Story of the Day

"The Labors of Love"

I'm not sure, but I'm almost certain, that I'm the first woman to give birth.  At least that's how I felt last September, when Catlyne was born.
     
Even the word "daughter" fills me with the most enormous sense of pride.  And though there are hundreds of thousands of daughters out there, I can't help feeling that I had the first "real" one.  The truth of the matter is that an emotional door was opened that I never knew existed.  However, you couldn't have convinced me of this during labor.
     
How come all women in my life who had so graciously shared countless stories about the titanic weight gain, heartburn, swollen feet, nausea and other charming side effects of pregnancy never got around to telling me about labor?  If someone told me how much it was going to hurt, I could've backed out of the whole deal while there was still time.
     
The Lamaze class we snickered through suddenly became a priceless source of information when labor began...I knew what kind of anesthetics to ask for (or demand in this case), which I did ask (demand) for the minute I arrived on the labor floor.  The problem is, however, anesthetics aren't given until you've dilated to five centimeters (for all of you who haven't experienced this "miracle of life" you don't get the prize until you've hit ten).  I was certain that with all that pain I was going through, I must have reached at least eight.  I was informed by a nurse with a funny smile that I was at one.
     
I wanted to hit her.  Hard.
     
So I waited nearly ten hours, and during that time I started to think.  They say there's a reason for everything, even the most painful things in life.  I know this is true, and during the pain I had a divine revelation: God is not a woman.
     
No woman would put another human being through that kind of torture.  She would have designed a woman's body in a more thoughtful way.  At least she would have devised an equally agonizing experience for men to live through to sort of even things out.
     
You know, the nine months of pregnancy weren't too bad.  I made it through three months of feeling like throwing up, a disappearing waist and completely eliminating sleeping on my back if I wanted to breathe at the same time.  I didn't mind foregoing beer (well, maybe a little), or anything else that's bad for you but tastes good.  I packed away my cute bikini undies in exchange for underwear that went to my chin and bought a "nice" cotton bra forty-seven sizes bigger than my nice lace ones.  All this I figured was worth it.
     
But not labor.  That is, until I saw her head.
     
No one could have prepared me for the overwhelming rush of emotion I felt when I saw this tiny human being.  I never loved anyone as much as I loved her.  Any inconvenience or discomfort seemed so small and insignificant compared to the miracle I was looking at.
     
It's funny.  No one in the world could have convinced me that I would feel this wonderful about having a baby.  I'm from the thirty-something generation of women determined to have careers and lives different from our mothers.  No way was I going to stay home and take care of four children and one man the rest of my life.  I refused to learn anything which I felt was remotely domestic.  Marriage and children evoked nothing but feelings of entrapment.  I liked being single, working, traveling and taking care of myself.
     
When I thought of having children, I was prepared for bottles, dirty diapers, crying and a lifetime of responsibility.  But I forgot about the human being part.  It never occurred to me that a child could bring love to your life and the responsibility to care for her would be a pleasure.  It's nice to care for someone else besides myself for a change.
     
Catlyne has affected all of us.  Father is happier.  He's taking better care of himself so he will be around to teach her how to play softball.  My sister practically moved in with us in hope that if she stays long enough, she'll get custody of the baby on the basis of homestead rights.  We all smile more, laugh more, love each other more.  How come nobody told me how great this would be?
     
So what's a little pain?