At this time, a year ago, I was calling Mohamed at work and asking him to come home early. My labor had really started to pick-up, and I knew that my baby was coming.
I knew a lot of things about myself and about childbirth before I had Norah. I'd read every childbirth book I could find, had surrounded myself with women who believed in the power of birth. I had the support of a wonderful group of midwives and Mohamed was fully on-board with my decision to have a natural childbirth. I knew I was strong enough to handle any pain I would face. I knew my body would lead me through the labor process. I knew I would be safe and so would my baby.
I thought I got it. Before experiencing Norah's birth I thought I understood what it would mean to me, what it would feel like, how it would change me.
But I couldn't have known. I couldn't have known the intensity of each mounting contraction, without actually feeling them. No amount of reading could have prepared me for the vulnerability I felt, for how much I needed Mohamed by me, touching me at all times. I had no idea that I would push her out slowly enough to feel first her right shoulder and then her left. That pushing would be such a relief, and that it wouldn't hurt, not even for a moment (the pushing that is, not the entire labor).
And then, of course, came the moment when I got to hold my sweet baby. This moment I knew, having done it with Amira. That time when the rest of the world really does disappear and I hold my babies, and whisper to them, "You are here. You are here." Yet even this most sacred of moments was so different the second time around. My joy was increased by the absolute physical euphoria I felt. I felt so powerful, so full of light and strength. I nursed Norah right there on the kitchen floor, with her still attached to me by the umbilical cord. She kept eating while the paramedics arrived and busied themselves with their silliness. She nursed through the entire ambulance ride and arrived to the hospital so pink and alive and alert that even the people who thought me irresponsible for daring to give birth at home, couldn't argue with the outcome.
The memory of Norah's birth is still with me these many months later. Her birth changed me more than I could have imagined, more than I knew was possible. Those sacred moments are something I will carry with me always. That is my daughter's gift to me.
PS- "Happy Birthday" to Ryan, too