This is probably the closest I can ever come to articulating birth in a way that actually makes any sense and draws on the experience of a home birth with the Boy. It is not perfect, one of the greatest issues I had with this little exercise was just how much of birth is communicated through sound effects and feelings that have no words. It really showed the limitations of modern English in describing such an experience. Sadly I lack the knowledge to know if this is different in other linguistic traditions or if older languages were better at it, but it did bring home the problems that I am going to have with a Prehistoric setting.
Namely, the idea that I am trying to put across here is a society that is very alien to our own. There are aspects of that society that I confess I feel are superior to our own and there are aspects that I feel are not. I want it to be a balanced experience for the reader. It is not a preachy thing that I wish to create but something sufficiently different that it becomes curious.
In many ways it has commonalities with the work that I did creating Socialist Britain for Regarding Bakunin in that I want to present a generally positive alternative without it being so uselessly utopian that it can be dismissed. I want to create a realistic world where I am not blinded by my own bias and prejudices but, instead, am free to explore those differences and those positives that I feel are there in a way that other people can make their own mind up. I am fully prepared, for example, in good science fiction to take a positive and paint it negative or vice versa - as it should be - and I want readers to feel the same way with my work. I should not be telling them what to think, merely providing the scenes and the story so that they can decide for themselves.
Analysis courtesy of 750words.com - if you are a writer and not using this site then what are you doing?
Rating: PG-13 for sexual content (maybe) and violence (no, really not seeing this)
Feeling mostly happy (a first) and concerned mostly with eating and drinking (ah ha ha)
Mindset: Extrovert - Positive (75%+) - Certain - Feeling (50%+)
Time: Past (60%) and future (30%); Primary Sense: Touch; Us and Them: Them
36 minutes at 33 words per minute.
I still have no idea how I'm going to name these people or what to do with the dialogue. You'll see what I mean if you read on!
Powerful pressure, there was no better way to describe it, like to fight it would be to hold back a great wind or fantastic storm. Each surge more insistent than the last, causing her to shout and to growl and to grunt with the extra effort. Panting, such an odd aspect when she had watched other women going through the experience, now seemed almost natural and normal. It was warm, it was dark, and she was surrounded by those that loved her.
Peppermint appeared by her nose, held lovingly and carefully by one of the elders, and the female children watched from the corner of the nest. Some of them had awe etched on their faces, for this was their first viewing, but most simply had looks of anticipation and one or two had some understanding. Apart from them there were only those that had been invited.
Constructed on the ground, over a small stream, the nest was an efficient way of creating a cocoon and the water had been heated well by the communal fire lit further upstream so that there was a slow and steady flow of blissful water at roughly body-heat. A woven pattern of young hazel and willow made up a wall to keep away the wind and create a feeling of being enclosed and nurtured. Sunlight lit the opening, opposite her face with its sheen of sweat, and outlined the orchids plucked and planted for this purpose.
Shifting, she felt her naked frame being supported and soothed on all sides, and heard the cooing of those around her. Some crooned and some joined her in the panting, most smiled and they were with her. A band began to tighten in her back, near the hip bones where the head came, and slowly increased in pressure and tension. Powerful. Again she panted, trying hard to not hold her breath, and made some noises that were similar to those heard in dogs or men when they came. One the girls looked shocked but an elder woman comforted her and began to explain softly what was going on. The words were lost in the vision and the feelings, lost to the panting and the power and the pressure and the experience. Sweat, warmth, water all rolled over her and her mind, eyes closed and clenched, eyes open and staring. "I leave this here now, I go," she found herself saying, confident that she could simply pick it all up again later.
A delighted face responded, "You are ready. It is time."
Around her the noise level matched her feelings: soft and insistent, a mixture of human voice and the natural noises of the forest. It was as though the whole of creation joined in her song, in her moment of triumph and the crushing inevitability of what was to happen next. One moment there was the sure knowledge of a body inside her, waiting and moving, and then a sliding sensation as first the head left, followed by the rest in short order. A chorus of sighs, all of them positive, told her what she already knew: the child was healthy.
Sitting up, she saw him, and it was a he, for the first time in the flesh and reached to scoop him to her breasts. Without thinking his mouth opened and began to suckle as soon as he reached the nipples. Toe-curling beauty was how she later thought of it, at once overcome with the sensation that his suckling brought but also keenly aware of the nausea that came with it. A loosening inside of her, a tightening of the band but less insistent than before, though just as powerful. Some of the girls came closer to get a better look at the little secret, the special act of birth and life guarded by the clan. She smiled to them. "It is a boy."
An elder knelt at her feet and felt the umbilical cord carefully but firmly. "He is living now, forever yours and forever his own but no longer yours only." Her hands ran the length of the cord once, and then held near where it disappeared inside her gently as if waiting.
She had been present to see this enough that she knew what was to come next, the vessel that had carried the child would come into the water to wash and then would be taken. A choice would follow and many chose to eat raw, something that she had never before understood fully; certainly a woman would be tired and hungry after the experience but there were surely other foods that could be consumed. The elders would consecrate the after-birth and then she would eat of her own flesh, the blood used to wash the child into the world, there to remain until the fine fur fell from the skin and the child was considered ready to leave her breast. For now she only had eyes for the small bundle of human that suckled slowly and sleepily from her breast.
Strong hands massaged her shoulders and mopped her brow, cooing softly or offering fully fledged words that were positive. The younger girls, those not yet of age, asked their questions and those in the red asked theirs, all were answered by the elders who allowed them to stay, but at a distance, while the eldest of the women began to chant and pace the outside of the enclosure. A communion with the world of the spirits and the realm of the Great One to give thanks and to commit the act to the glory of all and the embodiment of life. She felt one last tightness and the after-birth was gone, quickly and gently taken and wrapped in the bark prepared for the purpose, still wet with sap and supple. It was laid beside her on the bank of the stream while she sat an enjoyed the feeling of the water over her legs.
Somewhere upstream a small dam was opened and the flow increased over her, slowly becoming less warm as the stored water near the fire discharged, cleansing her and carrying away the last vestiges of the birth. This prevented life blood from calling forth the darker predators that sought to snatch such morsels and also helped her to feel fresh and ready for the challenges that lay ahead. One of the other women helped her to bind the boy to her body, snugly and comfortably, so that he had but to turn his head to continue suckling and her back was able to take the strain. Only when she released the hand of [Name] did she realise that she had been gripping it in the first place.
"My warmth to you," she said simply, "It was good."
"It is good, child," responded [Name], "It is always warm."
And they shared a smile with one another, secret and for them only, noticed by one of the elders who made sure none interrupted. "Children, we must go now. [Old], create a nest for the night; [Young], collect the fruit offering and bring meat; [Youngest], make known the announcement that [shaman] may begin the welcoming ceremony," she clapped twice for emphasis, "[Name] and [Protagonist], if I may stay?"
Uninterrupted, [Name] massaged her arms and back, leaning close and smiling always. [Protagonist] nodded and closed her eyes in comfort, letting the suckling wash over her again and feeling the bump slowly deflate, the tightenings noticeable but much diminished over the nausea. "You may, my warmth to you."