The following is an except from my Novel The Voyages of Achmid Huchmid and Folletti. This chapter is particularly poignant to me because I wrote it from my memories of births of my two daughters.
The ride back to Valentia Island and their cottage on the Moore was uneventful but exhausting for Folletti, who just couldn’t find a comfortable position and was required by her increasingly cramped bladder to stop and urinate regularly. Achmid dutifully obliged her bodily needs without uttering a single derisive comment; he simply took it all in stride. Aine and Denis bickered off and on most of the trip, but managed to keep their caustic rhetoric to a minimum for Folletti’s sake, but to the total amusement of Fallani who found the two mordant elves entertaining. By the time the mini-bus was finally parked in the driveway Folletti appeared in such a way that she would indeed sleep for a thousand years or more. Achmid helped her out of the van, up the driveway, and into her nightgown. Comfortably ensconced in their bed she promptly fell fast asleep.
“Poor dear is practically wore out. I hope she’ll be all right? I don’t think I could bare it if anything were to happen to the sweet dearie.”
“Aine, Folletti will be just fine once she gets a decent night sleep. You’ll see tomorrow she’ll be herself again.” Achmid states with less conviction than he feels. He is worried for Folletti and like Aine had no idea how he would be able to cope should anything untoward happen to her.
Mothers have been bringing their offspring into the world since the first organisms divided in two and life began on this planet. Achmid should know because he was there but he never gave it a great deal thought, he never cared much about what corporeal life was doing down in the mud. For eons fathers have waited and worried patiently for their mates to bring forth their progeny. It is only recently that the male of the human species has been invited into the birthing room during the decidedly exclusive female province of giving birth; allowed to participate in the blessed event even if only in a perfunctory role of assistant breather or coach. Achmid, if Aine would allow it, she having taken complete control of the maternity ward/cottage bedroom now that Folletti’s time had come, was bound and determined to be there for his beloved in every way possible. He was in little condition to be of service, though his intentions were good. Father’s worry while their mates do the heavy lifting but to give Achmid his due he remained by Folletti’s side throughout her entire ordeal. Even when the room filled with the iron scent of blood and his heart tore in two at the sound of her screams, he hung in there; holding her hand, leg, or what ever body part needed support. At times he thought that he might faint, that unmanly of all human failings, but he never did. Achmid did his best to be the caring loving husband that he promised himself that he would become when Folletti finished her labors. He considered asking her to marry him before she’d gone into labor but things move at their own speed and he never got the chance, now he vowed that he would ask for her hand at the very next opportunity, he would have to wait though, since she was very busy at the moment. The birthing room was staffed by Aine, chief midwife and woman in charge, along with her able assistant Fallani, for whom this would be her first experience at assisting at the birth of a human child.
“Aine is this normal? Should it be taking so long? Is the baby alright? Why is Folletti in so much pain? Is there anything we can do to ease her suffering?”
“Listen m’Lord, this is what mithers do when birthing a bairn. Tis painful, arduous work, that’s why it’s called labor; now if it’s too much for you go on down with Denis and wait til were done here.”
“No, I want to stay and help if I can; I want her to know I’m here for her.”
“Well that’s all well and fine, just hold her hand and keep reminding her to keep breathing like I taught you. Hoo-ha, hoo-ha. Over an’ over, til it be time for her to push.”
Folletti had her knees up, legs spread apart and her back up against pillows placed against the headboard of the bed. She’d been in labor for several hours now, but this being her first child the suffering was far from completion. The final outcome is undecided while this home birth progressed inexorably forward. Having a skilled midwife is essential for the desired positive outcome and since Aine has been here with Folletti throughout her entire pregnancy she is an invaluable asset and comfort to this first time mother. Fallani makes sure Folletti remains well hydrated, offering her chips of ice that soothes her dry mouth and keeps her intake of fluids at acceptable levels. If fathers worry then mothers must be absolutely terrified but Folletti is a paragon of strength. Achmid watches by her side completely amazed at what women can do with their bodies. He is utterly and completely in awe. If women are the weaker sex then damn, what does that make him; for surely he could never endure what his mate is going through to bring new life into this world?
Now there is pushing between the contractions and if Achmid had thought bringing new life into the world was difficult before, he was completely convinced that no one would ever be born again if he were responsible for passing a child through his body. Aine is positioned between Folletti’s spread thighs using encouraging supportive words to complete the deal.
“That’s it darlin’ push. I can see your wee barnie’s head coming now push.”
“Oweee, ahhhhh. Ough! oh my Creator!”
“Yes my sweet girl almost there now; one more push should do it.”
“Ahhhhh oh arrgh oooooieee uh huh errr umph ahh!” Folletti lays back her task finished.
“Rinn Tu e! Sure ya have a fine wee barnie girl Folletti, and a prettier thing I never saw.”
Whisking the new born away to clean her up before laying her on Folletti’s heaving chest, tears of joy and satisfaction streaming down her cheeks. Aine comments to Achmid.
“Are ya alright m’Lord, not going to pass out I hope; you’re an Athair of a baby lass ya are. Maybe you should take the barnie down stairs for a bit; while Fallani and I tidy up Folletti here.”
Aine hands the cleaned infant wrapped up snug as a bug in a rug to Achmid who gingerly holds his baby daughter for the first time. Over whelmed with emotion, incredible deep feelings of love, so much so that he truly believes his immortal heart will burst, Achmid cradles his daughter in his arms and proudly walks down stairs to show her off to the waiting company; but first he can’t help but make a comment to Aine.
“Human reproduction is such a violent act. It’s a wonder that mothers don’t hate their offspring for causing so much pain and damage to their bodies just to bring them into the world.”
“Och, tis a pain soon forgot m’Lord.”
Achmid has been at war with his mortal half for years and years; ever since he first began assuming corporeal form to engage with the world of humans. The splitting of the soul between body and spirit results in an inner conflict. Unless an individual’s body is in sync with its spirit the two divergent components will wage a battle for control and that war will continue until a center is found and ultimately peace. Pondering questions like these Achmid takes the last step down a flight of stairs that he feels has been the longest journey he has ever undertaken. In reality the stairs cross a mere twelve feet from first to second floor but for him, carrying his new born baby daughter, they have been the longest distance he has ever traversed. What his future holds or what is in the future for any of his loved ones is beyond his ability to foresee, he only knows that he belongs here with Folletti and his young family and the knowing of that simple truth gives him the peace he has sought for so very long.
“So, m’Lord have you decided on a name for the wee barnie yet?”
“No, Denis, we haven’t had a moment to discuss names yet. I sort of like Eve but I’ll wait until Folletti is ready to participate in choosing the name.”
Achmid held his daughter while all three beings faun over her much to Achmid’s’ delight, he is enjoying his role as the proud Papa while Folletti sleeps soundly upstairs; deservedly so.
Later that night after the household had long been asleep; Achmid and Folletti enjoy some private time with their newborn while she nurses from Folletti’s breast.
“Ow, hungry baby, my what a powerful suck you have. She is so beautiful, isn’t she Achmid?”
“I’ve never seen anything more beautiful than the two of you just like this. I love you both so much.”
“We have to give her a name Achmid; have you given any thought to what name we should give our child?”
“I like Eve, or Evelyn. What about your thoughts?”
“I’d like to name her Fionna of course, after my late sister. Do you think it bad luck to name a child after the recently deceased?”
“No, bad luck is not transferable, thankfully. Fionna is a beautiful name, so lyrical; and I think naming our daughter Fionna honors your sister. So be it then. Hello little Fionna; I’m your daddy.”
“Achmid, I’m so happy. I don’t think I could be any happier. Everything is working out just the way it should, life is unfolding better than I could possibly have imagined.”
“Folletti, tell me where did you come up with the idea for the Muses. That was brilliant! Did you read about them somewhere or have you met any in your travels before we ran into each other?”
“Well sort of, in a manner of speaking I ran into one; you see Achmid, Fionna made the suggestion to me. She’s a Muse and she suggested the idea from within my womb.”
“How is that possible?”
“After I read your letter informing me of the negative response to your first presentation before the Unseen Court I became very depressed and my thoughts turned inward. There I met the consciousness of our daughter and she made the suggestion directly into my mind.”
“Precognizant prior to birth; that’s amazing. I guess there is no question that our daughter is a magical being. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. So that’s where the idea came from, remarkable. I wonder what her future holds?”