Big girls do it pregnant, p.11
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       Big Girls Do It Pregnant, p.11

         Part #10 of Big Girls Do It series by Jasinda Wilder
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  Chase nodded. "I guess I get that." He ran a hand over his head, the already-messy black spikes getting even messier. "So what's happening? I mean, where are we, or whatever?"

  I shrugged. "Just waiting, I guess."

  "Waiting for what?"

  "For my body to be ready to have the baby?" I reached for my cup of ice, discovering it to be empty. "Can you get me more ice? There's a little room down the hall, a pantry kind of thing. You can get something from the fridge if you want, or coffee."

  "All you want it is ice?"

  I rolled my eyes. "Don't get me started. If you have anything in your stomach, the epidural makes you nauseous, so you're not allowed to eat anything. It's awful. I'm so hungry, but all I can have is liquids and ice chips."

  Chase stood up and leaned over me, pressing his lips to mine. "I'll be back, then."

  He left, and I watched through the open door as the nurses all stared after him, whispering behind their hands. One of them glanced at me and blushed, then came in.

  "That's your husband?" she asked.

  I grinned. "Yeah. I know, I'm a lucky girl."

  The nurse, a tiny blonde thing in the maroon scrubs of an intern, giggled. "What's it like being married to a rock star?"

  I shrugged. "It's got its ups and downs. I mean, he's Chase Delany, and he's even more awesome than you can probably imagine, so there's that. But he's also gone a lot, so it's hard not being jealous of the fans that are getting more of his time and attention than me. In the seven or eight months I've been pregnant, I've seen him in person exactly three times, four including today."

  "God, that sucks! I'd go crazy." She glanced over her shoulder at the nurses' station to make sure she wasn't needed. "Does it bother you when girls like me get all giggly around him?"

  I shrugged again. "No, not really. I mean, he's hot, you can't deny it. I get it. I just happened to be lucky enough that he fell in love with me. What drives me nuts is the groupies that follow his band around on tour and try to seduce him even knowing he's got a wife."

  The nurse's eyes boggled out. "They do that? For real? I mean, yeah, he's hot, and it's fun to imagine--I mean, um--yeah. He's hot, but I'd never do anything."

  I laughed. "You're funny. The sad thing is, there are girls who'd do anything for a hot guy. It's kind of ridiculous. I mean, there are so many men out there, why do you have to be so deprived of morals that you'd seduce a married man?" I looked up at the little blonde nurse. "What's your name, by the way?"

  "Andrea." She bit her lip and blushed scarlet when Chase came back in, carrying a styrofoam cup of coffee, another mini-can of Vernor's, and a cup of ice.

  He smiled at Andrea as he handed me the ice. "I'm not sure I remember the last time I had coffee this burnt," he said, chuckling.

  I glanced at Andrea, who was slowly edging away toward the door. "Andrea, this is my husband, Chase. Baby, this Andrea, one of our nurses."

  Andrea shook his hand, her eyes wide. "Hi, Mr. Delany. I can make some new coffee for you, if you want. I'm not really a nurse yet. I'm an intern, so I'm really just here to observe and to help, but I'll do whatever you need, so if something comes up, just--" She cut herself off as if realizing she was rambling. "Anyway. I'll just--I'll go. Nice to meet you, both of you." She scurried out of the room and vanished before Chase could get a word in edgewise.

  He laughed, giving me a puzzled look. "Well...that was odd. She didn't even give me time to see if she wanted an autograph."

  I shook my head, shoulders shaking in silent laughter. "She was starstruck, baby. We were just talking about you, too, so she was probably kind of embarrassed."

  Chase frowned, then shrugged. "Oh. She ran off like she was afraid of me or something."

  "You are intimidatingly sexy, babe." I said, crunching on a piece of ice. I glanced at the group of nurses behind the desk, the number of whom seemed to have grown. "Maybe you should go out there and take some pictures with them or something."

  Chase pinched the bridge of his nose. "I'm not here to take pictures with the nurses, Jay. You're about to have a baby. I'm here for you. For us."

  "I know that. But they'll just keep clustering there and staring at us. Maybe if you take a few pictures and sign a few autographs, they'll be more likely to leave us alone." I sipped the soda and then tugged Chase closer by his hand. "Plus, it's hot watching you be all celebrity."

  Chase winced as he swallowed a mouthful of coffee, which to my nose did smell incredibly burnt. "Yeah, I guess."

  He set his coffee down and moved to stand in the doorway, waving over one of the nurses. He said something to her, too low for me to catch, then smiled at her, the brilliant, brain-melting smile that I realized was his professional smile, one that didn't quite reach his eyes. I watched the shift in him, the straightening of his posture, the eyes darting everywhere as the room filled with women of varying ages in scrubs of all colors. I watched in amusement as he worked the room with ease, spending a few minutes with each person, completely attuned and focused on the person he was talking to. He took individual pictures, then a couple with the group as a whole. He signed cell phone cases, scrub sleeves, receipts, a $20 bill, the inside of a romance novel cover, and the back of an e-reader.

  His smile never faltered, and even in the midst of it all, he glanced at me frequently, a question in his eyes. I knew he'd clear the room out in an instant if I asked him to.

  Eventually, the nurses left Chase slumped down into a chair. "God, that's exhausting," he said.

  "Is it?" I said, genuinely interested. "It seems like it would be fun."

  "It is fun, but it's tiring. Each person wants to feel special, wants your attention on them, but you can't ignore everyone else. So you have to be focused on whoever you're talking to, but still be aware of the people waiting. I've had people show up to more than one show and wait in line to meet me several times, and they always hope I'll remember them from show to show. And it's like, I try, but I meet hundreds of people at the post-show signings, and I just can't remember them all." Chase waved his hand, dismissing it. He leaned closer to me and touched my belly beneath the monitor lead. "How are you doing?"

  I shrugged. "I want to have this baby. I've been here for, like, six hours already."

  "How much longer do you think it'll take?" Chase asked.

  "I have no idea," I said. "It could be hours still. I remember my mom saying she was in labor for, like, two days with me."

  "God, I hope it doesn't take that long," Chase said.

  "Me, too, believe me." I shifted in the bed, watching the monitor as another contraction clenched my uterus. "Even with the epidural, this is uncomfortable at best."

  Three hours passed, with Chase slugging cup after cup of burnt coffee.

  Five hours after Chase's arrival, Dr. Clayton appeared, checked my progress, and then washed his hands. "Good news and bad news. Good news is, you're almost completely effaced. Ninety percent or so, I'd say. Bad news is, you're only dilated to seven, so you haven't moved very much there. I'm going to turn up the pitocin a touch and see if that breaks things loose. If that doesn't help you along, I might think about breaking your water, but I don't necessarily want to do that just yet." He touched a button on the IV box and then turned to leave.

  I nodded. "Okay." When he was gone, I addressed Chase. "All that just means I'm not ready yet, so we wait some more."

  "Yay, more waiting!" Chase said with fake enthusiasm, laughing at the end to make it a joke. He sobered and asked, "Why wouldn't he want to break your water yet?"

  I thought. "It makes you progress even faster, which can make you have the baby pretty much immediately. But there's only a short window of time to have the baby after breaking the water. If it takes too long, you have to have a C-section."

  Seven in the morning brought a new on-call OB, a delicate Lebanese woman wearing a hijab. She said I had dilated to a nine and that my primary OB, Dr. Rayburn, was supposed to be at the hospital in an hour or two to decide whether to break my water
or not. Chase had dark circles under his eyes, and I'd heard his stomach growling.

  "Chase, you should go get something to eat. Nothing's going to happen until Dr. Rayburn gets here."

  He shook his head. "I'm fine, baby. I'm not leaving."

  I narrowed my eyes at him. "Go, Chase. Get some food. There's a cafeteria in the hospital. Just get a sandwich or something. You need to eat. Just because I can't doesn't mean you can't."

  "Are you sure?"

  I flapped my hands at him, since I couldn't actually get up to push him out the door. "The sound of your stomach growling is making me crazy. Go eat."

  He hadn't been gone five minutes when I felt something wet spreading beneath my butt and up my back. I sat up and pushed the sheet away, touching the bed between my legs.

  "Of course my water would break now." I touched the call button and then reached for my phone to text Chase to come back immediately. The message sent, and the "delivered" notice popped up.

  A chime from the chair where Chase had been sitting brought another curse from me. He'd forgotten his phone.

  A nurse came in, and that sparked a flurry of activity. The on-call showed up, put on one glove, and checked me.

  "Oh, yes, it is time, Mrs. Delany. I can touch her head with my finger." The on-call's pager went off at that moment, and she stripped off the glove as she checked it. "Dr. Rayburn is here to deliver you. Just in time, it would seem."

  "My husband is in the cafeteria and doesn't have his phone with him," I said. "Can someone find him for me? And Kelly Delany? She works in the ER, I think."

  One of the nurses left at a run, and that was when I realized this wasn't just happening soon, it was happening now. The other nurses were moving around the room with quick efficiency, one shutting off the epidural and pitocin drips, transforming the room in readiness for the delivery.

  Dr. Rayburn showed up, gloved, masked, and aproned, smiling calmly at me. "Ready, Jamie? You're about to be a mommy!"

  "No! I'm not ready! Chase isn't here! Kelly isn't here. No one's here." I felt panic hit me, along with the return of the agonizing contraction pain. I couldn't have this baby without Chase. He had to be here. He had to be.

  Dr. Rayburn just nodded and waited to one side as the hospital bed was turned into a delivery chair, stirrups holding my legs apart. "Well, this baby is coming. I know Nina went to go find him, and Kelly has been paged. They'll be here, Jamie, but this is happening now. Okay? Just breathe for me, and don't push until I tell you."

  Suddenly the instruction to breathe didn't seem so ridiculous. The pain was excruciating, so bitterly intense that each contraction, one after another in wave upon relentless wave, took my breath away. I had to clench my teeth and squeeze a breath past the weight of pain, suck in air, and try to breathe again along with the screams that ripped from my throat.

  "Where the fuck is Chase? I need him!" I gritted out the words, curling over my belly and moaning in relief as the contraction passed, giving me a brief respite before another hit me.

  "He's coming, Jamie. Breathe." Dr. Rayburn was there between my knees now. "Good. Now push, okay? Push hard, and when Laura gets to ten, stop pushing, okay? Ready? Now...push!"

  I pushed, bearing down with every muscle in my body, holding my breath. The nurse next to me counted slowly--one...two...three...four--and I bore down, accompanying each counted number with a mental plea for Chase to come.

  Chase...Chase...Chase...I need you...

  I pushed and pushed, and when Laura said "Ten," I exhaled and went limp, out of breath and dizzy.

  I felt him before I saw him. He slid into the room at a dead run, slamming into the doorpost and bouncing off, then taking his place at my side. I scrabbled for his hand, fixing my eyes on his as the next contraction hit me and Dr. Rayburn yelled for me to push, push, push, and I was screaming, not breathing, pushing, feeling something hard and hot and huge splitting me in two, shredding me from the inside out, agony so intense it was unreal, all-consuming, burning through me like fire. I heard Chase counting now instead of the nurse, and his voice was my only lifeline to reality, the only thing connecting me to anything but pain and pushing. I had Chase's hands in mine, and I felt him squeeze and heard him say "ten," but barely had time for a single deep breath when Dr. Rayburn was encouraging me to push still, push. I felt another pair of hands and looked up to see Kelly still in her scrubs on the other side of me from Chase, encouraging me, watching everything with a calm, experienced eye.

  "I'm here, Jamie. You're almost there," Kelly said. "You're so close!"

  "She's crowning!" Dr. Rayburn was calm but enthusiastic. "You're doing great, Jamie! Keep pushing!"

  Pure agony, raw and unadulterated, ripped through me, and I pushed with it, an enormous pressure within threatening to buckle my sanity, and still I pushed, sobbed in a breath and clutched Chase's hands with all my strength.

  I heard screaming, knew it was me.

  Chase's voice, counting slowly and rhythmically, pausing between ten and one to tell me he loved her, tell me I was doing great, she was almost there, telling me he saw Samantha, saw her head and some of one shoulder, I was almost done...

  Another wave of soul-searing pain and screaming and breathless agony and dizziness from pushing, stars dancing in my vision, dots of white against wavering black as oxygen rushed into my starved lungs.

  Heat, pressure, pain.

  Push.

  One...two...three...four...you're doing great, Jay, almost there, I see her arms...yes! Push again, one more time, baby...one...two...three...four...

  Other voices, more pain, a feeling of ripping flesh and rippling contractions and Chase's counting voice cutting off between five and six, stuttering, laughing, saying my name. I heard Kelly's voice, but couldn't make out her words.

  And then, between one breath and another, between one heartbeat and another, it all stopped. I felt something slide and give way, felt the weight and pressure vanish, and Chase was kissing my cheek and whispering unintelligible words of love and encouragement.

  "She's here!" Dr. Rayburn tugged, and I felt something slick leave my body. "Here she is! She's beautiful!"

  I was dizzy and weak and couldn't breathe, but I listened.

  Nothing.

  Nothing.

  "Why isn't she crying?" I heard my own voice from far away. "Dr. Rayburn? Why isn't Samantha crying?"

  There was no answer, and I knew fear like no other.

  I looked at Kelly, and she was watching too, and I could see worry in her eyes, calm, unflappable Kelly.

  "Samantha? Chase, what's going on?" Tears in my eyes, and clogging my voice.

  I looked up at Chase, saw terror on his features. He was watching Dr. Rayburn, clutching my hand so hard it was going numb.

  "Got it...thank god," Dr. Rayburn's voice, pitched low, more to herself than out loud but falling into a space of silence.

  I couldn't see anything but Chase, and I saw relief flood his eyes. I heard a smack, and then the most welcome sound I'd ever heard...

  The indignant squalling of a newborn.

  I breathed, really breathed, for the first time in what felt like days. As I sucked in cool air into my hot lungs, I felt a presence at my side and opened my eyes to see Dr. Rayburn cradling a blue paper-wrapped bundle.

  I struggled upright, took the crinkling paper and tiny weight into my arms. A little pale pink fist waved in the air, and the cries filled my ears, washed over me. Little dark eyes met mine, and the cries stopped for a moment.

  Mother gazed at daughter, and for a moment, the universe stopped.

  Something within me shook, shuddered, broke open, and I was filled an inrushing flood of overwhelming love. I heard myself sob, took the tiny fist between two fingers, and brushed my daughter's face, her cheek, her scalp, touched her so-soft skin still crusted with blood and effluvia.

  "Hi, Samantha." I kissed her nose and tried not to drip tears on her. "Samantha May Delany."

  Chase's grandmother was Samantha's
middle namesake, since Samantha was my grandmother's name.

  Chase's face filled my vision, and I turned my face up to his, saw his eyes wet and tears streaming down his face, his eyes glazed with a welter of emotion. "You did it, Jay. You did it." His voice was barely audible.

  I sobbed again and gestured to him with the bundle of baby. "Go see your daddy."

  Chase leaned down and gingerly settled his daughter into the crook of his arm, the baby seeming even smaller against his huge frame and burly, tattooed arms.

  "We did it," I whispered.

  Chase just shook his head without taking his eyes off Samantha. "No, baby. You did it. God, you're amazing." He glanced at me, love and adoration in his eyes. "I love you so much, Jay."

  I couldn't respond, too exhausted and amazed and overwhelmed to speak.

  Kelly was crying quiet tears. "I'm a grandma. Holy shit, I'm a grandma."

  A nurse came and took Samantha from him, talking about tests. Chase came over to me and held my hands as the afterbirth was delivered, put his head next to mine and breathed with me as Dr. Rayburn did something painful to my bottom half.

  After a few minutes, she stood up and stripped her delivery gear off. "You did amazing, Jamie." She washed her hands and stood next to me opposite Chase. "Four pounds, six ounces, eighteen inches. You want to go take some pictures, Daddy?"

  I watched in bleary-eyed wonder as Chase and Kelly took pictures with their phones, and I laughed when the nurse pressed Samantha's ink-black foot to his forearm, leaving a footprint on his skin. He took pictures of her after she was wrapped in a blue and white blanket, snuggled in my arms.

  After the baby had been taken to be measured and tested, Dr. Rayburn came back. "Well, overall she looks pretty good, all things considered. She is a few weeks premature, so I'm worried about her breathing. She's not quite as pink as I'd like, and she seems to be taking some pretty shallow breaths. She might need some assistance for a while, so just be aware she might have to stay here for a while until her oxygen levels even out and she gains a little weight." She patted my leg. "You look great, though, Jamie. You tore a little, so I had to give you a couple stitches, but nothing excessive. For now, you need to eat and get some rest."

 
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