The contractions had gone from cramps to mind-blowing pulses of pain. I screamed and cried and gasped for air. When will this be over? It was the same question that throbbed through my head all night, but I still had no idea.
“Push!” they yelled, as I felt another contraction clamping down on my insides. “Keep it up! 10… 9… 8…” There was no way I could hold that push for 10 seconds. No way.
He was out. I heard the clink of metal, a hush of voices, and above all his feral cry. They wiped him off and put him on my chest. I felt the rush of warmth and love, towards little Jack –
And then my fingers brushed against the back of his head.
What the hell?
It was a bump, small and round, right under his skin.
A tumor? A parasite? My mind started to race with all the possibilities, and an intense fear settled in my chest, clamping my heart like the contractions. “Dr. Ambrose!” I started, my voice quavering. “I feel something – there, on the back of his head –”
He walked over, glanced down at Jack, and shook his head. “No, no, it’s nothing to be worried about. Some babies have molding – their head looks a bit conical from the pressure of the birth. Totally normal; it’ll go away in a few days.”
“But this is a bump, not a –”
“It’s fine. Just enjoy this time with him. And try to stay calm – if you start getting stressed, he’ll sense it, and he’ll start getting stressed too.” He gave me a reassuring pat on the shoulder, and started towards the door. “Now, I’ll be right back. I just need to get some supplies from the other room.”
After he left, my fingers slid across the bump, over and over. Smooth, oblong, with a seam across the bottom. It’s normal, it’s normal, I told myself. And then it seemed to move – to twitch beneath my fingers in a fast, flickering motion. Don’t freak out, it’s totally normal –
I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed to see it.
I flipped him over.
He protested with a piercing wail. I stared down at his quivering, bald little scalp, and felt the blood rush from my face.
It wasn’t a tumor, or a parasite.
It was a little, pink-lidded eye, slowly blinking open to look at me.
I began to scream. My screams mingled with Jack’s, and we both hollered until Dr. Ambrose was running back into the room. “Taylor, what in the world –”
“It’s an eye!” I screamed, now choking on sobs. “It’s an eye in the back of his head!”
He stared at me, calmly.
And then he turned to the nurse.
“Get her sedated,” he said. “Now!”
As I felt the prick of the needle in my arm, Dr. Ambrose pulled off his surgical cap.
And as he did –
I saw something. On the back of his head, interrupting the pattern of his hair.
And then everything faded to black.