I ran into Simon and Tay on the way to the hospital café. I was on a high from the night and nearly hugged them. They were visiting a friend, they explained. I nodded and hummed. It was Tay who noticed the flecks of blood on my shirt sleeve. I looked down at the red smears on the white cloth. I almost laughed but stopped myself. I was exhausted. It was a long ordeal, I said, and by the end of the morning there was blood everywhere. Everywhere, I exclaimed holding my arms out wide like a fisherman noting the enormity of his catch. How long was the labour? Simon asked although he was probably only being polite. I laughed this time. Long, I said. A vigil broken by bouts of sleep. She slept in the bed tied up to a small crescent of monitors which spewed out an endless list of paper facts. I rested in a chair by the bedside. I broke the night by slow trips to a distant toilet through the hollow pastel-coloured corridors and stealing the odd coffee and packet of yellow biscuits from the empty nurse’s station. As morning approached and the day staff drifted in, it was decided by the midwife that it was time to go. Breathe and push. I was gang-pressed by the midwife and happily grabbed a leg giving me an open view of the whole show. Well, the pushing and heaving went on well past morning and serious talks were whispered just out of earshot. The mid-wife then called in the doctor who had called in the head consultant. We were surrounded by a mill of chatting medical people while she lay on her back smiling and waiting for it to end. She puked all over that nice trainee nurse from Texas who held her hand. And in the end, the blood, blood everywhere, blood of new life. They had to throw down clothes to suck up the blood to clear the floors. They were like giant red flowers blooming from the lino. And among it all, came the tiny strong wail of baby. Well, I said, I need that coffee. Simon and Tay smiled looking slightly stunned. I left them and continued on to the tiny brown café.