Hello! It’s Saturday once again (seriously how is it that we are already over half way through January?! #cansomeonepleaseslowdowntime) and that means that I’m back with part 2 of A Chosen Life. If you haven’t read part 1 yet, you can do so here. I hope you enjoy the next bit of the story! 🙂
As Puah and I stood panting in the doorway, a familiar sight greeted my eyes. A woman, swollen with child, panting even harder than I was, sat on the edge of a low bed. A man, face tight with worry, hovered over the woman. This sight was familiar to me – I had attended at hundreds of such bedsides, seen many pain-stricken women and worry-wrinkled men. Except, this wasn’t a normal man and women. They were Hebrews. I was in Goshen – Hebrew territory. “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women…” An imperious voice threaded with ice rang like a stone striking steel in my memory. I fought to choke down a rising panic that threatened to overwhelm me.
“Elah, here are the midwives.” The man gestured to us, still standing on the threshold.
“Thank the Lord.” The woman closed her eyes, her body sagging in weariness. “I thought you would never come.”
Dread curled heavily in my stomach, but muscle memory took over. I had the experience of years, I knew what to do. Come on Shiphrah, move. In one fluid motion I undid my cloak and handed it and my satchel to Puah. “Get everything ready.” I strode over to the woman on the bed and squatted down beside her. “My name is Shiphrah. How long have the pains been coming?”
“Since midday.” The woman answered. “But they grew worse after sundown.” I quickly calculated in my head – it was now nearing the darkest hour of the night, which meant she had been in strong labour for about five hours.
“Is this your first child?”
“No.” The pain of sorrow flashed across her face. “I have had three others. All born dead.”
Her words stabbed me in my gut. I knew her pain too well.
Barren. Without children I was nothing more than a useless vessel. I was a woman who had failed to bring life into the world, now dedicated to helping others bring life into this world. And now… and now… This. The decree. The iron will. The fear.
Oh God of Goshen, I beseech you to give me wisdom.
Shoving my memories back down to the depths of my mind, I asked, “Have your waters gone?”
“Yes, about an hour ago-Ohhhh…” Her words turned into a long moan as her body tensed up again. I guided her body so that she could lean on me, and then waited until the pain had passed.
“Elah, listen to me.” She raised her head to look at me. “Puah and I are here to help. You must do as I say.” She gave a weak nod, pushing dark tendrils of hair behind her ears with a trembling hand.
I turned to where Puah was bending over the hearth, stirring the healing herbal salve. “Puah, get the bricks. And we need some broth… Aram?” I twisted my head to lock eyes with the dark-haired man standing awkwardly in a corner. “Do you have any meat broth?” He nodded weakly in assent. “Get it and give it to my assistant.”
The mud walls flickered with light from several oil lamps, shadows of the moving figures casting odd shapes in the dimness. The tension was building inside of me, my heart pounding harder with every moment. I had seen many births. I had supported countless women, slapped breath into countless squalling babies, wiped tears, cleaned blood, shared in the joy of new life. But this time… This time might change it all. The power of life or death sat on my reluctant shoulders. The decree hung over me like a shadow. God of Goshen, I beseech you to give me wisdom...
Come back next week for part 3 of A Chosen Life! It is going to get rather interesting…
Let’s chat in the comments! What do you think of the situation that Shiphrah is now in? Do you have any idea what the outcome may be?