However, there really, truly is a book titled HID FROM OUR EYES slowly coming together, and in the spirit of the season, when many of us celebrate a special birth, here's a spoiler-free look at another birth that takes place as a flashback in the upcoming novel. In this scene, Margy Van Alstyne arrives at the St. Alban's offices to discover things have gotten an early start for her daughter-in-law...
“I understand,” the church secretary was saying, her normally smooth voice fraying around the edges. “But you need to listen to me. His wife is in labor. You've got to get a message to him. That's all. Just take him a God--” she bit herself off. “No. No. I'll call back in five minutes to see.” She hung up the phone. “Oh, Mrs. Van Alstyne. Thank God. Can you drive Clare to the hospital?”
Margy dumped the containers on Lois's desk. “I was just talking to her on the phone! What on earth happened?”
“Her water broke. She's in her office with Deacon de Groot. She says she'll have hours yet, so there's no rush to get to the hospital, for heaven's sake.” Margie could hear her daughter-in-law's southern cadences in Lois' recounting. “Maybe you can talk some sense into her.”
“How often are her pains coming?”
“Every four minutes.”
“I know, I know! I'm trying to reach Russ, but he's testifying in court today, and I'm having a hard time persuading this idiot deputy to interrupt while they're in session.”
“You keep trying. I'll take care of her.” Braxton-Hicks my Aunt Fanny.
In her office, Clare was leaning over her cluttered desk, braced on her hands, panting. The Rev. Elizabeth de Groot, her deacon, was pushing against the small of Clare's back with one hand and holding a watch with the other. “Hello, Mrs. Van Alstyne,” she said, no differently than if Margy had arrived for Bible study. Clare let out a moan. “Keep doing your breathing, Clare.”
Finally Margy's daughter-in-law let out a long exhale and straightened up. “Forty seconds,” Elizabeth announced.
“Oh, Margy.” Clare was hot-cheeked. Her enormous black blouse, complete with white clerical collar, was creased and damp around the edges.
Margy gave her as much of a hug as she could. “You're coming with me to the hospital, and you're not going to argue about it.”
“But the first stage of labor takes eight to twelve hours! They said so in Lamaze class!”
Margy and Elizabeth exchanged glances. “Clare, sweetie.” Margy used the same tone of voice she would have talking to a not-very-bright child. “That's the average. Some women take more time. Some women take less. It looks like you're in the less camp.”
“A lot less,” Elizabeth said.
“But Russ isn't here! I don't have my bag packed. I haven't got my music for labor!”
“Clare, if you don't get going right now, this baby's going to arrive in less time than it takes to play the Doxology.”
“Elizabeth's right, sweetie. Russell will meet us at the hospital. Let's go. There's a good girl.”
Clare had two more contractions before they got her in the car and another two by the time Margy had reached the Washington County ER. While an attendant was helping Clare into a wheelchair – over her protests that she didn't need one – Margy called the church.
“I got a hold of him,” Lois said. “He's on his way.”
“That the first stage of labor lasts eight to twelve hours, so Clare shouldn't be this far along yet.”
“Good grief. What do they teach them in those birthing classes nowadays?”
“Not statistical analysis, I'm guessing.”
What do you think? I confess, I got the "first stage of labor" thing from real life. When our first, the Smithie, was on the way, I went into labor at eight in the evening. Ross rushed me to the hospital, all the while assuring me we had hours to go, etc. My first internal exam revealed I was already almost completely dilated! I'll never forget my husband's face, as he pulled out his notes from Lamaze class to show the OB nurse I couldn't give birth yet. Despite very clear information to the contrary, the Smithie arrived just two hours after my labor started. I never did get to listen to my special birthing music tape.
Do you have any birth stories to share, dear readers?