First Journey

A spasm of pain begins at Jessie’s abdomen and works it’s way around to her lower back. The muscles contract, squeezing her like a vice. Tendrils of auburn hair have snaked loose from her ponytail and wet themselves in the sweat glistening on her face. She closes her eyes, pulls her knees to her chest and tries to work with the tightening in her belly.“So calm, not a sound. It’s amazing,” Kelly, the photographer, whispers to no one inparticular.The baby’s head crowns, is visible. The midwife tells Jessie to stop pushing. Jessie takes shallow breaths as her muscles tighten again and fights the urge to push.“I have to suction the baby’s lungs, best to do it where she is.”Another wave passes across Jessie’s abdomen. “Can I push yet?” she asks through her panting.The midwife shakes her head.Edmund, Jessie’s husband, reaches out to comfort her. She brushes his hand away then leans back and closes her eyes against another wave of tightening. A groan escapes her lips. She desperately wants to push.“Okay, Jessie, you can push when you need to, the baby’s lungs are clear.”No more encouragement is needed. With the next wave Jessie pulls on her knees and bears down to help the baby out. The baby finishes her journey to the cold outside world and is still. Jessie holds her breath as she stares down at her bluish-purple baby daughter. She isn’t moving. She isn’t breathing. The seconds tick slowly by. Jessie is sure it’s been minutes and she wants to scream at them to make her baby breath.Suddenly a cry shatters the silence in the room. Jessie lets out her breath in relief. The baby is rubbed dry. Jessie cradles her baby girl and kisses her soft forehead. Edmund gives Jessie a kiss on the cheek. She hands the proud papa his sweet baby. Jessie leans back against the bed, exhausted, exhilarated.

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