top of page

Her First Birth

This author is a recipient

of the Sigma Tau Delta Award

Sigma Tau Delta Awarde

They had done it together, hidden from the others. There was heat and power in what they did, and she could feel that coming from herself just as much as it was coming from him. They kept on with their lives: hunting, gathering, providing for the small community they had in the cave. The two had met again one other night, but they didn’t do anything, it was just the two of them together for a brief moment of silence that was only theirs, no one else’s. Then, two weeks after the act, she was unable to join the hunting party without vomiting all over. She felt sick to the core of her skeleton. She was tired, but that didn’t stop him from showing up and helping. He brought back those blackberries she loved to eat. She had made a mess of them on her face that he was gracious enough to wipe off, which made her giggle. 

She was spending more and more time resting in the cave. Any time she tried to join the hunting party she would complain too frequently about feeling tired, out of breath and close to throwing up. It hadn’t been too bad at first. She had dedicated herself to working on the pelts and skins of the sabertooths or even the rare mammoth that the tribe had hunted. She was well fed with meats and berries, but none of it stayed down for long. 

As more weeks went by, she noticed her belly swelling more and more. She was hoping that it would go away, but it didn't. He held her tightly, his forehead against hers while she breathed in his scent. She found it calming. The tribe’s medicinal doctor had examined everything about her and had come to no solid conclusion as to what could lead to the swelling and offered some herbs that were meant to reduce it. She puked those up after a couple of hours. 

More months had passed as her stomach continued to swell. She was sitting and working on the pelts when she felt the tiniest sense of movement inside of herself. As if her whole body was stirring and churning to the slightest microinch, but she could perceive it, and she knew then, something was inside of her. She ran to her partner and the doctor to tell them what had happened, and the two looked between each other in nervous glances. She sat on that stone cold floor holding her belly, still feeling the slightest swish of movement. It was small, but it was there. 

She had seen it before. Women in the cave whose bellies bloated only to be met with a day of pain. It usually led itself to another member being brought into the cave, but why was this happening to her? No one had explained what was going on, and she didn’t know what all it entailed. She carried this heavy weight with her all day. This knowledge that she had something residing inside of her. Just there. Was she supposed to feed it? How then? How was it going to come out? What would happen after it was here? She asked these questions to her partner, but he had no answers for her. Tears were forming in her eyes, and her body began to shake. Her partner tried his best to comfort her, but all he could do was wrap her tightly into a hug.

The woman asked the other women in the cave if this had ever happened to any of them. There was an excitement and frenzy about what was inside of her, but they never answered her questions. 

All they could ask was, “When had it happened? When is it coming out? Who’s the partner? Are you excited?” 

The woman, with a shaky voice, asked, “How will I get this thing out of me? Why is this happening to me?” 

The women were quick to answer the second question with pride: “Because you’ve found a great love with someone!” The woman knew they meant her partner, but when she asked the first question again, they explained to her where they knew the baby to exit, and she began to worry. 

“It won’t work, it won’t fit, it can’t fit, it won’t come out of me,” she frantically said. The women tried to calm her by saying that her body would make a way. Images of her bone cracking, snapping apart, or her body tearing itself open flooded her mind, and she left these women. 

The partner had consulted the other men while on a hunt about what could be happening. All he got, though, were congratulations and pats on the back. 

They told him that he’s “added a new member to the tribe!” 

He asked then, “What will happen to her?” The men paused and all looked between each other. One brave soul explained to the man, “Love her as long as you can. There might be the chance she will bring life in exchange for her own.” At the sound of this the man had shoved off  any touch or support of the other men and ran away from them to his partner. 

The two met and embraced one another long and hard. The woman began to tell him that she can’t do it, and it’s not going to work, but before she could try and come up with any solutions, a rush of liquid began to trickle its way down her legs and onto the stone floor.

She looked into her partner’s eyes and with fear said, “It’s coming.” 

Then came the pain, the horrible bone-cracking pain. Her body was breaking against itself to will this thing out of her. Her screams ripped out from her throat as the muscles in her neck, body, and brain tightened. Everyone was watching, waiting to see what would happen. She was breathing fast and hard, and it felt like every part of her lower body was shattering as her legs shaked against the icy cavern floor. He was there to comfort her with kisses on the forehead, and he held her steady and firm. The women watched on in excitement as some began to get cloth together to protect the being as it exited. The men watched and waited for any signs that the woman wouldn’t be able to do it. The one who had warned the partner got his hunter’s knife, which had blood rusted onto the stone. Blood seemed to be the only thing breaking out of the woman. Her partner encouraged her, tried to fill her body with confidence, but right now it was only a vessel of pain, exertion, and exhaustion. The man holding the knife moved toward the partner, and showed him the knife. 

All he said was, “It’s inside her stomach, and we need to get it out.” The woman heard this and screamed even harder. She wouldn’t survive all that blood being released from her body. Her body had already flooded with paleness and she pushed with more effort than she thought she ever could’ve mustered. 

The partner refused to let this happen, but the other men knew they had to get this out of her, and began to drag him away. The hunter lowered the knife down to her stomach and the woman caught the blade inside of her arm, holding it back as the last surge of energy rippled through her body, and she felt the being released out of her. The hunter noticed this and pulled the knife out of the woman. He helped the woman guide the small thing out of her the rest of the way. Her head felt dizzy, and all she could do was lie on the stone floor while looking up at the ceiling. Everyone thought she might have died, but she lifted her head up as she heard cries. The partner had been let go and reunited with his lover. The women had wrapped the tender bundle of flesh in cloth and they handed it to the new mother. It was tinier than she would’ve thought. Maybe only the size of a small rock. It was red, and crying, screeching really. She held it close to her. Shushing it gently. 

She told it, “Everything will be okay now.”


Esther Windt is a trans writer who loves writing poems, short stories, and creative nonfiction, and is currently attending St. Ambrose University. Her work has been published in Half and One, The Atlas 17 and 18, and Quercus Volume 32.


bottom of page