Happy Birthday

Karen Mossman


Catherine was frightened and wanted desperately for Vincent to be holding her hand. Theyíd had so many plans. The baby was to be born in Vincentís chamber and everybody they loved would be near by. It was supposed to be a happy occasion.

Nobody had expected the baby to be so large. She was being cared for by Peter, an obstetrician who was also a helper. He had done everything possible to help her have the baby below, but eventually had to admit defeat.

"The babyís heart is strong and healthy, but I donít think Catherine should give birth naturally." Father and Vincent were with her a she listened with mounting fear.

"But Peter, I canít give birth in hospital, you know that."

"I know, but there are two many risks to try and perform that kind of surgery here."

Vincent had held her hand then and she had cried at the unfairness of it all.

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Now she watched the ceiling go by as she lay on a bed being pushed down to the theatre. She was frightened and excited at the same time.

Peter was doing the surgery himself with specially selected assistants. He had assured her there was nothing to worry about and he would explain everything that was going on.

She and Vincent had talked about it and she had selected to stay awake during the section, but now she wondered whether she was being too brave. What if she could feel them cutting her open? What if the baby didnít want to come out? What if baby stopped breathing? What if he looked like Vincent? What would they say? How could she keep him a secret? What would his life be like?

Stop! She told herself sharply, she was not only tormenting herself, but Vincent too. He would be pacing up and down his chamber knowing as she did that he should have been there too.

Peter was there to greet her and assure her than everything was going to be all right.

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Vincent was in fact with Father playing chess. It had been Fatherís suggestion to keep his son occupied, but he had to admit he was failing miserably.

"It is your turn, Vincent."

Vincent looked at him with surprise for a moment as if forgetting he was playing.

"It will be all right, yíknow," Father tried to cajole.

"Will it?"

"Iíve every confidence in, Peter, you should have too."

"I do, I have every confidence in Catherine, but sheís frightened."

"Thatís a natural state. All women are frightened when it comes to childbirth."

Vincent looked at him pointedly and Father knew he wasnít saying the right things. He got to his feet and wandered round the room, "Waiting is very hard, I know that. Nothing I can say or do will help, but I am trying, Vincent."

"I know, Iím sorry."

"Catherine is strong, Peter is wise and I am sure all will be well."

Vincent looked pointedly at Father again. There was no way anybody could tell that everything would be well. "Do you mind if we leave the game till another time?"

"No, no, go," Father said waving his hand in defeat.

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Catherine momentarily felt a vast vacuum in her stomach where her baby had been. "Is he all right, what does he look like?" she asked immediately.

"He looks fine," said Peter. "We did the right thing, Catherine. Heís probably the biggest baby Iíve delivered."

"What does he look like?"

"Take a look."

And Catherine looked.

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Vincent stopped pacing and stood very still.

Father came in and stopped also, the look on his sonís face was one he would never forget. He stepped back and waited.

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It was Joe who brought them home from the hospital that day. He looked like the proud father and indeed he would be the proudest of godfathers.

Catherine would never forget walking into the kitchen carrying their son. Vincent was waiting and she went straight to him where he took their perfect baby and stared at him in awe.

"Heís got your eyes," Catherine said softly.

"Heís so perfect and so big!"

"Just like his father."

Joe shut the door quietly and let himself out.

Vincent unwrapped the blanket to look at his perfect little hands and feet and then looked at Catherine questioningly.

"Downy hair, it will come off in the next few days, so Peter says."

"Well I hope so," said Vincent, but he wasnít so sure.

"Oh!" Catherine spun round, "Joe!" He had gone.

"I think heíll understand," said Vincent.

She laid Jacob in his crib and he looked so peaceful. "You wonít believe how hungry I am for proper home cooked food."

"Pippa has already prepared something for us.". Vincent laid it out and Catherine watched him. It was so good to be home.

She cut a piece of pie and raised it to her mouth and at that moment there was the loudest bellow from the crib in the bedroom. They looked at each other with alarm and ran towards the sound.

Jacob was sucking at his fist, he wanted his dinner too.