Updated: Jul 17
I was washing dishes in the kitchen one afternoon in autumn when I asked myself this question, "If you had to decide right now to have children or not, what would you choose?" I asked myself like it was live or die, decide now or never again, choose the direction of your prospective intentions. The answer was quick and clear that being a mother was definitely something I wanted in my future. I was surprised by the response since I'd never really been a kid person. I didn't particularly like being around children, nor had I previously been interested in having them. Kids do seem to like me for some reason, but I've never really paid them much attention because I find it hard to relate to them. Nevertheless, my desire was clear and a child or children was definitely a part of life that I wanted to discover. I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity of being a mother.
Aurora came quickly and easily, and the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew that my baby was a girl. I didn't waste any time looking at boy names or thinking about boy things, I was having a girl! At around three months when I went to the hospital for my first ultrasound, my gynecologist looked at the image of a little black and white bubble swirling in my stomach and said, "I can't say with 100% accuracy, but from what I can see now, it's a girl." I looked at her unfazed and said, "Ya I already knew that." "Most moms do," she replied.
I've always had great relationships with women. I'm surrounded by them from my grandma who's 83 and still living independently, to my array of childhood girlfriends from elementary. My abundance of interesting and powerful women has always been prevalent, so I was elated to have another connection and the newfound love of a daughter to add to my collection. What shall I name this beautiful creation? I wanted a simple three, max four, letter name pronounced the same in English as in Italian. This proved out of the question as the vowels in both languages are spoken contrastive, so it was back to the drawing board for something longer than expected. I quickly remembered that I'd filed the name Aurora away in my mental compilation and pulled it back out with complete satisfaction as the incredibly mystical sense of the Borealis seemed like it suited well her and the experience.
My pregnancy was good, or as good as I could've hoped it to be. I was so nauseated for the first three months that I lost weight instead of gaining, however, soon after, things smoothed over and I later made up for the kilos I was under. I worked a lot, perhaps too much in fact, but it was nice to pass the time being busy rather than still with worry because pregnancy is loaded with uncertainty and if you give your brain the chance to feed it, it will do so indefinitely. Instead, I chose to avoid it completely. I just moved along day by day hoping for the best in every single way. I thought of the magic growing inside of me, the wonder that comes with creating another being, and the element of supernaturality that comes along with pregnancy. I continued to work up to the last month in which she was due and then here in Italy, maternity leave kicks in, and I was home to finish up the final preparations.
On June 17, 2015, I went for a final check-up at my doctor's office more than ten days before Aurora was expected. My gynecologist did an ultrasound, looked at my belly, and said, "Yep everything looks good. The baby looks like she's in a good position. Very nice. Oh wait, no. Hold on. There could be something. You're a little low on amniotic fluid. Yes, maybe it's best if you have a second check at the hospital tomorrow morning." Ok, a bit strange, I thought, but I honestly didn't dwell on it too much that evening. My doctor hadn't seemed particularly stressed when she was talking, she just said I needed another visit to relieve her apprehension. As instructed, I headed to the hospital early the next morning. The visit was a replicate of the previous evening. "Yes, everything looks good. The baby looks great and is in a good position. Wait, no. Hold on. Perhaps we've got a problem. You're low on amniotic fluid. In fact, you'll need to go upstairs to the maternity ward and prepare yourself for admission." "Excuse me?" I said. Tears were streaming down my face and my heart had started racing. I wasn't ready for a baby. I still should have had at least ten more days to prepare everything!
I stalled a bit by driving a few miles home to get my prepped hospital bag and bring it back before heading into the emergency room entrance. I called my mom to tell her that Aurora would be coming earlier than expected, then I went up to the maternity ward and waited unknowingly while they decided to induce me. They said that she needed to come out quickly due to the low level of amniotic fluid that was left inside of me. I had my final night of good sleep, then I woke up the next morning with excruciating contractions coming consistently. It felt like someone was cutting my lower back in half repetitively. It was so painful that I had everything but Aurora coming out of me hastily. The doctors gave me nothing, not even an aspirin for relief. By that evening, I was so destroyed that when they finally told me I was dilated enough to start pushing, I ran down down the hallway to the delivery room to get going. They immediately broke my water and the contractions really started coming. The machine I was hooked up to measured their intensity and just seeing the numbers rise from 10 to 100, set off my screaming. I'm pretty sure the other expecting mothers in the hospital were terrified completely. About three or four hours later, I finally made a conscious push to get her out of me. I told myself I was done and I strained until I felt that beautiful body slide out beneath me. She was exactly as I expected her to be. I felt like I'd known her for eternity. Unfortunately though, the birth wasn't yet over for me. My lack of amniotic fluid had left the placenta attached inside and I had to have it surgically removed to get it out completely. A few hours later, I woke up from the anestesia trembling uncontrollably. At that point, I hadn't eaten or slept in much longer than what is normally humanly necessary, but even so, they wheeled me back into my room and told me I needed to start breastfeeding. I asked the midwife for a rest first, then I slept a few hours to be able to think somewhat reasonably before continuing. Upon waking, I found Aurora in her little bed right next to me. I picked her up and she nursed perfectly. I was lucky. It was the one part of birthing that went decently. We stayed in the hospital for a few days and I had a couple of blood transfusions to help me back to recovery since I could hardly make it five feet to the bathroom without feeling like fainting.
When they did finally release me, I put Aurora in the car and bawled all the way back home to my new reality. Firstly, I couldn't believe that they had just let me walk out of the hospital with a new baby. Didn't they know I had no idea what I was doing! Secondly, I thought of Aurora and the beauty of her life in front me. Everything from that moment forward would be new and I would have the chance to observe it all and live it with her too. I thought about her future life to be, of everything she would do and everything she would see. How magnificent it is to live the passage of life with a person from the very beginning. People say you forget the birth with time. I will never forget that delivery room nightmare, but I would do it again in a second to have her because being a mom has made me so much greater. From pregnancy, to birth, to then raising kids, being a parent is indeed superhuman. Nothing can prepare you for what you will suffer or teach you how to be tougher. I have learned that I am more patient and impatient than I ever thought myself to be. I feel like I fail more times than I could ever succeed and I doubt and question a large part of what I'm doing. I'm just as lost as everyone on the road through parenting. I thought once my baby was born, I would magically know the ins and outs of mothering, but in the end, I'm still just me. I'm me with the responsibility of a baby. I'm me who sometimes loses her temper too easily or spoils her daughter uncontrollably, and neither of these methods work ideally. Unfortunately, parents aren't perfect. We are just people learning as we go and changing continually. We're not always as bad as we might think ourselves to be, nor as impeccable as we might want to be, however, Aurora is my most beautiful light and for her, I will always keep improving. I'll keep striving to be everything I can in this life in hopes that I set a good example and that she too lives all of her hopes and dreams. I want her to experience everything I have been able to and so much more than me. I only hope that on my journey through raising a child and caring for something so much greater than myself, I'm able to give her the same radiance that she gives me because my toughest job and brightest light is that of parenting.