(written by Abby Weingarten, about the birth of Miranda Skye, born 05.29.09)
It’s almost been a year since Miranda Skye Nodeen entered the world at 9:44 p.m. Fri. May 29, 2009 at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, into the capable hands of Dr. Kelly Hamel.
There are so many inexplicably wonderful things I feel daily for this being that descended from heaven and came through me. There are also things I keep to myself about how she arrived – things I feel guilty for feeling, and things about which I don’t quite know how to feel.
When emergencies happen and the participants emerge unscathed, onlookers always say, “You’re safe. You’re alive. That’s all that matters.” They are absolutely correct. That doesn’t change the fact that an emergency occurred.
If a ship sinks and everyone on it lives, the ship still went down without forewarning, and there were events leading up to the sinking that will forever remain in the psyches of its survivors. I don’t deign to know how such people felt, but there is a part of me that needs to crawl out of my own smaller-scale shellshock.
On the morning of the 29th, I awoke with a stomachache. A half-hour later, my water broke. Eighteen hours later, I’d dilated a mere three centimeters and wouldn’t progress even after drinking cups of tinctures, squatting and climbing up and down stairs in-between every contraction.
I would delve into the details between the awareness of this standstill and Miranda’s actual birth, but it is a period of time that is shrouded in mystery, which no Google search or medical hypothesis can conclusively answer. The clock was ticking, the baby’s heart rate was slowing, her distress was increasing and medical technology was imperative.
Some may say none of these circumstances matter, as Miranda soldiered onto this planet like a champ and has proved to be a gloriously happy, healthy miracle. In my mind, my own petty emotions stopped being a priority once she joined the picture. How dare I whine about stupid specifics with this beautiful baby in my arms? It continues to be nearly impossible to be in a bad mood in her presence.
So I have taken the time to shut the door to my office tonight as she sleeps in her nursery, and permit the tears to flow for the first time.
I spent nine months blindly idealizing Miranda’s birth – and not once did I imagine it taking place while my arms were strapped onto a gurney and she was pulled through my abdomen behind a blue curtain. I always assumed it would be more like a spiritual vision quest, when I would come face to face with God on an elevated plane. I was under the impression that it was my decision how she would be born, when in the end, it was Spirit’s judgment call.
God and Dr. Hamel saved my baby’s life and mine, and without modern-day medical innovations, we wouldn’t be here. Could there have been another way? Could it have been prevented if there had been more investigation, more tests or more herbs to take? We will never know. At the moment of truth, when it was ultimately do or die, we had to do. So we did.
When I think of the thousands of women a century ago that died from complications in childbirth, I can’t help but consider my own fate. These days, no one talks about this notion, and those who even think momentarily about it are made out to be fools. What does it mean that my body responded to birth in the way it did? What does it say about me? What does it say about God? And why was I chosen?
I come from a lineage of survivors, and with that DNA comes a mentality of “You’re alive. You have no reason to complain about anything.” The problem with that philosophy is that it doesn’t allow for any real emotional growth; it demands repression. Feelings bubble under the surface, slowly turning into resentment, guardedness and an inability to be vulnerable. I have held my tears in check for 10 1/2 months behind a bulging internal dam. They deserve to be liberated, and so do I.
No, I have no reason to complain. Yes, I have a million reasons to rejoice. But I also have every right to remember, to ruminate and to wonder. I have a right to grieve the loss of the many fragile hopes I cultivated (not just in those nine months but in my entire 28 years), the loss of the omniscience I deluded myself into thinking I had, and most importantly, the loss of my pride.
Instead of being the fearless, strong, impermeable mother I so desperately wanted to be in the moment my baby was born, I got to be the child. It turns out that was exactly what I spent my life needing and never got. Spirit proved once again to be the mother that “knows best,” no matter how much I may have thought I had all the answers.
Miranda and I were born concurrently at 9:44 p.m. Fri. May 29, 2009 and now, we’re on this unassuming journey together. Today, I have infinitely more to teach her than I might have if the cosmic tables had never turned.
Lesson number one: Believe.
Lesson two: ?