I started this as a short writing, but soon realized brevity was not becoming to the emotions stirred up.
I was assaulted, right in the bread aisle at Raley's. As I reached for my bread-of-choice, I looked up to see her. I stared for a moment, my kids unsettling in the cart. Was it her I wondered? It kind of looked like her, but I couldn't tell. It had been over 5 years, after all. She was scanning the bread, making a hasty decision before reaching for a loaf. As she approached my end of the aisle, her pager went off. She opened her coat to pull it from her waist and made a passing glance. It was her, right here in the grocery store.
I wonder if a nurse was paging her with information about a laboring mom. Maybe the nurse would say, "She's ready for you," raising the mother's hope. Maybe upon the doctor's arrival and inspection, she would scold both nurse and patient and chide, "Why did you call me? She's not ready." Maybe she would retreat to the sleeping lounge, not giving any help, praise, or encouragement to this struggling woman, only to return a few hours later and pull the baby from its mother by vacuum, forcing something that could have, with time, skill, and patience, left the mother's body, soul, and confidence intact.
So I follow her to the dairy section, where I am tempted to reintroduce myself, but what would I say? You were a horrible doctor, you stripped me of the opportunity to birth my baby, and now I help empower women to have the births they want? You wretched, wretched woman? You, who said at my six-week check-up, while buring something off my nether regions with silver nitrate, "The miracle of birth is epidurals," while I replied, "I did not get an epidural, remember?" Would it have killed you to say "Way to go, Mom, for delivering a 9 1/2 pound baby!"
I imagine saying simply, "You were my OB with my first baby. I forgive you." Perhaps I could share that through my midwives' love, care, and presence, I finally overcame those fears which grew like a twin alongside my second baby. I could share how her comment, "Do you want to get this overwith? Because I think he's getting kind of big," made me turn to thoughts of starvation with my next pregnancy to avoid what she termed "a monster-sized baby." Would I also tell her of the relief I felt when one of my midwives assured me, "His head is not getting any bigger -- he is just chubbing up, putting fat on his arms and legs," when I expressed my dark fear of going over my due date? If I told her all that, would I also accuse her of witholding information to make her side seem more favorable? To the extent that my baby's health suffered in the long run?
Could I do all of this, right in the middle of the grocery store? Tell her I had a hard but healing second birth? Tell her how by her hands I was not only scarred physically, but emotionally as well? Tell her how selfish of a practitioner she was? Thinking only about her own gain and getting home to her family while prematurely forcing the creation of mine? Pulling out a baby who was unready, unwilling to face the world, not allowed to emerge in his own time? Tell her how I attributed his shy disposition and insecurity, anxiety to new situations to the simple fact he was made to face his first situation on her time, not his, and that simply could not be a coincidence?
As I watched her move from yogurt to the checkstand, I let it all go. I learned from this woman, I learned a lot. Invaluable lessons were gleaned by her hand, as dangerous as that hand was. I look to my own hands -- hands that nurture laboring woman -- hands that touch, love, heal. In the end I could not trust my tongue, so with those hands in mind, I held it.