June 9, 2012
I’ve been away, helping with my new grandbaby, Makayla, who is alert and friendly little thing. We had such a nice visit with all our loved ones in the Provo area.  The day after we drove 17 hours home, I had a hysterectomy. I let the Percoset wear off long enough to get this story down. I think you’ll see why this symbolic story came to mind.

The Surrogate,

“It’s so incredible!” Melinda said as she painted daisies on her long, blue fingernails. “Technology just gets better and better. Who’d think that we could have painless AND drug free childbirth.”  The women sat on their hospital beds, their nine-month tummies contracting in the natural rhythm of labor.

“I know it, sister. I didn’t think my OBGYN was going to write me the prescription to have her here. He’s of the mindset that the pain of childbirth is part of the bonding process.” The women in the final stage delivery ward laughed.

“So admit it. You bribed him. Don’t be embarrassed, we all did.”

“I do wonder how it works,” one woman said. “I know that the surrogate has a chip implanted that answers a signal from the chips we have, but how does it actually transfer the pain to her?”

“What difference does it make? I hired a nanny, I hired a housekeeper, I hired a doctor. Why shouldn’t I hire a surrogate to take the pain of childbirth?”

“But I thought the surrogates were volunteers. Isn’t that true?”

“Well, if they’re dumb enough to volunteer to be  a surrogate, they must not be intelligent enough to feel pain the way we do.

“Why do they do it? That’s what I can’t understand.”

The woman with the blue nail polish moved to paint her toes, struggling to reach around her belly. “It’s some sort of ‘right to life’ group. They thought if they took away the pain of childbirth, more mothers would carry their babies.”

The women laughed again. A woman that didn’t use a surrogate was rare, and the total effect was that many more women had babies to sell to adoption agencies.

“Well, what I want to know is when is the surrogate going to come in for me?  I’m really starting to hurt.”

“You won’t know. I think it’s done via magnetic field.”

The blue-nail-polish woman knocked the open bottle onto the floor, splattering the contents across the hospital room floor. The painter pushed the call button three times. “I need a janitor!”

A moment later a woman wearing a blue scrub uniform entered with a bottle of solvent and a roll of paper towels. Her long, grey braid reached her waist. She wore no makeup. Her mouth, clamped in a perpetual grimace seemed incapable of smiling.

“I spilled my nail polish. But while you’re here, that bathroom could use another wipe down. Someone let her husband use the bathroom while he was here.” She looked meaningfully at the girl in the bed nearest the window.

The old woman nodded as she wiped up the polish. When she was through, she removed a bathroom caddy from under the sink and sprayed down the bathroom. She moved stiffly, painfully, as though arthritic in every joint.

“The thing I don’t get here is if they don’t pay the surrogates and they charge us, why don’t they hire better people. That woman,” she nodded toward the open bathroom door, “must be seventy years old and she moves like a snail.”

“Miss,” another expectant mother said as the woman emerged from the bathroom. “I need my water refilled and I could use a foot rub. Do you mind? My surrogate hasn’t come in yet. My legs ache. I wish she’d hurry up.”

The woman of the blue nail polish snorted. “I can’t believe you’re asking a janitor to rub your feet. I wouldn’t want her touching me. She just cleaned the bathroom, after all.”

The woman of the grey braid looked into the face of the speaker unsmilingly as she handed the woman of the aching legs a pitcher of ice water. They’re hands touched in the merest brush.

  “Thanks.  Now my feet.” She turned to the nail-painter. “A friend told me they’ll do anything you ask. How often do you get a chance for a foot rub?”

The elderly woman moved slowly to the foot of the bed and bared her feet. She rubbed in long, measured strokes.

“Oh, Jill, you’re right. It must be done remotely. All of a sudden the pain’s all gone. It’s about time.”

And the slow old woman blew out her breath in a long puff. She breathed in through her nose and blew it out through her mouth. When at last the young mother nodded and recovered her feet, the woman staggered a little  as she moved, unnoticed through the heavy, swinging doors.

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