Tick tock. Tick tock. It’s 12:37 a.m., the time my daughter Hope was born 40 years ago. I’m never up at this hour, yet here I am, answering a primal heart beat between her and me. I sip chamomile tea from a cup she gave me and settle in with memories.
Toronto, Canada. She was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. At New Mt. Sinai Hospital at the hands of a doctor named Zimmerman. Harvey. He, almost as young as me. He was sweet and had freckles and I had a doctor/pregnant woman crush on him, a typical occurrence that’s the subject of articles in magazines like Ladies Home Journal. He kept insisting at my check-ups that “this birth was going to hurt” and I’d smile and say, “oh yes I know,” without a clue to what was in store. I was more into touch football in the park.
When the labor pains descended her father Donnie and I dressed and took a trolley car downtown to the hospital. I remember standing on a corner on Bloor Street, waiting for the light to change, doubling over with pain. We were young and without a car. It never occurred to us to get a cab.
Fathers weren’t allowed with mothers back then. I was on a bed waiting for my water to break in a room that resembled a cell. The screams of laboring women tore at the door. My only visitor was a nurse who came in periodically like some ghost in the dark and measured the opening in my slowly expanding vagina. Donnie was in a waiting room somewhere. My doctor was probably enjoying a dinner at a five star restaurant. All I remember is being alone. And yet, not.
It was daughter and I in that room. Although I didn’t know the babe was a she. There were no ultrasounds or baby sexing in 1970. No choosing the name and getting personalized clothing made months before the birth. She slowly moved down, down my body towards the opening that would present her to the world. She and I, partners in simultaneous fear and courage; a 36-hour unrequested-roll-up-into-a-ball-epidural labor (the longest shiny needle I've ever seen)and a forceps clutch that left us exhausted; good only for one another.
Nine months, 36 hours and 40 years since she departed my body's beating heart in favor of her solo journey. My little Pisces cooks up a storm, whips up words on a page and snaps the shutter on stunning images. She’s a force of brilliance and beauty, born of sweat, tears and HOPE.
It’s 12:37 a.m., starlight fills the night, the wind is gusting over 50 mph and yes, I do know where my daughter is. Always, in my heart.