Last weekend, your father and I participated in the first of five sessions worth of Hypnobirthing classes designed to encourage us to do what we already know how: to “attend” a birth and “breathe” you into the world through a marvelously-constructed orifice, respectively. Birth, Wise-Hypno-Practitioner reminded us, is a fundamentally normal, deeply personal, experience which calls upon us to banish old fears and to embrace our strength as people and as parents well before our child ever feeds from her mother’s teats or craps her first diaper.
Your experience of family has already begun.
Curled up on the floor, in quiet and near-darkness, beside seven other couples we never met, we practiced breathing and meditating on rainbows. Or how life is like a rainbow? Or birth is? Or you are? Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you, and you made sure of that. With one swift kick to the bladder, I peed my maternity pants: not enough to make a mess, mind you, but enough to send me into waves of hysterical laughter. The kind that requires you to tell another human being, between gasps for breath, why you can’t contain yourself. (So, to Dad, lest he think me a huge nut, I whispered: I just peed my pants.) The kind that causes the other human being to completely and totally lose his shit, too. (Think: hands cupped to mouth and nose, shoulders shaking, bodies convulsing, not meditating on rainbows. And the best part, I later learned, is that he had absolutely no idea what I said! He just felt like laughing. So he did.) The kind that, even if it’s ill-timed or disruptive for people who are meditating on rainbows is one of the truest expressions of joy. (Screw ’em. Laugh on.)
So I don’t really remember the rainbow meditation. But I got the “homework.” You are awake and alert, said Wise-Hypno-Practitioner. And I was. The whole time. For our next class, read to page 117 in the Mongan book, listen to the relaxation CDs and continue to bond with your babies.
The book to page 117 said I should write you a letter. In fact, it said I should write you lots of letters, tell you stories, include you. Starting now. Because, as an inevitable fact of your existence, you’re going to want to know from whence you came and, someday, as a maybe-inevitable fact of parenthood and aging and probably not unlike your grandmother, I’m going to forget the juicy minutiae, recollect in generalizations and say cliché stuff like, “I loved being pregnant,” or “The day you were born was one of the happiest of my whole life.” You’re going to wonder why. And I’m going to leave out the part where I carry low and pee my pants.
So, in the interest of parent-child bonding, I present the whole truth: It took a hot second for your mother to wrap her good-humored head around the fact that you were real – or ours. Blame infertility. Chalk it up to emotional self-preservation. When I heard the whoosh-whoosh of your 174-beats-per-minute for the first time, I cried happy tears and hoped you’d keep growing, but I was only cautiously optimistic. When, at 12 weeks, the doctor told us you had girl parts, I wasn’t among the brand-newly-pregnant moms scouring The Land of Nod for pink princess crib sheets. (Princesses aside – really, don’t get me started! – I’d have a daughter if a daughter would have me for a mother. And time would tell.) I forced myself to do things like register for our shower and paint-swatch the walls of a room that was still more office than nursery. Hell, I was nearly able to overlook those first subtle movements. We revered one another quietly for a time, interacting little except through a placenta previa.
And then you happened, hard to ignore for the way you fit like I secretly hoped you might and probably always knew you would: conjuring up laughter in strange places because you already understood that in your family, in our family, we laugh without needing a reason and, sometimes, to spite the fact that we shouldn’t.
You’re my rainbow,