In mid October of 1974, David and Emily took the week after Emily's due date to visit Joanie and Stuart in Ottawa. Emily was having a complicated pregnancy, and she was a week over due. She wanted to be close to the hospital if anything went wrong. Stuart and Joanie's apartment was only a block away from Ottawa General, so when Emily went into labour, it was a quick trip to the emergency room for all four of them. Emily didn't want to take the car to go one block, but David wouldn't let her walk.

"David, you're being silly I haven't even gone into hard labour yet. I'm not going to give birth on the sidewalk if I walk one block!"

"I know darling, but you've been in intermittent pain for the last month. I don't want you taking any chances. Would you please get in the car before you do give birth on the sidewalk?"

As David and Emily were arguing, David ran to the hospital and borrowed a wheel chair. He presented it to Emily.

"Would you consider going in this wheel chair, Em?" Stuart asked.

"What a thoughtful idea, Stuart, thank you!"

Emily got in the wheel chair, and David pushed her to the hospital. Joanie followed with Emily's suitcase. Stuart walked along beside his wife. Emily was admitted to the maternity ward immediately. David and Stuart paced the floor in the waiting room, while Joanie went to find a vending machine for coffee.

"I'm so glad you let us stay with you for the last week, Stuart. It's lucky that you live only a block from the hospital."

"Are you kidding? We absolutely loved having you! Joanie has gotten so emotionally close to Emily since we moved to Ottawa. I think it may be a twin thing. Their bond transcends the miles.

"I know. Joanie was in our room yelling for me to wake up just as Emily went into labour. Emily was just waking up herself when her water broke. Sometimes I think that Joanie is experiencing this difficult pregnancy too.

Joanie joined the two men, juggling three cups of coffee between her two hands.

" I could only get coffee with whitener and sugar out of the vending machine, guys, so you'll have to drink it as is, even though you like it black, David."

David takes one of the cups with a grin.

"I think I can manage. When the hospital coffee shop opens later, I'll get real coffee for all of us."

"I called mom and dad, David. They're going over to tell your parents. Your dad has been so sick since our wedding, that they'll probably stay at home. I'll call them when there's any news." Joanie told David

A young doctor joins the group and takes David's elbow, and begins to steer him away. The doctor looks very worried.

"Mr. Larson, may I speak to you privately please?"

"Of course, doctor. Joanie, Stuart, I'll let you know what's going on as soon as I know."

The doctor leads David to a small private doctor's lounge.

"As you know, your wife is a week overdue. The baby is very big, and Mrs. Larson's birth canal is very small. We were going to do a caesarean section in two days' time."

David is worried, exasperated, losing patience.

"I know all that, we went through this two days ago. Just cut to the chase. What is going on with my wife and baby?"

"I'm getting to that. The baby's feet are where it's head should be. It's called a breach birth. When Mrs. Larson went into labour, the baby got stuck. We're doing a caesarean section now, but there has been some other serious complications."

David sat wearily on a couch, his head in his hands. He fought off tears.

"The umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby's neck, it's in distress. Your wife is hemorrhaging and we're trying to get it under control. I need a decision from you, Mr. Larson. There is a good chance that we might be able to save one of them.
You must choose. Your wife, or your baby? I know this is a dreadful thing to ask, but I must know now. There isn't much time."

David put his head in his hands, tears streamed down his face.

"I don't know, how can I.. I've loved her all my life... but our child, our son or daughter, how can I..."

The End

29 comments about this story Feed