Friday, April 15, 2011

When you were born

April 15, 2011

Dear Andrea,

            New Year’s Eve morning, when you were born, they lifted me, laboring with forces out of my control, onto a gurney, wheeled me into the delivery room.  The doctor, scrubbed and gloved was waiting.  The orderly wheeled me into place, propped pillows behind my head and back, asking me “are you comfortable, is this o.k.?
            I could only pant, shake my head, concentrated as I was on muscles grown taut, screaming “ENOUGH OF THIS.  We cannot stretch anymore.”  They were fighting back, squeezing everything out of me.
            The nurses put each leg into a metal stirrup.  They worked around me, with me, efficiently, quietly.
            “Adjust the mirror so she can see,” the doctor said.
            “Can you see that?” he asked me.  “Your baby is crowning.  Look at all of that black hair!”
            No longer focused on the tautness of my womb squeezing you, I watched, mesmerized.  In that moment the crown of your head was framed by my body.  
            “Another push,” he directed, as if I had control and this force did not have control of me.
            The nurse put her arm around my back, folding me over on myself as far as she could.  My face turned pink, red, purple.  I could not breathe.  I could only push.
            “You’re doing great,” she tells me.
            Bending, stretching, pushing, pushing, pushing.  I saw your head, twisting as you shouldered your way out.  Then arms, chest, legs, feet. 
            The doctor held you up for me to see, all glistening pink and white and warm.  “It’s a girl,” he announced.
            You let out your first cry.
The nurse held you as the doctor cut the cord.  Once un-tethered, she wrapped you in a blanket, placed you in my arms.
From these moments we would grow together and apart.
That is the scene that played over and over in my dreams the hot summer of 2009--as you texted me from mountain falls and rocky beaches and called me from emergency rooms in pain, afraid of what was happening to you.
My strong daughter who stood at helms of ships, stood watch for pirates, sailed seas, called from Catania, Chania, Naples, Dubai, Shanghai.
It was then I began to know what my dreams were telling me.

In thinking about Annalise's birth, and of yours I am in awe.  My friend Linda is a midwife.  She always tells me she is amazed by the strenght of women.  I am amazed by the forces of nature that give and take.  I am amazed by the fact that each of us mothers who have survived our children, can get out of bed in the morning, brush her teeth, brush her hair, make coffee, toast, sandwiches, soup, wash dishes, vacuum floors, show up for work.  I am amazed by the strength I have found in me to not just get through, but to accept this absence of you. 

Love you baby--