Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I Have a Gift

What does it feel like to bring another human being into this world?

I have a gift. A very special gift that was somehow given to me by happenstance and irony. Me, the older sister, tired of babies and children, has been a purveyor of life. 

One child, my first, came free from my body after a long and exhausting debacle. Not long compared to some others hard fought battles but long enough for my small and battered 20 year old body. When I saw her for the first time I was in a daze. She was so small and dark. I barely recognized her as coming from my body. My last two siblings were big and pink and blonde. Rosey was small, thin and covered in a layer of dark hair, as dark as the hair on her tiny black head. Who was this child? And how did I create her? I wasn't so much worried or enraptured as I was very, very tired. Within the next few days she became my best friend, my confident, my baby with the old soul. 

One was so anxious to come into this world that she tore through me like a bullet. She left me injured and ripped and bloody. The most blood I had ever seen in my life. And when they let me hold her she was aware and huge in my arms searching to suckle off of me. Her long fingers and new nails dug into my skin. She looked like a newly recruited marine with a devastatingly short blonde crew cut. The nurses told me she was an unprecedented almost two feet long. And she was born with dark, incredibly brown eyes. 

My third child came at the end of my relationship with her father. I knew it was over and he did not. Not that he cared in that moment and honestly neither did I. The doctor made her come with medications and wires and hoses. I had never really knew pain until she needed to come out of my body. Nurses and doctors were around us worried. She wouldn't come out. I had begged my doctor not to have a c-section. I had seen my mother walloped by the effects of surgery and couldn't go down that same path. Rather than attempt a breach birth my doctor and a local midwife attempted to turn her. And it was painful. Worse than any pain I had ever felt and probably will ever feel. Hands in me and on me all pushing and pulling. 12 hours later I looked into her face and my mom and I named her on the spot. Maxine Jane. Covered in vernix she was smooshed, wrinkled and mottled by dark red birth marks. They put her on my chest and let me wipe away the layers of thick goo. But she didn't nurse.  My momma held me and we cried together in silent sobs. I had given birth to a child that didn't need me but needed me all the same. Ironically after the first few days and into the next almost two years of her life she did nothing but nurse and often refused to eat any solid foods. 

My last child came in a pretty ordinary way. Yes, it was different compared to his sisters arrivals, but Jeremiah and I had decided early into my labor with him that we would accept the medication that had been forced onto me after 20 hours of labor with Max. After the initial nervousness surrounding the epidural administration Jeremiah and I spent six hours relaxing and hugging and kissing and sleeping. And when Elijah started to come into this world we were all surprised. I had been on my side talking to Jeremiah when all of the sudden I knew the baby was leaving my body, "Oh babe. Look quick. The baby is coming!" And he had enough presence of mind to call for a nurse who had the presence of mind to call our doc who was asleep in a lounge. 

Elijah was born without stirrups or medical intervention on the bed between my legs. I was able to reach down and touch him before they took him away. Jeremiah was so overwhelmed he almost wasn't able to cut the umbilical cord. We both kept staring at Elijah's blue feet and haltingly asking, "Is he OK? Is that normal?" The nurses and doctor didn't seem concerned. My mother walked into the room and was so relieved because she saw me delivering the after birth and thought I was delivering the baby. And then in a movement that goes down in infamy Elijah grabbed at the oxygen tubes and ripped them free. The hissing alerted my mom to her grandson. The nurses all gathered around the scale and weighed him in at an almost record breaking 10 pounds 14 ounces. Almost, but not quite the biggest natural birth at our hometown hospital.

I have a supernatural, incredibly frightening and huge gift. Like a super heroine, but delicate and easy to break, I have done wildly unlikely things.

And I see the result of my labors every single day in three sets of varying shades of brown eyes and one green, almost hazel set. Who knows, life is so incredible and surprising...they might turn another shade of brown yet.