10 minutes of certitude

10 minutes of certainty
Inspired by Ansel Elkins, “Autobiography of Eve”

I knew it was happening even if the midwife didn’t, the ripening and opening. “Maybe in a few days,” she said. “Come back then.” I cried out when the angry Hungarian OB checked my cervix. “No where near,” she said, in what sounded like a growl. “Come back when you’re actually in labor.” I whimpered as she left the room. I am certain I hated her. 

That night at the hospital the monitors beeped, but I had to tell everyone my name six times, the computers were down. At 4am we went back home. I made some toast with peanut butter and raisins. I napped. I don’t know what I did in the intervening hours. I took a bath; Dave took Abby to the playground. It was sunny and warmer than usual and a Sunday morning in late September, so there wasn’t much else to do. 

I lay on my side in the tub, my stomach full beneath me, pulling my body down, down. When I stood up, I screamed. 

Labor is like that. It happens, and it takes your breath away. I called Dave at the playground. No. I sent him a message, ‘come home now, please." I think I was too polite, considering. I turned on some music. In my nightgown, damp from the bath, I scrambled for clothes, underwear, something. Every few minutes, amidst the scramble, there was the loudness of contractions. And again. Again. I turned on some music, what was it, the Dead I think, “Throwing Stones.” I felt my feet beneath me, planted, as I held on to the blue dresser in our sweet bedroom. 

A body knows what it knows. No one can tell you with any certainty what your body does or doesn’t feel, how long it will be before your womb contracts enough, your cervix ripens, and a baby is born. Joshua was born eight hours later, no rush, no fuss, a quiet baby, the cord draped over his shoulders like a robe, tired after the loudness of labor. I am certain I will always love him.


Rachel Becker teaches English and Creative Writing at Newton South High School and is proud to know Valley from the UVA Young Writers Workshop. This piece was inspired by today's P&W prompt, which found its way to my desk via a friend. (http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/autobiography-eve), I wrote this with my creative writing students. They are still writing.

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