Merlin eyed the angled seat of the birthing stool with misgivings. Yes, he knew that it was supposed to ease a woman’s confinement but he wasn’t really a woman. Still, the child would come in much the same way. He just wasn’t sure he had the strength to endure the contractions and keep himself upright as the stool was exactly that-a stool. It had no back, no support of any kind. He knew that usually a laboring mother would lay her legs along the flared wings of the seat and rock herself back and forth until the child came but usually a midwife was there to use her body to strengthen the straining mother. Who would help him? Gaius was amazingly vigorous for a man of his age but he wasn’t really sturdy enough to take Merlin’s weight for that long.
Pain hit him like a fist in the chest at Gaius’s words. It was so unexpected he gasped from it and Gaius looked at him sharply knowing it should be too soon for another contraction. Merlin shook his head and rolled over onto his side giving the old man his back until he could compose himself. Only there was no composure to be found. He couldn’t stop the tears that welled up in his eyes and spilled out onto his cheeks.
He knew he was screaming, knew he wasn’t making sense, and certainly knew he wasn’t being a man about this but he didn’t care. All he could think about was the pain in his uterus, his back, and most alarmingly, in his penis and balls. He couldn’t see them over his gravid belly but he knew they must be swollen to the point of absurdity by the way everything down there felt like it was going to explode and not in a good way.