There is a long list of things I've never done. Here is a sample:
1. I've never been to Africa
2. I've never been arrested
3. I've never eaten at Olive Garden without puking my guts out
And, up until today:
4. I had never seen, in real life, a baby being born
H called last night as I was putting my earplugs in to go to sleep. 'My water just broke,' she said. I don't know much about these things, but I remember hearing once that water breaking + second child = get to the hospital quick. So off I went. Quick.
In the waiting room, two J's, L, and I spent the majority of the time discussing the varying degrees of hilarity of 'that's what she said'. We made a security badge (simply called 'BADGE') out of a piece of paper in my purse, in an attempt to gain an all-access pass to the hospital. But nothing was happening in the baby delivery department. By the time the morning rolled around we were all delirious with fatigue and anticipation, and out of embarrassing stories.
At about 10:00am, it was time to go. We surrounded the bed like it was a Thanksgiving buffet, all waiting for the moment when H could push and we would have a baby. I say 'we' because that's how you talk when you're in the delivery room, like each and every person in there is in the exact same position and in the exact same amount of discomfort. H, along with every other woman who has ever had a baby, must find this very funny.
'There will be four generations of women in this room in a few minutes,' H's mom said, and it suddenly hit me, the enormity of coming into this world. Four generations. That's an awful lot of incredible stories. 'The miracle of life' takes on a new perspective when surrounded by the women who have come before us, and the women who have yet to arrive.
I held a leg. Can we all stop and think about this for a minute? I held a leg and watched one of my best friends bring a new life into this world. It was nothing like they make it out to be on TV. I can only oversimplify what it was like by saying that it was the closest I've ever come to seeing time stand still and move in fast forward at the same time. The only dry eye was Madeline's, as she looked up at her mother for the first time and thought, 'Oh, so that's what you look like.'
As the cameras clicked around me, I thought about how we are defined by the women before us and after us. A woman in her thirties can't look at a newborn and think, 'I know it all. Do it just like me.' Just like her mother and her grandmother before her couldn't do. We are our own generations and our own stories. All she can do when surrounded by her past, her present, and her future is promise all the love she's been given, and be amazed at the miracle.