The Third Baby
He hated the way she brushed her teeth. It wasn't the way she brushed, so much as it was the way she spat out the foam from the toothpaste when she was done. A grating, "pa-too, pa-too" sound, that after ten years of marriage, two children and a third due any day, was really getting to him. He was beginning to realize that it wasn't the big things that could destroy a marriage, it was the small, daily annoyances that started to wear you down.
He eased past her and out of their bathroom that seemed to be made smaller by her presence. She prepared her toothbrush with toothpaste. Walking into the master bedroom he let go a loud fart, and reflexively waved a hand past his nostrils, "Woo, don't come in here right now, Honey."
With her mouth full of toothpaste, she didn't bother to reply. She couldn't stand the way he farted, so loudly and obviously, at times lifting one leg and trying to toot out a song. He thought that was really funny. Sure it had been funny in the early years, before they'd grown so complacent. Now it was just gross. She swished her mouth out with Listerine and looked at herself in the mirror. Her face looked swollen, like her huge belly. She'd gained more weight with this pregnancy than she had with any of the others. She figured it was a sign of her depression. This baby had come as a shock to both of them. Their youngest was already five and they hadn't wanted another. They were just starting to get their lives back, she was working again, they could all go places together more easily. Well, you can't plan them all, she thought to herself for the umpteenth time.
And today was her due date. She didn't even have a bag packed for the hospital, could hardly believe the baby that kicked inside of her was going to come out sooner than later. With a sigh she walked from the bathroom and began getting dressed. Her husband was already downstairs, no doubt wolfing down breakfast so he could beat the early morning rush. She stepped into an old maternity dress she'd worn during her last pregnancy; it was one of the few items of clothing she was comfortable in these days. Putting her thick hair back into a pony tail, she headed downstairs to complete the daily morning ritual.
She made it to the kitchen just in time to receive a quick kiss from their seven-year old son and a hug from their five-year old daughter. The school bus driver was tooting the horn outside.
"Bye Mom, today's the day right? I'm getting my new baby brother?" Her boy patted her belly and looked into her face with a smile. The kids seemed to be the only ones truly excited about her impending birth.
"I don't know Sweetie, we'll see. If the baby comes while you're in school your Grandma will be here when you get home, OK?"
"Yay, Yay, Grandma's coming!" Shouted her youngest skipping around the room.
"Not necessarily today, Dear. Look you kids go run out to the bus. The driver isn't going to wait much longer." Hustling them out the door, she turned to her husband who was gathering his lunch and briefcase and preparing his own exit.
"Hey, I'll call you if anything happens. You've got your cell phone charged?"
"Yeah, I've got it. You think it might come today?"
"Well, this is my due date, and the other kids came on theirs."
"But the doctor said it might come later, judging by the size and all."
"I know, just be prepared OK? You never know. If you're lucky it will come this weekend and you won't have to miss any work." She began gathering her own things, and they walked to their respective cars in the driveway.
"I didn't mean . . . Hey, come here." She turned to him and he placed one hand on her cheek. "Look don't be mad. It's just . . . I don't know. I mean are you prepared for this one?"
"Oh, I guess, a baby is a good thing, right? No matter if it's planned or not. We'll deal." He kissed her lightly on the lips.
"We always do."
They got into their cars and went their separate ways.
She was trying to finish up the newsletter for the association she worked for before the weekend. Her boss knew she was quitting after this baby came, but she'd said she'd work up until delivery. At one thirty in the afternoon the first contraction came. She noted the time on the clock and continued working. Let's see if another one comes along any time soon, she thought. Ten minutes later the next one came. A half an hour later they seemed to be coming steadily, but they weren't that painful. She continued working, determined to get her work done before leaving for good. She called the obstetrician's office and the nurse told her to wait until the pains were at least a minute long and five minutes apart. She figured she had at least five hours to go, her water hadn't broken and the pain was manageable. There was time to complete her work.
An hour into labor, she picked up the phone and dialed her husband, "Hey, I'm having contractions."
"You are?" He sounded surprised. "How far apart are the contractions?"
She breathed deeply and leaned back in her chair as another one passed over her, "About eight minutes apart, but it varies. I'm going to wrap things up here as soon as I can and head to the house."
"Are you OK to drive?"
"Yeah, they're not that painful, besides it's only a ten minute drive."
"All right, I'll leave the office now. You want me to call your Mom?"
"Yes, that would be good."
"OK," She heard him pause on the other end of the line, "Hey Honey, be careful."
"No, you be careful, remember how you almost wrecked the car when I was in labor with our son?"
"You had to bring that up didn't you."
"Yep, and now I have to go. See you at the house."
He sighed as he put down the phone. He should be laughing at her jibe and excited at the thought of the birth of their latest child. But he wasn't laughing, he was gathering his things and preparing to return home. That was what he was supposed to do; the least he could do.
By the time she got to their house she was in pain. The contractions were back to back and longer. He got there a few minutes after she did and found her up in their bedroom. She'd managed to remove her dress, but was leaning over the toilet feeling as if she had to throw up.
Standing behind her looking at her naked form, he didn't know what to say. She'd hidden her body from him as best she could the last three months. He hadn't realized how big she'd become. She wretched and brought up her lunch. She was oblivious to his presence.
"Hey, uh . . . do you want me to put a bag together for the hospital?"
With both hands on either side of the toilet seat, she spoke into the bowl, closing her eyes as the pain tightened her belly.
"What . . . do . . . you . . . think?" Was all she could get out.
"Yeah, right, OK." Glad for something to do , he went into the bedroom and began throwing clothes into an overnight bag. What would she need? He'd thrown a pair of underwear and a big T-shirt in when she walked slowly from the bathroom. She went to her dresser and leaned against it.
The first push came just then and she knew they weren't going to make that thirty-minute drive to the hospital. She'd only been in labor for a little over two hours, but she knew this baby was coming.
"The baby's coming." She said.
"Yeah, I know, I'm almost finished here, then we'll get in the car and go."
"No, the baby's coming now." She closed her eyes and tried to relax as her body tensed for the next push. Without thinking of anything but not bloodying up their bed sheets or thick plush carpet, she pulled off her underwear, and went into the bathroom. At one end of the bathroom was their white, oversized soaking tub. It had been a real selling point when they were looking to buy and they spent many enjoyable evenings in it after the children were in bed. Now sitting there, largely unused for the past six months and a bit dirty from lack of cleaning, she stepped into this bathtub preparing for another push.
Throwing down the lace bra he had been preparing to put in the overnight bag, he went into the bathroom.
"Um, should I call 911?"
He looked at her in amazement as she leaned her hands on one end of the tub. Her knees were slightly bent and her face was towards the wall. Her eyes were closed and she was breathing deeply, "Slowly," he heard her say softly. She pushed and beads of sweat appeared on the small of her back and across her upper lip. He could only stand there.
She paused and looked over at him. "I'm crowning, get ready to help when the baby comes."
With a sick feeling in his stomach he looked between her legs and saw the top of the baby's head. Blood mixed with dark hair and water began to gush down her legs. A wave of heat washed over him and everything went black. He fell to the floor.
"Oh Jesus," she replied. With the next push she reached between her legs and caught the slippery baby that came out in a gush. Kneeling on both knees, she held the newborn baby covered in fluid and slippery white vernix. It was a bit blue. Let's get you breathing, she told herself. With a thumb and forefinger she wiped off the small mouth and nose. In an instant the baby gave a lusty cry and grew bright pink with its first breath. A tear escaped her eye and she looked into her third child's face with a sense of wonder and delight. She checked between the baby's legs, another girl! "Welcome little one."
He came to with the sound his new daughter's cry in his ears. Sitting up on the floor, he looked up to see his wife, still naked but with a soft belly, holding their tiny baby, umbilical cord still attached.
"Oh Wow." He got up and went to his wife and child, kissing them both softly.
"Well done My Dear, sorry I wimped out on you." He looked at his wife with a sense of awe as he realized she'd delivered this child completely on her own.
"That's OK, we're fine." She looked at him as tears came down her face. "Honey, I do want this baby. I don't know why I was ever sorry I got pregnant, and I got so fat, and we . . . Oh, I'm sorry."
"No, I'm sorry. I was no help to you at all, from the beginning. You are unbelievable! Do you realize what you just did?" He grabbed a towel off the towel rack and put it around the baby to keep her warm. "What should we name her? Did we even talk about names?"
She laughed through her tears, "No."
"I know, let's call her Jasmine. That's your favorite flower."
"Yes, that's a great name. I didn't think you remembered that." He brushed a damp lock of hair from her forehead and looked into his wife's eyes. "There are a lot of things I remember about you, you're my wife. I love you." And as he smiled she saw it in his eyes, it hadn't been there for a long time, but it was back.
"Now, will you call the paramedics."
"Yes, I believe I can handle that." Taking one more glance into the face of the newest member of the family, he got up to find the cordless phone. Now, if the children hadn't hidden it away like they were known to do, they'd really be back in business.
© Marjorie Bucknor
Marjorie Bucknor is a wife and mother of two young girls, as well as trying to write on occasion. She is currently enjoying life in Dhaka, Bangladesh and appreciates your comments.
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