Friday, October 28, 2011

Tucked Between Us

The earth has circled the sun twelve times since I went into labor with Claire. She didn't arrive on October 28th. She waited until the wee hours of the 29th, 1:10 am, to be exact. 

I called Jesse straight away, you have a sister. 
Yes! she said. 
Go back to sleep, I whispered.

Michael and I squeezed onto the hospital bed with Claire tucked between us, swaddled tight with a cap on her round head. The three of us slept deeply until the morning light. 

I offer up these little stories, on this, Claire's Labor Day, filled with gratitude for the miracle of life in all its parts. 

And with gratitude for you, dear reader.


She stands sideways looking at herself in the glass of the front door.  Her stomach is slightly rounded.  She strokes it in small circles, willing it to be full and large so that her hands can cup it, cradle it. He comes to the door and grins at her, pressing his face into the glass, blue eyes wide open.  She lifts her shirt, exposing the small bowl belly, the upside down bowl.  On her tiptoes she puts her lips to the glass.  They kiss.

The tugging in her belly started at noon. They stopped for a bite to eat at the Yankee Doodle Diner, newly renovated.  It was crowded with old people.  He ordered coffee, toast, eggs over easy, juice.  She had pancakes and orange juice.  She was hungry, starving.  She was afraid to eat too much. After the last baby she’d thrown up halfway into her labor, dry heaves that wouldn’t stop. She reached across to his plate and wiped up some egg with a piece of brown toast.  Reaching across the table her husband ran his long fingers through her hair.
You want my juice? he asked.
She nodded, picked up his glass and swallowed it in one gulp.

We are under the covers watching the rain pour down.  The backyard is lit in green light, darkness tops the trees. The light is yellow now. It is the afternoon in the middle of the week. I imagine people in their cars speeding down the highway, people working in tall office buildings paneled in clear glass.  I move my feet around under the sheet, feeling the cool cloth against my skin.  Books are piled up at the end of the bed.  We watch the rain.  Claire pushes down on my eyelids, pressing them shut with her small fingers. Close your eyes, Mama. Take a nap.

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