As I said yesterday, I felt like putting up two chapters from A New Beginning this week. Chapter 11 was up yesterday and I’m sharing Chapter 12 today, but next week I’ll probably be back to one chapter a week.
As always, this is an initial draft so there will probably be typos, missing words, maybe even plot holes. I take feedback from the blog and other sources to help me rectify those issues, but for now, I’m simply sharing a story for fun.
The cold air stung my nose and face as we rushed toward Daddy’s car, rubbing our arms as we slid inside.
I cranked the heat up in the car and turned the radio on as Emmy wedged herself behind the wheel.
“Ooh, I just love this car,” she cooed as she turned the key in the ignition. “It’s so smooth and shiny and ..” she slide her hands over the dashboard, a dreamy smile on her face. “…new.”
I laughed as she wiggled back and forth in the seat, as if dancing in place.
“Don’t wiggle too much,” I warned. “I don’t want you wiggling that baby out of you in Daddy’s new car.”
Emmy slid the shift lever into drive and laughed. “Oh no. This baby can’t come yet. I still have to finish the nursery.”
As we pulled onto Main Street, Emmy glanced at me and raised an eyebrow. “So,” she said. “Let’s talk about how you feel about seeing Judson out with Sherry.
I rolled my eyes, feeling like I had rolled my eyes more in the last few months than I had in my entire life.
“I know you had hoped to set me up with him, but it doesn’t matter to me who he goes out with.”
Emmy’s raised her eyebrows.
“Excuse me! I was not trying to set you two up!”
I tipped my head slightly. “Really? I’m not naïve little Blanche anymore, remember? I know when my best friend is trying to set me up. You can act innocent if you want but we’ve already discussed the efforts of friends and family trying to find a man for little ole’ Blanche. Seriously, though, why would I care? He’s perfectly welcome to go out with whomever he wants.”
“I don’t know,” Emmy said. “I guess I just thought you looked a little uncomfortable sitting next to him while he sat next to Sherry.”
“Well, sure, I felt uncomfortable. It was their date. I couldn’t figure out why Judson would invite us to sit with them.”
Emmy smirked, that blasted one eyebrow still raised. “Hmmm…maybe because he realized how much he’d rather have been on a date with you instead of Sherry when he saw you standing there in the lobby of the theater looking so lovely.”
“Emmy . . .”
“What? It’s possible. My cousin doesn’t share a lot with me, but he did ask me quite a few questions about you after he met you in the fall.”
“I know, Emmy, you told me, but I’m sure he was simply being polite.”
“I’m fairly certain he was being more than polite. . .”
“Well, if he had been, he wouldn’t be on a date with Sherry would he?”
Now it was Emmy’s turn to roll her eyes. “Blanche, it doesn’t help that you avoid him at every chance . . .”
“Who told you that?”
“I’m not blind, Blanch,” Emmy said. “I’ve watched you purposely switch seats at church. A month ago, I watched you from the window of our office walk to the other side of the street when you saw him walking toward you from the diner. You’re clearly trying to avoid him, but I don’t think you’re trying to avoid him because you don’t like him. I think you like him much more than you want to admit.”
I looked at the snow starting to cover the road in front of us. “And I think you should focus more on driving and less on concocting conspiracy theories.”
Emmy’s laugh faded into a strained wince as she hunched slightly over the steering wheel.
I laid my hand against her shoulder. “you okay?”
“Just a slight cramp. I’m sure it’s just Braxton Hicks. No big deal. And don’t change the subject. Admit it. You’re avoiding Judson because you’re attracted to him and you’re-”
Emmy grimaced and bit her lower lip. Her grip had tightened on the steering wheel and I noticed her knuckles were white.
“Something is going on, Emmy. What is it?”
Emmy gasped and glanced toward the floor of the car. “Oh Blanche, I think something is wrong.”
“What do you mean something is wrong?” I asked Emmy, watching her face lose color.
“I just felt something – weird . . .”
“What?! What did you feel?”
“Like something – something – popped . . . where it shouldn’t.”
“Was there a rush of water?”
“I don’t know.” She looked at the seat between her legs as she drove. “I think so. Oh no! The seat is soaked! What do I do, Blanche!”
A cold chill shuddered through me but I tried to stay calm. I knew we still had plenty of time, even if her water had broke.
“You stay calm, first,” I said. “It’s going to be fine. We have some time. Babies don’t come as soon as the water breaks. Just keep driving and we’ll head straight to labor and delivery and I’ll call Sam when we get there.
Emmy’s face paled and I knew I had to change the subject as quickly as possible.
“Let’s talk about something else,” I said quickly.
“Like what?! The weather?!” I could tell Emmy was panicking.
I looked out at the snowflakes swirling in front of us and the haze settling on the mountain tops around us. The snow was starting to pile up on the edges of the pavement and the road was wet now.
“Um…maybe not. How about the movie. Did you like it?”
“Blanche! I am about to give birth in your dad’s new car if I don’t get to the hospital! Paul Newman kissing Shirley MacClaine is not what I want to think about right now.”
“Right. Well . . . how about we talk about our plans for this summer?”
Emmy’s face had contorted in a grimace and her foot was tapping the break. “Blanche, I have a horrible pain. Is this normal?”
Now I was starting to panic. Why was she asking me what was normal? I’d only had one baby. I wasn’t the labor expert.
“Yes. It’s normal,” I assured her, deciding not to mention this probably meant her contractions had started already. “It’s going to be fine. This is just the very early stages of labor.”
The fact her contractions seemed to already be starting so soon after her water broke was alarming to me but I didn’t want her to know I was anything but confident that we’d make it to the hospital.
“Was that a contraction?! It was, wasn’t it?! Isn’t that what you have when you’re in actual labor?”
“Yes, but they will be far away to start with and then get closer together. There is plenty of time.”
“Blanche, you have to drive. I can’t drive if I’m going to be having these waves of pain.”
I felt anxious about driving in the snow, but I knew Emmy was right. I started to agree with her and tell her to get out so I could climb in the driver’s side but she rambled on, apparently determined to convince me.
“There’s nothing to it. You’ve driven a tractor before. I’ve seen you. I know you can drive a car. I’ll tell you how to shift the gears if we need to. It’s just I don’t know if I can keep driving because of the -” She grimaced. “The discomfort I’m having.”
My heart was pounding faster. “Emmy, I can drive. Don’t worry about that but, please, oh, please don’t have this baby in the car. In Daddy’s car.”
“I know it’s your daddy’s car,” Emmy said through clenched teeth. “Let’s stop talking about it being Alan Robbin’s new car. I am not having my baby in your daddy’s car.” She pulled the car to the side of the road and slid it into park. I quickly jumped out and ran around the front of the car, as she slid to the passenger side.
My hands were shaking as I hooked the seatbelt and placed my hands on the steering wheel. I knew I could drive the car fine at a reasonable speed, but a reasonable speed wasn’t what we needed right now. I needed to get Emmy to the hospital in Sawyer quickly and that was a 40-minute drive.
“Blanche, what –“ Emmy gasped again. “I mean, how close –” Her words started coming out between winces. “How close are contractions supposed to be?”
I glanced at her as she gritted her teeth and clutched the door handle. “You need to breathe slowly through each contraction,” I told her, something I had learned only after I had had Jackson.
I wish I had known it before. Her contractions seemed too close together so soon after her water broke. I wondered if we would even make it to the hospital. What was I going to do? I didn’t know how to deliver a baby. I’d read about women having babies in many of the books I had read and one time a lady gave birth on Gunsmoke, but the show didn’t show what actually happened.
“I don’t know how to deliver a baby!” I blurted, as if stating that fact out loud was going to help the situation.
“You’ve had one!”
“Yes, but I was on the other end!”
Beads of sweat dotted Emmy’s forehead as she let out a long breath and pushed herself up a little in the seat.
“You might not have to worry about it,” she said, her expression relaxing and her breathing beginning to slow down some. “I think the contractions are slowing down now.”
I let out my own deep breath. “Thank, God.”
I started making a mental list of what we would need to do once we arrived at the hospital, besides walking Emmy through the emergency room to labor and delivery. I would need to make some phone calls. Sam for one.
“Where is Sam today? We’ll need to call him when we get to the hospital.”
“I’m not sure. He’s on assignment somewhere in the western part of the county. Honestly, I was a little worried about it. Some guy that’s been running a burglary ring has been on the loose in a really remote area. They were backing up the state police to try to arrest him. I was hoping he’d be home when we got there.”
“Well, let’s hope he is so he can head up to the hospital to be with you.”
“I hope so.” I heard Emmy’s voice crack as she spoke.
I reached over and took her hand in mine. “It’s going to be okay, Emmy. You can do this.”
She nodded but tears were streaking her face. “I’m scared, Blanche.”
I tried to sound confident, even though I was afraid too. “Nothing to be afraid of. Women have babies every day.”
I glanced at Emmy and she caught my eye. I knew we were both thinking about Edith and the baby she’d lost.
“Women have healthy, beautiful babies every single day and you’re going to be one of those women,” I said firmly.
Emily nodded but closed her eyes against the tears. When I glanced at her again her face seemed even more pale that before, her eyebrows furrowed, and I could tell another contraction had hit.
“It’s going to be fine.” My words were aimed at reassuring us both.
We drove for several moments in silence as Emmy focused on breathing through the contractions and I focused on the road, which was now covered with a thin layer of snow; the sight sending fear shivering through me. My foot gently tapped the brake as a deer darted across the road in front of us. I knew deer always traveled in groups and continued to drive slow in case another one decided to cross.
I drew on my mother’s advice for how to face fear and began to recite Bible verses about peace and God’s protection as the snow began to fall faster, forcing me to lift my foot off the accelerator and focus on the lines in the middle of the road.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Umm.. Umm…” I paused, trying to think of another verse. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Emmy cried out in pain. I reached out to take her hand again and winced as she squeezed it hard.
“But now, this is what the Lord says…” Her grip loosened slightly. “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
The windshield wipers were barely keeping up with the snow now. I pulled my hand from Emmy’s and turned the wipers to the highest setting.
“Blanche . . .”
“We’re going to be there soon,” I said, though I knew we had at least 20 more minutes to drive and even longer if the weather got worse.
“Blanche! I think I feel . . . something is happening!”
“Emmy, you can’t . . .”
“This baby is coming!”
“I’m not trying to!”
My eyes darted along the road as I drove, desperate to find a house or at least a place to pull off. I should have stopped somewhere earlier to call Sam, or my parents or Mr. and Mrs. Stanton, anyone, but there weren’t many places to stop between Dalton and Sawyer and we’d already blown by the road to my house into desperation to get Emmy to the hospital.
Now we were in the proverbial middle of nowhere with miles and miles of nothing but trees and empty fields flying by in a blur. A small dirt road appeared in front of us and I gently moved the car to the end of it, slamming it into park as I turned my attention to the crying Emmy. I’d been denying the baby was coming for 20 minutes but I knew it was time to accept this was really happening. Emmy was going to give birth to her baby in my daddy’s new car and I had to focus, even though my mind was racing and images of all that could go wrong were forming faster than I could dismiss them.
“Can you move your legs?” I asked. “You’re going to need to turn and put them up here so we can see just what’s happening.”
I wasn’t even sure if getting a better look would help me know what was happening. When I was 11, I’d watched our cat give birth on Daddy’s side of the bed. Daddy had been equally horrified and in awe. I had to wonder how he’d feel about Emmy now giving birth in his red and white shiny and new Olds. I imagined his reaction would be similar to the one he’d had when we’d all stood and stared at Mittens – though he probably wouldn’t mutter plans for revenge on Emmy like he had Mittens. I knew watching Emmy give birth would be nothing like watching Mittens and trembled as terror gripped me.
I helped Emmy lean back against the door, her legs facing me as we worked to slide her undergarments and hose off.
“Blanche! We can’t do this here!”
“We’re going to have to. The baby’s head is there!”
I smiled at Emmy, even though my heart was pounding so hard I could hear it in my ears and feel it in my throat. “Lots of dark hair!”
When Emmy bore down the rest of the head emerged and I cupped my hands around it but then it disappeared again.
“You have to push!”
Emmy was crying, her breath coming out in short panicked gasps.
“Emmy! Look at me! You have to slow your breathing or you could pass out. Don’t look away from me.”
I had to think of some way to get her to focus.
“God, help me,” I prayed silently.
I leaned close to Emmy as an idea came to me. “I want you to focus on me and say ‘I can do all things through Christ.’ Say it over and over if you have to but those are the only words I want you to think about. Got it?”
Emmy nodded, her face soaked with tears.
I tightened my hand on her knee and looked her in the eye.
“Say it, now!”
Emmy sobbed, her hair matted against her forehead with sweat. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” she whimpered, her eyes clenched closed.
“Look at me!”
She looked at me, tightening her jaw.
“Say it again.”
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”
“Now, push down right now like you’re going to poop.”
If it had been under different circumstances I know Emmy and I would have laughed at the poop comment but we didn’t have time. Emmy tightened her jaw again, kept her eyes on me and bore down.
I felt a tiny head and shoulders against my hands.
Emmy screamed and pushed again but the rest of the baby still wasn’t out yet.
After two more pushes I was holding a wet, heavy and warm baby girl in my hands.
“It’s a girl, Emmy! It’s Faith!”
The baby was solid, slippery and motionless.
Panic ripped through me. Why wasn’t Emmy’s baby moving? The gray color of her skin was terrifying. Images of Edith holding a limp, grey colored baby in her arms flashed through my mind and I began to sob.
God, please. No.
I could tell Emmy was tired, but she was also starting to realize something wasn’t right.
“Blanche. Why isn’t she crying? Don’t babies usually cry?”
Yes. Babies usually cried and this baby wasn’t crying.
“God, help me, please.”