Baby number 244 was an easy one --- three hours of labor, twenty minutes of pushing, and one healthy seven-pound-three-ounce baby boy. To put it in the vernacular of the parents, the infant slid into my hands like a football dropping into the palms of a wide receiver waiting in the end zone.
"It's a boy," I announced as I looked at the clock and noted the time: 5:33 p.m. "You did it, Brie."
"A boy," Stanley cried, turning to high-five his wife. Th e head football coach at Barlow High School, Stanley had guided Brie through the entire labor and delivery much as he must have ushered last year's team through to the playoff s. "Finally, our own little future Bruin."
"A Bruin," she echoed, meeting Stanley's palm with her own. Then she collapsed back against the pillows, laughter bubbling from her throat even as tears spilled freely across her cheeks. After three daughters, I knew they had both been hoping for a son.
I suctioned the baby, wiped off his tiny face, and then handed the scissors to Stanley, who didn't need much help cutting the cord for this, his fourth down at the one-yard line, so to speak. Grabbing a warm blanket, I wrapped it around the infant and placed him in his mother's arms, and then I added another warm blanket across them both. As soon as I returned to my chair at the foot of the bed, Stanley leaned toward Brie, touching his forehead to hers and wrapping his thick arms around wife and child.
"You did it, babe," he whispered, kissing her cheek.
"We did it," she replied, unable to tear her eyes from the infant she was clutching so tightly. "And you, Lexie," she added. "Thank you. For everything. You're the best."
I waved off the compliment, saying it was no sweat for a delivery this fast and free of complication.
Through the next fifteen minutes, as I finished things up, I kept glancing at the three of them --- father, mother, child --- searching as I always did for that moment, that origin of family, that flash of absolute belonging.
Though every birth was different, my search was always the same.
When I was done I headed for the door, telling them I would be back to check on things in just a bit.
"You guys know the drill," I added, pausing in the doorway to take one more look at the little family. "If you don't mind, be sure to send me --- "
"A photo of the baby. We know," Brie said, laughing. "Don't worry, we will." Out in the hall, as the door swung shut behind me, I couldn't help but smile. Baby number 244.
Good work, Lexie.
When I reached the nurses' station, three message slips were waiting for me, all from the same person. As soon as I saw them, my legs grew weak. Sinking into the nearest chair, I was thankful no one was around at the moment to see my reaction. I had known this was coming, that this was going to happen sooner rather than later. Still, that didn't make it any easier.
Fingers trembling, I looked at the number as I dialed, even though I knew it by heart. My old friend and mentor, Sophie, answered on the first ring, blurting out the words I had expected to hear.
"It's your dad, honey," she said, her voice gentle but firm. "He needs you. It's time for you to come on home."
Excerpted from THE AMISH MIDWIFE: The Women of Lancaster County, Book 1 © Copyright 2011 by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould. Reprinted with permission by Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.