A Short Story by Elaine Carlson

"I came to see Janet Mason."

"She doesn't want any visitors."

"I came to help her."

"Ms Mason doesn't want any visitors."

"Mandy!"

So now she knew the girl's name. She followed Mandy as she crossed the living room, went down a hall and into a bedroom. A woman was stretched out on a bed.

"Are you who the Department of Health said they would send?"

"Hello Ms Mason," she said. " I am Beth Downs and here is my card."

"I am glad you came. This has been too long," she said. "The baby should be here by now."

"Labor can take a long time,"she said. "Is this your daughter?"

Now why had she asked that question? She knew it wouldn't be likely for a child not related to a woman in the process of having a baby to be in the house. Janet said her daughter's name was Amanda.

"Hello Mandy," she said. "I am glad to meet you and I hope you can help me when I am taking care of your mother."

"Do you know how to deliver a baby?"

"I am a midwife," she said. "I have been helping women have babies for seventeen years."

"I am pleased to meet you Ms. Downs."

"You can call me Beth." She turned to the mother.

"When did you decide to have a home birth?"

"I can't register at Saint Joseph's," she said."We still owe on our bill for last time."

"Mandy?"

"Brandon," she said. "He is two and Amanda is eight – almost nine."

She said she went to Dr. Carter. And she said her mother and her sister came yesterday at different times to help her. And that her mother is taking care of Brandon. Beth was glad she had prenatal care and the help.

"And Amanda was a big help the whole time I have been in labor."

"It is good you have such a good daughter," Beth said. "Now I would like to examine you."

She grabbed her black bag and put it on a chair. She told Mandy to stand by and that she would ask her for what she needed.

"I want the stethoscope," she said. "It is on the top and it has long tubes."

Mandy took it out and handed it over. Beth listened. She was surprised because the baby was so still. Could it be the baby just wants to rest up a bit before putting in all that effort to be born?

"Janet, you are fully dilated," she said. "But the baby still has to move into place. It is going to be another one or two hours."

She put her hand on Janet's forehead. The woman looked so miserable but she guesssed it was too late to be starting drugs.

"Maybe you would like to sleep," she said. "Let the baby do all the work."

"A nap would be nice," Janet said. "I am so tired."

Beth and Mandy played Uno and talked while Janet slept. Mandy said her favorite subject in school was mathematics and Beth said she had a cousin named Amanda but no one called her Mandy. In an hour Janet yelled out, "I need you. Get here quick."

They rushed to the bedroom. Within five minutes Beth saw the baby's head. She reached out to be able to catch it. Soon she was holding the baby. The baby started to cry. She looked over and saw that Janet was also crying.

"What is it?" Mandy almost shouted, "Is it a boy?"

"No honey. It is a girl."

She put the baby into Janet's hands. In several minutes she picked up the baby and used a handiwipe to clean around the umbilcal cord. She used another one to clean the blades of the scissors.

"Mandy," she said "Do you want to cut the umbilical cord?"

The girl nodded. She gave her the scissors and told her not to touch the blades. She laid the baby on the bed. She held the cord taut between her hands. She felt like a general when she told the girl to cut. She took back the scissors and thanked Mandy.

"What are you going to name her?"

"Rosie," Janet said.

"Mother, can we name her Beth?"

"Rosie was your grandmother's name," the mother said. "We decided if we had a girl to name her after her."

"Please can we name her Beth?"she asked. "Rosie can be a middle name."

"You can call the office tomorrow and tell them the baby's name," Beth said. "And someone will prepare the birth certificate."

As Beth was picking up her things and getting ready to leave she heard Janet saying "Beth Rosie" and "Rosie Beth" over and over. She guessed the woman wanted to figure out what name combination sounded better.

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