Sweet Baby Girl
“Stel.” I whimper against her hand as I press a kiss into her palm while tears are leaking out of my eyes. A nurse is trying to explain to me what is going on, and what a placental abruption means, but I can’t get past the fact that I might lose the two most important people in my life on this operating table. I had at least three nurses try to stop me from coming into the surgery room, but like hell was I not going to be here with the love of my life while she’s fighting for hers.
The doctor performing her surgery is yelling at different nurses who are hustling around the room with different equipment, but all I can focus on are Stella’s lips that are beginning to turn a light shade of purple. “Should this be happening?” I ask, frantically trying to get a nurse’s attention.
“She’s losing too much blood!” The doctor shouts, before he pulls out a very blood baby girl and a nurse hurries and snips the umbilical cord before bustling off with my daughter, who I hope beyond anything is alive and healthy.
“Stel, you have to keep fighting.” I whisper, clutching her hand and kissing her fingers while I listen to the steady beeping of her heart monitor.
“Her vitals look good for now, sir.” A nurse tells the doctor before he starts cleaning up her uterus and sewing her stomach back up, but soon a loud panic beeping startles me out of my seat and I watch in horror as the heart rate monitor on my Stella flat lines. “We’re losing her! Starting CPR now.”
I can’t do anything but watch as a nurse climbs on her knees on the table beside Stella to start compressions, and another nurse drags me out of the room. I’m too numb to protest as everything in my world begins to slowly start crashing down around me. Stella is my world. Without her, I literally am nothing, having nothing, want nothing. The nurse leads me to the hall where Stella’s friends are waiting, and I’m sure they want answers, but I have none to give them. I press my back against the wall and slide down it until I’m sitting on the cold, sterile floor of the hospital with my head buried in my arms while I cry like I’ve never cried before.
It feels like I’ve sat here forever with tears streaming down my face before a nurse comes to get me. She leads me into another room where my daughter lies in one of those hospital crib things with a pretty pink bow on her head, wrapped in a light pink blanket.
“Hi Amora.” I whisper to my daughter as I softly touch her precious little cheek. “I’m your daddy.”
I gently pick my daughter up and cradle her tenderly in my arms while a nurse fills out a birth certificate, and after a lot of begging on my part, goes to find out a status on Stella. Gemma, Connor, and another guy I don’t know, who I’m assuming is Connor’s boyfriend, finally make their way into the room I’m in with Amora after being granted permission, and I offer Amora out to Gemma who shakes her head.
“You and Stella should be the first ones to hold her. I’ll hold her as soon as Stella does.” She weakly smiles before leaning into Connor’s side. I nod at the man who played a major part in my break up with Stella, but that’s water under the bridge now. It has been for years.
I finally break down again and have to put Amora back in her bed before sinking to the floor again at the thought that Stella may never get to meet our daughter that she tried so hard to keep from me. The daughter who ultimately is the reason I can call her mine again, starts crying after she felt my touch disappear, and as soon as I put my hand back on her blanket she stops crying.
“It’s okay, babe. Everything’s going to be okay.” I whisper to my daughter, not sure if I’m trying to convince her or myself. After what feels like absolute eons, the nurse finally comes back in with a smile on her face.
“Good news. Your wife is stable and should be waking up any time now.” She tells me, and I actually hit my knees and say a prayer of thanks up to the heavens for letting me keep her. I knew I loved her before, but now that I’ve lost her twice, I’m never going to let her go again. Soon, Stella’s bed is being wheeled into the room I’m in with Amora and Stella’s friends, and I train my eyes on the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen, despite the fact that she’s completely covered in sweat and is still relatively bloody. I grasp her hand with one of mine, while soothing our daughter with the other one, and I don’t think there’s ever been a happier man in the entire world.
Stella still hasn’t woken up an hour later when a very bleary eyed Dr. Adams walks into the room while carrying a coffee. She immediately gives me a hug before checking on Amora, who only weighs 5 pounds. “Well, the good news is that Miss Amora looks healthy despite being born three weeks early and under the conditions she was. Her coloring is good, and she’s breathing well on her own. That’s something we don’t usually see with preemies, especially ones that were taken under an emergency C-section.”
“I’m so happy she’s alright. I was a little afraid I was going to break her the first time I held her because of how small she is, but she already has a death grip.” I smile weakly at Stella’s doctor, who returns the baby to her crib before pulling a chair up beside me at Stella’s side.
“I’m so sorry I wasn’t here for her. I had just worked two doubles and crashed as soon as I got home. Honestly, the only reason I’m here right now is because I had a bad feeling and woke myself up to check my phone. Stella’s friend Gemma had texted me from her phone and told me what was going on, besides two phone calls from the hospital. I feel so awful, Beau. I promised Stella’s mom years ago that I’d be here for her, and the one time she really needs me, I was sleeping.” Dr. Adams sighs, wiping a tear from her eye as she grabs Stella’s hand from me and holds it. “Come on, baby girl. You’ve gotta wake up.”
“I’m planning on waiting until she wakes up before I call her mother. She’s back in Panama right now with Jack.”
“You haven’t called her yet? Beau, that should have been the first thing you did after you found out.” Dr. Adams frowns at me before pulling out her own phone. “I guess you did have other things on your mind, though. I’ll call her right now.”
“Thanks, Dr. Adams.” I mumble, glancing over my shoulder at my sleeping daughter, who is as perfect as Stella is.
Stella doesn’t wake up until a few hours later while I have my eyes closed while I hold her hand and Amora, who woke up crying about twenty minutes before Stella finally opens her eyes. She pulls her fingers out of mine as she blinks and tries to come out of the pain-killer coma she was in.
“Hi baby.” I whisper, tears forming in my eyes as I look at my beautiful girl.
“Where am I?” She asks, squinting and reaching for her stomach. Her eyes go wide before she frantically tries to sit up, but I gently push her back onto her pillows.
“Stel, I’d like for you to meet Amora Lane Morris, our beautiful daughter.” I smile, and lay our daughter across her chest before reaching to press the nurse’s button. Dr. Adams went to grab another coffee a few minutes ago, and Gemma, Connor, and the other guy left a long time ago to get some sleep at home.
“Beau, she’s beautiful.” Stella cries, tears leaking out of her eyes as she stares at the precious baby. “What happened though? I don’t remember anything after getting to the hospital last night. I thought I was just having Braxton Hicks contractions.”
“Well, it turns out that you had what was called a placental abruption, and they did an emergency C-section. Stel, I almost lost you last night.” I sigh, letting my own tears fall freely as I return to my chair by her head.
She blinks at me in horror a few times before gazing back down at our daughter when a nurse comes in and helps Stella sit up higher in bed. “Ow, it hurts.” She gasps, and her hand comes in contact with the stitches on her lower abdomen.
“I’m sorry, Miss Hawkley. I’ll go get the doctor and see if we can’t get you any more pain medication.” The nurse leaves the room and Dr. Adams returns with a smile when she sees Stella awake.
“Hey, Momma! How are you feeling?” She asks, gently sitting on the bed beside Stella.
“My stomach hurts, but other than that I feel fine. Is everything okay with Amora?” Stella asks, staring at one of her mom’s best friends.
“She’s beyond healthy. As soon as you’re healthy and ready to leave, we’ll be able to send you all home. But don’t worry, Stella. You just take as long as you need to. Nobody around here is in any rush to get rid of you.” Dr. Adams smiles, and the doctor from last night comes in and hooks up another IV bag to Stella, before Dr. Adams starts drilling him about the chemicals in the medicines she’s been given because if they weren’t the right ones, Stella won’t be able to start breast feeding right away.
After Stella’s been hooked up to the medicine she needs, she insists that she isn’t tired and wants to try breastfeeding, so Dr. Adams spends the next hour helping her and walking her through the steps while I squeeze her shoulder in support every time she winces.
“Did you ever get the crib set up at home?” Stella asks me after we’ve finally been left alone for the morning to eat our breakfasts. Amora is sleeping in her hospital crib right beside us, curling her perfect little fingers and toes as she softly fusses in her sleep.
“I think so. I mean, it held the 20-pound sack of flour.” I chuckle, grabbing her hand and kissing the back of it. “How long are you going to be home for before we have to go back to Savannah?”
“I’m thinking about talking to Kristin to see if I can just set my studio up at home and she could come out to grade my final piece. And I’m sure my other professors will let me finish online. Maybe we won’t even have to live anywhere else besides the ranch.” Stel answers, pulling her hand from mine and rubbing her thumb over the beard that I haven’t had a chance to shave in 2 days.
“I’m sorry, I’ll shave it off tonight.” I mumble, scratching the itchy beard. It usually stops itching after about a week, but I haven’t let it grow out since Stella left for school again in August. I tend to let it go when she’s not around, but she always seemed to like my face clean-shaven.
“No, don’t. I like it.” She grins at me, and I raise my eyebrows.
“Of course. I’ve always had a secret thing for beards.”
As surprised as I am, I’m extremely happy to hear that because shaving every day is such a pain in my ass, and time away from my day. I grin at my girl, and lean over so I can kiss her. She giggles after I pull back, and then reaches her fingers up to her face.
“So, you want me to shave it off?” I ask, smirking at her, and she quickly shakes her head.
“Absolutely not.” She answers, shoveling another bite of oatmeal into her mouth. “What I do want though, is to get out of here. I hate hospitals.”
“Me too, darling, but you need time to recover. Your condition was horrifying. You almost died on that table. Our baby girl almost died. I thought my entire world was ending for a few minutes, there, Stel.” I sigh, allowing her to wipe away a stray tear that managed to get away from me.
“I’m so sorry I put you through that.” She sighs, caressing my face before gazing down at our baby girl. “She is pretty perfect though.”
“We did well, my love.” I smile, following her gaze to where my daughter has her fingers gripped tightly around her blanket while she’s fast asleep.
“Here we go, home sweet home.” I smile as I carry the baby carrier and push open the door to the ranch for Stella almost a week later.
It was a long, stressful week full of tests and evaluations and a follow-up surgery for Stella’s condition, but we made it, and we’re home now.
“Welcome to your new home, baby girl. You’re going to grow up here and live and learn and love just like I did.” Stella grins at her baby, taking the car seat from me, putting it on the floor, and taking her very little baby out of it. “Do you want to go meet the horses?” She asks, cradling Amora’s head while she dances side to side, and I chuckle at her.
“I don’t think babies are supposed to be exposed to that kind of dust and stuff this early, Stel.” I try to warn as I drop the baby bag on the floor beside the car seat, and Stella turns a glare on me.
“Nonsense. I was practically born in the barn and I turned out just fine, thank you very much. Plus, it’s supposed to help build their immune systems.” She triumphantly states before heading towards the door with our daughter, heading straight for where Zeus has been free in the paddock for most of the week.
I follow her out to the paddock and watch adoringly as she whistles to her gelding – who comes running as soon as he sees her. Coming to a stop at the fence where Stella stands holding Amora, Zeus swings his head over and stares at the baby staring back at him before gently nuzzling the bundle of blankets Amora is wrapped in.
“I think he likes her.” I smile, watching the interaction, and I can only imagine the lovesick puppy look that must be written all over my face as I stare at the two most important things in my entire life. It’s like my feet move on their own to stand behind Stella, looking over her shoulder at the most perfect human face in the entire world – and to think, just a week ago I nearly lost both of them.
“I knew he would. I mean she is part me, and he adores me.” Stella smiles, turning her face up towards me close enough that I can’t help but lean down and kiss her.
“I adore you, too.” I smile, knowing in my heart that this is the girl I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. “So, did you ever get your professor’s approval to finish everything online?”
Stella looks at me with a frown on her gorgeous features, and I take that as a bad sign. “I can finish everything online, except for my studio final, which is a giant wheel-thrown vase. Kristin said that as much as she’d love to allow me to work here and come out to grade it, it wouldn’t be fair to Kaitlyn since she has to work in the school provided studio. So basically my options are to take an incomplete for this semester, which just means that I have the fall semester to finish my final so Kristin can get the grade in and if it’s good enough, stage a showcase around the piece, OR, I could still do my online classes from here and just take one day to throw my final piece, which is what I think I’m going to try. But if that’s what I do, then I have to make sure that the piece is perfect. And I’d still have to go back another day to finish it after it’s come out of the kiln.” She sighs, spinning in my arms and transferring Amora to me.
“I’m here for whatever you plan.” I promise, holding Amora with one arm while I softly rub Stella’s upper arm in comfort. I don’t really know what else I can say to help her, because I want her to do what’s best for her.
“Thanks, Beau. I’m really glad I have you. You’re more than I could have ever asked for. I love you.” She murmurs, standing on her tippy toes and kissing my cheek. “You’re going to be a great father, too.”
“I love you more, Stella. And I love our daughter the most.” I smile, pulling her into my side as I carry our baby into the house and get ready to start this new chapter of our lives together.