Flash: Labor

Natalie gripped Kryler’s hand so tight, he felt bones move out of position. Finally, the contraction released and his wife’s quick panting filled the room. Grabbing a tissue, he moved to the head of the bed to dab her sweat-covered face. If he could take the pain from her, he would. Instead he did what every man has ever done, offer external support while covering all his internal worry.

Their daughter was coming too soon, nearly a month early after weeks of spotting. The doctors had sentenced Natalie to bed rest for most of the final trimester to reduce stress, and discovered instead her levels went through the roof.

When her job first found out she was pregnant, they pulled her off the fast track and moved her into the mommy track.

Not officially.

But the Spanish classes, they had been underwriting. Poof. So, sorry, budget cuts. Strangely no one else was removed from the tuition program. The mentoring program changed her mentor to “better suit her personality.” The vice president with whom she lunched weekly was assigned a new protégé and Natalie’s new support person was a manager in the customer service department where he worked. Wasn’t even the best customer service manager, but the one restricted to nights because there was less to screw up. The one he worked under.

His ball-busting, type-A, inferno of ambition stormed into HR and nailed the director to wall. All her privileges were restored within hours. Her vice president, reassured of her dedication, was leveraging a special project for her to head as soon as her maternity leave was over.

Bedrest had pulled her away from the moving and shaking. And she stewed. The doctors eventually relented and let her work half-days in the office, if he drove her in, and the balance of the day remoteing in. Her stress levels dropped to manageable levels.

Her breathing took on a regular pattern.

“My fireball.”  She was the most beautiful, bravest, incredible person he ever known. He leaned over and kissed her, barely brushing her lips from his upside down position.

Natalie smiled weakly. “You really shouldn’t have turned in your resignation yet.”

Always figuring the best angle, the best benefit. He shook his head at his wonderful wife. “Two weeks notice. Gives you time to recover and then I will be home with the baby.”

“You sure you want to stay home? I’m sure we could get your mom to sit.”

Walking back to the side of the bed, Kryler removed the ice water glass the nurse had dropped off last time she passed through the labor room from the bed stand and placed the straw on Natalie’s lips. “I’m sure. We just about have Rodger’s Retrieval ready, and the guys already are bouncing ideas for our next game around. Can’t wait to start animating it. Trust me. Between the game and the baby, I will not be bored.” He smiled at her confidentially.

Suddenly her eyes grew round. Dropping the glass, Kryler nearly missed the surface of the stand. He pushed the glass until it was balanced.

Natalie’s hands unerringly found his as another contraction took her.

He looked at the clock as she screamed in pain. Too long. Had she been in labor too long? He had no reference.

(words 549 – originally appearing at Breathless Press 9/9/2013 for the 5/20/12 Sunday Fun (original picture of unknown copyright, so not copied here); republished in new blog format 2/25/2018)