The room is darkened because it’s meant to be homey but I feel like a stranger in a strange land.
“Push, push, push!” commands the nurse. My mind understands her but my body doesn’t know what to do.
I’m not ready, not at all. But no matter– it’s time.
The doctor stands at the foot of my bed and consults a nurse behind her clipboard. As if I can’t see. As if I don’t know. I’m not doing this right, don’t have a clue, scared as dark hell, desperate.
The doctor tells the nurse that if I can’t push him out soon, they’ll have to do a c-section. Tells the nurse. But I get the message. Come on, body, dammit. Do this. Do it and be done. Get this baby born, ready or not.
The baby is more than ready, waited long enough to grow fingernails beyond his tiny fingertips; he’s head-down, no stopping. Baby’s ready to emerge, come out of darkness.
The tub has been warm, but I’m listening to my body, and it’s not time for comfort anymore. I make my way to the bed, where quilts have been tucked down, waiting.
I have no needle in my back, no medicine in my blood, and I am strong; I was made for this. The contractions come on heavy and my whole body feels them. Pain is too narrow a word, suggests localized precision. I am awash.
I tuck inside my own mind and see me there with my girl baby. We’re going uphill on a bike, and it’s steep like never. With every contraction in body, we trudge harder in mind.
It’s the hardest work of my life, and it feels like death. I need Jesus.
And there he is, somewhere between my mind and my body, but most certainly just to the right of my bed. He is there, and it’s the surest presence I’ve ever known.
I’ve been here before, this same room, this same bed. I know the plan, know the way, know myself.
This baby was a surprise, but I am sure of almost everything else. It’s a boy, for one; I just know it. This is my third time ’round, and it always goes faster each time– I’ve read it.
And I know how natural childbirth works, how spiritual it is. I can hardly wait for the romance to begin.
But the work starts and it’s just work. There is no super-woman power, no prenatal mind-meld; just pain and pain and push. No Jesus.
“It’s a boy!” cries my little guy, but I know he’s only seen the baby’s head. And now I’m less than certain.
And I’m wrong. All wrong. I see a beautiful girl.
Tessie and Scarlett, 2009
I’m in an operating room because I am necessarily high-risk. I asked, asked pretty hard, and the doctor said I could have my way– no epidural, nothing. But if we got into trouble, he’d have to put me under– and I’d miss it all. And that’s just too risky, missing life happen. So I’ve given up my “rights” and my “can-do’s,” and I’m under bright lights and it’s sterile beyond comfort. But I’m not here for comfort; I’m here for life.
Three pushes, easy, and out comes Baby A. She’s eyes-all-around, taking it in– oh, she is here, world, and she is ready.
A quick visit on my chest with the baby I’ve just birthed, but then she’s off to impress on the scales and the scores, and I’m still pregnant. Have to do this all over again, no rest.
Baby B has flipped herself sideways, cozied up close inside mama, no rush, not yet. Hands are all on me– ultrasound wands, and palpating palms. I feel pressure like mad, but the epidural I didn’t want has prevented the worst of the pain.
The doctor has her lined up now, and here I go, one last time, forever. And she comes out, looks just like the girl who came before, but she is her own person and it’s clear. She has no need to fuss about the world right now; she rests.
The room is small but it’s enough. I have been a long-time coming. Pangs of soul-birth have washed and waned, and I have struggled, I have succeeded, I have failed and hoped again.
I know the plan, know the way, know myself. I can hardly wait for the romance to begin. And I’m wrong. All wrong.
I feel like a stranger in a strange land. I’m not doing this right, don’t have a clue, scared as dark hell, desperate. Pain is too narrow a word, suggests localized precision. I am awash. It’s the hardest work of my life, and it feels like death. I need Jesus.
I am necessarily high-risk. I asked, asked pretty hard. I could have my way– and I’d miss it all. And that’s just too risky, missing life happen.
Have to do this all over again, no rest. I feel pressure like mad. But I’m not here for comfort; I’m here for life. And I’m still pregnant.
But I was made for this.
Baby’s ready to emerge, come out of darkness.