I follow their trail with my eyes, counting them two by two as I fight to stay awake. It has already been a long night. Coming on to shift I was endorsed the care of a 17 year old girl. For three long hours I pleaded, cajoled and admonished “just breathe, you can do it, no pushing, yes you can do it, just breathe.” She is having none of it, and is acting just like the 17 year old girl she is. Alternately she pouts, glares, whines, and whimpers. I play sympathetic midwife and then stern midwife – but nothing works. At last I bring out my last defence – Ate May – no one can resist that. I listen to Ate May talk with the girl, I know she is exaggerating somewhat the terrible things that will happen if the girl does not at least try to listen to our instructions, but much of what she says is not nearly so unimaginable as I might wish it to be. I continue to plead every 5 minutes for cooperation from the girl. No luck. Finally at 1am I wake up Ate May again, “Nothing is working, can we do the exam a little early to see how far she really is?” With Ate May’s permission I prepare for my exam, but what I find is concerning, my fingers encounter a very swollen little head, one that has been pushed far too often against an opening that is not big enough yet. I call for Ate May, hoping what I feel is a figment of my tired brain, but she confirms my findings. We prepare the papers for hospital transport. The doctor this night is alert and listens carefully to my report, I take it as a good sign and sadly leave my patient under her care. My wonderful teammates have cleaned up the mess left in my wake and I sit down on the couch to finish some paperwork, eat some fruit, and try to get a bit of sleep. God has other plans though and as another labour walks in the door at 3am I look enviously at all my sleeping teammates. I spend the next 3 hours much as the 3 before my transport. Every 5 minutes I lean forward on my stool and encourage “breathe, good job, and again, you can do it”. Unlike last time, this patient responds well, blowing through her painful contractions like a pro. In between I count the ants marching across the wall, trying to keep my eyes open.