First Hamster Point of View: My birth


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,

Water evacuation!

Our moment is here, and I am ready.

About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
This entry was posted in Cheri's Hamster Family, My fiction and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to First Hamster Point of View: My birth

  1. Great piece, this. And a reminder that birth for all of us is the first great trauma, and arguably the greatest trauma most of us will suffer in our lives.

    The manner of how we were born is debatably the ultimate cause of many of our psychological maladies, and well as many of those sexual practices which society characterises as “perverted” or “deviant”.

    • Cheri says:

      How we are born?
      Are you referring to water births, forceps births, C-Sections and so on?

      Thank you for your compliment. Appreciate it very much.

      • I was referring to all births, regardless of how delivered.

        Put yourself in the position of the unborn child, lying in a deliciously warm bath all day, with constant nourishment. Suddenly you’re expelled from your little Edenic home by being squeezed through a tunnel too narrow for you, yanked into cold air outside amidst blood and gore, turned upside down and spanked by a huge giant wearing a mask and gloves.

        No wonder most of us suppress this memory, so terrifying it must be. Our birth memories can, so I’ve been told, be retrieved through hypnosis, and otherwise in suitable settings.

        Once the patient’s memory is retrieved into consciousness by the thereapist, his (the patient’s) neurosis, which was making his life hell, goes away – so I’ve been told.

        For what it’s worth, I had a dream when five, so terrifying that I’ve never forgotten it and never will. I believe this dream was my memory of my birth (I was born by Caesarian).

        However, this dream didn’t do much for my neuroses, which are still vigorously alive and kicking.

        I had said in my previous comment that the manner of birth may be the genesis of many sexual practices deemed “perverted” or “deviant”. Think only of the auto-erotic asphyxiation engaged in by many men (why is it always men?).

        Could it be that when born, they were entangled in their umbilical cord and nearly strangled?

  2. andreaskluth says:

    “Second in line but first in spirit…”

    Gotta love Lucy.

    • Cheri says:

      I’m sure that quality being first in spirit is shared by many people in your book, right?
      At least for those who turned a failure into a success….

      I Love Lucy, too. (and so did Desi)

  3. Douglas says:

    One wonders if we think before birth, or even just after, or just react. It is certain we do not recall. Even those who claim past lives do not seem to relive that supposed trauma. Perhaps if we did, we’d all be claustrophobic.

  4. Cindy says:

    As I am a living and breathing claustrophobic —I now realize I had no fault in that. This story makes me feel a bit cramped but I love the thought that Lucy is busy thinking, while waiting. Birth—the first feeling of “direction!”

  5. Shikha says:

    You write so beautifully ! I wish I had a teacher like you in school. You are so inspiring !

    • Cheri says:

      Hi Shikha,

      Welcome to the blog and thanks so much for your kind words.

      I started teaching again today for the semester; your comment reminds me to stay on my game.

  6. Pingback: First Hamster Point of View: Infancy « Notes from Around the Block

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