She had known she was pregnant, of course, and she was thrilled with the idea of being a mother. Albert had not said much one way or the other, but he was never a man to reveal his emotions, unless the emotion was anger. Rebecca had assumed that he would be happy to be a father, but she had been horribly wrong, and throughout the pregnancy, he either completely ignored her or flew into rages over what she had allowed to happen.
The day she went into labor, Albert was once again looking for work. Her pains started late in the morning, and Rebecca knew that he would not be home for hours. She was not allowed off the property when not with him, so she had no thought of going for the midwife. She was too afraid of what Albert would say if he knew she had gone somewhere without him. She had been present when her little sisters and brothers had been born, so she knew what to expect when the baby was ready to come into the world. What she wasn't prepared for, however, was how fast her labor progressed. She was anticipating suffering through the contractions throughout the day until Albert came home, at which time, he would get the midwife. However, within three hours of her first contraction, she was having pains every minute or so, and she knew that meant the baby was coming. She was terrified but also smart enough to know that if the baby was going to be born, there was nothing she could do to stop it. She quickly gathered together some clean rags, two strong pieces of twine, a pair of scissors, and a large pot full of water. These things she placed on the floor, and then she sat down next to them. After a few more contractions, she felt an enormous pressure and an undeniable need to push. She concentrated all her strength into bearing down with the next contractions, and inside of another ten minutes, she felt the baby's head emerge from her body. She reached down between her legs, feeling for the first time the soft skin of her child. She gently took the baby's head in one hand, and with the other, she guided the shoulders through the opening. Once they were free, the rest of the body quickly slid out.
She looked down to see the tiny form, and he sucked in his first lungful of air and released it with a mighty cry. A weary smile crossed her face at the sound, and she laid him gently on a rag she had spread on the floor. She took the two pieces of twine, tied them tightly around the umbilical cord, and then cut the cord between the ties. She knew that the afterbirth still needed to be expelled, so she wrapped the child in a rag and held him to her breast as she waited for the contractions she knew would come. As they did, she used one hand to help deliver the afterbirth, while her other hand held tightly to her son. After it was finished, she collapsed back on the floor and rested, while her beautiful boy quietly rested on her chest.
It only took a few moments, however, before he began to whimper, and only a few more before that whimper became a full-fledged cry. Rebecca smiled again at this sound, for to her, it meant that he was healthy and hearty. She sat up and reached for the pot of water. Using more of the rags, she tenderly cleaned the blood from her baby and then from herself. Before cleaning up more, however, she took her son and lovingly gave him her breast. He immediately latched on and began to suckle. She let her son nurse until he fell asleep in her arms, and then she laid him on the bed and gazed at his sleeping form for a moment. She had never thought she could feel this much love toward another human being, and it filled her with a wonderful peace to know that this boy would love her back just as much.
As he slept on the bed, Rebecca turned to cleaning up the mess on the floor. She retrieved a rag from the rubbish pile outside the cabin, wrapped the afterbirth in it, and then returned it to the pile. She spent the next hour scrubbing the floor clean of blood, or at least as clean as she could. By the time she finished, it was early evening, and she knew that Albert would be home in a short while. The thought suddenly chilled her to the bone. What would his reaction be? Would he love their son as much as she?Albert definitely had his moments when she remembered why she married him. He would bring her flowers for no reason, or come up behind her while she cooked and gently massage her shoulders. Any of these loving gestures usually led to the two of them in bed together, where he often continued his gentle ministrations until they were both satisfied and happily curled in each other's arms. These moments only happened, however, when he came home from work sober. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen very often. Most of the time, she dreaded hearing his footsteps coming up the gravel walk to their house, because she knew he was probably drunk. When he was drunk, the Albert she had fallen in love with, the Albert of the flowers and massages, disappeared. In his place was the angry Albert, the Albert of the curses and blows. After she finished cleaning, she picked up her sleeping son, and as she waited for her husband to come home, she nervously wondered which Albert it would be who walked through the door.