Eight hours later, I’m standing next to Stella’s bedside, rubbing my thumb back and forth over her forehead. When we got here, we found out she was already four centimeters dilated and had been in labor for most of the day, more than likely. They gave her an epidural a couple hours later, and she’s been sleeping most of the time.
After they got her hooked up to the monitors and started an IV, I made sure to ask if the babies were okay to be born. The nurse assured me that most twins are born early, and that at thirty-seven weeks, they will be perfectly safe. Once she was asleep, I called Drew and told him we were at the hospital. He offered to start a phone chain and get the news out that we were having the babies.
Stella’s eyes flutter open, and she gives me a small smile. “Hi.”
“How are you feeling, babe?”
Reaching for the pitcher of ice chips they gave her, I pour some into a cup and help her have a few. “Pain’s gone though, right?”
“Yeah, it’s weird. I can’t feel anything below my waist.”
“I didn’t like seeing you in so much pain, Stell. That was scary.”
“Yeah, but worth it. Now I can relax until it’s time to push. Did they say when they’d be back in to check on me?”
“Around midnight, I think.” Looking at the clock, I see it’s quarter of. “Can I get you anything, baby?”
“No, I’m okay. Did Drew call Mason?”
“As far as I know. I told him I’d keep them all updated and they could come when we were ready to have the babies, so they can be here to meet them after.”
Sinking back down in the chair next to her bed, I lean back and reach for the remote, switching on the eleven o’clock news. Some television ad starts running when the nurses come in to check on Stella, relief present on her face when they tell her she’s almost fully dilated.
“Get some rest, Stell.” Leaning over the bed, I give her a kiss and then get comfortable, knowing we’re in for a little bit longer wait.
“Jace, I need you to hold on to Stella’s right leg and push it back toward her chest.”
Stella is ten centimeters, and it’s officially time to push. After midnight, the rest of the time went by pretty quick. She woke up in discomfort, and when they came in, they found she was fully dilated and it was showtime.
While they got her bed set up for delivery, I called Drew and then was back at her bedside.
“Now, Stella, when you feel your next contraction, I need you to bear down and push as hard as you can, okay? Try counting to ten in your head, then a good deep breath. You ready?”
“Hell yes, let’s do this,” she groans.
Holding her leg in one hand and her right hand in my other, I squeeze and drop my forehead to hers.
“This is it, baby.”
“You ready to meet your daughters, Miller?” she whispers, and I laugh, nodding against her forehead. She bites down on her bottom lip, and I know the contraction has hit.
“Here we go, Stella. Push!”
She scrunches up her face and bears down. Keeping my forehead on hers, I count to ten, Stella taking a deep breath before she starts pushing again.
“Thatta girl, sweetheart. Keep giving me good strong pushes like that and your first baby will be out in just a few minutes. That’s it,” the doctor praises.
Stella nods and then grunts, letting out a painful cry, her hand gripping mine even tighter.
“I see the head, Stella. She’s crowning. One more good push.”
“You can do it, baby. Come on, Stell.”
She lets out another groan and her head falls back, sweat running down her forehead. A piercing cry fills the room, and I look down at the doctor, who’s cradling our firstborn.
“It’s a girl,” she announces, and tears fill my eyes, watching my baby girl take her first breaths, hands clawing the air.
“Holy fuck, Stell. You did it, baby,” I choke out, tears falling down my cheeks.
Stella lets out a sob and presses her lips to mine.
“Would Daddy like to cut the cord?”
“Yes,” I say in a rush, moving to the foot of the bed. She shows me where to cut, and I do it carefully, unsure if I’ll hurt Stella or my daughter. I get my first look at her, and I have to force the emotions down. We still have another baby to deliver, and I can’t be a weeping mess.
A nurse takes her over to the small table waiting for them both, cleaning her off. I want to go check on her, but Stella lets out a whimper and I turn back to my girl, resuming my place next to her. I kiss her hard, pulling back to look at her heavy-lidded eyes.
“She’s beautiful, Stell. You’re doing so good. I’m so fucking proud of you.”
Four minutes later, our second daughter comes into the world. They’re both tiny, weighing just over five pounds each. Both of them clean, two nurses bring them over, Stella reaching for both of them. As careful as possible, she cradles them to her chest, her eyes closing as she begins to cry. My own tears run unchecked down my cheeks.
“They’re perfect,” I whisper, leaning over to kiss each of their heads.
Stella reaches for my hand and I take it, leaning over to kiss her. “I love you so much, Stella. Look at what you’ve given me.”
“I love you too.”
On May 4, Emily Anna Miller and Grace Evelyn Miller are born four minutes apart, both as feisty and beautiful as their mother, and both named for their grandmothers.
And I’m completely in love.