Fiction hasn’t done it well, yet!

I read this blog in The Guardian today and agreed with the author in that I couldn’t think of any fiction with a description of childbirth that sounded real to me.  The descriptions almost always were from the point of view of expectant fathers or midwives or someone in the story who was the only one around when a childbirth was imminent and had to direct the whole “warm water and lots of towels” operation.  No one ever writes about how it is for the woman giving birth.  And like Emily Cleaver says, women often tell her how wonderful it was and how one forgets the pain.
Well, not all of us forget the pain.  I can never forget that pain, nor will I forget the sense of accomplishment, the sense of having walked through fire and emerged stronger, gilt-edged and transformed forever.  I remember the first dull pain.  It felt as though someone was scooping out a small part of my insides with a spoon.  And then the pain subsided completely.  I walked around the hospital corridor waiting for the next one because they told me the pain would come again and would keep coming back with greater intensity.
And then it started.  The next one had me doubled over until it passed, as did the next one and the next one.  It went somewhat like this:
Pain……………Calm (play Solitaire)…………….Pain…………….Calm (more Solitaire)…………..Pain………Calm (a few moves of Solitaire)…….Pain…..Calm….Pain…Calm…Pain…Calm (don’t worry, the anesthesiologist is coming)..Pain..Pain..Pain..Help..someone help me..where are they..where are the anesthesiologists..they’re late..Hubby says, “Where are those idiots!!” I say, “Stop it, shut up, HELP, HELP ME, SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME!!” Nope…too far gone, no epidural possible…Pain.Pain.Pain.Pain.Pain.Pain.UNBELIEVABLE PAIN.  A sense of breaking apart and splitting in two.
And then somehow it was all over.  The baby was out.  I got a glimpse and then she was taken away to be cleaned and swaddled.  All the family members trooped out behind the nurse carrying her.  There was no one around me.
I was no longer the picture and was not yet the frame.  The spotlight had moved away with unquestionable finality.  Things would never be the same.  The lights, perhaps, would only hit me as slanting rays and with partial incandescence from now on.  I was just someone who appeared to be no one’s concern at the moment. No wonder not much fiction about childbirth gets written from the perspective of the woman giving birth, she (an important part of the thing that was “she”) ceases to exist, a new one takes her place.
Hubby was gone, the doctors were gone, the nurses were gone, the baby was gone, the TV was on and still showing the smoking rubble of the Twin Towers and I was all alone in a hospital room, listless on a gurney, staring at the ceiling to avoid staring at the television and wondering why I was so very cold.  I felt the bed shake with my shivers and my teeth chattered like they never had in the worst of winters.  This frightening state of solitude probably appeared more pronounced to me in that state.  Perhaps it lasted just a few short minutes.  But it felt like an eternity.  Eventually a nurse came in to do some things to me, sew things up, take out stuff that no longer belonged inside me and then asked me to rest and take a nap.  I asked to see my baby first.  They brought her in, I held her for awhile and then slept for several hours.
In the days that followed I felt as though I had moved.  As if my mind had sold its old familiar home under some kind of duress and now inhabited a place that would take some getting used to. Things didn’t look as I remembered, things didn’t work the same.  The mirror reflected a different person.
The times with the bundle of joy were immensely rewarding most of the times but often one just felt like food.  The bonding was instant on some levels and not so much on others.  There appeared to be a short-lived tug of war inside.  One that the baby finally won and continues to win day in and day out.

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