To Have Loved...

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His Last Gift

As the weeks roll on, you would think things would be getting easier and I could return to myself a little more, but I still had a very hard time moving forward. I continue to work every day even though I’m nearing the last month of my pregnancy and my co-workers remind me to take it easy since I’m having twins and could go into labor earlier than normal.

If I keep working, I keep busy and my mind stays focused on the people I work with and their problems and I can forget mine for a little while. There are days when I walk by the rooms that Ian stayed in and I break down or even when walking through the therapy gym if something reminds me of what he was doing there, I sit and cry in my office. Why is this so hard?

Spring is approaching as February’s cold is slowing turning into slightly warmer weather and the snow is finally starting to melt. I can hear the birds in the morning chirping in the trees outside of our bedroom window. Maybe…just maybe as spring brings new life to world outside, it can bring new life to me and help me move on.

I woke up the morning of March 3rd when my alarm went off, but I really didn’t feel like getting up for the day. I didn’t sleep well last night as I was having really bad pains in my stomach and back, but thought they were more of those Braxton Hicks contractions I’ve been having the last few days. I’m still not due for another week, but at my last appointment, my doctor said it could be any day now.

I finally climbed out of bed and waddled my way to the bathroom to get ready for the day. I pulled on my coat, grabbed my purse and my bagel I made and headed to my car. I got to work and settled in my office to begin my same old routine I’ve had since I started over four years ago.

I’ve been only bringing my guitar and some other essentials when working with my clients recently as it’s getting harder to carry them with my stomach sticking a mile out in front of me. After my morning sessions, the pain was getting worse and I nearly doubled over when getting back to my office before my lunch hour.

“Sarah, are you OK?” I heard Jenny, one of my colleagues ask me.

“I don’t…I don’t know,” I answered and then let out a small scream as the pain hit me again and I grabbed onto the doorframe to hold myself up as I held on to my stomach with my other hand. “I think…I think my water just broke,” I said after feeling warm liquid running down my legs.

“Oh my God Sarah, you are in labor. Let me get someone to help you…hang on,” Jenny said before running to grab a wheelchair and Kim.

Kim took my supplies in to my office and grabbed my purse, keys and phone and then wheeled me out of the gym and to the maternity ward. I heard Jenny shut and lock my office door as we left the room.

“I need to call my mother,” I said after another contraction hit me on the elevator on my way up.

“Let’s get you to your room first,” Kim said as the doors opened to the floor we needed. I nodded and another shooting pain ripped through my body. “Breathe Sarah…take deep breaths…in and out…in and out,” she whispered as we sped down the hallway.

Apparently Jenny must have called up here as there were two nurses waiting for me just inside the maternity doors. Kim asked if I wanted her to stay, but I told her I’d be ok.

“Let me know when they are born and I’ll stop back up to see how you are doing. I’ll also send out the word that you are officially on leave for the next twelve weeks,” Kim said with a smile. I tried to smile back, but another contraction hit me. “They are coming way too fast now and I have never felt this much physical pain before…I wish Ian was here,” I thought to myself.

The nurses wheel me straight to a delivery room and help me get undressed and into a hospital gown. The contractions were coming every few minutes and it was hard to catch my breath between them.

“How long have you been having contractions,” one of the nurses named Annie asked me while hooking me up to a couple of machines.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I was having some Braxton Hicks all night long, but they didn’t stop all morning…aahhhh!”

“Breathe Sarah…good. In and out…nice and slow,” Annie helps me through another rush of pain.

“My water broke only a few minutes before Kim brought me up here,” I said after catching my breath again.

“I’m thinking that you have been in labor all night and morning Sarah, so let’s take a look at how far you are dilated,” she says to me. “We’ve already contacted your doctor and she will be here shortly,” she continues as she is putting on a pair of gloves.

Annie checks my cervix and gasps before removing her hand and her gloves. After clearing her throat she says, “You are already about seven or eight centimeters dilated. You have definitely been in labor for awhile now. Unfortunately, you are too far along for an epidural, so we are limited with what we can give you for pain relief.”

Another contraction hits me and I cry out again and grab onto the side rails of the bed I’m in. “I really wish Ian was here to help through this,” I couldn’t help but think again.

“I need to call my mother,” I cried and asked for my phone.

Annie gave me my phone and said she is going to get the doctor and would be back in a few minutes. “Hello Mom,” I said when she finally answered after several rings.

“Sarah?” she asked. “What’s wrong sweetie?” she continued after hearing the pain in my voice.

“I’m…I’m in labor and it…it hurts so much,” I cried out.

“I’ll be right there honey,” she says and I can hear scrambling to finish whatever she was doing. “Keep breathing through the pain and I’ll be…”

“Aaahhhh!” I interrupted her with another scream.

“Ryan….Sarah is in labor. I’m heading to the hospital right now.” I heard Mom telling Dad in the background. It sounded like he said “I’m coming too.” “Sarah, Dad and I will be there as quickly as we can.”

“Hurry,” I cried out and hung up the phone.

Just then my doctor came into the room. “Hello Sarah, I hear we are about to meet your babies,” she says with a smile as she puts on a pair of gloves and begins to check me over.

“It hurts so bad,” I mumble as my contractions keep coming and getting stronger and stronger.

“I know Sarah. It’s too late for an epidural, but I’m going to have the nurse put in IV in your arm and give you some pain medication through that to take some of the edge away. You are progressing rapidly and I don’t think it will be too much longer before you are fully dilated,” she tells me.

Dr. Reynolds walks over and looks at the machines taking note of my blood pressure, the babies’ heart rates and my contractions and nods her head. I’m guessing everything must be going the way they should by the way she looks.

“Do you have anyone here that you would like in the room with you when it’s time to deliver?” she asks me.

“My parents are on their way here from New Salem and I really want my mom to stay with me,” I respond before another wave of pain washes through me. “Why does this have to hurt so badly?”

“Is there anything else I can to help make you more comfortable?” Dr. Reynolds asks me. I begin to shake my head, but I stop her before she turns to leave.

“Is it OK if I play music on my phone in here? I had a music player ready to go, but it’s down in my office but I have the songs I want to listen to on my playlist on my phone,” I ramble on.

She chuckles lightly as my discomfort, but says, “Absolutely Sarah, I know you do this with other women up here and I expect you to do the same for yourself.”

“Thank you,” I reply and reach for my phone again to turn on my playlist I made to help me through my labor. The music does help…at least a little bit as I continue to cry through my pain.

It has been about 45 minutes or so since I talked to my mom when I heard her and Dad in the hallway asking where my room is. I’m just ending another strong contraction when she comes through the door.

“Oh Sarah,” she says as she drops her coat and purse in a chair and takes my hand standing next to my bed. “I’m here now sweetie,” she says while stroking my hair back from my forehead with her free hand.

“Hey pumpkin,” Dad says standing behind Mom. I give them both a small smile, but I’m in too much pain for any more than that.

“How close are you?” she asks me.

“I was between eight and nine centimeters a few minutes ago when they last checked me. They said it shouldn’t be too much longer before I can start pushing. It hurts so much Mom and I just want them out of me,” I cry out.

“Shhhh, I know baby, I know,” she tries to comfort me. “It will be over soon and you’ll forget about all the pain when you hear their cries and hold them to your chest,” she continues with tears in her eyes. “I sure hope so; I can’t take this much longer.”

What felt like hours, was only minutes before the doctor came back into the room to check me again. “Good news,” she starts, “you are fully dilated and I can see the top of baby number one’s head.” I see the nurses coming into the room and set up what they need to bring my babies into the world. “On your next contraction, I want you to push as hard as you can while your mother helps you count to ten. Then take a deep breath and count again. Are you ready?”

“Yes and no,” I reply with a strained laugh and prepare for the next contraction.

“You can do this sweetie; I’m here for you,” Mom says quietly next to me. Dad left the room as soon as the nurses came in to give me some privacy I guess.

As I felt the now familiar increase in pain and tightening in my stomach muscles, I began to push as instructed and count to ten. “1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…10”

“Breathe and start over,” I hear Mom say and she breathes in with me and starts counting again.

“Aaaahhhhh!” I scream out as I feel more and more pressure down there as the baby shifts. “I can’t do this,” I cry.

“Yes you can Sarah. You are strong and get can through anything,” Mom reassures me as we continue to push and count.

“OK, rest Sarah,” Dr. Reynolds tells me after three or four pushes. “Your baby is almost here…only a couple more pushes…OK?” I nod in response.

“Aaahhhh,” I yell as I begin pushing again. Then I feel a rush of something sliding out of me and look down to see Dr. Reynolds holding my baby.

“It’s a boy!” she says before setting him on my stomach.

I reached down to touch his head while the nurses are rubbing a soft towel over him to clean him up and then I hear his cry for the first time and I start crying again, but not in pain…for the moment.

“He’s beautiful,” Mom whispers next to me with tears in her eyes as well.

“I’m going to cut the cord and the nurses are going to take him to clean him up, OK?” Dr. Reynolds tells me and I nod again.

I can’t take my eyes of my baby boy and he is staring right back at me. He is beautiful…just like his father. My moment is interrupted when the nurses take him, but they tell me I can have him back after his sister is born. I knew I was having a boy and girl from my second ultrasound, but I didn’t know which I’d deliver first.

Within in minutes the pain is back as I feel my little girl moving inside me to get ready to join her brother. “I can do this…I can do this…” I repeat to myself as the contractions start back up.

“I can feel her moving into position so when I tell you to push, I want you do the same thing as before,” Dr. Reynolds tells me.

A few minutes later, she tells me to start pushing and I do feeling the same pain as I felt only moments before. After four pushes, I feel my second baby slide out of me and I look down as Dr. Reynolds tells us all that “it’s a girl!”

Like her brother, she was placed on my stomach with her eyes wide open looking at me while I stared back at her. Her cries were soft, but so wonderful to hear. I felt Mom’s tears on my arm as she cried seeing her beautiful granddaughter lying there.

“Both of your babies are so beautiful Sarah,” she whispers.

“Yes…yes they are,” I whisper back through my own tears. “I…I wish Ian could have been here to see this…meet them,” I squeak out as my mother tightens her grip on my hand and pulls me into a side hug.

“I know sweetie; but he is watching down over you right now and is with you always,” she says to comfort me.

After the cord is cut, the nurses take her to join her brother to get cleaned up and checked out. Dr. Reynolds cleans me up a little bit and readjusts the bed so I can put my feet back down and get more comfortable.

I could hear my babies crying and I couldn’t wait to hold them and comfort them close to my chest. I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage both of them, but I knew I could. They first brought me my son wrapped in a blue blanket and laid him in my left arm.

I pulled the blanket back enough to look at his face and hold onto his little hand and he gripped onto my finger pretty tightly. He was going to be a strong boy, I could tell. He continued to look at me as his cries faded away and I realized that my mom was right…I don’t remember any of the pain I just went through…only the feeling I have right now looking at my son and feeling completely blessed.

I heard Mom take a few pictures of me holding my son and some close-ups of him alone before the nurse brought me my daughter and placed her in my right arm. I couldn’t hold her hand, but I could tell she was just as strong her brother by the way she squeezed her hands in a fist.

Mom snapped a few more pictures of me and both babies and a few of my daughter alone after coming around the bed. She kept saying how beautiful they were as she snapped each picture.

“I’m going to go get your father,” Mom said after setting my phone back on the table next to the bed.

“We are going to give you few minutes alone with your children,” Annie says to me. “They will most likely be hungry soon, so just let us know if you need any help feeding them. I have a couple of bottles set up and I will leave here on your bedside table if you have any trouble nursing them.” She brought the table closer to me and left the two little bottles there.

I took several minutes just staring my babies while they stared back at me. I knew I had to put one of them down to feed the other, but I wasn’t ready to do so yet.

“Hello my sweet babies,” I started talking to them. “I love you so much and I’ve only met you a little bit ago,” I laughed a little. “I have waited so long to meet you both and hold you in my arms and now here you are.”

I heard shuffling and looked up to see Mom and Dad enter the room. “I called Stacy and let her know you had the twins. She is so excited and can’t wait for you to video chat her so she can see them,” Mom said as she came over to the bed.

“Thank you,” I told her and smiled. “Hi Dad,” I said as he stood at my bedside.

“Hey pumpkin,” he replied.

“Do you each want to hold one? I know they will probably want to eat soon, but I can only feed one at a time,” I ask them.

“Of course sweetie,” Mom said with a smile.

“Mom, here is Isabelle Christine and Dad, here is Ian Ryan,” I say as I give them to my parents. I noticed tears in my dad’s eyes when I told him Ian’s name.

“Isabelle and Ian?” she says with a smile. I nod back at her. “I like them.”

“Me too,” Dad says. “Thank you for giving Ian my name as his middle name,” he continues.

“You’re welcome Dad.” I watched my parents for a few minutes and then grabbed my phone to take pictures of each of them.

After a few moments, I heard a small cry coming from Ian and I took him back to feed him. Dad took Isabelle from my mom and she offered to help me since I had a little bit of a hard time getting Ian to latch on to me to eat. Once he figured it out, he did very well. When he finished, I gave him to my Mom and fed Isabelle next. I admit that it felt weird at first, but I felt an instant connection with each of them as they drank from me.

Annie came in to check on me a couple of times to make sure we were doing OK and I assured her we were. She told me that the pediatrician would be here after her regular shift to give my babies a check over to make sure they are doing well and responding the way they should be.

I looked over at the clock and noticed it was almost 3:00. I can’t believe that I came in here around noon and less than three hours later I became of mom of two precious babies. I watched my parents cooing and cuddling their grandchildren and let new tears run down my cheeks. I needed to call Ian’s parents and give them the good news, but I needed to control my tears first.

The nurses came back in a short while later and told me their pediatrician was here and they would take them to the nursery. They said they would bring them to my new room when they were finished. We made sure that the bracelets that I wore and the ones around their ankles matched before they were taken out of my room. My dad followed them and watched them through the nursery.

Annie came back and assisted me to my new room and helped me get washed up and into a clean gown. I got to wear a pair of underwear made up of elastic cotton and placed a pad inside to help with the bleeding that I was told will continue for the next several weeks.

She helped me into bed and told me that I could order dinner whenever I wanted since the doctor told us that everything looked good on me. She also told me that the pediatrician will be in to talk to me after the initial exam.

I wasn’t really hungry, but my mom said I should try to eat since I missed lunch and I needed energy and fluids in me in order to feed the babies. And since I was feeding two of them, I needed more than most new moms. I ordered a sandwich and bowl of soup to eat and milk and juice to drink.

The babies came back in before my food arrived followed by the doctor. She told me that both babies were healthy and responded well to their first tests including reflexes, having a strong pulse, breathing normally and responding to external stimuli. She told me that Ian weighs 5 pounds 10 ounces and is 19 inches long and Isabelle is slightly smaller at 5 pounds 5 ounces and 18 ½ inches long.

Before she left she asked if I wanted to have Ian circumcised and I told her that I did. She told me she would see him first thing in the morning then and reassured me that it is a simple process and would only hurt for a moment.

As the night went on, my parents eventually left and I made all the calls I could. I talked to Ian’s parents in a video chat and they said they would come up the next day. I also called Stacy and Jake and showed them the babies.

After changing them and feeding them one more time before I tried to get some sleep, I sat at the edge of my bed and looked into their crib they are sharing and watched them as they slept. I sang Ian’s and my song to them as I cried wishing he was here with us. I know he is watching us from above, but I really miss him and need him by my side.

We stayed in the hospital for a couple of days and came home on the 6th of March. Dad, Emily and Joseph were waiting at the house when my mom brought us home. No matter how alone I felt, I knew at that moment that I still had people by my side and my children would be loved unconditionally by all of them. These babies are the best gift that Ian could have ever given me and I will eternally be grateful.

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