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"What's going on? Renee's eyes immediately ask. She knows she's going to miss the good part. I want to tell her, but I'm new here and afraid to speak unless spoken to. With a crowd pleasing sweep, Sandler draws the blue triangle of the scalpel forward. The attending physician, Gus Grant, is letting her lead. He follows her with the pad, catching the surge of blood. Sandler's fingers glide and turn, face his, bow, and glide again. Red seeps across until Grant catches it. "

"The window in Renee's belly only yawns an inch wider, the uterus rising higher toward the white light. Renee's eyebrows form question marks."

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"Her introitus was distended like the mouth of a fish, not soft the way you'd expect. Between contractions the baby's head jammed up against her perineum so tight I could feel the ridge of the eyebrows. To my amazement, I closed the forceps. Grant checked their placement, then I started the gentlest traction Charity Hospital has ever witnessed. I wasn't moving that baby at all, just standing there sweating, all my chest muscles in a knot. The head started to move, slowly, and lined up all right. I knew where the baby was, even though I couldn't see it. I could sense it pivoting in there. Grant whispered that I should have done an episiotomy and that I'd better do one now. Kate held the forceps while I gave Judy a shot of lidocaine and then, under Grant's guidance, carefully made the cut.

With the next contraction the head came all the way clear, facing down toward Judy's bottom. I thought I'd done it. Then Judy's perineum snapped shut around that baby's neck, as if there were a ghost between her legs trying to strangle it. "

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