These were the first notes I ever took with my first iPod:
427 434 443 452 505 511 518 522 528 535 539 544 547 553 557 604 608 612 617 622 626 634 640 646 652 700 715 724 733 737 742 747 759 804 808 813 818 822 831 836 841 847 852 856 901 905
No. Those aren’t the weird numbers that showed up constantly on “Lost” – they are the times of my contractions when I went into labor with She-Babe, 4 years ago tomorrow.
Of course, at the time I didn’t know I was in labor. My doctor had mentioned that if the contractions lasted longer than an hour I could assume it was the real deal but I didn’t know what contractions should feel like. All I had to go on were the cinematic images of hollering, she-wolf women that grabbed their husbands by the lapel and spoke in diabolic tongue to get the demon living inside her, out. My contractions felt nothing like this, so for all I knew, I just had to poop.
I remained calmly in bed, reading a Paulo Coelho book, as the hustle of my home began. Husband got the bags and checklist together. My mom woke up my grandmother who sat on the couch with serious focus, ready to go. She was from an older generation when child birth was as scary as a dinosaur trying to eat you. Having babies – and caring for them – was serious business. My mom moved to the kitchen to make breakfast, though I can’t recall if I ate or not. When everyone else was ready, I slowly rolled off the bed and walked straight out the door to the car downstairs.
It would be hours – hooooouuuurs – before She was born at 9:28 pm.
We all waited in the same room because in the Dominican Republic, not even child birth has to be private. My delivery room looked more like a room in my home than a hospital room. Dimly lit with only a lamp on, Husband sat by my bed and the rest of the squad sat quietly on the two couches in my private room. Barely a peep. The hours in between blur together. I remember it all, and somehow, nothing at all. It was only four years ago yet an eternity has passed and everything has changed.
This is our fifth year living abroad, in comparison to then, when we were here a mere two months. Since then, we have had another child – a son – a gorgeous, sweet boy. I’m in my mid-thirties, closer to 40 than 30. My grandmother has passed away. And the She-Babe… She will turn four tomorrow.
She’s in ballet class now. And art class. She calls my mom, by herself, on FaceTime and speaks like an eloquent adult. She is fierce – like Sasha Fierce – fierce. And heartbreakingly sensitive. She’s tall; a 4-year-old the size of the average 2nd grader. She doesn’t take no for an answer but always asks – even if the answer might be No. She tells on herself. She refers to her and her brother as my amorcitos, my loves. She teaches me new words in Spanish. She walks in my heels with the grace of a runway model. She sometimes wears two different kinds of shoes. Despite our efforts, she is a pink and princess-loving girl and compares me to Cinderella when she looks at our wedding picture in our bedroom. She still runs to me when I meet her at the playground, her curls bouncing like they’re skipping rope, her smile wider than her face, and she leaps into my arms with her full weight behind her. I don’t know when she’ll stop doing this, but – on the eve of her birthday – I’m trying to not keep track of time, to not count the minutes in between and to instead feel the whole contraction, the aches and joys of watching your baby grow up.
~ Until the next bottle ~
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