Today is a glorious day, and not just because I'm having a weekend alone with my gorgeous fiancé. The sun is shining, illuminating every inch of his perfect face as we lay side by side on soft blankets, soaking up the blossoming summer sun.
"Who knew our backyard could feel like vacation?" Christian sighs, content.
"When it's the size of ours, it's pretty easy," I disagree, sitting up gently. He sits with me, cradling my bump with an attentiveness I'd find annoying if it wasn't for how sweet and concerned he was for my wellbeing.
Today is Saturday. Charlie is with Grace and Carrick for the weekend while Christian and I spend some alone time together before the baby comes. She's due later this week and I'm so excited to meet her. My bump is pretty big now and it's getting much more difficult to manoeuvre around. Christian definitely helps me though, he truly has been amazing throughout my whole pregnancy.
Looking down where his hand rests, he smiles gently.
"Are you scared?" He asks.
"About which part?" I murmur.
"Giving birth," he clarifies, looking into my eyes. "You don't have to worry about being a mother. You're going to be the best mother any child could hope for."
I smile at him, entwining his fingers with mine. "I'm scared of the pain," I admit. "Everyone says it's pretty bad."
He nods in understanding. "I'll be there with you the whole time."
I squeeze his hand. "I know."
Later in the day, Gail comes out with a picnic basket for us. Inside, there's cheese, fruit and little sandwiches.
"This is so cute," I say, helping myself to a grape.
Christian takes it from me with a kiss and I giggle.
"Thief," I accuse.
"I stole your virtue and now I shall steal your grapes."
I burst out laughing at the seriousness on his face. Before he can say anything else I shove a sandwich into his mouth.
"I hope we don't grow grumpy and cranky," I say quietly then. "When the baby comes. I want us to still have fun. To still be us."
"I'd never let that happen," he promises, popping another grape into my mouth. "Ever."
I kiss him, believing him wholeheartedly. I don't doubt him for a second anymore.
As evening falls, we relax outside in the hot tub. If feels glorious against all my achy parts. Christian notices my twinges as I try to relax. The pain in my lower back has been on and off for a few days now.
"You okay?" Christian asks, opposite me.
He's sipping a glass of champagne, looking delectable as always.
"I'm fine," I say, dismissing him. I want to enjoy the rest of the night. I will my pain to go away.
"Will you be working Monday?" I ask, trying to concentrate purely on him.
He shakes his head. "No. I want to be here with you just in case. Nothing's more important."
I look at him with loving eyes. His response is to stare at my boobs. I don't even know why I've bothered to wear a bikini, they're spilling out entirely. I've gone up 2 cup sizes since I got pregnant and Christian has loved every moment of it.
"I better still get my turn when our daughter arrives," he says with a raised brow.
"Depends," I bite back. I then think about the fact that I'll have milk.
"If you suck them, milks probably going to come out," I say, only just now considering the idea.
"Good think I like milk then," he winks.
I splash water at him.
"Can I?" He pesters, not dropping the subject.
"If you want," I laugh. His kinkiness never fails to amaze me.
He nods in satisfaction, leaning back again.
We sit in the hot tub until we're completely prune-like. Christian lifts me out and we take a hot shower together before bed. As I lie down, he massages my achy parts which seem to be getting worse instead of better.
"How about you try sleeping honey?"' He suggests.
And I do, but it's futile. I just can't get comfortable, groaning in frustration. Christian fetches me a heated pillow, settling it against my back which soothes it for a while. After midnight, I finally fall asleep but I'm awakened not long after by a sharp pain between my hips. Christian wakes with me, startled. I can just make out his messy hair in the dark.
That's when I feel it. The wetness between my legs. I'm mortified thinking I've wet myself and then Christian feels it too because he gets out of bed and switches on the light.
"Your waters," he says quietly.
"I have four days to go," I groan.
He just stands, staring at me until I snap. "Do something then!"
"Yes, what do you want me to do?" He asks frantically, running around but not really doing anything.
I'm about to answer when another sharp pain hits. It hurts so bad I sit up with a gasp. He's at my side immediately.
"Shit, Ana," he cries helplessly.
"I need to go to the hospital," I shout.
"Yes, hospital. Of course." He then attempts to help me stand but another contraction stops him in his tracks.
It's even more painful than the last and I let out a cry.
"Christian, I can't move" I cut off, not really able to speak.
The pain is intense and feels as though it's exploded out of nowhere.
"Oh God," I hear him murmuring, trying his best to think of what to do.
"I feel like I need to push," I groan, my head flopping back into the pillows.
The overwhelming sensation in my lower body to push is creeping upon me faster and faster with each moment. I can't believe this is happening right now, I'm completely not mentally prepared but I guess the baby doesn't care about that fact.
"Christian, I'm scared," I murmur, shutting my eyes tightly.
My admission seems to kick him into overdrive. I feel him beside me now, propping me up on my pillows and brushing my hair back from my face.
"You're gonna be okay honey," he promises. "Breathe with me okay? In, and out. Slowly. I'm going to phone the ambulance okay?"
I nod, breathing with him deeply like he tells me to.
On the phone, a woman answers straight away.
"My fiancé is in labour. I think the babies coming now," Christian says to her, trying his best to keep calm.
"Okay, sir, I'm gonna need you to stay nice and calm for me and for mom to be okay? I'll be dispatching paramedics immediately."
Christian nods as though she can see him. Another contraction hits and I scream.
"I'm going to need you to make sure she's in a comfortable position," she continues. "Have her waters broke?"
"Yes, he says quickly. I think she's having contractions."
"You need to see how far dilated she is sir, can you do that for me?"
I close my eyes, breathing deeply, trying to concentrate on the words and not the immense pain I'm feeling but it's hard. I knew giving birth would hurt but I think I may have underestimated it.
"I don't think I can do this," I whisper.
"Ma'am, you're doing fine okay?" She replies, having heard me. "Listen to your body sweetheart. Sir, did you hear me? I need you to see how far dilated she is."
"How do I do that?" He asks, frustrated
"I need you to insert your fingers into the vagina," she says promptly. "Very slowly and gently. I need you to tell me how many fingers you can get in. You're going to need to push up toward the cervix."
"Shit." He curses. I'm thinking the exact same. The thought of any kind of probing down there is making me cringe.
A rush of pain sweeps over my body once again and I can feel the sweat dripping from my forehead.
"Christian," I whimper.
Immediately, he starts removing my shorts and panties, bringing my knees up and parting them. I make out a blur of his hair as his head disappears between my legs.
"Sir? Are you with me?" The woman on the phone asks.
"Yes," he replies. "I don't want to hurt her."
"You won't. Go slowly and gently. Ma'am, I need you to tell him to stop if it hurts okay?"
"Yes," I cry, gritting my teeth.
And then I feel his fingers pushing inside of me and I clench.
"Ana, baby, try to relax," Christian says softly.
"You try doing this," I say bitterly, frustrated.
Eventually, I manage to do so but I just want him away from my vagina. I feel so full and tight and everything hurts. I'm really not sure I can do this. I don't want to give birth anymore and I tell him so. The baby can come another day.
"All my fingers are fitting without resistance," Christian finally says to the woman, ignoring me.
"Okay, that's great. That's fantastic Ana," the woman says. "Now, when the next contraction hits, if you feel as though you should push, I want you to push down hard okay? And with each contraction that comes that's what I want you to do. Sir, I need you to stay where you are so you can tell me what you see okay?"
Christian reaches up for my hand which I take gratefully. On the next contraction, I think I might have broken a finger or two from the way I'm gripping him as I push down.
"That's it Ana, you're doing so well," she encourages. Sir, do you see anything yet?"
My whole body clenches. I've never experienced such pain in my life. In this moment, I decide that one baby is enough. We have Charlie and our daughter, there's no need for any more.
The next contraction comes in full force and I squeeze Christian's hand even harder.
"Deep breaths," he says, looking up into my eyes and stroking my leg. "I'm right here."
I meet his gaze, following his breaths. In, out, in, out. We follow a meditation sequence, meant to calm me but pushing down with each contraction is getting harder and harder. Finally, a shout from Christian.
"I can see her head," he cries.
I barely register the words. The pain is too strong.
He mumbles some other things back and forth with the woman while I zone out, lost to nothing put pain and pushing. The final contraction is the worst. I push with everything I am, screaming through it all and then the most wondrous thing happens.
A loud cry pierces the room just as the pain leaves my body and I flop back onto the pillows, fatigued.
"Christian," I cry, holding my hands out weakly.
"She's here," he cries. "Oh Ana, she's so beautiful."
He places my baby in my arms and the tears fall freely. I feel so exhausted but all I can see, hear, breathe and smell is the most amazing little breathing baby in my arms. Christian tenderly cuts the cord and places a blanket over the baby. Skin to skin contact is vital, I splay her on my chest as her cries quieten.
"Ana? Can you see if you can try nursing her?" The woman on the phone says. I'd almost forgotten she was there.
"Yeah," I murmur, sitting back up slightly.
I cradle my daughter like she's a china doll as I position her against my chest properly. Christian and I went to a lot of parenting classes together over the past few months so I'm sure I've got the hang of it.
As she latches on, I see the delicate flutter of her eyelashes. Pearly pink skin, light hair and the tiniest little snub of a nose. She sucks and it's the strangest sensation ever. I don't even realise I'm crying buckets until a tear lands on her forehead and I wipe it away delicately.
"So beautiful," I murmur, stroking her full little cheek with the back of my finger.
"How long will the paramedics be?" Christian asks, "she's still bleeding. Is that normal?"
His words are so distant. I can only just make them out.
"Five minutes sir. We're coming as fast as we can. How much blood?"
"Not a lot," he confirms. "Just a little."
I don't even care about me right now. All I care about is the angel on my chest.
"Ana," Christian says softly, coming beside me. His finger joins me in stroking our daughter and risking a glance at him, I see he's crying also. We're both blubbery messes, looking down at the perfect face of our princess.
"She's really ours," I whisper, taking her tiny hand. She wraps it around my finger and I nearly combust.
"She's perfect," Christian murmurs. I then feel his soft lips kiss my cheek.
"You were amazing," he says quietly. "I'm so proud of you."
We remain in our perfect bliss until a bunch of paramedics arrive and disturb us. Were then taken to the hospital to make sure everything's okay. They check me and my baby over, congratulating Christian on being so successful at delivery. He basks in the praise, feeling smug while he messages all our family and friends. A glance at the clock on the wall tells me it's just past two in the morning so I doubt anyone will be awake.
"Where's my baby?" I ask, moving around in the crisp cold hospital bed.
"Here we go," a blonde smiley nurse says, bundling her back up and handing her to me. "She's a lovely healthy little girl. All ten fingers and toes and a sturdy 8lbs 3."
I hold out my hands eagerly, gathering her up when she gives her back.
Her eyes flutter open, yawning and I can just make out the blue of her eyes.
"I love you so much," I whisper to her, kissing her cheeks.
"Does she have a name?" The nurse asks.
Christian's head pops up at this as he sits down carefully next to me.
"We had a few we like, didn't we?" He says, looking at me adoringly.
I nod. "Rosie," I whisper, never taking my eyes off her.
And her cheeks are just that. Flushed and rosy. I've truly never seen anything so beautiful in my life.
"Rosie Grey," Christian says, testing it out on his tongue.
It sounds beautiful.
Just like him.
Just like her.
Just like us.
And in this moment, my entire being seems to just snap into place. Christian, Charlie, Rosie... for the first time, the only thing I feel is bliss. I know that it's just for a while, and life will be difficult again at some point and we'll have problems because that's just the cost of living. But for now, for right now, I would pay any price to have just this second of pure serenity. Love. Hope.
I look toward my lover with a smile, beckoning his head down with my finger. Our lips brush together for just a moment as we whisper I love you's into each-others mouths.
And then Rosie cries and we both pull away with a giggle.
A/N Guys! It's been a crazy year and I'm so proud to finally have finished it. There will be an epilogue at some point but now that I'm here, I just don't want to let it go! Thoughts of a sequel have been floating around but I'm not sure what route to take. Would you guys like to see an immediate continuation e.g. how Ana deals with being a mother to Rosie, Rosie being a baby, Ana's book being published etc.… or a much later sequel that focuses mainly on the kids and their school lives etc.… I'm not sure! Also, is anyone even interested in one at all or shall I just do the epilogue and call it a day? Let me know and either way, I'm so glad for finishing the story and thank you so much to everyone who read and supported me. Please leave a comment, lots of love – Elizabeth xxx