She lifted her hands to show me how small I was at birth. Her eyes bulged and she declared again, as if it was the first time she’d ever told me, “You almost didn’t make it! Did you know, you didn’t even cry?”
There are those stories parents tell and retell, and by the time I began elementary school, I knew this story of my birth by heart.
My body had hesitated upon arrival; it wasn’t ready.
Wrapped up in the womb of my mother, my story began within hers. And when it was time to make an entrance, my lungs weren’t finished and I’m told I couldn’t breathe. No one knew if the frailty of my lungs would be too much a burden for life, or whether by a whisper or prayer, I would come through.
For the first 21 days of my life, I lived in an incubator. It was the waiting space and the watching space. Wires intruded on my isolation while connecting me to a possible future outside hospital walls. Fingers and voices reached for me through holes while I could not be fully embraced. Prayers and pleas hung over my compact frame like a blanket.
I had entered the room in unmitigated weakness. Somewhere, someone said, “It’s a girl!” I had no voice or breath to respond to my welcoming.
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