Thanks for stopping by once again. Below is the next installment of Full of Grace. If you’re new to the story, you can click here to read it from the beginning; if you’re enjoying the tale, please share it with a friend. 

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24

Mary remains in the background as Rona and Jesse help Elizabeth to her room and two of the other women go for the midwife. She had been younger when Oprah and Kyla were born and only remembered the anxiety of not knowing what was happening.

Much like now.

Well, this time she was going to find out.

As the chatter continues between the other women, Mary makes her way to the room, staying out of everyone’s way. She watches as Rona removes Elizabeth dress, leaving her covered in her undergarment. It is a white, sleeveless gown that gives Mary a glimpse of her perfectly round belly, with her protuding navel. For a moment, Mary can only stare, until Elizabeth stiffens up and lets out a muffled scream. She is shocked by aunt’s response. She was normally so calm.

“Mary,” Rona calls to her.

Mary tears her gaze from Elizabeth and turns to her. Rona motions for to come over.

“Walk with her,” Rona instructs her.

And for the next hour, Mary obeys. While the midwife prepares for the birth, the young girl keeps step with Elizabeth, stopping when the pain strikes, walking when it subsides. There are few words between them, and this is fine for Mary, as she is unsure of how comfort Elizabeth. She had been curious about this event, but now that she was in the midst of it, she was scared – not just for Elizabeth, who seems to be waning in strength, but for her as well, for she would be in this same situation in seven months.

“Bring her here,” the midwife states, indicating the birthing stool.

Mary starts towards her, her arm around her aunt’s shoulder, but Elizabeth can barely walk. Her face is red with exhaustion and her body covered in sweat. Rona join them, wrapping her arm around her back.

“Come on, cousin, you’re almost done. You were there when Abigail was born. It’s your turn now,” she says.

Elizabeth tightens her hold on both of them and nods her head. They slowly walk over to the birthing stool and help her sit down, pulling her undergarment above her belly. The midwife opens her legs, exposing her private area. Mary blushes and stands back as the midwife speaks softly to her aunt, encouraging her to push. Elizabeth does so, once, twice, three times, when the midwife exclaims, “Your child is coming.”

Mary watches as her aunt pushes once more, screaming with every breath, and the head of the baby comes out of the center of her womanhood. Elizabeth rests while the midwife cleans the child’s nose. She proceeds to push down on the head and instruct Elizabeth to push again. With one final thrust, the child is out and in the midwife’s arms. She cleans his face, causing him to wail, loudly.

“You have a son!” Rona announces, as Elizabeth relaxes against her.

Turning her attention to the child, Mary notes how the midwife wipes it down and rubs a mixture of salt and olive oil on his skin*. She wraps him snugly in a blanket and walks him over to his mother. Her eyes light up when he is brought to her, as though every pain she just endured has been forgotten. She cradles in him her arms and stares down into his face, with a smile brighter than anything Mary has seen.

“Welcome, little one,” she says, touching his face. “I’ve waited a long time for you.”

*From: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_was_reason_for_midwives_to_rub_baby_with_salt. Many birth practices have existed since ancient times regarding cleansing and rubbing a newborn following birth. Soranus of Ephesus, a first century Greek physician published a text entitled “On Midwifery and the Diseases of Women” in ad 100. In this text he recommends that the midwife sprinkle the infant with a fine or powdery salt, or natron (Natron is similar to baking soda). Salt or natron were used as mild astringents to absorb any remaining amniotic fluid, vernix, and placenta on the newborn’s skin and to make the skin less prone to develop rashes. Soranus adds, however, that the salt should be mixed with honey, olive oil, or the juice of barley, fenugreek, or mallow so the granules are less likely to abrade the baby’s delicate skin. His recommendation is also to wash off this mixture with water and repeat the process a second time.

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