Notes On My Daughter’s Conscious Conception
Everything has its intricate beginning.
Everything except for birth.
When people ask me how many weeks I am, I tell them two answers:
“Eighteen from conception. The medical industry wants me to say twenty.”
We are trained to be unsure of our own conceptions, to leave it in the hands of a profitable industry. It is an example of some other force authoring a contrived and safe narrative for our bodies, like a script that is assigned to us — one we had no hand in writing. I fight back against this conditioning in small ways, like giving different dates of my last menstrual period when asked. I watch with a wry smile on my face as professionals plug lies into their machines, then read the wrong answers back to me. There is an undercurrent to this spirit. As I take joy in rebelling in small and playful ways — like asking obnoxiously why a waiting room filled with pregnant women does not offer healthy snacks — I present to you the real beginning, a departure from the stale tales we have been forced to chew. This is a return to a truth that belongs to the body, the spirit, the heart, and the black brown dirt of this Earth —
You came to me like a vibrant wind along the shore.
It would be wrong to say I was not expecting you; right to say I was not entirely conscious of your season.
Of course there were signs.
There were signs in the early days: the call to visit spiraling cities by the sea, a remembrance of all things coral white and deep blue. Collecting sea shells like a song. Each intricate twig and stone, gifts from the flow of rivers and trees.
I think you’re awake, now. I know this because it is 3AM: the time you take to fluttering. The time I take to weaving.
I know exactly when it was aligned and decided that you would come into fruition. The night of your conception, I felt the universe in the palms of my hands, like a vibrating room, like a clanging cymbal. It was as though my waking being had finally caught up with the others: you, the force moving through the earth and the sea like a wandering wind seeking shelter. Me and my anchoring strands, the wisps of Saturn threaded into my palms. Your father, who I chose for his indefatigable strength of action, of movement and will. All of us played by the mysterious hands of the original womb, our Earth, of whom we walk as the world.
You and you alone know the true meaning of travel: to move and be moved and in moving so worship the Earth. There is no time for stasis, for sitting, for feeding on resources according to programmed buttons on a screen. Your father, who had neither cell phone nor digital device, contained something I admire and aspire to hold onto in myself: the ability to walk through a neighborhood, a city — an entire country — and feel at home. Let me tell you: everywhere we went, doors opened. When they didn’t, he talked; asked around. We struggled until we found a way through, and walked through gracious openings.
All my life has been in service to this movement. I believe it to be called Action: a freedom to roam. A freedom deeply rooted to one’s place of being. Heritage, that unconscious gift we offer to our kin: you are African American — a survivor of torture, slavery, and an incurious jealousy of which we call racism — you are Filipina — the offspring of warriors caught in a new kind of battlefield, away from the forests and trees — and Cubano. I know what I know about my own places of origin — not just the city and country of my birth, but all the places I have moved through, and in turn have been moved by. It will be an honor to watch you unravel the brown and black stories of yours, all the metaphors and mysteries we extract from the decrepit tales assigned to us by others.
We dig. We call it a beautiful struggle. We reclaim the terrible beauty in surviving and thriving in a world so woefully plagued by foreign gods.
Your flutterings have ceased. I think it is time for a snack.
I want to leave you with this — the most vivid truth I can offer —
When you came to me, I saw light brown pebbles, clear running water — an eternal wall made of pure river. Since then, I’ve seen waves thirty stories high conquer entire forests. I’ve seen hurricanes made of seaweed, I’ve heard the world go silent and static as you approach. This is to say you are of the force that makes people tremble. This is a blessing. To own this and carve it as strength for your people — whoever you decide them to be — may be the task of your lifetime, as it has been mine.
In closing, I offer you my beauty — the ever ascending thorny spiral — and the thick strength of a line, which belongs not to me, but to your father.
It is 3:37AM on October 1st. A Tuesday.
—and in these last words, I have just been whispered what your name is.
Reflections on the metaphors, images, and symbols surrounding my daughter’s creation.