The nurse calls my name and Noah squeezes my hand as we stand together. We follow the nurse back and she takes my weight, height, and vitals once we’re in the room. She hands me a plastic cup in a plastic bag and points me in the direction of the bathroom.
I read and reread the instructions in the baggy before peeing in the cup. I wash my hands and return to the room. Noah’s sitting in the chair with his leg crossed and his ankle resting on the opposite knee. He’s scrolling on his phone but looks up with a brilliant smile when I enter.
I place the pee cup on the counter and sit on the bed. The paper crinkles loudly underneath me. I’m so nervous, it’s not even funny. I wring my hands together as we wait for the OB to come in. Noah reaches his hand across the space separating us and squeezes my thigh.
There’s a light knock at the door, then it opens to reveal a very tall older man. He sanitizes his hands, then looks at my chart.
“Avery Jones. Hi, I’m Dr. Brinn. It looks like you’re here for pregnancy confirmation, is that right?” he asks as he sits on his round wheelie chair.
Dr. Brinn puts on gloves and sticks a little paper in my pee. He lays it on a paper towel, then watches it as he waits. He nods once, throws it in the trash with his gloves, then washes his hands in the little sink. He pulls out a circular chart then asks,
“When was the beginning of your last period?”
“Um, I think September fifteenth.”
He turns the wheel, then writes in something in my chart. He looks back up at us with a smile.
“So you are pregnant. Your due date is roughly June nineteenth and you’re eleven weeks along. I have a few questions to ask now. So, have you ever been pregnant before?”
“Is this a planned pregnancy or one that you want?” Dr. Brinn asks, looking at Noah cautiously.
“No, this wasn’t planned, but yes, we want it,” I answer with a smile.
Dr. Brinn asks more questions about my medical history, medications I’m taking, and all that jazz. He writes in my chart, then shuts it and stands.
“Alrighty, kids. Do you want to see your baby?”
“We can see it?” Noah asks. It’s the first thing he’s said this entire appointment, and he sounds astounded.
“It won’t be more than a blob at eleven weeks, but we can listen to the heartbeat.”
Dr. Brinn leaves the room for a minute. Noah scoots his chair closer to me. He grabs my hand with one and puts the other on the top of my head, rubbing gently.
The doctor comes back in with a small ultrasound machine. He gently pulls up my shirt and lowers my pants. He squirts some cold blue goop on my stomach, then puts a small wand thing against my stomach a few times, searching.
He stops and I can hear it. A whooshing heartbeat going so much faster than mine. Dr. Brinn watches the black and green screen pressing a button to freeze an image. Noah’s hand clamps down on mine as he hears the beating of our baby’s heart.
“There’s your baby,” Dr. Brinn says, pointing at a literal oval blob on the screen.
I stare at it, so amazed I can’t breathe. How can a blob take my breath away? I feel wetness on my arm and glance back at Noah. Tears are streaming down his face as he stares at our blob too.
“Do you guys want pictures?” Dr. Brinn asks.
“Please,” Noah replies, clearing his throat when the word comes out higher than normal.
We finish the appointment with a few pictures of our baby and an appointment for after Christmas. I will have an appointment once a month until like the third trimester. Noah puts our next appointment in his phone so he won’t miss it.
“That was the single most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,” Noah says, grasping the steering wheel with a smile.
“Right! We made that!”
“So, Summer, you know Evan and Brooke’s daughter, is having a birthday party at the beginning of December. We all try to go every year so I’m going to New York,” Noah says. My heart falls a little.
“Oh, that’s okay. I can stay at my place. I don’t need to move in right away,” I say. We’re having a baby together, but I don’t want him to miss important family things.
“I want you to come with me. I thought maybe we could tell my friends about the baby then. They’ll be down here for Christmas. My parents are having a party. I want you to be my date for that so I could introduce you to them. Maybe we tell them too. I know it’s a lot. You don’t have to say yes to any of it. I don’t want to stress you out or anything,” Noah says, getting more and more worked up the longer he rambles. It’s cute.
“Of course I’ll go with you to New York and I’ll for sure be your date for Christmas. First, we have to get through telling my family tomorrow. If we survive that, all your stuff will be cake,” I reply with a laugh. I’m so happy right now, nothing could bring me down.
“I’ll book the tickets. Ev, Brooke, Kris, and Allie will be so excited you’re coming. Allie already thinks you’re friends.”
“What are you talking about? We are friends,” I say.
I’m so nervous when we pull up to Harper’s house. It’s like deja vu and not in a good way. Things ended really shitty last time we were here. That was like two months ago, though. A lot of things have changed.
“We’re going in there as a team this time. No more misunderstandings. I made you a promise that I would always talk to you first. Nothing your mom or sister can say will fuck this up for us. We’re together, we’re happy, we’re having a motherfucking baby. We’re good, babe,” Noah says, palming my head to bring it close enough for him to kiss me.
Noah gets out of the car and rushes around to my side. He opens the car door and helps me out. I look no different than I did before, but he’s been extra helpful and careful since finding out I’m pregnant.
We walk up the steps and knock. Drew answers the door with a steely look in his eyes. When he sees Noah’s arm around my shoulder and the smile on my face, he seems satisfied enough to step aside and let us enter.
“Good to see you again, Noah,” Drew greets. “Aves, you look good.”
“You too. I want to apologize for the last time I was here. I was going through some stuff and I absolutely should not have taken it out of Avery,” Noah says, dragging his hand through his hair.
“No, you shouldn’t have, but it seems you two made up and you’ve apologized. We all make mistakes.”
“Avery, is that you?” Mom calls from the kitchen. Why is that where she and Harper always hang out?
“Yeah, Mom. Noah’s with me.”
“Oh… wonderful,” she says, trying to sound way more enthused than she is. Noah works to hide his smile.
Drew and Noah disappear somewhere while I wander in to help mom and Harper put the finishing touches on dinner.
“Hey Harper, how’s the pregnancy going?” I ask, trying to sound nonchalant.
“Eh, it’s okay. It feels like the baby is going to fall out of my vagina all the time and the Braxton Hicks contractions are so bad I’m afraid for the real ones. My stretch marks are all red and angry-looking. I’m ready to be done,” Harper answers.
“How was it in the beginning? Were you sick a lot?”
“All. The. Time. I was nauseous pretty much from the beginning. I threw up so often I couldn’t keep anything down, and I lost so much weight. That didn’t subside until the beginning of my third trimester. Why do you ask?”
“Just curious. I know the six months after Rich dumped me were bad, and we didn’t talk much.”
I haven’t been sick once, which is why I didn’t realize I was pregnant right away. There are only a few weeks left of my first trimester. I suppose the morning sickness could still come. I’m broken out of my thoughts when Mom bumps against me.
“It’s time to set the table. Harper, go tell the guys to come in,” she says.
Mom and I take dish after dish to the large table. We’ve finished with the last one when Harper and the guys walk in and take their seats. Noah sits next to me and grabs my hand. He flashes a smile just for me as we dig into this glorious meal. Now that I think about it, I’ve been ravenous for weeks now and so tired.
“So, Noah, Avery told me your father is Clarence Whittier. Hotelier. Is that right?”
“Yeah, he owns them all over the world,” Noah answers, clearly uncomfortable.
“And you’ll be taking over the family business as the oldest?” Mom prods.
“I was going to, but some stuff happened last year that made me realize I didn’t want that life. I chose not to follow in my dad’s footsteps and I moved out here. My brother, Abel, is taking over the company now. And if you must know, Dad cut me off when I pursued a career in music, so I am no longer the heir to his billions.”
Mom acts like she wasn’t hinting or loving the fact that I’m dating Noah Whittier, son of a billionaire. Noah’s been around people like her his entire life, so of course, he zeroed in on exactly what she was after.
“That’s a shame,” she says. I squeeze Noah’s hand so he knows he’s not alone. He gives me a small smile.
After dinner, we settle into the family room. Harper and Mom are talking, and Drew had to take a phone call. I excuse myself, though no one notices. I grab Noah’s hand and lead him through the house and up the stairs. I never wanted to see the nursery before, but now I’m curious. We could get some ideas.
I open a few doors that are empty before finding the right one. The space is open with a white crib on one wall with a delicate-looking mobile hanging over it and a matching changing table on the other. There’s a white rocking chair in one corner and a dresser filled in unisex onesies and socks.
“Do you want to know the sex of the baby as soon as we can find out?” I ask. I already hate that we don’t know.
“Fuck yeah. How can we buy shit if we don’t know? This room is nice and all, but I don’t want all our baby shit to be white or yellow,” he answers and I smile. I love how he says ‘baby shit’ like we aren’t talking about small human things.
“Do you?” he asks.
“Yes. I think it’s absurd they haven’t found out. This room doesn’t look like a place for a baby at all. It’s not warm or inviting. It’s stark and sterile.”
“Oh Noah, look at this little diaper. It’s so tiny. Our baby’s going to look so small in your arms,” I coo.
Noah wraps his arms around my waist and rests his chin on my shoulder. I know he has to lean down pretty far since I’m so freaking short.
“Are you ready to tell them our news?” Noah asks.
“As I’ll ever be,” I sigh.
He lets go of me, and we walk back downstairs holding hands. Mom looks us over with scrutiny when we return.
“I wondered where you got off to,” Mom says.
“Just walking around the house,” I answer.
“Mhm.” I can’t tell if Harper said that or if she was just making a noise.
“So, we have some news to share with you guys,” I start. Everyone looks at us expectantly. “I’m going with Noah to New York in a couple of weeks to visit his friends, and I’m spending Christmas with his family in Orlando.”
Noah clasps my hand in reassurance and I go in for the kill. Just as I’m about to open my mouth to announce to the family I’m having a baby, Harper stands and says,
“Uh oh? What’s uh oh?” Drew asks at her side in an instant.
“My water just broke. We need to go to the hospital now!” Harper screams.
“Oh my God! Oh, fuck!” Drew screams as he races up the stairs.
“It’s okay, honey. Just breathe. We’ll get you right to the hospital and you can get an epidural,” Mom says, taking Harper by the elbow to lead her to the garage.
Drew comes running back downstairs with two bags in his hand and the car seat. He looks around frantically.
“Keys. Where the fuck are my keys?” Drew yells and I have to bite back my giggles. I’ve never heard him swear so much.
Noah leaves me for half a second to go to the keyring by the front door. He plucks some keys off of it and walks to Drew. He takes the car seat out of his hand and gives him the keys.
“I’ll take this. Get your wife to the hospital. Avery and I will follow,” Noah says, patting Drew’s shoulder.
Drew nods and takes off to the garage where Mom and Harper are already waiting. Noah’s shaking his head when he comes back to me. He takes my hand and we walk out the front door, locking it behind us.
“Whatever you do, don’t go crazy like that when I go into labor. I definitely do not want my mom to be all up in my business like she’s up in Harper’s so I need you to have a clear head,” I say as he opens the car door for me.
“I can’t make any promises, of course, but I’ll try my best to keep a level head on the day my child is born,” Noah jokes.
He shoves the car seat into the back and gets in. The car starts and we head to the hospital. I’m not sure how long this labor is going to be, but knowing Harper, it’ll be easy and relatively fast. That woman has never known hardship in any capacity.