Thank you for breastfeeding - Part 3
One of my current writing projects is a semi-autobiographical play about my pregnancy experience. Here's a dialogue piece I'm working on from the first act that establishes the turning point in the play--when the mother-to-be realizes her plans for a natural childbirth have been thwarted. Did you also have to change your own birth plan midway?
Thank you for breastfeeding - Act 1 Excerpt.
Read additional scenes.
Eliza - Expectant mother in her mid-thirties
Paul - Expectant father in his mid-thirties
Setting: It is mid-afternoon. Eliza is about 36 weeks pregnant and is in the middle of the kitchen in an awkward downward dog yoga position with a frozen bag of vegetables tucked in between her breasts and protruding stomach. Paul enters side door into kitchen.
Eliza: Oh, hey babe.
Paul: What are you doing?
Eliza: She’s breech. How was work?
Paul: The usual... wait, back up. Why are you doing yoga in the middle of the kitchen floor?
Eliza: I’m trying to get her to flip.
Paul: By being upside down?
Eliza: Yeah. The doula said it works sometimes.
Paul: Is that safe in your condition?
Eliza: I’m sure women in India do yoga even while they’re in labor.
Paul: Where did you hear that?
Eliza: I don’t remember, but I’m sure it’s true.
Paul: If you say so, there are like a billion people in India. [pause] When will you be coming up for air?
Eliza: Almost done.
Paul: Do you need help?
Eliza clumsily gets herself up, puts the bag of frozen vegetables on the kitchen table.
Eliza: Hey, did you hear they even created a Ministry of Yoga? Isn’t that cool?
Paul: Oh yeah, I think I heard that on NPR. Is that a new part of your yoga practice too? [Paul nods to the bag of frozen vegetables]
Eliza: The doula said babies shy away from the cold.
Paul: I don't blame them. I don't like the cold, unless it’s ice cream.
Eliza: She also said babies are drawn by light, but I couldn’t figure out a way to hold a flashlight in that pose. I feel bad though. I mean between using a carrot and a stick, I’m already using a stick and she’s not even born yet. What if she remembers this and hates me after she’s born?
Eliza: Don’t laugh at me, it’s not funny.
Paul: Ok, we can try using the carrot method later. I’ll even clean out a space in the living room so we don’t have to do it in the kitchen.
Eliza: There’s too many windows in the living room. I don’t want the neighbors seeing me.
Paul: But they’ll be impressed with how limber you are.
Paul reaches out to tap Eliza’s bottom, but she is distracted rubbing the top of her belly, looking for the baby’s head.
Eliza: Still breech.
Paul: You can tell.
Eliza: Feel the head.
Eliza gently places Paul’s hand on her belly where the head is.
Eliza: Isn’t it amazing, That’s her little head. You can feel it moving back and forth.
Paul: Aren’t you worried you’re going to bang it on the counter or something?
Eliza: You’re so mean.
Paul: What? I just want to make sure you’re being careful.
Eliza: I already have enough to worry about. If the baby is breech they told me I can’t have a natural childbirth. That means I have to say goodbye to my midwife and find a new doctor.
Paul: I’m sure it will be fine.
Eliza: But what if they don’t hand her to me right after the surgery? What if they just take her away to a different room and I don’t even get to see her? I’ve heard that happens. And if there’s no immediate skin to skin my milk may not come in. What if I can’t breastfeed her Paul? We won’t have that special bond.
Paul: At least you wouldn’t have to worry about anyone handing you a germy little ‘yeah for breastfeeding’ card.
Eliza picks up the bag of frozen vegetables and throws it at Paul’s head. She’s a bad shot though and it misses.
Paul: I’m sorry...I was just kidding. Bad taste on my part. I’m sure you’re being very careful. [Paul approaches Eliza to give her a hug]. Shhh, I’m sorry.
Eliza extracts herself from the hug, wipes her face and continues tidying or cooking.
Eliza: It’s just that I always pictured myself having a natural childbirth. You know? [pause] The idea of being drugged and not being in control terrifies me.
Paul: Isn’t that kinda what parenthood is all about? In just a few weeks we’re going to have a little baby boss in the house.
Eliza: I see it, but I don’t know how to get there.