A strong kick in my stomach jolts me awake, followed by a spasm of pain. I groan. Once the pain has slightly subsided, I inhale deeply and stare at the ceiling. But soon enough, another spasm tears my insides.
“Louis,” I whimper, holding my stomach. He grunts in his sleep. “Louis I think the baby’s coming,” I whimper again, shutting my eyes as I’m trampled by a powerful contraction.
“What? Now?!” He rasps, suddenly more awake. His hand lands on my stomach.
“Yes now!” I wince, feeling the baby move inside me.
“Fuck! Okay okay!”
He jumps to his feet and grabs a shirt, before rapidly sliding into some jeans. He grabs the bag we’d done a couple days ago for this exact situation and places it on his shoulder before helping me off the bed. I’m wobbly as I stand.
“I’ll go heat up the car alright? You take care of putting your coat warm on,” he instructs, slipping his own coat on. “Here.” He hands it to me and then runs outside.
I only managed to slide my arms inside the sleeves by the time he returns. He helps me zip it up.
“Should we go wake Sophie and―”
“No,” I respond rapidly. “They won’t be able to get a babysitter at this time of the night,” I shake my head. “They’ll see that the car and the bag are gone and they’ll know. They’ll join us later.”
“Boots. You need boots,” he states suddenly.
I grimace, a pained moan escaping my lips as I feel another contraction and reflexively curl around my stomach.
“Forget the boots. Let’s get you in the car right now, love,” Louis urges.
I squeal as he picks me up bridal style in his arms without difficulty. I wrap my arms around his neck and he walks through our apartment, and out the door. We’re greeted by a strong winter wind, clearly foreshadowing a snowstorm.
“What kind of shitty weather is this?!” the British man scowls, hopping down the stairs and rapidly seating me in the car. “Of all the possible moments in the world, the baby chooses this one,” he huffs, buckling my seatbelt and hurrying to the driver’s side. “It’s freaking 3 in the morning, there’s a snowstorm on the way and I have to focus on the fact that they drive the other way around here! Not only that, but I might not even be able to communicate at the hospital because half of them don’t understand English!” he rambles. “I’ll be sure to remind him or her about tonight’s sacrifices when he or she turns 18!”
I rub my stomach, smiling shaking my head.
“Don’t worry little one,” I mumble. “Your father is simply nervous,” I chuckle, before my face twists in pain once more. My insides clench tightly and I whimper.
Louis doesn’t waste any time. He presses on the gas pedal and wriggles his way through the cars. A pained hiccup slips out of my lips, this next contraction more painful than the previous ones. I focus on breathing in and out slowly, clenching my eyes shut and holding my stomach. Louis’s hand grabs mine.
“We’re almost there Anne. Keep breathing in and out,” he exhales, keeping his eyes on the road.
I squeal in shock when I feel my water breaking. Louis reflexively accelerates.
“Not so fast Lou, you’re going to kill us all!” I caution, distressed to say the least. He decelerates a little, but I know he’s still well over the speed limit.
Three contractions and several of Louis’ swears later, we finally arrive at the hospital. We’re parked in a matter of seconds, Louis hurrying out of his seat to help me out of mine. I’m in his arms once more, my sock clad feet in the air as he hauls me through the hospital doors.
“Woman going into labour here!” Louis calls out as he bursts inside.
I go to scold him but my insides start throbbing in pain, pulling a small shriek out of me. Nurses are on us quickly, forcing Louis to place me in a wheelchair before they wheel me to the maternity ward.
I shriek again, pain igniting my insides.
In a matter of minutes, the nurses get me into a hospital gown and hooked on an I.V., bombarding me with questions before forcing me onto a bed. Louis is right beside me the whole time, rubbing my hand soothingly. Even when I dig my nails into his skin.
“You’re doing great love,” he mumbles to me once I’m lying on the bed. I grimace in pain again, clenching my eyes and tightening my hold on his hand.
A doctor walks in with a writing pad.
“I only have a few questions for the two of you before we begin the whole process,” he says with a very strong French accent.
Louis and I nod simultaneously.
“First off, are you the father of the child?”
“Yes of course.”
“Will you want to help deliver the baby or would you simply rather to cut the umbilical cord?”
Louis blinks, looking at me.
“Do you want to help deliver the baby or not?” the doctor repeats.
“Yeah sure okay.”
“Good. From his response, can I assume that this is your first pregnancy Ms. Miller?”
“Yes,” I exhale. “But I already have a general idea of how things go: I was there with my sister when she gave birth five years ago,” I state. “I know the procedures. What I need right now, is something to dim the pain,” I add.
“Great then,” he pauses, unsure. He looks down at his pad again, before glancing at the machines then back at us. “Right. The midwife has informed me that your cervix is far from being dilated enough for the baby to pass through, but it should be in a couple hours or so. Until then, you can call a nurse with the red button by the bed whenever you need something. Don’t worry though, we’ll be checking up on you repeatedly. We simply have a lot of people in the maternity ward this morning,” he ends, fumbling with his pronunciation at the end. “I’ll send a nurse for some morphine right now.”
I watch him as he leaves.
“A couple hours?!” Louis stammers, discouraged.
“Maybe, maybe not. Depends on every woman,” I say, teeth clenched as another wave of pain hits me. “It’s not an easy job giving birth...” I huff, breathing deeply.
“Good thing you’re strong,” he whispers lovingly, before kissing my lips. He pulls away and drags a chair beside my bed, taking a seat. “So. Do you think it’ll be a boy or a girl?” he enquires, pressing his lips to my knuckles. “A little Felix or a little Emma?” he continues, his other hand caressing my stomach. I feel the baby move inside me.
“I’m happy with either. I just want him or her to be healthy,” I respond, my hand also ghosting over my stomach. We stop talking as a nurse comes in and injects the painkillers into the I.V. She waits for a couple seconds and leaves without saying anything.
“People in Quebec are not very social...” Louis remarks mockingly.
I hit his shoulder playfully.
“Maybe she doesn’t know shit in English and didn’t want to sound as ridiculous at that doctor!” I deny. “You’re lucky we even got a doctor that’s not too bad in English. Or I would’ve tried to understand their rapid speech all alone.”
“We’re really going to have to learn to stop swearing love,” he points out, chuckling. “Or we’ll be setting a bad example for the baby.”
There’s a short moment of silence.
A pained shriek slips out of my mouth as I feel my insides getting torn open. Liquid seems to leak out of me. The beeping of the machines suddenly gets louder. My vision gets hazy.
“Anne? Anne?!” Louis shout is distant in my ears. “Fuck! The button! Where’s the fucking button?!”
I have no idea if he even manages to press it: a team of nurses as well as doctors burst into the room. I faintly see their figures pushing Louis out of the way, talking hastily in French. The words ‘placenta’, ‘danger’, ‘baby’ and ‘too much blood’ come to my ears repeatedly.
“Sir move away! Her body is in shock!” someone calls out to Louis. I faintly hear his protest.
I shriek again as more of my insides tear like a vulgar piece of paper.
The bed moves under me and I know I’m getting rolled out of the room. I shut my eyes, feeling nauseous. In my haze, I the see walls moving around me. They place me under a light. I shut my eyes.
I zone out, my body heavy with pain and fatigue. My mouth is pasty.
I come back to my senses minutes later.
I focus on translating their quick French, trying to get a proper grasp on what’s happening.
“Baby can’t breathe right now...”
“My baby,” I manage to hiccup.
“Anne, it’ll be okay.” I feel Louis’s hand wrapping around mine. “Everything will be alright. Just keep fighting, okay? Both of you will be fine.”
I focus on his face and I nod softly. Everyone around me, including Louis, is dressed into the sickly green uniform. My head is spinning slightly and I want to vomit even more.
“I love you so much,” he mumbles.
I feel someone playing around inside me. Inside my stomach. I fight back against the gagging reflex the image brings to my mind.
Then I hear it. The baby’s scream. My baby’s scream.
“Congratulations, it’s a girl,” the doctor states.
My body relaxes and find myself crying in relief.
“I want my baby,” I utter, tired beyond reason. “Please. I want my daughter,” I demand feebly.
“They just need to make sure she’s alright love. Her heart rate was as distressing as yours,” Louis responds, his fingers intertwined with mine. “Just a minute or two and you’ll have her I promise.”
My heartbeat accelerates. The sound on the monitor beside me is dizzying.
“The mother needs more blood or she might faint. And we need to stitch her up quickly,” the doctor calls out brusquely.
I catch a glimpse at the nurse. She hands the little bundle in her arms to Louis. He lights up when he finally holds her. The blue-eyed boy walks over to me, bending down so I can see my daughter.
“Meet Emma,” he whispers, looking at our child lovingly before shifting his gaze on me. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” I breathe out, my gaze fixed on the small child in his arms. “I want to hold―”
“She can’t hold her,” the doctor cuts off. “She might move and we can’t have her moving: we need to finish up her stitches,” he warns. Even though the lower part of my body is numb, I know something’s pulling at my skin, sewing it shut. Unable to stop myself, I turn my head and I throw up on the floor before I lose consciousness.
I’m numb all over and the taste in my mouth is absolutely horrible. The lower part of my abdomen throbs a little and there seems to be lacking the bump I had yesterday.
My eyes blink open, only to see Louis cradling our daughter in the rocking chair.
His head jolts up and his eyes meet mine.
“You’re awake! Finally!” he sighs, standing up. He walks over to the bed whilst I adjust myself so I’m somewhat sitting, but not quite. “I think it’s time you held her,” he says, handing me Emma. I take the sleeping baby in my arms, gazing down at her lovingly.
I can’t help smiling as her warm body is pressed against mine. I look at her in wonder, unable to wrap my mind around the fact that this living creature was made by Louis and I. And that she’s our responsibility from now on.
“She’s beautiful, isn’t she,” Louis mumbles, above me.
“Yes she is,” I whisper, gazing up at him. I glance back down at my daughter. Her eyes open for a mere second, but it’s enough to make my heart melt with love. “Have I been out for a while?” I question quietly, staring at her delicate features.
“About an hour or so,” he admits, his hand caressing Emma’s soft tuft of hair softly. “The doctor told me to press the button when you’d wake, but I knew he would probably tell you that you couldn’t hold your daughter so I thought I could wait until I notified him,” he smirks.
“How do you feel?”
“Only a little numb...My stitches hurt though,” I grimace, a dull ache reminding me that I’d been cut open.
“Want me to call some nurses?” he frowns, worry creasing his features.
I shake my head rapidly.
“Give me more time with her. I can tolerate a little pain. I’m strong, remember?”
“How could I forget?” he replies quietly, his eyes filled with love.
“Have you been able to contact Sophie and her other half?” I enquire out of the blue. “Tell them to stop going at it like bunnies and inform them of our situation?”
“Yes I have. And they’ll come around as soon as the snowstorm outside dies down a little,” Louis informs, a smile drawing itself on his lips. “It’s too dangerous to drive right now. Look,” he states, standing us as he opens the curtains to let the light of day seep inside the room.
It’s completely white outside.
“Wow,” I mutter. “Good thing you came early then, huh Emma?” I coo to my baby girl. “Or we would’ve been stuck in that snowstorm,” I state. “Precious little Emma,” I whisper to myself, hugging her to me.
“It’s bloody amazing ain’t it?” Louis states after a minute of silence. “To know that we made her. That she’s our little girl,” he trails on in awe, his fingers sliding into her small hands. Her fists clenches around it reflexively.
“It is,” I nod.
“I didn’t think it’d be possible to love someone as much as I love you, but she just proved me wrong,” he says, his finger still locked into her small fist.
I smile, my cheeks heating up.
An hour later, Emma has been breastfed and placed back in the nursery for further check-ups.
Louis’ on the rocking chair beside my bed, his eyes locked on mine while he rocks back and forth leisurely.
“What?” I ask. “Why are you looking at me?” I question, cocking my eyebrow upwards.
Louis sighs deeply.
“You know, I was thinking...” he begins, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. “I really want to spend the rest of my days with you Anne.”
I stare at him.
“And I know this isn’t ceremonial or anything, but I also know you hate when things are too extravagant so here it goes, quick and simple,” he sighs once more before dropping to one knee in front of me, holding out a small box in his palm. “Anne Miller, will you do me the honour of being my wife?” Louis asks, his blue eyes gleaming.
I stare at him some more, speechless as I process his demand. Marriage? Spend the rest of my life with him?
Fear and doubt start clouding his features.
“Yes!” I stammer finally. “Yes, yes, yes! A thousand times yes!” I repeat, filled with love and excitement.
“Thank God,” he exhales, standing up and taking me in his arms. “The things you do to me Anne,” he whispers in my neck, his hold tightening around me. He kisses my neckline slowly. “I love you so much,” he breathes softly, putting more weight on the hospital bed. His lips meet mine in a very lustful kiss. My hands reach for his hair and I realize that if somebody were to walk in right now, they’d probably look away in embarrassment.
His body gets closer to mine, his hand slipping underneath the blue hospital gown.
“Careful,” I chuckle, lightly pushing his hand away from me. “Or you’ll damage my stitches,” I warn jokingly, our faces inches apart. He pulls away, but a lovesick smile is plastered on his lips.
“You can be certain that the second the doctor tells you that you are healed completely, I’m going to make love to you again and again,” Louis promises, before kissing me again. “And we’re going to have plenty more children and grow old together.”
“I really hope so,” I tell him, kissing him once more.