making life – part III

Week Twenty-Eight

As unbelievably as it might sound, I’m starting something like a real job only after my seventh month begins. At that time some pregnant women already finish theirs. I’m going to be a barista at a new café which the local centre for mothers and children is opening in the town. This week my main goal is to learn how to properly steam milk. Something I’m not so good at in the beginning.

S. comes to visit with her husband and son right before Easter. In her honour I make sample Easter bread based on a Czech recipe but it also doesn’t turn up so well. It will, the second time. (Everything turns up well eventually.) I dye eggs with plant-based dye. I can’t stop thinking how this is my last time doing it as a non-mother. How next year my little son will probably take part in this ritual in his own way.

I am beginning to wonder when my belly will finally start to really grow. I can still button up my spring jacket and my favourite pink shirt without a problem. I try hard to believe that everything is fine if I feel fine and yet I’m haunted by the thought that the baby is very small and isn’t developing the way he should. I can’t wait until my next check when I’m going to ask for his approximate weight to be measured with the ultrasound. S. tells me not to worry and that the real “bellying” only starts in the seventh month. I’ve been hearing this ever since my fourth month… but finally it will turn out to be true.

Week Twenty-Nine

As even more unbelievably as it might sound, I’m starting another job. This time a remote one. It takes more time than anything else I do but somehow I manage to spare enough time for the café, for writing children’s books and for teaching English. It’s the first time I have started to really fear premature birth and it’s not so much fear for the baby than it is the absurd fear that I won’t be able to finish my work.

Eventually it isn’t as hard as it seemed. I’m only worried that I can’t pay enough attention to the baby. It’s because of him rather than my own peace that I decide to implement at least one primitive-level Zen principle in my life – to have food without watching or reading anything at the same time. It’s something new to me which I think is going to help me to relax my mind between all my jobs and to turn inwards to the baby. Of course, it doesn’t. While I’m eating, my brain works at 100 percent, analyzing anything but the texture and taste of food and the way it positively influences the life growing in me. Well, at least I tried.

Week Thirty

I begin to read a book which is the first one to familiarize me with the technology and art of birth. Ina May’s A Guide to Childbirth. I don’t even suspect how huge an influence it’s going to have on me and on the way I will think about birth. It’s a fact that very soon after I begin the book I not only start to numb my fear of it… but also to anticipate it. To want to experience it – complete, authentic, unassisted. Raw.

I learn my body is perfectly equipped to it and that most complications are a result of the surrounding atmosphere and the attitude of those assisting the birth. The book influences me so much that I don’t even wish to discuss birth with people I know who have already experienced it. Something in it gives me the confidence that, having touched upon this knowledge, I know something more than they do and I won’t experience the terrible pain they describe. Inside, I even scold them a little for looking on birth as some sort of a test where only the result is important but not the process. I realize I sound naïve. “Poor her… she knows nothing. What kind of ideas she has!” I begin to detest words like: “When they finally hand you the baby, you’ll forget everything.” But I don’t want to forget! I want to experience it consciously. To get through the storm not unsuccessfully battling the waves but riding them.

My confidence will be shaken. But not yet.

Week Thirty-One

I walk on my way to a Czech lesson and feel a strange sensation in my body. It’s a bit uncomfortable. The interesting thing is that it takes me some time before I realize where the discomfort comes. Of course… from the belly. I look at myself in the shop windows. Without my notice I’ve got a real belly. Finally. It will probably sound weird to all who are (have been) pregnant but I happily welcome it. I’ve been waiting so long for something to start getting in my way, feeling heavy, hiding the view to my feet and, for Heaven’s sake, to finally make me look pregnant in the eyes of others. I finally got it. And the feeling is good.

I look at myself in the mirror at home and it seems to be the first time I’ve actually liked my body. How strange that it happens in such a moment. Don’t all women dream of slim bodies and flat bellies? My growing belly, however, fills me with pride. I find it beautiful. Somehow really natural. But also magical. It amazes me how gradually and unnoticeably it grows. In the past I used to imagine I would closely watch my growing belly during pregnancy by photographing it. Well, I don’t. In fact, it’s quite possible that I won’t have a single good photograph taken by the end of my pregnancy. To think I live in a place where there are at least ten cameras…

One day, just as suddenly, I see the long anticipated linea nigra for the first time. A very pale one but definitely there. Another imperfection, another “scar” that I welcome. The line that goes along my belly from top to bottom is like a confirmation that everything is the way it should be.

At the end of the week I finally have the chance to see the baby in the ultrasound. He looks as big as he should. Like always, he’s covering his face with his hands. He inhabits a much bigger space in his home than any time before. When I glue the photos in his diary I go back to those from New Year. He’s got so much space there – his home is a big black hole and he seems to be clinging to just one of its sides, as if from fear. And now he fills it up almost completely. It’s incredible.

It’s beyond any doubt now that it’s a boy. Almost all parts of his body come up unclear apart from one – a well-formed double “bag”. J Some body parts definitely know how to appear better on screen.

Week Thirty-Three – Thirty-Four

It’s the first time I’ve managed to “capture” his movements. By now I had only felt him doing something inside of me but I can already see the way my skin goes up and then back. Some mothers tell me I’m going to feel him less and less because he has no space for movement. Nothing of that sort in my case. Every day the movements become clearer, stronger and more distinctive. Much more when I sit or sleep on one side. Almost none when I walk or stand up straight for a long time. No matter he’s still inside me, he already controls me – he makes me lay the way he wants; otherwise he goes crazy. He does the same when his father places his hand on my belly. I guess he’s headstrong “from an early age”. J

I see another change in myself. From the very start of pregnancy the moment of birth – the mother taking the baby in her arms – makes me cry. I owe it to hormones only. I believe that a woman who’s not pregnant or a mother may watch such scenes without getting overwhelmed by this strange sudden feeling of… I don’t even know what. Some instinctive type of happiness, I guess, that can’t be expressed with words. However, I now begin to exhibit another type of motherly feeling – sadness at the sight of suffering children. Of orphans; of little workers who, instead of playing and running freely, bend under the load of sacks full of I don’t even want to know what. Of children devoid of warmth. I have never been insensible to suffering children but now my feeling of sadness and unfairness is much stronger. I owe this too to hormones.

Week Thirty-Five

Reality and I have never been on good terms. The best example in my life up to now is my wedding. It almost sank in the abyss between what was in my head and what was realistically possible. Now the same thing is happening with my idea of birth.

The first entrance of Reality on the stage of my self-directed ideas comes with my sister’s birth. She was the person with whom I was reading Ina May’s book, imagining all sorts of beautiful things related to this moment. With whom – in the last days before she gave birth – I discussed the idea that May’s books should be translated into Bulgarian so that women in our country could realize how birth-challenging hospitals are. So that, perhaps, we could change something with this knowledge.

Not that her birth didn’t go well. Just some of the things I hear – tear, Oxytocin injection, severe pain – pierce the balloon of my ideas and it slowly begins to lose air. It’s as if the fact my sister – one of the „initiated” – didn’t have a completely unassisted birth with no physical effects has begun to shake my faith in such kind of birth.

In its second entrance on the stage Reality takes away the leading part from my ideas. I go to the hospital in Usti nad Orlice where I’m going to give birth. There’s an organized tour of the birth department and an overview of all birth procedures. I’m alone; Lukáš is at work and can’t come with me. I feel insecure because most of the other women are with their partners and because I’m a foreigner. The nurses speak incredibly fast, as if they have some urgent work (they probably do) and don’t have so much time for us. They show us the rooms and then talk us through the stages of birth and the hospital procedures.

I completely forget how nice it actually is that there’s such a tour beforehand. That I have the possibility to ask questions and even discuss my birth plan with a doctor. How nice it actually is that in this hospital they don’t take the baby away after the birth and the mother can have it with her all the time, from the very moment of birth. And yet, the nurses’ hastiness, the white sterility of everything around me and the unclear birth stimulation procedures “in case it takes too long” fill me with anxiety. Not fear but anxiety that my birth won’t be the experience I have been preparing for. That there’s no way I could feel my pain in a beautiful way, surrounded by those white walls and nurses who probably won’t caress my face, joke with me or convince me I can do it by myself but will just follow the procedures. Turning me into yet another birth-giving woman. Putting my unique experience into frames. Not assisting but controlling my birth.

I’m so broken emotionally that, having got to the railway station and taken out my reader, I can’t make myself keep reading the other Ina May’s book that I have – Spiritual Midwifery. I think it will only make me feel worse because of the fact I’m going to give birth in a hospital. That’s it. I admit it. Inside, I don’t want to give birth in a hospital. I want a homebirth. Because the first time I’d felt I wanted to have a child was when I read a story about homebirth. Because I generally hate hospitals. And because I always want the important moments in my life to not fit in the common standards. Just like my wild beach wedding with a self-run ceremony. Just as I didn’t want someone to take my words and leave me with the only “choice” to say “Yes”, I don’t want anyone to speed my birth or make me spend a few days in a hospital without being sick (probably).

It will take me a few hours of self-reassuring until I reach the conclusion that the hospital tour was a good thing. That Reality’s early entrance on the stage of my birth will prevent its sudden unexpected appearance at the end of the act – during the actual birth. After all, even all exercises, hypnobirths, visualizations and meditations can’t prepare us for what we’re going to experience. They can’t save us from a sudden need of C-section. And, as much as I may sound like the mothers I didn’t want to listen to, the most important thing really is to eventually take your child in your arms. And for him to be well. And for you to be well.

The deeper I let this in, the slimmer the chance for Reality to surprise me with a tragic end to my ideas.

And something more. Birth is really (just) like the wedding. Just an event. Just an intense moment. The life after the wedding is much more important. The life after the birth is much more important. A wild beach wedding doesn’t guarantee a happy family life. A completely natural birth doesn’t guarantee you’ll make a good parent.

All the time I have been focusing on the wrong things. Now I go on, preparing both for birth and for what comes after it. Ready to take reality as it is. To understand and experience it first. And then, well familiar with it, to change it. If needed. If possible.

Week Thirty-Six

I’m lying in the sterile white room. The nurse comes in from time to time to adjust that part of the apparatus which captures the child’s heart sounds. Otherwise it’s just the two of us. I and his heart. It’s so fast. It sounds like a steam train, rushing furiously down the railroad. Sometimes it’s completely lost as the baby moves inside of me. Then it shows up again, quietly first and then hard and fast again. So much life in such a small heart!

Week Thirty-Seven

My belly is now the first thing people notice in me. They don’t offer me a seat in the public transport because I don’t use one. But they do let me pay first at the supermarket checkout because I’m a “krasna maminka” (“beautiful mommy” in Czech). How nice.

I wash, iron and organize diapers and clothes. I like having the time to deal with them. I guess they will very soon turn into just a routine, not only an unexciting but also an exhausting one. But by then I can enjoy the fact how tiny the little clothes and little socks are and how clean the diapers.

I am beginning to feel strange but I don’t know if it’s due to the upcoming birth. I can’t remain seated for a very long time. The blanket on top of my working chair doesn’t help – I feel uncomfortable all the time although there isn’t any pain (yet). I have totally lost my appetite. The only thing that can make me want to have something is beginning to eat. The only kind of food that attracts me is fruit and milk with cocoa balls or cornflakes (something I’ve been having daily for the past two weeks). The only time when I feel comfortable is when I walk or do something standing.

And the baby is more active than ever. My belly is like a stretched sphere – like a young planet rocked by earthquakes. With a pulsating heart and dancing tectonic plates.

If even these movements feel like the time of “creation”, I wonder what birth will feel like.

I am soon to find out.

Week Thirty-Nine

It’s the hardest time of my whole pregnancy, I guess…

I become too sensitive and anxious. I completely fall to pieces. I cry.

It’s hard to remember the reason for our first argument with Lukáš. I’ll only remember how I sit on the floor, leaning at the wardrobe, and he lies on my legs. How both of us are silent because we can’t find the right words. Everything seems meaningless to me. The whole direction my life has taken.

I’ll have a two-day break before our next argument. And this time I remember the reason.

Week Forty

High tides and low tides. High tides and low tides. We’ve always been like this. That’s why our wedding was on the beach. We don’t master harmony. A high tide and a low tide – I want to feel this scary rhythm of life in my womb. I already crave the pain. My due date comes and goes, but my waters are calm.

Just the waters, sealed in their bag, still giving life to our child. But everything else in me is a storm. I become even more anxious, even more sensitive. This time there’s the overhanging fear that I have no time. That I’ve already passed the finish line but the race isn’t over. And I stand behind the line, confused, wondering what to do. I don’t see the road I wanted to go. The doctors are standing close to me, ready to draw me an alternative road, if I only say “yes”. I know they don’t mean anything bad. I know they want me to finish the race, and successfully too. I don’t know if the road I want isn’t just concealed by fog… and ready to reveal itself to me in just a few hours. I don’t know but I still believe it.

I still have some time to wait for the fog to lift.

Perhaps my anxiety is a good sign. It overwhelms me so much that suddenly I feel a sharp need to be left alone and not even talk to my friends. As much as I love them, I don’t want them anywhere near that finish line. I want to be alone with the fog. Their voices do nothing but confuse me even more. Isn’t that the instinct of the birthing animal which hides from the others? I hope so!

Isn’t it also an instinct that today (6 July) I start my day with cleaning the bathroom even before breakfast? That every hair or bit of trash on the tiles fills me with terror? Then I clean the kitchen. Then the bedroom. I don’t know. I guess I want this to be the prenatal cleaning instinct. Just want it to be. But at least cleaning helps. It gives me another goal for the day apart from suppressing my grim thoughts.

Today it’s easier for me to be alone in front of the fog.

Today. Maybe not tomorrow. Today I’m between the finish line and the fog but I don’t think about what’s behind it. I’m just here. Now. Waiting rather than expecting. And I’m glad there’s no one next to me. (Apart from the doctors, they’re there, at my disposal; the fact I don’t see them in my side vision doesn’t mean they won’t answer back the moment I call them.)

That’s what happens in my mind. Otherwise, I clean. I translate. I go for walks. I read a book. I watch How I Met Your Mother. I cook. I play cards with Lukáš’s parents.

And I wait for the fog to lift.

Days come and go. Nothing happens. Like a drowning man, I cling to everything people say kick starts birth.

I walk down the empty street, breathing in the stormy air deeply. I soak the light of the lightning and the cool rain. I sit on a chair in front of the open window and just breathe with the storm.

Nothing.

I walk ten kilometres. On the next day I walk again. Then again. I carry heavy things up the stairs. I try not to sit too much in one place.

Nothing.

Lukáš and I go to a scout camp for a night. I believe driving along narrow village roads and sleeping outside will trigger some change.

Nothing.

Another storm. Lukáš and I walk straight towards it, then run away from it and finally go back by car. We park on a hill, open the windows slightly to let its smell in and fall asleep under the patter of the rain.

Nothing.

I am given basil in a pot. I try the horribly hot homemade chili sauce made by a friend of Lukáš.

Nothing.

I look at the full moon through its cloudy veil and I beg her to help me perform on my own what my body is supposed to be made for.

Nothing so far.

I take a hot bath. I barely stand it in the warm summer night. The only thing I feel after it is a pounding heart and nausea.

No. Thing.

Well, let it be nothing then.

On the sixth day after my due date I wake up and my intention to do my best to induce my labour naturally has half-melted. There’s something at the other end of the scale – either resignation or the belief that the less I struggle, the easier it will be. So far the scale is balanced.

I begin to ask myself: is the way you give birth really that important? Didn’t you make yourself the conclusion that the type of birth doesn’t define the type of motherhood (at least from a psychological and not biological point of view)? But then the answer comes on its own: it’s not about what kind of mother I will be. It’s about the fact that my body either can’t or won’t be allowed to complete the pregnancy naturally. It will complete it, it will be assisted in that by the doctors, standing just beyond my side vision.

But at the end of the race it will turn out the athlete has used doping. Not voluntarily. Just because of the fact she doesn’t fit the standards. Or that her body doesn’t work properly. And everyone will be aware of that – no one’s going to punish her. On the contrary, they’ll pat her on the shoulder, comfort her and tell her she did the best she could. But she’ll know she didn’t. Most importantly, they’ll hand her the prize. And she’ll be so happy she’ll probably forget about the race. Or not. Or the race will enter the box of bitter-tasting memories that she will be opening in the future as if to punish herself. (Or maybe to try and forgive – herself, the consequences, something.)

Week Forty-One

1 day before the induction

Today, while taking a shower, feeling with bitterness that the comparatively regular “false contractions”, as I call them, from yesterday have completely gone during the night, a comparison comes across my mind.

I think of how we’ll be going to the hospital tomorrow; how I’ll be able to think clearly because I won’t be midway into labour and I won’t have a powerful contraction pour down on me each fifth minute; how I’ll hand in the papers calmly; how I’ll be checked; how I’ll be given the pill… and how I’ll wait for the birth to begin. And this just can’t but remind me of a situation when someone waits for his own euthanasia.

Yes, I know. One of the things is about death. And the other about life. But aren’t these two things the sides of the same coin anyway? Both of them have been designed to bring relief. The relief both the pregnant woman and the terminally ill patient crave so much. And to some extent they help. It’s surely better for the terminally ill not to die in pain. It’s surely better for a suffering overdue baby to be released from its suddenly hostile home and given a chance to live.

And yet… something about this just isn’t right.

It just isn’t right.

Not from a religious perspective. I’m not religious. I believe in nature. That’s why I believe neither in euthanasia, nor in birth induction. Of course I want my baby to live – I want it more than anything – and, because I’m sure he’s perfectly fine, the fact his first choice in life – when he’ll be born – will be determined by someone else fills me with terror.

Why? (Why in general? Why me?)

23 hours before my arranged admittance to the hospital I think it’s high time I accepted the situation. There are 23 hours for some miracle to happen but I’m already afraid to believe in miracles. I’m afraid to hope, to keep my fingers crossed for myself, to give my energy for keeping a certain positive thought into my mind. I’m afraid because when these things don’t work the feeling of defeat is much stronger. Acceptance. That’s my task for today.

My last day at home without a baby. The last time I go to Lidl with a baby in my belly. The last time I go to the drugstore. The last cake I’m going to bake with a baby in my belly. The last series of How I Met Your Mother which I’m going to watch as a not-yet-mother. My last chance to translate in peace.

It’s horrible to know it’s the last time you’re doing something!

No matter how well you’re prepared, it’s better for some things to just storm over you. Like giving birth. Or dying.

But enough… As I said, my mission for today is acceptance.

And one of my missions in life is to find out…

are acceptance and resignation the same thing?

6 hours before the induction

I have a strange dream. We’re going to the hospital but my younger sister is with us and is even driving the car. We take a road which turns out to be a counterflow lane. A lorry is driving towards us in reverse. We realise the driver can’t see us and is going to crash into us but somehow we also go back and save ourselves.

A strange sensation wakes me up from my dream. I would even call it a contraction if it were painful. I look at the clock and it’s something past one. We went to bed just an hour ago after Lukáš photographed my belly for the last time. The baby was particularly active and, despite being ready to resign, I wished that this meant he wanted to come out this very night. After the strange sensation ends I fall asleep again and when I wake up it’s still something past one. I have slept for not more than half an hour. I’ve been woken up again by the strange sensation I can’t call pain. Unable to fully comprehend what is happening to me, I beg this strange sensation to be a contraction and to get stronger. To start hurting.

The next time I wake up my wish is granted.

It’s three and the sensation is now painful but bearable. I can’t fall asleep again. I roll to the left, then to the right, I get up to go to the toilet and, in this strange state of consciousness between dream and wakefulness, I wonder: is it possible? Is it possible?

That evening, right before Lukáš photographed me, I opened the Moleskine notebook where I keep a diary for my child and I promised him I would do my best so that one day he would be able to choose freely. I guess I even apologised for the fact he won’t be able to choose his birthday. Not that the fault is mine. However, true to my nature, which always – really, always – makes me keep at least a bit of hope inside myself, I ended the text with:

“Unless you decide to get born tonight…”

Oh, you, obedient child of mine!

The alarm goes off at something past five. I tell Lukáš I think I have contractions. I think. Sometimes when you name the things, they happen. When I get up to prepare for the hospital the sensations suddenly turn into real, completely palpable pain. With a beginning, peak and end and with a much smaller break between the pains than I expected. Not more than three minutes.

When Lukáš gets up the pain is already strong enough to stop me in the middle of what I do. I lean on the windowsill under the light of the early morning and wait until it passes. I feed the cat in the break. Lukáš fills up the paper with the child’s name on the kitchen table. We argue about it.

Do we really argue about the name of the child on the day of his birth?

In any case I don’t have enough strength for that argument. The pains grow heavier. Each new… yes, I can say it now… contraction seems to start somewhere below and then hits me in the stomach but most prominently in the waist. What’s stranger however is that I feel some sort of softening inside. Some sort of opening.

I, who almost never feel anything in my body, can feel the dilation.

We take the distance to Brandýs nad Orlicí – a town between Choceň and Ustí – on the cycle path. I have pushed the seat back, trying to hold on. At the same time, paradoxically, I welcome each pain. My biggest fear is to stop hurting.

We ring the bell of the labour ward. “You’re the one to get induction, right? You’re late,” the nurse says.

“I have contractions,” I say but she seems not to care. I guess I can’t blame her for this. We’re told to wait. We walk around the corridor, I stop and lean on something at each contraction and the fear my pains are now coming at a longer interval overtakes me again.

But then… suddenly everything happens really fast. Everything blurs together and yet, I remember it very well.

How long it takes until we fill all the papers, how the nurse tells me I breathe the wrong way during a contraction and helps me to relax, how the doctor comes and says the words I won’t forget: “2-3 centimetres. We’re not going to induce it.” How Lukáš stands outside for an hour, wondering what’s going on. How we finally meet in the birthing room, he dressed in sterile blue clothes, I – in a pink gown.

I will never forget…

The hotness of the water from the shower. How I sit there on the birthing ball, just waiting for the pain to attack me again.

The touch of Lukáš’s hands on my waist during contractions. Sometimes it helps and other times it doesn’t. But I want him to be there.

His words: “Another one?”

The warmness of the amniotic fluid, rushing out of me.

The question I am asking myself silently: “How long can I hold on? How long am I able to hold on?”

And the other one: “Should I ask for anesthesia? Should I ask for anesthesia?”

The nurse who says she goes to lunch. And how I have the completely logical thought that it’s just another working day for her. But I am here giving birth…

The nurse who comes back from lunch and enters the room with the doctor. The feeling of softness when the doctor examines me and says with a smile: “8 centimetres.” And the nurse, who never really smiles, but who now says, smug: „I knew that when we were back from lunch she would be at 7-8 centimetres.“

The same nurse who, just a couple of minutes later, doesn’t believe it when I let out a scream and I say I need to push. “What do you mean push? Like during a bowel movement?” “No,” I say, slightly annoyed, but just slightly because the overwhelming pain of this new sensation doesn’t allow me to get annoyed. “Somehow in the front.” “In the front?” the nurse raises her eyebrows but calls the doctor back just in case.

Minutes after she announced I’m at 8 centimetres.

She looks at me and I can see in her eyes she believes.

She sees the baby…

Everything happens really fast. I don’t even look at Lukáš but I know he’s there by my side and I squeeze his hand. In the chaos I listen to the nurse’s directions. Lukáš asks if I need him to translate but it’s pointless. There’s no time. We all wait for the next contraction. Breathing in. Holding. Pushing.

“Further below. Push further below.”

In an ordinary state of mind I wouldn’t know what that meant. But now I’m doing it. I push further below. And I am successful at it because the three of them tell me so.

They repeat the directions.

Another one comes.

Breathing in. Holding. Pushing. Further below.

The baby’s head is halfway out. No one tells me this. I know it.

Another one.

His head is out.

A fourth one.

His body slips smoothly out of me. Lightly, smoothly, fast.

“12:01,” the nurse says.

I’ll never forget these words.

“12:01.”

Throughout my pregnancy I would start crying at birth scenes. I thought when I saw my baby I would also start crying. But I don’t. I can only see tears in Lukáš’s eyes.

But even now, every time I remind myself of these words – “12:01” – something stirs in me. It pushes in me, trying to get out. I don’t know what it is. Pride, joy or instinct… the moment of my birth. Dressed in the protocol. “12:01”. This is how one gets born or dies in a hospital. With the exact time announced.

Two days later, walking towards the children’s doctors and nurses’ room, pushing my baby in the hospital crib, I hear these words again coming from the birthing room: “Further below.” Then silence, the groan of a woman and finally…

„04:01.”

And there are tears in my eyes.

*

Seconds after Julián’s birth

My thoughts are completely logical.

“The pain is gone. It’s over. It’s all behind me now.”

“He’s a bit purple. But he cries. So he’s well.”

They place him on me with a pink-blue hat on his head.

He’s beautiful.

I’m too far away to be able to sniff him but Lukáš digs his nose into him and can’t pull it back.

The sweet scent of a newborn.

I look at the doctor from behind my legs. I think she’s sewing me up but I can’t feel anything.

“Do I have a cut?” I ask, completely calm.

“No, you have no injuries,” she says. She’s concentrated because she waits for the umbilical cord to stop pulsating.

Lukáš cuts it. He says it’s hard.

He separates him from me.

For the first time.

In 41 weeks.

For the first time he’s been separated from me.

Not in me. Not part of me.

Just on top of me.

Eyes closed. Little pink-blue hat. Awfully tiny arms and legs. A sweet scent I can’t feel because he’s away from me.

We help him find the right way although I’m sure he would have done it himself.

He starts sucking.

My body ends at my chest. It doesn’t matter at all what happens behind my raised legs. All my senses, all Lukáš’s senses are concentrated on the baby on my chest. We raise our eyes only to see the placenta – this incredible organ which my body created and no longer needs – and then move them back towards the little body, lying on me.

“This is the best thing we’ve ever done together,” I tell Lukáš.

And he agrees.

_________

(Photography by Lukáš)

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