Sunday, September 9, 2012
My wrists were wet. Two days later my arms were hurting. And I also wanted you to know that the flowers in my shower are blooming.
For the record, this has been one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. There’s no one to run to really. That it is ok- truly. But at this moment I feel a disconnect, even though earlier I felt the strongest love. I change my mood like your Big Mac diapers.
Tonight is the eclipse. I plan to miss it; the hour just doesn’t suit me. If, by chance, I had someone to watch it with, that would be different. I thought I found someone but I only found myself. The last eclipse I witnessed was a few years ago. I was drinking more then, near the death of my father in 2004. And I came home and wrote a poem. It started:
“You wax. You wane
Like a mother’s pain
In deepest purple shadow”
Today’s coincidence: the eclipse of the moon. August 28, 2007. And recalling the last lunar eclipse, describing a mother’s pain.
This experience of this birth has changed me in a way. I want to shake everyone I know and remind them. I could never express myself truly as I experienced it but I will try to tell you. This was hell. Hell in my body. At the same time it was a glimpse of heaven.
Where do you start on a day like today? It's a simultaneous movement; every time I think of it, it just makes me feel I'm living in a tunnel. Experiencing Delfin’s birth was shifting to me. It's not that it means that I want a baby more now, but that I am more in tune with my mortality than I was when my father died. I think it had to do with me thinking that Bell was going to die. I think it had to do with me thinking that this entire episode would have been completely different without me. And for the first time in my life, I had a purpose, an appreciation that I felt truly, truly present. Or that is to say I felt my life get a life. I felt another life giving life. But this was one of the scariest days of my life.
Her water broke in the afternoon around four o'clock. We got to the hospital at 10. I went home at midnight. They induced her labor and she started contractions at five in the morning. I arrived at 8 p.m. when she was close to dilated. And she only really started pushing at 10. Then 24 hours later, here I am again. Rubbings Bell's belly I wonder. I know I get lost in the wonder. Where should I be on the natural report, in pink and purple lounged in sorrow. I think of my love in a loose way, because it's all I can do now. If I have a broken heart, at least I can give mine in another way to a beautiful friend. I thought all I was supposed to do was be there for guidance to help her breathe and relax and focus to show her, her picture of the dolphin. I have a garden of hearts and I don’t know what I am doing.
August 25, 2007 Delfin Day.
It's not to be forgotten. 1:23 clocked in from his waiting time. I thought Bell would die. I stood up in the middle of the procedure to check out the big cut and the nurse told me to SIT DOWN behind the blue drape, back next is to Bell's sweaty head. I talked to her head, and gave her visions of clouds and oceans. Nothing worked. Teeth chattering, the pain the pain. I saw the blood reflect from the doctor’s visor. The reflection of her insides. I don't think I really wanted to see; I didn't want that feeling. My memory. I knew my importance in being there. In a sense, I never felt as needed on any mission. It was a dependency I'm not used to having. When I got home, I clicked off my green plastic bracelet and threw it in the bathroom garbage. Thought of keeping it, but it's not for me. I took a shower and didn't cry. My first tears came from a cry of a newborn across the hall when Bell was still in labor, trying to push. I had no idea it was going to be so hands-on, that my muscles were in demand, that I'd have to push her left leg back each time, the palm of her foot towards us, her knee towards her chest while we coached her to push. Cynthia had her right leg, and I had her left. She was the kindest Jamaican nurse at Lenox Hill, Cynthia, on her right side had the job of changing all the fluid and blood, red on many blankets. And I had the job to encourage her to keep focused on the spot to push, the spot, the famous spot, through drugs, not to forget to push hard at that spot like she will take a massive poop. Yes, that spot. She dropped one of her red rocks as they rolled her away for surgery. I thought it was a piece of flesh, and I looked closer. I picked it up, her precious rock, and saved it with the other rock already pinned to Bell in a gauze pouch, attached by a large safety pin.
It was the German doctor that didn’t want to wait. He came in around midnight checking on Jamaica and I, and how we were doing his job. He told Bell she had 30 minutes more of pushing, and if the magic didn’t happen by then, he was going to cut her open. And that, he did.
When Cynthia handed me Delfin, I felt the hugest responsibility. How could this tiny thing be in my arms? How am I qualified to hold him? I kept thinking how much smaller he is than Pepe. He had slippery eyes from some sort of Vaseline. Bell kept kissing him. The Vaseline was glossing her lips. I tried to turn him for her to kiss his cheeks instead of kissing his eyes. It seems wrong to kiss his eyes. While they were sewing her back together to her original package, I was sent with Delfin to be alone in a room. He was minutes old. How am I qualified to even carry this precious cargo down the hallway? Alone. I pushed through the surgery door with him in my arms, then pushed through the hallway door to the first room on my left. He was like a little football and I was going for distance. It already seemed so far. What if I tripped? What if I fainted? I looked, I cried, I spoke to him. He didn't cry at all. I unwrapped his hands to take a look, and they were frightening. White. Alien-like with no blood, wrinkly with soft dark fingernails. Tiny, tiny, tiny hands - so weird looking, so creepy. I took a photo because it almost looked like his hands were crow’s feet; white like the morgue, with no blood. I took a photo and the flash went off. I was so angry at myself to expose his little Vaseline eyes. That sick flash. But I adjusted and took a few of his little hand, his hand that is now feeling the air, his hand that reminded me of Michelangelo’s pointing hand of God, his translucent hand of purity, of fragility, and his hand that will one day expire.
His eyes hypnotized me out of my body. If only for a moment, nothing else in my life mattered, not even myself. There were just two souls in that room- Delfin and me, and I looked at him in a quietness I’ve never known before, as if a sheet of truth draped over us and he spoke of the secrets on the other side of life- in the dark, in the womb, where I once was and somehow remembered. He also brought me to the other side of life, to weightlessness and the encompassment of being One. It was where I was before I was born and it is where I am going again. It was a symphony of truth. And I knew it. I knew it inside and out. There was a rhythm, a wave of peace, something ancient echoing the space between us, and the space in that room was protected. I felt the night and the mystery of the night. There was a thickness in the air as if it was stuffed with miracle after miracle and links of complete knowledge, tinkling equations understood by everyone that has come to Life. There was Love.
On the way home in the taxi I smelled my hands. They smelled of Delfin and I cried. I want to protect him. I left the hospital at 3 a.m. and walked across Park Avenue empty and dark hoping for a cab. It was extra late, and I was extra tired from giving all my spirit and words of encouragement. I thought of the past 48 hours. I drank some red bull and dimmed the lights that morning. Bell thought the baby died inside of her the morning before and went to the hospital. I thought maybe it was my fault because I ran a bath for her, and perhaps it was too hot. But the tub was only one third full with water and Epsom salts and ginger milk. When Bell entered the bathroom I lit candles for her and told her to take her time. I thought I was the murderer. I told my mother, who gasped, while Bell was at the doctors searching for a heartbeat. It's now 4:25 a.m. and I'm not sleeping. Is it the red bull, or is it that I want to be a mother or maybe Delfin's mother. For that I need to jot this down. I offered my hands to Pepe to smell when I got home, but she was only interested in drinking from the bathroom faucet. She gave a little smell though. Would Bell really have been all alone if I wasn’t there? Feelings swirled and I couldn’t help but feel alone, myself.
After I took off my blue paper zip suit, bonnet and paper shoes, I threw them in the hallway garbage then secured Bell’s Dolce and Gabbana bag under her crank bed. I double checked her phone was tucked in there. Tucked - that was the word the doctor said as he was digging inside her abdomen, he's tucked in there. That was a horrible experience watching poor Bell tell me she was going to die. I believed her for a minute and gave her all my energy as if I'm a healer or God to save her from slipping. I’ll never forget her pale face, her teeth shaking like the sound of ice cubes falling in a glass- I never saw teeth like that as if in a cartoon: a stick on a washboard, marbles falling, pebbles mashing, an incessant chatter of ivory as she spoke- and I will never forget her words, “I feel it, I feel them digging inside me” “I’m going to die”. She said so with no life, without soul. The beads of sweat on her white/green face weren’t lying. I don't know C-sections, but that one seemed difficult. I tried not to see the red, I tried to pretend everything was beautiful and focus on the idea of beautiful dolphins and joy and sunshine, but stroking her sweaty head and looking into her fear, I was just lying to her sweat.
His head was already so far down, they had to pull him back up and out. His ear bent like a fragile apricot under his bonnet during our alone time in the recovery room. One ear was fine. The other folded under the bonnet. So I flattened his ear to match the other and sealed it softly in place. While we still had time, before it made a memory in the wrong place. His skin was so soft, his face so perfect. And we stared at each other. My little love. Everyone kept calling me Aunt Sylvie. But I am not an aunt. I only met Bell after she was pregnant and wanted to help her. I needed to. As soon as I met her I knew that. Because I knew I would need someone like me if I were alone having a baby. She stayed with me her last month of pregnancy and in a way we helped each other. She inspired me to move past my broken heart and I offered her a safe and healthy home. We’re not sisters but we lived like sisters for a few weeks, and here I was stepping in like family. As I was exiting, Cynthia told me that I am blessed. She is the last one doing this birthing business every day. She told me I'd make a good doula, or whatever is the word for people who coach people into life.
The smell of giving birth. It wasn’t foul. It was personal. This person put me more in touch with my mortality than the death of my father. This difficulty of pushing life through life woke me up even more. If that is possible. The preciousness of it all. This precocious entry, where we twist and turn through the dark and now, investing the ways, watching this woman who was gently imitating the twist and turn with her hands up and slightly swimming by her face. Her gloves wet with pink. Those famous gloves, each time Bell had a contraction, she had a new one to dig in and push the magic spot for Bell to feel, a reminder of where to push. Her fat, inflamed vagina was hard to watch. Not to be described. Not to be remembered. Because it was falling apart. What a waste that she had so much water still, after 30 hours of breaking, and still so much water; this was supposed to be easy. I'm trying to make sense of this. This example. I'll never stop shaking. I woke in the middle of the night or shall I say early morning- since I went to bed at 5- with the most vicious worm-like feeling inside of me. I felt Bell's pain. I felt them digging inside of me. I was running in my bed. I saw the horror in her eyes behind the blue drape. I am not comfortable. I will not sleep. The idea of harvesting a baby holding down flesh with clamps and grabbing into the thickness through the elegant bikini. The idea of recoiling it from where it was going and fishing him precisely. Those scissor clamps holding Bell’s fat belly. Then I walked in. A pinch on the globe, for one new life. One new snowflake in this world. I wore Bell's name and yesterdays date on my wrist. On a thick white band that bothers me. It is the only one given out to someone other than the mother. We were both given a band behind the blue drape. First Bell. Then me. Then Delfin, with a band on each foot. His were tiny. This is the band that gives me permission to see and hold Delfin. Today, tomorrow, and the next while Bell recovers. And I still wonder, what gives me the right?
My life isn't my own. It doesn't even belong to me. It belongs to no one. I'm just carrying my soul. Carrying it for the universe or for whatever reason I'm here. I came so easily and have been told countless times throughout my life how easy my birth was. My mother said it was like putting an envelope in the mail. That term comes from her mom. I hope to put an envelope in the mail one day.
E. Kelly's Spiritual Journey on Miracles are Everyday:
"A friend asked me if I believed in miracles, and I said yes. I believe the whole thing - existence itself - is a miracle. The most miraculous thing about miracles is that they don't seem like miracles."