Blood Doll Page 27

She wrinkles her brow the way she does when she’s confused. “In case of what?”

“I don’t know. In case a baby starts coming out.” She glares at me like I’m nuts. “Don’t look at me like that. It’s been known to happen. And there’s two in there. The second one could shove the first one out.”

She has a worried look on her face–almost one of panic–so she rolls her window down and calls out, “Will someone ride with us? Just in case.”

I lean over and add, “One of the girls.”

Even if something happens on the way, I’m not letting one of these guys see what only belongs to me. “I won’t have to kill Lairah or Gia if they see you naked.”

Lairah volunteers and climbs into the backseat. “You know it’s only like a fifteen minute drive to the hospital, right?” She’s nonchalant as if nothing could happen in that amount of time.

I put the vehicle into drive and pull away from the house. “Avery’s feeling pressure.”

I see her gaping reflection when I look up into the rearview mirror. “Whoa. You didn’t say that part when you asked for volunteers.”

I pull onto the road before she has time to consider getting out of the car. “That was for a reason.”

“Asshole.” She scoots to the middle of the backseat and leans forward. She peers over and sees Avery holding her abdomen. “Step on it, buffoon. No way your wife is hatching in this car on the way to the hospital if I’m in here.”

I take Lairah’s advice for the first time in my existence and drive much faster than I should. I breathe a sigh of relief when I pull up at the admissions entrance and see a staff member waiting with a wheelchair. “You must be Mrs. Alexander. Dr. Knight called ahead and instructed us to be waiting for you at the entrance.”

Avery’s put to bed and fetal monitors are applied to record the heartbeats of our babies. A labor and delivery nurse begins a health questionnaire and Dr. Knight enters just as she is finishing up. The good doc makes her usual opening joke–to put Avery at ease about what’s going to happen next–but then she gets down to the real reason we’re here when she puts on an exam glove. She lowers the head of Avery’s bed and then her hand disappears under the covers between her legs. I might be a little weirded out about it if I hadn’t already seen her do it in the office. “You’ve definitely changed from the last time I checked you. How much were you dilated last time I checked you?”

“Two to three centimeters and seventy-five percent effaced.”

She smiles as she nods. “I’d call you five and ninety so you’re definitely in labor. Number one is still head down so I’m comfortable with proceeding with a vaginal delivery if you’re still on board with that.”

We had already made the decision to attempt a vaginal birth since it is safer than a major abdominal surgery. It was worth a shot. If she had to go to surgery at some point, she would be no worse off unless she delivered number one naturally and then had to go to the OR to get the second. “That’s still the plan.”

“Perfect,” Dr. Knight says. “We’ll have the operating room ready in the event we need it. I’m satisfied to let nature continue its course since you’re changing your cervix. I know you had thought of doing this without an epidural but I really prefer you have one placed. If the first baby delivers and I need to give the second one some help on getting out quicker, you won’t appreciate the pain associated with the things I’ll need to do.”

“I will happily take something for this pain.” That was a different tune than the one she had been singing about wanting to give birth naturally without pain meds.

“Okay,” the nurse says. “I just need to do a few things and then I’ll let anesthesia know we’re ready to get started.”

She waits until the nurse is gone and then looks in my direction. “Are you disappointed in me for getting an epidural?”

I couldn’t possibly be let down by her decision. “I never wanted you to have these babies without something for pain. You came up with that on your own.”

“I have to have something. The pain is so much worse than I expected and now I’m worried about Dr. Knight needing to reach inside to help the second baby. I think that’ll be really painful without the epidural.”

Ugh! I didn’t need that visual in my head. “Get the epidural so you can rest and be ready when it’s time for the babies to come.”

“You’re right. I’ll need my strength when it’s time for the delivery.”

The next half hour is spent starting an IV and giving her fluids. I’m allowed to stay while the epidural is placed but I take a seat in the chair across the room where I don’t take so much as a peek at what they are doing to my wife.

The placement is quick and easy and Avery is dozing before it’s fully effective. Her body doesn’t require the full dose to kick in for her to fall asleep because she’s so exhausted. The pregnancy had taken its toll on her body and I would never forget how she tolerated it with a smile on her face.

The nurse doesn’t wait long before she’s back and ready to examine Avery. I had hoped she would be able to get a little sleep. “Wow. I think you were made for birthing babies. You’re already complete and number one’s head is pretty low.”

I’m terrified. “That means it’s time to deliver?”

“It means it’s time to push,” she laughs. “Pushing and delivering are two different things.” I think I entertain her because I know so little about this process. “The pushing part can be over with quickly or it can take a while depending on how numb she is from the epidural.”

Avery wiggles her feet. “I’m not all that numb. I feel my legs and I’m able to move them but I’m not hurting.”

“That’s the perfect epidural when you have muscle control but you’re not in pain. It’s a good sign that you’ll be able to push well.”

Avery’s body must be perfect for birthing because it doesn’t take long for her to have the first baby ready for delivery. Dr. Knight enters the room and a frenzy of blue scrubs rush in behind her. “Don’t be alarmed. We always have the neonatal intensive care unit present for twin deliveries.”

Avery smiles at me and I hold her hand while Dr. Knight is gowning up for delivery. “I can’t believe we are about to meet our babies.”

“And find out what they are.” Huge tears form in her eyes and I lean forward to press my face into her hair as she whispers, “Am I a terrible mother for praying they aren’t both girls?”

I had never had the guts to say it aloud but I had prayed the same prayer. “No,” I keep my voice low. “You are a wonderful mother looking out for the well-being of our children.”

She pulls me closer and becomes the one pressing her face into my hair. “It makes me feel guilty to pray for such a thing if there are two healthy little girls in there.”

“I have faith that both of these babies are healthy no matter their gender. Don’t freak out if the first one is a girl because it doesn’t mean the next is a guaranteed fylgia. It could be a boy or another healthy girl.”

Dr. Knight pats Avery on the leg. “I want you to push really hard with your next contraction.”

Avery nods her understanding and less than a minute passes before she has another contraction. “I think it’s starting because I feel the pressure building.”

The nurse counts and instructs Avery on pushing as Dr. Knight reaches for instruments on the table by her side. I hear a snip and I don’t even want to know what she just cut. “Okay. Here comes the first one.”

I peer over the blue drape just in time to see a bright pink little person come out of my wife and I hold my breath as Dr. Knight places the crying baby on top of Avery’s abdomen. “You have a daughter with a headful of dark hair just like her daddy.”

Avery strokes her head while Dr. Knight clamps and cuts the umbilical cord. “Look at her, Sol. She’s beautiful. And perfect. And healthy.”

And her arrival makes it impossible for me to not dwell upon the safety of the other child as I look at her.

She’s screaming her head off when the staff takes her from Avery to the warmer so we can work on getting the next baby delivered. The nurse adjusts the fetal monitor for the second baby and I see the strange look on her face. “Looks like we’re running in the sixties.” I can only assume that isn’t good based on the nurse’s worried expression. “Now the fifties.”

Dr. Knight is watching the fetal monitor and looks at the nurse. “Give her some O2 by face mask.” She continues watching the heart beat. “Avery, the heart rate is down. I’m going to give it a minute to recover. If it does then I’ll let nature take its course and allow the uterus to do the work of pushing him or her into your pelvis on its own. If there isn’t an increase soon I’ll try to help this one come down so we can deliver vaginally.”

The next sixty seconds is one of the most important moments of our lives. “There’s no improvement so I’m going to see if I can help this little one out of there.” I watch Dr. Knight’s hand–and then arm–disappear inside my wife. I turn away because it’s more than I’m able to stand seeing. “This one isn’t coming on its own anytime soon and it’s too high for me to safely assist. We’re going to the OR if the heart rate doesn’t recover within the next minute.”

We already know that the fylgia is born second and dies after the safe delivery of the first infant–the agape. That could very likely be what is happening now but my heart isn’t ready to give up on this child. “Do whatever it takes to save this baby.”

Another minute passes and it feels like an eternity as we wait for the verdict. When it comes, it isn’t good. “There’s no improvement in the heart rate despite the oxygen. We can’t wait any longer. We have to go to the OR to get this baby out now.”

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