| As these thought came to her, Eydie suddenly found herself being drawn back in memory to another time and another place. It seemed long ago. And yet it felt like it happened just yesterday. It was thirteen months ago, and it was hundreds of miles way.
Her mind went to that other time, that other place, where another woman was undergoing the pain and terrible aloneness of giving birth. . . .
"I'm having a baby," the girl whispered. "I'm having a baby. I'm going to have my baby now. . . ." She reached out a hand and took hold of Eydie's wrist.
Eydie Gorme stared down at the set, white face, at the frail body that twisted painfully on the upholstered seat. She listened to the terrified voice that kept saying, over and over.
"I'm going to have my baby now. . . ."
Around them, faces peered, voices whispered. A few feet away, a uniformed stewardess stood, eyes anxious. "Is she all right?" the stewardess asked. "What is she saying?"
Eydie turned her head. Her voice cut clearly through the steady drone of the motors. "She says she's going to have a baby now. I think she's telling the truth." Silently, her mind added. And I think I'm going have to help her. Eydie Gorme, girl obstetrician, is going to have to help a total stranger to have a baby on an airplane in the middle of nowhere. . . .
Gently, she freed her hand. At once, the clouded eyes opened wide. "Don't go away," the girl said. Please. I want you to stay with me."
But why me! Eydie Gorme thought. Why does it have to me me?
She bent over the girl. "Don't worry," she said gently. "I won't go away. . . . "
Her trip had begun hours earlier, waiting for the plane at the Pittsburgh airport.
Eydie and her secretary sat patiently. Falling snow was holding up their departure. The waiting-room chairs seemed hard. Eydie sat stiffly now, too nervous to sleep. Around her, the other passengers sprawled in disconsolate groups. Studying them, Eydie blinked, then nudged Connie.
Her secretary, half asleep, opened an eyed. "What?"
"Look at that girl, Con. The thin one in the knit suit. There's something wrong with her."
Connie looked. "You think she's sick?"
"No, not sick. Unhappy, maybe. Or - you know what? She looks as if she's in shock!"
"God, what an imagination!" Connie said. Her eyes closed. Her head dropped back.
"I guess," Eydie said. She tired shutting her own eyes for a while. Sleep wouldn't come.
At last their plane taxied in and opened its doors to them. It was warm and comfortable inside, and the stewardess brought food at once. Comforted and content, Connie fell asleep immediately. Night had come. Start blinked reassuringly in the dark beyond the windows. Eydie shut her eyes.
She never knew exactly what woke her. Perhaps her sleep was light: perhaps her nerves were still tense; perhaps it was the warning click of some inner hair-trigger. All she knew was that when she had been asleep an hour and a quarter, her eyes flew open just in time to see the stewardess hurrying up the aisle, white-faced and - almost - disheveled.
She put out a hand and caught the stewardess. "What's wrong?'
The stewardess stared blankly at her for a moment. She bit her lip. Eydie knew she must be thinking: I am not supposed to alarm the passengers. But this one's alarmed already. . .
There's a girl up front," she whispered at last, "who says she's having a baby!"
For one moment Eydie's mind registered nothing. Then her eyes widened. "Who's with her?"
"Nobody!" the stewardess said. "I don't now what to do." Her eyes moved down, fastened on Eydie's wedding ring. "Do you?"
Eydie shook her head. She's been married just a year; she was an aunt many times over - but she'd never had a baby, never seen one born. "No," she said. "I don't. I'm sorry."
Perhaps it was simply that the stewardess was desperate; perhaps it was that Eydie's voice was still pleasantly calm with sleep. "Would you go talk to her?" the stewardess asked quietly. "You see-I don't know if she's telling the truth. It's - it's so queer."
She's really scared, Eydie thought. And I'm not. It won't hurt to go talk. . . .
So Eydie left her seat and walked down the aisle to the seat the stewardess pointed out. And there she stopped.
It was the girl from the airport.
The pale, shocked-looking girl in the Italian knit suit.
Eydie stared down at her for a moment. It was no wonder the stwaerdess had been bewildered. Nothing about this girl showed her to be pregnant! She searched for a way to be tactful, failed to find it. There was only one thing to do. Eydie took a deep breath.
"Are you pregnant?" she said.
The girl looked up. The pale face was even more tense that it had been at the airport; her eyes were blank. "Yes," she said.
Eydie sat down next to her. "You don't look pregnant."
"Oh." Eydie said. "What month?"
The blank eyes turned toward her. "I don't know. I think the seventh."
"You think?" Eydie gasped. "Haven't you been to a doctor?"
"No," the girl said. Her breathing was irregular. Her body moved convulsively.
"Help me," she whispered. "Please."
"Yes," Eydie said. She tired once more. "Couldn't it - couldn't you be having - a stomach ache?"
"I'm having a baby," the girl said. The words seemed to have a hypnotic effect upon her. "A baby," she said again. "I'm having a baby...."
It seemed to Eydie afterwards that, by rights, she should have been as terrified as the stewardess, trembling at her own lack of knowledge. Instead, she felt only a deep calm. Her weariness was gone. It didn't really matter whether she was competent or not. She had to be.
She leaned over and said softly to the girl. "You look so thin, you know. Are you wearing a girdle?"
Between tight lips, the girls said. "Yes."
"Come with me," Eydie said. "We'll go to the ladies' room. I'll help you take it off."
With steady hands she helped the girl to her feet. Her own strong, young arms guided her down the aisle of the plane, close the door against the staring eyes outside, and helped remove the girdle. Then, talking softly, saying over and over that everything would be all right, she helped the shaking figure back to her seat.
At the seat, the stewardess was waiting. "The pilot wants to see you. Would you go up front?"
"No," the girl said. "Don't go."
"I'll be right back," Eydie said. "Don't worry."
Up front, the pilot hardly glanced at her. "I hear you're in charge back there. What do you want us to do?"
"Set the plane down as soon as you can," ordered Eydie Gorme. "The girl is either having a baby or a miscarriage."
"I'll try to land at Albuquerque - that's not too far," the pilot said. "Three-quarters of an hour, I'd say."
"O.K.," Eydie said. "If that's all, I've go to get back - "
"Go ahead. Tell them that I'm radioing ahead for a doctor," the pilot said. He looked up at her for the first time. "Say," he said, "aren't you Eydie Gorme?"
"Yeah." The pilot said. "I thought you looked sort of familiar." He shook his head slowly. "Well," he said, "you never can tell who's going to turn up doing what. . . ."
|Who Says Miracles Don't Happen!|
| Eydie Gorme lay motionless on the hospital bed.
Just outside the room, she knew, her doctor stood. The touch of her hand to a bell would bring a nurse to her side. Down the hall in the waiting room her husband Steve and her family sat, and talked and waited and occasionally lowered their heads in a brief silent prayer that everything would be all right. All that science and love could give her, she had.
She was having a baby.
Has any woman ever given birth without feeling herself ultimately, deeply, alone?
Has any woman ever given birth without knowing fear?
|by Rosa Magaro|