The First Time
”We’re losing her,” I cry, just as I see her eyes roll back. Out of instinct, I slap her and try to make her come back.
“Nayika!”, Rachel warns, her eyes burning and speaking volumes even though her face is covered by the mask.
I look up at her, desperate, not able to bear the pain of losing the woman on the table. For a second, our eyes meet, and she sees the fear and desperation in mine. Her eyes soften and she takes a deep breath.
“Talk to her,” she instructs me as I scoot over to the lady on the table just as she takes over her position at the end of the table.
“Ma’am, I am Nayika. At this moment, we need you to stay with us,” I speak urgently as the lady thrashes, her head rolling back and forth.
“I can’t,” she sobs as another contraction ripples through her. Her body convulses as she half rises up and then falls back, her head making a thud against the hospital bed. She looks at me wild, her expression twisted with pain and tiredness.
I clutch her hand and feel her sweat and fear through my latex gloves as the words pour out of my mouth within their own accord.
“You need to be here. With us. You need to-,” I break off, taken aback just as another contraction shoots through, making her arch off the bed and finally go limp. No one moves for one beat of silence, as we absorb the impact. The next few events occur slowly, as if a movie is being played in the background. It feels as if we both are enclosed in an invisible dome where only we exist. Her breaths falter as I stare at her, helpless. I watch her eyes go still as they slowly start closing on their own, when Rachel’s voice rings through the invisible sheath, breaking it and bringing us back to the present. “Time of birth 4:17 am.”
A slight squeeze of my hand makes me look at the woman on the bed and do a double take. She squeezes my hand this time, even more tightly as she looks at me, her eyes speaking a thousand emotions which roll over us at that moment. “Nayika,” Rachel’s voice brings me out of the daze, and when I look up at her she hands me over a tiny bundle.
Numb, I raise my hands to hold it and when she lowers it, I am struck by the beauty of it. A tiny porcelain face hidden under a bush of curly black hair matted with blood. With eyes the size of almonds which are now shut and eyelashes as long as my finger nail. A small nose, and full plump lips which are opened now forming an ‘O’. I touch her cheek with my pinky finger and am surprised at how soft and fragile it feels. She squirms in my arms waving her tiny fist in the air. In spite of being a nobody to this beautiful being, I already feel a strong urge to protect it from any harm to come.
Peeling my eyes away, I look up at the mother on the table whose face is the second most beautiful thing now. Her eyes are filled with tears and burst with hope as she looks eagerly at the bundle in my arms. Sensing her inexplicable need to hold this being in her arms, the place she rightfully belongs to, I twist in my chair so that she can face the baby.
Gently positioning the baby in her arms, I whisper, ” Congratulations, its a girl.” She gingerly holds the baby and looks up at us- her eyes conveying the fear, anxiety and disbelief of every new mom. When Rachel places her hand on the new mother’s shoulder and murmurs “yes, she’s yours”-she beams at us, a sense of exhilaration and calmness replacing her expression as she accepts the reality of her being a mother to this tiny person.
Her face swells with pride as she takes the baby closer and gazes at her with a love that cannot be described. Her eyes brim with tears as she leans in closer and kisses her forehead with reverence. I look at this exchange and feel my heart flip with a joy that’s unconquerable. Looking up at my mentor’s face, I see Rachel smile at me through her mask. We sit there, for an immeasurable time, our heartbeats matching rhythm– our souls overwhelmed and weighted with the sight that we’ve witnessed.
People often make a big deal about how they’ve seen God perform his miracles and how their lives will now never be the same again. About how they won the lottery ticket when they least expected it. What they don’t really understand is that we are surrounded by miracles every day.
FACT: Every two seconds, a child is born in this world. A human who needs to be carried for nine months by another human, who is in turn willing enough to do so.
A human who in order to be born needs to fight its way through the other human and come out. And another human who is willing enough to bear the horrendous pain in order for it to come through. And when it’s born, the amount of love and adoration this stranger receives cannot be compared to anything else.
If loving someone this much, whom you barely know, isn’t the beauty of love, I don’t know what is.
If this isn’t the greatest miracle that one can ever witness, I don’t know what is.
~Nikita Valluri | Edited by Nandini Raghav Kapur
Image source: pixabay.com