“I can’t do this anymore.” I fling the words into the air to no one in particular as the pain, a savage, relentless beast, gnaws at my insides.
I’ve never truly known the meaning of exhaustion until now. Weariness that seeps into my pores permeates my being, my thoughts. How long must this go on?
I understand that some things, once set into motion, can’t be reversed or stopped. This is one of those things. I long to change my mind, give up, go back, but I can’t. Pain entwined with exhaustion has enveloped me and won’t go away.
If everyone would leave me alone, I could sleep. Somehow I manage to snatch interludes of sleep – the pain medication I’d been given creating vivid, abstract, nonsensical images in my dreamlike state. I mumble, speaking of the images, as pain attacks again. Sleep flees as I twist in an effort to alleviate discomfort.
Bright lights - invasive, probing hands that poke and prod, accentuating the pain, awake me once again. “Help me. Please stop the pain! I want to sleep.” Unspoken, silent pleadings fill me.
I respond to the voices. They ask questions, I answer. I don’t know them, they’ve never met me before this night, yet they take liberties that humiliate me. At first, I turn my head in embarrassment as they probe, commenting to each other as if I’m not there. Others observe. Why? Am I the object of learning for the unlearned?
As the hours go by and the weariness and pain intensifies, I cease caring who probes or looks on. Bring everyone in, let the world observe, just make this be over. I’ve had enough.
Gentle hands stroke my brow. I open my eyes and gaze into a compassionate, gentle face. “How are you doing?” she asks, sincere concern in her voice.
“I’m so tired. So tired!” My voice trails off as pain washes over me in waves. I feel tears prick my eyes. I don’t scream. I moan a deep guttural sound that I’m unfamiliar with. I want to be brave, to silence the one voice that whispered to another, “so young.”
What does she mean by so young? Age has no bearing on this beast that consumes me. I chose this, wanted it, planned it. At least I didn’t plan against it. Now it wearies me with its pain.
Soothing voices encourage me, tell me I’m doing fine and it will soon be over. Except the one voice. She barks and snarls, impressive like a drill sergeant, giving orders, getting in my face with her commands.
I resent her. She doesn’t know me, yet she presumes to know what’s best for me. In the end though, she’s the one I’m grateful for, her strong arms lifting me onto a gurney, marching beside me, holding my hand.
A new face appears in my line of vision. It’s him, the man I chose, recommended by others. He leans in close and smiles that grandfatherly smile. “They say you’re doing great. Let’s get this over with.”
I clench my teeth. I’m not doing great I want to scream at him. A raging inner self longs to overthrow my gentler, quieter self and scream at all of them. Yet, I whimper, “It hurts. I’m tired. I can’t do this.”
Hands patting, stroking, trying to soothe what can’t be tamed. Cold metal touching me, bright lights, brighter than before, making me grimace. Sounds, voices, droning and echoing, fill the atmosphere.
“Aaahhhhggg!” I realize that’s my voice drowning out the others.
For a brief moment in time, silence fills the air only to be broken by a thin, mewling sound. I try to rise, to catch a glimpse at the source of the sound. The mewling crescendos into a piercing wail as tiny hands and feet thrash the air.
“You have a beautiful baby girl,” my doctor beams at me, as if he alone is responsible for this minuscule being. “Do you have a name picked out?”
“Tamara. Tammy,” I whisper. I lay my head against the pillow, weariness and pain forgotten for the moment. It’s June 24, 1965 at 2:29 AM. I am now a mother.
Flesh of my flesh! You entered my life and I am changed forever.
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