Monday, April 24, 2006

Happy Birthday, Baby



Today is my baby girl's birthday. Mina is seven. This is not really computing well in my mind; that she is seven. Seven years old, in other kids, is more grown. But Mina is still my baby.

When I was first pregnant with her, I thought I was going to have a boy. Husband knew it would be a girl, but my first thought was Boy. My instincts were crossed with what I thought I wanted. But you can't manipulate destiny or rather you shouldn't want to manipulate it. At my ultrasound, of course I wanted to hear the gender, and when the technician said it was a girl, I cried. It was an instantaneous burst of crying because yes, yes, I wanted another girl badly. I wanted that little girl in my womb and in that moment, knowing it was a She, I became fiercely protective and possessive. When I told Mandy it was a girl she said, "Good. You are a good raiser of women."

The night I went into labor, it was two weeks before the due date and Husband had just gotten home from a long, grueling managerial shift at a restaurant. He had just stretched out on the floor and put his hands over his eyes. I then felt the cramp of a contraction. I thought it was prep, Braxton Hicks, but they started to come regularly. I told Husband and he seriously looked at me like, Do you really have to do this now? I nearly kicked him in the head. My pregnancy had been smooth sailing. I worked nine hour days without a problem. I had worked the day I went into labor which was a Friday and I was kinda pissed that the baby or the gods made me work a full day, a full week and then put me in labor on a Friday night. When I was eight months pregnant, Husband broke his ankle playing basketball. We lived on the third floor of a no-elevator apartment. Maya was almost four which meant I got to lug groceries and a three year old up and down stairs and care for a convalescing husband while I was weeks away from giving birth. If that didn't make me hot, our cat decided to break his hip the day after Husband broke his ankle. WHAT IN THE HELL? Which meant I got to wait at the vet emergency room until one in the morning with my stupid, beloved cat, and lug him around to his doctor's appointments up and down the stairs while the convalescing husband lived it up at home. Husband was in a lot of pain, obviously, BUT CAN A GODDESS CATCH A BREAK? So, my pregnancy was smooth but labor intensive before labor had even begun, and when HE looked at ME at the onslaught of contractions like, Fuck . . . I seriously almost kicked him in his teeth. This abusive thought was a distant second, however, to my excitement. My baby was coming. Nothing could get me down. Labor? What ju got? BRING IT. This is my theory about labor and why gestation is so long: By the ninth (tenth really) month, you are so ready to get that f'ing baby out that the gripping fear of labor you feel around the eighth month melts into a I Will Shove My Hand Up There Myself If She Doesn't Come Soon feeling. Nature is brilliant.

Labor with Maya lasted fourteen hours. It was steady and long. And I thought Mina's would surely be cut in half. But apparently I was built for the steady, long road of birthing. We were in for a long night. When I first arrived at the hospital they hooked me up to the monitoring devices because my water had broken. Each contraction was displayed with the sharp spike of a white line on the monitor to which Husband replied, "Oh, that's a contraction, right?" And then he followed a minute later with, "Ooo, they're getting stronger?" I violently said, "SHHHSHHHHHHHHHH" and he got the hint.

The next twelve hours were a dreamy, spiky-pained haze. I think I mentioned in previous posts that in pain I retreat into myself. During labor, I did not want to squeeze my love's hand or yell at him or have him touch me, or distract me from my meditation of receiving the pain then sending the pain away. He approached me once during the waves of contractions. He had gotten up from the Husband-Day Bed near the window, and when he came to me I tensed and lost focus. But he rubbed his hand down my leg and said, "I love you," and then went back to his post. I gushed with love and appreciation. When the situation was intense and when we were in the trenches, he understood me completely. This gesture is forever embedded in my mind.

When Mina was ready to come into the world, I pushed five times, setting her free. This was a welcomed relief because with Maya I didn't think I'd ever get her out of the birth canal. My first image of Mina is of the doctor's hand cradling her by the stomach holding her butt-up. I saw the mashed mat of black hair. She looked just like Maya. This is when a mother's heart leaves her body and does an elated, floating lap around the room. My breath sucked so far into my throat it would not release until tears forced it out again. The baby was as close to perfection as Husband and I could make.

And today she is seven. My heart sails no less for her now than it did the day we met. I love you, little mami, so much I can't really take it.

Here she is getting woken up this morning by Carmen and Maya and my version of Happy Birthday.

25 comments:

acumamakiki said...

This was so sweet! I always get teary when I read how sweet things come into the world and the photos are great.

miranda said...

tara whitney's blog directed me to yours. loved your post and then fell in love with you when I saw that you're a fellow VEGAN. hallelujah, I love to see a normal vegan. thanks for being you.

Yolanda said...

I have been reading your blog since the first of year and Just wanted to say Your pictures were gorgeous on Tara's blog and love your blog too.
yolanda

Glamorous Jo said...

oh my word - I almost can't take the gorgeousness. this is so sweet and lovely....

Marigoldie said...

Floored, woman! Such a beautiful story, and that last photo of Mina is the perfect post script.

Laume said...

I just watched my very first granddaughter be born ten days ago, and my BABY is now 6'2". Sigh. You made me cry. Happy sniff, sniff.

madness rivera said...

Thanks everybody for the kind words. And hi Miranda (vegan? hooray!) & Yolanda - who I think are both from the fabulous Tara site.

Oh Laume - congratulations.

ESB said...

happy birthday to mina! she is SO cute, i can't stand it! she looks like a tiny mermaid in the second to last photo...

beautiful and wise post, as always...

tina said...

That's lovely, Madness. You almost--ALMOST--make me want to have children of my own. Not quite, but almost. And that is no small feat.

mom2ashley said...

happy birthday mina!

Janine said...

Such a beautiful post,wish her a happy day from me, I hope it is a great one!!

Jules said...

Wow what an awesome post, kinda in there pushin with you for those last five!
Happy Birthday to your baby!

Came over via Tara, love that girls style. We missed out on a shoot when we were in LA so I am a bit green : ) But glad I came across your very entertaining and real blog, shall drop back in.

Jules

PS is that a US saying too? "Green with envy" Wonder where that leaves Kermit ? LOL

lovegreendog said...

oh the happiness of it all...
beautiful.

Deb R said...

This is a wonderful post and I can't even tell you how much I love that photo of Mina with the cat!! That's fabulous!

Maven said...

I was gonna write this a post or two ago, but man, I love you, girl. So honest and funny, always, and such ready emotional access, always, and so fearless, always. I dig your shit every day.

Maven said...

Oh also, I do believe your Mina shares a b-day with my magician nephew H and also one William Shakespeare (if it's the 23rd, that is. If not, she's still illustrious, I'm sure.)

madness rivera said...

Ms. Maven - thanks, mama. Means a lot coming from you.

The brilliant Mina was born on the 24th, but from what I read, H and my girls would get on famously. He's our kind of guy.

angela said...

Wow, I've loved your writing for a while now, but this one touched me in particular. Just found out yesterday from an ultrasound that I'm having a girl, maybe that's why. Like you I am a "raiser of women." (What a great remark by your friend)

Awesome series of pictures of Mina...those along with your words made my eyes tear up. She's a real cutie. Hope her day was special...I'm sure you made it so!

angela said...

Oh, one more thing....what you said about being so ready to have your baby by the 9th month that you become fearless? I had that exact thought during my last pregnancy (well, minus the "shove my hand up there" part).

Anonymous said...

awwwww... what a beauty she is and your story of the day of her birth made me recall my on child's big day. april babies are the best!!!

degan said...

wow! so much cuteness!

athena said...

happy birthday mina. and great pics over at tara's too!

LeS said...

Oh, I just traveled parallel-fashion along with you and my memories of having my boy.

Lovingly told...Happy birthday to her and you too!

andrea said...

I love to hear how people come into the world, I really do. it's an event of blood and magic and sweat and pain and then, more magic. ward and I both went into ezra's birth not having slept-- ward had been working towards a deadline and pulled an all-nighter and I was completely uncomfortable and just decided not to sleep (stupid, right?). so around 6am, I go into labor and I'm thinking, YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. oh, the timing.

loved reading this, danette. and happy happy HAPPY birthday, miss mina!

Heather said...

Oh that is the nicest story, I so love birth storys and that is a beautiful one!!, she is adorable