I was strangely calm as I walked into the white hallway, sterilized with flourescent lights, and gave my name at the maternity ward.
“Hi, I’m here to deliver my baby.” The nurse took one kind look at me and cooed, “Oooh baby, you ain’t having nothing but a false start. You’re too calm to be having a baby.” I smiled back at her. “I’ve had contractions for a few hours now at home and came when I couldn’t take it anymore, they’re a couple of minutes apart.” Startled, she got up and led me into an anteroom and had me go through the motions of undressing, tying the gown and lying down on my back with my legs propped up in those cold metallic stirrups.
I grimaced as her hand pushed its way inside me but she quickly pulled it out as she felt the head of the baby crowning. In a flurry of movements she flung off her gloves, wheeled me quickly down the hallway into a delivery room and yelled for the, “Doctor! Doctor! She’s having a baby!” which made me giggle inside, thinking this is a maternity ward right?
My husband paced around the room wanting badly to be anywhere but in that room where the blood would soon come; squeamish, he kept asking if I could hurry, if he had to be there. When the contractions grew to an excruciating pain and I couldn’t find a rhythm to breathe through the force within me that threatened to turn my body inside out, I gripped his hand tightly and he started yelling and complaining to the nurse that I had hurt his hand. He was still rubbing it and looking at me with contempt when another nurse kicked him out of the room. Blonde wisps fell on her forehead and the crinkle around her eyes drew me in as she held my hand, placed her cool palm on my forehead, wiping the sweat away, and prompted me to breathe along her rhythm. Everything grew quiet as I looked into her eyes, a pale blue like a winter lake, and all I could hear was the loud sucking in of my own breath and the swoosh and drop of my chest as I exhaled slowly, allowing my body to ride the wave of pain that swept my body.
Just as the doctor was walking in I could feel an incredible pressure of a head pushing its way out from between my legs and in a panic I pressed my thighs tightly together but the nurse gently placed her hand on my knee and in one fluid movement I unlocked my knees and felt a heavy mass leave my womb and slip into the doctors hands. A merry cry if there ever can be one, filled the room and I anxiously looked to see my baby, to see my Diego as we’d been calling him for the nine months I had carried him inside me.
“Congratulations! It’s a Girl!”
I must have looked confused for they brought Her closer and repeated, “It’s a Girl!” “Are you sure?” I asked in a hopeful tone, I had wanted another little girl so badly but had come to terms that I would have a boy as the ultrasounds had shown.
As soon as I held her, she Smiled at Me. Her beautiful gaze locked me in and I know that they say the newborns don’t “smile” in the sense of an emotional trigger, and I know that they claim that newborns can’t “see” you but only general shapes and forms but she SAW me. And she never stopped smiling. My beautiful sweet Eliza.
The nurses placed a medical bracelet on her chubby arm and took her to the side to clean her up.
The young female doctor nonchalantly asked me if I wanted a tubal ligation (a sterilization procedure) as she was sowing my tears from the birth. Up to this point I had been drowning her out, concentrating on conquering the pain of each suture she made. I opened my eyes and sat up, throwing her off-balance, Yes! Yes please!”
I might have seemed overeager so she pulled up my chart and called the senior doctor over. “Oh no honey,” he started as he kept skimming my file, “you’re only 21 and we can’t make these decisions on the fly. I apologize that it was mentioned to you, we can’t do this without having prepared beforehand.” I slumped back down into the bed and quickly turned to stone so I could deflect the needle entering and leaving my flesh. “Did you numb her?” “No, I thought she had an epidural.” “It’s on her chart, she had a natural delivery, no pain meds.” “I’m so sorry, so sorry. DO you want something for the pain?”
I rolled my eyes and shook my head and waved for her to finish it.
For a long time afterward, until I finally had the courage, strength, and good sense to leave him, I felt a twinge of bitterness towards that young doctor for not having gone ahead and closing off any possibility of my having any more children, of not giving me some sense of control over my body and ability to stop being further entangled with him. But with time I realized that it would have been worse, a disability, if I had gone through the procedure. I would have held onto it as proof that well things weren’t THAT bad if I could at least not worry about getting pregnant again and I would have stayed. I might still have been there now, dead inside, cold and numb and mechanical on the outside. And my two angels would have greatly suffered for it.
Instead I realized that I could not keep living a life of grey days and black nights. And I hold my womb in my arms and I treasure that it is there alive and well and mine. No one controls it or my body. After years of abuse it is at rest, at peace, and it is but a part of me. I am whole; no longer broken, mending yes, but thriving.