Turning 19 or 20? Whatever

Birthing a baby through Caesarian may not be the low-light, mystical ideal, but it suffices. My daughter turns 19 today, although she’s decided she wants to be 20, so we’re going with 20 this year, with plans to do 20 again next year.

After a prolonged labor, a surgeon very quickly delivered her. In the dreamlike world of the OR, where the adults rustled in gowns and masks, the surgeon held up this tiny baby in his hands for me to see. In that room filled with sterile white light, the baby was vernix-greasy, pink and wet, intently alive. Unwittingly or not, in that crowded room she looked directly at me. Suffused with joy and drugs, I had the keenest sense of familiarity: I knew this baby.

A few years later, when my father was laughing so hard he took off his glasses, I realized the shape of her eyes mirror his.

the world… was not enough for (my mother) without me in it,
not the moon, the stars, Orion
cartwheeling easily across the dark, not the
earth, the sea, none of it was
enough for her, without me.

— Sharon Olds, “The Planned Child”

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By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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