I almost stayed at the office that day. There was so much filing to be done. Manila folders for each child in the school were spread across multiple folding tables begging to be organized before the new administrative assistant took over. "I don't think I can leave it like this," I said to my husband on the phone.
"Yes, you can," he said. "I'll be there in 10 minutes." I hadn't felt my baby move that morning. But it was my last day of work before maternity leave and I hated the thought of leaving so much undone. And I didn't want to seem reactionary or hysterical. According to my schedule, I had three weeks left to be pregnant. Three weeks left to organize every single thing I possibly could before my life changed forever.
At the hospital, after monitoring his heart rate, the doctor cut into me so fast blood splashed across the faces of the attendants. Family held a prayer vigil in the lobby. The umbilical cord, it turned out, was wrapped three times around the baby's neck. They had to work fast.
While the doctors worked, I clutched a small, stuffed bear to my chest given to me by Santa, the Reiki practitioner, who had held her hands over me throughout the entire long, fearful, uncertain months of pregnancy. I'd already lost three pregnancies and knew the worst could happen, but I'd had moments of peace in her loving care.
12 years ago today, Henry was born with his feet facing each other, his tiny toes clasped as if in prayer. My uterus, the doctors told me, was heart shaped, full of tumors, it was a miracle a baby found space to grow there at all. After the terrifying, interminable minutes when they cleared his lungs so he could breathe, he latched onto his father's nose, and then, at last, my nipple. I have never- and will never- get over the wonder of that moment.
I almost didn't leave work that day. I almost stayed behind to be a good girl, to tidy up, to get everything in order, to leave nothing undone. I almost didn't trust myself, almost didn't listen to my body. My husband trusted my body more than I trusted myself and as much as I've learned, as far as we've come since then, I'll never be done thanking him enough for that.