Chapter 8 - Unexpected Delivery
"Uh, huh…" Maddy said groggily.
Maddy looked at her still-out-of-focus husband Mark, but then she realized what happened. She tried to sit up fast, but Mark wouldn't let her, "Easy Maddy, move carefully." He helped her take a sip of water from her canteen.
She was so confident at the start of this first pregnancy. She had studied every aspect of childbirth like the mathematically precise person she was. She and Mark were trained to support each other during delivery by the best doctor in Terra Nova – her own mother Elisabeth. Maddy knew childbirth by the textbook. But her pregnancy was not going by the book.
Elisabeth warned them both not to travel on that last scientific patrol – babies come in their own due time, not according to the demands of a future mother's schedule. She warned Maddy she'd been early with all three of the family's children. But Maddy insisted. Darn that family trait of stubborn, headstrong women.
Not only had she guessed wrong about the due date, now it was happening with just the two of them isolated deep in the jungle far from their vehicle, with no one to help. They were well into a long morning hike and studying a very rare Iguanodon family unit, when her labor began, and it was so painful she could barely walk immediately after labor started.
But Mark was there, now in full focus, helping her cope.
Fortunately for Maddy, Mark chose to be prepared for every situation. It was Mark's way to dote on Maddy, and besides, as a soldier, it was the way he was trained. She was very confident in his ability to assist her through the initial stages of labor. It was old-fashioned for a husband and wife to go through labor together in this era of computer-aided diagnosis and surgery. But with the old fashioned ways, she had planned to have an experienced doctor – her mother - to help her through the final stages.
Maddy wasn't even sure what caused the onset of labor. Maybe it was a bad batch of pterodactyl tikka, or that she maybe had over-exercised in her vain attempt to try to keep her figure even while pregnant. Or that tender little intimate session last night with Mark, whom she could never deny. He was very gentle, but no question she felt different 'down there' this morning when they started on the trail.
"Augh!" she yelled as another strong contraction threatened to cut her in half.
She used the breathing exercises her mother taught her in pregnancy class to focus away from the pain. Mark raised eyebrows among his fellow soldiers when he took the classes with her to understand exactly how to help her through each stage of childbirth. The girl friends and wives of his fellow soldiers were envious of the couple wanting to be so close during the experience which was so coldly clinical and 'automated' in their century, especially when they were limited to two children in the dying world they left. Mark got a lot of razzing over 'old fashioned childbirth' from his colleagues, but more than a few knew they wanted to do the same thing with their women.
The easy part was over, when Mark could simply walk her through the contractions, and help with her breathing exercises. She felt herself rapidly descending into the crazy middle "transition" stage of childbirth when she was going to need his help more than anything.
No matter how much she'd studied childhood, Maddy could not midwife herself, and prayed she could talk Mark through the procedures between contractions.
The next contraction hit her so hard she screamed loud enough to drive winged reptiles from their nests, and doubled her over in pain.
"Mark! I must sit!" she pleaded.
He looked for a protective spot and spotted a shady grove of ginkgoes. Mark took her in his strong arms, carried her to the grove, and sat her down. He knew what to do next. He gathered some logs to provide support under her legs so they were flexed and apart somewhat, and arranged a reclining back support from some smooth rocks. For comfort, he tried to put some moss and ferns behind her. He knew she wasn't going to stand again until they were both parents.
"Oh Mark, thank you! I am so thirsty, though. Please…" and he got her more water.
"Mark, you're going to have to check my progress now." He flushed, as he knew what that required. He knew Maddy's anatomy intimately, but he never thought he'd have to touch her like that. He was discrete, and examined her as midwives do, "You are making progress, Maddy, but you're nowhere near dilated enough for a baby."
He touched her stomach next, feeling a good heartbeat from the baby, but frowned as he declared, "Maddy, isn't the baby's head supposed to be down now?"
She fretted, "Oh my goodness, the baby is breech! No wonder there is so much pain. That is the hardest delivery."
She refused to tell Mark of the possible complications. But Mark saw the look. He knew he could lose them both.
Mark said, "Maddy, we have to turn the baby now before it's too late. Tell me how."
She screamed again, grabbing his ears with a crazed look, "Mark, you must keep looking at me, I can get through this only if you are right here, right now for me. You got me into this mess; you have to get me out!"
She meant no harm in what she said; she was just in deep labor.
The contractions started hitting her more frequently, and he couldn't get her to breathe with him like she should. The baby was coming too early, it was breech, and its little heartbeat was strained when she contracted each time. He prayed, "Please Lord, I cannot lose the two people I love the most!"
Mark thought, "Can no one help us? Wait! There is someone!"
Calmly, he whispered inches away from her face,"I will get someone who will help."
He reached for his radio, and said with urgency, "Patrol 1 to Terra Nova, I am in urgent need of help. Teammate down."
He had to talk in code, lest Mira and the remaining Sixers be monitoring them, and try to capture them.
"Terra Nova here, what is it soldier?" Taylor took the microphone from the radioman. He knew who was out there, and was worried something like would happen. He heard their argument with Elisabeth.
"We need a doctor, sir. One in particular," Mark said urgently.
"Understood. Making the call now," said Taylor matter-of-factly.
He picked up another radio and paged Elisabeth, "Doctor, you're needed.
She was frantic, "Are they back yet?"
"No ma'am, they are in the bush. But I am pretty sure it's happening now. Out there."
She resisted the urge to be angry, but knew she had to concentrate on helping her kids – and grandchild to be. They had insisted on not knowing the gender.
"Get me through to them Taylor. And tell Jim."
Taylor patched Elisabeth through to Mark and Maddy on the comlink, "Are you there?"
"Yes, Mother," Maddy simply couldn't talk in code any more. She was desperate. Mark had the radio on speakerphone.
Another contraction seized her in pain, "Aagh!"
Elisabeth swallowed hard, trying to be a doctor first and mother second, and reassured Maddy, "Hang on. I will get you through this. I have assisted many lives into this world. With Mark's help, your child will be the next, I assure you."
Maddy let out a pleased sigh, but too soon. Another contraction gripped her, causing her to arch her back in pain this time. The baby was starting to get stuck.
While Mark was there to focus Maddy, and talk her calmly through the painful contractions, it was Elisabeth's expertise that guided Mark's hands and arms. Mark gave her another much-needed drink from his canteen.
Elisabeth said deliberately, "Maddy, we're going to get the baby in the right position now. Mark - you are going to have to do this. This may be very uncomfortable".
With great care and gentleness, Elisabeth explained to Mark how to place his hands on Maddy's stomach to turn the baby in her womb without hurting it, and without hurting the umbilical cord. He could now feel a much stronger pulse in their child.
The next contraction wasn't nearly as bad as before. Maddy started to feel better about the situation. "Thank you, Mom and Mark; that one was much better!"
She concentrated more on her breathing. Mark cooled her head with water and gave her another sip to drink.
At Elisabeth's direction, Mark repositioned Maddy's legs much further apart, and prepared her for the final stage of delivery. Elisabeth said to Maddy, "Mark is going to have to break your water; it's going to hurt a lot, but you'll feel better afterward."
Maddy grew wide in worry as Mark took his pocket knife and cauterized it to carefully cut her internally, and groaned as her baby's amniotic sac was broken, but felt such relief from the pressure release. The contractions then came immediately faster and harder. She never let her eyes wander from Mark. He gained confidence that he had done everything right so far at his mother-in-law's direction. After the next contraction, Elisabeth asked Mark to check Maddy's condition again, and as the next contraction came, Elisabeth said cheerfully, "Honey, you are ready! Hold your breath and bear down hard, Maddy!"
Elisabeth could hear her daughter grunt and push.
"I think she did it fine, Doctor," Mark said with confidence.
"There you go! Good girl! Hold your breath again and push!" After a series of strong pushes, and Mark could look down and see the baby's head, then shoulders, then all of him – a boy!
And then a piercing cry rang out in the jungle. The firstborn son of Mark and Maddy made it into the world! After cutting the umbilical cord, Mark held his child, while new mother Maddy sighed with great relief at the sight of their little boy, and the two of them cried together in happiness. He had very dark hair, and had Maddy's wonderful mocha skin tone.
Mark gently gave the baby to Maddy who let him lie over her heart, as Elisabeth instructed Mark to help with all the final aspects of restoring his wife's body to aid her quick physical recovery. After that, while hearing the baby's sweet noises, and the happy husband and wife chattering, Elisabeth sat back in her chair. Jim, who had rushed to her side when he had heard, rubbed her shoulders. She patted his hands.
"Way to go, Grandma," Jim teased. She smiled up at him.
Mark said to Elisabeth, "We are so grateful, Mom. We would have never done it without you."
Elisabeth felt elated with Mark calling her 'Mom'.
Maddy nursed her newborn son Aaron, with Mark now sitting beside her, with his arm on her shoulder, gently stroking his tiny newborn son's cheek with his finger. Maddy whispered to their newborn, "Something that I need to confide to you, Aaron – you have the best father in the whole world. What child in this age can say that their father brought them into this world?" and she winked at Mark, "even with a little bit of my help!"
"And me too," joked Elisabeth with a crackle over the radio. They all laughed together. A second patrol vehicle pulled up beside them, having traced their radio, with orders to get them back to the clinic as soon as possible.
"Man, are we glad to see you!" said a very relaxed Mark.
"Baby and Mommy Transport Company at your service, Sergeant Reynolds." joked the driver.
Monitoring the entire process from far away, still stranded in the Badlands, Mira turned to her assistant, and growled, "I think we have new way to force our will on our enemies."
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