She was alone. Her husband was dead, not that she missed that cruel, abusive son of a bitch. But he had the misfortune of dying and leaving her in the middle of the Brazilian jungle one month before she was due to deliver their first child. So she was alone and afraid.
She wasn't having a very good week. On Sunday, her husband, Tom, along with all of his co-workers was killed in a freak accident when their bus, avoiding a cow in the road, drove off a cliff. On Monday, in broken English, the doctor told her she could not fly home in her advanced stage of pregnancy. On Tuesday, the airline confirmed what the doctor told her the day before. On Wednesday, the rest of the grieving families left for the United States. Early Thursday morning, she woke up in a wet bed. Her water had broken and she was on her way to the small town hospital.
When Angela arrived at the hospital, she walked to the front desk. The woman at the desk spoke to her in very quick Portuguese and Angela didn't understand a word of what was said. Angela opened up her English-Portuguese dictionary and said, "no falar Portuguese. English?" The receptionist responded with, "No Ingles," along with more words that Angela could not understand. Angela referred again to her dictionary and said, "Aguaquebrado nacimento." Water, broken, and pregnant were the words that she chose, hoping the receptionist would understand. The receptionist nodded, and picked up her telephone.
A moment later, a man approached the front desk and said to Angela, "Hello, I am Dr. Formosa. I understand you are pregnant and your water has broken?" Chiseled. That was the word that came to mind when looking at this doctor. Chiseled nose, high, chiseled cheekbones, dark hair, chiseled into place. He was dressed impeccably in tan Dockers, a navy blue polo shirt, and white lab coat. She prayed that his skills at being a doctor were as impeccable as his looks and dress.
Angela said, "Oh, thank God you speak English! Yeah, my water broke" She was about to go on when she was overtaken by a very painful contraction that caused her to gasp in pain and clutch the corner of the reception desk. "Oh, geez," she thought to herself, "Why didn't I take the time to go through the childbirth classes?" Of course, Tom hadn't thought she needed them; he told her that she could do it without taking the time to learn how to breathe. Damn him, what a monster he was.
Dr. Formosa spoke rather quickly and firmly to the receptionist. He then turned to her and said, "Senora, we will take you to the delivery rooms. The receptionist, however, needs to know your name and how you are going to pay for you and your baby."
Angela fumbled through her purse and pulled out her passport, handing it to the receptionist. "My name's Angela Wallace and my husband's part of the team that was killed on Sunday. His company will be covering the entire bill if you send it to them. I didn't tell them I'm here. This happened rather quickly."
Dr. Formosa spoke quickly to the receptionist, then turned to Angela and said, "I am very sorry to hear of your husband's death, Senora Wallace. That was a terrible accident. If you will just sit in this wheelchair, I will take you down the hall. Please, can you tell me, when is the due date for this baby?"
Angela responded with, "That's part of the problem, Dr. Formosa; this baby isn't due for another month. I'm very afraid for the child." She didn't bother to add that she was relieved over her husband's death; it didn't seem important at that moment that she tell the doctor how much of a cruel man he really was. It didn't matter anymore. He was dead.
She sat in the wheelchair and Dr. Formosa pushed her down a long hallway. Angela was impressed with the cleanliness of this small hospital. The walls were white, the floor shiny, obviously freshly mopped. Her assumptions were far different from reality and she finally started feeling a bit of elation for the baby that was about to come. Maybe everything would turn out all right. Maybe the doctor was wrong about her due date. Maybe, maybe, maybe, there were too many maybes. Maybe she should just relax and let the doctor do his work.
Dr. Formosa and a short, plump nurse with a long, dark braid going down her short back got her settled into a gown and onto the bed when Angela was stabbed with a very hard contraction. She cried out in pain, forgetting anything she knew about breathing, which wasn't much to begin with. She grabbed the nurse's hand and squeezed tight. The nurse was saying what Angela hoped were calming words and when the contraction was done, she turned to the nurse and said, "De nada." She sighed, thinking it was going to be a long morning.
Just as she got relaxed again, another painful contraction hit her, this was even stronger than the last, if that was possible. She started crying and the nurse grabbed her hand, wiped her forehead with a cool, wet cloth and spoke quietly to her. Angela cried out, "Oh God, this is bad. I don't want to do this. Give me a shot of something. Make this stop. Please, where is Dr. Formosa, make him give me something now!" The nurse mumbled, shaking her head and all Angela could understand was the word, Ingles.
The contractions continued, getting closer and closer together and Angela was wearing thin from the constant pain. It seemed like it was never going to end. Finally after what felt like an eternity, Dr. Formosa came in and said, "Senora, it is time for us to take you to a delivery room now. Your baby is almost come. Everything will be okay and you will have a new baby boy or girl to care for." Angela was in far too much pain to respond with more than a nod.
The doctor and the nurse moved her onto a gurney and wheeled her into an extremely cold room. There was one light on the ceiling, a tray in the middle of the room, and a small layette waiting for a baby to be placed in. Angela felt a cold shiver run through her and once again remembered that she was alone in all of this, wishing her sister, her mom, her best friend, anyone, could be with her right now. Even Tom would have been better than being alone.
They put her on the table and put her legs up in the cold, metal stirrups, spreading them as far apart as possible. The doctor said, "Next contraction, you push very hard. Be sure to breathe. Pant when it gets too painful." As soon as those words were out of his mouth, the contraction came. Angela pushed and it felt like her insides were being ripped apart. She gripped the nurse's hand so tightly that she thought she'd pull the hand right out of the socket. She had sweat pouring out of her forehead. When the contraction passed, the doctor said, "Good, Senora Wallace, a couple more of those and your baby will be here."
The nurse wiped the sweat off Angela's forehead with the cool, wet cloth and clucked at her, gently rubbing Angela's arms. Angela felt somewhat calm, but knew that feeling wouldn't last more than a minute. When the next contraction came, Angela gasped with pain but started pushing hard again. She felt movement in her stomach like something had been lodged free. Dr. Formosa said, "The head is out, one more push and the body will come, too! You're doing very well, Senora Wallace, you will be done very soon."
With the next contraction, Angela felt a pop and heard a weak cry. She cried out, "Oh my God, I did it! What is it? Is it a boy? Is it a girl? Tell me, Dr., tell me!" Dr. Formosa said, "You have a girl. She's a bit small, but she looks healthy. You may hold her for few minutes." He placed the baby on her chest and Angela looked down at the bloody baby and touched her wet head. She had a fuzzy crown of dark hair and Angela thought at that moment that she was the most beautiful baby she had ever laid her eyes on. Even as another contraction gripped her, it didn't matter; she had her little girl. "I'll name her Angelina Marie. Isn't she just beautiful?" The nurse started clucking again as the doctor removed Angelina from Angela to cut the umbilical cord. The nurse took the baby, cleaned her up, and wrapped her in a blanket before handing her back to Angela.
Angela looked closely at her baby. She took the tiny pink hand that reached out of the blanket. She was surprised by the softness of her skin. She counted the fingers; there were five. After a few minutes, Dr. Formosa said, "Senora Wallace, the nurse must take the baby for a little bit. She needs to be weighed and examined. We will take you to a room and bring the baby in to you. The baby looks very healthy, so unless we find something seriously wrong with her, you should be able to exit the hospital tomorrow."
As Angela was wheeled back into her room, she realized that she was no longer afraid and she was most certainly no longer alone. Maybe it wasn't such a bad week after all.