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.

Niso shook his head quickly. "You have to push it out, the head's out Francis!" He said, reaching into the water and holding the baby's head still with one hand, his other holding Francis' swollen stomach. "Push!” "Tch..!" Francis gritted his teeth. He quickly drew breath, biting back a cry as his anal muscles contracted, sealing itself around the baby's neck.  The next time he pushed, a fresh peal of pain bloomed in his anus from when both the baby's shoulders were battering against his opening. The grip on his knees weakened as shooting pains radiated up and down his spine, his teeth baring as he pushed, hard. “Just one more..” Francis muttered darkly then heaved, feeling the baby's shoulder slide all the way out before it was followed by the rest of its body. Dazed, he fell back and panted in exhaustion. Niso quickly caught the baby and pulled it out of the water, surprised to see it didn't have an umbilical cord. He held it close to himself and looked at Francis, shock on his face that Francis had just given birth.
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.
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