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The maternity ward was awash with light. 
Nurses in white uniforms glided along passageways ringing with the sound of delight and the pleasant cries of newborn babies carried by pure voices untouched by words. 
Sara didn't belong there.
"I don't belong here!" she said sharply to the sister on duty.
"Mommy, you're in the right place," said the nurse, holding a hand out to her huge belly, "you look like you're about to pop!"
She was a happy woman working in a happy place filled with an air of promise.
Dan, sensing her anguish, stepped forward to explain.
"Dr Winston's secretary told us my wife was to be booked into the general ward," he said firmly, "can you check with them and clear this up, we'll be in the waiting room."
"No, silly" she laughed, clapping her hands together joyfully, " you're in the right place! I can see it's your first one," she insisted, sure of herself.
Losing her temper, Sara snapped at the smiling face, "My baby will, in all probability, be dead! You don't want me here! Do you understand?"
Sara walked away, her distress weighing on her.
She stood silently by the window while Dan sorted out the mix-up with the help of the remorseful sister.
With her hand on her belly, she gazed out over the gardens of Kingsbury Hospital on a beautiful spring day while the sounds of babies gurgling and mommy's cooing came from the nursery.

In that moment she knew she wouldn't make it out of there intact.

It was the wheezing from the sole other occupant of the ward that brought her back out of the anesthetic induced abyss to find blinding pain piercing her body from the core of her.
Disorientated, she tried reaching her hand up to grip cold steel to lift herself up to see what the commotion was all about, but her limbs refused to budge and laid slack by her side.The slight movement sent the ripples of pain from her pelvis throughout the length of her body. 
Her mouth dry; her tongue thick, Sara mouthed the one name that brought her salvation.
"Dan..." It came out like a breath.

Her eyes were pleased to find the ward in darkness; the light from the corridor barely reaching the foot of her bed. Her eyelids heavy, she closed them willingly, desiring a deep state of sleep. But trauma came with noise and disturbance. Her ears were accosted by the deathly sounds of the lady in the next bed gasping for breath and the nurse moving about in the black of night wheeling an oxygen tank. She was hunched over, weighed down by having done this for too many years.
She grumbled something about "smoking" under her breath.
Everything was unfamiliar and jarring.
It reeked of antiseptic and hopelessness.
"Louise," said the nurse, "you were warned! And now you're back here!"
There was no soft edges to the her, disillusionment having set in from seeing one too many patients taking life for granted.
Louise grabbed the mask from her hand and latched onto it. She sucked deeply; her eyes turning back in her head.
Once the oxygen worked it's magic, the chaos finally subsided and the wheezing seized.

Sara slipped back effortlessly, welcoming the darkness.

Daniel stirred. The couch in the waiting room was hard and uncomfortable, but he had managed to nod off for a while. He had spent hours clinging to Sara's fevered hand following the caesarean, wiping her troubled brow, and whispering quiet sentiments as balm for her spirit that would be broken.
He had been relieved to hear her fussing.
"I'm here, honey, I'm here!"
He had said it over and over again, hoping she'd hear him.

"She's still out of it," said wheezy lady from where she was propped up by a mountain of pillows. She had a bad case of emphysema caused by years of smoking. He found her struggle for breath disturbing and avoided making eye contact with her during the dinner hour.
He couldn't eat, but the staff insisted, fussing over him like mothers.
"Did  you get the chicken?" she asked, peering over at his tray.
"It' nice, not like hospital food at all."
"Man, now I'm dying for a ciggie," she said, pushing the empty tray away from her.
"For a woman with breathing problems, she sure can jabber!" he thought, wishing she'd shut up.
"What's wrong with her?" Louisa enquired, her name suiting her current state to the tee.
"She lost our baby," he said, "excuse me, I need to tend to my wife."
Daniel drew the curtains, hating that she was accommodated in a shared ward where grieving in private was impossible, but glad they removed her from the maternity ward filled with mommies and their brand new babies. 
He sighed deeply as he cordoned them off from the rest of the world.
It broke his heart to see her face etched in pain.
He heard her mumbling again: "I want my baby back..." and leaned forward to stroke her face. 
"I want my baby back..."

Remembering the tiny bundle swaddled in hospital cloth placed in his arms, his heart wrenched.
"Bye bye baby, bye bye..."

He had left her bedside, afraid she's wake up to find him crying.
He needed to be strong for her.

"Did you manage to get some sleep?" Louise asked on his return. "She stirred earlier, when you were taking your nap, thought I heard her..."
"That's good, isn't it? She'll be ok, you'll see."

Dan nodded and made his way behind the curtain. praying for a dawn that would not come.

Remembering her...

O cruel world,
Destroyer of dreams
Hear me call to you:
Give life where emptiness lives
And heal my womb
So life can begin.

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