As much as I wanted my first baby, Eva, to arrive into this world, I would have liked to become an American Citizen before her arrival. My big day, the day I was scheduled to be sworn in as an American citizen, was February 18th, 1987 and Eva was due on February 19th! Which of us was going to make it first?
To my delight, February 18th arrived and Eva was still comfortable inside of me. I was huge. Although the headaches, vomiting and mood swings of the first and second trimesters were gone, I had gained 27 pounds and was uncomfortable.
I had a blue, red and white pregnancy dress which was still fitting me, and I looked very patriotic and very pregnant, that famous day of February 18th, 1887 when I became an American citizen before my daughter, Eva!
My good friends, Jay, my former boss from the U.S Embassy in Romania, and Suzanne, his wife came all the way from Washington D.C. for the ceremony. Who would have thought this would happen, ten years before, when I first met Jay and Suzanne in Romania? It was a long way from Bucharest, Romania to being a pregnant woman in suburban Philadelphia, and ready to become a U.S. citizen. Ten years before I wouldn’t have dreamed of being outside of Romania, married to someone else and expecting a baby! Life was surely not boring! Jay and Suzanne were happy for me, I was ecstatic! I had waited for six long years for this day, when I changed my status from a “permanent resident” into that of a U.S. citizen. Six long but rewarding years, and so much more to come!
The day of February 18th was a sunny, crisp day and the ceremony took place in a high school in suburban Philadelphia. I was one of a few hundreds becoming citizens that day, but I felt unique, and definitely huge, as I stepped up the stage to be congratulated and receive my Naturalization Certificate. In many ways it felt like a new birth. I re-birthed myself and now I was going to also give birth to a child. I guess here came two American citizens!
When the ceremony was over, we all went to Collegeville Inn to celebrate and then Jay and Suzanne went back to D.C. and things were winding down. The excitement of becoming a citizen was over… and no sign of Eva! She sure took her time… her due date, February 19th, came and went. Grandma, was alarmed she will not make it in the sign of Pisces, as she had some amethysts she wanted to give Eva as a birth present. Amethyst was the stone of Pisces and we were all rooting for the amethysts!
February 20th arrived… Cassandra called from Nicosia, Cyprus to check on our status… nothing was happening. Everyone was giving me advice as to how to speed up the process. Some said the best would be to leave everything in the hands of God and pray, others told me to walk and finally the receptionist in Kevin’s office advised me to do steps!
I was a week late! I went up and down the steps a dozen times that day, and exhausted I collapsed on the couch. At 8:00 PM, on February 25, as I was sitting on the couch I heard a strange noise coming from inside of me…as if a balloon blew up and my water broke. Within seconds, I was sitting in a paddle of water, totally out of control… What to do first, call the doctor or go to the bathroom? The doctor asked that we checked into Abington Hospital after mid-night. Our baby was going to be born on February 26th, she was after all, going to be an amethyst baby!
Being in labor and delivering your baby cannot be described. Birth is indeed a miracle and calling it an experience would mean to downgrade the miracle!
The great moment of Eva’s birth was 11:28 on February 26th, 1987. A day that changed my life forever. I thought of my own mother, and how much more I was appreciating her now, when I knew what she went through to birth me… I wished she were still alive, I wished I could have her blessings for my child, but she wasn’t. In a way, for the first time, looking into Eva’s eyes, I felt I had a family again. She was my family, she and Kevin, and perhaps, if we were really lucky, I would get pregnant again, and deliver a sibling , the sister or brother I never had and wished for…
Yes, definitely, I was going to have another child, I thought, and smiled, as Eva and I struggled to understand the concept of nursing. Unlike what I was told, it didn’t come naturally to me. It wasn’t the idyllic mother-baby union, the one we all dream about: Child gratefully gazing in the eyes of the mother, mother happily enjoying her baby’s gratitude. That posture is definitely for the postcards! Our truth was different! We definitely didn’t know what we were doing. For the first two weeks I experienced excruciating pain in my nipples. Soon I understood why so many women chose to give up nursing their babies. I was not going to be one of them, and we both stuck with each other, so that Eva got the best start in life.
I thought of my start in life… as I gazed into the eyes of my American citizen baby. We’ve come a long way!