You emerge into the world.
Just below the waters surface I first glimpse your black hair and your wise, dark grey eyes. I pull you to my chest as I lay back in the tub I've sat dreaming in, no less than a hundred times during my pregnancy. Don't let anyone ever tell you dreams don't come true.
* * *
March 14th, 2012
It's 6:00am and I wake up with the lines "Oh my darling, Oh my darling, Oh my darling Clementine...." playing through my head. I can't shake it and I haven't even recently heard that song. I don't like it. I don't like the "lost and gone forever" part and I never will. I was a little uneasy. In retrospect, this should have been my first clue that you were on your way.
I roll my ever growing belly out of bed and head into the kitchen where the sounds and smells of breakfast have already begun. Daddy and I exchange familiar glances as if to say, "How much longer can this go on?"
I am just over 41 weeks pregnant.
We hug and kiss Daddy goodbye for work and promise to call him if there is any "action." Peter and I drop Sam off at preschool and head straight to the lake for another slow, labor-inducing morning walk along our favorite lake-side path. To recapture my breath and regain my composure from your increasing weight on my body, we stop every few minutes to pick flowers, gathering them neatly into a bouquet of iphone photos for posterity. You know, just in case this is "the day."
The afternoon passes normally and without a single sizeable contraction like I've experienced previous afternoons and evenings. We pick up Sam from school, return home to our afternoon routine: lunch, two books and naps. This particular day I pass on my routine beauty sleep for a hot shower and a quiet moment to do my hair and make-up. Later I'll be glad I did.
Your brothers sleep longer than usual and I take this time as a welcome gift to ready myself for my first ever acupuncture appointment. I also take the time to learn online that acupuncture does not, in fact, work to induce labor and that if it does, it is just coincidence. I even have a moments thought that I'll cancel the appointment, but I'm too excited to meet you and I am promised that if nothing else it will be relaxing.
I make chicken nugget, french fry and broccoli tupperware bento boxes for the boys and we hop in the car to go pick up Daddy at his meeting near Parque da Cidade. Outside of the building we scoop up dad in the rain and head to Asa Norte, "The North Wing" of Brasilia's master planned airplane, stopping for schwarma along the way. We all eat in the car quietly as we weave through rush hour traffic.
We arrive at the Life Center where we wait for Henrique, the acupuncturist. I am a little nervous, a lot big and the 5 foot by 8 foot waiting room filled with our whole family, my whole belly, two other patients and an oscillating fan, is a bit tight.
Twenty minutes later I am called into discuss the procedure. Daddy translates the parts I miss and I am led into a stark room with a massage table, a stainless steel rolling medical caddy and Henrique, who I understand in bits and spurts of Portuguese. He painlessly taps a few needles into my ankles and wrists, and one in my neck and hooks each up to a tiny electric current.
I remain as still as possible after Henrique leaves me to rest and I listen to Daddy over the top of the exam room wall in the waiting room begging your brother's to have good behavior and watch a movie on my iphone quietly. Not exactly the tranquil experience I was promised...neither that or the intense and regular contractions that begin instantly after the current begins flowing.
Twenty six minutes later Henrique returns. I tell him I've begun having regular and sizable contractions and he smiles, he either knows, or he figures he'll see me tomorrow for another round. We head home. I dial Paloma, our mid-wife on the way to let her know how it went, she is pleased and tells me to keep in touch if anything happens. She also either knows, or figures you won't be ready for another week.
We return home, give your brothers "face bath, hand bath, foot bath," and send them straight to bed. Daddy and I also head to bed to read for a bit, but I can't concentrate and contractions continue. I keep thinking, "this just might be it." We may have even turned off the lights for a minute, but quickly turn them back on and I begin to pace about the house.
At about 10:00pm I call Rafaela, our doula, and she instructs me to take a warm bath and relax. "If it is really labor, it will continue," she promises, "If it isn't the contractions will slow and stop." I run the bath, I try to relax, but the contractions don't let up and I can't shake the feeling that this is finally it.
At 10:30 I meet dad in the kitchen to call Rafaela back and notify our friends Kurt and Erica, who'll be watching Sam and Peter for the big event. We carry two sleeping boys to the car, strap them in and I kiss them goodbye. The next time I'll see them our world will be forever changed and I cry as Daddy drives them away up the conjunto.
I call Paloma at about 11:00pm and she says she will begin getting ready and head over in about 45 minutes. I urge her not to hurry, not wanting her to have to wait while I labor. I begin to pull out my basket of supplies I've been readying for months for your birth, prepare the bed and pull out the labor tub. I have to stop now during contractions, lean over the bed and breathe through them. I know we're getting close, I know I need your Dad.
Daddy comes home just a few minutes later to help me ready the house, until I can do no more. I retire to the warm bathtub where my water breaks. There won't be time to fill up the labor pool. Daddy runs to the kitchen to text Paloma and Rafaela to hurry and turns on the outside lights to guide them in. I grow increasingly uncomfortable in the bath, but try to keep in mind all the preparations that I've made, all that I've read, all the support I have and remind myself that I've done this all before. I begin to play my soothing birthing playlist of crashing waves and classical piano music on my ipod and I sink back into breathing as you steadily make you way into the world.
Rafaela joins us first, instructing Daddy to dim the lights and close the bathroom window, so that "the baby" doesn't get cold.
At this moment and not until this moment I was perhaps, just going through the motions, the motions that had all been done for me during Peter and Sam's births in the hospital. I begin to panic. "I am about to have a baby!" Just daddy and I in our beautiful home, in Brazil, a million miles from home, filled with love and there is no loophole, no turning back now. This precise moment is when your birth turned into your birth story instead of a memory of a million other birth stories I had read and heard about in the past nine months. You were really on your way.
Rafaela massages my head and I hold Daddy's hand so tight. I see in your dad the most amazing confidence in me that I've ever seen. I know when I look at him with question in my eyes, without exchanging a word, that he believes in me unequivocally.
Paloma arrives shortly before midnight.
Daddy leaves me for a moment to help her carry in her supplies and everyone gathers around me in the tub. We laugh between contractions, they encourage me and they cheer you on in your journey to our arms. I beg them to tell me I am doing things right, but they just smile and remind me that "Nature is perfect." They encourage me to change positions and with that, at 12:41am, you are home.
* * *
After nearly an hour of holding you and studying your every perfection, I move to our bed where Paloma and Rafaela make me comfortable. Daddy slips away to make me a bowl of chicken noodle soup. When he returns he crawls into bed next to me while Paloma weighs and measures you and checks you out.
Around 4am they leave the three of us together to catch a few moments of sleep before we pick up your brothers to meet you for the first time in the morning.
I can't sleep, I didn't expect I would, I didn't after your brothers were born. I don't know how anyone struck to instantaneously and insanely in love could. Daddy and I hold hands as we lay in our bed with you bundled by our sides.