Thursday, February 9, 2012

In This Place

Rafaella Rubio Kaufman Legra was born on October 7 at 9:28pm. By 9:29pm, daddy was crying in the hospital room like a newborn baby girl. I was not.

When we brought Rafaella home and placed her in her bassinet to watch her sleep, within moments, daddy’s eyes were welling up with tears at the momentous scene that is watching your baby sleep under your roof for the first time. Mine did not.

As Olive and Jersey began to take notice of their new sister, this alien creature, they smelled her itty-bitty feet as dogs do when they are trying to understand what is happening. Daddy began to get emotional and cry at the sight of all of his children together. I did not.

It’s not that I am not an emotional person. Actually, I am a pretty emotionally charged person. I have been known to cry in the middle of a department store at first jingle of Christmas music in early November, simply because this signals the start of the Christmas season. It doesn’t take a lot for me to well up into an orb of slobbering emotion.

So when I had baby Rafaella and did not lose my ever-emotional mind but instead was in full control of my emotions - this was worrisome. I thought it would only be a matter of time.

But as time passed, I was still very much in full control of all of my bodily emotions. No random, crying outbursts. No drooling, salivating orb of emotion. I was like a poised surgeon, like McDreamy in the episode where the odds were against him and no other surgeon in the world would take the case and he had to go into a woman’s brain just as the power went out in the hospital which stuck him in an elevator with only a bandage and a power drill. That might be a few episodes of Grey’s Anatomy rolled into one but you understand the point I’m making. I was a surgeon. Composed. Calm. Controlled.
Did this make me a bad mom… already? Other friends were going the proverbial “goo goo gaa gaa” over their babies. Other moms were doting over their kid’s every move, every breath. And I wasn’t even crying.

Today, Jolene, a good friend, a relatively new friend at our abroad school, who had been pregnant when we met her, went into labor. Her water broke sometime in the early morning and I was awoken via text message by Mike telling me that her water had broken. Having talked about this prior to February 8, prior to today, Mike and I knew we wanted to be there for them in every way possible. We had witnessed first hand how emotional having a baby was out of the comfort of your country where people don't speak your first language, without everyone you love waiting in the designated area to welcome your new baby. Luckily, we had my mom and my grandmother clucking around like the mother hens they are. I was prepared to be a clucking hen for Ryan and Jolene and baby Collier.

As chance would spin it, Rafaella turned 4 months yesterday. Almost 4 months exactly to the day from when Rafa Rubio was born, I was driving to the hospital with a sandwich, a croissant, a chicken filled pastry, two almond pignoli cookies, and a cappuccino in hopes that Ryan would be in the mood for any of it. I found myself listening to music in a way that I never heard it before. I sang it loudly and fiercely. I sang it like I was memorizing a lullaby.

And then it began to rain. I turned my windshield wipers on. And in a flicker, I remembered that when we were driving to the same hospital on October 7, only a few short months ago, it was also raining. It wasn’t a violent rain like you can sometimes drown in in Santo Domingo, it was more of a rainy whisper, a whisper that was softening the day for a new baby on the way. The day Rafaella was born was such a blur, it happened so quick, that I hadn’t remembered that detail… that it rained. The same kind of rain. Until now.

Turning into the hospital parking lot, I warmly remembered that space; it was still as small and crowded as I remembered it, barely any room to park and get out with a busting belly. It was perfect. Déjà vu crept in and I was nervous to be here; nervous like I was the one having a baby except I wasn’t nervous when I had Rafaella, remember? I was a surgeon. Composed. Calm. Controlled. I was nervous because I didn’t want to crash or interrupt such a private moment for our friends. What if I texted Ryan right as Jolene was pushing and the generic text message beeps was the first sound their baby heard upon entering the world?

One of my favorite things about having had a baby in the DR is that our doctors became instant friends. When they tell you that you could call them with any questions, they’re dead serious… and they pick up their phones to prove it. So with my ob-gyn’s number in my celly, I decided I’d text her instead:

Hi dr. f – its Jennifer legra. didn’t want to bother ryan (as if bothering her was somehow ok). I’m in the waiting area w/some light food. Don’t need to go in just drop off. you think that’s ok?

I sent it and immediately thought how eerily fast I’d sent it. Wow! I didn’t even remember looking for her cell number in my phone. And with that thought, I instantly asked myself, “Who did I just send that text to?” In my state of frazzleness, I had sent my "unintended for Ryan text" to Ryan. What a dope! I was clearly not composed. Not calm. Not controlled.

I was no more a surgeon. I noticed that I was an emotional wreck. And when he popped his head out, it took everything I know in me to not cry, which would have been weird because he was the one having the baby. He looked so thrilled, like he had no idea that having this baby would be the end of sleep and sanity as he knew it. He took me to see Jolene, laying in the same bed that I laid in with the same doctor and nurse surrounding her and it all came back to me like a lighting bolt of a flashback: this room. In this hospital. In this city. With these doctors. In this weather. My baby, no, my family was born here… in this place.

I thought about daddy and if he would have cried had he been here too at this moment. Probably. And you know what? I did too.

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