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Dare Alla Luce

Gemma Valentina

Nine days old

A friend recently posted an Italian phrase for birth she thought was so beautiful, and I agree … dare alla luce … “to give to the light.”  I thought about my own fumbled Italian I’ve used with my mother-in-law when referring to Gemma’s birth which was more like “quando Gemma nato …”  or if you speak like a three-year old or a cave person, translates as “when Gemma born.”  The word “nato” graciously gives a clue being the Latin root of the English word “natal” (def: of, relating to or present at birth) so that at least enabled me to get my point across, but when I learned of this Italian phrase “dare alla luce” referring to birth I was reminded of how poetic and beautifully descriptive the Italian language is, how the Italian mind and culture work to use their language in such a way, and … how my Italian is truly terrible (shaking head).

Gemma’s birth was … like all births I suppose, in which you start off down a winding path with no idea where it will take you.  I have to admit I was really scared to give birth.  The bigger I got the more curious I became about how exactly this being was going to get out of my body.  I armed myself with every birthing book known to man, most of which I was too nervous to actually read, but did flip through them every now and then before bed.  Marco and I also attended 12 or so baby-prep classes (yes, 12 – and I created a spreadsheet with all the related logistics – who knew my OCD would take a quantum leap during pregnancy).  The main class entitled something like “Birth 101″ was surprisingly heavily based in natural childbirth.  I say surprisingly because we were at a large hospital so that wasn’t what I expected.  We were coached on how to perceive pain as “pressure” and encouraged to use all kinds of birth paraphernalia like balance balls, foam rollers, therapeutic oils, relaxing music, back massages and of course, breathing techniques.  It was information overload, which only increased my anxiety.  I tried to remind myself of the body’s innate wisdom and how I would need to go with my instincts when it happened, but the only real thought in my head was “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies!”

I wished I were more goddess-like, more Mother Nature-like, more grounded in my feminine power … but instead, I was overwhelmingly apprehensive about this impending birth and if I’d been able to think past the birth, the responsibility of caring for a newborn and raising a happy, kind, honest, resilient, educated, free-thinking, creative, self-sufficient human being was already beginning to weigh on my shoulders.  I preferred to stay in denial, which is were I spent those last few weeks of my pregnancy – on the couch watching every Housewives of New Jersey episode possible.  I had mentally affixed myself to a care-free, happy place where I did not need to worry about how this baby was coming out and what it would be like afterwards.  And then the episode would end.  And I would schlep to bed where I was duly reminded of the alien in my belly who would surely need to get out at some point … somehow.

Closer to my due date the emails, texts, phone calls and Facebook messages were rolling in … any baby news yet?  All the inquiries about something I had absolutely no control over did increase my anxiety, but I appreciated the concern and support.  I’ll always remember going to see Aimee Mann perform three days before my due date and the look on people’s faces as I waddled to our seats and out to the lobby during intermission.  There’s a continuum of reactions you receive from people when you’re pregnant.  At first of course you just look like you’re putting on weight as your middle thickens, then there’s the bump that begins to appear, but could still be mistaken for a serious beer gut.  Finally you literally seem to pop one day and you officially look pregnant.  For a first-time mom the kind curiosity of people makes pregnancy even more special. New life is universally positive and acknowledged.

I joked about giving Gemma an eviction notice once we passed her due date, but one week after her due date Miss Thing was finally ready to make her debut.


  • admin

    I remember every second of it….:) What excitement.
    The best day of my life.
    I love you.