Pausing outside before following Liz into the tunnel, Einar studied the sky, testing the air and trying his best to determine the future course of the storm that had dumped so much snow on their high basin home. Though the wind had ceased and the snow wasn’t far behind he was not entirely convinced that the storm had done all it intended to do; still there lay over the timber a heavy sense of waiting, anticipation that told him they might well be in for another round after a brief clear period. He almost hoped so. Place felt so much more secure when the weather was throwing fits like that…
Then again, this anticipation I’m feeling may just relate to the baby being about to put in an appearance real soon here. Can be hard to separate things like that from the way weather feels when it’s coming in, sometimes. Real hard to say. Liz was calling for him, words he couldn’t quite make out from inside the tunnel and he gave up his study of the sky, dropping to hands and knees and moving himself with some difficulty in towards the warm, inviting light of the cabin where Liz had left the door open, her shape partially blocking the opening as she watched for him to come. Taking too long, nearly falling asleep there in the tunnel and Einar shook himself, focusing on moving his legs and arms a bit more quickly until finally--had seemed like an awfully long, involved process, which he knew it ought not; tunnel was only six or so feet long--he was inside, stove-heat welling up around him like warm water and setting fingers and toes to stinging with returning circulation.
Liz looked good, calm, the walk seeming to have suited her quite well but not, as they had both hoped, to have sped things along very much; it was looking like there might still be a good number of hours of labor still to come, which didn’t too greatly surprise Einar. A long labor would, he knew, be the expected course for a first birth, and knowing Liz needed a steady supply of food in order to keep her strength up for the ordeal, he hurried to restore some mobility to half frozen hands, adding wood to the fire and starting a pot of soup.
Einar didn’t know if she would feel much like eating a full meal, but hoped she might at least find it possible to drink some broth. In addition to the soup, he wanted to prepare a light mixture of dried serviceberries and honey, simmered just long enough to begin re-hydrating the berries so that Liz would have the option of eating fruit and drinking its juice if she couldn’t stomach the broth, but the second pot was already occupied with the berberine solution he’d earlier made, and he didn’t want to dump it out into anything else, as its entire purpose involved cleaning and sterilizing hands and other things, and would not be well-served by storing the stuff in a less than sterile wood container. The fruit soup didn’t need to be sterile, though, and he had an idea, retrieved one of the coal-burned wooden bowls they used for eating and filled it halfway with dried berries, drizzling honey overtop and adding a cup or two of simmering water so the whole thing could begin softening. If the water didn’t do the trick, he could always add a few hot rocks later, to bring the mixture to a simmer so it could further soften and cook.
“Making you some soup, here,” he turned his attention to Liz, who was once again pacing the length of the cabin, five steps from bed to water barrel, turn, pace back, over and over again, and he wished she had a bit more space but she seemed content, met him with a genuine smile.
“You soup smells like serviceberries. I like it.”
“Got you some serviceberries, too. You need to eat if you can, need some energy. Want me to make the berries into a drink, or are you up for eating them as they are.”
“Oh, I can eat right now, no problem. I think it may be a problem later, in a little while, so might as well go ahead and do it now. You need to eat, too. Will you have some with me?”
“I’m not the one having the baby, here! But yeah, I’ll have a little. Guess I need my strength too, huh?”
“You sure do! Because we’re doing this together, right?”
“Yep, I’m right here with you.”
“No one I’d rather have with me, right now.”
“I know. Well, if you must hear it, I guess I wouldn’t mind having Susan here for the birth, itself, but I think we’re going to do just fine. And I wouldn’t want her here yet. I’m liking being alone right now. With you.”
“What about your mother? You never talk about her…”
“Oh, I miss her sometimes, and I wish there was some way for her to see her grandchild…but no! I wouldn’t want her here right now, not at all. I love her, but she never did do well with…this sort of thing. Was always just a little too squeamish, even when the cat had kittens, and things like that…and I’m glad I got to spend some time around Susan and her friends when I did, get a different idea about birth and how it can go, or I might be pretty squeamish, myself. I might…” A pause as Liz’s face darkened with concentration, Einar wondering if he ought to be keeping track of the contractions, the time between them but deciding there was little point. Things would progress as they progressed, and there was little they could do about it either way. Best not disturb Liz with counting and timing and such. She seemed to be done, was breathing normally again.
“You can make noise, you know. Might help to make some noise, if you feel like it.”
“Oh I’ll make noise when I feel like it, believe me! But I don’t need to now. Not just yet. Let’s have some of your berries. I want to try the berries, and then we’d better talk about this baby. We need a name for him. Or her. I guess we could always decide on that after the birth, if we had to…but it wouldn’t hurt to get serious about it for a few minutes, here, seeing as time is getting pretty short.”
Checking to make sure the berries had thoroughly softened and absorbed enough water to regain something like their original shape, Einar got the bowl and sat down next to Liz, who was keeping close to the fire. He figured the heat must feel good to her, help her relax, and was glad he’d brought in the extra wood when he did. Come on back, storm. Give us a good night of heavy snow so we won’t have to worry about having a fire, about what might be up in the air