by cheri block
My birth was a big relief, not only to my overstuffed mother DeDe, but to me, as well.
In utero I had felt crowded and thus, irritable, sharing a watery sack with four other active siblings. In the 1/4 inch birth canal, 21 days after my father Duke (as I later learned) crawled onto my mother’s back, five or us lined up like peanut-sized torpedoes, ready for launch into a cruel world.
Second in line but first in spirit, I pressed my nose deep into my brother Amos’ back end and closed my eyes, waiting. Sadie had done the same to me and Delbert to her.
At the rear of the small tube, the last of our litter, Kate, decided to go back, unwilling to face the life awaiting. Backpedaling, she strained against the gravitational pull of push.
You can’t go home again, I called to the back, my words muffled by fluid and fur. Thomas Wolfe wrote a famous book by that title years ago. Kate! You are upsetting the natural order of life.
There’s no place like home, Kate hollered down.
Damn that Frank Baum, I thought.
Kate continued to struggle with all four limbs. Soon her movements slowed and then stopped. We in the front understood what had happened in the back.
Our mother’s restlessness grew manic.
A collective pressure we became.
I reminded the others to keep their heads down, paws tucked, eyes shut.
What is about to happen to mother and to us is part of the continuum, and while it now seems important to us, in the scope of the myriad species who have come before, lived and died, our birth is routine, as routine as the pushing and pulling of the tides by the moon, I philosophized with too many words.
Good God, muttered Delbert.
Amos reprimanded me for showing off.
You will learn, Lucy, that most hamsters will not be amused by your literary and philosophical references. If you are asked, well then, jump to Thomas Wolfe or Charles Darwin or even to Frank Baum, but from what I hear, most will be interested in People Magazine.
DeDe, our mother, now shuttled from her nest, a cupcake fortress of pine shavings, to a barren and stinky corner of her cage, the one where she did her business.
She was now moving diagonally and we bounced along, heads down, bottoms up. My own head thumped with too much blood, pumped at lightening speed by my heart, a 4ml engine, operating at about 460 beats per minute.
She stopped. We quieted.
Was this our moment?
Since Delbert was three back, he heard the flood first and shouted,
Our moment is here, and I am ready.