As a wonderful distraction from all of the present-day chemo crap we've been dealing with, I've had the delightful fall-back of my usual November nostalgia, something that tends to take me over every year as Laurent's birthday approaches. In this photo, I am probably just barely 25, Laurent a few months old, still in his delightful harp-seal incarnation.
It used to be that I would look back on my pregnancy with so much compassion for what I went through. I loved Laurent, even in utero, with a ferocity that has never abated. But at the same time, I was miserable, broken-hearted, lonely, as I went through most of that time either abandoned by my then-partner, waiting for his return or waiting for another abrupt disappearance. I loved being pregnant, loved the feeling of it, the cozy shelf my gigantic belly created for my arms. I didn't love the hokey-pokey with the biological dad that consumed those months, as he tried to make a decision without making a decision.
I was luckier. My decision was made: Laurent was happening, growing to the mammoth 9 pounds he would be at birth, best and most powerful experience of my young adult life. After twelve hours of natural labor on November 15, 1987, our midwife Holly delivered Laurent into a patch of sunlight illuminating the bed and we beheld this remarkable creature. Glorious.
That day was hard, so painful, so fascinating in its total consumption of me -- no thoughts, nothing but presence inside a mighty unimaginable pain. I look back now on that day less with compassion than with awe - at my own courage, at my own insistence on feeling every bit of what was happening to me, at my embrace of motherhood, even on my own, even at my age, no matter what it would require.
Every year at this time I am filled with memories and with gratitude. I re-feel some shadow of the labor, keep time to remembered contractions for a long stretch of time, until 2:16 pm, when finally, finally, I meet my child face to face. And therein lies the gratitude: gratitude to the 24-year-old me who chose this path, gratitude to to my family who were there every step of the way, mostly gratitude to Laurent himself, who continues to dazzle me just as much now as at the beginning.