Miracle. All of it.

Some transfer of significance has occurred: I feel it, feel the air move, feel time begin to pour down a new tributary. The world adjusts itself. The doctors hold the baby up over the screen so that I can see her. She is livid and blue and her face is a rictus of shock and fear. I recognise her immediately from the scan. Only I knew the secret of her tranquillity, the floating world of her gestation. She is borne off to the far side of the room, away from me, and as if she were a light I fall deeper into shadow the further away she goes. The midwives crowd around her. I lose sight of her but her cries reach me like messages. Presently she emerges clothed and wrapped in a blanket. Her father takes her and holds her. His offers of friendship must suffice, must compensate for her lack of proper passage, for the clock of experience has started ticking and won’t wait for me. Her life has begun.

~ Rachel Cusk, ”A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother


Notes:

  • Rachel Cusk’s book was named #16 in The 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years by the The New York Times (June 26, 2019)
  • Post inspired by: “The boys don’t wear mittens anymore. Their feet are much bigger than mine… But I still miss their baby feet, and their patter, and the piffle of childhood. I reel at a baby’s cry. I swoon at strollers. I don’t understand why all the love songs aren’t about babies. ~ Jill Lepore, “The Lingering of Loss” in The New Yorker (July 1, 2019) (Thank you Sawsan)
  • Post title Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
  • Photo – Hand-in-Hand by J’ ose

Miracle. All of It.

“The hospital corridors were quiet, the midwife was quiet. She whispered—that’s how I remember it—that I needed to see the doctor and have an ultrasound. She helped me gather my things and sent us even farther down the corridor. I remember lying on the doctor’s examining table in a dark cubicle, only the ultrasound machine emitting light. I remember covering my face with my hands. After a while, the doctor touched my arm. “Look,” he said. My husband took my hand in his. The doctor pointed at the screen and moved his finger carefully around the sonogram, as though showing us a rare map, and then, because we couldn’t quite believe what we were seeing and what he was telling us, he turned up the sound so we could hear the steady beating of the heart…”

Linn Ullmann, ”Unquiet: A Novel” (W. W. Norton & Company, January 15, 2019)


Notes:

  • Photo of sonogram: Kim Pham
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.
  • Inspiration: Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Sunday Morning

baby-father

He said that after the third child, he told his wife, Enough! He felt too old to have any more, so he got a vasectomy. But in the years since, he’s had many moments of regret, because once the boys got a little older, he said he wanted it again—the experience of cradling an infant in his arms.

~ Sheila Heti, Motherhood: A Novel (Henry Holt and Co., May 1, 2018)


Photo: caz gordon with Father & 2 day old Son

Sunday Morning

“We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as a microscopic electrical swarm. The lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us.”

~ Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See


Photo: Nacia Photography

we bought den lille shoes

“Why didn’t you adopt a child?”

“We pursued it, certainly. And twice came close—people gave us baby clothes, the bed with sides, we bought den lille shoes. But both times fell to pieces. A mother can change her mind, you see? But to come so near—and then not. The disappointment is extravagant.” This he stated in a flattened voice like a wall built hastily to conceal ruins.

~ Leif Enger, Virgil Wander (Atlantic Monthly Press, October 2, 2018)

 


Notes:

Miracle. All of it.

“You’re doing great, Nicole,” Jenny said suddenly, and these seemed like the first clear words I had heard in hours. “One, maybe two more pushes and she’ll be born!” It was the most powerful moment of my life, that moment shortly after one in the morning when I heard her cry and knew she was finally with us. Our daughter decided to come into the world with one fist raised. Seconds later she was placed on my chest, beautiful and flushed and still screaming at the shock of birth, and I touched her hair, her warm little cheek. Her skin felt impossibly soft, softer than I knew anything could be. At seven pounds, fifteen ounces, twenty inches long, she was not a small baby—her wails were also lusty, much louder than I’d expected—but she felt new and fragile in my arms. She stopped crying and gazed up at me, and my world shrank to the arresting dark blue pools of her eyes…

I had never been so tired, and I was sore to the very roots of my hair, but I couldn’t seem to close my eyes—how could anyone expect me to sleep when I had this fascinating little face to watch? It was almost impossible to believe this was the same unseen being who’d done jumping jacks on my bladder, greeting me with kicks and pokes and slow stretches for weeks on end. She was so small and so new, barely and yet wholly herself, already…

Suddenly I remembered the words of a friend…I love telling my kids their birth stories. It’s such a privilege to be able to do that. Yes, I thought, and also a miracle. The clichéd word didn’t embarrass me; this day and night was a wonder I’d never get over. As many times as this had happened before, to billions of parents since time immemorial, it was the only time it had ever happened to me. I had a child now, and she was mine. We were together. We would stay together. When Abby was old enough to ask me—to wonder, and to listen, and to care—I would tell her about her birth, her first days with us. You were born with one arm raised…I would say. When it was over, you and Daddy slept, but I couldn’t. All I wanted to do was look at you.

~ Nicole Chung, “All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir” (October 2, 2018)


Notes:

  • Photograph Credit
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.
  • Inspiration: Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Miracle. All of it.

You tell yourself not to build things up, not to expect too much, to be sensible, rational, balanced. But you have never had a talent for those things and, besides, your biology, your body is singing a different song, a distracting, absorbing, joyous tune: your blood capacity rises, pulsing along your veins, your breasts swell, like dough, out of your bras, the muscle and capacity of your heart increases, your appetite hears the call, responds to demand, and you find yourself in the kitchen at midnight, contemplating crackers and fish paste, grapefruit and halloumi.

Your imagination keeps pace with your teeming body: you picture a girl, a boy, perhaps twins, because there are numerous twins in your family, both identical and fraternal— your own father is one. It will be blond, it will be dark, auburn, curly-haired. It will be tall, it will be petite. It will look like its father, you, its brother, a melange of all three. It will love painting, pole-vaulting, trains, cats, puddles, sandboxes, bikes, sticks, the building of towers. You will take it swimming, you will rake leaves and light bonfires, you will push it along the seafront, you will tuck it into the basket its brother used. You tell yourself not to be stupid enough to buy anything, but then you pass, in a shop, a knitted rabbit in soft blue wool, with a yellow ribbon and a startled, quizzical expression. You reverse, you hesitate, you pick it up. Quick, while no one is looking. You picture yourself placing this rabbit inside a hospital crib, for the child to look at. Of course you take it to the till and you hand over the money, hurriedly, furtively. You carry it home, you wrap it in tissue and you hide it at the bottom of a drawer. When you are alone, you take it out and look at it.

You leaf through name books and think: Sylvie, Astrid, Lachlan, Isaac, Rafael? Who will it be? Who will be coming?

~ Maggie O’Farrell, I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death (Feb 6, 2018)


Notes:

  • Photo – Softmomma
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.
  • Inspiration: Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Miracle. All of it.

Once a week I take off all my jewelry, slip into a shapeless blue polyester volunteer coat, clip ID tags to my lapel, and drive 5.3 miles through Piedmont and down 52nd Street to our local children’s hospital. I park, take the elevator to the third floor, and buzz myself into the NICU. Standing at a wall of metal sinks, I scrub up to my elbows for a full minute, enjoying the smell of the soap and the sound the brush makes against my fingernails. I dry off, gown up, and walk the nurseries, listening for babies in distress…

The lights are dim. The nurses whisper. The monitors chirp and ping. The babies rest. My long big-lung breaths stretch underneath three of theirs..Last week a baby boy with a swollen head and a shunt near his temple found my eyes and locked in. We stared at each other, blinking back and forth, each blink longer than the last, until he could hold his lids open no longer and the rows of his dark glossy eyelashes came together like a Venus flytrap. Bette, who had been watching from across the room, nodded at me and winked. He’d rest on my chest for the next hour, my heartbeat, my warmth and humanity an incalculable improvement on his indifferent crib. The skin hungers for touch, from cradle to grave. “Close silence—that’s all they need,” she whispered to me.

~ Kelly Corrigan, Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say (January 9, 2018)


Notes:

  • Photo – My Irrelephant Life.
  • Related Posts: Kelly Corrigan; Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.
  • Inspiration: Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Year of the Dog

“A baby in a hospital in Bangkok is dressed in a dog costume to celebrate the coming Year of the Dog.”

And here I thought every year is the Year of the Dog…


Notes:

 

Miracle. All of it.

28 August. Now, as I write this, you know nothing about anything, about what awaits you, the kind of world you will be born into. And I know nothing about you. I have seen an ultrasound image and have laid my hand on the belly in which you are lying, that is all. Six months remain until you will be born, and anything at all can happen during that time, but I believe that life is strong and indomitable, I think you will be fine, and that you will be born sound and healthy and strong. See the light of day, the expression goes. It was night outside when your eldest sister, Vanja, was born, the darkness filled with swirling snow. Just before she came out, one of the midwives tugged at me, You catch, she said, and so I did, a tiny child slipped out into my hands, slippery as a seal. I was so happy I cried. When Heidi was born one and a half years later, it was autumn and overcast, cold and damp as October can be, she came out during the morning, labour was rapid, and when her head had emerged but not yet the rest of her body, she made a little sound with her lips, it was such a joyous moment. John, as your big brother is called, came out in a cascade of water and blood, the room had no windows, it felt like we were inside a bunker, and when I went out afterwards to call his two grandparents, I was surprised to see the light outside, and that life flowed on as if nothing in particular had happened. It was 15 August 2007, it may have been five or six o’clock in the afternoon, in Malmö, where we had moved the previous summer. Later that evening we drove to a patient hotel, and the day after I went to pick up your sisters, who amused themselves greatly by placing a green rubber lizard on top of John’s head. They were three and a half and nearly two years old at the time. I took photos, one day I’ll show them to you.

That’s how they saw the light of day. Now they are big, now they are used to the world, and the strange thing is that they are so unalike, each of them has a personality entirely their own, and they always did, right from the start. I assume that’s how it will be with you too, that you already are the person you will become.

~ Karl Ove Knausgaard, “Letter to an Unborn Daughter, August 28.” Excerpt from opening story in his new book titled “Autumn” (Penguin Press, August 22, 2017)


Notes:

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