A Thanksgiving Prayer
A call for kindness during Kislev

Day after Thanksgiving, two years ago

How I spent the day after Thanksgiving, 2009.

Two years ago today we woke up early. My belly felt huge; I moved differently then. We called the hospital well before dawn to find out whether there was a bed available in the labor and delivery wing. And there was. So we picked up the bag we had long since packed and we drove to Berkshire Medical Center. I remember carrying our giant blue birthing ball into the hospital with me, not being sure where to put it as I sat down to fill out my intake paperwork. I remember our doula arriving. I remember the challenge of getting the IV going for the Pitocin drip.

I remember watching Daria cartoons on my laptop. I remember walking the hospital halls, pulling my IV stand alongside me. I remember our doctor -- a wonderful man -- deciding to break my waters. I remember the contractions really getting going, then. I remember a shower, some music, my husband's thumbs pressing into my back. I remember reaching the point where I couldn't ride the waves of the contractions anymore. The quiet precision of the anaesthesiologist. Apologizing to our doula once I was lying in bed, blissfully no longer in pain but worried that she might be bored now that there was nothing to do but wait.

I remember when the nurse came to examine me and then ran to fetch the doctor because it was time to push. I remember Ethan and the nurse holding my feet, I remember the doctor inviting me to look in the mirror to see the baby's head crowning -- and I remember that I shook my head no, I didn't want to open my eyes, I was somewhere too deep and too internal. All I could do was think, in my head, the words and melody of one of my favorite Jewish Renewal chants: We are opening up in sweet surrender to the luminous love-light of the One. I remember the doctor gently moving my hand so that I could feel the baby emerging.

New life.

I remember lying in bed with our infant pressed against my chest, skin to skin, with a heated blanket covering both of us. Already the adventure of labor seemed implausible. The dark still night felt like an infinite pause, rich with unimaginable possibility. I was somebody's mother now. We had created a child and I had borne him and now we were parents. I remember giving the baby to a nurse and devouring a slice of the pizza we had brought in for the staff earlier that day, suddenly ravenous. I remember going to sleep, that night, feeling that I had made it through something momentous but not sure yet what this new existence was going to mean.

Drew's birthday is early next week. He'll be two. He is beautiful and wonderful and headstrong and hilarious and so many things I never imagined. We'll celebrate him with family and friends and gifts and all the love we can bestow.

But today -- not yet his second birthday, not quite, but the day after Thanksgiving, parallel to the day I labored -- feels like a kind of anniversary for me. The anniversary of the beginning of motherhood. The anniversary of the day I spent moving through the long difficult tunnel between my last life and this new one. The day that I became something I had never been before. Thank You, God; thank you, Drew; for making me the person I am still becoming.

Me and our sweet boy.