Born to be Reina
That was spoken by my best friend, a Nebraska native and non-Latina, as she walked into the hall on Calle Ocho in Miami where my Cuban-style baby shower was hosted. She was right.
That exclamation came back to me the other day when my daughter created a throne for herself in her bedroom. She laid her pink towel down in front of her pink chair and she wore a pink-jeweled plastic crown atop her head. A set of books worked as a footrest and her favorite stuffed animal served as her guard.
“Hulll-ooh, I am the Queen,” she said, sitting on her throne as I humbly approached.
It was obvious to me in that moment, my daughter — my Only Child — was destined to feel like a Princess and oh-so-like-her to upgrade herself to Queen.
Nearly seven years ago, my mother and tias turned a simple banquet hall in Miami into a regal palace of pink. They made little candle favors with a prayers on them, and pin favors with“Carrie’s Baby Shower” printed on them. Pink balloons, pink tablecloths, pink frosting. Pink everything. They willingly became my subjects — or subjects to the unborn child every single one of them had helped me pray for.
I had made no secret of our battle with infertility. I made no secret in the 10 years before I already knew it would not be easy. Every person at my very Latina baby shower — from tias to old neighbors to best friends from grade school — rode the wave of expectant joy with me when it finally happened in my 36th year.
A few weeks later, in the long hours I labored with Maria, the image of those women huddled together in their perfumed glory, giving me Mami advice, laughing at my plans for natural birth (“Que loca, esa Cary!”) helped minimize the fact my hips felt like flying out of their sockets each time a contraction hit. I meditated on them. I needed them.
My daughter, I learned during my labor, was occiput posterior — head down and sunny side up. Not the ideal position for unmedicated delivery by a first-time mother. She was stuck. (The image of mi familia and friends, by the way, always will compete with the memory of my yelling “The butt, the butt!” and begging my husband and midwife to squeeze my hips together…but that’s another story.)
At hour 37, Maria was delivered by C-section as my exhausted midwife cheered. My husband and I cried the instant we heard our daughter’s fierce howl. She was pink, hairy and a little banged up. But, strong and perfect too.
Maria was born into a gang of people in various cities and countries who loved and adored her way before she was conceived. I am not an overly cautious or fearful mother. You would think, given the fact we’re “older” parents who overcame infertility, that I would be. But, if I had to give a reason, I would say this child has been so wanted and so lifted up by the prayers of my people, that I know she will be fine, fine,fine.
At 6, she is a happy, healthy and tough little chiquitica. (Oh, so tough!) Before her birth, she was crowned as La Pink Princesa de Calle Ocho and Middle Tennessee and it appears she just upped her own ranking to Queen.
How could this child be anything but fine forever?
A Mami can hope.
* This post is a combination of two posts that previously appeared at Bilingual in the Boonies.