in the brink of motherhood

hair. so much hair.

i do not know what the first thought mothers have the moment they first have a glimpse of their newborn but that was what mine was. hair. she has so much hair.

i have heard of mothers saying whatever difficulties they have had to go through during labor disappear when they finally hold their babies on their arms. i have had mothers tell me everything else fade away the moment they saw their babies right after delivery. it is a common statement for women who just bore a baby to say that there is no words to describe the euphoria felt when the baby comes out.

all i could think of when i saw Grape was how much hair she has. and how straight and jetblack it was (a few days later, the edges of her hair became dark brown and curly, just like her father’s).

as to whether i felt cheated in the whole labor-delivery phase was not something i considered at all. Grape- at 40 weeks- has not descend. my cervix remained at 1cm and uneffaced. the doctor insisted i should wait- Grape remained alert and active inside my tummy (in fact, up until the spinal anesthesia numb my tummy, she was kicking and moving even up to the delivery room). but Zsolt was leaving in 8 days; everybody has been waiting for Grape since the 18th. i was miserable, so done with the entire thing, and tired i was ready to try anything to pop Grape out. the doctor- traditional that she is- insisted we should wait. and if we cannot wait, that she will try to induce Grape out. induced labor scared the shit out of me- for all the horror stories i heard about it- more so, on what impact it may have on Grape. the ultrasound taken that morning confirmed our hunch that she was not coming out anytime soon at all. she was still floating. the placenta is already at stage 3. but like my obgyn, the doctor who performed the ultrasound confirmed that Grape is acting like any healthy, unstressed fetus.

would i have waited? it is not like i am going anywhere. what is it to me and my daughter that Zsolt is leaving in 8 days? i did not plan to have a c-section; it is expensive, the recovery painful and long, and it snatches you out of the traditional introduction to motherhood: the famous labor process they all talk about. but for some unjustifiable or unexplainable instinct, a huge force is pushing me to go ahead with it. she is in full term; a c-section is already considered safe.

it turned out that not only is Grape big enough that she cannot descend into the birth canal, she had her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck and her stomach- something that the ultrasound that morning has missed. something that- looking back at it now- freaked me out should i have agreed for an induced labor.

and so it was that they had me wheeled into the operating room. i have never been in an operating room before. hell, the closest i got to being admitted to the hospital was when i was rushed two years ago to the emergency room for an allergic reaction to antibiotics. operating rooms are not design for comfort. the table is cold and everyone has their masks and their gloves and their operating clothes while you lay there naked and exposed. i agreed to a spinal anesthesia, which turned out to be different from an epidural but allowed me to still be conscious the entire operation.

the entire thing was shorter than i have anticipated and surreal. there i was being sliced open and i was chatting with the anesthesiologist to get him to confirm if it was still normal that my blood pressure was shooting off the roofs. i was not scared which surprised me. i was a little bit afraid for Grape and prayed that there would be no complications. there was no fear; just impatient anticipation to get the entire thing done and over with.

i heard her cry, loud and clear. i heard it still as the nurse carried her away from the operating room to give her her first bath. i remember telling myself babies always cry that loud when they are born. and when the nurse put her next to me in the recovery room, i have watched her and wondered.

i expected i would have cried. Grape and i went through so much that it seems all too easy how everything ended. i’ve seen how mothers do that in the movies and i have been told by mothers about that urge to cry for whatever reason there may be when they hold their babies. i have watched Grape that entire time in the recovery room and all i can think of was how amazingly strong she was to have gone through all those with me and how unaffected she seems about all those now that she is now on her own.

i have told a friend a few days later that those things mother say they felt when they first saw their babies- that sense of everything else fading away and that sense of completeness- i didn’t get that. i looked at Grape and knew exactly why she is there. there was no realization left to realize- she and I- we have sort of figured it out earlier on.

as for Zsolt, i probably could not describe how he felt when he first hold her in his arms. perhaps, i will never know in detail. but in all the confusion, noise, congratulatory ooohs and ahhs, laughter and chaos in that visitor-packed hospital room later that evening, we briefly looked at each other.

i truly believe and i have said this once that you do not save a child’s life by deciding to bring her to this world; sometimes, you let her save yours. and as he was rocking her to sleep, i knew that whatever shit we have caused each other, he will always be there for her.

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