Sunday, October 12, 2008

Chapter 12 - Induce Labor...Naturally

August 1948

Solomon tossed in bed wrestling with his sheet. In his dream a storm bore down on the cove. Gray thunderheads piled up and churned in the sky. Trees whipped and twisted; some uprooted and fell. People scattered looking for shelter. Pandemonium reigned. Solomon tried to help but people ignored him in their panic.

Ma tapped on his bedroom door. “Solomon,” she said, “Solomon, wake up.”

He opened his eyes and saw Ma standing in the doorway. His clock said four-thirty in the morning. He raised his head off the pillow. “What is it?” he said trying to shake off the dream.

“Beth’s husband called. He says she’s bleeding.”

“Oh no,” Solomon said pressing his palms into his eyes.

He threw off the sheet and was in his shirt and pants in thirty seconds. He stepped into his sandals, went into the bathroom, and peed. He looked at the mirror as he washed his hands. His scruffy five o’clock shadow was twelve hours older.

He ran down the stairs taking two steps at a time, grabbed the box that he and Ma had prepared for Beth’s delivery, and carried it out to the truck. They’d tried to include everything they could possibly need. Ma met him at the truck.

“Did Cal say how much she’s bleeding?” Solomon asked.

“He didn’t know,” she said.

Solomon blinked his eyes and shook his head. “Okay,” he muttered.

Beth and Calvin lived four miles up Rooster Cove Road. From Cal’s phone call until Ma and Solomon arrived didn’t take ten minutes. The front porch light was on and Cal was standing out on the stoop.

Cal and Beth’s house was one of those shotgun houses. The name referred to the fact that a man could open the front and back doors and fire a gun straight through the house without hitting anything. All the rooms ran off a hallway in the middle. Beth was in the back bedroom where Ma Patsy had delivered her last child. Solomon had never been in the house. When Beth went into labor with her son two years ago, Cal had told Ma that he didn’t want no man, meaning Solomon, looking at his wife’s privates.

Solomon maneuvered his way through the door with the box in his arms. He nodded at Cal as he passed him in the living room. Solomon followed Ma into the bedroom where Beth was. Ma sat down on the bed and touched Beth’s forehead. She was sweating in the August heat. A fan whirred on the dresser. Solomon pulled the chain for the overhead light. Beth’s color looked good, so he knew she wasn’t bleeding bad…at least not yet.

Solomon handed Ma the blood pressure cuff as he felt for a radial pulse. He could tell from the way it was bounding that her blood pressure was high. He asked her, “Do you hurt anywhere?”

She shook her head, no.

He put his hand high on her abdomen and pressed. “How about here?”

She shook her head no again.

“That’s good,” he said. He was ruling out placental abruption as the cause of her bleeding.

He drew up magnesium sulfate in a hypodermic syringe. It would keep Beth from having a seizure.

Ma said to him, “Her pressure’s a hundred and fifty-eight over ninety-eight.”

Solomon pinched up the muscle on Beth’s upper arm and stabbed the needle into it. She winced and said, “I hate needles.”

Solomon smiled, “I don’t like them either, but sometimes they’re necessary.”

Ma pulled Beth’s sheet back as she said, “Cal said ye’re bleeding, hon. I need to see how much.”

As if Cal were waiting for his cue to take Solomon by the arm and lead him out of the room, he did exactly that. Rather than resist in front of Beth, Solomon went with Cal out into the hallway. Cal said, “I don’t mind you helping your mama some, but you need to stay out when she’s doing stuff that would embarrass my wife.”

Solomon smelled liquor on Cal’s breath.

Ma stepped into the hallway too. She was mad as a wet hen. She got up in Cal’s face and whispered, “Calvin Terry, don’t ye be acting like no fool.” Ma’s hot breath almost fogged his glasses. “The last time I wuz here to deliver yer son, Beth didn’t have the complications she has this time.” She wagged her finger in his face as he backed up. “My son knows more about complicated deliveries than I’ll ever know. He knows how to do stuff that I don’t know how to do. I’ll deliver Beth’s baby if’n I can, but if’n I can’t, you’d best stay outta the way.”

Cal spit tobacco juice into a tin can. He looked like he was about to argue with Ma.

Ma got up in his face again and backed him into the kitchen. It was hard for Solomon not to laugh at such a tiny little woman backing that husky twenty-four-year-old ex-football player into a corner of his kitchen. But Solomon knew he had to keep his composure. He wouldn’t have spoiled this moment for anything.

“Don’t even think about arguin’ with me, Calvin Terry. If I hear one more word outta ye, I’m leavin’ here, and I’m callin’ the law to come back with me. I ain’t lettin’ ye git away with this. Do ye understand me, boy? Say!”

Cal sat down at the table and put his head on his arms like a schoolboy.

“And stay outta that liquor bottle. Ye need to be sober today,” she added as she stormed out of the kitchen.

Solomon followed Ma. He dared not say a word. He hadn’t seen Ma that mad since he’d let the neighbor’s pig in the house when he was eleven years old. He was trying to save it from slaughtering.

Ma said to Beth, “I’m sorry, hon. Cal got my dander up.” As she checked Beth, Ma said, “Ye’re not bleedin’ bad. I’m more worried about yer blood pressure. Ye have preeclampsia. That means ye need to go ahead and have this baby before ye have a seizure. That shot Solomon gave ye will keep ye from having one, but it’ll wear off in five or six hours. I’d like to see ye in labor before noon.”

Solomon was unpacking the supplies they’d brought, and he had his back turned to what was going on with Ma’s examination. He figured he’d keep the peace with Cal if he could.

Ma said to Solomon, “The head’s still down in her pelvis. I’m glad ye managed to get it turned last week.” She looked up at Solomon as she stripped off the glove. “But she’s still dilated just a fingertip,” she said to him.

Cal was listening to their exchange. He didn’t want to think about what Solomon apparently did to his wife last week. He had the disturbing vision of Solomon’s arm inside his wife up to the elbow.

Solomon nodded. He had cleaned off a low chest and laid out several packs of sterile instruments. There were forceps, scalpels, and two pairs of scissors. One was for cutting the umbilical cord, and the other was in case Beth needed an episiotomy. Next to the scissors were clamps and suturing supplies. There was a bulb for suctioning out the baby’s nose and mouth. There was a large white rubber sheet that would go under Beth during delivery. He set out a small bottle of silver nitrate, a bottle of iodine solution, an enema bag that Ma would use on Beth sometime this morning, a box of rubber gloves, and a dozen maternity pads.

Ma leaned close to Beth and whispered, “When have you had sex with Cal?”

Beth blinked her eyes in surprise. “Uh, it’s been a couple of months.”

“A couple of months!” Ma leaned close to her again and said, “A man’s semen is full of prostaglandins. They can hep with birthin’ yer baby.”

Beth laughed nervously, “You’re joshing me.”

“Nope, it’s the honest to God truth, hon,” Ma said.

Solomon had his back to the conversation, but he could tell that Ma was suggesting that Beth and Cal have sex this morning. It was one of those midwifery secrets. Solomon knew that Dr. Wall never suggested sex to induce labor, and he didn’t figure the hospital in Knoxville did either. Nevertheless, the fact was that sex could induce labor. Cal was leaned over Beth and Ma taking in the conversation. He was grinning like he approved of Ma’s suggestion.

“Solomon, take Cal into the kitchen and tell him what to do and what not to do,” Ma said.

Solomon thought, Oh boy! Cal’s not happy about me being here in the first place. How’s he going to take to me telling him how to have sex with his wife? He put on his serious professional face hoping that he looked older than his twenty-one years. “Sure,” he said.

Solomon followed Cal into the kitchen. “I’ve never heard of such,” Cal said, “but if Ma Patsy says it works, it must work.”

Solomon pulled a chair away from the table and sat down. “Yes, it works in several ways,” he said. “Semen is full of prostaglandins. They soften a woman’s cervix and allow it to dilate. In addition to that, a woman’s orgasm releases oxytocin, and oxytocin triggers uterine contractions.”

Cal said, “Oh man! We ain’t had sex in a couple a months. I’m plumb backed up to my ears.” He snorted and grinned as he stood up and started pacing. He adjusted his crotch for comfort.

Solomon said, “Another way to get a woman to release oxytocin is to stimulate her nipples.”

Cal started for the bedroom door. Solomon grabbed him and said, “Slow down, man. Remember, this is about gettin’ Beth’s labor started.” Cal was already breathing heavy. This might not be such a good idea, Solomon thought. Will this jock be able to control himself enough to do this without hurting Beth?

Cal asked, “Okay, what do I need to do?”

Solomon said, “To start with it’s important for Beth to be comfortable. The best position for her this morning would be spooning.” Solomon handed Cal a small tube of lubricant. “Put this on yourself.”

Cal took the tube and said, “Thanks,” as he unzipped his pants.

“Whoa! Not now,” Solomon said.

Cal laughed nervously. “Sorry,” he said.

“You need to concentrate on getting Beth aroused,” Solomon said. “Women warm up a lot slower than men do. The first place a woman gets aroused is in her head. Be gentle, talk to her, love on her, and kiss her. Do anything to Beth that you know she likes. Rub her back and her legs. Snuggle and kiss the back of her neck. When you get an erection, park it inside of her. Don’t go in too far, just an inch or two past her labia.”

Cal said, “Huh?”

Solomon dropped his head and ran his fingers through his hair. Trying to talk to Cal was frustrating. “After you penetrate her,” he said, “quit moving in and out. Just be still and make love to her by caressing her. Concentrate on her pleasure.”

“Take a lot of time with her breasts,” Solomon continued, “but be especially gentle because they’re swollen and tender right now. Cup them in your hands. Don’t squeeze. Hold her nipple between your thumb and fingertips and very delicately roll it while you’re nuzzling her back and neck. Keep your touch light as a feather. Her nerve endings are more sensitive now that she’s pregnant.”

“Rub all around her belly,” he said. “It’s tight and itchy, and rubbing it will feel good to her.”

Solomon asked him, “Do you know where Beth’s clitoris is?”

“Yeah, of course I do,” Cal said.

“Okay, don’t stimulate it directly. The glans is so sensitive that Mother Nature put a hood over it to protect it. A massaging motion keeps the hood moving and tugging on the clitoris. That’s what triggers an orgasm in a woman. Move your hand in circles. Tell Beth to play with her nipples while you do it. Get a good slow rhythm going, then massage fast for ten or fifteen seconds. Then slow down again, then fast again. Be an observer. Listen and watch for Beth’s signals for when it feels good. Before she has an orgasm, you’ll start to feel her contracting around your penis.”

“No shit?” Cal said.

Solomon chuckled at Cal’s expressiveness. “No shit,” he replied.

“You can’t see a woman’s erection like you can see a man’s, but you can feel it. The roots of a woman’s clitoris are about eleven centimeters from top to bottom. It encircles the vagina. If you’re inside her, you can feel her erection tighten around you. If you listen to her, you’ll know when you have the right rhythm. If she says, ‘Don’t stop,’ you’ve got it right, and she’ll have an orgasm, or maybe five or ten orgasms.”

“Okay,” Cal said. He looked like he was ready to bolt for the door.

Solomon sighed and said, “Will you please settle down, man? You can’t go in there until Ma’s finished with her, so listen to me.” He paused to let Cal settle down. “When you ejaculate, you’ll bathe Beth’s cervix with the prostaglandins in your semen. They will soften her cervix and allow it to dilate so the baby’s head can get through it. And don’t withdraw; just let yourself go soft inside of her. Hopefully you’ll get another erection. The more orgasms both of you have, the better it will be for Beth’s labor.”

Cal said, “I don’t think that will be a problem. I told you I’m backed up to my ears.” Then he laughed. “Where’d you learn all this stuff, man? I don’t remember you being a ladies’ man in high school.”

“No,” Solomon said, “it’s anatomy and physiology. That’s all.”

Ma came into the kitchen and said, “I’m gonna fix some breakfast. Cal, git in there with yer wife. I don’t want to see ye again until Beth’s in labor.”

Beth was in labor before noon. Solomon played babysitter for the two-year-old during the delivery. The labor only lasted two hours, and Ma delivered a baby girl, Maria. She weighed eight pounds and three ounces and was the healthiest baby Ma or Solomon had seen in a long time.

Copyright © 2008 by Robbin Renee Bridges
Coping with Grief through Afterlife Communication

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