It wasn’t just inside me, it was in front of me. An unflattering protrusion that I couldn’t help but carry along wherever I went. This alien life form that I had never seen had been inhabiting my body for 9 months. I could feel it moving around, stretching its arms and legs like it owned the place.
The due date as it was called had all been a lie. My excitement and anticipation was replaced by frustration and anxiety. A slight preview of what it would be like dawned on me when I had my first “contraction”. Such a sophisticated word used to describe a pain that I didn’t have the vocabulary for. My insides felt like a pair of jeans being squeezed hard enough to get all the water out. If this was what giving birth was going to be like, I knew at that moment that I wasn’t ready for it. The pain went on and off for 2 hours. If there was no pause in between, death would have been a much more satisfying option.
A week later, I couldn’t sleep. I had been up all night with these so called contractions for company. It was 6 am and I knew that if this wasn’t the “time” and if what I was experiencing wasnt labour, this thing inside me was just gonna have to stay in there.
I don’t remember much about the journey to the hospital. In between regular intervals of pain there was little room for thought, and my stomach was clearly out of room too. I didn’t want to be touched, I was fed up of being surrounded by sympathetic voices assuring me that “I would be okay”. My only definition of “okayness” involved getting my body back, preferably without the pain.
I felt like i needed to poo, but i couldn’t for fear that the baby would come out in the process. Not exactly the welcome to the world scenario a mother would envision for her child, and the nurse informed me that this had indeed happened before; yeh thanks for telling me that.
I stood up. I sat down. I sucked on gas that was meant to take the pain away, but it made lilttle difference as the pain became more frequent and severe. I walked into the bathroom and walked out again. I was cold. I was hot. Sitting, standing or lying down wasn’t comfotable. The nurse every so often held a gadget to my stomach and kept reporting that from my unborn child’s heart beat she could tell that it was happy. It had better be happy. I certainly wasnt gonna go through all this pain for he/she to come out angry. If it did we would be in for our first arguement.
I stood up once more and felt a splash between my feet as my bodily fluids made their way down my thighs. My water had broken; this was it. “Push, breathe, push, push, breathe, push”. My life had been reduced to my ability to obey two words that would ordinarily have come naturally. It was one final push that brought a familiar stranger into a room that immediately transformed from frustration to excitement.
I carried her in my arms and stared deeply into her barely open eyes. It was at that moment that i knew. Joy is a different kind of pain.