Accidents & Emergencies: Concerning the birth

Words by Alexia Derbas

Pictures by Kitty Allison

Published on July 23, 2014

Does the woman giving birth notice her husband running his fingers through her wet hair? Does the gentle movement along her scalp help to calm her as usual? How long has it been since he’s cut his nails? Has he been growing them specially for today?

Is the doctor considering what he’ll eat for breakfast? The midwife, is she hoping her daughter remembers to take her sandwich to school? Are either of them at the point in their careers where concentrating on their duty isn’t overly necessary for its satisfactory completion?

Have the doctor and the midwife had many conversations? How close and for how long have their bodies been near each other? Do they feel anything distinct for one another? Does one like the other more?

How many babies have they seen die? Has it gotten any easier? Does one take it harder than the other? Do they dwell on the lives lost? Or talk of them to friends and family?

Does the woman giving birth begin to doubt the proven benefits of vaginal microbes for her baby? Is she fantasising about the epidural she denied? Or a cut to her stomach? Is her husband genuine in wishing he could take her place?

Is she able to direct any of her attention to the health of her baby? Does she console herself with thoughts of taking her child’s healthy immune system to school? Is she imagining him as being exceptional? A genius? A sport star?

Does she mind what sex her baby is? Does he? Would a girl disappoint? Would it disappoint both of them?

Can the midwife smell the bourbon under the minty toothpaste scent of the doctor’s breath? Was the expectant father concerned watching him fumble with his gloves? Will he regret not asking the doctor if he was okay?

What kind of parents will they be? Will the child have siblings? Is there enough money for extra-curricular activities? Will the father work overtime? What will become of the mother’s career? Will she resent this?

Who will babysit? The mother or the father’s parents? How long has it been since they were responsible for young children? How old is the expectant mother? And her husband?

Does the woman giving birth really believe she’s going to split open, or die? Is everybody in the room breathing in synch with her? Do they all say ‘push’ in varying degrees of loudness? Is her husband the loudest? The doctor the softest?

Who does he shock most when he dashes out of the room, just as the baby girl breaches?