“ARGHGHGH! Kian, do something. Ella is coming NOW!”
“She said the baby is coming now,” I told the emergency medical dispatcher on the other end of the phone. My voice didn’t sound like my own. It was breathless and the pitch was too high. Like I was listening to myself in a dream. “What the hell do I do?”
“Okay, first of all take a deep breath and calm yourself down.”
I closed my eyes and inhaled as I quickly counted to ten in my head, then let the breath out, counting backwards down to zero.
“All right, I’m calm.”
“Put the phone on speaker somewhere close by and go to your partner.”
I returned to the car, where Meg had her head between her legs and was panting. I put the phone on the dashboard, then leaned across my seat and took her hand.
“It’s okay, I’m here,” I said gently. “The paramedics are on their way and the medical dispatcher is going to talk us through what to do.”
“That’s great. Just try to keep calm,” the dispatcher said. “Okay, Kian, I want you to recline Megan’s seat so she has more space. Then Megan, I need you to push down any clothing you have on your bottom half.”
As I adjusted the chair, Meg wriggled down her pyjama bottoms so that they were pooled around her feet.
“Kian, do you have any blankets?”
“Yes, two in the boot.”
“Great, go and them. You’ll need one to put under Megan for when she delivers, and another to wrap the baby in when it’s born.”
I raced around to the boot of the car and pulled out two picnic blankets, then returned to the front seat. Megan lifted her butt and I slid a blanket underneath her, then left the second on the driver’s seat, ready for when Ella was born.
“Okay, Megan when you feel a pressure in your lower half, almost like you need the loo, I want you to push down. When the pressure subsides I want you to pant, like you were taught in your birthing classes. Okay?”
“Yes.” Megan’s voice was strained. She gripped my hand and started to moan.
Her fingers tightened around mine as her moan turned to a low guttural cry, and then she started panting.
“That’s it,” the dispatcher said. “You’re doing great. The baby will be here soon.”
Another contraction gripped Meg’s body, and once again she grasped my fingers tightly, while screaming from deep within her belly.
When the contraction ended, and Megan began panting again, the dispatcher said, “Kian, I need you to take a look between Megan’s legs and tell me if you can see the baby’s head.”
Manoeuvring Megan carefully, I turned her more towards me and gently pushed her legs apart, then lifted her pyjama top up and out of the way. I looked down and my heart almost burst through my rib cage when I saw the crown of Ella’s head pushing out of Megan’s vagina.
“I … I can see the head. I can see the head!”
“Okay, Megan can you feel the baby’s head with your hand?” the dispatcher said.
Megan’s fingers reached down between her legs. “Yes,” her voice was short and breathless.
“Good. That’s great. You’re both doing great. Megan, when you next contraction comes, don’t push down, but instead pant through it. The baby will slowly come out by herself.
“Kian, you need to be ready to receive the baby.”
“It will be okay. She’s ready to come out. As the head emerges, cradle her neck gently to support it”
Giving me no time to think, Megan started screaming again, and I knew I had to act. Following her fingers, I positioned my hand under where Ella’s head was just pushing through. To my surprise, her head seemed to easily slide from Megan’s opening and into my waiting hands.
But something was wrong. She wasn’t crying.
I looked down and saw the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, and her skin was grey. Instinctively I unlooped the cord, and Ella let out a loud cry. I continued to cradle her head, as Megan pushed again and the rest of Ella’s body came out.
“Now Kian, I need you to take the baby, and still supporting her head, lay her facedown across your lap, then pat her bottom.”
I did as the medical dispatcher instructed, and gently tapped Ella’s bum. When I did she spluttered and cried again.
“Well done, both of you. Kian, wrap the baby in a blanket, and then lay her on Megan’s bare chest. Megan, when he does offer the baby your breast. The paramedics are almost here.”
Megan stared at me wide-eyed, tears rolling down her cheeks, and I placed Ella on her chest. Meg lifted up her shirt, and held our daughter close against her.
“Hello little one,” Megan said in a soft voice, her hand reaching out to stroke Ella’s head.
Without even needing to open her eyes, Ella somehow snuffled towards Megan’s nipple and started sucking. I dropped a gentle kiss on both of their heads.
“I love you,” I whispered.
“I love you, too.”
I shuffled closer, desperate to hold them both, but careful not to crowd Megan so soon after birth. A moment later, a tap on the window made me jump.
I opened the driver’s side door to find a paramedic standing outside.
“Kian Murphy?” he asked.
“Yes. Megan’s in there, she’s just given birth.”
“Okay, I need to get in and check them both over. If you could pass your phone to my colleague, please.”
I forced myself to tear my eyes away from Meg and Ella.
In a daze, I grabbed my mobile off the dashboard, and climbed out of the car. I walked to the ambulance in a dream-like state, and handed the phone to the other paramedic, not even noticing if they were male or female.
I wanted to be back with Megan and Ella. My body was almost crying out in pain, as though I’d been physically separated from a part of myself.
Once again it felt like I’d left my body behind and I was watching everything that was happening from the outside. The first paramedic came back to the ambulance, and then he and his colleague got out a wheelchair and bought it to the car. With the paramedics’ assistance Megan, who was still feeding Ella, was helped into the wheelchair and then they moved her to the ambulance. Once inside, the paramedics covered them both in a foil blanket.
The first paramedic turned to me. “Congratulations, mate. You did good in there. Both mum and baby are fine.”
I let out the breath I hadn’t even realised I’d been holding, and opened my mouth to speak, but no words came out.
The paramedic clapped me on the back. “Come on, let’s get you all to hospital.”
I grabbed the hospital bag from the boot, then climbed inside the ambulance, and sat down next to Megan. The other paramedic, who I now noticed was a woman, sat opposite us. She handed my phone back to me and smiled.
“Thanks.” Megan’s voice drew my focus to her. She sounded hoarse but happy.
“How are you feeling?” I asked.
“Is it possible to be exhausted and buzzing at the same time?”
I laughed and moved a little closer. Without me even needing to ask, Megan pulled the blanket down so I could see Ella’s face, where she was still feeding nestled against Meg’s chest.
I reached out with shaky hands, and stroked my daughter’s head, amazed she had a little tuft of dark hair.
I didn’t know it was possible to love someone so much, so quickly, but I did. She was perfect, and made the whole world seem dimmer in comparison. The whole world apart from Megan. She glowed like a brilliant star. Covered in sweat, her hair greased back, her clothes all over the place -- she'd never looked so perfect. I was awed as I realised she’s just given birth, without any painkillers, and in the front seat of my car. “You’re amazing.” I told her, kissing her cheek.
Her cheeks flushed and she shrugged. “You were pretty fantastic back there too.”
“I didn’t just push a baby out of my body. Seriously, I’ve taken some beatings in the cage, but that looked like a whole new level of pain, and you just went with it.”
“Believe me, it hurt like a bitch.” Megan winced then looked down at Ella, and her lips quirked up into a smile, “But it was worth every second. She’s perfect.”
We passed the rest of the journey to hospital in silence. I wrapped my arm around Meg and the two of us just sat watching Ella sleep, her tiny eyelids fluttering as she dreamed.
It still seemed so surreal. The knowledge you’re going to be a dad, and then actually becoming one are vastly different. Every time I looked down at my daughter I still couldn’t quite believe she was mine. That Megan and I had made her.
She was so tiny and fragile, and I just wanted to scoop her up, keep her close to me, and protect her forever.
When we arrived at the hospital, Megan was admitted to a private delivery room. A midwife cut the umbilical cord, and then took Ella over to a warming tank to check she was okay, and clean her up. Satisfied our little girl was fine, the midwife handed her back to Megan, who was lying on the delivery bed, and then helped Meg deliver the placenta.
“Once she’s finished feeding, you can put a nappy on her and get her dressed,” the midwife said.
“Kian, can you get a nappy, vest and, onesie from the bag, please?”
I grabbed the things Megan needed, and then perched on the other end of the bed, as Megan lay Ella down in the space between us and, with the midwife’s assistance, put the nappy on her then dressed her.
Once Ella was clothed, Megan looked up at me and asked, “Do you want to hold her?”
Meg laughed. “Of course. She’s your daughter too.” She picked Ella up, carefully supporting her head in the crook of her arm, then handed her to me, positioning my arms so that I was holding her correctly.
She was heavier than I thought she’d be, and it surprised me when the midwife informed us she was nine pounds and eleven ounces.
“Is that good?” I asked, unable to stop staring at my daughter. She had long dark eyelashes, which lay against her cheeks while her eyes were closed.
“Yes, that’s a nice healthy weight,” the midwife said. “Do either of you want anything to eat? You can have some tea and toast if you’d like?”
“Just a cup of tea please,” Megan said.
I hadn’t even noticed it had gotten light outside, let alone that it was time for breakfast and when I looked up at the clock on the wall, I was amazed to see it was almost six in the morning.
Suddenly I was starving, and the thought of tea and toast made my stomach growl.
“Some food sounds great, thanks.”
“Okay. I’ll be back shortly. And the doctor will be by later to make sure everything is okay, and take Ella’s measurements. If you’ve both been able to go to the toilet by then, you’re likely be allowed to go home.”
“You won’t need to keep us in?”
“No, there were no complications with the birth, and the little one is healthy.”
“How about my preeclampsia? Am I still in danger now Ella’s been born?”
“No, you should be fine. Most cases of preeclampsia are fully resolved within 24 hours of delivery, and the doctor will test your blood pressure before you’re discharged to make sure it’s returning to normal.”
The midwife left the room, and I turned to Megan to ask, “Do you think I should call our parents and let them know?”
“I wouldn’t have minded a little more time it being just the three of us, but you’re going to have to get back to your car and get it repaired somehow.”
“Fuck. Good point. I’ll ask my dad to bring a spare tire. I’ll give them a ring in a minute. You call your Mum and Dad first.”
“Actually, I was going to ask if it’s okay to take a quick shower. I feel disgusting.”
“What about Ella?”
Meg laughed and climbed off the bed. “You’re here.”
I looked down at the baby sleeping in my arms, and my chest tightened. “You can’t leave her with me. What if she wakes up? What do I do?”
“I’ll only be a few minutes.” Meg pulled her toiletries and a change of pyjamas out of the bag. “If she wakes up just sooth her until I’m back.”
“Talk to her, gently rock her. Kian, you don’t need to worry. Just be her dad and love her. You’ll both be fine.”
Before I could argue anymore, Megan crossed the room to the adjourning bathroom, and closed the door behind her.
I carefully moved to a chair near the window, as another nurse entered the room, and quietly cleaned up the delivery area. Ella slept peacefully in my arms, and I sat silently watching my daughter’s chest rise and fall with every little breath she took. The midwife had said she was a healthy weight, but she looked incredibly small to me. Her tiny hands were the length of my longest finger.
When Megan came back, now showered and changed, she took Ella from me and placed her in the small, transparent plastic sleeping bassinet provided by the hospital, so that we could have the food the midwife had bought in for us.
“When the doctor comes to see us, do you want me to ask about the paternity test?” Megan said.
I looked up from my tea, my eyes wide. “What do you mean?”
Megan’s brows creased slightly. “I did promise as soon as she was born, we could have a paternity test. Just so you’re sure, and you know I’m not taking advantage or anything.”
I stared at Meg like she’d grown two heads. “That was when I first found out.”
“I know, but a promise is a promise. Now we’re together and Ella is here, I don’t want there being anything hanging over us.”
I stood up and walked towards Megan, then crouched down in front of her, taking her hands in mine.
“I love you, and I love Ella. Holding my little girl in my arms is all the proof I need.” I brought Megan’s hands up to my lips and kissed her knuckles. “I trust you, and I know you’re not using me for money or something. I don’t need a paternity test now.”
Megan lowered her hands and inclined her head towards me, pressing her lips against mine. I raised my hands, and cupped her cheek, just as Ella started whimpering.
I pulled back and laughed. “I guess we should get used to interruptions.”
“I suppose so.” Megan stood up and walked over to the bassinet, then picked Ella up. As she walked back to her seat, she spoke to her in a soft voice. “What’s wrong little one? Are you hungry again?”
Settling back in the chair, Meg unfastened her nightshirt and offered her breast to Ella.
“Is there anything I can do to help while you feed her?” I asked. I felt bad making Meg do all the work after she’d just given birth, but obviously feeding wasn’t something I could assist with. I’d have to find other ways to make myself useful.
“I could do with another drink, please. Then why don’t you give our parents a call?”
“All right.” I poured Megan a glass of water from the nearby jug, then made my way out of the maternity unit, to the hospital canteen, where people were allowed to use phones.
I switched on my phone, but didn’t call anyone right away. Meg’s earlier words about it just being the three of us swirled around in my head. I was bloody knackered, and I knew Meg would be even more tired. I didn’t want to have to deal with other people. I knew once everyone found out Meg had had the baby, we’d be swarmed with visitors, and I wasn’t ready for that just yet. I wanted to enjoy a little more time in this quiet little bubble first.
Deciding I’d deal with the fallout later, I texted my parents, Meg’s parents, Stacey and Davi to let them know Ella had been born safely, and attached one of the pictures I’d taken of her. I asked that no one visit us straight away, as we were still recovering, and that I’d call them when we’d had chance to rest, then turned my phone off. I didn’t mean to be harsh, but I was beyond tired, and just wanted to be with my girls.
I got back to the delivery room to find Ella asleep in the plastic bassinette, and Megan snoozing on the bed. I pulled back the cover, wrapped my arms around her, and let myself finally succumb to sleep.
I don’t know how much time passed, but when I woke up the bed was empty. Megan was sat on the other side of the room feeding Ella again.
“Why didn’t you wake me?” I asked, climbing out of bed and crossing over to them.
“You looked like you needed the rest, and well, as I’m the one with the boobs, there’s not much you could have done.”
I laughed. “Yeah, about that … I feel kinda bad that you’re always there one who’ll have to be getting up to feed her. Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Yeah, change her nappies! I had to do one earlier, and her poo was almost black. Totally gross.”
“Is that normal?”
“I think so. Something about her body processing the mucus and amniotic fluid from the womb, or whatever.”
“Okay, I’ll do nappy duties, and anything that needs to be done around the house. You just focus on feeding our little girl.”
Meg looked down, chewing her bottom lip as her brows crinkled together.
“What is it?”
“I appreciate you offering to do so much, but what happens when you have to go back to work?”
“Davi agreed I can have at least a month off, maybe more, so hopefully by the time I have to go back, you’ll be in more of a routine.”
Megan grinned “All right. We’ll see how it goes. And thank you, by the way. I love that you’re being so hands on with her. Some guys wouldn’t.”
“I’m not some guys,” I teased.
“No, you’re My Kian Murphy.”
I laughed. “The new and improved Kian Murphy, thank you very much. And if that includes changing black baby poops, so be it.”
“So, what did our parents say? Are they coming to see us?”
I shifted my weight from one foot to the other. “Yeah, about that. I kind of wimped out. I thought about what you said about it just being the three of us for a little longer, so I text everyone a picture of Ella, and asked that they give us space to rest. I said I’d call them in a few days. Is that okay? I probably should have asked first, but…”
Megan burst out laughing. “I bloody love you. That’s perfect! Ella isn’t going anywhere, they’ll have plenty of time to come see her. Let’s just enjoy some quiet time while we can.”
“I’ll have to sort out the car though. Will you be okay on your own for an hour?”
Meg’s eyes widened for an instant, but then she smiled. “Yes, I’ll be fine.”
“All right, I’ll be as quick as I can.” I stood up from my chair and walked over to her, then dropped a kiss on both their foreheads. “I love you.”
“Love you too.”
I caught a taxi to where I’d left the car the night before, asking the driver to stop by a mechanics on the way, so I could buy a replacement tire. Once I’d been dropped off, I fitted the new tire in record speed, desperate to get back to Megan and Ella.
On the way back to the hospital, I swung by the house to grab the car seat, because like an idiot I’d gotten it when Meg had gone into labour, and while there I took the opportunity to shower and change.
When I got back to the hospital, the paediatrician, Doctor Patil, finally came to see us. He stripped Ella down to just her nappy, then checked her over, noting that the stump of her umbilical cord was healing well. After making sure her hearing and breathing were normal, he asked if she was feeding and going to the toilet as expected. When Megan said she was, he asked about her heath too, and took her blood pressure. Satisfied with the results, he said they could both be discharged.
“At last,” Megan said, when Doctor Patil had left.
I couldn’t agree more. It had been over twelve hours since Meg had woken me to say she was going into labour. I was more than ready to not be in hospital any longer.
Megan wrapped Ella up in her outdoor suit, then fastened her into the car seat and tucked a blanket over her, while I made sure our hospital bag was packed up. When everything was ready to go, we headed for the midwife station so we could be discharged.
The midwife on the desk looked over Megan’s medical notes, and said the health visitor would come by in a few days to make sure everything was going well, then told us we were free to leave.
“Home sweet home,” I said, as we stepped through the front door, Megan holding the car seat in which Ella slept peacefully.
Deciding not to disturb our sleeping little girl, Megan settled on the sofa, and I cooked us some cheese on toast, then we snuggled down in front of the TV. Not long into the movie, Megan fell asleep too, but despite my exhaustion I couldn’t seem to drop off. Instead, I sat peacefully watching them both sleep.
It still amazed me that this tiny little person was my daughter. And not just that I was a father, but that I was in a loving, committed relationship with the mother.
Nine months ago, when Megan had first told me she was pregnant, my life began freefalling out of control. Reeling from the shock, I bounced from one disaster to the next, until I almost lost everything. But somehow, along the way, I’d gained so much more. I’d gained all the things my life had been missing, but I’d just never realised.
Before I’d met Megan, all I’d cared about was living up to the grandiose picture of perfection I’d created for myself. The only things that mattered were winning fights, making money, and having women fall at my feet. All that seemed a pale imitation to what I had now. Genuine, unconditional love for my little girl, and a woman who wanted me despite the bullshit. A woman I loved enough to want to change and become a better person for.
I was hers. Her Kian Murphy.
That’s it folks, the end!
First I want to thank my hubby who has not only edited every chapter of this story, but spent countless hours with me discussing the plot and helping me iron out ideas. He was also invaluable for helping me get Kian’s voice right. Without him this story wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is! Thank you, and I love you. <3
Next, thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read, comment on, share and recommend this story to others. One of the reasons I decided to write in a serialized format was because I missed the regular interaction with readers, and your regular encouragement has kept me going when I’ve struggled.
For those curious what happens next … I’m not quite sure yet! Lol
I’m still weighing up the options between self-publishing All It Takes, or submitting it to publishers. All I know right now is I need a break from the story. For the next month or so, I’ll be working on a paranormal-romance short-story I’m writing as part of a charity anthology that’s being released this July. After that, who knows …
I will be back in some capacity though. I have some swirling ideas for a sequel in my head, and I have a few other stories I’m considering writing in serial format, too.
If you’re interested in knowing more about the anthology I mentioned, or want updates about the future of All It Takes (and any other possible future writings from me), please feel free to sign up for my mailing list: [http://]blogspot.us10.list-manage1.[com]/subscribe?u=5228d53e3e0bb29bc2d035038&id=aa4b6d7b12
Or check out my blog: [http://]claredugmorewrites[.]blogspot.co.uk/
Just remove the brackets [ ] in each link! ;)
Once again, thank you so much to everyone who has supported this story over the last fifteen months, it’s really meant a lot to me.
Peace and love,