He had wanted three, she had planned for two.
Nothing had gone as expected, nothing had fit her plan. How naive she had been thinking she could just plan a conception, schedule a pregnancy around sports so her career wouldn’t flounder. She had pitied women who had given themselves up for infants and diapers, but it had taken more than two years for that positive, and she felt ready to barter away anything for two pink lines.
Dr. Morgan had checked them both, and found that it was her. It wasn’t impossible as they would eventually realize, but it wouldn’t be easy. Elise should relinquish any thought of planning a due date, she had suggested gently.
When the pregnancy tests kept showing up negative, Peter eventually suggested they just try for one or maybe they’d be the type of couple to travel the world. He began to paint visuals of this future with only one child or none, a master painter on the canvas, he couldn’t hide his pain from Elise.
Suddenly Elise found herself flooded with ancient insecurities that she’d thought were conquered. She was a fierce woman, a successful sports marketer; it was a ruthless business and she excelled. She solved problems; she didn’t create them.
Those two years had been dark, and then the second pink line peeked through. Faintly on the first test; they had analyzed it and immediately took a second, and a third until they were tentatively hopeful that it was positive. Dr. Morgan had been thrilled to confirm, they had won the race, they were going to be parents!
But a miscarriage scare in the first trimester had shattered their happiness, as if it were all a cruel joke, that perhaps they wouldn’t come home with a baby after all. Life is fragile, they had always heard, but now it seemed impossible.
Every twinge or cramp, even when explained as uterus growth or Braxton Hicks was horrifying. Elise wanted to close her eyes and wish the baby into her arms. Every check up was a relief, the heartbeat thrumming like a hummingbird was ecstasy to their severed nerves.
The bedrest prescription was allowed to expire in the second trimester, and the baby began to kick and move something fierce that they were able to exhale. She kept to a neutral nursery, she wanted their baby to have a sibling, and it seemed they were on their way to being parents.
But in the final month, her blood pressure skyrocketed, and they had found protein in her samples. Suddenly Elise was being admitted.
There would be no release from the hospital until Baby Schehl arrived on the scene. Dr. Hadley had been the one to tell them the diagnosis, to explain it was Preeclampsia, and that Elise was at the greatest risk, not the baby. It was a relief to Elise, though it brought no comfort to Peter.
They could have taken the baby sooner, but Elise wanted to give their baby all she could, the best start possible, and each week did just that. She insisted they wait until 37 weeks if her body could hold out.
So they spent weeks in the hospital, as they were forced to adapt a new routine. All the while Elise thought they may want to return their gender neutral greens and yellows and just buy pink or blue for the nursery. Peter may have been right all along, to resign himself to one instead of three, perhaps one baby was more than they could ask.
– – -* * *- – –
Elise had insisted on no visitors, and his family had sent flowers in their stead. It was mostly to avoid Peter’s Mom, Delaney. She didn’t want to hear how easy her pregnancies had been, and how she’d had Lizzie while in her fifties. It wasn’t personal, she’d just found that her mother-in-law didn’t understand the turmoil and gravity of their situation.
They found their own little routine in the hospital, she wasn’t confined to her bed so that meant she could go on little field trips to the cafeteria and watch Peter eat food that she wasn’t allowed to consume. Her diet was highly restricted, which she didn’t expect to bother her as she’d always been a healthy eater, but eating had become a miserable affair.
Dr. Hadley came in daily to check on them, and while Dr. Morgan overlooked everything, it was Hadley that they had bonded with. She was the one to tell them the news that Elise’s kidneys were beginning to suffer; her blood pressure was too high and it was time to schedule the cesarean.
Peter had been going home each evening to an empty house, and Elise had mostly felt okay with the scenario. There just wasn’t room for a cot in her makeshift, curtained off room. But with her c-section scheduled for first thing in the morning, she really wished that he could stay.
He struggled to say goodnight, and she smiled at him lovingly as he looked up for a kiss.
Their long journey was coming to a close, just one more night of rest and then they’d be parents. The excitement was enough to calm Elise’s nerves, though Peter was still concerned about her health.
Before the sun had fully rose, Dr. Morgan arrived to take Elise up to the surgery ward. One day, Dr. Hadley hoped to be the head surgeon, but for today, she would be helping and learning.
She wouldn’t be wheeled back to that closet of a room, someone would bring her flowers up to the maternity ward, to her very own suite. Elise focused on the after, instead of the process at hand.
Elise was put on oxygen before Peter was escorted in, with his very own hospital scrubs. Her teeth chattered, partly from the freezing room and mostly from her nerves. She’d never broken a bone, or even been sick outside of a cold, surgery was frightening and definitely not her plan.
Hadley went over the procedure, and checked all her vitals before prepping her stomach.
Then they waited while the doctors and nurses got everything prepped and Elise all numbed.
Hadley gave Caroline orders for prep, and Peter whispered to Elise about how excited he was, and how much he loved her.
Once they began, it seemed to go quickly. They had told her that sewing up took more time than the delivery, but neither had quite believed it to be true.
But it really did seem to go quickly, Elise wasn’t sure if it was her drugs that aided in that, but she wasn’t complaining. In what seemed to be a lifetime of waiting and anxiety, they were handed their daughter.
As soon as her eyes peeked open, Elise noticed that her daughter had her eye color, and an unexpected warmth of love spread through her. It was all more than she had ever anticipated.
So many times in life, typical woman things had never affected her. She had quietly feared that she’d fail at motherhood, that she wouldn’t be enough. But those misgivings were gently shoved back as she gazed at her daughter, she may not be perfect, but she had immense love.
Hadley quickly checked their daughter’s vitals as they finished sewing Elise up. She was on the low-end for her birth weight, but not dangerously so, and they felt prepared for the news as Hadley had warned them it was common.
They wheeled them to their new room, and Peter made all the phone calls. Elise insisted on no visitors until the next day. They spent most of the day napping and gazing at their daughter with her pale skin like Elise and dark hair like Peter.
They stayed up late that night, watching Irina doze and root from her wild, little flaying hands. They’d decided on a name finally, narrowing it down from three. Neither suggested they save the names for another baby, and so they had picked their favorite.
Mostly they marveled.
The last two years melting into memory, as they both realized all the turmoil had been worth it.
The Schehl family moved in the next morning. Peter’s twin sister, Meg was the first to arrive on the scene. Irina was very special, she told her, because she was the first.
Delaney agreed with that sentiment as she nearly melted as she took hold of her first grandchild. Her twin sister, Kenzie was a great grandma, and this was old-hat for her, but not Delaney.
Grandpa Jared promised her that she could have whatever she wanted when she visited their house, and Delaney offered to return some of their gender neutral items for pink ones while they finished their hospital stay.
They spent five days in the hospital, made better with Peter being allowed to sleepover with them. Elise being determined to walk herself back into shape post-surgery despite the discomfort.
They enjoyed their bubble while it lasted.
Bringing home Irina was nearly as frightening a prospect as the cesarean had been for Elise, but she felt prepared to start the journey of motherhood.
Notes: I’m so happy with Irina! She looks like she might be a good mix of both her parents with Elise’s skin and eye color, and Peter’s hair. I hope she has Elise’s cheekbones.
After all their issues, I decided to continue with it for the duration of the pregnancy. I want to get more use out of my hospital, and with Hadley on her way to being a surgeon, I want that experience too. So she had a c-section, which isn’t unheard of with her condition. And I got to build the surgery room for Hadley to have in the future.
I thought it was interesting that Delaney and Kenzie are twin sisters, and Kenzie is a great grandma now (Thomas), and Delaney just became a Grandma for the first time.
The Schehl family portrait since they have three generations now:
Thanks for reading!
<< Newer Post – – * – – Older Post >>