June 21st. The day my incredible firstborn arrived on the scene. Theoretically well into her 10th month of gestation, theoretically a boy, (there’d been no ultrasounds, we relied on the calendar count and the midwife’s appraisal) she made her appearance mid-day, the longest day of the year, totally naturally to an admiring group of doctors and nurses who were called over to watch the ‘Natural birth’.
Me? Looking down at that sea of interested eyes, i was busy concentrating on my breathing, the five-finger exhale series that anchored me to my body. Being the star of the hour was totally nuts. I’d travelled to the hospital that boasted the best natural birth facilities, but i guess, few actually delivered that way.
My midwife, Ilana Zamir, a pioneer in the natural birth movement in Israel and the one who brought many innovations to the country, orchestrated the crowd scene as she facilitated the birth. Who can describe the feeling of raspberry tea, Eric Dolphy- inspired contractions all culminating in a sliding pop-out infant? And what an infant. A beautiful smiling child commanding more attention. As my midwife Ilana walked into my hospital room, Iris smiled at her, prompting a satisfied rejoinder: Who said babies don’t smile? Come see a baby smiling!
The name? When this lush child popped out, she named herself – we knew that she was Iris.
And then came the motherly duties. Almost at once.
I had to rush into the nursing station to have them know that this child was to receive no ‘sugar water’ – something that could happen, i’d been told. I had to beg them to wake me up to nurse her when she was hungry. No, i was told. That was something they would not do. So, i had to rely on instinct from the beginning. Sleeping in half-awareness of when my child, resting down the hall in the nursery, was hungry. I’d get out of bed and make that short trip to look at her, only to have the nurses in that ‘Natural Hospital’ reprimand me for being a ‘Hero’. “Get back to bed!” i was ordered, and i did a few times until she woke up. And then, the chance to sit with her and the joy of holding my warm daughter, making contact nipple to mouth. In the quiet of the middle of the night, she and i continuing our loving relationship.
Her appetite was fine. Very fine. After a few brief interludes of sleep, i’d be offered a nebulous form of drink –
What is this, i’d ask the other new mothers: coffee, tea or hot chocolate?
No one knows, i was told. Sometimes we play ‘lotto’ – to see who wins the bet.
The other new mothers. Some were delighted to be safe in a hospital with nurses and schedules. Some had many children back home and reveled in the ‘vacation’ that the 3 day hospital respite delivered. (yes, back then it was 3 days). Me? i just waited for the chance to be with my newborn daughter. I was high with the miracle that i’d actually given birth to such an incredible human being.
Today, whenever i see my beautiful daughter, i have to gulp again in astonishment at her energetic presence. Her charisma, her charm bring light and magic to any situation. Kids, men and women all flirt with her, hoping to be at the receiving end of her humour and attention.
And today’s the anniversary of her birth. June 21st, midday – six minutes past noon – mother and daughter in ionic celebration, something we feel no matter what the distance. love!