September 14, 1979

 “Uhhhhnnnnnhhhhh!”  Diana’s jaws clenched as she tensed every muscle in her body and pushed.  Silently, she counted to ten as she concentrated on holding her push.  Mart stood behind her right shoulder, his arm supporting her back.  As the contraction eased off, she dropped back onto the birthing bed, drawing a deep breath and closing her eyes.  Mart wiped the sweat from her face and neck with a cold washcloth.

“You can do it, sweetheart,” he encouraged her.  “You’re almost there.”

“You’re doing very well, Diana,” Doctor Nelson agreed.  He studied the fetal monitor display for several seconds.  “The baby is doing well so far, too.  A couple more good pushes should do it.”

The labor nurse, Nancy, spooned a few ice chips into her mouth, fluffed her pillow and flipped it over, and then checked the flow of her intravenous line.  Diana felt the tightening of her abdomen that meant another contraction was starting, and took another deep breath.

“I’m seeing the baby’s head,” announced Dr. Nelson.  “Looks like a headful of black hair.”

“You’re amazing, Mom.”  Mart leaned over to give her a kiss.

Panting, Diana flopped back on the bed, contraction spent.  “I hope I won’t have to do that too many times,” she said with a sigh.  “Not sure how long I can keep it up.”  She pushed some damp strands of hair away from her face.  She’d been in labor for a total of five hours now—not a long labor compared to what the childbirth educator had told her to expect—but it seemed longer, much longer.  Time had lost all meaning once she’d been allowed to start pushing.

“You can do it, Mrs. Belden.”  The nurse seemed very confident. 

Diana turned to her.  “Do you really think so?”

“I know so.”  She squeezed Diana’s hand, smiled, and nodded emphatically.

“Stay with me.  Please.”  She locked eyes with the only other female in the room, and the nurse squeezed her hand again before offering a few more ice chips.  Too soon, the contraction started again.

She could actually feel the baby’s head stretching the outside of her birth canal as she pushed this time.  But the contraction waned and everything felt back to normal again.  “He or she is never going to get here,” she moaned.  She forced herself to look at the wall-mounted clock and was surprised to see it was only six hours since they’d arrived at the hospital.  It felt like she’d been pushing for days.  Or forever.

“Of course he is.  Or she.”  Dr. Nelson felt around between her legs, and Diana was glad Mart couldn’t see what he was doing.  She looked at her husband for reassurance. 

“Sure she will.  Or he.”  Mart winked at her, although his smile looked a little shaky and his color looked a little pale.  The nurse was suddenly behind him with a straight-backed chair.

“Sit down, Dad,” she commanded.  “Two patients are enough at one time.”   Diana could see the relief wash across Mart’s face as he dropped onto the chair.  But that was the last thing she could think of as another contraction grabbed her in an iron grip.  She gulped a deep breath and closed her eyes, concentrating on making this push one hundred per cent effective.  She barely felt it when Dr. Nelson used a very strong-looking pair of scissors to do an episiotomy.

“It will keep you from tearing,” he assured her.

Suddenly she felt a gush of fluid and something slipped out.  She opened her eyes but couldn’t make out anything beyond a bit of black hair.  The baby’s head had emerged!

“Is it a boy or a girl?” she cried.  The pain had eased again.

“Don’t know yet; we need to deliver the shoulder so the rest of his or her body can come.”  Dr. Nelson did something and as the next contraction built, he controlled the delivery of the rest of the baby’s body.  “You have a daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Belden!”

The baby’s face screwed up in a grimace and then she let out a scratchy howl.  She was wet, red, and streaked with blood and the cheesy white substance called varnish—no, vernix, she recalled from her childbirth class. Diana stared at the tiny life she and Mart had created and her lips curved in a soft smile.  “Isn’t she beautiful!”

“The most beautiful baby in the world,” Mart agreed.  His blue eyes were glistening and his smile seemed to make his whole face glow.  

Dr. Nelson handed the baby off to the nurse, who placed her into a warmer and dried her off.  During the drying process the baby’s crying never let up, her voice becoming stronger as she let her displeasure be known.  Diana held Mart’s hand tightly as she devoured her baby with her eyes.   She never noticed when Dr. Nelson delivered the afterbirth, and felt only a few twinges as he repaired her episiotomy.

“When do I get to hold her?” she finally asked.

“Right now.”  Deftly, the nurse wrapped her daughter in a receiving blanket and carried her over to the birthing bed.  She laid her in Diana’s arms and began moving her gown aside.  “During the first hour, usually baby is awake and has a strong sucking urge.  It’s best if she can go to mom’s breast then, because it’s easier to get her to latch on if she’s awake.”

“Oh, yes!  Please!”  Diana was eager for anything that could help her have a successful breastfeeding experience.  She’d been nervous about having the first Bob-White baby, and having no one to turn to for breastfeeding tips.  Of course, her mom had lots of experience, but she was anxious to succeed on her own.    

Mart had recovered from his momentary squeamishness and now hung over the bed, stroking the top of the baby’s head gently.  As Nancy positioned the infant against Diana’s breast and manipulated the nipple to stimulate sucking, he watched in fascination.  In seconds the baby’s sucking and swallowing was easily seen and heard. 

“Wow!  She’s smart, or you’re a natural, sweetheart,” he said, dropping a kiss on her shoulder.

“Or maybe both.”  Diana winked at him and turned her attention back to the baby, stroking her back as she continued to suckle.

“Oh, baby!”  Mart grinned at her and covered her hand with his.  “You do good work.”  


Author’s Notes

1062 words

This story is an entry for the CWE #3 challenge and is inspired by picture #10.

Many, many thanks to my wonderful editors, Ryl and Trish.  Each of them made suggestions that improved this story, and it’s so much better as a result of their help.

Thank you to Misty, Susan, and Dana for the CWE #3 challenge. I loved this picture from the moment I saw it, but it took longer for me to learn the story that went with it.

Thank you to all of the readers!  Your appreciation means a lot to me.

Thank you to Vivian, my webhostess and mentor in html and webpage design.  I couldn’t do it without you, my friend.

No, I didn’t give the baby’s name. Mart and Diana wanted to meet their daughter before they named her. But if you’ve read my story A Lucky Man, you’ve seen her name :-).

Today, nearly all pregnant women are able to learn their baby’s sex from an ultrasound, and nearly all parents-to-be choose to know the baby's sex before it is born. When my babies were born in the 1980s, I never had an ultrasound and certainly didn't know the baby's sex. Even when working labor and delivery in 1982-90 I knew almost no one who knew the baby's sex beforehand. But in the past six months I’ve known at least 20 nurses who have given birth and every one of them knew the baby’s sex ahead of time from ultrasound. My sister has several friends who aren’t in health care and have had babies or grandchildren. They’ve also known the baby’s sex.

Disclaimer: Characters from the Trixie Belden series are the property of Random House. They are used without permission, although with a great deal of affection and respect. All other material on these pages copyright 2012 by MaryN/Dianafan. Images from Microsoft Clip art and and manipulated by Mary N in Photoshop. Graphics copyright by Mary N 2012.

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