Becoming a Wonder Woman
| by Paula Ryan Jones |
Lying there, curled in the fetal position. Quite fitting for the moment. Waiting to give birth. No drugs in this hospital, no good drugs. No epidural, not allowed a spinal block. No, she is giving birth vaginally in a small county hospital where the staff has admitted that the anesthesiologist does not know how to do an epidural. This is her first child. She thought to be her only child. A lapse in judgment. She always said she did not want children. That she was not cut out to be a mother. For not exactly nine months, since this child did not want to cook any longer, she has ignored what was to come. She has tried to forget that she was carrying around another human being, a breathing small wonder. To be honest and concise, she has been terrified from the start. Never mind the fear of childbirth. This was a fear of child and birth.
So she lies there being invaded. Poked and prodded in places that she had no desire for strangers to be and at the most painful moments. They did not leave her alone as she wanted. No one would comfort her, no lessons of how to ease the pain came to her. She wanted to go home. So that is what she told them. She told them to leave her be and let her go home. The old nurse laughed at her. “Honey, we can let you go, you’ll be taking the pain with you though. There is no escaping it now,” she said.
She thought back to the months that had gone before. All the times she had to prepare herself that she refused to use. It took months to admit to the pregnancy. Every excuse as to why she did not bleed anymore, why her breast were growing even larger and tender. No one was allowed to make on over her protruding belly. She dared anyone to touch it. Oh and how it grew. Almost as if to mock her. “All baby”, that is what they said about her. That her baby bump would round the corner long before she arrived.
She knew even if they did not guess, that she despised everything about the process. The changes in her body. The way people looked at her. Oh and those baby showers. Why would anyone think that at your most uncomfortable, when you did not want anything to do with the rest of the world, that you would want to be the center of attention to a group of petting, crooning women? No, it was best to hide and wait for the main event.
So now here she is, waiting on that main event. Terrified for it to arrive and desperate at the same time. Desperate for the pain to go away. Terrified for the small responsibility that would take its place. Pain so intense that there has never been an accurate way to describe it. You have to feel it for yourself to understand. It is not logical or fair that a woman should need to bear such misery in order for another life to come into this world.
Twenty-four hours of pain and humiliation later, a small wonder appears. She is complete with all the parts she needs to be her own little person. Now, the pain is gone and the fear has just begun. For you see, this is a little being that needs her. That will rely on her for every need and want. That will rely on her and yet not be able to communicate completely with her for quite some time. Yet, it will be up to her to figure it out. To instinctively know what to do and when to do it. To be a mother.
A mother. This mere human being herself that is suddenly called upon to be a Wonder Woman. This new feeling, this new responsibility never ends. It never leaves you. It will be with you until you, not the other one, breathes your last breath. Even then you will leave this earth fearing what you have left behind. Fearing how they will go on without you and feeling guilty for going.
She knows this. Even though no one has told her this. Everyone has said that this is one of the greatest blessings bestowed upon a woman and such joy. This is not entirely true. Oh, she will experience joy. This child will bring her great joy and she will be so proud many times over. Yet she will also experience sorrow and fear. Fear so great that it will keep her up at night crying out to God for guidance. Peace will often elude her. There is more to worry about now.
Watching this small thing grow into a person that must learn how cruel the world can be. Becoming a mother lioness guarding at every turn. Wanting to take the pain and ease the lessons. Learning that this will not do. Trying and failing to let this part of her become their own person. Wanting desperately to shield and yet realizing more and more that this cannot happen. She will never protect them completely. It is not allowed.
It never ends. This tiny being will become an adult one day. They will go away and they will forget some of the things she has taught them. They may even forget her. Push her aside to become who they are and to prove that they do not need her. They may even learn to make it on their own. She however, will always be there. Always staying up nights, losing sleep, praying, more and more the farther away they get. She will do this as they make their way from her. Facing the cruelty in this world. Falling and hurting, while she watches.
Lying there in the hospital bed looking at this small being the doctor has placed upon her chest, she promises to do her best to protect her from all the world may bring her way. She promises to make her world a better place. And as she does this, she knows that she will fail. She knows that no matter how hard she tries, that this little person must go out into the world and find her own way. Yet, she smiles and makes her promise anyway. She can do this. After all, she is a mother. She is a Wonder Woman.