Max wiped the sweat off her brow as some of the items she requested were brought over. I could tell she was very uneasy about this. Her eyes kept scanning the ground as if for some kind of help while she tracked the woman’s pulse. She spoke to several of the refugees before they went about searching for more things. Speaking to the woman slow, it seemed Max was explaining what needed to happen in order to help her birth the baby. One man started to panic, who I assumed was the father. Each time his wife cried out he knelt down and carefully rubbed her lower back before getting up once more and pace.
A few women spoke to Max and agreed to help. It seemed things were not going my sister’s way at all. She punched her fist into the ground after hearing some news she wasn’t pleased with. Out here, she didn’t have textbooks to refer to, or even other medics. This was all from things she had heard via stories and the little amount of experience. Running her hand through her hair, Max quickly took a knife and sterilized it with fire from their fire pit. Setting it carefully on a small cloth she began to work diligently on checking the baby.
As the woman cried out in pain again, the husband returned to check on his wife. Max yelled something at the other women who quickly urged the man to step back or even leave the area. He glared at Max briefly before being ushered away by the other men. They all went off farther down the catacombs to retire until the baby had been born. Speaking to the woman again, Max continued to talk her through the current situation. I remember her studying birth, but never had she talked of having to help someone give birth on the field. That was something that was assumed to not happen because of all the fraternization rules.
Max must have gotten into a the habit of running her hand through her hair, as I observed her she did it three more times before returning to the task at hand. Carefully feeling the woman’s belly, Max looked to the other women and asked them several questions before one of them started to keep track of the pregnant lady’s pulse. Already the woman started to push, causing Max to panic even more as she was not ready for such a thing. Her lips moved quickly as she explained what she needed to still do and what was going to happen after that. She was gesturing to help the woman understand what was going on.
Labor pains must have really been bothering the woman as her mouth opened really large, probably close to screaming. Max slid the belt off her uniform pants and carefully folded it so that it was rather thick. Speaking to the woman, she had her bite down on the leather so that she wouldn’t break a tooth or bite into her tongue.
Max took some blankets from one of the midwives and started talking the mother to be through the labor. I watched hopeful that everything was going to go all right. After observing the woman push for almost an hour, my sister carefully lifted out a small child in the blankets. She handed it off to one midwife while she skillfully took the knife and cut the umbilical cord.
Examining the baby I could see it was crying by the movement of its mouth. Wrapping it gently in a blanket after cleaning the child off, Max moved to the mother’s side and passed the baby to her. A smile was on her face as she watched the new mother and child. Accepting a rag from one of the midwives Max wiped off her hands and stood up. She was patted on the back for a job well done. After talking with the mother, Max started to pack her things and get ready to leave.
The men had walked over by now after being informed by the observers of the others that had heard the baby cry. As my sister adjusted her jacket, she looked to the happy family and friends gathered around the mommy and baby in congratulations. Turning to leave them in peace, Max stopped as one of the men called out to her. He pulled away from the group and approached her with his hand held out. Observing Max stare at it for several moments she finally shook it, the two exchanging a grin and some words between them. It looked like he was thanking her. Immediately after he had done so, several others approached and shook her hand.
She nodded, very embarrassed that she was being shown such gratitude—especially at a task she had never quite done. They gave Max some trinkets, small items that had plenty of sentimental value. Seeing her blush made me laugh as she was escorted towards the exit. A few of the men helped her climb out before returning to the others. Lifting the grate back over the opening of the floor, Max headed for the truck she had left behind earlier.
Max stopped and stared at the where her vehicle was. Tire tracks were left in its space. Her eyes traced the trail as far as she could see, leading to as far ahead as she could see. Watching her sigh, I saw as my sister started for another typical pick up spot for medics and other soldiers. Several soldiers were sitting in a half circle in the shade of a make shift tent. Waving to them, she ducked under the edge and took a seat. They passed her a flask which I observed her sniff before handing it back. She requested something else instead as a canteen was thrown to her in which she took a large drink from upon receiving it.
It seemed the soldiers were filling her in on the goings on as she had probably asked them the whereabouts of her truck. A few of them seemed to laugh at her before returning to the conversation before. As each of them talked of their day, Max sat and listened. I knew it was rare for her to contribute, as often times she could not participate in their daily storytelling. If her comrades found out that she was helping these rebels hide, she could have a lot more problems coming her way than just being shot at.
Some noise must have roused them as one of the soldiers leaned out from under the tent and peered in the direction of the base. A few more heads joined the first in looking at what must have been a truck. I stuck my head through the tent, seeing it was indeed a transport coming to pick them up. Max grabbed the bag she had set down and got up to leave. As the truck parked, many of the soldiers currently there started to climb in. Already the sun was going to set within a few hours and I could sense they wanted to get out of there before they were left in darkness.
Either way, Max didn’t seem bothered. To her it must have felt like a normal routine now. Each day she awoke and traveled to the city where she saved lives or mourned the dead. Afterwards she would then return to the base after a long day of bloodshed and exhaustion. The soldiers remained silent now as they looked upon the city as the truck rumbled beneath them. It pulled away with a shudder and slowly started gaining speed.
I looked upon the city, seeing the smoke starting to rise as the fighting must have started up again. A few small black streaks shot across the sky into the city. Huge explosions erupted from the city, large columns of smoke rising into the already hazy sunset. Glancing at Max I watched as she ran a hand through her hair.
It was going to be a long day tomorrow.