All my life experience up to that point could not be less irrelevant to the moment of giving birth. Two hours earlier I had been racked with pain –24 hours after I had bragged about my high pain threshold. The little consciousness I was still holding to was focused on getting me through the peaks of pain as it arrived. I fell asleep – or possibly fainted – every time it loosened its grip of my abdominal – for, what was it – two minutes? Thirty seconds? – before returning with a vengeance. The midwife said that the baby was in distress and to my relief finally took me to the labour unit. My own distress seemed irrelevant – it had already been seen, smelled, heard and absorbed by the white washed walls that stood there to separate the screams of thousands of women from the outside world before me giving the illusion of a sanitised space when in truth it was the outside that was shielded. The baby was in distress. That was the first time Taika saved me – from the suffering I wouldn’t have had without her.
She was out in four pushes. After the third one, the midwife said “Don’t push.” I pushed. She is not one to wait for instructions.
The midwife took a blood test making a pinprick puncture in the baby’s heel. Possibly Taika’s first experience of this life was pain. She cried a new born cry, which stopped as soon as I held her. I was given this new superpower (that I was quickly lost during the terrible twos) of pleasing her by just being and smelling of me. How did she right from the beginning know which arms belonged to her mother? Presumably she’d never seen them. How did she know I was the mother? More importantly, what guarantee did she have I was going to be any good at it? I felt my most vulnerable , imperfect, inexperienced , irreplaceable and trusted.
The first years that followed just highlighted the above – as I discovered the possibility that one of us (or both) could be a sociopath. Discovered that most health care workers are literalists, and not ones for rhetorical questions. It is crushing that the subconscious is developed in those important years when we are both just as inexperienced and only survive thanks to instincts. When a child is born, a mother is born. A friend of mine resented being left to her own devices by the hospital staff to whom the mother of two was experienced: “How many other times in life having done something twice qualifies you as ‘experienced?”
Once your life is totally overhauled, the every-day existence allows for little variation. Growth can’t be sped up nor (unless denied the barest conditions) can it be stopped. Years in themselves are repetitive, the Earth rotates and the celestial system is ecliptic.
So where really is the logic in our very linear interpretation of life – or particularly of ‘a career’?
When we dance it’s really just about recognizing a repetitive pattern of beats and sycnhronising movement with it. This is probably the reason I feel the most alive and connected to the basic elements when I dance. It is vindicating to know that Taika’s earliest memories are formed in these years, when her mum has been the happiest. When we danced.
“Dance music … stirs some barbaric instinct — lulled asleep in our sober lives — you forget centuries of civilization in a second, & yield to that strange passion which sends you madly whirling round the room” – Virgina Woolf
PS. I started a tradition where the book I read last in the year is the book I had read first that year. The book I read twice in 2013 was What I Talk about When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami.