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The Long Line of Strong Women

Essay by   •  June 3, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,158 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,367 Views

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"You can do this, you come from a long line of very strong women." It's my mother's voice, and she's saying this because I'm in labor, and I'm scared. I haven't stated my fear, but she knows because she's my mother. I haven't prepared for this. I haven't taken any birthing classes, and I've been induced at 42 weeks. I never even wanted to be induced, but I decided to go ahead with it. It's been 12 hours, and I've only seen a doctor twice. The maternity nurses are amazing and lovely though. I'm determined to do this without an epidural, but I've read about the induction process. I know that it's hard on the body, and I know that I will probably be begging for something stronger for pain soon, and I know that I might end up with an emergency cesarean. The prospect of a cesarean scares me more than anything. I have never had major surgery, and I never want to. So I am heeding the words of my mother, and I am praying to my grandmothers, all of my grandmothers, to help me through this. I am relying on the strength of my ancestors.

So I stop thinking about what my doctor has said about my crooked cervix, and that I'm not dilating at all. I ignore that each time I've seen him, he's said something about a cesarean and is putting my body on impossible time limits. Instead, I think of my grandmothers. First, my father's mother. A short, soft spoken, mostly smiling, tough woman of Japanese and Alaskan Native descent. She gave birth to eleven kids. She has lived most of her life away from her own mother and siblings, marrying the army sergeant she loved and didn't see for many years while he was in Vietnam. My amazing grandma who loves babies, bingo, has more friends than I do, and can make the best sticky buns possible.

We used to have annual family summer picnics at Flaming Geyser National Park. We'd barbecue, play games, float down the river, and have an amazing day with extended family. Of course, my grandma, aunts, uncles, and cousins would bring their fishing gear. Usually by midday the only one left fishing would be Grandma. The park ranger came around, my cousins and I were splashing in the shallow part of the river, probably trying to catch a crayfish. "You're allowed to fish, but you won't catch any fish in the river here. You'd have better luck further up," she told my grandma. "Oh, I'm fine," Grandma replied with her quiet, shy kind of laugh. The park ranger shrugged and left, and after a while, my cousins and I went back to the picnic site for some hot dogs.

We started a game of badminton, and an hour or so later, Grandma appeared walking down the trail back toward the picnic area. "Oh my gawd, Mom's got a fish," my Aunt said, while laughing. My cousin stood up, "Jesus, that thing is going to flip her over." It was too! It was more than half as long as she is tall, and was still flapping its tail, struggling to get back to the river. I looked over as my dad, uncles, and older cousins went to help her. She had the biggest smile I have ever seen on anyone. She told them all in her quiet, gentle



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