plastic. I moved away and stood in silence.