Friday, May 25, 2007

Happy Birthday, Maya

Today my Maya is twelve. Twelve. When the babies are little, you keep them safe, you love them up, you feed them, teach and guide - if you find these things easy, then it's easy. But now I'm heading into obscure tween territory where as a parent you do the same things when they were little -- save, love, feed, teach guide -- while they buck for some independence and test their own decisions, good and bad.

Even in tweendome Maya is nothing but fantastic. She's just a great person. She's earnest and gives all she has. She is kind and responsible and thoughtful. She is a gush of love and life when she enters a room. And look at those eyebrows. Everyday she looks taller; lean and strong, an athlete's build. She is budding and changing, but she stays kid-like in many ways, a teen in others. I love her so much.

I've told her birth story before, but I don't tire of it so I'll tell it again.

She was born at a naval hospital on a Thursday evening, my favorite day. I was born on a Thursday too. My water broke early in the morning, as I was getting up for work. I've described often the coming and going of the ocean's tide that I imagined with my labor contractions. When a contraction came, I envisioned the the tide coming in also; the contraction faded and the tide shrank back to the sea. Imagining the tide shielded me from almost everything else. In the labor room it seemed as if everyone was in a panic; everything was a fast-paced dust-up outside of my calm encapsulation. I felt still within a swirl of frantic motion. My labor was not without its issues. I threw up in pans and shit the bed and ripped off my agitating hospital gown to labor naked. At one point, Maya's in-womb heart rate dropped enough to cause nurses to panic, and they ran around more and injected my thigh with something. They stuck something up me to "wake the baby up" -- I think they were making shit up on the spot -- but still I felt so calm even when they seemed to purposefully try to worry me. Maya and I were untouchable. Didn't they know?

Maya's dad, BD, was in the room as was his wonderful mother, Grandma Carmen, but I barely remember their presence. I remember Grandma Carmen rubbing my lower back with a tennis ball because a nerve felt crushed by all the goings on. The nerve thing was suffocating, but the tennis ball helped. She would whisper weepily to me, "Mi'ja, I've given birth five times, but I've never seen one. Thank you for letting me be here." This swelled my heart, but I still felt encapsulated from her; more like, I'm so happy Maya and I can bring you this experience, but it didn't connect me mother-to-mother to Grandma Carmen in that moment. Other things have, but not that.

I could feel a bond with Maya on the rise as she was about to enter the world. When she was in the womb, I felt more like a Grand Nurturer, a budding Goddess, but I did not feel a complete connection with her. In the delivery room though I could feel a force of her pending presence, and I looked around like I knew a secret. I felt completely empowered, centered and illuminated as chaos waged on around me. This empowerment seemed so personal that it caused some disconnect from BD too. I wasn't allowing him in my vacuum either. After five hours of labor with little dilation thanks to whatever they injected into my thigh, I called for an epidural. I sat on the edge of the bed and followed instructions to stay very still. I hung my head to concentrate and looked down through my rigid arms at the legs of a scrub-clad anesthesiologist and of the legs of BD who was standing behind him. As the doctor inserted the needle into my back, I saw BD's legs buckle and a nurse yelled at him, "Sit down!" I kind of laughed to myself and realized that whatever he was experiencing or whatever he was feeling in the delivery room were completely outside of my own thoughts and feelings.

The pushing gave me issue. I started to feel anxious. It had been fourteen hours, including over an hour of pushing, and I wanted to see Maya so badly by then. As I tried pushing again and as the nurses counted to ten -- chanting demandingly at me -- I heard yelling in the next delivery room. They were shouting, "Apgar 2! Apgar 2!" which is an evaluation score of a newborn's condition; 10 is the best. Healthy babies usually score between 8 and10. I watched two nurses rush by my door bundling the Apgar Two baby. I bore down then and pushed Maya out. BD put his head down sweetly on a table and cried and Grandma Carmen wept in her own corner, and I all but grabbed Maya out of the hands of the doctor. She was swaddled in a white navy-issue blanket bordered with a pink stripe and a light blue stripe. Her face was swollen and red, her eyes especially from too much time in the birth canal, and her black hair was thick and matted. I wished the room away. I put my face so close to hers and we locked looks; I gulped them in. I could feel her tiny puffs of breath against my lips. And I was astounded. As I stared -- my own breath held -- everything else in the room did quickly fall away and out of focus.

I saw nothing but Maya for years after that moment.

Happy Birthday, my big girl baby. I love you so much. You are amazing and a world-changer already.


LeS said...

Happy birthday to BOTH of you beautiful beings :)

(and thanks for making me cry before I'd even finished my morning coffee ;)

Marigoldie said...

What a gift for Maya, to have a mami who remembers her arrival in such emotional detail, and who loves her so dang well. Happy birth-day, mami & Maya!

Smelly said...

Happy Birthday Maya!

Rebel Girl said...

feliz cumpleanos!

tina said...

Oh, how lovely. Happy birthday, Maya. You're a lucky girl.

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

What a beautiful birthday tribute! And a fabulous road trip below - I love Herbivore & I'll check your grocery store next time I'm north. I think I saw you at RFD last Sunday?!

acumamakiki said...

I always love a good birth story, sniff. Your photos though, are what got me this morning Madness, so darn cute!

Happy Birthday to your Big Girl baby and to you mama!! xoxo

Maven said...

I love this birth story, too, so as far as I'm concerned you can keep telling it every year.

Maya's a blessing and so are you.

Anonymous said...

D - Amazing Blog on the beauty of birth and Maya's entry into our world.....
Maya has been and I think always will be one of my hero's. She is so amazing and her love and respect for life is contagious!!!
She mirror's what she has seen in you -- Good Job Mami!!! (=
With Love,
Auntie Kim

michelle said...

long time reader..first time commenter...i read this last year on Maya's birthday and i reread it again this year knowing how the story would go and it's still as beatiful today as it was....Happy Birthday Maya!!!!!

madness rivera said...

Thanks so much, everybody. Hi Michelle.

We had a great time on her day and at her party -- pic's are in the Flickr.

Michelle (a.k.a. la vie en rose) said...

she's a gorgeous young lady!