A flutter of green fabric seen from the corner of her eye startled Oonah - again - as she and her flying fox, Leilani, rode the air currents. Oonah couldn't help but grin with chest swelling pride each time the cloak was tugged by a draft or the hem flipped into her peripheral vision. She had been looking for distraction, a way to help, maybe earn a little income even though she had access to her ghostly friend, Qit's, ample savings. Independence was important to her so she had come to Insomnia HQ looking for a job.
Faith, however, had offered her more than she could have ever anticipated – as a member of the Order of Adunih. Her mind swirled with colors of cloaks and trims, working with a dedicated group of healers, and maybe even setting up her own satellite clinic!
She had been given the responsibility to check on distant patients that could not easily travel to a clinic. This time Faith had asked her to look in on a pregnant woman who wasn’t yet ready to give birth. The Order leader had felt this was a good opportunity for Oonah to learn more about human physiology during pregnancy. So, to prepare, Oonah had looked through her mother’s journal and researched several books from the Order’s medical library. Then she had packed her satchel accordingly.
“Chamomile, rose and lavender were mentioned most often to aid in birthing, not just for tension relief to control pain but for topical treatments as well.” The Tunawa healer spoke her thoughts aloud conversationally. That was new too. After becoming one of Qit’s anchors, Oonah had, at first, tried keeping her thoughts to herself, but now she was more likely to speak aloud whether Qit were listening in or not. Her ghostly friend had joined the Order too, which meant that they both needed to know this stuff. Reciting her learnings aloud was almost like studying with a buddy – when Qit was paying attention.
“As a massaged oil they help relax muscles and relieve back labor pains. Then, as the baby is being born, the oils can be applied to prevent tearing and ease swelling and burn if the mother does tear wider. Afterwards lavender helps relieve depression and irritability. Witch hazel and yarrow can help stop bleeding and reduce swelling. I even packed Shepherd’s Purse as a tincture to stop excessive bleeding after birth and I have Raspberry leaf and Crampbark for cramping.”
“Did you know that a woman has a one in eight chance of dying in childbirth during her lifetime? Why, one book even suggested that some people believe that a mother’s state of mind can make a baby disfigured or mentally ill! With her Mind!" She shuddered, naïve as only a childless female could be. "Thank Moseke that Tunawa don’t have to go through so much! It’s a wonder any woman would choose take such a chance! But it must be worth it …if it can be survived.”
She paused her maunderings to see if Qit would reply as they flew over the woods looking for the distinctive clearing where Faith said they would find the secluded cottage. Soon she spotted a cold stone chimney tucked under the tree line. The hut was nearly camouflaged beneath its dry thatch roof that blended into the fallow field still yet to bloom with new green growth in the hot cycle. Leaning into a swoop, Oonah grasped her satchel to her chest and tumbled gracefully from the bat's back.
Approaching the wooden door, Oonah whistled shrilly to announce her arrival. “Order of Adunih, here for check you up.” Through an open window her call was answered in Common by a weak voice followed by a gasping groan, ‘Bless the Immortals.’ Slow steps, as if there were pain with each footfall sounded before the door was swung open.
Oonah raised her eyes to see the woman, hands pressed to the small of her back as if holding herself together. She looked up past an enormous stomach to bright, pain-filled eyes and a cloud of red hair curling disarray around the young mother’s thin shoulders. ‘My husband has gone for help,’ she explained, not even blinking at the idea of a Tunawa healer. ‘I’ve been trying to walk, thinking that it would help.’ One hand left her back and stretched toward the wall, as if she felt them closing in, then her legs buckled dangerously. ‘The contractions have grown stronger,’ she panted, ‘but it’s too soon.’
Oonah felt a sense of foreboding as it seemed every word she had ever read about pregnancy blinked from her mind. She chirped forlornly, "Oh Shite."
Herbs to ease labor, birth, and recovery
Pregnancy in the 1800s