When my water breaks, it’s Dad that I have take me to Mercy Hospital. I can see the hurt plainly on my Mother’s face when I ask her to ride with Hadley instead. I don’t mean it to be cruel, she won’t miss anything, they are right behind us, a little too close some of the time. Dad grips the wheel and complains that Hadley is surely going to rear end him.
I just needed this opportunity to ask, one last time, if adoption was really the right answer. It’s easy to believe one way, but when you are finally there, at the doorstep, it might fade and seem foolish. I needed assurance from him that this wasn’t foolish. That it was right.
He couldn’t tell me for certain.
When we arrive, he flies around the side of the pick up truck, parking in the ambulance lane. I assured him several times that I could walk from the parking lot, ten feet to the side, but he insisted on parking here.
As Hadley pulls in, he tosses his keys to Mom, and tells her to park the pick up so it doesn’t get towed. She’s not impressed on being away from me any longer, but does as he asks.
She’s right behind us once we get to the room, and she seems relieved that she hasn’t missed the delivery. When Nurse Caroline gives me a gown to change to, Dad and Hadley step out of the room, giving me one last opportunity with Mom alone.
She sighs, holding me in front of her, and taking in my face. “I can’t believe my baby is having a baby.” She’s only a few words shy of sobbing, but pulls herself back together. “You still have time to change your mind,” She must know that I’m leaning towards adoption, “Kenzie says you can take your time to decide, days or weeks even.” She fixes my hair, her eyes filling in again, “Just don’t rush, wait until you meet him or her.” She bends to fidget with my dress, bumping my stomach. I haven’t let her rub it once, and I know she’s trying to do it now in a non-obvious way.
“Promise me, you’ll wait? Don’t call anyone or close your heart, not yet, please.” I nod, though I’m not certain if I mean it. I don’t understand fully what anything is going to be like in the next few hours, I only know what television has showed me. As I slip the gown over my head, I think back to when Mom had the stillborn delivery. He would be six this year, it took half that time before Mom fully came back to being our Mother. I can’t begin to imagine what this loss might cause them. This time it would be a child that is alive, and well, just down the street, and as out of reach as the very stars.
Nurse Caroline taps on the door, then steps in and begins washing her hands.
“Come here,” Mom reaches out and pulls me into a tight hug. “It’s going to be alright, no matter how hard it is right now, it’s going to be alright.” She’s forcing a smile, and it makes my heart hurt all the more.
It’s only ten am, my mouth is dry, and I’ve been placed on a strict diet of only ice chips. It could be hours before I’m allowed to properly drink something, let alone eat, and my stomach gurgles in protest as if it can read my thoughts. Mom is speaking with Caroline about the procedure, and what will happen once the baby is born, I had to sign some paperwork for a heel prick, and other things that I’m clueless about. I feel out of my place, despite all the staff being warm and kind to me.
No matter what choice I make, there is no happy ending, or beginning I suppose it would be, since it’s just the start of the baby’s life. I know how to answer questions with the words they want to hear, but I’ve been doing it so long, that I’ve lost myself, or in this instance, I never realized who I even was.
Dad and Hadley have been given permission by Caroline to come back in the room, and we all stand there awkwardly, all eyes on me. Caroline has been pulling down equipment, and setting up the warmer, that will keep the baby’s temperature just right once born. A contraction comes on, stronger than the last one, I gasp and hunch forward without meaning to.
Dad steps in, and begins rubbing my back, while Hadley stares at me in horror. She’s never been good at hiding her true feelings, and I begin to second guess having her here.
“After this contraction, I’m going to move you to the bed,” Caroline says, “they’re getting stronger and closer together,” she makes some notes on the clipboard, “Dr. Morgan will be in shortly, I think we’ll be having a baby by lunchtime.” A little cry squeaks out of Mom, and she covers her mouth to try and mask it, like it might have only been a hiccup.
A chill trickles down my spine, unexpectedly. A piece of me is looking forward to finally seeing this baby, and finally knowing if it’s a boy or a girl. Dad brings Mom into a big hug, as I make my way to the bed. It feels permanent, knowing I’ll be there now until the baby arrives. I can hear Dad murmuring to Mom, and her breathing is ragged, it might have been best if he didn’t try to calm her down. Words of encouragement, tend to send her overboard emotionally lately.
I send Hadley out to call Alice and let her know we are at the hospital and I am now officially bedridden. Just as she leaves, another contraction comes, and I’m grateful to have the bed so close to the back of my knees, that I can just fall back onto it.
I can hear Hadley out in the hall, filling Alice in on all the details. Because of this baby, I’ve become best friends with Alice, but not only that, Hadley has as well. It’s one of the few positives that have come out of this predicament.
Mom comes to sit by me, I’m too nervous to lay back on the bed, it seems lonely, and far away from everyone else. Laying back would be admitting that I’m in this alone, that I am the patient, and I’m not ready to do that.
“I’m scared to do this.” I say it more to my chest, but Mom is close that I assume she hears me.
Mom doesn’t answer right away though, that I look up a little to see if she’s paying attention. She reaches out with her hand and rests it on my knee, “I know honey. You can do this though, it won’t seem so bad once it’s all over. And you got me and your Dad here to lend you support.”
Dr. Morgan steps in, smiling as if I’m just here for an ear ache. “Let’s give you a quick check, can I get you to lay back for me?” Dad steps out of the room without another word, and Mom goes to stare out the window, I’m grateful she doesn’t leave me. It’s painful, and the hysteria begins to build that if a check is this bad, that the delivery will be unbearable. My hands start shaking, and it works its way down to my knees. Dr. Morgan gives me a reassuring smile, as another shiver of nerves escapes through my toes. “You are doing beautifully. Don’t worry, we are going to get you through this, and you’ll have a gorgeous baby for all your effort.”
I just force a smile, my jaw is clenched to keep my head from shaking, she makes a few notes on my chart, and then gives me another warm smile. “I expect I’ll be back here within the hour, a few more contractions and I think your baby will be ready to make their big debut.”
As soon as she is gone, Dad peeks his head back in the door, and steps in once he knows it’s safe. He looks paler than he did when he left, I see my own anxiety plainly on his face.
He comes to sit by me, his leg bouncing, letting go of all the nerves that are pent up inside. “Julia, I don’t want you to feel pressured to do adoption, if it’s not what you want to do, then you don’t have to.” He brings his hand up to his face, covering his mouth, and rubbing his face in the process. “I’m sorry if it felt like I’ve been pressuring you, I’ve been trying to save you, my baby in this process, but you are so entwined with your baby now, that it’s selfish of me, to push my beliefs onto you.” He hangs his head for a moment, then brings his eyes back up to mine, “I love you honey, and support you whether you give your baby to the Siew family, or want to raise it yourself. I’m here for you.”
“Thank you Daddy,” I manage to squeak out just before another contraction begins building.
There is really nothing more for any of us to say or do, so we sit there, staring out at the Sound, watching the ships come into the harbor, and listening to the beeping of my heart and the baby’s on the monitor. It’s thirty minutes shy of the lunch hour, when Caroline comes back in, bringing Dr. Morgan with her.
“It’s time,” she says, with a smile to me, before her mind goes back to the business at hand. She’s making sure she has the supplies needed and that Caroline didn’t miss anything, the bed warmer is turned on, supplies for sucking out the baby’s mouth are at hand, along with forceps, which I catch glistening from the corner of my eye. I swallow hard, my mouth dry from lack of water, and urge the baby to come out without the aid of those monstrous tools.
Another contraction comes, and I can tell that it’s time now without anyone saying anything. Even if I didn’t want it to be the time, there’s no avoiding it. The baby is ready, and all the rest of us have better be too.
Mom is trying to coach me with my breathing, but it’s hard to concentrate. I’m embarrassed that I moan at all, it seems sexual, and my Dad is in the room, and I suddenly want him to leave. I can’t have a baby with my Dad in here. It’s like he knows, as they get my legs ready for the stirrup, he gives me one last kiss on my head, and says he’ll be in the hall with Hadley.
Mom moves up toward my head, and begins rubbing my shoulder and breathing in my ear in rhythm. “You can do this baby, you’re doing it.”
I focus all my energy on her breathing, Nurse Caroline watching the monitor, then as it begins to peak, she tells me to push. All three women are saying it in unison, “Push, keep pushing, good job, keep going… okay, breath.”
We repeat this dance of breathing and pushing. As the clock slips past noon, Dr. Morgan smiles triumphantly, “We have a head, not a speck of hair to be seen!”
Mom starts crying, and I try to keep my breathing steady all the while marveling, a head, a freaking head! “One last push, Julia, and your baby should be here. Give me all you got on this next contraction,” Dr. Morgan coaches.
We wait for Caroline’s go head, Mom wiping her eyes. Her motions are futile, as I know she will breakdown once the baby is here shortly.
I give it my all, and I can feel Dr. Morgan tugging, and then in a whoosh, it’s over. Mom is crying, and Dr. Morgan is announcing, “It’s a boy! You have a son!”
She hands him up to me, his eyes closed, as if he’s traveled thousands of miles and finally found a place to rest. He reminds me of Simon, and Mom, and the photos of me and Hadley as kids, and I do love him, I truly do. It’s not in a way I could explain, or even expect, and all the last months of heartache, disappear, because he’s not a mistake, just as I had predicted to Isaac. He’s here, and he’s precious, more precious than words.
Mom steps into the hall to announce to Dad and Hadley, while the doctor checks on me, and Caroline takes care of my baby boy. I can hear Hadley call to tell Grandma and Grandpa, and even Alice on her cellphone. She’s talking loudly in the hall, she actually sounds excited to be an aunt.
Dr. Morgan gives me the clear to eat, and drink, and get out of bed if I’d like, and it seems crazy that this part of the adventure is over, I’d dreaded it to such a degree that it’d seemed like an insurmountable mountain.
I look down at my stomach, flat and empty now. He’s here, in the warmer, but his place within me is empty, and I feel a pang of sadness. I miss him, and hes’ right here, out in the open for the world to see, and get to know. And I just know, like I knew he’d be special, that I am missing an ingredient to being the Mom for him, I’m just not ready for him.
I gaze down at him, and I just know that I’m not capable of being the Mom that he not only needs, but deserves. I pass him to Hadley, and she coos over him, in a way she never did for Simon, or any other baby.
Mom is crying again, and Dad is looking more heartbroken then I’ve seen in years. I can’t decipher if they know what I’ve decided, or if it’s something else on their mind.
Grandma arrives, and I see her hiding behind the crowd, crying, and I’ve never seen her cry, ever.
He’s here, and it’s like everyone knows that our time with him is fleeting, it feels like a wake before the funeral, and I can’t bare to see their tears.
“I love you, you remember that, will you?” Mom is holding him now, and choking out the words over her sobs. He’s watching her, like he understands what she is saying, like he’s an old soul trapped in this newborn body.
Everyone spends time with him, passing him around, sharing their love for him, and how he has my brown eyes, just like Hadley, Simon, Dad, and Grandpa, so he really is a Millett. They want him to remember that he’s a Millett through and through. Baby Nolan Millett, I name him, knowing the Siew’s could change his name if I give them my son, but having to name him for myself despite that.
When it gets late, Mom offers to spend the night with me, sleeping on the cot, but I insist they all go home. I want this night with him alone, just the two of us.
It’s in the dark, after the hospital has gone into a quiet mode, the halls empty except for the nurses, that he wakes up fussing. I pull him into the bed with me, just holding him and thinking of the next day.
“I love you, I just don’t think I’m ready to be what you need.” I kiss his forehead, he gasps when my breath touches his face with his newborn reflex. “Not yet anyway.”
The next morning, he lays in his bassinet, exhausted as if he’d spent the entire night awake with me, unable to sleep as his fate twisted from one path to another.
Everyone loved him, it didn’t seem right to take him away, after he’d work so hard to finally land here. It just didn’t seem right.
When I finally made my decision, it felt right. Once a Millett, always a Millett, as Grandpa had said, and it only felt right that he be raised by a Millett, a family that could love him for all his quirks, and provide for him financially for whatever dream he decided to pursue.
It just shouldn’t be me that was doing the raising, but my own parents. I offered them the option to adopt him themselves, or at least for these first years, whichever way worked out best, I hadn’t expected them to say no, but I was surprised by how right it felt when they said yes.
Having my son, be like my brother might be strange for these first few years, but I know they can raise him well, they’ve done right by me all these years.
Notes: And there it is! I had pictures if she decided to have Rebecca adopt, but when it came down to it, it just did not make sense for Julia to choose that path. The Millett’s have everything the baby could ever need, and there just wasn’t an angle that I could see, that would make Julia think the Siew’s were more capable.
Julia had the want to have a baby, as did Grant and Leah, and Merrill and Norma had the want for a grandbaby. My husband was telling me about these grandparents that were raising their granddaughter, and I thought that was an option that would make sense, though complicated, it still had the possibility of working.
I will have Grant and Leah raise him as their own, and as Julia grows, reassess whether she might take custody back. So I am not certain at this point if it’s permanent or temporary. Time will tell. I am not adjusting the family tree on this one, or having them officially adopt Nolan, not at the moment anyhow. I’m curious how the wants will go, leaving it this way.
And little Nolan has blond hair, and brown eyes, all of the Millett’s have Merrill’s brown eyes (excluding Norma and Leah). Blond hair is from Leah and possibly from Isaac’s Dad, Nathan. I’m glad the baby did not have black hair!
Thanks for reading!
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