Five, four, three, two, one… BAM! It’s 08:37: Nine months ago right NOW, you were born. You are sleeping and eating, and I am feeling quite emotional about it all.
08:38: They say it goes by so fast, and I already know this. Two weeks ago you were 37 weeks and one day old, the tipping point for more time as an outside baby than an inside baby.
Where does the time go? How are we here already?
08:39: Nine months ago right now they were cleaning you up. An Apgar score of 8, I was impatient to see you, anxious to hear your sputtering cry again.
Your cries these days are stronger. Gone is the kitten mewling of a newborn babe, here are lusty wails that now end with MA MA MA MA MA if I can’t get to you within ten seconds.
08:42: an Apgar score of 9, so we meet. You are handed to Daddy who brings you to me. A burrito baby whose features I recognized even though they looked so different from my own. You made sense to me then, but now I really know you. I know that NA NA NA means you want to nurse, whether for hunger or comfort. I know that AH-TEH AH-TEH is passive happiness.
08:43: I stroke your face and kiss your fat little cheek. I cuddle all ~24 lbs of fat little you now. I wouldn’t be able to fully take in the enormity of what had just happened until the next day.
08:46: blood loss. And then more blood loss. A haemorrhage. A flurry of activity, clipped precise conversations, then you and your dad were gone, taken from the OR, leaving me with my thoughts and the determination to survive. I jumped through (what I hope is) the final hoop of proof that, dammit, yes I want to be your mama.
I hope I’m doing a good job. I think I am so far, although I’ve had my moments of failure.
You recently fell off the bed and screamed and I never felt so sick in my life. I took you to the ER and was so worried that this meant you’d be taken away from me. But the ER doctor smiled and told me that they see bed falls a lot and you were fine. I was so relieved to know you hadn’t suffered lasting damage!
I worry a lot about losing you. Because even if everything goes right and you live to be a ripe old age with children and grandchildren of your own, the thought that one day we won’t be together fills me with such sadness. In these moments, I pull you closer and smell your hair. You smell so good to me. Sweet and milky. Chocolatey and rose-like. Salty and nutty. You’re like a little ginger truffle.
08:57: a blood transfusion.
More than one donor helped me to have you. First there was Nellie; then there were eight others whose pints of blood ensured my continuing existence. I wrote on the San Diego Blood Bank’s Facebook wall a couple of weeks ago to thank the individuals who donated A-negative blood last autumn. They saved my life. I can’t donate blood in America, but I’ve agreed to be an ambassador, to encourage people to donate blood by sharing your birth story. I’ve agreed to be filmed by the local NBC station and said I’m happy to speak in public at an upcoming event. I can’t pay back the blood, but I can pay it forward.
09:03: the OR clock ticks slowly but time passes quickly. Isn’t that a metaphor for life? Our days are long but the years, especially this year, are short. Only three months until you are one!
I can picture you toddling around. You haven’t yet learned to crawl, but you are beginning to figure it out, rocking and kneeling, swiveling around to reach for something.
You have one tooth, and a second is doing its best to make an appearance, but your gum has calloused over from your fierce chewing on anything you can lay your pudgy hands on. This includes the grass and dirt and leaves at the edge of our picnic blanket. Who needs toys when there’s grass to yank? You’re just like your nature-loving father…
09:17: I am at peace with hysterectomy. The wisdom comes to me: Everything is negotiable, except for death Though I don’t see the child I always imagined having, what of myself do I see in you so far? Two people have said how much they think you look like me. I laughed and jokingly asked them if they were on crack! You look like your dad with a dash of Nellie. But you are a large baby, which people attribute to your Amazonian mama. I can’t deny that your size, if it continues, will be because of my epigenetic influence. Or maybe it’s the way you wrinkle your nose when you laugh. Or your sense of hunour and your propensity to make silly noises, just the way I mimic people and do funny voices. You are like me and unlike me in ways I never imagined. I think that’s what motherhood is, right there!
09:40: I will live, dammit. I’ve come too far to have you to bleed out on this table! I’m looking forward to holding you and getting to know you.
And, of course, I did live. Nine months later, I still look forward to holding you and getting to know you better. You’re pretty terrific and, hand on my heart, You’re my favourite person in the world. I naughtily whisper this in your ear sometimes, in quiet moments with just the two of us.
Ooooh, I love you!