Contains strong language, domestic abuse, blood, gore, sexual abuse, and racism.

A New Beginning

Present day, Central Africa

A sharp pain radiated through her lower abdomen and she let out a loud groan. The woman is laying on her back on a makeshift bed. The room is dark, she curses her bad luck. Of course, she had to give birth after sunset, in the dark. No hut in her small village has electricity. The wind blows straight through the thin walls, sending a shiver down her spine. The pain in her lower abdomen is intensifying, making her grit her teeth and groan loudly. The sweat is dripping down her forehead, stinging her eyes. She closes her eyes and says a silent prayer, hoping that she will have a healthy boy. Her husband has two other wives and he threatened to stop sending her money if she doesn't give birth to a boy this time. She's trying to estimate how long ago her contractions started. She sent her three daughters to get water close to four hours ago, but they aren't back yet. She looks out under the fabric sheet covering the door, it's pitch black outside. Normally, she wouldn't let her young daughters walk outside alone, but this is a special circumstance.

The fabric sheet rustles as its harshly brushed aside, when her daughters come in carrying buckets full of water. The eldest daughter, 9 years old, rushes to her mother's side and kneels down next to her.

"Ma, how are you feeling?"

Mary can understand her daughter's concern, for most women who has not yet given birth, it is very intimidating. Once you've had your first baby, you won't have the same fear anymore. It will always be scary due to unforseen complications, and the pain will be bad no matter what. However, they say it gets easier with each baby you give birth to, which from her own experience, Mary agree with.

"I'll survive, chicken. Can you go get Auntie Susan?"

The girl quickly got to her feet and runs out through the doorway. The contractions are coming much closer now, she knows it's time soon. Her sister has helped her deliver all her children, the nearest hospital is 3 hours walk away. She grunts, not that it really matters, she couldn't afford it even if she'd lived right next to it. Nobody in the village has seen a certified doctor in their lifetime. They turn to wise women instead, those knowledgeable in herbal medicine.

Susan enters their home, shoos the girls outside to play. Looks over to her sister and clicks her tongue. Susan kneels down next to her sister, brushes the sweaty hair from her face.

"You'll be fine, Mary, here bite this"

Susan places a small stick in her sister's mouth to bite down in. Susan repositions her sister to get ready for the delivery of the baby. She reaches down between Mary's legs, feeling how open she is.

"You're open enough"

Susan puts her hands on Mary's stomach, gently pushing her stomach. Susan nods and clicks her tongue again. She gives Mary a small smile.

"The baby is in the right position."

Mary groans in pain, the contractions happening close after each other. The pain is exruciating, Mary thinks that she'll die, she holds her breath.

"Breathe little sister, you need to breathe" Susan urges her on.

The contraction stops and Mary lets out her breathe. Her hair is smeared to her forehead.

"Alright are you ready to push?"

Mary slowly nods her head and grunts, grinding her teeth into the stick. Her entire body was clammy with sweat, she felt like she was being torn inside out. Her lungs were burning, gasping for air. She bit and grind her teeth against the stick in her mouth, the taste of wood mixing with iron. Susan places her hands on Mary's knees, and directs her to push and breathe. Mary grits her teeth trying to control her breething, her lungs burning with every breathe she takes.

She feels exhausted, she doesn't know if she'll survive. This is her fourth child in 9 years. She knows of women who has given birth to more, but it's still exhausting, demanding of her body. She is 24 years old, but she feels like she's 50. The hard lifestyle is taking its toll on her. For a moment she feels tired, oh so tired. She feels like giving up, dying in childbirth is common, too common.

She thinks of her children, thinking what would happen to them if she wasn't there to take care of them. Would anybody help them? She takes a look at her sister, kneeling between her legs, blood up to her elbows. Susan might try to help, but she has her own 6 children to care for, and her husband wouldn't accept more mouths to feed. Mary takes a deep breathe, she finds a resolve deep inside her. A will to live, for her children.

Push and breathe, over and over for what felt like hours. Her mouth is dry, the stomped dirtfloor is oddly cool and damp against her cheek. The dust from the dirt filling her nostrils, it smells of damp soil with a faint remenescent of metal. With one last long hard push, accompanied with a guttural growl, the baby was born. Then a moment of complete silence, and Mary feels a stab of fear. Is her baby alive? A woman she knows, her baby boy was born dead, strangled by his own umbical cord wrapped around his neck.

"Is the baby alive?" she tries to ask her sister, but her voice is so hoarse that all she can't utter a word.

Then a high-pitch piercing scream of a newborn baby could be heard. Mary lies back and relaxes, the pain is nothing compared to earlier. She takes slow deep breathes, feeling relief that it's over. Susan is tying off and cutting the umbical cord, when Mary feels like she has to push again. After a few moments of pain and pushing Mary has gotten the afterbirth out.

"It's a healthy baby! Ten toes, and ten fingers" smiles Susan and holds up the baby for Mary to see.

The baby is swept tightly in small blanket, its face smeared in blood.

This is where your story begins, it's up for you to decide how this will play out.

A Baby Boy A Baby Girl