Inside his home, he could see the glow of the fire in the birthing room. Shadows flickered as the midwife and her helpers bustled around. He knew he had no business here so grabbed his warm woolen cloak and left for the local tavern.
The midwife was feeling confident about this birth. The laboring woman was of a good childbearing age and was strong in body and spirit. She could feel that the baby was in a normal position and low in the mothers womb. There was a warm bath waiting for the babe, and the swaddling cloths were clean and ready.
The mother had retreated into her own thoughts, wishing the birth to be successful. Praying that her and her baby would survive. She knew it was selfish, but she was willing for a daughter to be born. Her own little girl to love and nurture. Her thoughts were interrupted once again by the vice-like pain that tightened across her lower back and hips. She paced the room, trying to walk off the hurt. Suddenly things felt different, her baby had moved. The weight of the baby was pushing down into her, her body had the uncontrollable instinct to push. The midwife had noticed the change in the birthing woman and led her to the birthing stool. Here the woman sat, and cried and let out a scream of pain that turned into relief as the baby's head appeared. Another push and the body followed. A gurgling cry was heard as the midwife quickly tied off and cut the umbilical cord. She then cleared the mucus from its mouth and carried it over to the bath.
"What of my child?" called the mother, trying to see past the woman tending to her.
"Well, you have borne a babe with no disfigurement, but it is a girl"
The mother sat back and smiled. This is what she wanted. This is how it was meant to be. Her heart had instantly changed, it was now full of love. The midwife dried and swaddled the babe, and carried her to her mother for her first nurse. The baby suckled from its mother with ease. Her mother stared in wonder. She kissed her babes forehead.
"Why does my baby taste so salty?" she wondered out loud. The midwife stopped what she was doing. She turned around and licked the baby's forehead. She looked at the rosy, plump baby happily nuzzled against her mothers breast.
"I suggest you do not become too fond of the girl for she is bewitched and will not live past a year. I will call for the priest to baptise her straight away". She left the room and her helpers quickly followed. The young mother was confused. She looked at her perfect daughter and didn't believe it.
Life with a baby was hard. Her body healed well from the labour and her milk was flowing well. The baby though, was always hungry. It seemed the more she was fed, the fussier she became. And she was not the plump baby that was born those few moons ago. Her skin was loose on her bones, her face sharp and hollow. She was receiving extra feeds of bread soaked in goats milk, but her stomach was always hollow. She cried all the time and looked at her mother with desperation in her eyes.
Six months later, and the baby wasn't crying all the time. Her mother constantly carried her, trying to physically comfort her with her closeness. Her baby was tiny and sickly looking. She seemed too tired to make a noise. The most energy she used was when she was coughing which she was constantly doing. Every single breath was laboured. Her mothers heart had changed again. It was now full of worry and angst. What had she done wrong? Why was God angry at her? She hugged her daughter to her, and whispered in her ear. "Sorry"
On the eighth month, the baby girl was able to breathe easy. She had grown her angel wings and left her body and her mothers world. Her mother stood by her grave and cried. She tasted her own salty tears and remembered what the midwife had told her.