Note- Olive James Coogan-Clarke arrived safely and happily, but not speedily. Even after skimming off the more arbitrary details, my marathon labor (an endeavor that spanned from home to birth center to hospital room to operating room over a period of three days) is not going to fit into one post. Nor would I have the ability to write it out in one stretch, not in the time afforded to me in the slim hours of her naps, hours which are punctuated by me dashing to her side every other ninety seconds to ensure she has not died of- what, exactly? Too much air? A house squirrel stealing to her bedside and nipping away her breath? Her little neck snapping under the weight of her enormous, roly-poly head?
You know what, that last one doesn't sound so improbable. Excuse me for a second-
Alright. Let's start at the end (also the beginning)- the very first moments in the life of Olive James.
At 3:28pm on Monday, October 9th, a surgeon slices me from hip bone to hip bone, then reaches down into my body and pulls out an 8lbs 6oz baby whose head has evidently been replaced by the roundest, smoothest, most radiant wheel of cheese from any cellar in any farmhouse across New England.
They hold the baby up and over the blue curtain, still tethered by her blue chord, so the cheese wheel can take her first look at her mom and dad. Dad immediately melts into a pool of love and delirium on the operating room floor, requiring a nurse's assistant to gather him up in a glass vial and reform him. The top half of mom bangs away on the table with shivers so severe that any inhabiting spirits are accidentally exorcised away, and she speaks her first word in the brand new world that she shares with her dinner-plate-faced daughter: "ICE CHIP?"
Then the baby is whisked away into a corner, dad scoots off to stick his pointer finger into her small, outstretched hand, and observe the warming and drying proceedings. Mom turns her face towards the doula, Roxy, repeats these words: "ICE CHIP?"- then heaves, gags, and begins to vomit.
From inside her nest of towels and syringe bulbs and glinting silver instruments, at the center of a still-swarming team of baby professionals, the cheese wheel remains quiet, blinks her gigantic blue eyes, and adopts an expression of utter bemusement.