We know that Love can Win: Birthday Edition
Three and half weeks later…
Rick strolls down the sterile hospital corridor. He smiles and nods to the familiar faces of nurses, staff and physician assistants before turning the corner and entering his current home away from home. Michonne sits in the middle of the bed. His denim shirt hangs off her shoulders and her heavy breasts are encased in a lemon yellow sports bra. "Hey Gorgeous," he greets.
"Hey Handsome…how was your day?" she responds in monotone taking her eyes off the television.
He approaches the bed leaning down to deliver a warm kiss and a soothing rub to the tight skin pulled across her belly. His eyes dance across her face. "You didn't have a good day," he concludes.
She sighs, "I need out. I am considering a prison break. I know the nurses schedules…Dr. Bennett's visitation times…I memorized all the exits," she recites.
He lowers his body to the side of the bed nodding, "I understand…I really do but escape is not an option. How about I get your favorite dinner or dessert?"
Michonne shakes her head, "Rick, you have to help me get out of here…even if it's just for the weekend…please."
"Alright, we'll figure something out."
"Thank you," she gives him an appreciative kiss.
He knows she is restless; cabin fever set in a full week ago but the hospital is the safest place for her and the babies due to her early labor symptoms. He decides to cheer her up. He leans over to the side table and makes a selection from the playlist on her tablet. Once the heavy rhythm fills the room he stands and moves away from the bed keeping his back facing her. He swings his hips from side to side in time with the beat. Ray Charles' voice rings out…
You know the night time…night and day…to be with the one you love…
Michonne glances over just as Rick looks back before bending over poking his tight butt out and shaking his right hip with extra effort. She rolls her eyes fighting a smile, "Rick…"
"What?" He swivels to face her lacing his fingers together against the back of his head. He thrusts forward alternating from one hip to the other moving towards the bed.
Whoa! Whoa baby…I want you to hold my hand…tight as you can…night and day
She watches his routine and burst into laughter. Rick brings his arms forward moving them in a wave like motion hopping from one foot to the other. He lifts his arms above his head rotating his pelvis in a circle. The joyous sounds of their laughter over the music masks the wild beeping from the monitors attached to her body. "Good Lord, what is going on in here?" the lead nurse shouts.
Rick and Michonne both stop and stare before cackling at her irritated face. He mumbles an explanation through his remaining chuckles, "Just a little family fun."
The nurse moves to the corner of the room to adjust the monitors shaking her head back and forth, "Honestly," she mutters before leaving.
"Why are you getting us in trouble?" She catches her breath and presses her hands against the protruding limbs moving across her belly.
"Me…you were the one being loud," he turns off the music and settles into the chair next to her bed. Rick watches her lean back against the pillows. The smile on her face reaches her eyes. Mission accomplished.
Michonne moans in her sleep trying to get comfortable in the hospital bed. She shifts to her left side before drifting off again. Thirty minutes later her eyes open and she stares at the ceiling attempting to determine the source of her discomfort. "Rick," she whispers. He does not stir from the reclining chair at her bedside. Another round of Braxton Hicks totally sucks. She braces both hands against the mattress and pushes herself to an upright position. She uses the buttons on the side rail to bring the head of the bed up to support her back. She inhales through her nose filling her lungs before exhaling from her pursed lips. Twenty minutes later the discomfort escalates to pain radiating across her back. Her index finger pushes the red button on the bed remote to call the night nurse.
Ten minutes later he enters, "What can I do for you Mrs. Grimes?"
She uses the back of her hand to pat the perspiration across her forehead, "I might be in labor," she explains keeping her voice low.
"Okay, let's turn the on the CTG and see what your little ones are up to," he replies. Michonne inhales again breathing through the pain. "What time was your last contraction?" his eyes follow the spiking line on the device.
"Maybe twenty minutes ago."
"Alright, I will contact Dr. Bennett but you should probably wake the big guy."
Her eyes widen, "Really…this is happening," she questions.
"Oh yeah…it's their birthday," he smiles and moves quickly out of the room.
Jolene and Jeffrey rush down the hallway of the Labor and Delivery wing. They stop abruptly at room 903. Jeffrey reaches for the door handle; however, the shouting on the other side of the door halts his movement. "What the hell…I want my damn epidural…I do not care about windows…Rick, get me some drugs!"
Their heads snap toward each other. They each take a deep breath, "Here we go," Jolene states. She knocks before pushing the door open sticking her head across the threshold, "May we enter?"
Rick stands next to the bed holding a Styrofoam cup of ice chips his face equal parts excited and terrified. Michonne waves her in-laws into the room breathing through each contraction. "Hey," her voice is strained.
Jolene moves to the right side of the bed grasping her hand, "How's it going?" she offers in a sympathetic tone.
"I thought the drugs would at least take the edge off but apparently I did not request them early enough. How was I suppose to know there was some ridiculous cut off; they should post that information on giant posters up on every wall," she whines.
"Exactly," she co-signs squeezing her hand. "I won't lie to you. As good as it was going in…it will be hell coming out."
Michonne stares at her mother-in-law and burst into giggles, "Oh my God…" Jolene smiles wide and winks at the Grimes men who are blushing and shaking their heads at her crass charm.
A few hours later
"Michonne, you are fully dilated but none of your sacs have broken yet. We need to break your water so you can deliver," Dr. Montgomery explains.
"Do you remember our post delivery plan?" Dr. Bennett asks.
Rick responds, "The nurses will transport the babies to the NICU immediately after delivery."
"Good, we are going to prep the room."
"Dad, why don't you change into these scrubs so you can meet your children," Naomi places the folded clothing on the foot of the bed.
Minutes later Rick exits the bathroom and takes two quick strides to her bedside. Her eyes are closed and she grips the side rails, "'Chonne, you ready?"
She smiles weakly, "Ready to win."
He moves the sheet off her body placing his mouth against her belly, "Listen up Team Grimes. Your mama is doing this without drugs so when she pushes I need you to come out quick. We love you and cannot wait to hold you in our arms." Michonne sniffles and runs her fingers through his chestnut curls.
Two hours later
Michonne lies back against Rick's chest. He is straddled behind her so she can grip his legs when she bears down to push. She sweated through his denim shirt and a number of her locs have fallen out of the bun on top of her head. "You are doing great…another push and I think we can meet our first Baby Grimes. I am looking at a head full of dark hair."
She takes a deep breath and pushes with all her might, "Ugh," she grunts through clenched teeth.
Rick leans down whispering in her ear, "Gorgeous, you are so amazing…just a little more," he coaches.
The fetal monitor races, "Michonne…stop pushing!" Addison orders from the stool in between her legs.
"What? What's wrong…why do I have to stop?!"
"What's happening…someone explain what is going on?!"
Dr. Bennett interjects, "The umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby's neck. We need to untangle before you can push again. If we are not careful we may limit the amount of oxygen to the brain."
Michonne freezes every muscle, "Okay…," she releases a breath, "No pushing." Rick holds his breath lacing his fingers between hers. We will win. Time slows and the room is quiet.
"Clear," Dr. Montgomery announces. "Give me another good push," she commands.
Rick leans forward watching over Michonne's shoulder as Addison guides the baby out. He stops blinking not wanting to miss a moment. "Michonne…look," his voice floats on the air in wonder.
She releases an anguished cry and opens her eyes, "Look at our son…he is perfect."
Dr. Bennett takes the baby over to the newborn station and works with the NICU team to prepare him for transport.
Jeffrey walks rapidly alongside the neo-natal nurse as she transports the second Baby Grimes to the NICU. The adrenaline pumping through his veins pushes his senses to the limit. His eyes never leave the face of his granddaughter. He stops once the nurse enters the unit. "Over here," his wife calls. She has not moved from her spot since she rode shotgun with the first team making sure her grandson arrived safe and sound. They peer through the window as Dr. Bennett and the teams of nurses attach IV lines and oxygen tubes to their grandchildren's tiny bodies.
The sound of the third incubator approaching shadowed by their son's bowlegged gait pulls their attention from the NICU activity. "What's the final score?" OG asks.
"Two to one…the girls take the crown," he responds with a proud smile.
"Yes!" Jolene exclaims thrusting her arm in the air. "How's new mama?"
He laughs, "My warrior queen kicked me out of the room under strict instruction to not let our children out of my sight. Dr. Bennett agreed to transport her over when they finish their lady business."
Rick looks through the window at the tiny bodies resting on their backs attached to too many wires and tubes. He watches their little chests rise and fall with each breath they take. Fear reaches for the edges of his heart but he resists because his mind is consumed by his wife's words in his head. They are here…we won. You are only allowed to think about them getting stronger…imagine them thriving…taking them home to the house built of our love. He uses the back of his hand to wipe away the tears on his cheeks. "I'm a dad," he whispers.
Michonne gently lowers herself into the wheel chair. Somehow the excruciating pain is long forgotten even though every muscle in her body is screaming in anguish. "I'm ready…I can see them right? I know I cannot hold them just yet, but we can be there with them," her voice is frantic.
"Absolutely, I spoke with Addison and she is more confident especially since their oxygen requirement is lower than we anticipated. The steroids plus everything you did to keep them healthy paid off."
She breathes a sigh of relief, "Great, let go."
The squeaking wheels in the hallway turn Rick's focus away from watching his children's first few hours of life through a plate of glass. He ignored his dry mouth; the rumble of an empty stomach and the need for a bathroom. His eyes shine bright as Naomi pushes the chair holding his wife toward him. "There she is…the most gorgeous mama in the whole hospital," his smile is a mile wide.
She blushes under his praise, "You are crazy in love because I know for a fact I still look six months pregnant; I am wearing a pad the size of a twin mattress and the ugliest mesh panties on the planet," she laughs shaking her head.
Rick squats in front of her and delivers a soft kiss, "I am very much crazy in love with you but I have evidence of my earlier statement."
"Present your case Grimes," she challenges.
He stands and moves behind the chair pushing it forward, "Dr. Bennett would you be so kind as to hold the door open."
"My pleasure," she moves to the NICU entrance and waits for them to enter.
Rick moves with precision to the far corner of the unit, "I never left their side. I have studied every feature for hours falling more in love with every passing minute. They are the most beautiful people I have ever seen and each one of them is a reflection of you. If you do not believe me you can ask their grandparents."
Tears fill her eyes as she gazes into each incubator. She does not notice the wires and tubes. Michonne only sees their innocent beauty. "Hey babies. I'm your Mama. We didn't get to talk much with all the pushing but I am head over heels in love with you." She pauses to reign in her emotions, "Your Daddy's right, you are the most beautiful people ever. Although, I have to say son you have his nose and I recognized the dimple in your chin the minute you took your first breath. Now Ladies, don't feel left out. You hit the jackpot inheriting his pink lips which will save us a fortune in lipstick and gloss." She looks up over her shoulder waiting for his reaction. Here comes daddy hulk.
Rick's brow furrows and his eyes squint to slits. "What…wait a minute…naw," he shakes his head and she giggles before turning her attention back to her children.
"We hate to intrude," Dr. Bennett and Montgomery approach.
"Please…What's next?" Michonne and Rick speak over each other.
"Let's start with the good stuff. Their lungs are much further along than we expected so we do not anticipate them needing oxygen support for an extended period of time."
"What we were not expecting was their weight," Michonne cuts them off with a tearful explanation.
"All I did was eat…I tried. What can I do now? Do you need breast milk?" Rick cuts her off.
"I can have a breast pump here an under an hour…formula; just point me in the right direction. We can get it done."
Both ladies hold up their hands to stop the nervous couple, "Relax…Calm down."
Dr. Bennett continues, "They are each over four pounds which is great news. Now we need to fatten them up."
"I am concerned about jaundice but we can cross that bridge if we have to; otherwise, you totally kicked ass."
Michonne and Rick breathe a sigh of relief. Naomi picks up the discussion, "I know you do not want to leave but they are in great hands and I need both of you to get some rest."
"But," Michonne begins to push back.
"No, trust me. Even if there was only one you would be sleep deprived for the next six months. You have three…sleep while you have the support." They both frown but nod in agreement.
Rick kneels down next to the chair and takes her hand. "Hey Team Grimes, the doctors are kicking us out but we will be back as soon they let us. Please take care of each other while we are gone."
"Remember, we have a lifetime of cuddles and kisses waiting just for you," Michonne places her slender fingers against her mouth and blows a kiss to each child.
Rick stands and places a kiss to the top of her head, "Ready to go Mama?"
"Lead the way Daddy," she squeezes his hand on the handle of the wheel chair.