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“Will! Come one!” I gasped out, gripping the side of the kitchen counter for support. My breathing was heavy and labored. My head throbbed with the pain of feeling like I was going to throw up. “William, please!” I couldn’t wait much longer. My contractions were coming swiftly, and I knew the babies could come soon.
“I’m coming, Clara,” Will called, appearing in the kitchen.
My husband sounded a bit annoyed. I wasn’t sorry.
He was only the chauffeur… and the one who’d hold my hand when the pain became nearly unbearable.
I cocked my head in the direction of the car. He took the cue.
We rushed out of the garage door and into the car. Will put the old, blue rust-bucket in reverse and pulled out of the driveway.
I struggled to keep my breathing even as we drove, and soon enough the car groaned to a stop in front of the Twenty Stars Hospital. Will jumped out and rushed over to help me out of the car. He wrapped his arms around me and helped me stand. A woman met us at the door, and told someone passing by in a uniform to bring a wheelchair. The grey-headed woman then presented a clipboard with papers on it to William. He led me to a nearby chair and flipped through and signed a few places as a woman appeared with a wheelchair and helped me into it. Will finished reading through the forms and handed them back to the lady. The other woman began pushing me through the hospital and took me up the elevator. Will followed closely behind.
My hand flew to my stomach as another wave of contractions washed over me. My husband lovingly took my other hand and rubbed my knuckle gently. On our way down the hall, we passed a room with many windows. Peering in, I saw babies lying in beds in a row. I smiled up at Will.
The woman turned me suddenly, opened a door, and wheeled me in. Another nurse came in and handed me a hospital gown. The two women helped me change and then got me positioned in the bed. They hooked up monitors and stuck an IV in my arm.
“We’ll let you labor a little longer, and then Doctor Branson will be in to deliver,” the nurse, with the name badge that read Becky, said. She turned to a screen when it beeped. “We’ll keep a close eye on you. Let us know if you need anything.”
I leaned back against the pillow and breathed hard. It wouldn’t be long until I was holding Will’s and my babies in my arms.
The dingy hospital delivery room was anything but nice. The lights flickered, and the
walls were painted the dullest shade of beige. Not exactly a creative person’s favorite place to be.
A simple pot of three flowers, one blue and two purple, was clearly their only attempt to decorate. Just as I was determined to escape this horrid place, I locked eyes with the only color in the room and reminded myself of why I lay in this springy bed.
I thought of the immediate and extended family pacing and sitting anxiously in the bland waiting room down the hall. They couldn’t fathom how much pain I was in.
I pushed the thought aside and focused on the negativity of the situation. I could hear the beeping of the monitor, my husband’s unsteady breathing, and the constant sound of hammer-against-brick. I just wished they would stop building that baseball stadium next door for a few hours. Can’t a woman in labor have at least a little peace?
I focused on the task at hand. Little did I know that the next morning would be pure chaos. My head spun when that wretched nurse finally spilled the news. Or rather, didn’t.
Tears streamed down my face.
William strode over to one of the nurses in the room.
“Where’s our son?” he demanded, nostrils flared.
But no, it was before that. Oh, yes. The most terrible moment of pain my soul remembers.
My thoughts returned to the present. I released a breath as part of the pain subsided.
“It’s a girl,” the doctor declared.
“Hi, baby,” I whispered as I swept my fingers across the reddish peach fuzz on the precious girl’s head.
A nurse quickly came and took my daughter from my failing arms.
I focused all of my attention on delivering the other little life. I pushed hard, though by now it felt like second-nature to me after many tedious hours of being in labor.
Soon enough, two little joys had entered my world.
But there was no sound coming from the boy, whereas the girl had cried out so loudly.
The doctor, who was now holding the baby boy, locked eyes with me and stood abruptly. “He’s dead,” he announced, and hustled out of the room with our baby.
Panic shot through my veins, and Will and I exchanged worried glances.
“Wait!” I called. “Wait, I want to see my baby!”
I stretched my arms in an empty attempt to rescue the boy. The doctor was a heartless man. I let that unspoken resolve ring in my head for a long, long time.
I could practically touch the tiny bits of emotion. They seemed to be piercing me all over.
The dark room clouded with misery and mist as I pressed my hands against my hot face and let the tears fall, unchecked. One after another they came rushing in, like a tidal wave, drenching my heart-broken self.
One of the nurses took a seat at the end of my bed and began to stitch me up.
Tears streamed down my face.
William strode over to one of the nurses in the room. “Where’s our son?” he demanded, nostrils flaring.
The nurse’s eyes were wide, and she bore an unknowing look on her face. “I have no idea what Doctor Branson…”
I didn’t let her finish.
“I want to see my baby!” I exclaimed with the little bit of might I could muster.
Will walked over to me and placed a calloused hand on my shoulder. “I’ll talk to the doctor, Clara.”
I shrugged his hand, and his words, off. “I want to see my baby now!”
“Why won’t they let us see the baby?” Will inquired, and I heard his voice break. Even he, the strong man that he was, let a tear cascade down his face, and fear and worry dripped off of his tone.
The older lady just shrugged.
I watched my husband’s face. I could tell he was trying to control himself. But as each moment slid past, the anger on his face only increased more. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his fists tighten. I reached out and touched one of his shaking hands, and apparently the message was received correctly, seeing as both of the clenched fists relaxed.
When the nurse finished her task, the two women awkwardly left the room.
The room fell to a dead silence, except for the beeping of the monitor beside the bed. There was a tight tension in the atmosphere. I searched the room, and my gaze lingered on Will standing in the corner, arms crossed, head down.
“I just don’t understand!” I yelled to no one, my fingernails digging into my palms. I felt so lonely and unwanted, unaccepted.
Did anyone care for me?
Did babies just die in this hospital everyday, without anyone knowing what happened to them?
Were there hopeful, new mommas just like me with their heads buried in their hands because a doctor had mercilessly reported that her baby was gone?
It seemed like the world was crashing down on me. Like I was pinned to a knife-thrower’s board, having to experience the constant, vulnerable idea that I was going to be sliced in two.
I let my mind catapult me back to the real world when there was a knock on the door.
In stepped a new nurse, carrying the most precious bundle wrapped in a fluffy, pastel-pink blanket. That nurse looked significantly more buoyant about her job than the others did.
“Here you are, Mr. and Mrs. Wells,” she said, presenting the baby.
When my arms, which had been aching to hold my daughter, finally encircled the dainty body, all of my bitterness, sadness, and gloominess were swept aside in an instant.
Will joined me in welcoming our little girl to her new world.
“If you don’t mind me asking, what is her name?” the nurse inquired, poking her head over my other shoulder.
I looked at Will, and he looked at me.
“Penny,” he told the nurse, proudly. “Penny Maxine.”
“And what a fitting name it is!” added the nurse. She then left the room, leaving Will and me alone with our new addition.
I looked from the baby to my Will. “She looks like you.” I nuzzled Penny’s neck with my nose. “She has your auburn hair.”
My husband kissed my forehead firmly. “You’ll make a great momma, you know, Clara?” Will looked at me with all of the admiration in the world, and I knew, whatever happened, the three of us would be okay.
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