~ Upon seeing a statue of a naked woman described in the end of the short story below, at an Art Museum in the mid 90's, I was moved by her demeanor. The tear which teetered on the rim of her left eye, told me she had a story she wanted to tell.... immediately I sensed her story brewing deep within. When I got home, the following story seemed to write itself. I soon realized... the story which unfolded before me... was similar to an experience of faith I had a few years earlier. An answer to a prayer... I hoped to see the raising of the dead someday... the reality was nothing like I imagined. Although the time, place and names are fictional... the actual birth experience which is described in part below is true... as experienced and remembered from my own perspective. My role in the story is that of Nettie Mae. ~
tossed her handmade shawl over the small ram horn, she used as a hook in her mud
room. Stripping down completely before entering the kitchen she
tossed her blood stained garments in the basin to soak. This was her routine
since becoming an assistant to Laura, a midwife.
by the coldness of the early hour she put wood in the cook stove and drew water
from the kitchen pump, to warm for her bath. After making a pot of coffee she
pulled her favorite stool closer to the warmth of the fire and sat waiting in
the solitude, completely exhausted. Vivid memories of a crisis earlier
that day flashed before her....
six hours is a long time to be in labor isn't
was silent except for Rosalie's moaning. A sense of powerlessness enveloped
everyone as she lay there exhausted, unable to work with her contractions
turned to Nettie Mae, "She's too weak. I want you to get behind Rosalie
on the bed and hold her against you. You’re going to have to be her
Mae moved into position placing Rosalie between her legs, her hands firmly
on Rosalie's stomach, enabling her to feel the contractions. Bringing
her own body in sync with Rosalie's she whispered, "Rosie, breath with me.
Relax and let your body become one with mine. We'll get through this
struggling to cooperate, moaned, "Can't go on... too tired."
thought of the foul weather outside as she heard Laura's cool
insistence, "Work with her Rosalie."
made a feeble attempt, for the sake of her baby. After a few more contractions,
she was able to draw energy from Nettie Mae as the two women worked
together as one.
was relieved "Good girl Rosalie, you're doing fine."
continued to sooth her, wiping her sweaty brow, speaking more for the sake
her to lean back Nettie," directed Laura as she examined the woman more
closely with the lantern.
to repress a look of horror on her face once she saw the dangling
umbilical cord ... Laura's voice could not hide her intense fear,
"We need to get her into a crouching position Nettie. We've got to get this
baby out now. We have a prolapsed cord!"
was inevitable. Friends praying silent heartfelt prayers in the back of the room
pressed in more intently daring to believe God for a miracle.
unnatural strength, Nettie Mae flipped the heavy woman over as if she were a
lifeless rag doll. She positioned Rosalie so her arms were draping
over her shoulders enabling her to squat. Nettie Mae felt
another contraction as their stomachs met.
Laura's hands were inside pulling the baby out. Rosalie slumped forward in
relief... unaware of the present crisis. She moaned in anticipation begging
for the removal of the placenta, as her contractions continued.
After 5 daughters... they hoped for a son.
was gray, his body drained of color. He was limp… there was no evidence of
life. It was explained later, that as the baby came down the birth canal, it had
swallowed embryonic fluid and his head had pressed against the dangling
umbilical cord while passing through, cutting off his oxygen supply.
resolve to fight for the life of this little one, defying logic overcame
Nettie Mae. It was as if she too had carried this baby. With words she'll
always remember, she heard herself urging the parents to speak to the spirit of
their child and to call him back from the realm of death.
to your son! Call him by name, tell him you love him. Tell him how long you have
waited for a son. Tell him how much you want him to live." she persevered.
one final plea, Rosalie unconscious of the battle with death around
her, finally collapsed in complete exhaustion.
seemed to hear her, so Nettie Mae commanded, "Speak to your baby, urge him
to choose life."
from a place of bewilderment,
unexplainable peace had come over Nettie Mae, which energized
everyone as she continued urging with great faith. It was as if God
was challenging each of them through her, "Don't let death have this
little one... only believe."
Rosalie's voice broke through, bringing with it the love she and Logan shared
for their lifeless child, "our precious son."
spoke with an unwavering calm, which soothed the atmosphere. Upon hearing
his Mother’s voice, their son responded by vomiting out the fluid he had
swallowed. Without delay, Laura cleared Julian's throat and nose and began
to gently breathe into his mouth as if she were breathing in the very breath of
God. Gradually Julian started breathing on his own. Although he quietly
whimpered for hours, he was going to be fine.
was brought back to the present by the echo of a whistling train rushing
through the hills beyond her sheep pasture. The savory aroma of coffee was
calling her, but she did not move. She longed to scrub every inch of her
weary body, but something kept her seated, staring unfocused.
overcome with gratitude for the gift of life she had witnessed once again. This
was a sacred moment and she started to sing a song of thankfulness and adoration
to her God, as was her habit, but she soon discovered, today mere words would
never be enough. They were replaced by a tear which teetered on the rim of
her eye, as she understood today they had observed no ordinary miracle.