Monday, April 03, 2006

Miracle of Birth, Part 1

What cries and smells like poop?

A baby. A freshly-ejected-from-mama's-swollen-vagina, still-tethered-by-its-cord, slippery baby. In case you thought fresh babies enter this world as cute as they appear in their crib, think again. Birth -- contrary to popular belief -- is only beautiful in theory, for in reality it is a prolonged, painful, and sloppy ordeal.

It starts with a mother -- a clean mother -- feeling slightly anxious; she has heard it's painful, but unless she has experienced this already, she has no idea. The situation then escalates over many hours to full-fledged, unfathomable pain, punctuated by squirts of blood, poop, and other juices. The mother is screaming and squirming, probably regretful she ever got intimate with the father. With every painful contractions she's being yelled at to push -- performing the exact same bodily maneuver as during a bowel movement -- by people she has just met (i.e. hospital staff, not random strangers). Every muscle in her body clenches as she attempts to squeeze out an object that's twice as large as the opening through which it must pass.

This continues for hours. Despite all the pushing and agony and "progress", the baby only descends a fraction of a centimeter at a time. With luck you'll see a patch of hair, which is the top of its head. If she pushes more, the entire baseball-sized head pops out. More pushing squeezes out a hand, its body, and the other hand. Finally, you end up with a wrinkled little hairy prune of a human, which, surprisingly, doesn't cry much. It just stares right back at you.

(And don't forget the placenta ... that sustainer of life that resembles a large raw steak, clinging to mama's insides until it is vomitted from the vagina after the baby comes out.)

Yes it's definitely a miracle ... not because a new life just entered the world, but rather because the new mom still likes this creature that caused her so much pain, and also because women willingly endure this process again to have more children.

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