“Oh my God! Somebody please help me. I can't have my baby born in this place.” Secret was curled up into a tight fetal position. She looked as though she was inside of her own mother's womb instead of a mother about to push a baby out of hers.
Her knees were rammed into the bottom of her protruding belly. Her toes were pointed stiff, more so than a ballerina performing the
Her arms were clenched tightly around her stomach. She was going to keep that baby inside of her at all cost.
“Urghhhh!” she cried out as another sharp pain cut through her midsection.
“Will somebody come help this bitch please? Ain't nobody got time for this shit. A nigga tryin'a sleep. Damn!”
Secret's cellmate showed no empathy for the excruciating pain she had been going through since lights out. Secret couldn't have cared less though. She didn't need empathy. She needed someone to come in with a great big needle or a pill potent enough to take all this pain away, without harming her baby of course.
Secret had suffered enough pain in her short eighteen years for both herself and her unborn baby. Secret was seventeen when she got pregnant just about to turn eighteen. Now she had long turned eighteen. On her next birthday she would be nineteen.
She never wanted her daughter to live the painful life she had. There were plenty of nights she just lay on her jail cot, held her stomach and stared up at the ceiling, praying to God that her baby would skip the generational curse of the Miller family. It was a curse that included a miserable life with miserable parents being raised in the streets of Flint, Michigan.
Within that prayer Secret always told God, “And please don't let it be a girl.” There had been Secret's grandmother, who Secret's mother Yolanda had sworn was the worst mother in the world. Secret begged to differ, not because the grandmother she knew had been as sweet as pumpkin pie, but because Secret felt that Yolanda was the worst mother in the world. In her defense Yolanda said her own mother had made her that way. Would Secret be giving that same excuse years from now to her own daughter? And then would her own daughter be using it for her own daughter, and so on?
Tears would slide out of Secret's eyes and onto her paper-thin pillow at just the thought of having a girl child. The women in her family all having had children in their teens hadn't made things any better. It had only made the struggle of raising a child worse. Secret just knew for sure if she had a boy the curse would end there. Not only that, but she felt that a boy would have a better chance of surviving the streets of Flint, seeing that no matter how hard Secret had tried, she was never going to be able to escape the city. She'd been born and raised in those streets and it definitely looked like her child was about to be as well.
“Owwwwweee. Jesus!” A strong cramp ripped through Secret's lower abdomen. They were coming with vengeance in what seemed like every five minutes now.
At first the cramps that woke Secret up out of her sleep were bearable. They weren't any worse than bad menstrual cramps. As a matter of fact, when the cramping first started, Secret was able to close her eyes again and sleep through it. But that was when they were minor and only about an hour apart. Through the night they had gotten stronger and closer together.
Secret couldn't take it anymore. She had waited this thing out as much as she could. She had lain there and tried to hold that baby inside of her so that it wouldn't come into this world with the stigma of being born in a jailhouse. The baby was in control now and it was coming out whether Secret liked it or not.
With sweat pouring from her body, her gown sticking to her like toilet paper, Secret managed to sit up on the edge of the cot on her top bunk. “God, help me,” she repeated three times. She breathed in and out deeply. She took her hand and wiped her forehead to keep the salty sweat from rolling into her eyes and stinging them. Her hair was drenched and matted. There was no combing that mess out. She'd have to get it shaved, she just knew it. But this was no time to be concerned about hair care. She had to get out of that bed and go over to the door and yell for help. Her lazy cellmate sure wasn't getting out of her bed to do it.
Just as Secret was about to hop down another cramp ripped through her. At the same time it felt like her insides were falling out. She let out the loudest roar ever.
Her cellmate, who'd had her pillow over her head trying to drown out Secret's wails, snatched it off. She leaned her head from out under the bunk to yell at Secret for making such a ruckus. “Will you shut the fuckâ”
The gushing water that poured from the top bunk halted her cellmate's words.
“What the fuck?” Her cellmate jumped up. “Did this bitch just fuckin' piss on me?” she asked, wiping the moisture that had hit her face. She then looked down at her wet hands. “I'm 'bout to fuck this bitch up!”
She got up from the bottom bunk and went right for Secret's jugular. Before she could do any real damage to Secret, the cell door flung open and two guards came storming in.
“What the hell is going on in here?” the female guard asked.
“Looks like Mel is trying to get some of that pregnant pussy,” the male guard said and laughed.
Mel, Secret's cellmate, had spread Secret's legs apart, not to try to have sex with her, but to have a better position at putting her hands around her throat. She'd had every intention of choking the life, and the baby, out of Secret had the guards not shown up.
“Pregnant pussy is the best,” the female guard agreed.
“How the fuck you know?” he asked his coworker.
She only winked and smiled.
“Nasty-ass dyke,” he said under his breath as they both went over, taking their own sweet time, to get Mel off of Secret.
“No, fuck that!” Mel resisted as the two guards subdued her. “That bitch pissed on me.”
“Aww, poor baby,” the female guard teased. “And since when don't you like a little golden shower?”
The two guards hollered out in laughter as Secret hollered out in pain. This made the guards turn their attention to Secret.
“Oh, shit!” the female guard yelled out when she saw the condition Secret was in.
Secret was sitting on the edge of the bed with her legs cocked open. She was drenched, clutching her belly and clearly in pain.
“I think she's in labor,” the female guard said.
“Hel . . . hel . . . help me,” Secret managed to pant out. “My baby. My baby.” The tears wouldn't stop flowing.
“Help me get her down,” the male guard said as he pulled out his walkie-talkie. With the assistance of tyhe female gaurd, he managed to get Secret down as he called in the situation. “We have an inmate going into labor. Looks like the baby could be born any minute. Give the infirmary the heads-up. Prepare for her arrival in five.” He ended the conversation, put the device away, and was now able to fully assist with getting Secret out of the cell. Once they got Secret through the threshold they closed and locked the cell back up.
On one side of the door Secret was screaming her head off. On the other side Mel was lying back down on her cot saying, “Good, now a nigga can finally get some sleep.”
Secret's screams echoed off the walls of the corridors as the guards half carried, half forced her to walk to the infirmary. For Secret, the five-minute trek felt like a walk to death row instead of the hospital bed that was waiting for her once the guards carried her into the cold room. The immediate what felt like glacier temperatures hitting Secret's wet skin was sure to cause her to catch pneumonia. Her catching a cold to the tenth degree wasn't of importance right now, but getting that baby from between her legs without incident was.
“How far apart are your contractions?” Secret heard the voice of the female doctor ask her.
Secret had placed the corner of a sheet in her mouth and was biting down on it as a contraction hit her hard. She couldn't have answered the doctor if she'd wanted to. She didn't want to. There was no time for 101 questions. Her water had broken, her contractions felt like they were coming every second.
The hell with questions; just get this baby out of me!
Secret screamed in her mind.
“Damn it! Will you answer the doctor? She's trying to help your ass!” The female correction officer spoke more out of fear than anger. She'd never been in this situation before and didn't know what to do. Secret looked more like she was about to die than to give birth.
“I can take it from here,” the doctor looked to the female correction officer and said. She didn't want the CO's negative and nervous energy making things worse for her patient.
The female CO just stood there frozen, stunned by the excruciating pain the young female was somehow able to endure. The doctor's words hadn't been able to melt the ice.
“I said I can take it from here.” This time the doctor's tone was sterner and she looked to the male CO, signaling for him to get his partner and go.
He too had been mesmerized by the whole idea that Secret was about to give birth to a live human being. Having no children of his own, no baby momma to stand beside in the delivery room, he'd never experienced anything like this either. He wasn't frozen in fear, though, like his counterpart. He was more in awe. He did, in fact, acknowledge the doctor's words. He pulled his attention away from Secret and looked at the doctor. “Oh, okay.” He looked back to Secret while tugging his coworker's arm. “Come on. Let's go.”
The female CO, feeling his hand on her arm, was able to snap out of her trance. She looked from her coworker to Secret as he slowly began to pull her away.
The doctor was doing all she could do not to yell, “Get the fuck out already!” She turned her attention back to Secret as the two COs exited the room. “I need you to work with me here, Secret, so that I can help you.” The doctor had seen Secret before so she knew her name. She'd given her a checkup or two during Secret's past month of incarceration. “Can you do that for me?”
Secret nodded vigorously. She'd do anything she needed to do for help right now.
“I need you to turn over onto your back. Okay?”
Secret had been most comfortable, for lack of a better word, lying balled up on her side. If lying on her back meant the doctor could do something to help the pain go away, she was more than willing to change positions. If she could.
Upon seeing Secret struggle to turn onto her back, the doctor immediately began to assist her. Secret moaned and groaned with every movement.
“It's okay. I know it hurts. I know it hurts,” the doctor consoled her. Once she had Secret on her back, she took some plastic gloves out of the pockets of her white jacket and placed them on her hands. She spread Secret's legs open just as a contraction hit. The doctor's eyes nearly bulged out of her head. This wasn't her first time at the rodeo, but it was the first time an inmate had been this far along before being brought in for help. “Okay, Secret. Grab on to the rail of the bed and squeeze it whenever the pain shoots through, but don't push. Not yet.”
The doctor walked over to the phone on the wall and picked it up. She hit a couple numbers and then began talking. “Where are you? I need your assistance. I have an inmate down in the infirmary. She's in labor.” There was a pause and then the doctor yelled, “I don't give a shit about you giving an inmate with a migraine some damn pills. Did you hear what I said? This inmate is about to have a baby! Get your ass back here now if you want your job when you do decide to return!” The doctor slammed the phone down and mumbled under her breath, “Giving an inmate with a migraine headache some pills my ass. More like giving an inmate some head.”
Secret was in far too much pain to make out what the doctor was fussing about. She just did as she was told, clenching the bars on the bed for dear life.
When the doctor returned to Secret's bedside, she had two cold, wet white towels. She placed one on Secret's forehead and another on her neck. She then went back to the foot of the bed to continue checking Secret out. “Secret, I'm just going to slide your underwear off.” The doctor slid Secret's drenched panties off and then laid them on a silver rolling tray that was only about a foot away. She used her gloved hands to gently spread Secret's legs apart. She inserted her fingers into Secret, best guess to see how much Secret had dilated. A few seconds later she closed Secret's legs, pulled her gown down and walked back over to the phone while removing her gloves and pitching them into the trash.
Just as the doctor started talking to someone on the phone, the worse contraction ever hit Secret. It made her upper body rise up and a curdling howl escape her throat.
The doctor quickly finished her call, hung up the phone and walked back over to Secret's bedside. She spoke as calmly as she could. “Secret, your water has broken and you are fully dilated. I could feel the baby's head.” Actually, she could see it, but didn't want to freak Secret out too bad. “Nurse Caine was assisting another inmate but is on her way down to help me.” She grabbed Secret's hand. “I called for help for you to be transferred to the hospital, but, honey, this baby is coming and is going to be born here.”
Secret grabbed the doctor's hand and squeezed it almost as tightly as she had been squeezing that rail just a couple minutes ago. “No,” Secret said with both passion and authority intertwined. “I cannot have my baby in this jail.” Tears poured from Secret's eyes. “Please don't make my baby have to live with that its whole life. Please, Doctor. Wait for the ambulance and let me have my baby in a real hospital like a mother should.”