posted by groovychicklisa
"Are you sure?" Renée asked, her eyes wide, continuing before I had a chance to answer. "Charlie!" This was called in the direction of the living room.
"No, I'm not sure, that's why I said 'I'm not sure'." I replied dryly.
"Did it feel like the false labor pains?"
I shook my head.
"What're you yelling about?" Charlie asked grumpily, coming into the kitchen. By the sound that was still coming from the television, we had interrupted a baseball game.
"Bella's in labor."
He just stood there for a moment, mouth slightly ajar and a vacant expression in his eyes.
"Right, I'll get the car, you go upstairs and get the bag we packed for the hospital, meet you outside in two minutes." He turned on his heel before he even finished speaking and left the room.
"Dad!" I called after him, and we heard him pause just inside the front door. "There's no need to go to the hospital right now, it'll be hours before anything happens."
"Right, I forgot." He came back into the kitchen, a sheepish look on his face. "Doctor Jamieson said to leave when the contractions were five minutes apart, right? How far apart are they now?"
"Well, I just had the first one, so I don't know yet." I snapped, immediately regretting my tone of voice. "Sorry, dad."
"It's OK, Bells, snap as much as you want." He grabbed the phone. "I'm going to call Doctor Jamieson, though, just to give her a heads up."
"Come on, baby, let's watch a movie or something." Renée put an arm around my shoulders and led me into the living room. "It won't go any faster if we just sit around and look at the clock."
She had a point, of course. Still, the idea of doing something as mundane as watching a movie at the moment felt completely wrong.
Charlie soon joined us in the living room, and we watched the television in silence – I tried to focus on the screen, but wasn't completely sure what we were watching. It could have been a comedy. Renée got a note pad, and wrote down the time each contraction started and how long they lasted. At noon, Charlie went to get take-out. The contractions were both stronger and closer together by then, but there was still no need to go to the hospital – though being close to all the good drugs was starting to feel like a very tempting idea.
When the phone rang a little after one, we all flinched.
"Hello?" Charlie answered. "Hang on, she's right here." He handed me the phone.
"Hi Bella." Angela's voice was cheerful.
"Hi Ang. Did you have fun after I left last night?" Had the prom been only the night before? It seemed like much more time had passed; like it had been a completely different world.
"We did, but we left at around midnight. Someone spiked the punch, and then a couple of guys started fighting."
"Well, I'm not sorry I missed that."
"But you did have fun, right? You're not mad at me for forcing you to go?" She sounded a little anxious, so I hurried to reassure her.
"Of course I had fun, and you didn't force me. Free will and all."
"Oh, I'm so glad to hear that." Relief was evident in her voice. "Anyway, I thought you might want to come over later, order pizza and watch a movie."
"That might be a little difficult, Ang." I said through gritted teeth as another contraction started. I indicated to Renée, and she jotted the time down.
"Why? Don't you… oh my God! You're having the baby!"
"This is so exciting! Are you going to the hospital soon?"
"Not for a while, I think, the contractions are still about ten minutes apart." Still a long way to go till I got to five…
"OK. Is it very painful?"
"It's OK, kind of like really bad cramps." I relaxed as the pain ended. "But I have a feeling it'll get a lot worse before this is over."
"Poor Bella. Call me when you're going to the hospital, OK?"
"It could be hours, Ang, maybe not until late tonight." I tried to reason.
"I don't care. I'm going to be there, and there's nothing you can do about it!" I knew that there was no arguing with Angela when she had that voice, and I didn't really want to, either.
"OK." I was really glad that she insisted. Even thought I knew that Charlie would be there, and Renée wouldn't leave my side, knowing that I would also have Angela to support me was very comforting.
"Hang in there, OK?" She encouraged. "I'll see you soon."
Renée put another movie in the DVD as I hung up the phone, and we continued to watch the television. I had a feeling that I wasn't the only one who was unable to concentrate on the TV.
At six, the contractions were finally five minutes apart – and pretty painful – and Charlie called Doctor Jamieson again, who told us to head in to the hospital.
"I have to go to the bathroom before we leave." I said, getting up from the couch with some difficulty.
"OK, Bells. I'll go start the car." Charlie headed out the door, the bag that I had packed for the hospital in one hand.
When I pulled my pants and underwear down, I noticed that both were wet. I frowned.
"Mom?" I called through the bathroom door. "Is it possible not to notice when the water breaks?" I had thought that it was supposed to be like a gush of water, like in the movies.
"I think so, why?"
"I think it might have, my clothes are all wet."
"I'll go get you some new panties and sweats."
She opened the door a moment later and handed me the clothes. I pulled them on and we headed out of the house.
Charlie had already put the bag in the trunk and started the car. He was waiting for us in the driver's seat, impatiently tapping the steering wheel. I called Angela on my cell phone when he pulled out of the driveway.
"Hi Mrs. Weber, it's Bella. Could you tell Angela that we're on our way to the hospital now?"
"Of course, honey, I'll tell her. Good luck!"
Angela beat us to the hospital – she lived closer, and no matter how anxious Charlie was to get there, he didn't go over the speed limit once. Ever the police officer. Angela, Renée and I went in through the main entrance while Charlie parked the car.
"Hi, my daughter is in labor, I think Doctor Jamieson should be here somewhere?" Renée said to the woman behind the counter. For some reason, I noted that it was the same woman who had been in that spot the first time I had been to the hospital. The thought brought other memories, so I quickly averted my mind to safer grounds. Dealing with the physical pain was quite enough for the moment; no need to get the emotional side mixed in as well.
"If you'll just fill out these, I'll call her for you." The woman handed Renée a couple of papers and a pen.
Angela and I sat down on a couple of plastic chairs while Renée filled out the papers at the counter. I could hear the woman behind the desk mumble in a phone, but didn't pay attention to what she was saying.
"This is it, huh?" Angela gave me an encouraging look. "Are you freaking out yet?"
"Surprisingly, no." I still felt completely calm. "But it'll probably pass."
"You just have to keep your eyes on the price at the end of the race."
I smiled at her analogy.
Charlie entered the hospital just as a male nurse came through the double doors, pushing a wheel chair in front of him.
"Miss Swan?" He wondered, stopping in front of me.
Did he see anyone else who was extremely pregnant?
"Yep." I obediently got into the wheel chair, and he rolled me down the corridor, Charlie, Renée and Angela following us.
Doctor Jamieson met us at the end of the hallway.
"Hi, Bella." She smiled at me. "Finally, huh?"
"Finally." I agreed.
The nurse rolled me into a room, and closed the door when he left.
"You can put that on and get in the bed, and I'll do a quick exam to see what's going on down there." Doctor Jamieson indicated a hospital gown lying on the bed. "Did your water break yet?"
"I think so, but I'm not sure." I frowned. "Isn't it supposed to be like a gush of water?"
"Not necessarily. Some women don't even notice it."
Charlie didn't leave the room, but he went over to the window and turned his back on us. I put the gown on and climbed into the bed with some difficulty. I kept my attention on Angela, who was standing by the head of the bed, while Doctor Jamieson examined me.
"Well, there's definitely a baby on the way." She said when she was finished. "You're about four centimeters dilated."
"Is that good?" Angela wondered.
"Well, we need to get to ten before it's time to start pushing. The cervix normally dilates a little more than a centimeter an hour, so I would say that we still have about five or six hours to go before anything happens."
I sighed. I knew this, but had still been hoping that things would move along more quickly.
"You still want that epidural, right?" Doctor Jamieson asked, and I nodded vigorously.
"God yes." I had looked through the folders promoting "natural birth", but just didn't see the point of putting myself through unnecessary pain. Painkillers these days were very safe.
"I'll just get you hooked up here, and then I'll send the anesthesiologist in to take care of that."
A few minutes later, I was connected to several monitors surrounding the bed, and had an IV in my left arm that I tried very hard not to look at.
Doctor Jamieson left the room, and about ten minutes later, a man in his forties entered.
"Hello there, I'm Doctor Wilkins, I'll be administrating your epidural." He came over to the bed. "I need you to move onto your left side and arch your back for me. And try to remain completely still."
I turned so I was lying with my back towards him, and could feel him wipe an area of my back with something wet. I shuddered in anticipation of what was coming, but tried to remember that this was the lesser evil.
"I'll just give you a local anesthetic to numb the area before inserting the needle." He explained.
I felt a sting, and squeezed my eyes shut. I felt a hand in mine, and grasped it gratefully.
"I'm going to insert the needle now. It might hurt a little, but try not to move."
I bit my lip in anticipation of the pain, trying to focus on not moving no matter what happened, but there was only a slightly uncomfortable feeling of pressure in my lower back.
"There, all done."
"That's it?" I opened my eyes and released Renée's hand. I had expected the epidural to hurt a lot more than that.
"That's it." Doctor Wilkins smiled at me. "Doctor Jamieson will be in to check on your progress in about an hour or so." He left the room.
"How does it feel?" Angela wondered.
"Not sure yet."
A few minutes later, I had another contraction, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the previous one had been.
"I think it's working." I said, relieved.
The contractions became less and less painful after the epidural, but the pain never disappeared completely.
Doctor Jamieson came in at seven thirty to do another examination.
"Is the epidural working?" She wondered.
"I think so. I can still feel some pain, but it's much better than before."
"That's good then. Most of the time, an epidural will remove the pain completely, but any relief is good." I completely agreed with her. "Now, I might have to start you on Pitocin, that's a labor stimulant, if the epidural has caused the labor to slow."
"Is that common?" Charlie asked, a worried expression on his face.
"It happens, but it's nothing to worry about." Doctor Jamieson checked the monitors while she put on some rubber gloves. "Heart rate looks good and strong, everything seems to be OK there."
Renée took my hand again as Doctor Jamieson started the examination. When she was done, she smiled at me.
"Well, good news. The epidural doesn't seem to have affected the labor at all, and you're already at seven centimeters. This might be a lot quicker than I had anticipated."
"I like the sound of that." I returned her smile.
"I'll be back in another hour or so, but just push the button if you need me before that." She said before leaving the room.
Renée had brought a couple of magazines, and I flipped through one to pass the time. I leaned back against the pillows and closed my eyes during the contractions, trying to focus on the breathing technique we had been taught in the Lamaze class. The pain was definitely bearable.
My body continued to cooperate, and when doctor Jamieson had completed the next examination, she said that it was time to move into the delivery room, since I was almost at ten centimeters.
Charlie and Angela walked with us down to the new room, but then went back to the waiting room. Only Renée was going to be in the room with me.
I was put in a new bed, and again hooked up to a bunch of machines.
"The baby hasn't quite moved into position yet, so we'll have to give her some time." Doctor Jamieson said after another examination. "Let me know if you feel any pressure."
Twenty minutes later, there was a definite feeling of pressure. Doctor Jamieson did another examination, and gave me the thumbs up.
"All set then. At the next contraction, I want you to push."
Suddenly, I got scared.
"What if I can't do it?" I could hear the hint of hysteria in my voice, and knew that I was panicking, but I was unable to do anything about it.
"Of course you can." Doctor Jamieson encouraged. "There's a contraction coming, get ready to push."
"No, I can't. I don't want to." I gave her a pleading look.
"Bella, honey, look at me." Renée forced me to make eye contact with her. "You can do this. You're strong. Do you hear me?"
I nodded, but was far from convinced. But I did as Doctor Jamieson said, and pushed when I felt the next contraction. The pressure became almost overwhelming, and I had to struggle not to give up.
"That's good, Bella, you can relax now."
I fell back against the pillows, but almost before I had a chance to catch my breath, there was another contraction. Only the intense want of the birth to be over as soon as possible made me keep pushing during the contractions.
"You're doing a great job, Bella. I can see the head." Doctor Jamieson's words fifteen minutes later encouraged me, and I pushed even harder on the next contraction.
A burning sensation overwhelmed me, and I couldn't keep going.
"I know, sweetie, but you have to keep pushing." Renée insisted.
"The head is crowning, that's why it hurts. You have to keep pushing through the pain, it'll go away."
I didn't know if Doctor Jamieson was just saying that so I wouldn't stop pushing, but I did as she said. And the burning feeling did disappear.
"Good, Bella, the head's completely out now. Just give me a little push for the shoulders, and she'll be here soon."
I complied, and finally, the pressure was gone. I slumped back against the pillows as a piercing cry filled the room.
"It's a girl." I heard Doctor Jamieson say from somewhere far, far away. The walls started to move, the whole room spinning.
I wanted to ask to see her, to hold her, but before I could get a word out, everything went black.
When I opened my eyes, I was momentarily disoriented. The room wasn't familiar in any way; light blue walls, white ceiling, green curtains around a dark window. My mind vaguely registered that it must be the middle of the night.
"You're awake, honey." Charlie's rough voice came from a chair next to my bed. I looked over to see him leaning against the side of the bed, a tired and very concerned expression on his face.
"What happened?" Bits and pieces of the day were starting to come back to me, but I couldn't quite get them to make sense. My mind seemed to be working to slow.
"I'm not sure, I didn't understand much of the medical mumbo-jumbo they were going on about, but you lost a lot of blood and they had to operate to stop it." He leaned closer to the bed and took my hand in his.
I registered that my left hand – the one Charlie wasn't holding – had an IV in it, and that I had some sort of plastic tube under my nose. I also noted that, in addition to the soreness I had been expecting, there was a burning sensation across my lower abdomen.
"You've been unconscious for almost five hours, we were really worried." I calculated that it must be around three in the morning – no wonder Charlie looked exhausted, he couldn't have been able to sleep in the uncomfortable looking chair he was sitting in.
The most important thing in the world suddenly occurred to me, and my eyes searched the room for my daughter.
"Where is she? Why did they take her? Is she OK?" Panic was creeping up on me.
"Shh, don't worry, she's just fine." Charlie quickly assured me. "They just took her to the nursery until you woke up."
"I want her." I felt a physical need to see her, to hold her in my arms, because she wouldn't be real to me until I had.
"I'll call the nurse." He reached out and pressed a button behind my head.
A few minutes later, a plump woman in her fifties came into the room. A smile spread on her face when she saw me.
"Oh, wonderful, you're awake! I'll let Doctor Jamieson know, she's been quite worried about you." She made the last part sound almost like an accusation.
"Could you bring the baby here?" Charlie asked. "Bella wants to see her."
"Of course." She smiled again and left the room.
"Where are mom and Angela?" I wondered when the door had swung shut behind the nurse.
"I managed to convince them to go home and get some sleep at midnight." Charlie replied. "They both put up a fight, though, and it took Doctor Jamieson assuring them that you were in no danger whatsoever to even get them to leave the room."
"I'm sorry I scared you." I said quietly.
"It wasn't your fault."
"You just focus on getting better and taking good care of that little girl of yours." He patted my hand on top of the covers.
"What does she look like?"
"Absolutely beautiful." He practically beamed. "Even prettier than you were."
"How big was she?"
"Twenty inches and seven pounds, five ounces. Born at nine forty seven P.M. on Sunday the twenty-third of May, 2004."
At that moment, the door opened and the nurse came into the room, pushing a bassinette in front of her.
"Here we go." She put the bassinette next to the bed and carefully picked up the tiny baby in it, placing her in my arms. I didn't notice when the nurse left the room, I was completely wrapped up in the tiny person in front of me.
Her eyes were closed, the lids almost transparent. Her tiny hands were balled up and her mouth formed a small, perfect O. I stroked her soft, bronze colored hair, and felt tears in my eyes. The exact same color.
"She's so tiny." I whispered, not wanting to wake her up.
"She'll get bigger before you know it." Charlie replied. "I'll go call your mother; she'll want to know that you're finally awake."
I was grateful that he left us alone for a moment.
"Hi Lily." I whispered. "It's mom. How are you liking the world so far? It's not too bad, is it? I'm sorry I couldn't be there to greet you, but I'm here now. And I'll never, ever leave you. No matter what, I'll always be there to look out for you, even when you think I'm embarrassing you."
She opened her eyes, and I could see that they were a deep blue. Like all babies'. Somehow, I had still expected startling green. They would change, though. Whether to green or brown, only time would tell.
At about six in the morning, Lily started making small, whiny sounds. I shook Charlie's shoulder – he had somehow managed to fall asleep in the chair next to my bed.
"What's wrong?" He startled awake.
"I don't know. Maybe she's hungry?" I assumed that they must have fed her in the nursery, but that was hours ago.
"I'll go get a nurse." Charlie left the room, returning a few minutes later with the same nurse that had brought Lily from the nursery.
"Ah, she's awake. And hungry, I would think. I fed her just before bringing her here, so she should be about ready to eat again." She picked up Lily from the bassinette. "Do you want to try to breastfeed her?"
"Yeah." I nodded.
She helped me to get Lily in the proper position, and, to my surprise, she immediately latched on and started sucking. I had thought that since she had been fed by the nurses, it might be difficult to get her to take the breast at first.
"She's got the hang of it, doesn't she?" The nurse noted with a smile.
"I thought it might be hard at first, since she's not used to it." I mumbled.
"Some babies have trouble, others seem to just know what they're supposed to do right from the start."
Angela stopped by on her way to school later that morning.
"I was so worried." She mumbled, hugging me tightly.
"I know, I'm sorry."
"Will you stop apologizing?" Renée said in an irritated voice from where she was sitting with Lily in her arms by the window. She had arrived at seven, and Charlie had left a little later to go to work. "It was not your fault."
I just rolled my eyes when she focused her attention back on the baby in her arms.
"I have to go, but I'll stop by after school." Angela promised. "I'm sure Mike and Ben will tag along, too."
"I'll see you later."
Doctor Jamieson dropped in shortly after Angela had left.
"I'm so glad that you're feeling better." She said after checking my chart. "You gave us all quite a scare."
"I am feeling much better." I was tired and very sore, but extremely happy.
"I want to keep you here for at least a couple of more days, to make sure that there are no complications from the surgery." She checked the incision on my stomach. "I hope that's OK."
"Of course." I was looking forward to going home, but didn't want to jump the gun – no need to take any unnecessary risks.
"And Lily seems to be doing just fine too." She went over to where Renée was sitting and stroked Lily's tiny fist with her index finger. "It really suits her."
"It does, doesn't it?" I agreed.
"She has a very interesting hair color." Doctor Jamieson noted.
"I know." I replied, feeling a knot in my stomach. I prayed that she would drop the subject.
"Well, I have to get back to my other patients. I just wanted to check in on the two of you." She smiled at me before leaving the room, and I let out a sigh of relief.
When Angela and Mike arrived later in the afternoon – Ben couldn't make it – I sent Renée home to get something to eat and take a shower, forbidding her to return before at least eight. She had insisted on sleeping at the hospital with me, and the kind nurses had promised to bring in a bed for her. Charlie was stopping by after work, and I was sure that at least Angela would hang around until he showed up.
"Hi." Angela greeted me with a kiss on the cheek, Mike lingering behind her. She put down a large teddy bear in the chair next to the bed.
"You didn't have to bring anything, you've already given me way too much stuff." I objected.
"Well, it's not for you, is it?" Angela countered. "Can I hold her?" An expectant smile appeared on her face as she reached her arms out for Lily.
"Of course." I carefully shifted Lily to Angela's waiting arms.
"Hello there, gorgeous. Have you been nice to your mom today? She had a rough day yesterday, and you need to be extra nice to her, OK?"
"Hey Bella." Mike moved the stuffed bear to the foot of the bed and sat down in the chair. "How're you feeling?"
"Well, I've never actually been run over by a car, but I think it might feel a bit like this." We both laughed a little. "But she's totally worth it."
"She's really cute."
"Thanks." Though I didn't think "cute" really covered it.
"When are they letting you out of this place, then?"
"I'm not sure." I frowned. "Not for a couple of days, I think. Doctor Jamieson said that they want to keep an eye on me."
"Right, Angela mentioned that there was some sort of complication." He got a concerned look on his face. "Are you sure you're alright?"
"I'm fine, Mike. Honestly. They gave me a bunch of blood transfusions, and my vitals are practically back to normal."
"Good. I'm glad you're feeling better."
"Shouldn't you guys be studying for finals?" I suddenly remembered.
"It can wait." Angela said from over by the window. "I'm showing my niece her new home, if you haven't noticed."
I laughed quietly.
"I think you might have found a baby sitter for the next eighteen years or so." Mike remarked, amused.
"I'll be counting on that, Ang."
"No problem." Angela happily agreed. "You can hang out with me whenever you want, OK honey? I'm your really cool aunt Angela and I'll teach you about all the stuff your mom won't talk about, like boys and…"
"Hey." I interrupted her. "Can you save that conversation for fifteen years or so?" I did not want to think about that right now – or for a very, very long time. In fact, I would very much prefer not ever having to think about it, impossible as that might be.
When Charlie got there at six, Angela and Mike grudgingly left to get some studying done – after I had threatened to never let them come back if they failed their finals. Some of us were still going to college in the fall, after all.
I was surprised at how comfortable Charlie looked, sitting in the chair by the bed with Lily in his arms. He seemed to notice the somewhat surprised look on my face.
"You were this little once, too, remember?" He pointed out, only a little sarcastically. "I haven't forgotten everything."
"I know." I nodded. "It just looks a little odd, somehow."
"I guess I can say the same for seeing you with her. But it seems completely right at the same time."
I knew the feeling he was talking about. Though I had felt an instant connection with Lily the moment the nurse had placed her in my arms, there was this tiny part of me that refused to accept that this amazing, perfect little person could possibly be mine. But she was.
When Charlie had gone home later that night, and Renée was sound asleep in the bed that had been brought in for her, I slipped quietly out of mine. I winced a little at the pain the movement caused, but ignored it. I picked up Lily, who was asleep in the bassinette – carefully so as not to wake her – and climbed back into the bed.
I stroked her tiny palm, and her little hand closed around my pinkie. The nurse had told me that this was an automatic reflex, so I didn't worry that I had accidentally woken her up.
I watched as her tiny chest rose and fall with her breathing, and a feeling of absolute calm washed over me. The fear I had occasionally felt before she was born, that I wouldn't be able to be the mother I wanted to be, was completely gone. I would mess up, of course, but we would survive. I had my parents and some very good friends who would always be there whenever either of us needed anything. We would be fine.
And I realized that the hole in my chest was gone. I could still feel the edges where my insides had been stitched back together, but the hollow feeling I hadn't been able to fully escape for the past nine months was gone. I inhaled deeply, and discovered that I could breathe freely again, without the tightening in my chest.
What time hadn't been able to do, my beautiful little girl had accomplished in an instant. She had put me back together. I would probably always be damaged to a certain extent – like they said, first love isn't something you just get over, and certainly not one as intense as ours had been – but I wasn't broken any more. The edges would fade with time, just like the scar on my stomach.
I looked into the angelic face of my daughter, and I saw the future.
"I hope you never have to know what it's like when your heart breaks."