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TITLE: A birth scene
By vaughn ohlman
11/12/08
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I wish a technical critique of this scene. We are all, in my family, very medical. RN, LVN,and my daughter is studying to be lay midwife. So this birth scene is 'graphic' to us, in our heads. But is it to a 'lay' audience?
Above all, I knew I had to remain calm. I was only twenty years old and watching the birth of my first child; but my actions would be judged by a mother of six, and siblings for whom the birth of a new brother or sister was a routine event. Since her marriage Adelaide had hardly had any time, except for that miscarriage, when she wasn’t either pregnant or nursing. Truly the Lord had blessed her.

Her pains had started in earnest at about 2 am, and I had gotten up and lit the lantern. The children were all asleep, all except Maria. It seemed that her connection with her mother was strong enough that she had woken up with us.

“Is it time, Pa?”

“Soon, Maria, soon I hope.”

Soon is a relative term. Adelaide spent the next, well, I never did know how long it was, either pacing or rocking. As labor progressed she lost her normal shyness, letting Maria and I see if ‘the baby was coming’ as Maria liked to put it. Maria remembered both Baby, Becky and Bobby being born. Adelaide had told me that she slept through Toddlers birth.

It must have been a while, for Johnny woke up, woke Bobby, and the two of them went to do their chores. I told Maria and Becky to start breakfast, and Adelaide told me, “Go ahead and do your chores too Jonathon. Don’t worry, I’ll have Maria come get you if things move along. I have done this before, you know.”

I did know that. It was what was driving me crazy. Everyone one else was treating this as the most normal thing in the world, and my wife was about to have my first baby.

I got through my chores as quickly as I could and hurried back inside. And I could tell from her look that she had been debating whether to call me.

“Come Maria, lets look again.” I said. It made it easier for me to pretend that I was teaching Maria.

“Oooh, look, the baby.” Maria said.


“Yes, I think it is coming.” I said, doing my
best to remain calm at the sight of the dark hair.

“So do I think it coming, so if you two are quite done and someone could catch it!!”

For the last hour or so Adelide had been quite a different person from the shy and quiet woman I had married. Wasn’t I right here ready to catch it?

“When will it come Pa?” Asked Becky. All the kids had crowded round except Johnny, who was still keeping an eye on his mother, and me I supposed, from the table where he continued eating. I could feel his eyes on the back of my head. I couldn’t blow this now. Calm. Calm.

“When your Ma is ready and pushes it out.” I said. We will catch it over here. Maria has the blankets all ready for it.

“Her Ma is ready now!” Adelide screamed.

I looked at her. What did she want from me? “Well, then, go ahead. We’re ready. Watch now children, just like the cows we watched in the spring.”

The cows didn’t make noises like Adelide did as that baby came out though. Nor was there that rush of blood. I was so glad I had talked to Sarah. I would have been totally useless and panicked without that. Instead I gave (what I hoped were) calm directions.

“That’s right Maria, wrap it up in blankets. Bobby, get me some rags for over here. Becky, fetch another blanket for your Ma, she’ll probably be cold now.”

The children all scurried to their task, and Maria and I bent over the baby. It was a little girl, and it was getting all pink, like Sarah said it should do. We gave it to Adelide, who quickly put it to the breast.

I knew all wasn’t over, and, ironically, it was Bobby and I who finished the delivery with his rags. Clean rags, you understand. We had washed and ironed them just for this. We finished up and put things aside. Adelide was still occupied with the children. I called Maria aside,

“We have to go work now. You call me if Ma needs me, Ok? You’re in charge in the house while I am gone and Ma is resting.”

I called Johnny and we went outside. I didn’t really have that much work I had to do, but I just had to get out for a while. I had done the whole ‘calm’ thing just about as long as I could. I needed to *do* something. And we did have a lot of wood that needed chopping. Johnny and I started in on it. Really he was getting really good at using an axe. If he had more weight he could do better.

I could tell he was not happy about how small he was. Short and skinny. But I had noticed a couple of things that made me think this was going to come to an end soon. For one thing he was really putting away the food. I’m sure that the increase in exercise he had gotten since I came accounted for part of that, but I didn’t think all of it.

The other thing was that I had noticed, espcially while we were swimming, that he was beginning to change. I looked at him and wondered if he had noticed. He hadn’t said anything to me… who he was mad at; or his mother, probably because it would have embarrased him.

I saw him glancing at me. I was chopping rather quickly. Well, so be it. I was excited. I had just had my first child, a little girl! And we were going to name her Elizabeth, after my mother.
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