Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Disgusting Miracle

A couple of months ago, just after miscarriage #4, I found a miniature rat terrier in my front yard. The poor thing was obviously neglected, scrawny and crawling with fleas. She's also the sweetest little dog I've ever met. I tried to reunite her with her owners, but it seemed that nobody wanted dear, sweet Olive, so of course we ended up keeping her. She did her best to be my baby, always wanting to be held, fed, and cuddled. And she got fat. Really, really fat. And we realized, uh-oh, she's pregnant.

Fast forward to Sunday morning, when I was awakened at 4:30 by some odd grunting. Olive was on the floor looking up at me, and there was a purple sac on the carpet next to her. I was up in a flash, getting her settled on a pile of blankets and towles, and for the next four hours, we watched the alarming spectacle of birth.

Now, I've tended to romanticize the whole process of becoming a mother, like most people do about things they desperately want but can't have. I tend to forget the down side, the grossness and the pain, that comes even from a healthy, normal labor and delivery. Watching poor Olive straining and bleeding was difficult.

But now she has four tiny, squealing puppies (who I can't help but think of as babies), and she loves the shit out of those guys. All day long she lies curled around them, getting up only if it's urgent, like to go poop in the living room or to chase one of the cats for getting too close. I have to put her food dish under her face twice a day so she'll eat, because as soon as she hears them crying, she's right there, licking and nosing.

In my post-miscarriage distress I had forgotten that birth actually does happen, and that it's not supposed to be neat. Nature works in mysterious, gross ways. This didn't happen because Olive willed it, but because biology demanded it.

I can't wait to feel the way Olive feels, that mixture of protectiveness and tenderness toward somebody so tiny, so vulnerable. I think that makes it worth the pain and the shocking visceral experience of birth.

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