A/N: Though my favourite Twilight couple are Jasper and Alice, I've decided to write a Bella & Edward story as a change.
This story is dedicated to all those fabulous midwives out there that are truly the unsung heroes to many a woman who's given birth. The doctors often get all the praise but it's the midwives who encourage and support mothers during the whole process. Having had my 3 kids delivered by midwives, I have nothing but praise and admiration for the men and women who choose to follow this path.
Disclaimer: I don't own any Twilight characters, I just play with them.
"Hey Jen. How's it going? Busy night?" enquired Bella, putting away her coat and bag in her locker.
"No, it was pretty quiet actually," replied Jenny, putting her feet up as she prepared to give Bella her handover. "There weren't any admissions during the night so all I really had to do was help some of the moms with their breastfeeding issues. I also cuddled a couple of babies so that mom could get a bit of sleep. I love doing that," smiled Jenny.
Bella smiled. "Yeah, that's my favourite bit. Cuddling the bubs."
"So anyway, like I said, not much happening. In a way though, I always feel more tired after a quiet night on the ward than the nights that we're frantic. Isn't that weird?" asked Jenny, stifling a yawn that was threatening to burst forth.
"Not really," replied Bella. "I always feel the same when I'm on nights. It must be the adrenalin of the busy nights that keeps you wide awake. When it's quiet, you just want to curl up in a corner somewhere and go to sleep."
"You're not wrong there," yawned Jenny, unable to fight the inevitable any longer. "Gosh, I'm really ready for bed, I think."
"Why don't you go now?" suggested Bella. "If it's as quiet as you say, I can do anything that needs doing. I don't mind."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. Go home," urged Bella. "We'll just go over anything that you feel I need to know and then you can head off."
Needing her sleep too much to argue, Jenny went over the patient files with Bella, filling her in on any issues that had cropped up during the night.
"Do we have any expected admissions today? Any scheduled caesars?" asked Bella, making a note to check the surgery roster for today.
"Not today, but there are a couple of mom's due any day now so you may get an admission. You know what it's like around here? It can go from peace to bedlam in a few minutes," laughed Jenny, pulling herself up to get her things.
"That's for sure," nodded Bella, getting ready to do her morning rounds. She was about to leave the staff room when Jenny called out to her.
"Oh, I forgot to mention it before but the new obstetrician is starting today," Jenny informed her.
"Today? I thought he was starting next week?" said Bella in mild surprise.
"Dr Cullen told me last night. A change of plans apparently. Anyway, it's better for us if he starts earlier, we need his services," said Jenny.
"True," agreed Bella, knowing the difficulties the hospital board had experienced trying to get another qualified obstetrician in Forks Hospital. "I might see if Dr Cullen is still here and see if he knows anything about the new doctor. I like to be prepared."
Waving goodbye to Jenny, Bella left the staffroom and headed to the small nurses station in the maternity unit. Greeting the nurse already there, Bella grabbed the patient files and prepared to go around the ward to check on the new mothers and their babies.
Bella loved being a midwife. She loved helping mothers deliver their babies safely, and took a special pride in all the babies she had delivered. The magic of watching a small, helpless tiny human being enter the world never failed to instil a sense of awe. She also had the deepest admiration for the mothers who laboured, sometimes for hours or even days, to bring their little bundles into the world. Bella was always moved when a mother held the child she'd carried for nine months within her body for the first time. She hoped that one day, that would be her. Not that it was likely anytime soon. She didn't even have a boyfriend. Not that she was looking.
She had decided to study nursing during her last year of high school but it wasn't until she was in her first year of university that she realised that midwifery was for her. One afternoon, after returning from classes she'd heard a loud moaning coming from the apartment across the landing. Bella knew the woman there was heavily pregnant and rushed over to check on her. Luckily the door had been unlocked and Bella ran in and saw the distressed woman on the floor in a puddle of amniotic fluid, grasping her stomach.
"My baby's coming!" moaned the woman, her face filled with terror for her unborn child.
Suppressing the panic she felt, Bella rang the paramedics and called on her own limited knowledge in an attempt to help her. The woman had taken off her underwear and Bella could see the baby's head crowning. Lord, there wasn't much time. Rushing to the closet, Bella grabbed what towels she could find and rang the paramedics again. She knew this baby wasn't going to wait to get to hospital to be born.
With the help of the person on the phone, Bella helped deliver the baby. The moment she held the little girl, Bella knew she had found her calling. She didn't think any other branch of nursing could give her this much satisfaction. The paramedics had arrived shortly after to see the mother cradling her new baby. Giving her a quick check up, the paramedics had praised Bella's actions, declaring that both mother and baby looked none the worse for their ordeal. So grateful was the woman, that she had named her baby Bella after the young woman who had helped her.
After her initial nurse training, she'd trained as a midwife, returning to her hometown of Forks to work at the local hospital. Bella wanted to work somewhere where she could feel part of the community, and where better than home? She'd been here for three years now and still enjoyed coming to work. No two days were ever the same.
Part of her job as a nurse/midwife was the aftercare of the mothers and babies. Making sure the moms were all recovering well from the rigours of childbirth, that the babies were feeding properly and helping first timers with the sometimes daunting task of caring for their babies. Her favourite part was showing the moms how to bath their babies. She knew it could be a terrifying task as babies were notoriously slippery when wet.
Walking into the first room, she was pleased to see that the occupants were already awake.
"Good morning Mrs Wolfe," she greeted pleasantly. "How are you and little Paul today?" As she spoke, she gently took the baby from his mother's arms and placed him in the crib. "There you go, little man. I'm just going to check your mom out first because she's the one who's been doing all the work around here, then I'll have a look at you," Bella crooned to the tiny baby, who seemed quite content to be left alone.
Turning back to his mother, Bella proceeded to examine her. "And how are you feeling today?" Bella asked as she palpated her stomach, making sure the uterus was contracting as it should.
"Tired," sighed Mrs Wolfe, a Quileute woman in her late twenties. "Paul seems to want to party all night and then decides to sleep all day."
Bella shook her head in sympathy. "Unfortunately babies like to keep their own timetables, which don't often correspond to ours."
"That's for sure," agreed Mrs Wolfe.
"Are you feeding ok? This is your first baby, so it's vital that you get all the help you need and you shouldn't be afraid to ask questions," stressed Bella. "That's what we're here for, ok? How are your nipples? Sore?"
First time moms, and many second and third time moms, often struggled with breastfeeding. The books all made it seem like it was as easy as turning on a tap but if they weren't shown how to latch their babies on properly, they could end up in all sorts of strife, from cracked, bleeding nipples to mastitis, an infection of the milk ducts. These were a major factor in women giving up on breastfeeding. New moms needed all the support and encouragement they could get to help them overcome the early hurdles and successfully breastfeed. Bella was also adamant that no mother who decided that she didn't feel capable of breastfeeding should be made to feel like a failure. She was firmly of the belief that as long as mother and child were happy and healthy and bonding, then that was the important thing.
"Yes, a bit," confirmed Mrs Wolfe. "He seems to latch on all right but they're still sore."
"Do you mind if I have a look?" asked Bella. Nodding her consent, Mrs Wolfe proceeded to open her top and unsnap the hook of her maternity bra. Bella examined the nipples and was satisfied that they were showing only the normal amount of tenderness experienced by a woman who'd only given birth two days ago. "They look fine, Mrs Wolfe. They will be sore at first because you're not used to it. They need to 'toughen up', so to speak, but I'm pretty sure you'll be right in a few days. Once your milk comes in, little Paul won't have to suck so hard and you should be less sore."
"When should my milk come in?" asked Mrs Wolfe, listening intently.
"Usually around the third day after birth," replied Bella. "You'll probably find your breasts are getting fuller and more painful to touch?"
Mrs Wolfe nodded. "Yeah, they hurt a fair bit at the moment. I'm starting to feel like a dairy cow."
Bella laughed. "That's normal. Just make sure you have your breast pads handy because it takes a few weeks to get the routine going where you don't leak milk everywhere."
"Ugh! They don't mention any of this stuff in the books, do they?" said Mrs Wolfe ruefully.
"Not usually," laughed Bella. "I'll give you the number of the local breastfeeding support group when you leave hospital. You can call them at any time for help and advice."
"Thanks, Nurse Swan, I appreciate it."
"Please, call me Bella. Nurse Swan brings to mind some tyrant Matron from the old movies," urged Bella. Both women laughed as Bella's attention moved to the infant.
"Ok, little man. Time to check you out," said Bella gently, unwrapping the baby. She took his temperature first, recording it on his chart before moving to take his nappy off. Little Paul was indignant about having his sleep disturbed and made no bones about it.
"Well, it's your own fault for partying all night," laughed his mother, helping Bella undress him.
Bella agreed. "Yep, your mom's right, you know." She proceeded to check his hips for any clicking noises, wanting to make sure that his hip bones weren't popping out of their sockets. Paul got more and more upset, now screaming his lungs out in protest.
"Ok, ok! I'm finished, poppet. Here, Mom, you can dress him while I write up his notes." When he was dressed, Paul promptly fell asleep again.
"Well, he can't have been too upset, can he?" mused his mother, rocking him in his arms.
"Babies are usually more noise than substance," teased Bella. "Well, he's doing fine. Everything is as it should be. He's lost a little weight but that's normal for newborns. He'll put it back on when your milk comes in. When are you planning to go home?"
"I was hoping maybe tomorrow?" replied Mrs Wolfe tentatively.
"That's fine if you feel up to it," answered Bella. "I'll have to teach you how to bath Paul before you go but the doctor will have the final say on whether to discharge you.
Mrs Wolfe nodded, her tired but adoring eyes on her son. "I'll see you later then. Try and get some rest," advised Bella, leaving the room before filling out her notes, making a note to include Mrs Wolfe on the discharge rounds tomorrow.
Forks General Hospital wasn't large in comparison to some of the hospitals in the major cities but was big enough to accommodate the needs of the population of the Olympic Peninsula. There were only ten women currently in Maternity so Bella didn't take long to see everyone. By the time all the notes were written up, it was mid morning.
The new doctor still hadn't showed up so she decided to go and find Dr Cullen. He was usually in the Emergency Department although as one of the chief doctors at the hospital, he did go around to check on how things were going in the rest of the hospital.
Bella knew Carlisle Cullen quite well. Carlisle had moved to Forks two years ago with his wife Esme and had taken up the position of Head of Emergency. In his middle years, he was still attractive enough to turn heads when he entered the room. Bella had watched many female patients, some in extreme pain, unconsciously smooth their hair down or try to sit up straighter when Dr Cullen walked in. It never failed to amuse her.
And despite his movie star looks, Carlisle Cullen was a fabulous doctor. He was extremely dedicated, knowledgeable and experienced but his best quality was his bedside manner. He was able to make each patient feel special, as if their health was the most important thing in the world. Which to Carlisle Cullen, it was. Everyone, staff and patients, loved him.
His wife Esme was also very highly regarded. She had thrown herself into local committees and was an active fund-raiser for the hospital. Esme was always impeccably dressed but exuded such a warmth that she felt like everyone's mother. She would often turn up at the hospital and bring treats that she had baked for the staff. One had to be quick to get anything. Esme's cooking usually disappeared as if by magic.
Carlisle was also involved in recruiting so Bella knew that he would have information on the new doctor. None of the midwives in Maternity knew anything about the new recruit other than that he was supposed to arrive next week. Bella had intended to get this information so that he could be greeted properly when he arrived but the change of plans meant she needed the info now. It would look rather silly if the new doctor turned up and he was mistaken for one of the fathers.
Entering the Emergency Room waiting area, she spotted Carlisle ushering another patient into the treatment area. Damn, she would have to wait to speak to him as she didn't want to distract Carlisle's attention unless it was an emergency. And you could hardly call this an emergency.
Since it was time for a break anyway, Bella decided to go to the cafeteria and get a latte and hope that Carlisle was free when she got back.
Turning abruptly, she collided with a hard body, her face pressed against a muscular chest. Too stunned by the collision for a moment, Bella didn't move. In that instance, her brain managed to process the fact that the body was tall and male, her nose registering that it smelled heavenly. She unconsciously breathed in deeply.
A pair of hands gripped her shoulders and stepped back, bringing Bella back to reality. Pulling free of his hands, Bella spoke.
"I'm so sorry. I should have looked to see where I was going," she apologised, looking up to the stranger's face.
Oh my Lord, breathed Bella as she took in the man's face. He was absolutely drop-dead gorgeous.
"No, it's my fault," he replied with a smile and Bella's brain turned to mush.
"Ah....no...I did the abrupt u-turn," she insisted.
He smiled, his green eyes taking in her appearance. "How about we're both at fault and call it square, ok?"
Bella could only nod in agreement. With another quick smile, the stranger walked past her and left, leaving her standing there with a stunned look on her face.
Get a grip girl! Bella shook her head to clear her mind. She turned to see where he was but she couldn't see him. He's probably with one of the patients, someone's husband or partner. Bella couldn't remember seeing him around town but he could only be passing through or in the area on business.
Pushing the stranger from her mind, Bella made her way to the cafeteria, grabbing a bagel and a coffee and sat at a table with some other nurses she knew. They chatted for a while, filling Bella in on any hospital gossip she may have missed. Bella just listened. She refused to spread any gossip, even though it was usually rife in the heightened atmosphere of a hospital.
"Hey Bella? Have you met the new obstetrician yet?" asked Sally, a ward nurse.
Bella shook her head. "No, not yet. I was going to see Carlisle and get some information. He's supposed to start today but it's what, 11.30, and I haven't seen any sign of him."
"I hope he's good," remarked another of the nurses.
"Me too," agreed Bella. The previous doctor had been forced to retire after a number of mistakes had been made, disaster narrowly averted by the quick thinking of the midwives on duty. When a mother had nearly haemorrhaged to death, the hospital authorities had stepped in and had given the doctor the option to retire or face disciplinary action.
He had chosen retirement and it had come to light that he had the early signs of Alzheimer's. Since that time, over six months ago, they had had to make do with locums, not an ideal situation. Expectant mothers tended to find it disconcerting to see a new doctor every time they came for a check up.
When Carlisle had informed them that they had found a replacement doctor, all the staff had been relieved, particularly Dr Haas, the other obstetrician on staff, who'd had to carry the extra load of being the sole doctor. Even though the midwives did much of the work, a doctor needed to be on duty in case of emergencies, carry out scheduled caesareans as well as run prenatal and post-natal clinics.
Carlisle, uncharacteristically for him, hadn't given them any information on the new doctor, only when he was supposed to arrive. And that had changed as well.
Finishing her coffee, Bella waved everyone goodbye and headed back to the Emergency Department. She was carrying her beeper so the ward could contact her if she was needed.
Walking into the waiting area again, Bella couldn't help looking around to see if the man was there. Feeling silly at the slight disappointment she felt, Bella went to the door of the treatment room, poking her head in to see if Carlisle was free.
He was just helping a middle aged woman up off the bed, giving her some instructions on her medication and looked up, smiling when he saw Bella.
"Hi Bella. Could you wait a moment while I see Mrs Rogers out?" he asked.
"Sure. I was looking for you anyway," replied Bella. She stood to the side, out of anyone's way in this busy room, waiting for Carlisle's return.
"Thanks Bella," smiled Carlisle as he returned. Bella smiled back, understanding full well why Carlisle turned heads. "Let's go to my office."
"Sure. I wanted to ask you about the new doctor," said Bella, walking alongside him down the corridor.
"I thought so. I'm sorry I didn't give you any information about him before but we weren't sure until a few days ago whether he would be coming here at all," he informed her, showing her into his office.
Bella sat down, looking at him curiously. "What do you mean? I thought he was definite when you told us about him?"
"He wasn't sure if his previous hospital would release him from his contract. There were some...issues."
Bella wondered what those could be but refrained from asking. It was none of her business. "So, what's his name and when is he going to arrive?" she asked.
Just as Carlisle was about to answer, a knock sounded on his door.
"That must be him now," said Carlisle and called out for the person to come in.
Bella turned around to see who the new arrival was and gasped inaudibly as she met the green-eyed gaze of the stranger she'd collided with earlier. Schooling her face into a neutral expression, she waited for Carlisle to make the introductions.
Carlisle had stood up and greeted the stranger with a warmth that had Bella bemused. This was no stranger to Carlisle. Even he didn't go around hugging new staff members.
Turning to Bella, Carlisle finally introduced the man. "Bella. I'd like to introduce our new obstetrician, Dr Edward Cullen."
Cullen? Bella looked from one to the other, realising that there was a resemblance there. For a start they were both stunning to look at, Carlisle a more mature version of course. They were similar heights and builds. Yep, they were definitely related.
"Edward is my son."
"Oh," said Bella. Of course, she should have realised.
"Edward, this is Isabella Swan, one of Forks Hospital's best midwives and someone you'll be working with a lot."
Edward smiled as he stretched out his hand to shake hers in greeting. "Hello again. I'm pleased to meet you Isabella. I hope there were no after effects from our previous meeting?"
"Bella," she replied automatically. "Everyone calls me Bella and no, everything's fine." She reached her hand out to shake his hand.
As their hands touched, she gasped softly as she felt the shock of electricity that seemed to pass through their skin. Dropping his hand abruptly, her brown eyes wide in surprise, Bella stepped back. Without volition, Bella felt her face flame with another cursed blush. Damn, she was 26 years old. When was she going to stop blushing like a schoolgirl?
And what was that shock? She wondered. It must have been static electricity. There was no other explanation. She absently noted that Edward had looked at his hand, as if looking for something. Had he felt it too?
"Bella then," said Edward, smiling as he noted her heightened colour. He moved forward to take a seat next to hers.
Bella sat down and willed her blush to disappear. "It's nice to finally meet you Dr Cullen. I didn't realise that Carlisle's son was going to be joining us."
"Please, call me Edward when there aren't patients around. It will get very confusing otherwise. You'll run the risk of both Dad and I answering if you say 'Dr Cullen'" he chuckled.
Bella watched his face as he smiled and she could feel her heart start to beat faster. He really was one of the handsomest men she'd ever seen. His face looked like a master sculptor had sculpted his face, all perfect lines and angles. Green eyes, framed by the longest of lashes looked at her, as if taking in her appearance as well. His hair was a strange, red bronze colour. It was styled casually, brushed back off his face although she could see a tuft of it sticking up, as if he'd run his hands through it. Combined with a full lower lip, Edward looked like he'd just got out of bed, having spent the night having wild, passionate sex.
Bella blushed again as the thought crossed her mind. What are you thinking of? Sex? Sex and Edward? Sex with Edward? She could feel her face burning, and cursed her wild thoughts, especially when she saw him grin quickly.
Carlisle's voice penetrated her thoughts, dragging them back to where they were. "So Bella. Edward will need you to take him around, introduce him and generally show him the ropes. Is that ok?"
"Of course. It will be my pleasure," nodded Bella. She saw Edward grin again out of the corner of her eye. What's he laughing at?
"Bella didn't know you were my son or indeed, anything about you, not even your name, until you walked in here, so if she looked surprised, it's my fault," said Carlisle apologetically.
"Why not?" asked Edward.
"Because you said yourself, it wasn't certain if you were coming until a few days ago," pointed out Carlisle.
Edward nodded and looked at Bella. "I still had another year to run on my contract at my previous hospital and they weren't keen on letting me go, so it was up in the air for a while. But I'm here now and I'm looking forward to working here. I'm sure you'll do an admirable job showing me around." He smiled as he spoke, and Bella found her breathing lose its rhythm.
Time to be professional Bella, she told herself. "Well, we're certainly pleased you're here....Edward," she said. "We've been needing a permanent obstetrician for a long time so you can be sure the other members of staff will be most happy to meet you. I hope you'll be happy here. Forks Hospital may be a lot smaller than other hospitals you've worked in but we serve a vital purpose in the area and the staff here are as dedicated as any you'll meet anywhere else." Bella's voice got stronger as she spoke. It was the truth. Sure, they had their problems like anywhere else, but she was proud to work here nonetheless.
Edward sat and looked at her as if trying to work her out. "Well, if your passionate speech is any indication, I'll be pleased to work in a place where the staff are dedicated to their patients."
"That they are Edward," spoke Carlisle. "This hospital serves the whole Olympic Peninsula and as such, we get to know a lot of the locals. Everyone here, not just at the hospital has made your mother and I feel very welcome since we came. I'm sure it'll be the same with you, Edward."
"You're practically a native, Carlisle," quipped Bella.
"Are you a local, Bella?" asked Edward, leaning forward slightly.
Bella nodded, sternly telling her lungs to breath properly. Why did he have this effect on me? It's not like I haven't met other good looking men. Okay, admittedly, she hadn't met any quite as good looking as this one, but still. She would be working closely with Edward Cullen, so she'd better get a grip on herself.
Realising Edward was waiting for her to speak, Bella replied. "I was born here but only returned to live when I was in high school. So yes, I'm one the natives."
Edward nodded. "You'll have to fill me in on the population around here, the ethnic make-up and such. I find it easier in my job if I know the mother's and family's background."
"Of course," said Bella. "You'll find that information in the patient notes anyway but I'll be happy to give you any information you need."
Carlisle stood up. "Well, I'm glad to see that you're in capable hands, Edward. Bella is young but very capable and experienced. We're lucky to have her here. Any hospital would happy to have her working for them," smiled Carlisle, looking at Bella fondly.
Bella blushed again at his kind words. She was very fond of Carlisle, saw him almost as another father and his praise made her feel very special.
Standing up, she turned to Edward, suppressing the shiver that wanted to run down her back as she looked at him. "Shall we head up to Maternity? I'll introduce you to the staff on duty today and show you around the place."
"Sounds great," said Edward. "Let's go." He walked to the door and opened it for Bella to walk through. As she went past him, her hand accidentally brushed his and again, she felt her hand tingle where the point of contact was.
It's just static, she told herself again. I'll have to change these shoes if it keeps happening. Bella looked down at her black work shoes, wondering if she'd worn the sole down so much that she was gathering static electricity as she walked. It was the only logical explanation for why her body reacted to his touch, even if it was only accidental.
"I'll see you later at home Edward?" asked Carlisle.
"Sure. I wouldn't want to miss Mom's cooking," laughed Edward.
As they headed towards the lift, Bella was shockingly aware of him walking beside her. What was this? It was like some force was drawing her towards him, making her acutely aware of every movement, every sound he made. She felt like her senses were heightened and they were all focused on Edward Cullen.
The silence stretched between them and Bella looked at him, only to find him looking down at her. As their eyes met, Bella felt her heart race and she could feel herself start to blush. Before she humiliated herself again, she tried to make small talk.
"Um...are you staying with your parents, then?" she asked, trying not to look at him too much.
"Only for a few days until a get myself a place," he answered. "I only arrived in town yesterday, so I'll need to get myself sorted out."
"Oh. Why come in today then, when we weren't expecting you until next week if that's the case?" Bella asked curiously.
"Well, to be honest, I won't be doing much today. I'm wanting to get my bearings, with your help of course," he grinned down at her, making the breath hitch in her throat.
That smile should be outlawed, she thought bemusedly. She could only nod in agreement.
"Dad told me about how short staffed you were since the last OB left and I felt it unnecessary to sit around at home until next week when I was needed here."
"But what about finding a place to live? How are you going to manage that? And moving?" questioned Bella.
"Oh Mom will find me a place. And my sister Alice will insist on decorating it," he chuckled.
"Oh that's right! You're Alice's brother. I don't know why it didn't enter my head before," said Bella, feeling stupid for not putting two and two together.
"You know Alice?"
"Oh yes. She's one of my best friends. I feel a bit stupid not connecting you two as soon as Carlisle introduced you. She's mentioned you a few times but I suppose I just wasn't expecting the new doctor to be Carlisle's son."
"I'm sorry Dad didn't tell you more before I arrived, but like I said before, things were a bit up in the air."
Bella nodded, not really understanding. It was none of her business anyway. The lift doors opened and Edward motioned for Bella to precede him.
The doors closed and since there were no other passengers, Bella was acutely aware of the fact that they were alone. They stood side by side, neither speaking, both seemingly lost in their thoughts.
After what seemed like an interminably long time, the lift arrived on her floor. They stepped out and Bella turned to face him.
"Well, Doctor Cullen. Welcome to Forks Hospital Maternity Unit. I'll hope you'll enjoy it here."