“I can’t do it. I can’t”.
I mopped her brow with the cold flannel as she panted out her panicked words. She was the toughest person I’d ever met and I’d never seen her looks so scared.
“Of course you can” I soothed. “What do you always tell me? You can do anything that you put your mind to. That’s what you say, so that’s what you’ll do. Besides. There’s no going back now”.
My reassuring words had little effect. The tortured look on my best friends face was horrendous. I felt useless. Redundant. If I didn’t already know that millions of women had done this since time began, I would seriously be doubting the outcome.
“I can’t do it on my own. Fetch someone Kate. Please. Fetch someone”.
An animalistic growl escaped her throat and her face flushed blood red as she locked her breath in her lungs.
I brushed her damp hair from her face and she shook her head away from me. Annoyed at my touch.
I waited for that wave of pain to pass before offering more half-hearted words of encouragement. Being two years younger in age, and probably a year more in mind, I was almost as scared as she was.
“Now, you listen to me. You are not on your own. We’ve got through everything together. Through all the shit life has ever thrown at us, so we can get through this like we always do. Together”.
She relaxed slightly as the pain ebbed and I took a deep breath, mentally preparing myself for the next onslaught.
The pungent smell of disinfectant I sucked into my nose brought memories flooding back. Memories of similar rooms, unsure looks from nurses eyes and pleading looks from my own. Of lies told by those who should be protecting me. Hidden hurts and dashed hopes.
I re-buried the nightmares of my childhood as the squeeze of my hand told me a fresh wave of pain was building.
The door to the tiny room flung open and the midwife entered. The short, round, matronly figure picked up the clipboard containing Jaz’s medical notes from the end of the bed. She took a minute or two to read them, whilst shaking her head and sighing.
Jaz couldn’t answer. Her face was contorted into a mask of agony and her growling had returned so I answered for her.
“Yes. She’s Jazmine. Can you give her anything to help?”
She disregarded me completely. Much to my annoyance.
“Now, now Dear. There’s no need for all that noise. You young girls play around and don’t think of these consequences. Well this is one of them. Pain for you and another wretched life brought into the world. I don’t suppose the dad is on the scene?”
Jaz’s pain waned so she was able to shake her head.
“Is he 16 as well?”
She replaced the clipboard and disappeared between Jaz’s open, bent legs.
She didn’t know.
She didn’t know the hurt, the pain, the insecurity that has brought us here. The anger, the disgust, the endless hours thinking, making a decision before minds were changed again and again.
My face must’ve shown the rage inside me. Jaz caught my attention by shaking my hand.
“Please don’t. Not now”.
I took some deep breaths of my own. Swallowing down my words just as the midwife head popped up from between Jaz’s legs.
“A few more pushes Dear and this little mite will be out. Now, deep breath and push into your bottom.
She took a deep breath and her face turned red but this time there was no sound as she beared down. A hiss of air escaped through her clenched teeth.
“That’s a good girl. Baby’s head is out. One more....”
She didn’t have time to finish talking. Jaz was already pushing.
“That’s it. Baby’s out!”
There was lots of movement from the midwife. I cleaned my neck for a better view but the prize was hidden by Jaz’s legs.
Jaz’s head flopped back, exhausted from the long labour and she finally loosened the vice like grip on my hand.
“Do you want to cut the cord?”
She was looking at me. I shook my head panickedly.
“Is everything ok? Is there anything wrong with the baby?”
“Everything is fine Dear. You have a beautiful baby boy”.
She placed the now squawking, wrinkled baby onto Jaz’s chest and Jaz’s hands covered him protectively as a tear fell from her eye.
“Do you have a name for him yet?”
“James. His name is James. Aunty Kate, meet your honorary nephew. Little Jimmy Carter”.
I crouched down and looked into the deepest blue eyes I’d ever seen and was instantly in love.
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