Friday, July 11, 2008

Alice’s adventures giving birth

Alice looks radiant as she soaks in the golden beams of afternoon light. Not long ago she was that little girl in a Wonderland inhabited by the strangest of creatures and a Queen and things great and small. I can now see Alice in the after-time, herself a grown woman, as she awaits the birth of her first baby. She finds herself in another Wonderland, also inhabited by strange creatures and people with incredible powers that can make her feel great or very small, and she follows the White Rabbit into the hole in another mystery journey.

There are three strong voices competing for Alice’s attention as she approaches her special time. Voices 1, 2 and 3: Prima, Secunda, and Tertia (in Latin, making them seem so much more important than they really are.)

“Imperious Prima flashes forth

Her edict “to begin it”;

In gentler tones Secunda hopes

“There will be nonsense in it!”

While Tertia interrupts the tale

Not more than once a minute.”

Prima, the first, is direct and clear – there is one way, the right way, the normal way. Like the Queen of Hearts she gives her pronouncement. But is ‘normal’ what is normally done, or is it something else? Having never been there before Alice wonders how she will know the right way when she sees it.

The second voice Secunda is less sure, and more pragmatic, expecting she will somehow find a way through the underground maze. With a label that says ‘Drink me’, she offers all the choices as if they were of equal worth. Alice wonders if it is safe. “the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry. “No, I’ll look first,” she said, “and see whether it’s marked ‘poison’ or not”; for she had read several nice little stories …”

“Would you like something to help with the pain?” Secunda inquires, and Alice says “Yes, please”. “This bottle was not marked “poison” so Alice ventured to taste it….” She did not see the locked cupboard where it was stored, with “Dangerous Drugs” on the front.

Tertia, meanwhile, has the oversight of all things obstetric, and considers herself in charge. With stop watch in hand, and pointing to (Capital E) Evidence, she demands that the times and calculations be correct. Alice becomes quickly confused with Tertia’s arguments:

“If you knew Time as well as I do,” said the Hatter, “you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. It’s him.”

I don’t know what you mean,” said Alice.

“Of course you don’t!” the Hatter said, tossing his head contemptuously.

Being very keen to please, Alice listens to all the voices. !,2 and 3; 3, 2 and 1; 2,1 and 3 and in whatever order they speak.

Alice found her way out of Tertia the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party; escaped Secunda’s potions and cakes that made her alternately very large and very small; and stood up to Prima, the Queen.

“Stuff and nonsense!” said Alice loudly. “The idea of having the sentence first!”

“Hold your tongue!” said the Queen, turning purple.

“I wo’n’t!” said Alice.

“Off with her head!” the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.

“Who cares for you?” said Alice (she had grown to her full size by this time). “You’re nothing but a pack of cards!”

Alice returned to the grassy bank in the golden afternoon light and decided not to go down that rabbit hole again. She stayed above ground and with her sister accompanying her, they took the path that was ahead of her. The path became steeper in places, and at times there were forks in the road that appeared to offer an easier way. Accepting her sister’s wisdom they stayed on the main path. They could see the goal, and knew that they must persevere. Alice’s mind and body became strong: she accepted the demands of each climb. Alice’s sister stayed with her, and encouraged her to keep the goal in sight. Then, as Alice began to doubt and cried out for help, her child was born. Alice rested a moment as the little one gave its first cry, then triumphantly and with her heart almost bursting with joy, took her child to her breast.

Joy Johnston, 11 July 2008.

[Note: Quotations are taken from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. First Published 1865 by Macmillan & Co Ltd.]

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