Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In Praise of Your Complaint

So, this is yesterday's poem. I was a little too overwhelmed after seeing my new niece (8 lbs 12 oz, born yesterday at 12:33 EST) on Skype last night to write anything that didn't have the word "little" and "soft" and "squeeeee!!" in it over and over and over again. So I wrote yesterday's poem this morning.

My sister-in-law is her own, awesome, independent spirit. Lilly's delivery was a lot harder than Emma's (for example, they stuck Liz 5 times with the epidural needle because they couldn't get it right), and she was not quiet or demure about this fact. Nor should she be. I've been turning over and over in my head what a trauma childbirth is, and how blasé folks (including me) can be about that fact. We all caused our mothers some of the worst pain imaginable... 9 months of an inhabited body, followed by hour after long hour of contractions and then of childbirth itself (and that's for a comparatively easy childbirth). But in the aftermath of that, everyone is so understandably overwhelmed by the resulting little, soft, snoozing critter that the needs of a Mom in the throes of mild PTSD can be overlooked.

I don't think Liz will struggle with PTSD because she won't make the mistake of trying to *glow* about the experience. She won't shove down the reality of it so that others can keep their Disney-fied version of the experience intact... and I admire that deeply. So this is a poem about that.

in praise of your complaint

We all caused our mothers
unimaginable pain...
unimaginable to us, that is.
They imagine it vividly,
remembering its intensity...
the labor that went on and on,
hour after hour after hour.

How could something so painful
produce something so soft and small?
Trauma producing treasure
each possessing its own intensity,
its own life-altering significance.

Perhaps this pain is meant to prepare
for a lifetime of peaks and valleys.
We can cherish our children
but they will escape us,
and hurt us, and react in ways
we could not, and dare not, imagine.

So I praise your complaint.
Yes, your body was battered.
Yes, you've committed your life
to someone who will leave you
and forge their own path, forgetting
what you sacrificed, perhaps,
for a time.

I praise your complaining
for this pain that you suffered.
It is vivid and real and reminds
all of us
that our mothers chose us despite that,
giving up their own lives and
sacrificing their bodies,
so that we might live, free, and happy.

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