I drew two pictures, just like the book suggested. I was home alone, beads of sweat pooling in the crease between my thighs and the swell of my baby-filled belly. The crayola box was covered in a thin layer of dust. I selected brown and red and peach and yellow, blue and gold and pink. I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply.
Fear: I drew a dark, windowless room. I drew myself lying on a bed. My big, brown bulging form was strapped down by black wires and cords. I drew two women near me and colored their faces peach and gave them long blond hair. I drew word bubbles rising from their mouths. “#*?! ” they shouted. On my right calf muscle I drew a large red X.
Hope: I drew myself sitting up in bed and my husband Jon next to me. I drew a brown-skinned woman smiling nearby. I drew a river flowing out from between my legs and a small brown baby floating atop. In the air above the baby, I drew a star.
A few weeks later: I sat up on a delivery room bed at Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago and pushed. The room was bright. I closed my eyes and went inside myself. I sensed the people in the room: my husband, my blond nurse, and my friend Sandhya. My right leg spasmed and I shouted incoherent commands to this team of supporters. “You!” I pointed frantically towards no one with my eyes closed. “Rub my leg! Up! No, down! Left. More left. No. Outside!!” I felt hands on my leg, easing the cramp into a dull ache.
The nurse’s voice warned me of the next coming wave. “Focus on your bottom!” Words you only hear in a delivery room or at the gym. I breathed in deeply, standing somewhere inside myself in the dark, wondering who this child would be. “Do you want to feel the head?” I reached down between my legs and felt a patch of hard skull covered by soft hair no bigger than a quarter. I wondered why my baby’s head was so very tiny. I imagined I was pushing out a small doll. It seemed very doable.
The doctor appeared between my legs. “Hi Aarati, I am Dr. Starr. Your baby is almost here. Let’s get another good push.” I pushed my soul against hers, willing her into the world. I felt a sudden gush, a rush, and thrust myself against myself. “Wow! That’s a lot of water! Here she comes!”
Asha. Hope. Kimberly. From the meadow of the royal forest. The hope from the meadow of the royal forest was born. All hail brown-skinned, all hail pink-skinned. Born on water and under a star. She is here, she is here, she is here!