Friday, February 29, 2008
Looking back at the birth of my last baby, an empowering event, to be sure, but accomplished without benefit of doctor, nurse, or anyone else but me--and my son. Not even an aspirin. I don't recommend this. Nope. Give me DRUGS! Anyway....
"The door slides shut behind them. I lie very rigid, filled with incomprehensible pain. Relax, I think. Relax. Damn them. Damn them all. So, it is you and me, babe. Here we are, alone together. Full speed ahead. It's my duty to tell you. They say you may be impaired. Impaired, with strange eyes and a strange smile. The pain is real. This is earth. I don't pretend to understand it all, I tell him, but earth is a place of mistakes. If you are less then perfect, I'm sorry. Know that I very much wanted you to be perfect and beautiful. I love you anyway.
I'm listening, hums the heartbeat from the monitor. I love you--eyes, hands, whorl of hair at the crown, wrinkles at the ankles and elbows, big toes, little toes. I love you. I'm sorry if I have to die. I'm sorry if I have let you down! I'm listening, he says.
Where is the doctor, with his shining tools and his sterile green gown? Where are the nurses, with their needles and analgesics and anasthetics? I might as well be squatting in a tent in the middle of the Gobi desert. Something is wrong. I never expected this much pain. This primitive pushing body is mine. This whole primitive process is splitting me in two, I am tearing from the inside out--
--the baby emerges at once, wet and white and crying spontaneously, covered with long streaks of blood. The afterbirth is dumped unceremoniously beside him. I am bleeding all over their sheets. I sit up and take the baby in my arms. I check his fingers and toes, genitals and ears and all. He seems perfect. What a miracle! We rock, and I whisper hoarsely, "Little lamb, who made thee?"
The nurse arrives, takes one startled look at us and gasps. A second nurse arrives, followed by the doctor, who is followed by Mark. We need only a drummer, a couple of trumpets and a baton twirler for fanfare. "Well, aren't you the sneaky one," the doctor says cleverly. The nurse would take the baby from me, but I hold onto him and we continue to rock and sing. I am furious that no one was here with me. But I have found a strength that surprises me. I did it all by myself. I can do anything! Like Jonah, I have been swallowed by Leviathan, and came out alive after all. I can do anything!
...Today I am like an apple--deep inside me, like a star of five dark seeds, there is a cool, sweet peace."
(We named him Marc Ariel. He was the fifth of our five sons.)