Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Calm After the Storm - (Ch. 26)

"What do I do? Who do I call?"  Francisco said as he jumped around putting on his pants.  "We are not in Mexico Francisco!  You cannot run out and get the midwife down the block!"  Mauricia screamed in pain.  "I will go find Humberto to drive us into town to find a midwife or doctor."  Francisco ran out the door and immediately ran back in.  "Mauricia!  It's snowing!" Francisco shouted. "Oh no!" Mauricia gasped in disappointment.  Francisco grabbed his coat and boots and fumbled for his hat and ran back out.  Moments later he came back with a groggy Humberto who was able to convince Jimmy to let him borrow the truck. 
"It's six in the morning let's go!" ordered Humberto.  Francisco picked up Mauricia and was dragging her to the truck.  Mauricia was telling Teresa to watch the children and Senora Mendoza was going to stay with them until she returned.  Mauricia grabbed pieces of newspaper from a box and stuffed her dress to protect her from the cold weather.  "Adios Mama, I'll be good."  Teresa promised.

Mauricia, Francisco, and Humberto pushed forward against the snow.  The ground was covered in white.   It took a couple of tries before the truck started and they were on their way to town. Mauricia clenched her belly as she concentrated on the road. Francisco held onto Mauricia's arms frightened by the sight of white. "Ay Francisco, stop gripping so hard, you are hurting me!" Mauricia yelled as she shook her arms. "Ay, I'm sorry Mauricia, this is new to me, not the birth, but all of this!"  "Let me drive in peace please!" begged Humberto.

"Clackity Clack! Pop!" the truck sputtered.  Humberto kept pushing the gas and rocked back and forth as if he was willing the truck to keep going.  "No, no, no!" Humberto chanted through gritted teeth.  Then the truck stopped.  Mauricia started crying uncontrollably and Humberto hit the steering wheel.  "Do you know where we are Humberto?" asked Francisco.  Yes, we are close to the black bridge, Route 2.  "Can you help me get her there? I can run the next couple of miles for help."  Francisco suggested.  Humberto looked at him and said, "I can help you get her to the bridge."  Both men scrambled as they held Mauricia up and walked as fast as they could to the bridge.  Francisco remembered the bridges underpass could help alleviate the snowfall on Mauricia. 
"I am not going to make it!  Ahhhh!!" as Mauricia screamed.  Francisco spotted the bridge up ahead and told her, "Mauricia we are almost there and then I can get help for you."  They noticed flickering light as they approached the bridge.  The light came from barrels lit with fire.  From the dust of white, dark shadows emerged.  Francisco's hand moved toward his back pocket for his knife, just in case.  Two african american men and a woman were also getting protection from the snow under the bridge.  He sighed a breath of relief and laid Mauricia down at one end under the bridge.  "Please, don't leave me Francisco, please!"  Mauricia begged.  Mauricia's body hunched over as she pulled him down by his shirt and said, "I think the baby is coming!"  Humberto yelled at the men and woman and asked them if they had any rags they could spare.  The men rolled the metal barrel over to Mauricia for warmth and the woman had several sheets she showed Humberto.  Humberto and the two other men stood far away as they were afraid of the sight they would witness. 

The woman held Mauricia's hand as Francisco knelt in front of her in disbelief as she positioned herself to give birth.  "What am I doing?  I cannot do this woman, I am not a doctor!"  Francisco yelled.  Mauricia instructed Francisco, "I have assisted several births and I will tell you what to expect!  Ay Dios mio, I need to push!"  Within moments Mauricia heaved and pushed forward as the woman held her back.  Francisco kept brushing away sweat from his face even though it was cold.  Mauricia pushed again and Francisco told her he could see the head.  Before he could tell her what else he could see the baby slid out.  Immediately, Francisco caught the baby and the woman helped him wrap it in the sheets and put it in Mauricia's arms and shoved it in her coat.  "Mauricia, what the hell, there is an intestine hanging off of it!"  Francisco exclaimed.  Mauricia regained her strength and told him, "that is the umbilical chord, you need to cut it and tie a knot."  Francisco looked at Humberto and he said, "You idiot, you have a knife in your back pocket, remember?"  He pulled the knife out and Mauricia showed him where to cut and tie the knots. 

After one of the greatest experiences of his life, Francisco sat next to Mauricia to make sure she was fine, her eyes were closed as she rested.  Humberto had snuck away to town to get help.  Francisco tried to peek underneath Mauricia's coat to see the baby.  "It's a girl." Mauricia whispered. He caught a glimpse of the baby and she was light skinned and a head full of hair.  "She reminds me of my mother."  Mauricia smiled. "Light and freckly."  "What are we going to name her?" he asked.  Mauricia looked at him and said, "you had a lot to do with saving me from drowning, you saved us and then helped bring her into this world.   What do you think about Maria Francisca?"  Francisco looked at his callused hands and thought for a moment and said, "I agree, Maria Francisca she will be" as his eyes began to water.
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