Was this moment a genuine recollection or a self-created memory that comports with my inner narrative? Perhaps it is a commingling of what my mother told me happened and what I imagine happened. I don’t know. I wonder if it matters.
What I THINK I remember is a visceral feeling of being unloved and unwanted in the womb. Could I have known, even then, that I may not have been conceived in love, but rather in the dutiful compliance of my overworked, powerless, depressed mother who was ever submissive to my father’s dominating personality. Even in utero, I intuited her psychic pain and unhappiness.
As the birthing process was underway, I recall experiencing an inchoate foreboding of misery to come. Perhaps a lifetime of it. I balked. I resisted. I know I did. I realized too late that I did not want to come into this world. I wanted to go back! But, of course, that wasn’t an option. I swear I have this cellular memory of bartering with God, pleading for a reversal of fortune. Unsuccessful begging led swiftly to capitulation: “Okay, I’ll do it, but this is the LAST time I’m coming here.” This conversation was not lingual and was unbound by linear time. I understood in a flash what was being communicated and that a pact had been negotiated.
Was this my imagination?
What I can verify is that my apparent inner distress coincided with my mother’s profound physical distress in the final hours before my arrival. While in active labor, between contractions, she found herself fighting with the doctor (someone she had never met who was standing in for her regular obstetrician) because she did not want him to administer ether, the painkiller of choice in the 1950’s. It made her gravely ill. This interim doctor was impervious to her pleas and continued attempting to force his poison upon her. But my mom is a tough gal, and ultimately, her resistance prevailed.
So, I came out the natural way. Natural, before there was Lamaze training, without any support or preparation or pain mitigation. As I said, my mom is tough. She managed the birth unaided like the stoic warrioress she is.
But it was a rough time for us both.
Mom, who loves to tell family stories, laughs whenever she recounts this one. She is amused when she describes how I fought her every step of the way. She gets positively giddy when reminding me that I hollered bloody murder non-stop from the moment I popped out.
We both recall with a chuckle the statement I often hurled at her in early childhood. Whenever we were vexed with each other, with indignant exasperation, I would yell: “I DIDN’T ASK TO BE BORN!” As if our mutual misery was somehow her fault.
I love my Mom. She put up with a lot.