Blood and Ashes

A pregnant Katniss is forced to fight in the Quater Quell with Haymitch. Who will survive in the war to overthrow the Capitol? Disclaimer: I, unfortunately, do not own the Hunger Games, or any of the characters in this fanfiction. All rights go to Suzanne Collins.
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18. Toil

I wake up what must be five minutes later and I am in another hospital bed. I become aware of the baby inside me moving slightly, which reassures me. For a few seconds, I lie there, trying to regain consciousness and force away the dizziness that feels like someone is spinning the room in circles.

Forcing myself to focus and not slip back into unconsciousness, I open my eyes and see Peeta sitting next to me in a chair.

"Katniss!" he jumps up, "are you ok?" I nod. Peeta helps me to sit up and sip a glass of water. As he places it back on the bedside table, the doctor from the hovercraft steps into the small room. She introduces herself as Dr Worth and informs me that she needs to use a monitor to check on the baby.

Dr Worth uses the hand sanitizer on the end of my bed and asks me to put a plastic case on my finger. As soon as I do, the monitor to my left begins to beep, monitoring my heart rate. Peeta squeezes my other hand, knowing how terrified I am.

She asks me to lean forward to wrap a belt-like monitor around my bump to check the baby's heart rate. As I do, another pain hits me and the wavy lines on the screen in front of me become larger and more erratic. I double over, shocked by the intensity of the pain. Peeta rubs my back and the doctor tells me to breathe through it. Just as the pain is easing, I feel a strange popping sensation and warm liquid begins to seep down my legs as I sit back.

"Your waters have broken. Katniss, you're definitely in labour," says the doctor.
"But it's too early!" I say, panicking. I'm only thirty-three weeks - I still have two months!"
"Unfortunately, seeing as your waters have broken, we can't delay labour. You're going to have to give birth. Your baby will most likely have a low birth weight, being seven weeks premature, but I'll give you a steroid injection to give his or her lungs a boost as they won't be fully developed."

I nod and squeeze Peeta's hand so tightly that I think I might be crushing it. He doesn't complain, though. After turning on the monitor, Dr. Worth turns up the volume, allowing us to hear the steady whooshing sound of the baby's heartbeat. She leaves the room.

About four hours later, I am covered in sweat and exhausted. The contractions are about three minutes apart and painful enough that I can't speak through them. According to the machine, my blood pressure keeps dropping, which explains the dizziness. Peeta is trying his best to comfort me, but I know he feels helpless because this is something that he isn't going through as well. My mother and Prim are on standby and have just come to see me.

A midwife walks into the room and says she needs to check on me. I lift my hospital gown so she can feel my bump. She says that the baby's head is engaged and he or she isn't breech. Then, she asks me to put my legs in the stirrups on either side of the bed so that she can check my dilation. Two uncomfortable and extremely painful minutes later, she announces that I am nine centimetres dilated. One more to go. She gives me some gas and air, which doesn't seem to do anything, and leaves.

As soon as the door shuts, I let the tears fall from my eyes. "Peeta," I whisper, my voice barely audible, "I'm scared." Becoming more and more paranoid, my breathing becomes erratic. "What if the baby doesn't make it? The doctor said her lungs are underdeveloped. It's all my fault – I shouldn't have been stressed. I can't lose my baby; I can't do thi-" my voice is cut off by his lips pressed to mine. He pulls back and looks into my eyes, wiping away my tears.
"Katniss," he says softly, "it's going to be ok. We'll get through this together. You can do this. You're the strongest person I know and if I could go through all this for you, I would. I love you, both of you. More than anything.." He carefully wraps his arms against me and holds me against him.

At that moment, a sharp pain, so intense that I can barely catch my breath rips across my stomach and I gasp in pain, leaning forwards. My fists are clenched so tightly that my wrists ache and my fingernails leave red marks on my palms. Crying out in agony, the pain is all I can focus on. This lasts for about a minute, then it subsides.

Thinking I have enough time to rest between contractions, I relax for about thirty seconds before another one starts. I can't stop myself from whimpering in pain. Suddenly, an odd sensation, almost as potent as the persistent throbbing of the contraction, appears.
"Peeta," I force out, "I need to push."

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