How to sum it up? Why refuse to discuss it?
I witness it too often, and when I see it, I relive it. Never mind that my exit wasn't through a split belly, squished out by some surgeon, gurgling with life. Mine was different, and my mother tells me the story often. I came the 'natural' way, so they say. I don't care either way – I'm upright, that's what matters.
And upright I am, at 3:38 in the a.m., according to the top of the pager I itch on my hip. I'm trying to appear bright-eyed, but the truth is that I was half-asleep when the buzzing woke me up. Not really asleep; a half-sleep, a period of suspended animation between pager-rings.
Upright. Here. It's all they want me for, this quick job I do for them. This is my job, a summary of quick jobs. Show up, fix it, leave, I joke. I like it, though. It works.
They call me, day or night, I show up. I could be there for 10 minutes, I could be there for three hours. Or, the specialists, the ones who are there 24-7. That's not me. I like my sleep too much.
This job, this quick job I do, is resuscitate newborn babies. They call me to be their extra hands if they ever think things will get hairy. I show up, I wait for a baby. Sometimes the baby's a little stunned. I like that turn of phrase; stunned. As if hibernating. And it seems that way, sometimes, when they hand me someone cold, limp and pale and I rub and breathe it back to life.
I make a couple of notes; that I was there (with a signature) on the birth chart, as well as scores given to how fast the baby was resuscitated. Sometimes I glance over everything in advance, to get an idea what I'm up against. Sometimes babies have been exposed to narcotics – then we want to wake them up with antidotes. Sometimes babies have been exposed to narcotics on a chronic basis. Waking those babies up could kill them.
I try to put myself in her shoes. I remember being very young, too young to understand, and being loudly accused of racism. I try to anticipate what will be different. Are men not allowed? Or will her children be in there, watching? Will it be a teenaged boy, or her own mother? A much, much older man?
Sometimes, things go bad, babies must be attended to, specialists must be called in. They come with a very expensive baby carriage, and whisk the peanut away. That's when I stay the longest. I'm holding on to their lives for them, until someone else can take them from me.
Most of the time, though, babies slip out just fine. I watched one come out with no pushes. She just relaxed. Baby just slid right out, at its own good pace. Some get tangled, some get stuck. Even still, most of the time, untangle or unstuck and they emerge, squirming and breathing.
Breathing being the important thing.
It's my favourite part. These mini-injections of other peoples' joy. No strings attached. Rub babies back to life, for money.