Miracle. All of it.

Dear Babies,

I now know that you are a boy and a girl. The girl is bigger than the boy now, by 12 percent, and you’re both over 2 pounds, and the boy is presenting first, head down. I had a dream that the boy came early but the girl stayed inside; and the boy didn’t want to breastfeed but instead asked for sausage and cheese, and I was impressed with his verbal abilities. I have been resting up and reading, hoping you stay in there for at least another couple of months. Most people come into the world by themselves, but you will (knock on wood) come into this world together. I hope you both feel safe and sound and cozy there together.

Love, Mama

I got my epidural. My doctor told me to hug him around the waist to reduce my shaking and increase the chance that the needle found its target. I threw my arms around him, grateful. I got my Pitocin drip. My husband and I watched basketball on television. I never watch basketball. Why were we watching basketball? At midnight time sped up, and they rushed us to the OR. Everyone in scrubs, just in case. My doctor put on his birthing mix tape. I think it began with “American Woman.” Looking into the face of my husband, I pushed William out. I heard a baby cry. “Is he all right? Is he all right?” “Yes, he’s perfect.” Then the doctor reached inside me, as he’d promised, and pulled Hope out by the legs. “Is she all right?” “Yes, she’s perfect.” The nurses laid Hope and William side by side in a crib and checked them. The nurse told us the babies were holding hands. Before they held the hands of their mother or father, they held each other’s hands. I began shaking.

Sarah Ruhl, from Smile: The Story of a Face. (Simon & Schuster, October 5, 2021)


Notes:

Walking. It Ain’t Disney on the Sabbath.

5:50 a.m.

Go ahead, lip sync. I’ll wait.  362 consecutive days. Like in a Row. Morning walk @ Cove Island Park.

I can see her from the parking lot.  She’s up.  I rush to grab the camera gear, worried that she’s going to plop down again and I’ll miss the shot.

Yet, Something is off.

A raven approaches the nest with his shrill KRAA! KRAA! KRAA!

The male rushes towards it, hissing. Canadians, normally patient, and ever-courteous, can be pushed only so far.  Nasty black scavenger, steps back, offers a half-a**ed kraa! and takes watch from a distance. I look around for a stone to join in the defense. Lucky for you Ray, I didn’t find one.

Mother Goose, meanwhile continues to peck away at her nest.

There’s no sign of eggs.

No sign of little ones.

I wait.

And watch.

No eggs. No little ones.

She’s pecking, poking, arranging.  And then, she tugs and pulls on what appears to be a fetus, skin color, reddish orange.

I watch for a moment longer. And leave. Can’t watch this.

I walk up to the bridge, the entrance to the park.  Take another look from this vantage point. No eggs. No little ones. Maybe they’ll both be gone by the time I return. And some kind soul will sweep the remains of that hardscrabble nest into Long Island Sound.

I walk around the park, not anxious to return to the funeral, and return 30 minutes later.

She’s still poking at her nest. Odd.

The raven has departed, tired of waiting for a free meal.

Her mate is now sitting on the pier. Must be waiting for her to be done grieving so they can move on.

I cross the bridge. Still no sign of any eggs, or little ones. Ever the optimist DK.

I look away.  Sad, all of it. Heavy.

I get in the car, and turn up the heater. Cold? 53° F?  I can’t bear to keep looking at the scene.

I’m ready to back out of the parking lot, and take one last look. She’s still cleaning her empty nest. What is she doing? Strap on your zoom lens and let’s see what she’s poking at.

I turn off the ignition, and get out of the car.

Camera, super zoom lens affixed, I walk back out to the fence and zoom in on the target…

[Read more…]

And the show (still) MUST go on…


Mother Goose & Mate @ Cove Island Park. 6:28 a.m. Friday, April 23, 2021.

And the show MUST go on…


Mother Goose & Mate @ Cove Island Park. 6:29 a.m. Tuesday, April 20, 2021.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…


133 pictures taken on my morning walk. And only THIS one stirs the soul.  Mother Goose @ Cove Island Park. 6:49 a.m. Saturday, April 17, 2021.

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:

the beauty of the clavicle

Only she who has breast-fed
knows how beautiful the ear is.
Only they who have been breast-fed
know the beauty of the clavicle…

~ Vera Pavlova, in “If There is Something to Desire: One Hundred Poems.”


Notes:

I saw the life of life

Another poet came into being
when I saw the life of life…
the child I had birthed.
That was my beginning:
blood burning the groin,
the soul soaring, the baby wailing
in the arms of a nurse.

~ Vera Pavlova, from “Snapshots from Memory” in “If There is Something to Desire: One Hundred Poems.” Pavlova (54) is a Russian Poet who was born in Moscow.  Her husband Steven Seymour, a professional interpreter and translator, was the translator.


Portrait of Vera Pavlova: 7faces

I sat there awestruck, transfixed

I felt an unholy storm move through my body. And after that, there was a brief lapse in my recollection. Either I blacked out from the pain, or I have blotted out the memory. And then, there was another person on the floor in front of me, moving his arms and legs – alive. I heard myself say out loud, this can’t be good. But it looked good. My baby was as pretty as a seashell. He was translucent and pink and very, very small, but he was flawless. His lovely lips were opening and closing, opening and closing, swallowing the new world.

For a length of time I cannot delineate, I sat there awestruck, transfixed. Every finger, every toenail, the golden shadow of his eyebrows coming in, the elegance of his shoulders. All of it was miraculous, astonishing. I held him up to my face, his head and shoulders filling my hand, his legs dangling almost to my elbow. I tried to think of something maternal I could do to convey to him that I was his mother and that I had the situation completely under control. I kissed his forehead, and his skin felt like a silky frog’s on my mouth.

~ Ariel Levy from “The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir” (March 2017)


Notes:

Miracle. All of it.

Pregnant Turtle. Female turtles are able to retain sperm in their Fallopian tubes for up to three years, which can be used for different clutches of eggs. A single clutch of eggs can also have multiple fathers.

~ Jessica Stewart, 12 Incredible X-Rays Reveal How Different Pregnant Animals Look (My Modern Met)


Notes:

  • 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.”
  • Related Live & Live Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Miracle. All of it.

baby-bath
I was born in the afternoon of March 14, when a fault opened deep below Bucharest. The inky tips of seismographic recording needles trembled as the tectonic blow rolled through the Carpathians toward Kiev and Moscow, gradually receding. The face of the world was distorted, as if in a fun-house mirror: avalanches fell from mountains, asphalt roads buckled, railroad tracks turned into snakes. Flags shook on flagpoles, automatic guns rang out in arsenals, barbed wire across state borders broke under the strain; chandeliers in apartments and frozen carcasses in meat processing plants swung like metronomes; furniture on upper floors swayed and scraped. The thousand-kilometer convulsion of the earth’s uterus gave a gentle push to the concrete capsules of missile silos, shook coal onto the heads of miners, and lifted trawlers and destroyers on a wave’s swell.

My mother was in the maternity ward, but her contractions had not started. The tectonic wave reached Moscow, shook the limestone bedrock of the capital, ran along the floating aquifers of rivers, gently grasped the foundations and pilings; an enormous invisible hand shook the skyscrapers, the Ostankino and Shukhov towers, water splashed against the gates of river locks; dishes rattled in hutches, window glass trembled. People called the police—“ our house is shaking”—some ran outside, others headed straight for the bomb shelters. Of course, there was no general panic, but this was the first time since the German bombing that Moscow reeled …

Mother worked at the Ministry of Geology and was part of a special commission that studied the causes and consequences of natural disasters…When the maternity ward was shaken by a gentle wave from the center of the earth, my mother was the only person to understand what was happening, and the unexpectedness of it, the fear that the earth’s tremor had pursued her and found her in the safety of Moscow and induced her into labor. The earthquake was my first impression of being: the world was revealed to me as instability, shakiness, the wobbliness of foundations. My father was a scholar, a specialist in catastrophe theory, and his child was born at the moment of the manifestation of forces that he studied, as he lived, without knowing it, in unison with the cycles of earth, water, wind, comets, eclipses, and solar flares, and I, his flesh and blood, appeared as the child of these cycles.

~ Sergei Lebedev, from Child of an Earthquake in “The Year of the Comet


Notes:

  • Photo: Caitie @ ktnewms  (via A Joyful Journey)
  • Post 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.”
  • Related Live & Learn Posts: Miracle. All of it.
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