Very little is more beautiful, or painful, more enlightening or devastating, than child-birth.
Here we present “Leah”
In through the nose. Out through the mouth. In. Out. Breathe, eyes closed. Just breathe. It will all be over soon. A lull in the pain, a break in the retching. In. Out. Nose, mouth. For the moment, you don’t hate him. Five minutes ago he was the devil, he was evil incarnate, he was that thing that did this to you.
In, out, in… building pressure.
The pain is starting to rise again, concentrate, all your will on breathing.
Ignore the tightening of your abdomen. Ignore everything but your breathing. You venture a peek at him to your left, his hand on yours. You feel ridiculous, starting to hate him again. His eyes bagged with fatigue, his hair mussed from running his fingers through it while you screamed.
In, out, pressure, pain. You do hate him again. He did this to you. He put this thing inside of you. You know you will love her later, you know you will love him again later, but now, right now, he and she are diseases. Abscesses that your body must expel.
The machines to your right start to beep faster, your heart rate is rising. There’s a steady thud thud thud, a tiny flutter, and you know that the baby’s heart rate is rising too. The nurses told you to keep calm before they left to presumably check on other patients,
“You’ll be fine, women have been doing this since there’s been women.”
The world is shattering inside you, there can’t possibly be anything left when this is over. Your body will be nothing like it was before your hips stretched, before you ballooned up to twice your regular size. Before he put this inside you.
Then the retching. Everything in your stomach is being squeezed through every hole it could possibly exit. Why, oh dear god why, had you not opted for the stupid shot? Why had this seemed like such a good idea? Why does he look so haggard and worried? Why have the nurses not come back?
He is gone and the baby is gone and the machines are gone. Just black pressure and searing sunshine bright pain. You hear yourself screaming. You are suddenly outside of the pain, standing to your own right, disengaging from your body. You step aside, scared that you may have to endure what you see. You watch yourself writhing, feet in the stirrups of the birthing bed. Your hospital gown is a ridiculous shade of green blue, medical green blue, sick green blue. You see yourself, back arched to rise the bulge that used to be a flat stomach. Head and neck pushed so hard into the pillows that they almost disappear. He is saying something to your physical body, leaning forward, and wraps his arm across its heaving chest. You watch all of this, see it, but feel none of the pain. Continue…