Big girls do it pregnant, p.10
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       Big Girls Do It Pregnant, p.10

         Part #10 of Big Girls Do It series by Jasinda Wilder
 
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  Then it was Chase's turn. He had slunk into the shadows near the side of the stage to accept a guitar and returned to stand between Kyle and Gage, waiting until the song hit a second crescendo and paused in single beat of silence. When sound returned, Chase added a driving backbone rhythm pattern. By now, all four members of the band were bathed in lights and the song was in full force, the crowd jumping and moshing with wild abandon.

  Chase gradually moved toward the mic stand as the song progressed toward the first verse and began growling the lyrics to "Ablation": "Down this dirty hole

  You and me we crawl

  Through this recurring nightmare

  Of me against you

  Rage against recrimination

  Blame against damnation

  Domination of my past

  Versus ablation of my heart

  Your nails on my spine

  Was once erotic

  Your eyes on mine

  Was once hypnotic

  But this nightmare

  The way it flares

  Ignites into hatred

  Slices through the skin

  Of your demonic beauty

  Revealing the evil within

  This recurring nightmare

  Of me against you

  Rage against recrimination

  Blame against damnation

  Your lies ablate my hope

  Your betrayal perpetrates my hate

  You were once erotic

  Hypnotic

  Now you're just demonic

  Chthonic

  A chronic cyclonic storm

  Wrecking all my dreams."

  Chase's voice was raw by the end of the song, by the time he'd screamed the chorus through three more times. He knew he'd sold it. He'd given in to every fear and nagging worry and put it all into the song, let it feed the lyrics with all his inner darkness. He stood in the pool of white spotlights, sweat dribbling down the shell of his ear and into the gauged hole of his piercing, heart hammering, stomach clenching, adrenaline pumping. The instruments around him all fell silent, and he forced himself to breathe through it, ignore the fear that was quickly turning into unreasoning terror.

  Then his phone buzzed. He ignored it until the lights doused between songs, then spun around and dug it out of his pocket, shielding the glow with his body.

  The name across the screen made his heart stutter and stop. Jay.

  What was he supposed to do? She knew he was performing tonight. She wouldn't call him unless it was an emergency, but Johnny was already clicking his sticks to count in the next song, and the lights were up.

  He shoved the phone back in his pocket and forced himself through the next song. He felt his phone buzz again, and almost lost his place in the lyrics. When the song ended, he edged up to Gage and Kyle and told them to do a solo or something, an instrumental piece to buy him time.

  Chase left the stage and stood under the light of an emergency-exit sign with his phone clutched in his trembling fist.

  "Hey, guys, I'm Gage. We're, uh, we're gonna do an instrumental song for you guys. It doesn't really have a name, it's just a jam we put together. Hope you like it." He heard Gage's bass kick in a fast rhythm, and then the other guys came in.

  You wouldn't know they were making it all up as they went along. They'd never done an all-instrumental number before, hadn't practiced it or written it or jammed out to even have an idea. But it was buying him time, and that's all that mattered.

  He pulled up the text message. Hey, babe. I know you're onstage, sorry. It's time. The headache came back, and I've been admitted to L and D. They're gonna start a pitocin drip around midnight to induce labor. I need you here.

  Midnight. Fuck. That was in three hours. He was in Chicago, four hours away. There were no flights out till morning. He didn't have a car. The band was only three songs into an eleven-song set.

  He swore again under his breath and typed a response, a promise he didn't know how to fulfill: I'll be there. I promise.

  Gage came out to get him. "Come on, dude, you're on. 'Long Night Gone' is up next."

  He met Gage's gaze. "They're inducing her in three hours, Gage. I gotta be there."

  "What's that mean?"

  "It means they're forcing her to go into labor early. It means she's having the baby, like, now."

  "Fuck." Gage flipped his hair back from his face with an angry motion. "Fuck. What are you gonna do?"

  Chase shook his head. "I don't know. I don't fucking know, man."

  "Problem?" Darrel McKay said. Darrel was the lead singer for Blood Oath, a local Chicago metal band that had been the pre-opener.

  "I'm about to have a baby, and I'm here. She's in Detroit. We're not even halfway through our show." Chase rubbed his hand over his head, again and again. "I don't know what to do."

  "I can fill in. I don't know your material, but we can do some covers." Darrel ran his fingers through his shoulder-length black hair, flipping it back.

  "That works for me," Gage said. "Let's do it. You make the announcement, Chase, and then get going."

  Chase shook hands and bumped fists with his band-mates, and then took the stage, sitting on the very edge with his feet hanging off. He lifted the mic to his lips, shaded his eyes against the glare of the stage lights and the spot bathing him. "So, hey, Chicago. How's it going? Having a good time?" The crowd cheered and applauded until Chase lifted a hand to silence them. "Some of you may know I got married a little while back, and my wife is expecting a baby."

  There was more applause, a few boos from the disappointed female members of the audience, and some shouts of congratulations.

  "So, the reason I'm sitting here like this, talking to you rather than singing the next song, is that I just got a text from Jamie, my wife, and she just went into labor." He paused and scratched his head. "Well, actually, she's getting induced, if you want to get technical, but that's beside the point. The point is, I have to go witness the birth of my daughter. This is--and you have to believe me--this is the only reason I would ever leave in the middle of a concert. I hate doing this, I really do. You guys are the reason I'm here, the reason the boys and I are able to live our dream like we have been."

  He stood up, waved to the other guys, and took center stage. "So, you guys paid good money to hear us play, and just because he's a badass, David has graciously offered to kind of fill in for me. So, is anyone here a fan of Blood Oath?" The crowd screamed wildly for the local talent, and it was several long moments before anyone could be heard over the noise. "I take it that means you'll let us change things on you? The guys from Six Foot Tall are gonna play, and Darrel is gonna sing, and I personally think Darrel is fucking badass. They'll rock your shit, I guarantee you. They might even take a couple requests."

  Darrel lifted the mic to his lips. "Hey, you're about to have a kid, man. It's the least I could do to help a brother out." He pushed Chase toward the side of the stage. "Now go, get the fuck out of here and be with your wife."

  "If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, check for updates. Thank you, Chicago!" Chase waved to the crowd and left the stage as the band kicked in the opening notes to "Down With the Sickness" in tribute to David Draiman, who was watching from backstage.

  Less than half an hour later, Chase was in a car borrowed from a roadie and flying as fast as he could safely drive toward Detroit. The fear in his belly had faded a bit but hadn't gone away completely.

  Something told him the insanity had just started.

  Wait for me, Samantha, he thought. Wait for me.

  Chapter 6: JAMIE

  A long, growling groan ripped from my throat, a sound of frustration, pain, and panic. The OB on duty, Dr. Clayton, had ordered a pitocin drip to start labor, but the anesthesiologist hadn't shown up yet, despite the passage of more than two hours, so I was feeling the full force of every contraction, and they were increasing in intensity with every half hour.

  Chase still wasn't here, and all I'd heard from him was a single text an hour
before: OTW, driving now, be there soon.

  Anna and Jeff had gone home, at my insistence; I knew it would be several hours before anything happened, and they had Anna's complicated pregnancy to deal with. I was, once again, alone and in pain. I breathed in through my nose as a contraction gripped my core and squeezed. It felt like a menstrual cramp amplified by a million. I whimpered, trying to breathe through it, counting in my head, One-one thousand...two-one thousand...three-one thousand...four-one thousand...and then it passed, leaving me slumped back against the thin pillow, sweating and panting.

  "Where the fuck is the drugs man?" I growled to the empty room at large.

  A nurse breezed in at that moment and checked the charts and beeping monitors, adjusted the fitting of the circular monitor pickup strapped to my belly. "He's coming, hon. Another patient had a complication with her epidural."

  "A complication?" My voice squeaked at the end, panicking at the idea of a complication happening to me.

  "Nothing for you to worry about, dear." The nurse was a young brunette with wide brown eyes and an easy smile. "Just a slightly-off placement is all. You'll be just fine. Dr. Harris is an excellent doctor. You have nothing to worry about, I promise."

  "God, don't scare me like that. I'm freaked out enough as it is." I sucked on the straw in my miniature can of Vernor's.

  "Do you have anyone here with you, Mrs. Delany?" the nurse asked.

  "Yeah, my friends just left, and my husband is on the way."

  "Where's he coming from?"

  I felt my womb tensing in preparation for another contraction. "Chicago--he actually left in the middle of a show."

  The nurse scanned the printout coming from the monitor, assessing the frequency and intensity of the contractions. "Oh? What does he do?"

  I laughed. "You must be the only nurse in the whole L and D who doesn't know." I gritted my teeth and breathed through the contraction, then exhaled in relief when it passed. "My husband is Chase Delany from Six Foot Tall."

  I could tell the nurse tried to contain her excitement, but she wasn't entirely successful. "Oh, my god! I love them! I saw them at Harpos before they blew up!"

  "Well, you'll meet him as soon as he gets his ass here." I took another sip from my soda and then crunched an ice chip, wishing desperately for something other than ice and soda.

  "Did he really leave in the middle of a concert to be with you?" the nurse asked, clearly awed.

  "That's what I hear. I haven't actually talked to him yet, but I know he's supposed to be playing right now, and instead he's driving to get here."

  "Well, things seem to be progressing pretty quickly, especially since this is your first baby. It'll still be several hours more before the baby gets here, if everything happens like it should." She turned to leave, pausing at the door. "Dr. Clayton should be here to check how far you've progressed in a little while, and Dr. Henry should be along with the epidural any minute."

  "Awesome," I muttered, thinking about how large Dr. Clayton's hands had been when he'd first checked me upon admittance to the L and D ward. Large, hard, and cold.

  Not a good combination when your profession was shoving your hands up the hoo-ha of unsuspecting women. There should be a requirement that all OBs have small, warm hands. Careful hands. I also thought the idea of a male OB was kind of contrary. What the hell does a man know about girly bits? He doesn't have them. Clinical knowledge only got you so far, after all.

  What it amounted to was me wishing for Dr. Rayburn to get her ass to the hospital for the actual birth. She'd been paged when I had first arrived at Beaumont, but there hadn't been any word as yet. Dr. Rayburn's hands were perfect, small, gentle, sure, and not frigid. She also possessed the ability to make me feel like it would all be okay with a few calm words. There was just something about her demeanor that set me at ease.

  Dr. Clayton? Not so much. He was over six feet tall, middle-aged, built like a grizzly bear, and not given to talking unless necessary. He wasn't surly or taciturn, just gruff and quiet. He really was a nice enough guy, and if he'd been any other kind of doctor, I would have been reassured by his quiet competence. As an OB/GYN, though, he put me on edge.

  Speaking of whom.... Dr. Clayton strolled in at that moment, reading something on a tablet. He slid the pad in his lab coat pocket and went to the monitoring station, glancing through the contraction chart and checking the pickups for the monitor. Still without speaking, he snapped on a pair of rubber gloves, kicked the door shut, and plopped onto the rolling stool, scooting into position between my knees. He pushed the sheet up to my hips, and without so much as a preparatory how-do-you-do, slid his hand between my legs.

  I winced and tried to contain my curses as he wiggled his huge finger around inside me, then sighed in relief when he withdrew his hand and stripped the gloves off. A quick hand-wash, and the doctor resumed his seat on the stool, repositioning the sheet to cover me.

  "Well, Mrs. Delany, you're progressing pretty quickly, actually. You're about sixty percent effaced and dilated to almost five. You have a ways to go yet, but at this rate it shouldn't be too much longer." He scratched the salt-and-pepper stubble on his jaw and stood up. "Just sit tight for now. I'm going to leave the pitocin where it is for now, since you seem to be progressing nicely. I'll check you again in a few hours. I saw Dr. Harris just a minute ago, so that epidural is on its way."

  And he was gone, just like that. I wondered why he thought it necessary to to tell me to sit tight. Like I was going anywhere? I sighed and gripped the railing as another contraction ripped through me. This one lasted longer, clenched me tighter, and left me breathless with relief when it finally passed.

  In the background, Tom announced the next dancers on Dancing With the Stars, and I tried not to cry. I knew Chase was on his way, but that didn't help me feel any less alone in that moment.

  "Come on, Chase, hurry up, baby." I hissed through my teeth as the next contraction hit me like a ton of bricks, barely five minutes after the last one.

  It was another hour before the anesthesiologist showed up. Dr. Harris was an older American-Asian man with thick black hair barely contained by some kind of scrubs-hat. He helped me to a sitting position on the edge of the bed and wiped my back with iodine from the kit he'd unpackaged on the moveable table. I tried to keep my breathing even and pushed away my desperate wish for Chase's hands to hold as the needle--which looked about eight feet long--pierced through my skin and slid, cold and alien, into my spine. Sharp lances of pain shot through me with each motion of the doctor's careful hands, with each sliding inch of the needle. I held as still as I could and tried not to breathe as he inserted the line and taped it to my back with medical tape.

  I couldn't stop a whimper from escaping as a contraction clutched me in a vise-like grip. Sweat beaded on my forehead and dripped down my cheek, tangling with my hair and causing strands to stick to my skin. My eyes squeezed shut, I started when I felt Dr. Harris' hands touch my shoulders as he urged me back to a lying position.

  "I got it in first try," he said, touching buttons on a box attached to the IV hook of my bed. "There, the drip has started. You should feel relief almost immediately."

  I whimpered again, this time in relief. Numbness spread through my lower half, cutting away the spearing pain of an onrushing contraction. I still felt pressure, but not pain. It was odd, actually. The contractions clenched me still, and I felt the vise-grip pressure around my womb, but it was pressure absent pain.

  "Thank you, sweet baby Jesus." I closed my eyes and relaxed into the uncomfortable bed.

  I heard the doctor chuckle as he cleaned up. Exhaustion stole over me, and I felt sleep tug me under. The contractions gripped me every few minutes, but I was able to doze off into a restless sleep. When I woke up, Chase was sitting with his elbows on the edge of the bed, worry etched on his gorgeous features.

  "You're here," I mumbled, reaching for his hand.

  "I'm here, finally." He scooted the chair closer, reaching out to brush
a tendril of hair away from my eyes. "There was a huge accident on seventy-five, so I was stuck for a fucking hour and a half. I almost got arrested for trying to go on the shoulder around the pileup."

  I laughed. "You did not, did you?"

  Chase grinned. "Yeah, I did. For real. The cop only let me go when I told him who I was and why I needed to get here."

  "You missed the giant needle," I said, scooting slowly and awkwardly up to a reclined sitting position. "It was seriously like a fucking sword."

  "What giant needle?"

  "The epidural," I said, holding my hands about two feet apart. "It was seriously, like, this big."

  "Honey, it couldn't have been that big." Chase laughed.

  I huffed. "It was, too. Six inches at least."

  "Did it hurt?"

  I stared at him. "I have a six-inch needle sticking out of my spine, Chase. What do you think?"

  "The needle is still in?" Chase asked.

  "I don't know. I don't think so, but it's not like I could see what he was doing. Yes, it hurt, but it makes the contractions bearable."

  "What are the contractions like?" Chase threaded his fingers through mine and shifted in the visitor's chair.

  I widened my eyes as I felt the squeeze of a contraction. I glanced at the monitor readout and saw that the contractions had ramped up significantly while I dozed. They were frequent and powerful now, the chart looking like a mountain range of peaks and valleys.

  "Before the epidural they were, no lie, the most painful thing I've ever felt. I don't even know how to describe it to you. There's nothing like it, especially that a man would experience. It's like menstrual cramps, but times a million, but you don't know what that feels like." I adjusted the blanket to better cover my toes. "The best I can put it is like a giant fist squeezing your stomach. Now that I've got the epidural in, it's more like how you feel something happening when you're getting dental work done under local anesthetic. You can feel the tugging and the pressure, and it's kind of uncomfortable, but it doesn't exactly hurt, you know?"

 
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