16 Dec

“… three, two, one! Ok, Grace, take  a deep breath … aaaannnd … PUSH!”

Rob placed  a cool washcloth on Grace’s forehead as she started to push for what felt like the millionth time.

The epidural had taken the edge of the pain off, but the closer she got to actually delivering the baby, the more intense the pressure became and her body fought to take over, knowing exactly what it needed to do.

There wouldn’t be any surprises, anyway. Knowing how it would all turn out took the fear out of the equation and had made Grace oddly calm. Her nurses had all commented on how serene and unhurried she seemed. Even Rob was quiet, doing what he needed to do – holding her hand, smoothing her hair off her forehead, telling her how great she was doing.

As the contraction faded, Grace laid her head back on the pillow and snuck a look at the clock. 10:28 pm. Her baby would come into the world at 10:48. Twenty more minutes.

In six minutes, the baby’s heart rate would start dropping. The nurse will call Grace’s doctor in, who will be just down the hall with another patient. He will determine that the baby is having trouble progressing down the birth canal, and that he needs a little help. Her doctor will use a vacuum that attaches to the baby’s head to speed delivery. As he works, the doctor will explain everything that’s happening, and assure Grace and Rob that this sort of thing happens all the time and they will get the baby out with no trouble.

“He’s just comfortable in there and wants to stay,” he’ll say with a smile.

Three minutes later, Grace will be holding her baby. The only unknown tonight is which baby it will be.

This post was inspired by a prompt from Write on Edge:

The countdown. We’ve all done it, whether it’s disciplining our kids, gathering up nerve, blasting off into space, or getting ready to pop champagne and scream “Happy New Year!”

This week, we’d like you to write a post – fiction or creative non-fiction – which begins with a countdown. “Three, two, one.” You pick what the countdown is for. The ideas above are just suggestions. Use your imagination and have fun with it!

You can find the rest of Grace’s story here.


19 Responses to “Countdown”

  1. Life of a Doctor's Wife December 16, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    I love how this switches from present to future tense. Grace’s serene calm is somehow echoed in that switch… but there’s also a detached foreboding that I find really intriguing. And that last line… Which baby it will be? What does that MEAN?!? I must keep reading!

  2. Lindy Smith December 16, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    I’m off to read the rest of the story. Going from present to future tense can be confusing, but you did it well, I got it. Also loved your take on the countdown.

  3. jesterqueen1 December 16, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    I agree – the tense shift was really effective for me, too. It was sort of like Grace shifted from being in that room full of tense people to that new-motherhood float, and you captured that moment precisely in this piece.

    • Kristina December 17, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

      Thank you! I was worried about the tense shift – but there is a purpose to it 🙂

  4. Sweaty December 16, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    Yes, I am intrigued by that last line!!! Hmm… what does it mean?

    Interesting how you told the story… was it a flashback?

    • Kristina December 17, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

      It’s kind of a flashback – I’m still trying to work out the plot lines so I’m not revealing the premise of the story yet (because I’m not 100% sure what it is yet) – but you’re on the right track!

  5. Katie December 16, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    Which baby and maybe which Grace. There seemed to me to be either premonitions or maybe dual realities? I need to know more.

    • Kristina December 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

      You’re on the right track – but I’m not 100% sure where it’s going yet, so I’m still trying to work out some of the details.

  6. Cheryl @ Mommypants December 16, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

    Okay, i’m glad this wasn’t a stand-alone piece and that there’s backstory!

    I’m not sure if I love the abrupt tense switch, tho, as it was a little jarring. I almost wonder if at the end it should switch back.

    Definitely an interesting take on the prompt. I forgot about those silly push counts!

    • Kristina December 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

      Thank you! I was going to switch back to illustrate that the tense switch was purposeful – but that darn 300 word limit stopped me 🙂

  7. Cameron December 16, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    All of a sudden I was breathing, feeling my body want to bear down… amazing how powerful that instinct is and the way they all coach you like that when you’re delivering.

    The tense switch is a cool vehicle for conveying the sense of calm understanding, especially since birth can be kind of the opposite. Like Cheryl, I almost wanted to have it switch back at the end.

    But the real question is: what???

  8. Suzanne December 16, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    I’m glad I was able to go read some other bits, I was definitely capture by this glimpse of Grace. Well done!

  9. Melanie December 16, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    Which baby? Now I’m dying to find out. Will be peeking in on Grace’s story.

    You completely drew me in from the first paragraph. Like your writing style alot. The tense shift for me was a little abrupt but after reading the piece a few times, it made sense.

    Well done! Now I’m off to read more about Grace…

    • Kristina December 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

      Thank you so much! I think the tense shift would have made more sense if I had gone on for just a few more lines, but the word limit got in my way 🙂

  10. Tina December 17, 2011 at 1:05 am #

    Would they use a vacuum in this situation, if the baby’s heartbeat drops? I don’t know, I’m just asking–I would have gone with a c-section.

    I really like how you began this–great use of the prompt!

    • Kristina December 17, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

      I’ve had friends that this happened to, and I did research it, but I had the same reservations you did. I will probably go back and revise it and make sure it’s 100% accurate – thanks for your kind words!

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