My friend Dan believes that our whole lives are metaphorically prefigured in the story of our respective births. I’ve been asking everyone, to see if I agree, and I have to admit Dan has a point.
My own birth was pretty normal except that I was huge—10 pounds, 14 ounces. Eight years later, when I went to get allergy shots, the pediatrician’s nurse looked at my chart and then cried out in what sounded like horror, “Oh, my gosh, you were that enormous baby!” And, indeed, there are still plenty of people who’ll tell you I have far too big a footprint on the earth.
I’ve written about two of my children’s births in different memoirs: Adam came into the world triumphantly peeing in the face of an obstetrician who would rather have performed his abortion; he has lived as a walking testament to the value of being different. Lizzy’s birth was early and easy, just like her departure from home (she’s 19 and already living in Japan). My first child, Katie (sorry, I mean Kat) almost stalled out because I was trying too hard to give birth perfectly. I was in labor for 40 hours before I finally had an epidural, fell asleep, and relaxed. Then she popped right out. And since then, she’s always held back until she’s sure before going ahead with anything.
What was your birth story? If you know it, think about how it might inform your life right now. Call your mom and get the details—I promise, giving birth is something most of us can talk about until were blue in the face (and many of us were, right around the time our babies emerged.
Dan suggests that you close your eyes and rest for the circumstances of your own birth; for your mother, your father, siblings, other relatives, friends. Soften the pain and magnify the joy of the event. Retroactively fill it with as much love as it will hold (hint: a lot). It’s worth the time. After all, I think it’s pretty safe to say it was one of the most important days of your life. Then, as Kabir suggested, “hold each moment as I did my son when he was born.”