It was 15 years ago today I felt the twinges of contractions. They say you’ll know the difference and you do or at least I did. It was the middle of the night. I thought I would let the Evil Genius sleep a little longer so I just penned down the times I felt the contractions. The night is a strange time, so dark and full of solitude. I woke him. I couldn’t do it – didn’t want to do it on my own any longer. Of course he was calm but alarmed after he looked over the times I’d written down and realized I was already at 5 minutes between contractions.
No, it was not an easy introduction to my first born. It was kind of scary and surreal. I knew something wasn’t right. Still, I laboured dutifully but ultimately had to have surgery to see my daughter. Like in a movie I was wheeled down the hall, watching the ceiling lights go by as I made my way to the operating room. She was born at 10:07am and except for a quick glance that was the last time I saw her until the afternoon. I didn’t feel anything.
Frozen halfway down I was immobilized. Had I been emotionally drained as well? All I wanted to know was the size of her head, convinced it was a cranium of such magnitude that it prevented her from emerging the “normal” way from me. She wasn’t nearly as big as they predicted in the last ultrasound. She was fine. She was perfect. She had 10 fingers and 10 toes and I had yet to meet her. I was in recovery. She was in the nursery for her special needs after delivery. I sat there waiting.
I was finally allowed to move to my room even though I still couldn’t feel my legs or move my toes. The epidural was taking an exceptional long time to wear off. Then my family and friends arrived. People came to see me. They came to see her. I asked how she was. They all said she was fine. I was jealous. They all got to see my baby before me. They got to describe her nose or her blonde hair with the shock of white patch. What was she really like I wondered? I was anxious. I wanted to see for myself. Finally a nurse brought me a polaroid of her. She was crying. This red faced wrinkled thing attached to tubes was mine? I worried that I was already an unfit mother, no maternal instincts, someone who couldn’t love their child. I felt nothing.
It wasn’t until after 4:00pm, some 6 hours after I gave birth to her that they allow me to see her. Still not moving very well I was wheeled down the hall in a wheel chair anticipating the first true meeting of my daughter. Why was I feeling nothing? I was scared of my own lack of emotion and then I hit the entrance way to the nursery. I didn’t see any of the other babies but I heard one. I’m pretty sure it was mine. I just knew. The flood gates opened. I was wheeled right up beside my tiny child, naked except for a diaper, under lights and tubes and tears rolling down my face. I touched her hand. I soothed her. I asked the nurse if I could hold her. As this wee thing was placed in my care just like that I knew. I knew she was mine, I knew I loved her and I knew I would do anything for her. I’m pretty sure I said something like, “Hello Aurora. It’s Mommy.”
It’s been 15 years since that meeting. Happy birthday to my amazing Aurora, a beautiful, smart and engaging young woman. It is her day but quietly I also mark today, more than in other years as my own celebration. Something that I can’t quite believe as I replay the movie in my mind, that this is the day I became a mother.