Hey guys. I already wrote the morbid version of this chapter in "A Mother's Child," but this one isn't nearly as heartbreaking. However, you might fine some similarities, because- as someone who has never given birth nor experienced it- I only know so many ways to write it. So I hope you like this!
It was time. All weekend, she'd been complaining about tiny aches in her abdomen, but hadn't assumed it to be anything other than the movement of the baby. Then, one minute she was sitting calmly, the next, she was crunched over in pain.
But they had done everything right, prepared everything. Mariu shelped her up the stairs, and midwives were waiting to assist in the birth. He stayed with her, despite the protests of the midwives, and held her hand as her body contracted in pain. However, she didn't scream. Throughout her pain, she had a look of wonderment on her face, for even though she felt pain like she'd never experience before, she was also happier than she'd ever been.
"I'll still feel the pain whether or not I scream," she explained. "So I don't see why making a fuss helps."
She'd gone into labor in the evening, but it was hours before she ready to give birth. Marius felt exhausted from being so alert and nervous for hours on end, and he couldn't imagine how Cosette felt.
She was amazing- calm and collected. When the pain would subside, she would chatter on about what sex the baby would be, what they would name him or her, happy things. She was infectious, and this brightness drove Marius away from any worries he had (for, being Marius, he had many more worries than Cosette did), and allowed for him to be positively excited for the future.
"It's coming!" the midwife announced, instructing for Cosette to begin pushing.
She scrunched her face in concentration and pain, and gripped Marius' hand tightly, letting out grunts and sighs with the of it all. For Marius' part, he was feeling rather confused, as he could really do nothing to help. His presence was rather superfluous, but of course he stayed.
When the contractions hit a fever pitch and Cosette was breathing deeply and quickly, the midwife announced that she could see the baby's head. Cosette smiled a dazzling and triumphant smile despite her agony, and continued to push. Suddenly, she let out a gasp, her face turned very red, and fell back against the headboard.
"Cosette!" Marius cried, placing his hands against her cheeks. "What's wrong with her?!"
"Check her heartbeat," the midwife said, very businesslike and not to be distracted. She had her own business to attend to.
Marius laid his head against her breast and as well as fumbled with her wrist, trying with all his might to find her pulse in both places. He was listening so hard, in fact, that at first he missed it. Then, he felt the even, heavy beating of her heart and the sound of her light breathing. He himself breathed a sigh of relief that seemed to come from the very pit of his stomach.
"Sometimes it becomes too much for them," the midwife said, still not to be distracted from her task, "And they need to recover. Usually that happens after the baby is out, though. You're going to have to help me, since she can't," she said curtly, and instructed Marius how to help push on Cosette's stomach.
Gingerly, he did- he didn't want to hurt her. But when he was snapped at again- "That's not going to do any good!"- he pressed harder, until he was rewarded with a beautiful cry. The cry of his child.
He laughed out loud, surprised to find tears coming from his eyes- stressed, scared, and yet happy tears. Then a wriggling, crying, wet little being slipped into the midwife's arms. It was so ugly, and yet so beautiful. One of ht emost beautiful things he'd ever seen. Marius only wished Cosette could be awake to witness this.
She cut the umbilical cord and quickly dried the baby.
"Since she's not awake, would you like to hold her?" she asked, and Marius gratefully held out his arms.
She. He held his daughter gently in his arms, afraid he would break her. She was so small, so fragile. Her tiny arms and balled fists jerked up and down as though she couldn't control them, her red face scrunched like a tomato as she cried. She was beautiful. He couldn't believe he was holding his child in his hands.
He didn't see the midwife dealing with the afterbirth or readying a bottle of milk for the baby to drink, but all too soon, his adoring stares were interrupted.
"Here," she said, handing him a tiny glass bottle. "We have these just in case this happens, and the mother can't feed the baby." She showed him how to feed his daughter, and Marius sat on the edge of the bed, bursting with amazement and pride as he fed her. As he held the tiny being in his arms, he felt protective and loving, and he knew that he'd do anything for this little squirming child.
He tore his eyes away from her and looked over at Cosette. "Is she alright?" he said, genuinely worried. What if she didn't wake up? What would he do without her? The very thought made his blood run cold- he couldn't go on without her. What if...?
"Her vitals are fine. She's just exhausted. She'll wake soon, I'm sure." The midwife left the room, giving the young family some time together.
Sure enough, Cosette stirred then.
She opened her eyes, dazed, and wondering what on earth had just happened. It took her a second to realize that she was not feeling pain anymore, and then she turned and saw someone was sitting in the bed with her. Looking up, she saw Marius, who was turned away from her.
"Marius..." she whispered, and he turned to look at her. However, his body was still angled away, so she just saw his back and his face looking down at her and smiling euphorically.
"My love," he said. "There's someone you should meet," he said. "Can you sit up?"
Her heart picked up speed, the beats tripling in excitement. Her breath came in shallow gasps, she was so happy. Slowly, she raised herself up. Marius couldn't help, for he was holding the baby.
Then, he turned. She cried out in happiness when she saw their child for the first time. She held out her arms, and as gently as he could, Marius handed the warm little person over to her, clad in soft blankets.
"She," Marius said, smiling.
"She's perfect," Cosette said, her voice breaking in admiration.
Marius leaned in closer, kissing Cosette on her temple and resting his cheek against her hair, joining her in admiring their child. Marius thought Cosette had never looked more beautiful, positevely glowing with pride and love.
The little girl opened her eyes, staring into her mother's eyes for the first time. Tears spilled over from Cosette's blue eyes as she met her daughter's brown eyes.
Marie Euphrasie grew to be a beautiful child, quiet and reflective, her eyes always ponderous. Though Marius loved all his children, there was something special with Marie. She loved him fiercely, attached to her father with a kind of worship and adoration that the other children just didn't have. Their personalities were similar, it was true- she was the only child who he could simply sit in silence with, without having to strike a conversation. They were both content to sit in their thoughts, and Marius did not feel this with his other children. They all clung to Cosette like burrs caught in wool, and seemed to regard Marius with respect. They adored him, in was true, for his quiet affection and kind smiles, but they were admiring of him. They watched him from afar, as though he was some kind of being that they were separate from. They were connected to him through Cosette. Marie, on the other hand, was close with him purely and with a strength none of the others had.
Marius always wondered if it was because when she'd been born, she was the first to hold her, the first to see her and love her. He would never know, but the thought was intriguing.