Opinions on thIs exert

I am currently writing a labour and delivery scene for a larger story and would like some feedback on what I have so far? 
Thank you for any suggestions and comments
The fire roared in the hearth, flames leaping and licking at the stone leading up to the chimney. Natasha groaned, a deep guttural groan, pushing her feet into the mattress she lay on. Her heels sunk in, pushing away the feelings. She was hot, too hot, even though it was around 30 degrees outside and so cold the windows and doors had stuck inside their frames. Her skin had droplets racing over its surface. She rubbed her forehead, her hand coming away wet.
Then it started again. Her stomach was squeezing, squeezing so hard against her will, the pain was beyond every understanding she had of pain. It was pure agony. She prayed it would stop, prayed that something would happen to prevent this pain. 
She tried to grip the sheet under her but her damp, clammy hands slipped and slid on the soft fabric. She roared out in pain, her head flopping back and tossing around like a rag doll or a marionette on a string. Her heels dug in further, she could feel her body straining. She was too young, she wasn't ready. But she had caught first time, Nikolai had been so happy, thrilled. 
The lump formed in her throat; Nikolai. 
He was gone, gone a martyr of the war, a Martyr for Russia. Mother Russia had decided he was to fight, he was to die. But he had not been theirs to take. Niko was hers. He would never know what was coming. 
Natasha's body seemed to arch against her will, pushing her chest up into the air, the laces on the front of the white nightdress she wore coming undone.
"Oh Natalia," the woman called, coming to Natasha's side. She stroked Natasha's hand,patting her like a pet. She felt like an animal, a sow or ewe, so full, so heavy; but her time had finally come. 
She hadn't felt this with Nikolai, she had never been scared- even going so far as to say she had felt invincible with him. She remembered the twinges, the worry on Nikolai's face when she had felt the little pains. She had known it was going to be ok. 
But he was dead. 
The old woman, with wrinkles crumpling up her face like a piece of waste paper, left Natasha's side and she grabbed after her. All sense of comfort was gone, she didn't even know this woman, the woman had been a friend of Nikolai's- he had always planned for her to come here when her time came. They had planned Nikolai to be in the next room; waiting. Waiting to hear the cries of his first born, to hear the words 'you have a son,' or, 'you have a daughter.' 
The old woman rushed round to the end of the little bed, pulling up the sheet that covered Natasha's legs. She peaked under, prodding a little, before reappearing, 
"Well done Natalia, you are almost there, almost, now I need you to concentrate on me," 
Natasha listened to the words but her mind was elsewhere. 
Nikolai had walked in one morning while she was dressing. He had seen her belly, it wasn't that big but it was neat, rounded and her navel stuck out. His eyes had widened, he had been stone faced and then, a grin broke out on his face. 
"Natalia, we're going to have a baby." 

"Push Natalia!" 
She gritted her teeth, her whole body screaming. A grunting screaming noise escaped between her teeth. She pushed herself up on her arms which shook violently under her weight, under the pressure under the raw emotion. She felt the fire between her legs, the burn as the shoulders inched forward. She squeezed her stomach, the ab muscles she had gained over her years of training were rippling. She could do this, she would do it, for Nikolai. 
She would give him the baby, the baby he had implanted in her belly. The seed that had gone inside her at the right time. It had happened once, on one opportune moment. They had made a baby. And she was going to have his baby, give birth to the perfect thing that Nikolai had left for her. 
"Nnnyaaaaahh!" She screamed, and then with a whoosh, a splash of fluid she felt the pain release and the child slip from her body. 
Her body flopped back against the pillows, she allowed a small smile to begin on her face, a smile which broke into a grin. She'd done it, she had managed to give birth, managed to survive it. She knew she was young, she knew the labour could have killed her but she'd done it, delivered her baby, the baby made from her love for Nikolai. 
She looked up, looking between her legs to the woman who had delivered her child. The woman held her child in a white knitted blanket. The woman had made the blanket, a beautiful one, especially for the baby. 
But she wasn't smiling, the woman rubbed the babies back roughly. Something was missing. 
A cry. 
There was no crying, not so much as a whimper. The child was totally silent. Natasha watched as the woman shook her head, a single tear slipping down her wrinkled face. 
"I am so sorry Natalia."   
Natasha felt her heart turn cold in her chest, something was wrong, but it couldn't be. Her baby, her baby had to be ok. Perhaps it was just sick, perhaps she had an infection which she had passed on; her poor baby. 
But it got worse. The baby was silent. No, no.  
The woman walked forwards, holding the swaddled infant in her arms, Natasha held her arms out- pushing against the pain in her lower body- and reached up, making a cradle with her arms to hold her baby, her own child; at last. 
She took the child so soft in the white knitted blanket with its delicate pattern. The baby didn't move, it's chest didn't rise and fall. It was silent and still. She reached out her spare hand, stroked its soft cheek. The child's cheek was smooth and soft but cold. 
Natasha had seen enough death to know its face.
She didn't cry, she didn't scream, she simply nodded. Her heart crushing into splinters, her throat closing up. She moved the blanket, the baby was perfect, it's little round belly, it's ten tiny toes and long but tiny fingers. It's arms were tucked up under its chin, it's legs curled in. It was a girl- she had thought it would be. 
"She was already gone," the woman said softly, "do you want me to bury her?" 
Natasha shook her head. She felt numb, as though a part of her- her very soul- had died with the child.


Well-Known Member
I'm assuming this the the first birth from the story you were talking about in your previous post. Woman couldn't give birth seventy years ago (is she immortal or something?) and we're looking into the first birth.

I'm not entirely certain it's necessary to explore this, to be frank. Not at he beginning, anyway. Certainly not if it's a major plot point to the story. On the other hand, if it's not critically important, then it's excess fat that needs to be trimmed off to make for a leaner, more effective story.

Of course, without knowledge of the actual story synopsis, I'm only guessing at how valuable this tidbit is. In context of the story posted, though, I feel very safe in saying that talking about Nikolai here as anything other than a brief mention is unnecessary and a speedbump to reading. Even more so, since the part talking about Nikolai are explained, not shown.

Show; don't tell.

Now that I think about it, since we're dealing with something not distinctly English-speaking, I find it doesn't hurt to show us these things. Oftentimes, just through language is good enough a tool. Of course, you can only get so much through Google Translation if you go this route, so it does you well to talk with someone familiar with the language so that it feels authentic.

Also, if this is a major plot point, I would just skip the part about her feeling herself going into labor and get right into the actual birthing. Actually, I would come in at about the end of the process, right about when she's about to give birth. Because anything else is basically filler.

Make a scene more interesting - Arrive late to it. Not too late where we miss everything, but just late enough where we've skipped the boring parts and show up just in time for the crux of the matter. And, then, once we've gotten it, leave early. Get the meaty part of the scene, and... bounce out.

Arrive late; leave early.

Put it all together, this is a skeleton of how I would probably approach this from a writing viewpoint:


"Of course it hurts!" a prune of an old Russian woman snapped at the profusely sweating young lady whose legs she was planted between. "Giving birth always hurts! Now push! It's almost over!"

"I can't!" the laboring woman cried out in sharp gasps, tears streaking down her face. Her knuckles were deathly white as they clung onto the bed mattress. "It hurts too much!"

"Just a little more! Push!"


"I can see its head! Push!"


"One more... PUSH!!"


"Good! I have her! I have the baby!"

The woman's body, released from the agonizing contractions, slumped in a heap in the midwife's bed, panting, gasping for air. The the room was still otherwise. Something about it scratched at the back of her mind, something about the relative quiet being wrong. However, fourteen hours of intense labor blotted it from the forefront of her mind. She only cared about the end result, to see the child she had just brought into this world.

"Oh, no."

There was a smacking sound.

"Bozhe moi."

"What?" Eyes heavy with exhaustion turned towards the midwife holding a bundle in her arms. Her wrinkled face looked even more pinched, if it were possible, a grimace driven hard into her features. "What's wrong?"

The old woman shook her head slowly, a deep sadness trapped in the simple motion. The woman who had just spent fourteen hours in labor felt a coldness burst inside of her soul.

"The child... is dead."
Prologue in a nutshell. But, again, I don't know just how important this knowledge is to the story. For all I know, in context, it's just filler that could be cut and never needs addressing. I feel that without a full understanding of what the story is about and what you're trying to do with it, you're not going to get a great and accurate response.