The cab stopped in front of Saint Elisabeth Hospital. The driver did not move to open the door. He appeared somewhat bothered, perhaps because he had noticed the fluid coming out of me had now reached the passenger seat. Sergio was already on the other side as I attempted to open the door. We exchanged a look. I looked in his left eye first, then on his right. They were the same eyes I remembered when we lay down under the sun in Sardinia. Without a care in the world, then we lived mainly in the present, with only some vague plans for the future. His eyes had a fake “you’re going to be ok” look. I know he was, well, worried! I am sure he was about to say goodbye to whatever freedom he thought he was going to give up. He was moving in an odd way, looking perhaps for a shoulder to lean on, but most certainly today, that wasn’t going to be mine. My mom followed us. I don’t remember how I found myself in a wheelchair. While the elevator started going up, I felt an excruciating pain at the bottom of my abdomen. I looked at Sergio and I looked at my mom, then closed my eyes from the second excruciating pain. This was going to be my journey, not theirs. My pain, not theirs. All mine.
The birth room was pained in a peach color. Even the room divider curtain was the same and with some fish and shells on it. “American style,” I had thought, jolly in a way and a bit cliché. I style you can say I had started to adopt myself since I placed foot in this country and cultivated with tenor since, after all I had to justify my decisions and surrender to the yearn that had been boiling for many years. Today specifically I had to pay attention to these unimportant details to distract myself from what was really happening to me. Five people were around me; one measuring the contractions, one my blood pressure, one whipping my sweats, and I screamed hard, “oh mamiiii help me”. My mom came by quickly to hold my hand, but she was irritating me the most at that moment. The doctor who was checking me out looked up and said: “We may have to do an epidural. You have been in labor for 4 hours, but the cervix is only 2cm at the moment. We will have to stimulate the birth but it’s going to be painful”. I asked, “what was an Epidural”, and he explained the procedure in detail. I remember saying, “Catheter that goes down my spine…absolutely not”. He looked at me doubtfully, as to say, “I know you’ll consider it in a few hours”. Dam, he was right! It took another 3 hours of my stubborn attempts of birth without aid scenario. I have kicked, screamed, called Sergio an “ass hole”, called my mom useless and that she cared more about my sister in the last 10 years. After a period of grace pain of about 20 second, a tightening at the bottom of my belly would start, and it would go on like a hard pinch and the pain would spread in all around, enough to raise my hair up, fill my eyes with heavy tears, “aaahhhhhhh”.
“Call the anesthesiologist!” – I had screamed. “I want an epidural.”
The epidural was placed with ease, and I cursed myself for refusing it in the first place. The pain was departing, but not the pressure. Something was pressing really hard down below. I felt a lot of things coming out of me. I was powerless and, for the first time, surrendered in the hands of others. I started not caring at this point. This had to be done.
Ten hours had gone by, and my cervix sill stood rigid at 2 cm. I had closed my eyes for 30 minutes, and exhausted I felt sinking in bed with no sensation in my legs and lower abdomen. I closed my eyes and envisioned the baby trying to find air. It was the baby’s time to breath, to suck in the oxygen that was waiting for it. “It” came easy to call it since I didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl. I placed my hand over my tummy. I was hoping to let the baby feel the heat of my hand. The time had come, but what time really, to come out? Wait, but we would never be so close again, my darling baby. It would be you, and me and the whole world tomorrow… but never like this again, no. Never just you and me in one cell, and no one in between. The nurses were coming in and out, and then they rushed to call the doctor. “There are no more fluids in her”-they had whispered in the corner of the room. “Ok: – the doctor said, calmly but with a sense of eminence. “Let’s induce her and wait one hour; otherwise prepare for surgery.”
I felt I had given up this point. I had tried, but the minutes brought a new event each time. My mouth was dry, and I had a massive headache. “Come on, baby”, I said. “As much as I would want to keep you in, this is stronger than me, you know we have to surrender to the laws of this world, because there is no other way here”.
“Wow, we have it”- yelled one of the nurses. Two more nurses showed up, and the doctor rushed last. “The cervix is ready” said the nurse, and all the three nurses rapidly bend over me and screamed, “Puuushhhh”.
“Push, push, push, push, breathe, push, push, push, push, breathe”. They must have said it a million times. It echoed in my ears for a while after that day. It had been the formula for bringing You into the world.
Then it was silence. I had expected a cry, but no, nothing. A peaceful baby, moving hands and feet. “It’s a girl,” said the doctor. And placed you on my tummy. I looked at you.
“Perfect”. Then I let a laugh. A long laugh, as my head leaned back looking up, tears making my pillow wetter from the previous cries. I looked up, and saw angels and cherubs playing the drums and maybe piano, too. A song only I heard. I had created life. I had brought to this world the most beautiful flower or creature, or poem or music, or all of them combined.
“Julia”- I said. “That’s her, she is Julia.”
I brought you closer to my face to give you the first kiss. The nurse tried to take you away for the regular check-up, but I resisted. “Do it here,”-I said, “She is perfect anyway, I know it”. I had entered this hospital as Edlira and I was now “Mother”. I turned and looked at my mom, I have never loved her more than that moment. I turned back to you and whispered, “I love you”.
And I had never been more certain in my whole life. “Mommy loves you, Julia”.
11/10/2023 (On my daughter’s birthday who was born in 1994)
Written while listening to Mitski “My love, mine all mine.”