Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Heroes (03/08/04)
TITLE: Just A…
By Corinne Smelker
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“Again, come on Michelle, you can do it. Almost there!”
“I see the head! Look in the mirror, Michelle, I see hair!” Valerie was standing at the end of the bed, hopping from foot to foot, barely reining in her excitement and tears.
“Now, Michelle, give me one last push and we’ll have this little one out.” Dr. Vaughn’s words cut through the other voices, and were music to her tired ears. With a single, explosive push that threatened to pop cheeks, ears and eyes simultaneously; Michelle felt the tug, the slide, and the relief of a life leaving her body. The cord was cut.
“It’s a boy! Oh, it’s a boy!” Valerie squealed.
“It’s a boy!” rang out from the room, down the hallway and into the waiting room where hundreds, it seemed like anyway, of relatives and friends stood in anticipation.
Bulbs flashed, video footage taken and animated, energized voices filled the delivery room. Valerie and Edward hovered over the scale where the infant was being weighed. Newborn wails rose from the corner, and laughter grew to meet it.
“Eight pounds, eight ounces. Twenty-three inches. This is a big boy,” the nurse announced. Once again, the news was relayed down the hall to family, eager to know the statistics. Michelle smiled to hear the eruptions of glee and amazement at the size of the newborn.
She lay quietly while Dr. Vaughn worked steadily, and sympathetically on her. Rusty stood noiselessly by her side. She gazed up at him with a look full of love, and hurt. He reached down, and kissed her tenderly on the forehead, caressing her long, brunette hair, which was damp with the effort of her exertions.
The floor nurse entered the room, checking on the progress of mother and baby. “Well, Michelle, what’s his name going to be?”
“Oh, he isn’t mine!” Michelle said softly.
Quizzically the nurse looked at Rusty, then down at Michelle and back at Rusty. You could almost see her thoughts. They’re married, and they’re not teens. She’s had kids before, I know…
Her face cleared as comprehension dawned. “Oh. You’re just a surrogate. Well, let me talk to the real parents.”
Dismissively she patted Michelle on the shoulder, and gave Rusty a brief simper. She moved over to join the hubbub of people in the far corner, where everyone was cooing over the baby.
Rusty leant over Michelle; and looked into her large, tear-filled brown eyes. He could read the ache in them. Exhaustion from the labor had caused a reaction and she shook with cold. He took a spare blanket and wrapped it around her shoulders, and wiped the tears that were slowly rolling down her wan cheeks.
“No. I won’t cry.” She said determinedly to Rusty. “This is a happy day. This is not about me. It’s about Val, Edward and the baby.” She sniffed slightly and smiled at Rusty, “And about us, giving them what they most wanted — a healthy baby.”
Valerie looked up from the new center of her world; noticing, perhaps for the first time, Michelle and Rusty isolated from the festivities that enveloped the rest of the room. Tenderly holding her precious son, she tore herself away from the congratulatory crowd and walked slowly to the bed.
She held out her son for them to take. Michelle and Rusty both reached out experienced arms, to embrace this child Michelle brought into the world. Valerie sat down on the bed next to Michelle and hugged her as though she would never let go.
Struggling to maintain her composure she whispered, “You are not ‘just a surrogate’, you’re my hero.”