The baby’s turned the wrong way.
Cottle’s hands are on her belly, feeling for the position of the baby.
She’s been in labor for eighteen hours now.
She’s so tired.
Cottle hasn’t told her she’s in trouble, but he’s been chain-smoking for the past three hours, and that’s pretty much the same thing.
She bites her lip against the pain, blooming white-hot from her center.
She could not possibly have imagined this kind of agony.
Ishay’s hands are on her now, too.
The baby doesn’t budge.
Of course not, Laura thinks. The baby only likes to move for Bill.
She wishes he were here now.
She prays he won’t come back until it’s all over.
Cottle clears his throat.
Laura tries to bring his face into focus, but the pain burns lower, hotter, and everything outside of it is hazy.
“It’s too dangerous for you to deliver in this position, and we can’t wait any longer. I’m going to have to operate.”
So this is how she’s going to die.
She swallows. “Will the baby—”
There’s something uncomfortably close to pity in Cottle’s eyes. “We have to do it now.”
There is no choice, after all.
There never was.
The needle is a sharp stab, the anesthetic a fire, burning through her spine.
Then the pain dulls, the agony of the contractions replaced by the numbed sensations of the surgery, by the disquiet of tugs and pulls inside of her that she knows should be excruciating.
Ishay’s holding up a sheet so Laura can’t see Cottle slicing into her belly.
As though not seeing it will keep her from knowing it’s happening.
She shivers. This is it, this is really it…
A shrill scream, cutting through the silence.
“It’s a girl,” Cottle says, his rough voice rougher than usual.
A daughter. She has a daughter.
Can I hold her, she tries to say, but her mouth isn’t working.
“Ishay!” Cottle barks. “She’s crashing—”
Bill will be happy, Laura thinks. He was always so sure it was a girl.
And then everything goes black.