I've heard it said before that you will never forget the day you give birth. That no memory, no single moment nor collection of minutes, hours, feelings, emotions, sensations will ever be more vivid a memory than giving birth.
I never knew if that was true, although it has become a truth in my life. There was a moment during Rohan's birth, when I was deep into the work of laboring sitting on my knees with my arms draped over the side of the pool. Darrick was there - always there, through every contraction and expletive and smile and stolen moment of calm between contractions - but there was also this pair of hands, holding a little tube which was feeding me extra oxygen. The tube was there, inches from my face, just as a precautionary measure. It's not so much the oxygen I remember - though I do, from the hissing sound it made to the mildly sweet flavor it had - it was the hands holding it.
Those hands I remember so vividly, though I'm positive I never even opened my eyes to look at them. Still, I could 'see' them with my eyes closed, and they comforted me. When I had a brief moment of panic in the overall calm that was the birth, those hands touched my head...my hair...and the voice attached to them urged me on, gently but firmly telling me I was doing what needed to be done, and prefectly at that. Assuring me that I would make it through. I remember the smell of those hands (hands which had been interrupted mid-dinner prep to come to the birth, and thus smelled like garlic and something else...maybe butter?...and so it's a good thing I love the smell of garlic). I remember the feel of them, as they brushed my cheek, touched my hair. And I remember the person attached to them as she held me up with her words, quietly reminding me of two distinct truths. That what I was doing in that moment was my work alone, and that I was strong and powerful and capable and that this was my story I was writing, and Rohan's and Darrick's and Luca's and we would own it forever and take it with us through life as we shared it with friends and family and someday our grandkids. And, as perfectly opposite though it may be, that this moment was but another of millions of moments in time when a woman and people she loved and who loved her had gathered to welcome a life into the world, and while it was unique and special in a million trillion ways, in the scope of history it was unremarkable and NORMAL.
I hope to be like my Grandma someday. At 91 she still remembers the births of all 3 of her kids. And my mom will tell me that HER mom has the stories jumbled and the facts mixed up and out of order and warn me not to believe everything Grandma says because, after all, she is a confused old woman. But I don't buy that. I think what 'they' say is true, and that even when she's forgotten which kid had reflux, which one hid a dead mouse under her bed, and which was friends with the girl down the street whose dad owned the donut shop, my Grandma will remember the day her kids were born. Because it was both the most remarkable and the most ordinary day of her life.