When Biology is Destiny

Over in the larger world of Blog Sisters, conversations abound about women and all of their evolving choices, stresses, and potentials. It is easy for me to saturate myself with the big picture. There are big issues out there — mountains that need all of our strengths and efforts to move.
But, over here, in my current smaller world, I am immersed in the little picture, struck by how at least one aspect of our biology hasn’t evolved in eons; how we are still intimately connected by that biology to the first human woman who ever gave birth, lactated, and became the sole food source for a totally helpless and dependent entitity; how, somehow, despite the pain, frustration, energy-sapping sleeplessness, and almost total loss of personal choices, we nevertheless learn to love these amazing, demanding parasites.
For all of the evolution of our brains and other body parts, it is disconcerting to realize that, for a women’s body, the birthing process has never changed. The tiny new human grows inside us for three-quarters of a year, shoving our other organs into places they’re not supposed to be, throwing our fragile spine’s alignment off so much that nerves get displaced, muscles stretched beyond easy return. Vampire-like the little being feeds off our essences, drains our life forces. We are prisoner to its every need.
And then, when it’s ready, it rips out of our bodies, tearing and bruising and demanding. For weeks the pain persists — when we sit, defecate, walk. And then come the bursting breasts, aching, sore, insisting — the bleeding nipples that send sharp stabs straight into our backs each time it latches on and starts to suck, suckle — continues to assert its needs, its choices, its destinies.
For all of the ways we have evolved as women, when it comes to the birthing process, we have no choice. Our biology is our destiny. Yet, we continue to accept this biological fate. Generations of us continue to line up to keep the human species going, despite the primitive nature of our ancient biologies.
Because ultimately we hold in our arms a magical human child — a human soul as pure and innocent as it will ever be — eight pounds plus of pure and unbound human potential.
And we are connected to this miniature human by DNA and blood, by histories and hopes. We look into its hungry face and see ourselves. We look into its shining eyes and see our futures. We learn to love — with fierce commitment and compassion — this helpless, demanding angelic creature, this new connection to all that’s meaningful about being human, this ancient connection to the biology of the eternally generating female.
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5 thoughts on “When Biology is Destiny

  1. Elaine,
    That’s beautiful. Just… beautiful. I keep wanting to write something else, but I don’t think there’s anything else to say on this.
    Thanks.
    Tom

  2. Sixteen years ago tonight I was 11 & 1/2 hours into labor and less that 3 hours away from giving birth. I think they’d just given me another dimeral (sp?) in the hip and I was numbed of everything EXCEPT the contractions. In about two hours I would be screaming in pain, begging for the epidural that did not arrive before the blessed pushing labor began. In delivery I had the overwhelming feel of my baby separating from my body and hearing her cry. None of the past 14 & 1/2 hours counted at that moment. She screamed bloody murder while they cleaned and swaddled her then at the touch of her body to mine when they laid her on my chest she hushed. Her little mouse face stared enchanted into mine and it was love as fierce and deep as any a mother tiger would feel for her newborn. I would do anything, go anywhere, fight anything or anyone. This new human being, this 16 yr old near woman, my daughter, my destiny. Thank you Elaine for a place to share the new life in your world and to tell my daughter’s birth story. Blessings to you and your family.

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