Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Hannah

I realized it as I stumbled to work one August morning. Coming out of 30th Street Station, making my way down Market Street. I was lightheaded, and uncertain I could make it to Penn. I leaned against one of the buildings along my way, out of the flow of pedestrians in a hurry. I was listening to Bjork, and she sang in my ear,

"It's not up to you....oh, it never really was."

Oh my God. I was totally and completely pregnant. Totally. Completely. Pregnant. That's where I was when I realized it: Market Street, Philadelphia, PA, August of 2002.

7 years ago, I'm not sure what was happening. It was such a long process, getting her out. The midwife who first examined me that August must have been a jokester, telling me I could easily deliver a 9 lb. baby. And I believed her, because have you seen my hips? I have a pelvis, people.

7 years ago, there was something called membrane stripping (um...ouch!) and castor oil, which is the midwife way of getting your baby out by first forcing you to poop uncontrollably for several hours. There were lots and lots and lots of those things called contractions, which feel like the turning of the Earth has come to a halt and at any minute, you expect to be hurled across the room at the speed of light, only to be reduced to the basic building block of everything. Your atoms, everywhere. Contractions feel a lot like thunder sounds, loud and ominous. Except they're not really ominous. It's hard work, getting a baby out.

7 years ago, my husband turned white as a ghost, and somewhere within his not particularly emotional soul, I know he worried about the outcome. He stood beside me, and behind me, rubbing the small of my back as I rocked and rocked and rocked.

7 years ago, there was a hospital transfer, and all the interventions I had tried to avoid. It wasn't working. My body, fickle and stubborn. My baby, positioned awkwardly.

7 years ago, my own mother stood by. She had pushed me out 27 years before, and now here she was, watching the baby she birthed birthing another.

27 hours. A fever. A scalpel. A girl. My girl.

She was lovely from the start, with very fine wisps of light brown hair and eyes so bright and blue I knew they wouldn't change color.


It's crazy. One egg. One sperm. One particular combination creates one person you love so much. One person you'd go to war for. Face fire or bullets or a hulking tank. One person and so much love.

We got her a bike for her birthday. It's seriously the cutest bike I've ever seen, absent of all things Princess or Hannah Montana or any other passing phase. It's truly a big girl bike, for a big girl.

7 years ago, she was still inside me, all balled up and feeling the pressure of wanting out. And now she's here and big. She runs and jumps and slides and sings. She loves to watch Paula Deen cook, and watches shows about tornadoes. She used to want to live in Hawaii, but now she's settled on Maine. (Does Maine get hurricanes? she asked me one day.) She wants to own and operate a bakery that serves free coffee on Tuesdays. She wants to make wedding cakes. She also wants to be a teacher and a singer and a poet and a mom. She wants two boys and two girls. One of the boys is named Marco.

I've told her she'll be busy. She always tells me that I can help her. And she's such a delightful person, I couldn't decline. I'm so glad she's here, and that she belongs to me.

Happy Birthday, Hannah!


Fran said...

Oh my - it is me Fran, but from my work ID. I am reading. I crying. I am loving you for this post - it says so very much.

Happy Birthday beautiful Hannah! I will look forward to some free coffee on a future Tuesday; willing to drive to Maine to enjoy it with you.

RuthWells said...

Happy birthday, beautiful girl!

Rima said...

Love, love love this! And she will, too, when she reads it one day, I'm sure.

P.S. I had a similar epiphany when I realized - before even taking a pregnancy test - that I was expecting the V-meister. I will never forget it.

Lora said...

happy day to you both!!

oboyorganic said...

You are an amazing writer, you speak from the heart. It made me look back at my own pregnancies, labor and births with my boys. It's an amazing feeling to have to be a mother and to give birth..we are so lucky! Happy Birthday Hannah, enjoy your new bike!

slouchy said...

oh. this made me tear up. happy birthday, big girl! (much of your L&D story is familiar to me.)

mayberry said...

I'm amazed at how perfectly you described a contraction.

Happy birthday to Hannah!

mayberry said...

PS I was in 30th St. Station in March for the first time in probably 10 years. It was such a freaky feeling.

The Homesteading Hussy said...

I will totally visit her bakery in Maine, on a Tuesday (even though I drink tea), especially if she makes Paula Deen's red velvet cake. And maybe just to see you dishwashing, too. :)

MemeGRL said...

Amazing post, amazing girl. Hope she loves this as much as we all do. Happy birthday to Hannah!

Fran said...

By the way... I'm all for smart women and chemistry and stuff, but girl... You.Can.Write.

So keep doing that too, 'k?

Monica said...

That was the best mom blog birthday tribute I have ever read. Amazing. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. She's so beautiful, adorable, perfect. How wonderful that you know all these dreams and goals of hers and that you've shared them here with us. Sign me up for free coffee Tuesdays, too. I'll come in and help serve.

Anonymous said...

All the best people were born in May.


Happy happy!


Amanda said...

I loved this. :)

Magpie said...

So sweet. A belated happy birthday to her!

Bon said...

i'm late late late but thanks for directing me back over here. will change my archaic blogroll.

and she's so grownup! amazing. she shares a birthday with my lifelong friend, one of my favourite ppl on the planet. happy belated to your girl.

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