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.