Note: This is set in the mid-90's. Hope never returned from the dead. Read on.
Our Baby Story
Pizza and bonding
"I get the biggest piece," nine-year-old Shawn Douglas Brady said, diving onto the sofa and tapping his knees in eagerness. Juggling the large pizza box around her huge belly took some doing but finally Billie managed to pay the delivery guy and shut the door. She moved to the coffee table. She had set out paper plates and napkins already and as she drew back the top of the box, Shawn D's eyes went wide. "Yum!" He said.
Billie smiled as she reached into the box and drew out the biggest, greasiest slice that she could find. "Will this do?"
Shawn D nodded. "Yeah!" He said. She deposited the slice onto a plate and passed it to him. She then took a seat on the sofa beside him, reaching for a slice of her own. Her belly growled.
"Baby's hungry," she said.
"He's always hungry," Shawn D said around a mouthful of pepperoni.
"That's true," Billie said with a laugh. She would gladly blame all of the weight she had gained with this pregnancy on the sure to be big baby growing inside of her. Her appetite was huge these days, especially the closer and closer she came to her due date. Only a month to go. She couldn't quite believe it.
Billie devoured a slice of her own and handed another to Shawn D before going for another herself. "Mmm, this is just what the doctor ordered," Billie said as a little sauce dribbled down her chin.
"Really?" Shawn D said doubtfully.
"Okay, fair enough. It's what the baby ordered. He's really starving tonight."
"How much can one baby eat?"
"You'd be surprised," Billie said, munching happily. She noticed Shawn D's hand paused halfway to his mouth, the slice in his hand drooping noticeably.
"Something wrong?" Billie asked.
"No, I was just thinking."
"What it will be like to have a baby brother. What if he doesn't like me?" Shawn D said.
"Are you kidding? He's going to love you. I know he's going to look up to you too. You'll be a great example of the way a little boy should be."
Shawn D shrugged. "I'll try but I'm not perfect," he said. "Sometimes I forget to clean up my room and you and Dad get mad at."
"Only a little mad, but messy room aside, you're still the best nine-year-old I know," Billie said sincerely.
"You mean it?"
"Thanks, Billie," Shawn D said, bringing the pizza to his mouth and biting into it. He chewed thoughtfully.
Billie smiled. "The baby is really kicking up a storm."
"Can I feel?" Shawn D asked.
"Of course." Billie scooted over to him. He set down his pizza and reached out his hand, touching the slope of her full belly. He left a greasy handprint behind on the fabric but the smile on his face more than made up for one ruined blue dress.
"That's so cool!" Shawn D enthused. "I can feel him moving around in there."
"It is cool," Billie admitted with a smile. "He knows his big brother is here and he's excited."
"I am excited too," Shawn D said. "I really wasn't before because it means I have to share everything with a drooling baby but now I am kind of looking forward to it."
His matter-of-factness made Billie chuckle. "I know this baby is going to mean great things for our family." She ruffled his hair after wiping her hands on a paper napkin. "You're going to be the best big brother ever. I believe that with all of my heart."
Billie and Bo walked out of the lamaze class. Billie hugged her pillow to her chest as she moved forward. Bo noticed a decidedly morose expression on her face. "What's wrong?" He asked, pulling her to a stop in an alcove near the bank of elevators in the hospital.
Billie shrugged. "All those other women in there, Bo… They really seemed like they knew what they were doing and I don't.:
"Come on. Yes you do."
"This is all so new to me, Bo," Billie said, resting her head against the wall. "What if I mess up our kid? The closer we get to his arrival, the more freaked out I honestly get."
"Billie, you're an excellent mother already to Shawn D. He has not wanted for a thing since you came into our lives. He thinks you're great. And as a matter of fact, so do I."
"Bo, I don't have a lot of experience with babies."
"You will get used to it really quick, I promise. And it's not like you're doing this completely alone. I am going to be at your side the whole time. Don't worry."
"How can I not? It's my first baby and I didn't exactly have the best parenting role model growing up."
"You didn't, that's true, but you're not Curtis. He was evil and sick. You're … everything that's good in the world."
Billie's eyes moistened. "You don't have to say that."
"Bo, I am not perfect."
"Damn near close then. You make me happy, Billie. You make Shawn Douglas happy. I never thought we could feel that way again after Hope but you've done the impossible."
"You say the nicest things," Billie said. A tear rolled down her cheek.
"Don't cry, baby."
"I'm hormonal," Billie said. "And I'm touched by the way you're trying to reassure me."
Bo lightly pressed a hand to her cheek. "I'll be there any time you have doubts to remind you of how great I think you are. You and our kids mean everything to me."
Bo looped an arm around her ever-growing waist. "Hey, have I told you how beautiful you look today?"
"Oh please. I'm a whale."
"You are not. You never looked better to me."
"We better get your eyes checked then."
Bo chuckled. "You're not making it easy to give you a compliment right now, but I mean everything I've said."
Billie nodded. "I know you do, Bo. You love me better than anyone ever has. It means a lot that you chose me of all people."
"Choice had nothing to do with it, Lady. This was fate."
"Did Bo Brady just say something was fate?"
"You've made me sentimental."
"Oh I get it. It's all my fault."
"Yes. It's your fault you've totally ruined me for other women," Bo said. He kissed her softly. "But I wouldn't have it any other way."
Bo and Shawn D sat on the floor playing with Shawn D's Power Rangers when Shawn D suddenly looked at Bo and asked in a serious tone of voice, "Do you think the baby will like me? Billie says he will but how can I be sure?"
Bo set down the little red and white action figure in his hand. "Billie's right. You are going to be a great big brother to the little guy."
Shawn D cocked his head to the side. "How can you be so sure, Dad?"
"Because I know you, Shawn Douglas. You're hard not to love."
Shawn D smiled. "But the baby might not like my personality."
"Sure he will. Tell me, Shawn Douglas, are you nice?"
"I try to be, except when Belle Black pulls my hair, then I yell at her sometimes."
"Okay, well that's pretty understandable. Are you fair?"
"My little league coach says I'm a good sport, whatever that means."
Bo smiled. "Would you ever try to hurt the baby or make him cry on purpose?"
Shawn D shook his head. "No."
"And will you be his protector? Will you try to be a good example for him?"
"I'll do my bestest," Shawn D said.
"Well that's all that anybody can ask for. You are nice, fair and you will never make the baby hurt on purpose. Those are all the qualifications of a great big brother."
Shawn D smiled. "Yeah, you're right. I got this thing in the bag."
Bo nodded. "You sure do."
Only two weeks left until the baby was due and Bo and Shawn D were in a rush to finish the nursery as a special treat for Billie. They had barred her from entering the room at all, in fact. She just sat on the sofa afternoon after afternoon listening to them talk in low, indecipherable voices, hearing the sound of hammers at work. She was really excited to see what they were working on.
One day, they came out of the room and Bo looked at her. "Close your eyes," he commanded gently.
"Just do it, Billie. Please," Shawn D said.
"Okay," Billie said agreeably. She climbed off the sofa and shut her eyes.
"Is she really closing them, Dad?" Shawn D asked.
"Just in case, I'll do this," Bo said and covered her eyes. She laughed.
"Come on, Billie, trust us."
"I do," Billie said. She felt Shawn D's small hand grasp hers and he started to tug her forward as Bo kept his own hands firmly over her eyes.
They led her through a doorway. "Are you ready to look, Billie?" Shawn D asked.
"Yes, for sure."
"Okay, here's your surprise!" Shawn D said. Bo's hands slid free of her face and Billie popped her eyes open.
"Ohmigod!" she shrieked. She didn't know whether to smile or cry or both. Bo and Shawn had completely assembled the nursery. Everything was soft, finished wood, and decorated with deep blues and greens. She moved over to the crib and ran her hand over the smooth wood.
"This is beautiful," she whispered hoarsely. She swung around to look at the two guys in her life.
"We really tried," Shawn D said.
"I can tell. Everything is just perfect, better than I could have even imagined." She spotted a little bear propped up in a beautiful, old-fashioned rocking chair. She reached for the plush and buried her face in its soft, faux fur. She slipped into the chair and began gently rocking back and forth. Her tears wet the little bear.
"She's crying, Dad," Shawn D said. "Is that a good thing?"
"Shawn D, sometimes grown ups cry when they're happy," Bo said. He tousled Shawn D's dark hair before moving to Billie and kissing the top of her head. "Those are happy tears, right?"
Billie nodded. "Yes. I've never been so happy in my whole life. You two really have touched my heart."
"We did our best," Bo said.
Billie beckoned Shawn D over and kissed his cheek. "Thank you," she whispered hoarsely. "This is the single nicest thing anyone's ever done for me."
Shawn D grinned. "The very nicest?"
"The very, very nicest."
"Cool!" Shawn D said, doing a triumphant fist pump.
"Oh shit, that felt certainly like a contraction," Billie said. It was less than a week until her due date and while Bo hadn't wanted to leave her side for the duration of the pregnancy, she had insisted that he take Shawn D out for a nice dinner - just the two of them - before the baby came. Now she kind of regretted having done that.
Another painful contraction rippled through her body, rendering her completely breathless. She felt dampness in the crotch of her panties now. "My water just broke," she cried. "Time to call Bo."
She waddled to the phone and dialed his mobile phone number. He answered on the second ring. Hearing her ragged breathing, he immediately asked, "Billie, what's wrong?"
"Oh nothing much," Billie said through gritted teeth. "I just think I might be in labor."
"I'm on my way."
"But Shawn D-"
"We're at the Pub. My parents can watch him. I'm on my way. Hold on okay, baby."
"I'll do my best."
"If things get too intense, hang up and call for an ambulance."
"I want you there when the baby comes. I'm not sure I can do this without you." She whimpered as another contraction felt like it was shredding her body in half. "Hurry, Bo!"
"I'm halfway to the car already," Bo said. "Stay on the line, okay? How fast are the contractions coming?"
"I don't have my stop watch but fast, Bo. Really fast."
"Okay just lay down and try to relax. I'm in my car now." Sure enough she heard the revving of an engine and the sound of Bo peeling out of the parking lot. She heard his sirens go on. Thank god he had the cruiser tonight; he might just get there faster.
Billie stumbled to the sofa and sunk down onto it, trying to relax. It wasn't easy. If she had to give birth alone, she didn't know how she would survive it.
"Billie, you're too quiet. What's going on?" Bo asked.
"Just thinking how much it will suck if I have to give birth alone."
"You're not going to have to. I'm two minutes away from the house. Hold on, okay? Just hold on."
"I'm trying," Billie bit out. "How did women do this in the old days?" She cried, fat teardrops rolling down her face. "Bo, I wanted to be medicated up the wahzoo for this."
"I know you did but maybe we can still get you to the hospital on time."
"Maybe?" Billie gulped.
"Certainly." She heard him honking his horn furiously. In the background, he was on his speaker shouting at someone to clear the road.
"What's going on?"
"Two drivers didn't bother to pull over," Bo said. "If I had the time, I'd cite them."
"You'd kick their asses," Billie laughed. It almost hurt her worse somehow.
"I'm out front now!" Bo said. "I'm coming, honey."
Sure enough, Bo barrelled up the steps in the next five seconds, crashing through the door. He immediately dropped his cell phone and ran for Billie who was twisting in pain on the couch.
"Bo, it hurts. It really hurts. Are you sure this is normal?"
"Let me look," Bo said. He sat down at the end of the sofa and drew apart her legs. He yanked down her panties and bunched her skirt up her thighs. "Billie, I see the baby's head!"
"What?" Billie cried. "No, no."
"Change of plans, baby. You're going to have to push."
"Bo, no. I need to be at the hospital."
"We'll never make it there in time now."
"Do you want to give birth in the back of my dirty squad car or here?"
"Are those my only choices?"
Bo crouched low between her legs and called up to her, "On the count of three, I want you to start pushing." He reached out and grabbed her hand. "Squeeze my hand, hard as necessary."
"1… 2…3… Billie, push!"
Billie beared down and gave a fierce push. "Oh fucck!" She screamed, squeezing down on Bo's fist so fiercely that she might have broken bones. Bo didn't complain.
"Okay, he's almost here, Billie," Bo said. "Give me another push."
"I can't! I can't, Bo!"
"Hey, look at me, Billie Brady."
"Look at me," he commanded. Her teary eyes met compassionate ones. "You are Billie Reed Brady. You've been through the trenches and you've walked through hell almost. Things haven't always been easy for you but you're strong. You're actually the strongest, most fierce person I know so you can do this. You've fought your way through much worse to come out on the other side. You can do this. Tell me you can do this."
"Yes," Billie sobbed, "I can do this, Bo."
"Alright, give one more push and he's here. Our little boy will be here… 1...2...3…"
It's a Boy!
Several minutes later, Bo sat at Billie's side as she held a big, beautiful, baby boy in her arms. He had a head full of dark hair like his parents. He let out a tiny yawn as he settled into Billie's arms, swaddled securely in a clean white towel.
"Oh my god, Bo, he's perfect," Billie said, letting out the breath she felt as if she had been holding forever. He was here. Her baby - their baby - was here and he was everything.
"He is," Bo agreed. He lightly danced his fingers across the baby's wrinkly forehead. "He looks so much like you."
"Oh come on, he's all you. He's got your smile."
"He can't smile yet."
"I beg to differ," Billie said with a little grin. She stroked the baby's cheek gently and the baby turned his head in her direction. His mouth opened and he touched his mouth to her finger, sucking on the tip of it.
"I think he's hungry," Billie said. Should I…?"
"If you're willing to try."
"I am," Billie said. "I don't know if I'll be good at it but I'll try."
Bo helped her unbutton her blouse. She was sans bra. She pressed the baby to her breast and right away, the little infant latched on. "That feels …" Billie sighed. "Are we sure he wasn't born with teeth?"
"Does it hurt a lot?"
"Not a lot. It will just take some getting used to but Bo, he looks really peaceful."
"How can he not be when he's in his mother's arms?"
Billie looked at Bo. "This is amazing."
Bo kissed her sweaty forehead. "You done good, Mrs. Brady."
"We both did," Billie said. "Shawn D is going to be so excited to see him."
"Yeah I know...I am going to radio an ambulance to get you to the hospital. You and the baby need to be examined."
"Okay," Billie agreed. She stared adoringly at her son. "Wait, Bo. What should we call him? He needs a name."
"Hmm, what are you thinking?""
"I like the name … Xavier," Billie said. "He looks like an Xavier, doesn't he?"
"He sort of does, now that I think about it."
"Xavier Beauregard Brady."
Bo smirked. "Sure you want to saddle him with that clunky middle name?"
"I am sure," Billie said. "He's here, Bo, he's here. I can't believe it."
"I'm so happy."
"Me too. I never thought I would have this again. Thank you, Billie. You gave me my life back and so much more."
"I love you, Bo."
"I love you too, Billie. You and our sons are my life."
He kissed the baby's cheek. "Welcome to the world, Xavier," he whispered.