New baby smell is richly sweet like Early Grey with shots of vanilla and excitement. Like the newness of dawn and the start of a new season. Like petrichor and golden falling leaves shimmering in the rays of an autumn sun. Something deep inside stirs with each breath.
Your sweetness breaks my heart. I can barely contain this love.
Your smell reminds me of the previous morning. I took a brisk walk through the forest, enjoying the unseasonably warm air, the turning leaves and how the light opened my lungs and pushed you down. Each footstep reminded us both that your birth day was soon to arrive.
I told you to be born on the 10th and you listened. Just like your sisters before you, I knew the exact day you would come into this world, even though my OB thought differently. Your birth followed a cosmic design that mirrored my hopes for a 2015 Libra, born three days early to complete a sibling birth order of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
And while I thought your birth would follow the same pattern as your sisters, you flipped everything on its head.
That evening I ate spiced pumpkin chia seed pudding and told your Baba that things were happening. I was feeling mild cramping every half hour or so, and like the two times before, we’d probably spend the day labouring and getting ready for a sunset birth. So pack the car. We were supposed to labour at the science centre and offer your sisters a chance to participate in seeing you come into this world. That was the plan anyway.
But at 2am I woke with more persistent contractions. Every 10 minutes or so I was recording the time. You know, it’s different labouring in the dark. Everyone sleeps while you keep count alone. There are no distractions, no flutters of excitement and shared laughs, no phone calls, special lunches or walks to the park. I lay in the quiet dark catching sleep whenever it came. It’s lonely and a little scary.
By 4am the contractions were 6 minutes apart. It was time to start moving. So I got up, took a nice shower, got dressed, fed the cat, and put on my makeup. Your Baba was pretty surprised when I woke him a half hour later with hijab on, ready to go.
While he got dressed, I made oatmeal and had a tea.
Thankfully your amma slept over that night to care for your sisters “just in case.” She was nervous but her presence helped lighten the mood. And as I woke up to the reality that things were really, really, really happening, I turned into my regular jovial-oh-it’s-nothing-just-having-a-baby-folks-nothing-to-see-here self, and made sure I used the lint roller to clean cat hair off my pants before stepping out the door.
Then we were off, zooming through empty, early-morning streets — the dawn highlighted by a waning crescent moon and shining Jupiter and Venus. All three aligning over the horizon.
When we arrived at the hospital, naturally the first thing we did was take goofy selfies in the empty corridors and post my progress to Facebook. Because why not.
My nurse was phenomenal. Experienced. No-nonsense. British. She was exactly what I needed. The attending obstetrician was a joker. He made me comfortable, and we both fed off each others’ positive energy. Everyone was laughing and it seemed more like a party with friendly colleagues.
But then there was a shift change and my lovely nurse and attending OB were replaced. This stalled things a little.
Cruising at 10 centimetres, I was no longer allowed to get up and walk around. Something I really wanted to do. I walked the hallway, just a “turn around the room,” with Ivy and I hoped to recreate that lovely stroll before “it was time.” Miffed, I sulked a little and looked out the window — taking in the brightly coloured forest while I made dua’as for people who had requested special thoughts while I laboured.
I don’t feel much pain in labour. Even during transition. I internalize. I focus. I pause time and allow the contractions to roll over me and through me. Your labour was probably the easiest out of the three. Only once did I calmly request your Baba to move out of my line of sight so I could study the bright sunlight shining off a silver lamp post. Looking back now, it’s pretty funny. “Hey babe, this is pretty painful. Could… could you move? I really want to see out the window. OKthxbye.”
That’s when I heard a voice. Or was it a feeling? It came from behind my right ear and told me that this baby had to be born within the 8th hour. There was no significance then and maybe there never will be. But it spurred me into action.
My body did the work and I breathed you out within a few minutes. At 8:58am you slid into this world with much joy, love and some awkward fanfare. New hospital guidelines suggested that caregivers should be the ones to announce a baby’s gender. So there I was, out of breath, simultaneously laughing and crying, listening to a choir saying, “What is it mom? What is it? Open your eyes. Do you see it? What is it? What do you see?”
I was speechless. A boy. All I wanted was to hold you and feel your soft, warm skin against mine. Your birth was touched by starlight and sunshine and I wanted to feel it for myself.
When they finally put you on my chest, you melted into me and into the space where my heart grew even larger for you.