There you are Uma, my first glimpse of you, and of course you’re staring back at me.
(photo cred for all photos in this post except this one go to Jackie Willome Photography)
I found new love in this moment. I loved you instantly. In this moment, I have a ‘bright light’ moment, similar to what people describe when in a near death experience. You were the end of my tunnel. I wondered about the life you’ll lead. Geez, will you have to face a dustbowl drought, like I read about? Will you have a family of your own one day and experience the euphoria that I’m in? Will you spend years emulating your parents? Will you then spend years embarrassed by the sight of us? Whatever it is, whatever your challenges, your loves, your despair – all of it – you’re alive and it is all worth it. And finally, in this millisecond, I realize the struggle you’ve already made – to beat the odds – to be here with us to share this moment.
THE BIRTH STORY
(Part 1 – in which the birth is not discussed at all … YET)
All birth starts with conception, and yours is unique. No, I will never tell you the story of how your mother and I conceived you (any more than I just did), but go with me here. We had 2 kids- two wonderful kids- 2 kids that woke us up in all hours of the night as babies. 2 kids that we changed diapers for – (and not those “drop-em in a waste bucket and forget what you just saw” disposable diapers – but “shake-it-out and wash it” diapers).
To be honest, we thought another kid would be beyond our capabilities.
We were even using birth control – let’s be honest here – we were using one of THE MOST effective types of birth control on the market – 99.6% effective…apparently. That’s a percentage you sleep easy with, that percentage is why I don’t play the lottery.
See – I told you that you were unique. I guess all of that didn’t matter – not the diapers, not the birth control, not the percentage. What mattered was love – and we had that in abundance.
The day was July 7, 2014, the day we found out about you. Two days earlier, we had just had a dance off karaoke party with friends. I had literally sprained my ankle whilst singing Def Leppard (you will need to Wikipedia this pop-culture reference). Despite the injury, you need to know this about your dad: I rocked on. I sprained my ankle on the first song – and rocked on all the night long – for your mom – for her birthday.
So 2 days later, .04% (the chance of pregnancy) would come down to a Walgreens test, when Alissa had this weird feeling -that she had felt 2 times before. But I thought Alis was impregnable. Point-four percent (.04%) – surely we’re not that .04%. Surely, nobody is actually that .04%. Surely, that number is just representing scientific error and weird anomalies once every decade or so. Surely. Surely- POSITIVE.
I’m not saying I didn’t struggle. This was a process – and don’t worry – you do win my heart. You have that Rocky moment – that Say Anything moment – you do ‘get the girl,’ don’t worry, you get there.
During your gestational period, the kids and I spoke at length – I think Asher thought you were a bad taco that mom ate that was making her stomach ache. We had a very loving, very healthy pregnancy. We sang to you, talked to you and kissed you (as best we could).
(Part 2 – the real birth story)
So 9 months had passed. I would say uneventfully, but it wasn’t so uneventful. We loved you already. We had traveled a long way from that .04% – a universe away, as we eagerly awaited your arrival.
The night you were born, Asher had awoken in the night, as he is prone to doing. I comforted him, and ended up falling asleep on his bed. Around midnight Alissa wakes me up in a rush, I see that she is having serious contractions- because she couldn’t talk to me in complete sentences. She quickly shouted some brief commands and rushed off to get a firm grip on something before the next contraction. I knew this was it, the day we had been waiting for. Alissa rushed to the couch and had more contractions, texting our midwife Robin, and friends and doulas, Rachel and Beth.
I wanted, fool heartedly, to add some air to the birthing pool after hearing Alis tell the midwife that she wanted to labor in the tub. I was still in some form of REM sleep as I got out the air compressor (dolphins turn off half their brain and still swim as they sleep, I was in this dolphin state.) Somehow got the tip stuck inside the air hole of the birth tub, when I took off the compressor, the tub deflated to near nothing – it was a crumpled mess of what we needed, of what it was just a moment ago. I looked at Alissa, and she noticed the sad state of affairs in the midst of another contraction, (I still haven’t had the cajones to ask her what she was thinking as she glanced at me and a very well deflated tub.) I immediately problem solved – I grabbed the biggest pair of pliers in the house/ neighborhood/North Central part of town and I yanked it out and fixed my mess up. Who knows how many contractions I missed. DoulaBeth entered and comforted Alissa, then DoulaRachel showed up, and MidwifeRobin arrived shortly thereafter. Alissa asked if she could get in the tub to labor – MidwifeRobin wanted to examine first. I texted our amazing PhotographerJackie and told her that I would contact her soon if MidwifeRobin felt the baby was coming soon. We had not yet asked Jackie to make her way to us, though we knew she was a good 45 minutes away, we didn’t want her to arrive too early.
Minutes later, MidwifeRobin checks and stops immediately and says “It’s time, the baby’s right here.” Alissa begs for clarification. “The baby is right here, this is her head.” And just then PhotographerJackie (did I say she was amazing?) came through the door, and just started snapping pictures. 6 minutes, 6 beautiful minutes, 6 precious minutes later, you were here and I had that ‘bright light’ moment. You were born in still fully in your amniotic sac. This is called en caul – just like 1 in 80,000 other babies are born. You always loved those long odds.
This is what followed:
Thank you Uma – thank you for fighting the odds. Thank you for being born. Thank you for completing our family.