OK, I admit I’m totally off task today but I’ve chosen to continue the “lost” theme for the serial we started on Day 4 of Writing 101 rather than change it to “found”. My task is unfinished, it’s a 3 part serial after all.
The little girl rode along the footpath near her home, not fast, just enjoying the day, which was lucky. She wouldn’t have seen it if she’d been in a rush to go somewhere but the leisurely pace meant she noticed the small oval item lying on the ground beside the path. She stopped, straddled the bike and reached down for it. A small medal showing detailed relief of a man carrying a small child on his shoulder. Clutching it in her fist she rode home and showed the housekeeper who told her it was a St Christopher, the patron saint of travellers. The idea of someone looking out for you as you travelled appealed to the girl and for several years she kept the medal safe in a box with shells and other little treasures.
The time came for her to leave home and rather than abandon the medal with her childhood trinkets she put it in her wallet. It was with her when she lived in small country towns and when she travelled to large cities. It stayed with her when she travelled through small countries and across large continents until eventually it came back with her to Australia.
As wallets wore out and were replaced the medal found a new home in the new wallet until the day an angry young man wrenched open a filing cabinet and stole the wallet. The medal was gone.
My children were born in a hospital where midwives did the deliveries, a doctor was only brought in if there were problems.
We lived in a small town which could be cut off from the city in bad weather so pregnant women were sent to the city on their due date. I’d been in the hospital for ten days, getting out of bed at 7:00 so everything could be made spick and span before the doctors did their rounds. No sitting on the made beds until after the doctors had left the ward. The sheer boredom of the day was only broken by meals being brought in and chats with the other women in the same situation. Because of the distance none of us were able to have visitors everyday so I was excited when labour finally started. The excitement didn’t last, it was replaced by pure misery.
It was my first child and I had no idea how things would be. There were no antenatal classes where we lived and no pregnant women’s groups. Birth was just a natural part of life, thousands of women gave birth every hour didn’t they? It had to be simple but it wasn’t. After hours that seemed like a lifetime full of fear and pain I heard the midwife say to the nurse, “You’d better get Dr.Mackay up.” She sounded resigned to failure.
When the pains were really bad I’d tried to use the gas but I didn’t know how and my hands cramped into claws. I’d tried to do everything they said, to push when they told me to push but they’d said I was doing it wrongly and I was just going to burst blood vessels on my face. I’d moaned, “Oh God” and the midwife had sharply told me “We’ll have none of that!” It went on and on until I thought they could just have the baby if they’d let me out of there. Set me free of it all. I no longer cared that I’d carried my child for 9 months and endured awful morning, afternoon and evening sickness. I just wanted out. If only they would make it all end. Then I heard those words and I knew things were going badly.
From somewhere deep inside I found the strength I desperately needed. I pushed and pushed until my baby was born. The midwife said it was a girl and took her where I couldn’t see then I heard a tiny cry and relief washed over me. A white, porcelain doll with two little purple veins showing on her forehead was put into my arms. Like me she was fine, just exhausted. I felt I was the cleverest woman on earth.
Perhaps if I hadn’t overheard the midwife’s aside to the nurse the outcome would have been tragically different.