One year ago today I was coming to terms with the fact that I was in labor. I had spent the day in denial, at first arguing with Nick who wanted me to stay home from work, then timing my contractions on post-it notes at work. The midwives had just left after my urgently worked-in home visit, leaving the birthing tub "just in case." I was just starting to give in and focus on the self-hypnosis training I'd spent months practicing. And all the while I was envisioning myself holding this little person I was soon to see face to face. This little person that I'd already come to know so intimately as she wriggled and kicked and snuggled up inside. My little Cora was soon to arrive.
The birth was hard. Labor wasn't too bad, even with a night of back labor. The birthing tub, Nick's constant low-back massage and my hypnosis techniques kept me going, along with my visualization of myself with my baby girl. I focused on her name as I floated through contractions. And then when it was time to push, I growled out her name as I learned how to push. I guess you could say it took awhile to figure it out. She got stuck. Maybe it was her position. But for some reason, she got stuck for hours. After a total of 6 hours of pushing, an IV, some herbs and a discussion that our next step would be the hospital, she finally made it out with some vacuum assistance. At that moment I thought I'd never been so grateful to just have it over, that I think I forgot there was a baby. When they suddenly swung her up onto my stomach (OK, so it probably wasn't so dramatic, but at that moment it did seem like she was thrown on me) I was a little shocked. I'm sure most new mothers are to some degree. I was shocked and exhausted, and then surprised to see a little something different in those dark blinking eyes. Even now my first memory of her is like the little squid alien from Men in Black that blinks at Will Smith after he delivers it. That was how my baby looked. A blue turned pink little alien girl with blinky black eyes that were trying to tell me something.
I know now that those eyes were looking right at me, right into me. Those eyes were finally telling me what I'd been waiting so many months to see. The surprise then was painful. So painful. But thinking back on it now, I feel the happiness and the tenderness of my feelings. The pain has somehow blended into the love, making it feel so much more intense, so much more acute, so much a more powerful love than I ever expected.
Sometimes I wonder if I will love another child (if that is to be our future) the way I love Cora. Or even as much as I love Cora. This love is in part keenly protective, in part complete adoration, and full of utter ridiculous devotion. At this point I feel that I was given a gift to love her more, to aspire to help her on her path in life even more, to be her parent (as silly as that sounds) even that much more than I may have otherwise.
So tonight I am grateful. Grateful that I was given this gift, this girl. Grateful that with all that she's been through she's here to celebrate this milestone of a first birthday. Grateful that she's rocking this life and has influenced so many other lives already. Grateful for it all.