Three months ago I had no reason not to believe my son would be born at home well before Christmas. I remember being upset because I was overweight, and my fingers were numb and impeding my ability to finish my gifts. I remember being intensely proud of the fact that I had a workable plan to get out of debt. I remember making apple pie for the hell of it. I remember thinking about “quitting the internet” because I worried it would impede my ability to care for my son.
Then everything changed. My son was late. Then he was later…then even later. I had to go get ultrasounds every other day for a week to make sure he was okay. Then I woke up one day with a fever of 101, and had to go to the hospital. I was diagnosed with H1n1 virus. Because of the illness and how far post-term I was, they induced labor to save my baby. Labor was unproductive- my body simply would not cooperate. Two days after we began, I asked for a C-Section; I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was too afraid for me and for my baby, too alone in my head, and in more physical distress than I had ever been in my life.
When they gave me the anesthesia before the surgery it was the first time I had been truly pain-free in almost a year. I found myself crying uncontrollably. I cried out all of the suffering I had been through, all the confusion and sadness, the loneliness, the guilt, the terrible fear of the unknown…and then I cried some more. I remember being vaguely embarrassed, but the tears were cleansing and healing, and eventually stopped on their own.
A little while later, they cut me open and pulled my baby out. He was big, and so beautiful…I was drifting in and out of consciousness but I heard his first cry, and I cried, too, until they brought him to me so I could see him and touch him…so tiny and helpless and red in such an enormous and sterile room. They took him away to do all the things that doctors do when babies are born, and I let myself drift.
When I came back, I was back in bed, holding my baby and trying to nurse, struggling to understand the enormously powerful feeling that had taken hold of me the second I saw him. A glorious little boy had grown inside of me and been birthed healthy and whole despite all of the complications we had suffered together. He was a fighter, a champion, a prince…he had more than earned the right to be named after warrior kings. At that moment I realized that I would lie down and die, without question or doubt, for this tiny human I had birthed from my body.
Since then he is rarely out of my arms, and even more rarely out of my sight. When I’m holding him and he looks up at me with his solemn blue eyes, everything else fades away. Every day I fall more in love with every hair on his body, every wrinkle and dimple, every tiny nuance of his face as he cries, nurses, sneezes, sleeps, nurses, or –now- laughs. His cries break my heart, his gurgles of joy make it sing, and a soft sneeze lights up the darkest of moments. The realization that he knows who I am and is unhappy when I am not around is awe-inspiring.
After he nurses, he usually falls asleep with a tiny sigh, his little body warm and soft and absolutely trusting as it presses against mine. At those times I find myself entranced by the magic of his very existence. How did I create something so perfect and beautiful?
Sometimes I touch his face, whispering my blessings and wishes for his future, hoping he will understand somewhere in his tiny soul how very much I love him. Then I fall asleep, too, body curved around him to hold him close and protect him from the world outside for a little while longer.