After my coffee date with Liv, I enter my new apartment – a thought that makes me chuckle. My new apartment. Wow. I don’t even know how many times I was about to give in to Jack’s request to move in together. It just never seemed like the right thing to do. I never wanted to make it harder for him to change his mind about how much he’s going to be involved; I didn’t want him to feel obliged towards us. But the determination he was continually showing, made me change my mind in the end.
“Jack? Are you home?”
When no one answers, I get a glass of water from the kitchen and walk into the living room. I smile when I see how Jack has moved the furniture around to make room for the baby equipment.
With a deep sigh, I sit down on the couch and check my phone to see if Jack maybe texted to let me know where he went, but he didn’t. So I send him a text, asking where he is. I lean back into the comfy cushions and let out a long breath of air. I gently stroke over my belly, and I realize that the peanut has been a little quiet these past days, but I know that can happen toward the end.
Even though my due date isn’t for another two weeks, I don’t think the peanut will wait that long. I’ve had some false labor these past days, which was the reason I saw Susan today. As it turns out, the baby is already positioned head-down; he just needs to sink a little lower. For me, that’s another indication that it’s not going to be much longer.
I take in another deep breath when my belly hardens with another Braxton Hicks contraction. And while it’s not really painful, something starts to feel weird. I get an uneasy feeling that I can’t quite explain.
I try to call Jack to hear his soothing voice, but it goes straight to voicemail. Hm, weird. Now, my unease grows even more. I need to talk to someone now, so I call Rob, who’s out of town for a conference.
Luckily, he answers my call right away. “Hey, Em! Is everything okay?”
I chuckle. “Yes, why wouldn’t it?”
“I don’t know. Why are you calling? Not that I don’t love to hear from you, but I know that you know I’m attending this conference and don’t usually have time for chit-chat.”
I snort. “Chit-chat! Pfff!” But then I sigh, which he picks up on right away.
“Tell me what’s wrong, Emma.”
I hear the worry in his voice and frown. “I don’t know. I feel weird.”
“Weird? What do you mean?”
“I can’t explain it. I’ve had more Braxton Hicks contractions today. I saw Susan this morning, and the ultrasound and the CTG were normal. But still...”
“Em, if you feel weird, maybe you should see Susan again.”
I take a deep breath. “Yeah, maybe.”
“Promise me that you’ll make Jack take you to the hospital if it gets worse, okay?”
“Okay, I promise.”
“Sorry, Em, I have to go now. But let me know if anything happens.”
“I will. Bye, Rob.”
After I hang up, I get up from the couch to get another glass of water, but once I’m standing, I have to close my eyes and take a deep breath. Damn, I’m feeling slightly dizzy.
I slowly make my way to the bedroom, where my blood pressure monitor is. I sit down on the bed and check my blood pressure, and I sigh when I see that it’s way too high. Shit.
I lie down for a moment or two to calm down. My heart is beating faster than it should, and the weird feeling just won’t go away. And nothing seems to help; no breathing exercise, no putting my feet up.
I’m not sure how much time has passed when I finally decide that I need to do something. I lost count on how many texts and voice messages I sent Jack, and it worries me as well that I can’t get a hold of him.
That slight headache I had gets worse, just like the dizziness. Everything feels like in a blur, and slight panic takes hold of me. Time to act. I get up from the couch to grab my phone from the coffee table, and after I’ve made a couple of steps, I feel something run down my leg. Damn, did my water break?
I look down and gasp in horror. No, that’s not amniotic fluid. It’s blood. My breath hitches in my throat, and I’m not sure how I even manage to call an ambulance and, after that, Liv.
I try Jack’s phone again, but he still doesn’t answer. I leave him one last message before everything goes black.
Being unconscious is a peculiar state. It’s quiet around me, but I somehow know there should be noise and commotion. I should be sobbing and crying because I’m in so much pain; not only physically, but also emotionally. There’s something wrong with my baby, and we both need medical assistance. But I’m lying here on Jack’s living room floor, and I have no idea how anyone will find me.
Reality loses its grip on me as I slip further into unconsciousness, so I’m not sure if the voices I hear and the touch I feel are actually there.
Now everything seems like in a dream. I hear more distant voices. I see bright lights and feel lots of commotion going on around me. I lose track of time and space; maybe hours pass, maybe mere seconds.
And what is that? Was that a baby crying?
Now there are more voices, but I don’t hear the one voice I’m longing to hear; I don’t hear Jack.
And I feel nothing. No pain, no unease, no fear. I can finally drift off into a peaceful sleep.
Someone gently squeezing my hand is the first thing I notice; a low murmur the next. I can’t make out any words until one person says they’ll be back in a little while.
“Okay, see you then.”
That voice! I know that voice. And I know that touch. All of a sudden, I’m hyper-aware of him. His familiar scent envelops me, and a pleasant shiver runs down my spine when he lifts my hand to place a tender kiss on my knuckles. Finally – it’s my Jack.
I try to open my eyes, but they feel way too heavy. Next, I try to lift my hand, but again – too heavy. I want to groan in frustration, but no sound comes out of my mouth.
“Emma?” Jack’s soft voice soothes me at once, and I think my lips lift in a tiny smile. “Emma? Are you awake? Please, wake up, Peach. We need you.”
We? My heart begins to race, and finally, my body starts to obey. I squeeze Jack’s hand and manage to open my eyes – slowly but surely. It takes me a few moments to adjust to the light, but once I’m conscious enough to take in my surroundings, I breathe a sigh of relief. I look at Jack, who’s standing next to my bed, and I smile. “Jack,” I croak.
A huge grin spreads on his face, and he gently puts his hand on my cheek before he leans down to kiss my forehead. “Oh, Emma. Finally!”
I need to gather my thoughts a little before I ask, “What happened?”
Jack’s expression turns serious again, and he frowns. “You had a placental abruption and lost a lot of blood, so you needed a transfusion. They had to perform an emergency c-section–”
I gasp, and my hands fly to my stomach which is flat – well, flatter – and definitely holds no baby anymore. “Jack! The baby!” I try to sit up, but Jack holds me back.
“Easy, Peach. The baby is fine. He’s fine.” He helps me sit up more slowly and adjusts the bed so I can lean back in a sitting position. Then he steps aside, and my gaze falls on the baby crib that’s behind him.
I cover my mouth with my hand, and my eyes fill with tears as I watch Jack pick up the tiny bundle wrapped in a blue blanket and place it in my arms. “Here, big guy, meet your mom.”
There are no words to describe what I’m feeling right now. I look at this peacefully sleeping baby; at his tiny nose and his small hands with the little fingers, and I’m sure I’ve never seen anything more beautiful in my life.
I let out a half sob-half laugh. “Hey, Peanut. It’s nice to finally meet you.” I take his hand, and he immediately wraps his fingers around my thumb. I lift my gaze to Jack. “He’s so handsome.”
“He is,” he murmurs before he presses his lips on mine for a lingering kiss. Then he rests his forehead against mine. “I’m so glad you’re awake.” With a deep sigh, he takes a step back and sits down on the chair next to my bed.
“I can’t stop staring at him,” I say. “He’s perfect.”
“Your mom says he looks just like you.”
I look at Jack wide-eyed. “My mom is here?”
Jack nods. “Yes, your parents and your brother flew in as soon as they heard. They all love him so much already, but especially your mom.”
I let out a long breath of air. “Wow... When did all of this happen? How old is he now?”
Jack checks his watch. “It’s been a little more than twenty-four hours since he was born. And ever since the doctors gave their okay, the two of us have been resting on that couch.” He points behind him and adds, “Waiting for you to wake up.”
I take a look around. “Is this a private room? I’m not sure I can afford this.”
Jack chuckles. “Your dad is taking care of that. He told me to tell you not to contradict him.”
I sigh and shake my head. “Now, what exactly happened?”
He takes a deep breath and runs his hand over his face. He looks just as exhausted as I feel. “I will tell you, but maybe we should call a doctor first.”
And that’s what he does. A doctor comes to examine me and to tell me what happened; how the placenta separated from the uterus, which caused severe bleeding. Luckily, Liv and Ethan arrived at Jack’s apartment just in time — along with the ambulance. I was brought to the hospital so they could perform a c-section before my baby boy could take any severe harm. And fortunately, he’s fine — a happy and healthy newborn. And with some rest, I’m going to be fine soon as well.
Within the next couple of hours, my family, and also Jack’s come by for a quick hello, so it seems like forever before Jack, the baby, and I are finally alone again.
Jack sits next to me on the bed with his arm draped around my shoulder while I’m trying to nurse my son. It’s not going too well yet, but I was told to be patient.
“Hey, Jack?” I ask when I’m done nursing for now.
“Hm?” He looks at me expectantly.
“Why did the doctor congratulate you on your amazing son?”
“Oh, that,” he sighs. “I might have told them I was his father so I could be with you during the birth and go with him when they had to take him to the NICU for a couple of hours. I didn’t want him to be alone.”
A warm and pleasant feeling takes hold of me when I hear his words. “Jack, you are his father,” I tell him as I take his hand in mine.
He smiles at me. “Good.”
I return his smile before I look at the baby again. “The peanut needs a name,” I say.
Jack nods. “What do you think? Do any of the names we talked about sound right?”
“Yes, actually. There’s one name that popped into my head when I first saw him.”
The smile on my face grows even wider when I stare at this little human being in my arms and say, “Finn.”
He laughs softly and gives me a small kiss before he strokes the baby’s head and says, “Well hello, Finn.”
For a while, we sit in comfortable silence until I remember something that I have to ask him. “Hey – uhm – what happened before I was taken to the hospital? Where were you and why didn’t you answer your phone?”
Jack gets up from the bed with a heavy sigh and paces up and down, but he doesn’t say anything.
He stops and turns to me with a frown. “I’m so sorry about what happened, Emma. I should have been there for you; none of this should have happened. I would have never forgiven myself if anything had happened to you or Finn.”
“Jack, calm down. It’s okay. We’re fine, so don’t do that to yourself. But you didn’t answer my question.”
He takes a deep breath, and then another before he finally tells me what happened. How Kate showed up after I had left, and how she told him she didn’t believe he would be a good father or a loving partner. He tells me about the kiss, and how all of that messed with his head and that he needed to meet with Paul to talk about it. And last but not least, how his phone had died, and he didn’t get any of my messages until it was almost too late.
I listen to Jack without saying a single word, and I’m not sure what to say or even think. What he just told me unnerves me in the worst kind of way. I sigh as I place a sleeping Finn on my chest. I close my eyes, gently rub his head with my nose and take in his scent. Is it going to be just him and me after all?
When I lift my gaze to look at Jack, my eyes fill with tears. “That messed with your head? Does that mean you’re not sure anymore if you want to stay with us?”
With a sigh, Jack sits on the bed, facing me. He takes my hand and gives me a gentle smile that dispels my worries at once. “Emma,” he says. “After only one day with him, I can already say that I love Finn with all my heart, with my whole being. Just as much as I love you, and I could never walk away from you because that would undoubtedly kill me. It almost killed me when it still wasn’t certain if you would make it. I realized that every shitty thing that happened brought us closer together. Every fight, every misunderstanding, and everyone who wanted to come between us made us stronger, and I’m sure we can overcome any obstacle as long as we face it together. Never could I leave you. I was there when Finn took his first breath, and I want to be his father until I take my last. And I want to be your boyfriend and one day your husband for the rest of my life. Does that answer your question?”
Tears are incessantly streaming down my face by now, and I have to try really hard not to sob uncontrollably and disturb Finn in his sleep. “Yes,” is all I manage to utter.
Jack chuckles and carefully takes our son from me and puts him down in his crib. Then he sits back down on the bed and cups my face with his hands. “I love you, Peach. Forever,” he breathes before he captures my lips in a passionate kiss that is just as reassuring as his little speech.
And all I need is his touch to know that he’s right – as long as we stick together, no one and nothing can bring us down. And I love him too – forever.