“Don’t be afraid of the baby, Ben,” Marjorie screams. “It’s your son!” Wilson had sidled out of her only minutes before—approximately three weeks too early and thirty hours of labor too late. “Shit, Ben!”
Her nurse, Jamie, bites her lip. If she had a dollar for every expletive that came out of this brand-new mother’s mouth, that new espresso machine would be within reach. Jamie accidentally lets out a chuckle at this thought, and then immediately masks it with a panicked, hacking cough.
“Did you get your tetanus?” Marjorie barks at her. Jamie chokes and tears well in her eyes. She nods and backs away from the newborn.
Through the maelstrom of “shit”, Wilson had emerged wailing. Both he and his mother were very loud, and, at the very end, no one could tell whose screams were whose. One of the nurses had placed her hands on her ears. Another had left the room. Jamie is the only nurse left in the room now. She tries to regain her composure in the corner.
Marjorie turns to the miracle of life, who is cooing under the newborn warmer. She then yanks her gaze back to her husband. He stands cowering in a corner by the window. His eyes slowly shift down and out along the side of the building. “Hold the goddamn baby, Benjamin.”
“Marjorie, you had a small tear, so you’re going to need some stitches,” the doctor calls out from between her legs. Marjorie had totally forgotten she was there. “Nice deep breath and…” Poke, pull, poke. Marjorie screams.
“Goddamnit, Doc! That hurts!”
“Hang tight. Only a couple more stitches.” Marjorie curses some more. Her eyes dart back to Ben. He remains in the corner like a petrified fawn.
“Get with it!”
“No, you’re not. We lost you at some point after Wilson came out and before the placenta delivered.”
“I saw the placenta.”
“Ma’am, your placenta hasn’t yet…” the doctor tries to interject.
“That’s not the point! Go be with our son!” Marjorie is owl eyed. Ben starts slowly shuffling towards the warmer. “Atta boy.” She cheers. Two minutes later, he has finally completed the ten-foot-journey to his newborn.
“Am I allowed to touch him?” Ben asks. He reaches two fingers out and then retracts them.
“Touch him?” Jamie repeats.
Ben recoils. “Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry.”
Jamie laughs, “I’m kidding. Of course, you’re allowed! He’s your son!”
“My son.” Ben whispers. “My son.” He places one finger right above Wilson’s left eye.
“Oh god, well don’t do that…” Jamie begins and then stops because he has finally made contact.
Meanwhile, the doctor is trying to explain to Marjorie that her placenta is stuck inside her.
“What do you mean ‘stuck’?”
“It doesn’t want to come out.”
“I know what stuck means. Ben, are you listening? What happens next?” Marjorie is screaming again.
“I reach in and pull it out.”
“Pull it OUT?”
“Yes.” The doctor mashes on her belly. “Is that ok?”
“Gah! Do I have a choice? Ben, where are you!” Marjorie closes her eyes and shrieks. “What choice do I have?” The doctor reaches in.
“Look, Marj! I’m holding him!” Ben is sweating under the warmer, awkwardly cradling Wilson. The doctor rips at her insides. Marjorie starts praying. She doesn’t know how to pray. She says some words without cursing and hopes that is good enough.
“Marj? You looking?” Ben is taking tiny steps towards her. “Moving slow, don’t want to trip,” he says sheepishly to Jamie.
“I can’t look, Ben! This hurts!”
“What hurts?” He is still looking at the baby.
“What?” He looks up. “Oh.” Then she screams some more, and then her placenta lays like a bleeding pancake in a plastic bin next to her.
“You’re all done.” The doctor says and starts cleaning up. Ben is slowly moving towards Marjorie’s tear-stained face. Her insides are on fire.
“Holy hell, I swear that I will never…” “Look, honey!” She glares at him and swears. He blinks back. “My son!”
Eesha Dave is an aspiring writer living in Pittsburgh. Currently, she spends most of her time as an ObGyn resident.