On the day you were born…

On the day you were conceived, July 2nd, 2014, Mama fell into a deep afternoon nap and woke up to a “familiar knocking” in her womb. Her cobwebby recollection was of a dream in which she was searching for the permission to name her to-be-born. Ten days later your conception was identified by a rarely recognized dip in basal temperature; a clue your hopeful mother clutched secretly and close to her heart. Four days later, the pregnancy in which you were enveloped was confirmed with the faintest of purple lines that your Papa insisted he could not see. But Mama knew. Only days later, a local healer with a reputation for eyes that sometimes saw more than you wanted to know, glanced over your Mama’s left shoulder and declared that the pregnancy would be healthy and a reunion of lives long-bonded. On that day, Mama cried a fountain of salty, happy, relieved tears. In the months that Mama carried you, she was often sick with insomnia, pains, anxiety, exhaust, and a dizzy belly. But she gave of herself graciously and embraced her belly with endearment. On the day you were born, Papa wanted to fish, but Mama refused to let him; she had a feeling something big was stirring in her belly. Ten days beyond the due date calculated by your conception, Mama was feeling the fire of readiness. In a truly sour mood and moment, she called a best childhood friend who inspired undulating waves of belly laughs which your Mama would later call out as the catalyst for her labor. On the day you were born, which was the 14th of days in which she clutched her belly in hourly contractions (yes, 14th), Mama felt a slight progression in her laboring while sitting in the grass of the lower homestead park, watching your black-lab-buddy-to-be backflipping in aggressive attempts to catch a flailing frisbee sent into the air by your madly-giggling 2-year old brother. Momma took a long hot shower when she got home, and in the process of getting dressed, reached inside a deep laundry bin and felt a foreign cracking inside her belly as the waters in which you floated broke and announced your impending arrival. Mama instructed Papa, without hesitation, to pack the hospital bags. In the car, Papa called your grandma Patri and doula Emma. When Mama and Papa arrived at the hospital, Mama calmly checked in downstairs while Papa got lost looking for her on the second floor. When they finally united in the birthing ward, your parents were told that all the rooms were full with a wave of other mothers inspired into labor by the pull of the full “blood” moon. On the day you were born, Mama began her labor by bouncing on a birthing ball, excitedly chatting about how much energy she was feeling for the first time in weeks after nightfall. Not more than an hour later, Mama got quiet and closed her eyes as you would the shades for the evening. She crawled through dog, cat and child poses on a mat on the floor in search of a position, any position, that would ease the pressure.  In the room you were born, the lights were low, soft hypno-birthing affirmations streamed from a speaker, and voices murmured gentle encouragements as hands were laid on Mama’s back, hips, and shoulders in soft touches of encouragement. Mama’s doctor later recollected that each time she came into the room, she would pause in the hallway and take long, slow, intentional breaths to leave the quick steps and general angst of the birthing ward outside the door; malaise had no place in the sacred space into which you’d be born. On the night you were born, Mama only occasionally opened and uplifted her eyes, in the short pauses between intensifying contractions, to look up through the dark windows and witness the blood moon traversing the night sky on its way into eclipse. Having chosen to labor naturally, Mama’s contractions increased in severity until she could barely murmur that she didn’t think she could do it. Mama would later remember the confident caresses of your Papa and the whispers of your grandmother repeating, “You’ve got this. You’ve got this.” On the hour of your birth, Mama crawled onto the hospital bed and pleaded, “Can I push yet?” When the doctor nodded her permission, Mama sighed with relief and the pain immediately eased off as she worked to find an elusive position to bring you into the world. When Mama gave up on finding a perfect position, she resolved to just urge her entire body in unison, and sighed deeply when she finally heard the encouraging words of her doctor declaring, “There you go. Here she comes….” Mama engaged her full body in a final exhalation. The pain blew out like a candle and your rigid, purple, screaming body was placed on your Mama’s chest. In her ecstasy, she barely noticed your distress, and simply cradled your cries in the arms of her trembling, tearful, grateful being. It wasn’t until your paternal grandmother remarked, “I’ve never seen a Cogswell cry like that!” that your Mama finally focused on your face; upon this first lock of eyes, you immediately calmed in a pattern that foot-printed the following months of your infancy. The day you were born was April 4th, 2015. Throughout the day your were born, Papa ushered away the nurses that wanted to bathe you, and thus sweat, blood, and vernix mingled in your first skin-upon-skin embraces with your parents. Before any heads were laid to rest, the hospital staff had written your name on the nursing white board: Riva G. Riva, as a root of Rivera, a family tree of which your parents wanted to emphasize the connection and branching. In Hindi, riva means, “one Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 8.11.49 PMwho moves” which was determined fitting to the union of global travels and the birthplace — India — of “Slina” (Slade & Christina). In Latin, riva means to, “regain strength,” a tribute to the arduous path of miscarriages that led to this final birth blessing. In Spanish/French, riva means, “from the river bank/shore”; a gift of respect to the Rivera lineage and their ancestral relationship with water. Your middle initial/name, “G” pays homage to the Cogswell Family, and in Hindi, जी, which is phonetically pronounced the same, is an honorific suffix given to those of earned wisdom, age or respect. On the day you were born, you were placed on a scale that registered your weight of 8lb and 2oz. It would not be until weeks later that your Mama would notice the tan and quarter-sized birthmark on your inner thigh that you share with your mother, Aunt, Uncle, two cousins and grandfather; a true stamp of the family heritage and affirmation of the appropriateness of your given name. On the day you were born, your brother kissed your forehead and without a single hesitation relinquished his single-child status. On the day you were born, your Mama and Papa’s hearts cracked, again, in two, as scar-tissue replaced the emptiness of what would never again be the same without you.



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