On the eve of her fifth birthday, I kneel quietly next to her bed and watch the slow rise and fall of her chest, remembering all the times they had to resuscitate her and counting my blessings.
Within minutes, I realized that I was in labor. Like, it's too late to go to the hospital labor.
It was a very long night. The staff tried their best to induce labor naturally. I respected their efforts, but there is nothing natural about being poked and prodded in the most intimate places by one stranger after the next.
Know what delights the heck out of me? Surprising people. As a doula, this is something I do a LOT.
Of course, at the time I didn't know I was in labor. My doctor had mentioned that if the contractions lasted longer than an hour I could assume it was the real deal but I didn't know what contractions should feel like.
The realization hit like an epidural. I felt a joyous ache, both comforted and terrified in the knowing our relationship had and would continue to forever change. As I held you once more, I was reminded of the poem, "On Children", by ultimate truth-teller Kahlil Gibran.
As I think about my son just inches away from being born, I decide to let go of the pain. These final moments of pregnancy suddenly turn from struggle to joy.
Enlisting my team for support was the biggest gift I could have given myself during the labor and birth of my son Oliver. It felt as though all the support I've provided as a doula over the past years was shown back to me 100-fold.
Tears began streaming down my face as I quickly grieved the birth plan I was giving up. The birth plan -- that, up until that point -- had been incredibly flexible.
I revel in the stories of my mother, of all women: their birth stories, their fish stories, their perfectly unreliable testimonies.
I met my son in a stuffy government building in China. I remember everything about the day I met him. The creak of the elevator as we traveled to the second floor.
Time passed, and I was aware that -- although healing ok -- my vagina didn't have the same...form... as before.
I fought futilely against my own body so that giving birth to my only child would not be the thing that killed her.
No one was safe. I vomited on my husband, and then continued heaving for 45 minutes while the doctor tried to sew me up as I swore to her that I did not eat anything after the ice cream sundae I devoured at 9:30 the previous night.
Mama, you can do this. You can do this in whichever way you need to. You can accept help. You can laugh and you can cry. You simply can.
In case a C-section is in your cards... here's what I wish I knew in advance.