Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
Six Inches Of Looped Cord
by Mary Earhart
Six inches of looped cord is floating in the warm water outside the mother's body. Can I move the baby's head off of it? No, the crown is there, I can feel the soft spot. My gloved hand finds no pulse in the prolapsed umbilical cord. It just happened a moment ago when she squatted and the water broke. Babies are strong, I know, and this one had terrific heart tones before now. My underwater monitor isn't working despite a new battery, so I can't listen for the baby's heartbeat. My assistant is bringing another one, but she isn't here yet. Time is something this baby doesn't have.
"There's cord here, you need to push the baby out now." I say to my client.
Oh, thank God this mother is in a pool, the cord is in warm water and not out in the cold air which could shut it down prematurely. Thank God this mother is getting down to business. She got the message and she's moving her baby a whole bunch. Had she been panicked, screaming, there would have been wasted time with me face-to-face trying to get her to hear the words: Cord. Push.
As it is, my knees don't have time to turn to jelly. The woman grips her husband's arm (I'll give him homeopathic arnica later for bruising) and goes for it.
I am grateful the baby is only six pounds and he is out in two minutes. Not white, not purple, but normal dusky blue with vernix highlights. I see tiny moving fingers and softly opening midnight blue eyes. Immense gratitude washes over me. The mother holds and loves her baby. He cries and turns pink in her arms. The midwife (me) loves the mother, respects the father, admires the baby. The father loves and respects his wife more than he ever thought he could, and he is in love with his son and appreciates the midwife. The mother loves the midwife, full circle. Strong baby. Strong love. Real passion.
Mary Earhart is a retired midwife having a great time reading and writing short stories on the beach in Costa Rica. She has previously written grants for non-profit agencies and articles for professional journals.
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