They arrive in jeans and flowery T-shirts, or Disney pyjamas.
Some hold their shoulders up straight, their body language aggressive or protective at the least. Their gaze defiant. “This is me, this is my body. You do not get to judge me.”
Others make themselves small – and become more so because they already ARE small – averting their eyes, staring vacantly at the ceiling when doctors and nurses prod and poke their bodies. You think, how did this child even manage to have sex?
At their side, the protective lioness: Mom, Mammie, Ma.
Pull up their gowns for internal and abdominal examinations and you are met by little feet in school socks, panties with girly designs and cute slogans.
Their bodies are not equipped for the pain, even from the first stage of delivery. They curl up on their beds and beg for back rubs. They are anxious and require constant soothing; constant reminders that this unnatural pain is completely normal.
When the time comes to push, their tiny bodies struggle to coordinate such powerful movements. Nurses shout at them and they beg forgiveness. They cry.
Eventually their bodies let go of the child. Drenched in sweat, blood and amniotic fluid, they sink back. Ask what the child is. See the child. Comment that it looks like its father, or its granny. Never like themselves.
They struggle to breast feed, comment honestly that it hurts, that it is weird.
When the ordeal is over and they have washed, they play doll with their baby, dress him up in pretty clothes brought along beforehand.
They say that their child is beautiful, the most beautiful.
At this point you can no longer wonder what happened, or question the decisions made. You can simply respect their perseverance.
And wish them well as you think,
“The ordeal has only just begun…”