“You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” — Mother Teresa
Sarah’s ears rang to the shrieking sound of her exhaling lungs. Her head was doused in sweat, glistening her pulsating temples. She could see the tip of the doctor’s head before her, covered with a blue cap. The rest of his face was shrouded by a white sheet held up by her parted legs.
“You’re doing well, Mrs Donovan,” the doctor said as if he wanted to believe it. Sarah had to fight from spraying the room with expletives. How can a second baby hurt more than the first? The thought was awful. She never liked the c-word, but pushing out a watermelon sure does call for it.
“Get this fucking thing out of me!”
The exhaustion swallowed her mind. She drew raspy breaths as her mind wandered.
What was it the shrink said? Surrogacy is not an easy decision? As if Sarah didn’t know what she was doing. What a way to point out the fucking obvious. She imagined John and Rob sitting outside this ward clutching each other’s clammy hands. A perfect gay couple. Did they get the same meaningless statement about surrogacy? As if they didn’t consider it long enough? Shrinks are great at telling —
“Arrrggghh,” Sarah screamed.
A contraction ripped through her belly like a hot claw. Someone nearby was telling her to push for the 25th time. Perhaps some girl out there once gave birth and thought it was better to hold it in. Fucking moron. Sarah clenched the cushioned poles on her birthing chair, took a deep breath and expelled everything. Well, not everything. She already expelled her bowels twenty minutes ago, which the nurse said was very common. Are people naturally stupid these days? What else can you expect when exerting all your energy to push out a baby? When she gave birth to Adam, her now 20-year-old son, she did it twice. And yet, considering all the dignity she relinquished for him, he only feels the need to call her as rarely as possible. Ain’t life a bitch. Perhaps Rob was right, though. She did love her career a little too much. But without her career, Adam wouldn’t have had —
“Just one more push, Mrs Donovan.” It can’t be. Adam’s birth took longer than this. At least another hour. But Sarah won’t complain. One less moment spent pushing this baby out was another moment of peace and quiet. She didn’t even bother with the cushioned poles this time. She just clenched her fists and pushed. After several seconds of persistent screaming, Sarah felt the last bit of warmth slip through the walls of her vagina. Her head sunk into the pillow as her body collapsed into the chair. It’s finally over. Well, at least the contractions were. Rob and John still had to cut the cord — the perfect way to end this transaction. Sarah heard the nearby door swing open as her eyes rested on the ceiling. A fresh breeze swept across her expended vulva, perking her senses. A baby cried nearby. And all Sarah could do was wait, while all her dignity went to waste. Again.
“He’s beautiful,” she heard. It was Rob. Soothing.
The umbilical cord began to shiver.
“Hold my hand,” she heard John say. “Let’s do it together.”
The cord trailing out of her birth canal quivered with anticipation until Sarah heard the snip. She could feel how different this was, compared to her first. At least this time she won’t be the parent.
Her eyes finally left the ceiling to focus on the midwife holding the baby next to her. She didn’t want to develop any feelings. A few weeks ago, the shrink told her that she should at least touch it after she asked Rob and John to hold the baby first. Nevertheless, Sarah reached up and collected the baby’s left hand. It was pudgy and wet. After a few seconds of caressing, she then focused her eyes on the two dads nearby.
“Come here,” Sarah asked them as the baby clutched her index finger. It reminded her of a previous birth, which made her weep and smile. She guided the baby to their outstretched hands and the midwife helped. When Rob and John collected the baby, she felt the tiny hand clutching her finger let go. And now, as they played the happy family, all she could do was wait.