Otherwise

Otherwise
opinions about life, work, and spirituality

E.T Does Tai Chi: The First 24 Hours

June 9th, 2009

Babies born by C-section are beautiful, right? But what about the ones who are breech? Ahem. Let me explain.

As I lay in my cot, sewn together and regaining sensation in my lower body, I ogle my new child: Silky dark hair that endearingly sticks out in all directions. Dark, deep, luminous eyes the color of jet. Skin softer than a sea otter’s pelt. An adorably plump upper lip. Perfect, miniscule ears. Unbelievably tiny, compelling toes. Kissable knees, squeezable arms, squishable cheeks.

But. The top of her head is perfectly flat. Like book flat. Winnipeg flat. As flat as your chest when you were twelve and you cried because you could not yet even fill your teeny-tiny training bra, and the boys called you Pancake Girl. On the bright side, she could have a successful career in basket balancing. She won’t have to carry a backpack – she can carry her books to school on her head. She can compete in the new Olympic sport of head-butting. And win.

And though the hair at the back of her head is so long it extends past the collar of her sleeper, she has absolutely no hair at the front of her head. So, when she stretches her long, graceful neck and utters a high-pitched “creeeeeeel”, it brings to mind an equally lovable character from a popular film in the early 80’s.

My husband, beside me in an orange vinyl hospital chair, holds our little one in his arms. I saw his face when he viewed the luscious paradise of Rio De Janeiro and the Amazon, the sparkling golden limestone buildings of Malta, and the refined architectural beauty of Buenos Aires, but there’s no comparison to the awe and glory openly splayed across his face as he peers at our daughter.

Shoot. I know my face doesn’t look like his. I’m too busy thinking that my poor daughter will have to wear hats for the rest of her life. Where does one find a Bowler these days? Ugh! What kind of terrible mother am I, thinking my beloved baby looks like an alien? And why am I disappointed that my child looks like she’s missing the top of her head? Isn’t any kind of disappointment in these first tender hours of a baby’s life wholly inappropriate? Only three hours into motherhood and I’m already a heretic.

I interrupt my husband’s reverie, gurgle out my thoughts through tears. He listens and nods. “She’s so cute!”, he says. Yes. Well. I think so too, but I still wonder where the top of her head went. My mother enters the room and, once again through tears, I voice my observations. She nods and smiles, “Yeah, newborns are a little funny looking – like little old men.”, she says, “She’ll grow out of it, though.” I sigh. No need to buy a tiny baby Stetson hat. No need to invest in a lifetime supply of baskets. Someday my child will have a skull that extends above her eyebrows.

And better yet, my guilt about noticing my child’s imperfections slowly decreases over the next few days. I become okay with the fact that I’m not blind; that I can see my little one’s faults. Maybe I’m just a little more real than the Magazine-Mom with the hazy eyes.

But. What my child lacks in forehead in her first few hours, she makes up for with elegance. She is a brilliant mover. Her limbs stream slowly, esquisitely through the air. A little like Tai Chi, but with so much more heavenly beauty and depth. As my daughter dances silently in her transparent hospital-issue basinette, it’s like watching smoke curl upwards in slow motion. The twirl of her arm is the growth of a bamboo shoot. The spin of her wrist, a fiddlehead unfolding. The undulation of shoulders, the arc of ocean waves. The stretch of a neck, an arbutus tree branch. The extension of legs, ferns blowing in the wind. I want these moments of my daughter’s divine bodily grace to last forever. I know this dance won’t last, though. It’s a gorgeous leftover from her nine months in the watery world of my womb. So, I will take all the time I can to absorb these amazing moments. These God-tinged first few hours of my child’s life. As I gaze upon my daughter, my eyes haze over with tears, my chest fills with joy, pride and longing. My Baby is so beautiful.

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