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Miller’s Tent

Colonial Building Site


Wednesday, June 15th, 2016, 3:30 am



      On Monday, June 13th, 2016, the school was closed because Michelle’s labor and delivery were imminent. She was barely able to walk.  After the delivery, Emma planned to have the school open part-time for the younger children.  At the very least, they needed a place to go while their parents worked.  Closing the school forced a holiday because the parents needed to care for their children.  Samuel even cancelled the hired help for the two weeks the school was closed.

      Everybody was excited about the baby.  While some of the other couples were thinking of having children, none of them wanted to have them before they arrived inside the colony.  Even Michelle and Jared decided to hold off for a while after this child even though they knew they would have to act fairly soon as Michelle was getting closer to forty.

      Monday had been Michelle’s due date.  With each day that passed, she got more and more anxious.  Zoe told her she had to be patient.

      One of the major concerns everybody was having was that there was only one doctor in case a caesarian section was needed.  For Michelle, it was not a big concern as she could easily be taken to a hospital in Zurich.  Once they were sealed inside would Zoe be able to handle a delivery alone?  Zoe was her own biggest skeptic.  She decided to take on a volunteer as soon as possible to train as an assistant.  Everybody hoped her assistant would be one of the teens so that the teen could learn to be another doctor.  Fortunately, medical science had advanced to a point that technically most surgeries could be done by one person.  It was, however, difficult and often required a well-trained surgeon.  Zoe had rarely done surgeries throughout her career and was worried she would not be able to handle anything major.

      Michelle had trouble sleeping.  She kept waking up.  Around 3:30, she started having contractions that became more and more regular.  She poked Jared.  “Wake up, Honey.”

      Jared groaned, “What?”

      “I think it’s time!”

      “Time for what?” he asked.

      “Time to give birth,” she exclaimed

      “Oh.  OH!”  He jumped out of bed and quickly got dressed.  Michelle was in a nightgown, so she only put on slippers.  They were quiet to avoid waking Carmen.  They hurried out of their tent and headed to the Lyles’ tent.  When they got there, Jared made a knocking noise by hitting the corner where the support was.  This was how most of the Time-Keepers knocked at each other’s tents.  The noise it made was always soft.  He called, “Zoe, are you awake?  Zoe?”

      There was some noise in the tent.  Zoe went to the door in her pajamas.  When she opened the door she asked, “Hi, is everything OK?”

      Michelle said, “I think it’s time!”

      Zoe said, “OK, go to the medical tent.  I’ll be there soon.”

      Michelle and Jared went to the tent while Zoe got dressed.  The medical tent was the biggest of the tents.  It was even bigger than the kitchen tent.  Inside were some cots and an examination table.  There were also a few infant beds.  The beds were set up not so much for the Millers’ baby but for the potential future when the colony could have multiple births at once.  A large overhead warmer was above one of the beds.  The warmer was a gentle heat lamp.        There were also some tables, stools, and several metal cabinets with various supplies and equipment.

      Michelle went directly to a chair and sat down.  Jared paced back and forth while they waited.  Michelle said, “Would you please sit down?  You’re making me nervous.”

      “Sure, sorry, Honey.”

      “Don’t apologize!”


      When Zoe arrived, she had Michelle change into a patient gown.  “Where do you feel the contractions?”

      Michelle pointed to her lower back and said, “Here in my back.”

      Then Zoe started timing the contractions.  “They’re about six minutes apart.  I’m going to check how far you’ve dilated.”  After she checked, she said, “About five centimeters.  It looks like you’re in early labor.  Are you thirsty?  We can’t let you eat anything, except ice chips, from here on.”

      Michelle nodded, “Yes.  Can I have some ice water?”

      “Sure.  Jared, can you get that for her?”

      Jared nodded OK and went to the kitchen tent to get it.

      While he was gone Zoe said, “I really should get a small fridge in here.  I can’t be running out in the middle of something like this.”

      Michelle said, “You need somebody to help you.  Maybe you should ask Keith.  Keith is really good at biology.”

      Jared rushed back in, “Did I miss anything?”

      Zoe said, “Yes, your baby was born, grew up, and is in college now.  You’d better pay the tuition!”

      Michelle smiled.  Jared gave Michelle the water. 

      Zoe said, “You should practice your breathing.”

      With each contraction, Michelle took a slow deep breath before and after.  Jared started massaging her back where the labor pains were.  After about two hours, the contractions started getting more painful and frequent.  Zoe checked and found Michelle was now seven inches dilated. 

      Michelle was struggling more at this point.  Jared brought a book of pictures with them.  He turned the pages for Michelle to see.  Most of the pictures were of the tropics.  Some were underwater pictures of coral reefs.  Others were of tall green mountains. When he got to a page with a clown fish inside of a purple sea anemone she said, “Leave it there.”

      At this point Zoe gave Michelle an injection of Platta.  Platta was a new drug developed from a liquid found in rare deep-sea fish.  Once the drug was discovered, they became less rare as pharmaceutical companies started keeping huge fisheries for them. Platta had quickly replaced the epidural.  It was far safer and easier to control than epidurals had been.  While it relieved much of the pain, it still allowed the patient to keep focused during the birth.

      At this point, it was almost six, and Carmen came running in.  “Are you OK?”

      Michelle said, “Yes, I’m fine.  Leave me alone . . . please.”  Carmen left, seeming to wonder if she had done something wrong.

      During the next two hours, Jared left briefly to get breakfast.  They also walked around some because Michelle was starting to feel numb.  This is when the contractions started getting bad.  From this point on, she had to stay in bed.  Zoe spent this time continually checking Michelle.  She also made sure the warmer was working. 

      Zoe checked and Michelle was now eight inches dilated.  Zoe connected an external fetal monitor to Michelle's belly.  It was wirelessly connected to the computer system and displayed the heartbeats on the screen.

      Forty minutes after the monitor was put in place Zoe checked and Michelle was now fully dilated.  Michelle’s face was covered with sweat.  Jared would tenderly pat it dry until Michelle barked, “Just wipe it!”

      After thirty minutes of pain, discomfort, and ill humor, Michelle’s water broke.  Zoe said, “It’ll be soon now.”

      Michelle said, “It better be.”

      Zoe said, "It will.  I'm going to want you to start pushing now."

      Jared and Zoe coached Michelle through the pushing.  Finally, the baby's head was visible.  Zoe said, “I can see the baby.  Push now.”

      Michelle screamed as she pushed.  Jared held her hand, which caused his hand to be promptly crushed. The baby’s head pushed out.  The shoulders were still inside.

      Zoe said, “The head is out. Give another push.”

      Michelle pushed, with Zoe’s help the baby’s shoulders passed through, and then it was done.  The baby started to cry as Zoe lifted it up and out.  Zoe said, “Congratulations, it’s a boy!”  Zoe asked Jared, “Do you want to cut the cord?”

      Jared gave a kind of squeamish look but said, “OK.”

      Zoe set up the cord to be cut then gave him the scissors.  He had a little trouble cutting through it.  Then Zoe cleaned the baby.  He was healthy.  His skin was a harsh pink and his head looked a little squished from the delivery.

      Zoe brought the baby to Michelle and said, “Here’s your baby.”

      Michelle started to cry softly.  “It’s a boy,” she said to Jared.

      Jared smiled and hugged his wife and son. 

      Zoe said, “You should try breast-feeding now to help stimulate uterine contractions.”

      Michelle repositioned the baby and opened her gown to let the baby feed.  With very little trouble, the baby started nursing.  While the baby nursed, Jared and Michelle counted his little fingers and toes, which were all there and in perfect condition. 

      After a little time passed Zoe said, “OK, I need to move him to the warmer.  Do you have a name for him yet?”

      Michelle said, “Yes, Spencer.” Jared nodded in agreement.

      Zoe picked up baby Spencer and brought him to the bed.  She turned the warmer on over him.  She attached a small thermometer on a cord to his belly using tape.  When the baby’s temperature went below a certain set value, the warmer turned on.

      Jared stood over his new boy.  He touched the baby’s left hand with a finger.  The baby grabbed it and held it.

      “He’s holding my finger!”  Jared said.

      Michelle smiled then said, “Somebody should get Carmen!”

      Jared nodded, “I’ll do it.”

      Jared walked out of the tent and quickly found Carmen pacing near the kitchen tent.  Carmen said, “Is everything OK?”

      Jared nodded in acknowledgment, “Yes, come see your new baby brother!”

      They went to the medical tent.  In the time he was gone Michelle had been moved to a more comfortable bed where she was already fast asleep!

      Carmen asked Zoe, “Is she OK?”

      Zoe nodded, “Yes, she’ll need some sleep though.”

      Jared waved Carmen over to the infant bed that still had the warmer over it.  Carmen said, “Oh, he’s beautiful!  Can I hold him?”

      Zoe said, “Yes, but not for more than a few minutes.  We need to make sure his temperature stays regular.”

      Jared removed the taped thermometer and held his baby for a minute.  Then he passed Spencer to Carmen.  Carmen said, “He’s so cute!  He has green eyes like his mom!”

      Zoe said, “Eye color in the first few months often changes.”

      Carmen put her brother back into the infant bed and reattached the thermometer.  Spencer wiggled a bit and hit the thermometer with his hand.  It came off and the heater turned on. Carmen’s hands were still in the bed and she said, “Yikes, it’s getting hot!” Then an alarm sounded from the heater.

      Zoe walked over and put the thermometer back on then said, “Hey Little Guy, we don’t want to toast you.  You need to leave this on.”

      After some more time past, Zoe turned off the warmer and said, “You should let him get his rest.  Come back in a few hours to feed him.  I’m betting Michelle will still be asleep at that point.”

      Jared nodded, “OK, we will.” Then he said to Zoe, “Thank you,” and gave her a friendly hug, which was uncommon for him.

      After they walked out Jared said, “You’re a sister.”

      Carmen replied, “And you’re a daddy.”

      Jared disagreed, “I already am a daddy.”

      Carmen shook her head, “Nah, you’re a father, just not a daddy.  Daddy is what little kids call parents, and I’m not little.”

      Jared joked, “Are you sure? Maybe you need a bottle.  Want to play with a rattle?”

      “Ha, ha,” she said.

      “You’ll laugh about that later.  Trust me.  You might not believe it now, but in a few hours it will burst out of you like a  . . .”

      “Yes, like a what.”

      He shrugged, “I don’t know.  I’ve got nothing!”

      Over the next few days, everybody was talking about Spencer.  Spencer stayed in the medical tent with Michelle while she recovered.  Jared and Carmen took turns feeding and changing Spencer while Michelle was still bedridden. 

      Finally, Michelle was able to move back into her tent.  They set up Spencer’s bed beside where Jared and Michelle slept. 

      Jared and Michelle both tried to get Carmen to move into her own tent so she could sleep.  She was already sleeping in the smaller chamber and insisted the baby did not wake her.  It was not completely true, but Carmen still got good sleep.  Moreover, she was able to help on nights that Jared and Michelle were too worn out. 

      Michelle took a few months off from teaching to take care of Spencer.  When she started teaching again, Jared and Carmen took turns caring for Spencer during the day.  Some days Keith took care of Spencer, too.  Keith was not too fond of the idea at first, especially changing diapers, nevertheless, when he spent time with Carmen while Carmen was caring for Spencer he saw that it really was not that bad.  When Carmen first had Keith hold Spencer, Keith was very nervous.  Spencer seemed so fragile to him, and he was scared that clumsiness would cause the worst kind of problems.  Keith did fine.  He was able to hold Spencer, and Spencer seemed to like him.  Eventually Keith felt capable of taking care of Spencer on his own and found he really enjoyed being with Spencer.

Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford

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