Saturday, September 8, 2007

Forty One

It took until nearly dawn for Will to guide the midwife up the narrow path in the darkness and by then Diana had long since given up being brave. Her screams echoed through the rooms. With scarcely a glance at Miguel, who was trying to keep a worried Kitta distracted in the living room, Will and the midwife hurried down the hall.

Amalia's relief at Bridget's arrival was almost tangible. In a shaking voice, she rattled off the time between contractions and number of hours Diana had been in labor.

"You're kidding me, right?" Bridget opened her bag and began taking out instruments. Suddenly she turned around. "Will, it's better that you wait outside. This isn't the sort of thing a man needs to see."

"But she's my wife and—"

"And you'll wait on the other side of that door."

"Do as she says," Amalia said, pushing him into the hallway. "This will all be over soon." She closed the door and went to take Diana's hand. But when Diana squeezed so hard it seemed her bones would break, she gave her the tail of her shirt to hold, instead.

Bridget washed her hands, arranged Diana's hips under a sheet and examined her, murmuring in soothing tones. She frowned.

"What is it?" Amalia asked in alarm.

The midwife sat back. "You needed me much earlier," she said. "This baby is stuck."

***

Bridget tried everything she knew. With the baby positioned wrong and wedged against the pubic bone, the forceps were no use, so she tried to reach inside and turn the baby. Diana screamed and fought her until they tied her to the bed posts.

They tried to give her some laudanum in the hope that they could ease the contractions long enough to move the baby into the correct position. But Diana threw up the laudanum, and the midwife had no other drugs.

"She's been without food since yesterday," Amalia observed at one point. "Shouldn't she eat? She needs her strength."

"I doubt she'll keep anything down, but we could try a little water or juice."

Amalia went to the door, where she found Will pacing.

"Is it over?"

"No. Get her a glass of water and some apple juice."

A few minutes later, Will tapped on the door. He tried to peek past her as Amalia took the tray from his hands. "I brought some honey, too. Sometimes that goes down better than juice."

Diana threw up the juice and wouldn’t touch the water.

"We've got to do something," Amalia said, trying to keep panic from creeping into her voice.

"There's only one thing left we can do," Bridget said, digging in her bag and taking out a cruel-looking instrument. "I’m sorry, but we can only save one of them."

2 comments:

Palm Springs Savant said...

oh my gosh- you had me wanting more...poor Amalia. And Bridget is trying her best. You do such great work here...need to be published in print!

Alice Audrey said...

Tell me they don't chose the baby over Diana.