Chapter 17 - The Big Day

The Big Day

Language level: lower-intermediate


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At 1 o’clock a.m. Concetta’s water broke. It was a big relief when I understood what was happening because I thought that I had wet the bed! I tried to remember what I had learned in “pregnancy preparation” class:
“You have to breathe slowly,” I told Conci.
“I want you to call a taxi and then to be silent,” she replied.
I must have missed that lesson.

An old friend

Surprisingly, when we arrived at the hospital, Dave was already there!
He was standing in the maternity ward corridor with flowers in his hands and he looked more nervous than I did.
“How are you, dearest?” he asked when he saw us.
“I’m OK, thanks, just a little tired,” I replied.
“I was talking to Concettina!” he said. Conci didn’t speak. She just moaned in pain. We could hear the other women already giving birth in the other rooms.

It sounded terrible.
I learned something interesting listening to them, though.
I learned that Italian women, wherever they are from, all become Neapolitan when they give birth. They were all shouting things like, “Ooooh, Santa Ma-ria, bambinaaaa, perdonamiiii!” At 5.30 a.m. Salvatore Sloan was born. It was a long painful process, I have to tell you, but not just for me. It was hard for Concettina too.

Horror movie

I have very mixed emotions. On the one hand I am very happy. On the other I am traumatised.
It was not the way I had imagined it would be. Hollywood films have lied to me. I had imagined Concettina pushing and sweating a little with me tenderly holding her hand until Salvatore decided to come out.


In reality it was like a scene from The Exorcist. Concettina spat and swore like a sailor:
“Cut me!!” she screamed in her best demonic voice: “Cut me open and get it out of my body!!” 
Then she turned her terrifying eyes towards me! 
“Don’t you ever touch me ever again!!” she screamed. Then her head swiveled around on her neck as a priest prayed for my soul. Well, that’s how I remember it. 
I held her hand the way they do in the films, but I immediately regretted it: she crushed my hand and cut my skin open with her nails. While the baby was coming out both of us were screaming together! No, not as I imagined it at all!

Still here?

Little Salvatore finally arrived and I heard him cry. Then I turned around and smiled at Dave. Then I realised: “Dave, what are you doing in the delivery room?”
“I don’t know,” he said, “I just followed you in.”

Home sweet home

What a loyal friend he is! He was close to us every step of the way. The whole night was surreal. After some tests on Salvatore we took him home with us.
Back at home we sat on the sofa with him and watched him sleep. It was an emotional moment.
“Isn’t he beautiful?” I whispered. Conci didn’t answer. She just nodded and watched our son, hypnotised.


Somebody once told me that becoming a father changes a man. Well, I don’t know about me, but it has certainly changed Dave. I’ve never seen him so concerned!
 I watched how Conci held our baby and said: “Concetta, you are both very precious to me and I know that now you need a strong and courageous man to protect you.”
“No, John,” she said sweetly, “we want you!”


Glossary


Concetta’s water broke - si sono rotte le acque.
I had wet the bed - avevo bagnato il letto
pregnancy preparation - corso di preparazione al parto.
to breathe slowly - respirare piano.
ward - corsia.
moaned in pain - gemeva dal dolore.
have lied to me - mi hanno mentito.
pushing and sweating a little - spingere e sudare un po’.
spat and swore like a sailor - sputava e bestemmiava come un marinaio.
swiveled around on her neck - roteava sul collo.
I... regretted it - me ne pentii subito.
she crushed my hand - mi stritolò la mano.
delivery room - sala parto.
I whispered - sussurrai.
she just nodded - annuì semplicemente.
concerned - premuroso.


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