The Night Before
The night before, I installed the wall-mount dock for the vacuum cleaner, and Joe made cheeseburgers, and we watched The Horror of Dracula. We said, let’s go to breakfast in the morning then figure out the car seat. We went to bed.
That was Friday. I was due the following Monday, but had set my sights a week and a half later, forty-one and a half weeks, which I’d read was the average delivery date for first babies. She was going to be a Scorpio, like me, I was sure of it. I don’t care much about astrology but I like being a Scorpio; people who do care say oooh when they find out, like it’s not only meaningful information but surprising somehow, a little stinger.
Instead I woke up at 3am to vague bodily annoyance. Cramps? Ugh my period’s coming, I thought, forgetting everything. Then remembering.
We did not go to breakfast. Joe threw the car seat into the back of the Prius when we left for the hospital in the last black moments of night. By 3pm I had gone out into the cosmos and turned inside out and she was in my arms, pink and chirping, expressive divots where her eyebrows would be. She kept throwing her arms into the air then lowering them slowly, like she was trying to catch her balance. A Libra, just under the wire.
Weeks later, back home, our doulas came to visit. They folded laundry and told me about the other babies they’d delivered that fall, how different they all were. They’d just visited one who, they agreed, had an old, wise soul. “What about this one?” I asked, and they studied her. “Cool, clear water,” one of them said. “Yeah, I feel blues and purples,” said the other. “Not an old soul?” I said. “No,” they agreed, “she’s never been here before.”
For a year, every day that was true: She’s never been here before. Next year is a leap year, so today isn’t quite her last first day. But tomorrow begins her second orbit, her second spin through the stars. I’d like to be sleeping more. I’d like to be writing more. I think I left part of myself out there when I went to go get her. But give me a hundred more years with her, a hundred more lifetimes, it doesn’t matter, it will never be enough.
Thanks for reading Vanitas, a newsletter about life, death, and other dumb stuff. It’s a little early this month. If you’d like, follow me on Instagram: @by_rachaelmaddux.