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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I REMEMBER (A Joe Brainard Style Birth Story)

I remember feeling like I had a toothache in my whole body.

I remember almost crawling into the lap of the man driving the car.

I remember the man in the lobby who said, “She’s in pain.”

I remember Suze asking me if I preferred vitamin water or Gatorade.

I remember the answer to that question came easy.

I remember Stacey smiling.

I remember being taught how to breathe.

I remember joking about how it was a lousy time to learn a new skill.

I remember having mixed feelings about the placenta.

I remember Stacey saying she was going to be a conehead and having horrible images in my head.

I remember exchanging a look with Stacey that meant
Don’t lie to me, I’m about to tear.
Yes, you are, I’m sorry.

I remember Suze telling Stacey she had the same birthday as Pete Townsend.

I remember Stacey asking me if I wanted to move out of the tub and it not mattering.

I remember wondering how Ariel felt about the positioning.

I remember leaning my head back against him and thinking he was like a tree with a heartbeat.

I remember screaming at Ariel and Suze to PUSH HARDER against my sacrum.

I remember hearing them mutter little conversations about “taking breaks” or “switching places.”

I remember that for a couple of hours in the night, I was the only one (aside from Kaya) who knew it was for real.

I remember amniotic fluid trickling onto the wood floor.

I remember my pregnancy pillow was covered in fluid.

I remember puke just flying out of my mouth incidentally as I moved across the room.

I remember thinking we’d never be able to clean up all my fluids.

I remember Stacey covered the bed with something and the nurse said:
What, you don’t think she’s staying?

I remember Stacey’s phone ringing and I said “maybe someone has a sinus infection” because I had interrupted Gina’s birth with mine.

I remember Stacey saying: “When Huck came out, he was so funny looking, and now he’s so cute.”

I remember a quiet splash of so much blood, like the red slide in DON’T LOOK NOW.

I remember thinking we should be leaving for the hospital before we did.

I remember Ariel and Suze talking about a smoothie.

I remember Suze saying it had an interesting taste and Ariel realizing he forgot the yogurt.

I remember worrying that Stacey was going to think I was racist after I made a joke.

I remember the nurse saying she’d never seen someone worry so much about what other people were feeling while in labor.

I remember Ariel felt very still behind me.

I remember blackness between frames, my body coiling into two second sleep.

I remember wanting to say YOU make sounds deeper that the pain….or make sounds deeper than THIS…but holding my tongue.

I remember Stacey saying as I got out of the tub, I know you feel like you can’t go on, but you can.

I remember at some point in the tub saying to her, I might die, and she said I know it feels like that, Caitlin, but you’re not going to die.

I remember remembering Hilke saying in some ways a toothache hurts more than labor because it’s constant.

I remember knowing I was not going to die.

I remember how quiet everything was.

I remember thinking: oh, she’s his.

I remember bringing her straight to my nipple amidst all the blood because I’d seen that in some video.

I remember being taken aback by how big she was, and how much hair was on her head.

She was so much more that the tiny fist that had lived in me for years…

I remember the nurse didn’t think I was so fabulous after I refused the IV.

I remember feeling like I had avoided medical intervention all through birth so didn’t want to start post-birth.

I remember hearing the nurse say: “Oh, Daddy’s little girl…he’s going to spoil her, you can see it already.”

I remember waking up in the middle of the night and going to find her.

I remember asking if I could take her and realizing I was in charge.

The nurses would defer to me, the mother.

I took her back to my hospital bed and dozed blissfully holding her into the light.

There was snow outside and distant traffic, the river.

I just had to wait and people would come to me.

I remember seeing the sign on her bassinet:


We dressed her in a red T shirt that said ADO(RED) and was too big.

Ariel cried for so long
Rach came by and said:
Has anyone said she looks like you? (to Ariel)

Em said: So animal.

They had to put a catheter in me to release my urine. The right side of my belly was inflated like a balloon. As the pee poured into the pan, it deflated.

I was so glad Suze was there to make the pizza happen.

I knew I didn’t really need an IV; I needed pizza.

Her hands and feet were bigger than I expected.

She had a jewish nose.

She became my love in the morning light.

I knew she was tougher than me.

She was as tough as my core.

And then some.