You were born two days after the new moon, on June 3rd, 2011.
I knew that you would be born in June. Still, you warned me of your arrival for weeks. My belly would throb and I felt your head shift lower inside. Your daddy trained me like training for a marathon. We marched up and down hills, through miles of sand, alongside cliffs, down into canyons and back up.
The day before you were born we went to the zoo and climbed up and down a few hundred feet of stairs, between exotic birds and monkeys, to help you rotate and descend. Later that evening my father, your grandfather, called and woke me up. Hearing the phone ring coupled with the first strong contraction made me say, f***! We got into the car and went to Home Depot to look for faucet adapters for the pool. We walked down the industrial aisles, me waddling forward with my massive belly. All of a sudden I felt amniotic fluid dripping down my leg.
When we got home we made the bed with the plastic sheet. I loved burying my face in it during contractions and hearing the plastic crinkle underneath it. It made me feel safe. Between contractions we cleaned the house, folded the laundry, put up Christmas lights and got all the supplies ready. I drank tea and tried to teach your daddy how to hold me. We listening to some music and slow danced and that made me feel happy. Soon being in the tiny house became unbearable, so we went for a walk on the beach. We stopped every a hundred feet or so to have a contraction. It was dark and the beach was empty. The long dark inlet of the San Diego River so still and reflecting light. The pains made me moan and fall hands and knees into the grungy sand. I felt naked and wanted to run and hide.
Soon it hurt so much that I could barely walk. I wanted to go back to the little house so that I could throw up. On our way a giant old schoolbus painted with hundreds of Jesus messages drove by. I felt like I was losing control.
When we got back I got into the shower as I had promised myself I would. Around then your daddy was getting tired and I told him to take a nap. This is going to take a long time, I told him.
For five minutes the hot water offered sweet relief. Then the damn hot water tank ran out and I was worse off then what I started. Your daddy laid down exhausted in the bedroom for a couple minutes while I tried to calm myself down. I laid my knees into the floor and my forehead into the crinkly bed. It was covered with one of the red blankets your daddy bought for our wedding out in the snow.
Ok ok ok I’m tired I need to rest, I thought and tried to lay down next to your daddy. I closed my eyes for two minutes and then one of pains woke me. Whoaaaaaaaa I said, sweetie wake up wake up wake up! For some reason I thought his presence would save me from that soul-shaking pain. Out of his sweet love for me he sat in the corner of the bathroom, not talking, not touching me (I wouldn’t let him) while the pains hit me like twelve-foot waves, one after the other after the other. They pulled me out of my body, threatening to unglue my body from soul. All I could do to prevent this separation was to kneel in hands and knees position on the bathroom floor and throw up. Help me! I moaned to your daddy, while not letting him come into the room. After all that I was shy and didn’t want him to see me throw up. Call the midwives! I said. I’m dying or I need an IV. He went out and called my mother, your grandma Sparky, to ask her advice. Meanwhile I tried yelling the pain away. I always thought that birth would be a spiritual experience, but I felt the opposite of that.
Finally, I looked down and saw three bright red drops of blood. Show! I said. Thank god!
The nice French midwife Jamin arrived and tried to take my vital signs. Why does it have to hurt so bad? I said. It hurts so bad. I know, she said, sticking a thermometer into my mouth. I wanted for her to be the archetypal wise woman, her gaze reassuring me of my own power. All I saw was the font on her t-shirt, me thinking, why did we move to San Diego, I would have been better off in Guatemala, at the very least on the Navajo Reservation. At least they have the sweat lodge!
Jamin went into the bedroom and turned on all the lights in the house. I had a feeling I was getting closer and suddenly I started to sense a lion awakening inside of me. I sat on the toilet yelling as if I was losing a limb. The bowl filled with paper covered with blood and I knew I would have a baby soon. They laid me down to examine me and called me eight centimeters dilated. I couldn’t believe that the pain was almost over.
I screamed out my last two centimeters while sitting on the toilet. Feeling the radiation descend from my lower torso into my butt, I started bearing down on my own. It felt like thousands of tiny knives cutting all at once but I kept reminding myself that I would be okay. I got into the bathtub, whispering with your father and conspiring against the midwives. I didn’t feel like I needed them anymore . . . you were going to be born and I was going to give birth.
Your daddy inflated the kiddie pool, flooded the living room and filled it a quarter-full of perfectly hot water. Your daddy telling me it was ready was one of the five best moments in my life. I got in. In between pushes I watched the sky lighten with the dawn. I stuck my fingers inside of my body and felt the curl of your hair as your head edged out towards life. It was surreal, beautiful and perfect.
Your head halfway emerged and the midwife told me to stand. It felt like my body was going to rip open. Finally I let go of my fear and pushed hard. It hurt, hurt hurt and then all of a sudden I was holding you in my arms.
You were wet, and you coughed. You didn’t cry right away. I became a nurse, stimulating you so that I knew you would stay alive. I’m sorry for that: for my impatience. Your thick cord was still throbbing perfect blood into you. You were alive. You were ours.
A confession: at first you were a stranger. I didn’t recognize you. I held you and you were weighed and wrapped and nursed. It took me an hour before I realized it was ok for me to kiss your face. That you were our baby.
It didn’t come right away, but two days later I realized I loved you. I held you against my skin as you had finished nursing and I realized that everything in my life had led to this, I was born to be your mother. If I am never good at anything else I couldn’t care. Despite all the mistakes I have made and all the ways I am imperfect you are perfect. You are perfect.