The contractions were now less than a minute apart and each one seemed to be longer than the last. Jose let go of Maura’s hand and moved down to her feet. Gently spreading her legs wider, he checked to see how much she was dilated and if the baby’s head was close. The instant Jose had moved to look a light above him came on.
Glancing skyward he saw a street lamp he had not noticed before. As Jose moved Maura’s skirt higher, he could see the baby’s head just beginning to show.
Filled with excitement, Jose practically shouted, “Push, Maura, push. The baby is almost out.” She listened to Jose’s words of encouragement and trusted him. The pain had become so intense that Maura could hardly hear Jose, yet she pushed. She pushed, because not to push hurt even more. She pushed, trying to push the pain way. Breathing hard, unable to catch her breath, exhausted, Maura pushed. How long she pushed she did not know. It seemed like forever.
Jose reached for his undershirt and slid it between Maura’s legs. Suddenly the pain was gone. Maura saw Jose pick up his knife. Then she heard a cry; a baby’s fearful cry; her baby’s cry. Jose had cut the umbilical cord and tied it closed as best he could. Rapping the baby in his undershirt and shirt he handed the child to Maura.
“Be prepared,” Jose warned. “The placenta still has to come out. That can be very painful as well.” Not much later, Jose’s warning proved true. A wave of pain swept her body once again, as it began to push the after birth out. Pulling on the umbilical cord, Jose helped draw out the placenta and threw it into the fire. He then cleaned Maura up, as best he was able, covered her legs again, and helped her to sit up closer to the fire to keep her warm.
Maura sat with the baby in her arms. Jose knelt next to her, looking at the baby, prepared to help as needed. Both were exhausted. Both shivered in the cold. Both had just had the darkest day of their lives. Yet in this moment, with the light shining on the face of the child, a calm and reassuring feeling gently came over them both. Looking lovingly at one another they said together, “Her name is Hope.”
Editor’s note: Check back here tomorrow for the next installment in Rev. Bill Sterritt’s modern adaptation of the nativity story. RI Future is serializing Sterritt’s 26-page short story throughout the holiday season. Here’s my post on the Amicable Congregational Church’s nativity story and scene.
- Chapter 1 – Jose Crosses the Border
- Chapter 2 – Jose’s Union Sympathies
- Chapter 3 – A Child Bearing a Child
- Chapter 4 – A Miraculous Pregnancy
- Chapter 5 – A Hospital Turns Them Away
- Chapter 6 – Jose and Maura, Out In the Cold