Sheila Elsener's Essay Submission
A Woman of Inspiration: Her sister
There is a secret society of women, unknown to men. Women are mystic beings, our bodies compatible with the phases of the moon. And, like the moon, our shadowed parts are invisible to the naked eye. It is the gift of women to unveil the moon: to discover our extraordinary secret. My sister, like an oracle, exposed me to the feminine mystery. As I held her hand through her long journey of carrying and birthing twins into the world, she introduced me to my body. She taught me to love my hips, my breasts, my uterus, my womb, and my vagina.
I spent 9 months watching her grow. Her body, bound for motherhood, captivated me. She reminded me of a balloon being slowly filled with air until it expanded to the point of bursting. Every part of her took a new form: her belly, her breasts, her fingers, and her ankles. I watched her vomit at the smell of pasta and immediately after, binge on pickles and peanut butter. I saw her wince and turn over from being kicked in the rib and the next minute be rubbing her sore belly sweetly as if it was a giant rare pearl. She would look down at herself, her eyes filling with water, emanating love and adoration for the life inside her. She would seize my hand to hold me to the spot of her belly where I could feel her babies move and dance. She swore they knew her voice.
On August 11, 2011, 1 a.m., I helped my sister through a C-section. Sure enough, there were two in there: one boy and one girl. Now, I am watching her recover and learn to breast feed and care for two 4-pound babies. I watched the nurses massage her uterus in order to help it return to its original, baby-less and vacant size. I watched her bleed out all of the afterbirth from her swollen vagina like an unstopping period. Even then, I was marveling her. I watched her knead her breasts until the first spots of milk came billowing out. My favorite part: I watched as each baby responded to her squeezing the first milk into their little mouths. As they latched onto her, their little eyes looked into her eyes as if they were thanking her sincerely for sharing herself.
Eve Ensler, feminist and author, wrote: “The heart is capable of sacrifice. So is the vagina.” I witnessed such sacrifice through my sister. Her body became a beacon for existence: ripping, bleeding, swelling, bruising, and shaping, then reshaping, all for the benefit of her babies.
That night, my sister lay in her hospital bed physically taken by childbirth as me and my other two sisters, one single and one infertile, stood around her with our arms open. Though none of us are mothers, we were there with her, sharing her pain. That is the way of women: bound by sacred sisterhood.