The labor was no more or less difficult than any other. It might have come a day early or been a day late, there was little science in due dates. Breathing and pushing. Groaning. The same old story. A painful moan. A worn out grunt. The mother, you could see, was growing understandably weary. How long had she been at this? And had she expected to do it alone? The only thing that kept her going was the sense that the next push could be the last. That, and perhaps the unrealized certainty that she didn’t want it left there, stuck half in, half out. By the time the head finally presented it took only a few more determined thrusts before the newborn slid out and dropped to the muddy earth. The moaning ceased. For a time-warping instant the two of them, mother and baby, tried to understand this perplexing new universe that now, for the first time, had the other one in it. Instinctively the mother moved toward the tiny newborn who was still wrinkled with trauma and wonder, still somewhat paralyzed by its own exhausting journey; still laying on the ground.
Nose to nose the pair introduced themselves. There was no name for the baby on the mother’s lips, just unattributed gladness for having survived the long pregnancy and the birth. The baby didn’t know what to want first.
The infant, still wet with its mother’s juices, was lifted by a pair of leathery hands. They had been watching her after all. She tried at first to stop the man. She ran around him splashing mud all about. She charged forward but it was a bluff and the man knew it. She knew it. The infant, for the first, time cried out with a frightened bleat as it was lowered into a green metal wheelbarrow. Still she kept step with them and when the wheel of the cart stopped dead, laden with mud, she hurried to the baby and put her head to its head. Her pleading moans were dismissed and the man hollered for her to get away as he lifted himself up after freeing the wheel. “Get! Go on!” She watched the man cart away her son. She stood alone dolefully crooning in a rich baritone.