Well, folks, I am still pregnant. I am in that strange no-woman's-land you get to after a due date has come and gone and let me just say, I don't think I like this place very much. Not only is it strange and unknown, but not a single map seems to exist for its shrubby roads and winding cliffs. Everywhere you think you want to turn to for assurance, certainty or comfort is clogged with weeds and pebbles. And all anyone can say, when you tell them where you've arrived, is to Enjoy It! Which is about the worst thing you can say to someone who just wants to get the hell out of dodge. When I hear that, and I hear it daily, multiple times a day, these days, I swear to myself that should I ever find a way out of this land and should I then in the future ever meet a woman who finds herself where I am now, the words "enjoy" and "it" will not cross my lips, no way, now how.
I wrote that on June 10th. On June 11th, at 1:30 in the morning, I was woken with a start by strong contractions and spent the next few hours pacing up and down our long hallway in the dark, going from our dimly lit bedroom where Max waited and timed things to the dark bathroom where I would hold on to the cool tiled walls until the pain subsided. When the sky was still dark, we decided to head to the hospital. It was just a five-minute drive away, but I couldn't help but clutch the car seats in fear of another contraction anyway. While Max parked the car, I walked through the silent gardens of the hospital grounds, gritting my teeth as the pain came and went, crossing my fingers that they wouldn't send us home again. In the hospital, things were calm and quiet. I was hooked up to a fetal monitor and then checked out by a kindly midwife named Birgit who told us we could stay. We could stay.
25 hours after those first contractions started, Hugo was born, lifted out of me in a flash and whisked off to a side room to be suctioned and monitored before he was given to his daddy in the hallway and then brought back to me. It was the strangest thing, looking into his eyes at that awkward angle - I was still lying down, being tended to, and Max was holding Hugo, all bundled up, near my head. I could have sworn that the baby looked at me with recognition. It seemed like he knew who I was.
We spent a week in the hospital, the three of us, holed up in a room with lofty ceilings and an ivy-covered wall outside our window, yellow roses on the table and pitchers of fennel tea by the bedside. We couldn't stop touching Hugo's feet, as soft as rabbit fur, his velvety mouth. We stared at his sweet eyes, caressed his dark hair. When the time came to leave, I wept - if I could have stayed, cared for by the nurses, and close, so close, to the labor & delivery ward that had been transformed into a holy place for us, I would have. We became a family in that hospital. I couldn't bear to leave it behind.
But we did and today Hugo is two weeks old. We are muddling through, the three of us, as we adjust to our new lives. It is everything they say it will be: wonderful, maddening, heart-breaking, and beautiful. Sometimes, when I hold the baby in my arms, I marvel at the fact that all of him fit inside me not so long ago. That I had no idea who he was just a few short weeks ago. That I love him so much already.
I'll be taking a little maternity leave for the next few weeks. Thank you for understanding!