After more than 20 hours of extreme physical pain I was beyond exhausted. I pleaded for release, an escape. But they continued to barked orders at me. “I don’t want to do this” I repeated in defiance. My heart felt like it was going to explode in my chest. I was a prisoner. It was now well beyond my control. I was fighting with every ounce of strength that I had. None of the people in the room would listen to me. They just kept saying to me, through low voices, that I was fine.
First, I heard an agonizing scream. Was it coming from me? I was confused and couldn’t tell at first. In and out of a groggy haze, in a dimly lit room, I could see figures coming and going. They didn’t seem concerned about my discomfort. I realized the guttural scream was coming from deep inside me. I was hot and uncomfortable, cursing them with each breath. My hair was plastered down with sweat, and I was feeling nauseous. I prayed to God for it to be over. “Please take me now.”
They moved me to another room. It was cold and brightly lit with hanging lamps. I looked up and squinted because of the glare. Again, I pleaded and cursed. Instead of helping me, I was just told to keep going. I wanted to go, get as far away as I could. In the transition between wake and unconsciousness, I silently begged for help. They just turned to each other and quietly chattered amongst themselves. I tried to hear their words to understand what was going on but couldn’t. And then, the knife came out.
In a remarkable moment, the room fell silent. I could feel a chill calm in the air. Was this the end? My breathing had slowed, and the pain was starting to subside. I wasn’t screaming anymore. They must have injected me with something to numb my body. All I could hear was the din of rhythmic machines in the room. I looked up, and he was standing over me. I noticed he had kind eyes right before I turned my head in total defeat. It was over.
I heard a short high pitch cry. I felt my soul leave my body, floating above my captors. I was shivering uncontrollably, as warmed blankets were lowered onto my body. I glimpsed at the clock on the wall, it said 10:42 on this chilly autumn day. A moment later I was gently handed my first-born child. The nurse had quickly cleaned him up to make a fitting introduction. As he was lowered into my arms, I saw his feet. The first thing I noticed was that he had my ugly toes. Why didn’t I pass on something charming and attractive? Nonetheless, I cradled him, and softly caressed his head, his shoulders, his back and whispered, “I love you, you’re perfect.” Through my exhaustion, I was completely relieved and happy. I felt like I had waited forever to meet him.
The agony of a 24-hour labor was beyond worth it, as this was a well-deserved reward and an epic moment in my life. It’s a blessing that the ordeal is soon forgotten when you first lay eyes on your child. I realized since becoming a mother, twice, that birth was the least of my concern as a parent. There would be a lifetime of worry to come. With time and love I learned that they are my purpose in life – to raise my sons to be good, strong and decent men.
As far as the toes, it really doesn’t bother him. That long ugly second toe that reaches beyond the big toe isn’t the worst thing in the world. He came to me healthy, which is all I prayed for. Merely a superficial anomaly, an awkward physical trait. He did, however, also inherit my humor, my nose, and my walk. I’m not going to go as far as to say he’s my favorite, but I do gravitate to our similar dispositions. He has been strong, independent and stubborn since the day he was born.
I survived both births and promised myself to never wear open toe shoes again.