I made a lemon cake for Nuv on September 26th, in the evening, and my water broke a few hours later. And broke and broke and broke. I splashed and leaked and soaked amniotic fluid into the backseats of three cabs, a couple of hospital wheelchairs, through all my tights, pants and pajamas and towels and sheets, into bathwater and across hospital toilets and floors. And they almost sent me home from the hospital a third time because they were unsure if my water had broke. If my fluid had been red, the West End would have looked like a fucking battlefield massacre for the ages.
The pain was like a bad period pain. The first round I survived watching Dexter, laying in the bath squeezing the soap dish and yoga breathing, and then playing a game with Nuv where you say a band/musical artist and whatever letter it ends in I have to come up with a musical artist that starts with that letter and back and forth. Fuck the letter ‘O.’ And then when it gets so bad you’re allowed to go back to the hospital, this is when you have to wrap your head around getting clothes on, going down an elevator, riding in a cab down 45 miles of cobblestoned back roads (okay 6 blocks of slightly pot-holed street) hobbling into the hospital with your pillow and not telling anybody looking at you to eat a dick straight up I’M IN LABOUR AND AM ALLOWED TO LOOK THIS SHITTY. I’ve been here twice already. I just tried to sleep with a shot of morphine and Gravol, which the labour took one look at and laughed and laughed and laughed.
The cramps ignited and in my head were a long line of tiny candles that lit in sequence until it became unmanageable. I asked for gas and huffed it in and out like every breath was going to make me smarter, cuter and skinnier. I lasted until 6:30 pm on Monday night and asked Nuv if it was ok if I pussy out and get an epidural. He kissed my forehead. Lying in the middle of the room, sweating and delirious with no sleep, surrounded by friends and family, I needed relief.
I knew the risks, I knew the side effects, but I knew myself. I had reached the highest tower of pain I could climb. I was going to fall either way. Better that I fall into a bed of mattresses and roses, instead of nails and skunks. The anesthesiologist had my name. This was meant to be. The feeling of going from hours of intervalled intense cramping and weak lethargy to absolutely nothing at all was stunning. I read some US Weekly. I dozed. I let pictures be taken of me. I was fucking happy.
I had to be cajoled all the way to the end. Drugs in an IV that left my arm blue and purple for a week. The sound of bubs’ heart echoing through the room, along with a contraction graph, played out on a screen that everybody watched intently, looking for a clue or reason or time when this was going to result in a goddamn baby showing up. Waiting for my cervix to yawn wider, waiting to see if in fact there was a kid in there, one that wanted to come out and be. Finally.
After hours of pushing through a fuzzy numbed crotch, pulling and pushing, using a sheet wrapped around a bar like I was a Cirque de Soleil artist and nearly blowing half my face off with the pressure, they called me off. Pulled in an obstetrician who was so lovely and upbeat at 6 in the morning, I just wanted to please her. The forceps they used to haul bubs out must have been scary. I could hear my Mom trying to keep her sobs muffled in the corner. I was so blissfully numb, but my poor guy had to watch me be pried open to pull out a girl covered in blood that immediately shit on the Doctor once free from me. At 6:45 am, we had a bubs, a girl, a daughter. She was wiped clean of her gunk and laid on me and she suckled less than one hour into her life, and there she was. Stella Belle Takhar. Our new reason for being.
The hours and days after are a blur of happy faces of people I adore, that adore my daughter, our daughter. Getting home from the hospital I was more tired than I have ever been, breaking down in an elevator ride that lasted forever, but I napped, then tapped into some well of energy, most likely the love being leeched from all parts of me keeping me full and well. I was torn up, tender of heart and ass. Using a squeeze bottle to douse myself after going the bathroom. It felt like my crotch was a junk drawer – the one your Gramma kept random sharps and matchboxes and bike locks in. A foreign scary crevice of ache.
I was in a surreal cycle of day into night into day with dimmed lights and quick furtive snacks over the sink, and showers where all I could hear was phantom crying. The October sun streaking in the windows and dancing off my arms was the closest I got to outside. Friends and family were here holding us up, holding the girl, feeding us beautiful food and changing the loads of laundry and keeping us human.
I am now squeezing through spaces I couldn’t before. Fitting into a size 14 jeans. Watching my rubber belly flop out onto my thighs when I sit to feed her. Listening to her little Pee Wee Herman “heh heh’s” and laughing every single time. Lamenting her imitation of being electrocuted and strangled at the same time when her diaper is changed and her body temperature dips by even 0.0001%.
Watching her through sleep-smeared eyes, and despite wishing with all my might that she would sleep just sleep, when we link eyes over my milk-engorged boob, or her crazy t-rex arms work their way free from her swaddle and become entangled with my hands, and even when it’s taken two weeks to find a tiny window in which to collect my brain and write about this most surreal time of life and she won’t go down in the bedroom because her bassinette just isn’t the same as Mama’s warm lumpy chest or even Pop’s scratchy chest that has many hairs for her to rip out which then, to our grand disgust, end up dangling out of her mouth, this is still the best time ever. She is the best thing ever. She is our girl.
The lemon pan is still dirty. I have stained every pj shirt with streaks of breast milk. Nuv is on the couch, our bed now too small for three of us. I have things to read, to do, to sort, to wash, to cook, to write, to fold, to watch. But they all fall away. Some more easily than others. When you are needed to fold a bubs into your arms and feed her, when a bum needs to be cleaned, when neck folds need to be scrubbed and de-milked, and when the teeny tiniest of fingernails need to be clipped, you let everything else go, and you are just the Mama. And that is A-fucking-OK.
PS - I forgot to tell you she has tiny fuzzy werewolf ears, a cupid's bow for a mouth and the hair at the crown of her head is twice the length of the rest of her hair. I am SMITTEN.