Posted in 1930s, Historical fiction, Inessa, Natural childbirth, Third Russian novel, Writing

WeWriWa—A Frightening Birth

Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, where participants share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. Today’s excerpt comes from Chapter 41, “Roman’s Legacy,” of my current WIP, Journey Through a Dark Forest. It’s January 1938, and young widow Inessa Zyuganova has gone to a hospital to deliver her third child, who was conceived shortly before her husband Roman was murdered.

Her delivery is under the direction of a very progressive, radical doctor, and has gone against just about all established protocol of the twilight sleep era. Inessa gets to wear her own clothes, walk around the room, change positions, have friends and family in the delivery room, eat and drink, and have nitrous oxide (what the Brits and Australians call gas and air) for pain relief in lieu of the usual cocktail of morphine, scopolamine, and Demerol. The moment of birth is just what she feared might happen, the very reason she wanted a hospital.


She feels too discombobulated to have much of an appetite, but knows it’s important to have enough strength and stamina for the hard work of labor.  As transition progresses through the evening, she leans against Natálya’s lap as a sort of human birthing stool, with Valentína holding her from the front.  The familiar, instinctual urge to push descends upon her at nine o’clock at night, and she drops onto her knees and reaches down for the small being slowly emerging from her.  After all she’s been through, she won’t hear of letting anyone else catch this baby.

Inéssa’s heart stops at the sight of the small, blue, unresponsive baby she brings up to her chest.  Everything around her becomes a blur as Dr. Scholl shouts for oxygen and Svetlána pushes the oxygen mask over the infant’s mouth and nose.  Inéssa has no idea how much time has elapsed before the infant on her chest finally pinks up and begins crying.  The sound of a baby’s cries have never sounded more beautiful.


The baby is 4 pounds, 8 ounces, in spite of being full-term, and named Roman, Romek for short, after the father he’ll never know.

Next week I’m making a little detour to the Eighties, in honor of a special holiday, and then returning to the 1930s. You’ll get to meet cute little Velira, the daughter of the man who saved Inessa’s life at the Polish border.


I started reading at three (my first book was Grimm's Fairy Tales, the uncensored adult version), started writing at four, started writing book-length things at eleven, and have been a writer ever since. I predominantly write historical fiction family sagas/series. I primarily write about young people, since I was a young person myself when I became a serious writer and didn't know how to write about adults as main characters. I only write in a contemporary setting if the books naturally go into the modern era over the course of the decades-long stories being told over many books. I've always been drawn to books, films, music, fashions, et al, from bygone eras, and have never really been too much into modern things. If something or someone has appeal for all time, it'll still be there to be discovered after the initial to-do has died down. For example, my second-favorite writer enjoyed a huge burst of popularity in the Sixties and Seventies, but he wrote his books from 1904-43, and his books still resonate today, even after he's no longer such a fad. Quality lasts for all time.

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