First, the name. Portia is the name we had in mind when I wrote my earlier post about baby names, but I was keeping it quiet just in case we chickened out and named her something more conventional. We had considered Portia for our third daughter, but ended up naming her Theresa after my mother-in-law instead. I’m glad we did, both because Terry (MIL) was so pleased, and because the name seems to suit Tessie (our daughter) so well. Several of our relatives aren’t mad about Portia’s name, but not everyone liked Cordelia’s (our second daughter) either, and they’ve all changed their minds and love it now, so we’re hoping for the same result this time. Reactions from hospital staff who asked the baby’s name really ran the gamut. It was immediately obvious which ones had heard the name before, and which upon hearing Portia (which is pronounced POR-sha, as some people pronounce the name of the car Porsche) clearly showed by their dumbfounded expressions that they thought I had named my baby after a sports car. One nurse actually laughed. To her credit, she tried to stifle the laugh, but it was too late and she didn’t quite manage. It reminded me of the scene in that 1980s comedy film, A Fish Called Wanda, in which Jamie Lee Curtis and John Cleese are having a laugh at the expense of Kevin Kline’s character after Curtis tells Cleese that Kline is so stupid that he thinks Cleese’s daughter Portia was named after a car. I was surprised by how many people had never heard the name Cordelia either, but at least it can’t be confused with a car. I really hope I haven’t done something awful to the poor child by giving her such an unusual name. To me, it was just mainstream enough, but to the vast swath of humanity who hasn’t read much (any?) Shakespeare, it obviously isn’t.
Second, the delivery. Like all the others, it was by cesarean section, and recovery this fourth time around has been slow going. The hospital stay was not as restful as the ones I had in California, where there was a nursery available, and I had some bad reactions to the pain medication. Having experienced this, it makes me shudder in dumbfounded wonder that anyone would want to take narcotic drugs for recreational purposes. Bad enough when you have to take them for pain, and can call the doctor when bad things start to happen. The idea of doing it just for fun, and not being able to call a doctor if something goes wrong…well, it just boggles my mind. I’ll have more to say on this delivery in particular, and c-sections in general, tomorrow or the next day. Right now I just want to get this post up.
Finally, the baby herself. She was 7 lb., 4 oz., and 21 inches long. She has dark blue eyes and an abundance of jet black hair, as all my babies have. The other three all have different hair and eye color now, so it’s anyone’s guess how Portia’s will end up. As a c-section baby, she has perfect features undamaged by a traumatic trip through the birth canal, and to my maternal eyes she’s the most beautiful creature in the world. Not that I’m biased or anything.
They say babies don’t make eye contact until they’re a week or so old, and my second and third daughters didn’t. My firstborn Elizabeth did, however, and so did Portia. I cannot even begin to describe the effect that had on me, having my newborn child look right into my eyes within an hour of delivery, and knowing (I don’t care what anyone says; I’ll always believe it) that she wasn’t just looking, but was really seeing me, and perhaps even recognizing me as the owner of the voice and heartbeat she’s been hearing muffled by amniotic fluid all these long months.
Welcome home, my Portia. Welcome to your family.