The labor had begun in the midday and went on well into the night. Doctor Joseph Defaria had left his wife in the care of the young maid when it first began and took a horse to collect the town midwife. She had just finished a delivery and though tired was willing to perform another. He helped her up onto the horse behind him and they rode off back towards the manor.
By the time they arrived, the maid had gotten Lady Martha Defaira adjusted and as comfortable as she could be in bed and was leading her in controlled breathing. Her face was red and her sweat drenched hair lay plastered to her forehead. Joseph walked up beside his wife and brushed away the hair from her face with a hand.
“Joseph” she said quietly, a little of the pain she was feeling leaking into her voice.
“Yes my darling” he said, taking her warm hand in his cool one.
“You were gone so long” she said slowly.
“I’m here now. I just went to get the midwife.” As he spoke the midwife ordered the maid about to get supplies and began to prepare for the delivery. “Our baby will be here in no time.”
Hours later found him in nearly the same position beside his wife with her hand in his. The maid was on her other side with her other hand. She gripped both tightly and her face scrunched up with pain as the midwife instructed her to push. Her efforts seemed futile from her point of view especially considering the hours she had been making them, but the midwife assured her it was doing some good.
“I need you to push real hard for me now, dearie” said the midwife. “I can see the head.”
“Thank the heavens” Martha managed to breathe out between large gulps of air and contractions.
“Keep going, you’re doing good” the midwife said. “The baby’s head is nearly out now. Just a few more good pushes and you’ll have your baby.”
“You can do it” Joseph said, giving her hand a squeeze. “I’m here. You can do this.”
She pushed and pushed and finally the baby was out and in the midwife’s hands.
“It’s a girl!” said the midwife as the new father took a knife and cut the cord.
As he took his child into his arms a pained sound came from his wife and her body shook with another large contraction. He gave the baby back to the midwife and requested she
“Take the child. Clean and swaddle her. I will handle my wife.”
The midwife made a hrmph noise, but took the baby anyway and began to clean the leftover fluids from the birth from the child. Once she had turned away, Joseph knelt between his wife’s legs to inspect and determine the cause of such a contraction. As he suspected another head was beginning to crown so soon after the first babe had been born. Though it was something he knew how to do and had done before he didn’t usually deliver babies. That was the midwife’s job. However he wanted to deliver this baby himself.
“I need you to give me a push, Martha” he said softly.
“Joseph, I don’t know if I can” she said.
“Of course you can” he replied. “You’ve already done this once, this is the easy part.”
She wasn’t sure she believed him, but she pushed anyway through the pain and exhaustion. He smiled up at her and realizing she couldn’t quite see him he placed a hand on her thigh reassuringly.
“Keep going, she’s almost out” said Joseph.
“She?” she asked, but he didn’t respond. “Joseph?”
“Just keep pushing, darling.”
She did as he said and pushed as hard as she could. Pushing him to answer her wasn’t worth it. Joseph reached inside her to help ease the child out and relieve her of some of the effort. With one final push the second baby was born. Quickly he wrapped the baby up in a blanket and put her in his wife’s arms.
“Beautiful,” Martha crooned as she cradled the child. The midwife who had finished cleaning and swaddling the first child brought her over and placed her in the new mother’s arms as well. She looked up at her husband in exhausted bliss and asked, “Both girls?”
Joseph glanced over at the midwife and then over at the maid who was still standing to the side of his wife before answering.
“Yes, both girls.”
With a relieved sigh, she sunk back into the bed and closed her eyes.
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