#77 Epilogue: Celeste’s baby is born
Four weeks after the wedding
“Out!” Celeste roars when Jagger tries to take her hand. “I want everyone out!”
“Baby,” Jagger says, trying to sound calm and soothing. “Let me be there for you.”
“Get the fuck out!” she screams, grabbing her belly when another contraction hits.
Christopher grabs Jagger by his arm and yanks him out of the delivery room, not leaving any more room for discussion. Celeste has been trying to get Jagger to leave for ten minutes now, but the boy wasn’t leaving, so it’s a good thing Chris is taken matters into his own hands.
“Want me to go too?” I ask, wiping the sweat off Celeste’s forehead with a wet towel.
“No no no,” she pleads, grabbing my hand. “Don’t leave me alone, Abby!”
“I’m not going anywhere,” I promise solemnly.
“You’re doing great, Celeste,” Dr. Amanda Gio says, walking in to check her status.
The nurse nods in agreement, looking at the doctor from between Celeste’s legs. “A few more minutes and you can start pushing, dear,” she says in a chipper voice. “You’ll get to meet your baby soon.”
“I just want it out of me,” Celeste groans, slumping back against the pillows. “Get it out of me!”
“You can do this,” I tell Celeste, wiping her forehead again. “You’ve been amazing, honey. Hold on for a little while longer.”
“Edward,” she says, gasping for breath when another contraction rocks her petite frame. Her belly still isn’t as big as you would suspect at nine months pregnant. “I want Edward.”
She kicked him out an hour ago, so it’s a little surprising she want him back in here. But no one should ever argue with a woman in labor, not even when she’s only a teenager, so I look at Dr. Gio, who immediately steps out into the hallway, calling for Celeste’s foster dad.
Edward comes rushing in only a minute later, grabbing her hand. “You can do this, honey,” he says, his voice soothing. “Only a little while longer, and you’ll be able to go home. It’ll all be over.”
“I don’t want to hold him,” Celeste says, grunting in pain. “I want him out.”
Two weeks ago, she decided to finally find out the gender. It’s a boy. Somehow, that made her even angrier at Wyatt than she’d already been. She now had a member of the same gender as the guy that raped her inside of her body. A possible future rapist. I’m not sure how logical her response is, but again, don’t argue with a pregnant woman. Just don’t argue with Celeste at all, basically.
“You don’t have to hold him,” Edward promises her, stroking her hair with his free hand. “You did all you could, Celeste. You ate healthy, you didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, you found your little boy a wonderful home with a lovely couple. He’s going to be so happy, and it will al because of you.”
“Are they here?” Celeste asks, gasping for air again. “Did they show up?”
“They arrived half an hour ago,” Eddy assures her. “They can’t wait to meet their son.”
“Go get them,” Celeste says, letting go of his hand. “Someone – ughhhhhh…” She groans, and the nurse checks between her legs, a bright smile on her face.
“Get ready to push,” she tells Celeste.
“Get them!” Celeste roars at Edward. “Someone needs to hold this baby when he comes out, and it won’t be me!”
Edward runs out again, and it’s up to me to keep her calm now. When the nurse tells her to push, I count with her, tell her to breathe, and take all the verbal abuse, letting it slide right off me. One day, if I’m lucky, I will get to experience the same pain she is now. I’m sure I will curse and scream as well. It looks fucking painful to be in labor.
“Celeste?” Edward says, stepping in again. “Are you sure you want the parents to be here?”
“Yes,” she grunts, squeezing my hand hard and pushing again. “Let them in.”
Eddy steps aside, and a woman and her husband step in. They’re a couple in their late thirties, looking a little unease, but hopeful at the same time. We’ve met with them a couple of times, and they seem lovely. They can’t have kids of their own, and they’ve already adopted a 2-year-old a few months ago. Celeste like the idea of her kid having an adopted sibling, and she spent a few hours with the couple and their daughter to make sure they were the right fit. Jagger met with them too, one time, and even he agrees that they will make good parents.
“Hey honey,” the woman says, smiling warmly. “Are you doing okay?”
“No!” Celeste yells, getting ready to push again.
“She wants you to hold the baby when he comes out,” I explain to the couple. “She doesn’t want to hold the baby herself, and she wants him to have meet his parents when he comes out.”
“Of course,” the man says, his arm around his wife. “We’d love to meet our son.”
“Push!” the nurse orders, still sounding way to happy for this whole situation. “Come on Celeste, one more time. He’s ready to come out!”
A few moments later, Celeste grunts loudly one last time, and then the room fills with the cries of her baby. She turns her face away, tears streaming down her face.
“What does he look like?” she asks me, looking up at me with nothing but pain in her eyes. It’s not just physical pain either. It’s a deep emotional pain that comes from giving up a baby she doesn’t even want to meet, but who she loves in a weird way, without even wanting to.
“He’s… black,” Edward says, sounding a little surprised.
My eyes lock with Eddy’s. We both know what this means. Jagger isn’t black, after all, and neither is Celeste. It’s not Jagger’s.
“He’s Wyatt’s,” Celeste says, sobbing even louder now. “Oh God, take him away.”
The couple who will be adopting him is cradling the boy now, and they’re both crying.
“Thank you, Celeste,” the father says in his deep voice. “We will always be grateful for your incredible gift.”
“What’s his name?” the mother asks, looking at her beautiful baby boy with nothing but love in her eyes.
“Lyle,” Celeste says in a whisper. “His name is Lyle.”
I tear up immediately. That’s the name Jagger picked out for him. She’s giving her son a little piece of Jagger, even though it’s not his kid. My heart is breaking for both of them, and a little for myself as well. Chris and I would have loved to raise Lyle. Jagger and Celeste have both asked us to take him many times over the past weeks, but we told them no every single time. We’re Jagger’s parents, and Celeste’s support system. We can’t do that to them, even if they think it would help them. In the end, it would only end up hurting them.
Celeste has to stay in the delivery room for a little while longer to recuperate, and she keeps crying through it all, yelling for everyone to leave, and for Lyle to be taken away from her. Edward ushers out the adoptive parents, and I squeeze her hand one more time before leaving too, but only for a second. I see Jagger pacing in the hallway and motion for him to come back in. He looks at the couple holding the little black baby, walking down the hallway with the nurse, and he gasps, tearing up.
“It’s not mine,” he whimpers, and I can tell that up until now, he was still holding out hope that it would be his and that Celeste would change her mind and keep the baby. “Oh God, it’s not mine.”
“Celeste needs you,” I tell him, holding open the door for him. “Come be with your girl, Jagger.”
He nods, wipes away his tears and walks into the delivery room with his head held high. I hear Celeste crying, and Jagger telling her that everything will be okay. And it will be. It will just take time. Lots and lots of time.
Three weeks later
I’m making dinner for the whole family when Jagger and Celeste walk in. She’s looking better than she did the last time I saw her. The color in her cheeks has returned, and she looks at Jagger with the same adoration he has for her. She is still way too thin for someone who just has a baby, and she barely eats or drinks anything, but at least she isn’t in that deep bit of dark despair she was in the first week after giving birth to Lyle.
“We got an email,” he says, beaming as he walks over to me and hands me his phone.
I put a hand over my heart when I see the tiny little black baby Celeste gave birth to lying in his crib. I scroll through the pictures of Lyle, and I love that the adoptive parents took the time to write a long email about how Lyle is settling in, his sleeping habits, that he seems happy and healthy, that his order sister adores him, and they promise to sent pictures every few months.
I think it’s great that Celeste chose an open adoption. At first she thought that would be too hard, but then she realized that if she didn’t have any contact with the birth parents at all, she would almost wonder how her child was doing, and if maybe he would one day grow up to be a rapist like his father. This way, she gets to be reassured every few months, and see her child grow up.
“Our boy is so cute,” Jagger says, still talking about Lyle like it’s his child. Luckily, Wyatt isn’t in the picture. Celeste still refuses to press charges against him, but she did agree to meet with him. Edward and Aston went with her to the courthouse, where Wyatt signed away his parental rights. He called Celeste a filthy whore right after, and Aston had to be restrained by the courthouse guards so he wouldn’t beat him up.
Thank God the asshole signed the papers, forfeiting all right to his biological child.
“Yes,” Celeste says, giving Jagger a hug. “He’s very cute. Can we help with dinner, Abby?”
“You can set the table,” I tell her, handing Jagger back his phone.
“When’s Dad getting home?” Jagger asks as he takes Celeste’s coat and hang it on the coatrack in the hallway.
“Right now,” Chris replies, stepping in through the back door with Davy, Yoah and Titus. The Labrador jumps in covered in dirt, and I yell at the boys to take him back out and clean him up before letting him into the kitchen.
“Hey baby,” Christopher says, hugging me from behind while I stir the pasta sauce one last time. We’re eating spaghetti with meatballs, a family favorite. “I got some news today.”
“You did?” I ask, turning around in his arms, hoping for the best.
“A young girl wants to meet with us,” he says, caressing my face. “She’s three months pregnant, and she’s in a similar situation as Celeste was. She picked us because of the letter Celeste wrote about us, the one Mary added to our file. And, apparently, it’s a plus that I’m a doctor.”
“Of course that’s a plus, Dr. Davids,” I tell him with a smile. “So… we might be getting a child already?”
He nods. “Mary said to be careful and to not get ahead of ourselves but… yeah. And… it’s a girl.”
“Oh,” I breathe. “A girl? Really?”
We were hoping for that, but of course we’d be happy with a boy as well.
“I’m hungry!” Davy calls out, jumping into the kitchen with Titus. “Can we eat?”
“Yeah, dinner is ready,” I say, stepping out of Chris’ embrace, but not before kissing him one last time. “Jagger, can you grab the sugar bowl for me?”
“Ugh, you’re so gross,” he complains, helping me get dinner on the table. “When are you ever going to stop putting sugar on your meatballs?”
“Never,” I reply immediately.
“Asking Abby to stop adding sugar to everything is like asking me to stop loving her,” Chris says, his eyes full of love as he looks at me from across the table. “Impossible.”