A/N: First, to everyone reading "Cheated Hearts," I'm really sorry that instead of working really hard to squeeze in time to write it, I've been writing this since the finale instead. Also, I really can't promise that I'll be able to update it anytime soon even after this is finished. Again, I'm so sorry.
Second, this story was born out of not being entirely pleased with many of the ways Quinn in particular and Quinn and Puck together have been handled in more recent episodes. I won't rant about that here, but I needed something to help make a little more sense out of everything. Though, I will be completely ignoring the existence of the Unwed Mothership Connection, the reasons for which is another rant I won't waste your time with.
Third, in case you miss it in the summary, this story is two parts. The next part is even longer than this one (I know, this one is already quite lengthy). Information on when that part can be expected will be at the end of this, part one.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Summary: During/Post "Journey"- Quinn is fine. Or at least that's what she tires to be. But it's hard to be fine when she's dying inside. Quinn-centric two-part story with heavy amounts of Quick.
Your daughter is finally here. Her getting here was more painful than you could have imagined. (And more miraculous.) It feels like you've been pregnant forever. Nothing in your life is the same anymore. But as soon as you see her, it all feels like it was worth it.
They clean her up (while they do the same to you- consisting of things you'd rather not think about) and they place her delicately in your arms.
You try to remember everything about her. You try to remember exactly how she feels in your arms. The way she curls into your chest, her tiny body mimicking the way you'd see her positioned in your womb throughout all those sonogram appointments. The way her toes curl under so the little balls of her toes practically touch the soles of her feet. The way her little muscles move in her arms as she waves them around. The way her eyes look just like yours in both color and shape. (The way her eyes look as they connect with you, as if she already knows who you are even though you've never been so sure.) The way her blonde hair (also from you) appears to have his exact hairline. The way her lips seem to be so perfectly pink. The way she makes this little near start of a cry when she yawns. The way you can feel her heart beat in unison with yours. The way you can feel her breathing (which you're pretty sure you stopped doing that the second they gave her to you). And the way a warmth and fullness settled over every cell in your body the second she was in your arms. Because this is your little girl (forever).
(You haven't stopped smiling since the second she was placed in your arms, but you're a little too busy taking in everything about her to notice.)
Only, despite the promises your mother suddenly decided to make, you know that she's not really going to be yours. But you try not to think about that as the nurses give you something, claiming that you need to rest now.
(It's so hard to let her go this first time. If the nurses hadn't just given you something to make you sleep- and something for the pain, thank God- you're pretty sure you may not have been able to let anyone take her out of your arms.)
When you wake up, it's only been a couple of hours and Puck is sitting by your bed with your daughter in his arms. He immediately explains that he's only feeding her (formula from a bottle) because the nurses kind of forced him into it. He remembers what you said about- and a nurse comes in to check on you stopping his sentence. You know what he was going to say and you understand. Since the bottle has been finished the nurse says it's time to take the baby back to the nursery. She offers to let you hold her again, but you know what's going to happen soon and what almost happened last time you held her, so you decline (for the moment).
Puck announces that though it doesn't really feel important anymore, you lost Regional's. You didn't even place. And you agree; that doesn't feel so important anymore.
He looks like he wants to say more and you'd really like to hear what that may be. But timing has never been your thing with him anyway, so it's not surprising that this is the moment the glee club comes flooding in with flowers and looking like they're trying to keep their spirits high despite the fact that they all know the club is over now.
They all stay, talking and Rachel re-capping and dissecting Vocal Adrenaline's completely-undeserving-of-a-win-performances (her words), until you literally can't keep your eyes open any longer. You're not sure you've ever been more tired in your entire life.
Unfortunately you're in a hospital and you've just given birth so that means there's always nurses in and out of your room. Since you no longer have the aid of something to help you sleep, you're woken up just about every damn time they come in. You know it's their job, but you're kind of starting to hate the nurses anyway.
(Every time you wake up, you see Puck asleep in a chair across the small room. He's still in his Regional's costume, because he has yet to leave your side.)
Eventually, you get just enough sleep (two, maybe three hours) to decide that you may as well just be awake now. It's just past sunrise, the next day, and when you open your eyes Puck's still there and he's watching you. He perks up when he sees your eyes open and asks how you feel. You tell him simply that you're fine (in the end, you know that fine is what you need to be). He says that he was just about to head to the nursery, look in on her, and do you feel like coming?
The idea of walking does not sound especially good. The trips to the bathroom taught you that. But you want to see her. It's as simple as that.
So you tell him you do want to go with him. He heads for the door and doesn't see how you've placed a hand on your stomach as you climbed out of the bed and, for the first time, realized there was nothing there any more. It feels empty, you feel empty, and…and…and you try not to think of it anymore. Forcing bad thoughts away.
It's a short trip down the hall, thankfully. And then, there she is again. Bundled in pink and perfect.
You don't know how long you stand there. All thoughts of pain or discomfort disappeared the second you saw her and time just seemed to stop.
Eventually, Puck says, "She looks like you."
You know that already.
"Do you want to keep her?" he quickly follows up, like he's been waiting to ask since the second she was born (which was almost thirteen hours ago).
You've been waiting for this question. What you want to do and what you know you should do are two different things. You'd like to tell him what you want, but you can't get his hopes up so you give him your answer as if he asked you if you should keep her. "No," you say and hope your eyes don't betray you. "Do you?" you return, because through all of this, that was one answer that only ever seemed almost clear. And though you know what you have to do here, you still want to know what he would do if you could do anything.
He doesn't respond verbally, but in not saying anything he gives you as clear of an answer as you need. Yes, he wants to keep her. But he knows what you've decided and he knows that you're right and he knows that telling you what he wants wouldn't be easy for you to hear right now and so he says nothing.
And then you realize that there's no point holding back anything anymore. You don't want to keep wondering, guessing, or assuming things in your life. Not right now. Right now you don't have the energy. So you ask him plainly, "Did you love me?"
"Yes," he says easily, looking a little embarrassed. "Especially now," he adds and smiles at you.
You smile back. Despite having moments where you thought he loved you (when you think about it, there are actually a lot of moments) you'd never been sure (there were moments where you were sure he didn't too- many of them). And it's nice to hear that he loves you because though you've tried not to think about it (because there's no changing the past anyway), you're pretty sure that feeling the same for him is what brought you exactly to this place you're in now.
You wonder, briefly, if maybe you'll end up here again with him someday. Not replacing your baby girl, but moving on, having a baby you're ready for and that can actually be yours.
These thoughts are quickly interrupted by Ms. Corcoran showing up. She asks which baby is yours, which you don't respond to because it's none of her business.
She figures out which baby is your daughter anyway and comments on how she looks like you. She asks if she has a name. You tell her no. Again, it's not any of her business and you're not sure that you're allowed to name her anyway given that she's not going to be yours. You meant to talk to Puck about that, but him singing "Beth" to you and all the things he said then were so sweet that you just haven't been able to tell him that you're pretty sure naming her is the adopted parent's responsibility.
Given that you never talked to Puck about it and he hasn't caught on to not wanting to share things with a woman who was your competition, Puck goes ahead and says that your daughter's name is Beth. (You really wish it could be.)
Ms. Corcoran says that it's a beautiful name. Then she looks in at your daughter, smiling, with this look across her face and you think you're starting to catch on to the reason she's here.
You prompt her (again), "What are you doing here?"
She turns back to you and says seriously, "I wanted to talk to the both of you about something." A warm smile spreads across her face and she adds, "I remember what it felt like after having a baby though and I have a lot to say so I really don't think this is the place to do it. You'd be much more comfortable back in bed."
Come to think of it, you would really like to be back in bed (though you don't want to leave her). And you want to find out if your inkling about what she's going to say to you is right so you turn, give a nod to Puck, and head back to your room.
Ms. Corcoran (Shelby, she insists) wants your daughter. She gives you this really, really long speech where she tells you about her past, her present, and what she dreams of for her future. You knew some of it already. Even when Rachel didn't feel like talking about her mom, she still couldn't seem to keep her mouth shut so certain things got around.
Shelby has been where you are (basically). She had a beautiful baby girl and she knew she couldn't keep her. The details of your situations were different, but the end truths the same. Even if she had changed her mind, gone against her agreement with Rachel's dads, and kept her- she never would have been able to support her. She was broke, what family she had was never there for her, and she was only barely managing to have enough money for herself even though she worked two jobs. So, no matter how much she loved her daughter by the time she was there and in her arms, she couldn't keep her.
She warns you that what you're about to go through in being out of her life, is awful. You'll never move on, you'll never stop wanting her back, you'll never stop loving her. But you will learn how to live in this new reality you have where she's not going to be yours and that that reality is a lot easier to deal with knowing that your daughter is with a loving family.
On that note, she'd really like to be your daughter's loving family. A few years ago she had a complication and she can't ever have children of her own now. But though she grew up with dreams of Broadway and fame and an amazing singing career, since she had Rachel something awoke in her and becoming a mother became her most important dream. She'd still tried for the career of course and she's not thrilled with her fall-back career running a glee club, but a family is all that matters to her now. She's not looking for fame or a great career, she wants stability. She wants a house, a family, and whatever job keeps it all afloat is fine by her.
She doesn't have a husband, but promises that she'd want to find a partner in raising your baby at some point, when a good enough man worthy of her and the baby comes along. She has two teaching credentials (music and English), she has tons of qualifications for a variety of jobs (she was willing to list them all and give you a resume if you wanted), and her best friend runs a really wonderful day care. She only has an apartment right now, but she's been saving for a house and as soon as a good one, with a garden and front porch, comes along she's going to buy it. She wants your daughter to have a back yard to play in.
She promises that this isn't a rushed decision on her part or some spontaneous thing just because she heard you had your baby. She's been thinking about adopting from the second a doctor told her she'd never be able to conceive herself again. But then she thought that maybe she didn't have to adopt, maybe she could get her own little girl back. It took a while to think her daughter could be ready to meet her. It took a while to be ready for it herself. But then she met her little girl and she wasn't a little girl. It was hard to accept, and Rachel doesn't seem to see it yet, but Rachel doesn't need her. She's all grown up and she missed her chance with her. She realized that very recently and since she did she fully intended on pursuing adoption with an agency, but then she heard about your baby and how you were planning to give her up and it just seemed serendipitous.
She promises that if you gave her your baby, she's up for as open or closed of an adoption as you want. If you can't bear the thought of running into her and the baby in town, she'll move as far away as you want- just give her a month, she could disappear. Or if you want to have the type of relationship where all of you try to be a family, where you spend holidays together, and visit so often that you know where everything is at in each other's houses, she's read about super open adoptions like that working and she'd do it. She's willing to try and make anything work. That part, should you pick her, would be entirely up to you.
She tells you all of this and a lot more. She promises that she'd be exactly the type of mother you'd want for your daughter. She promises she'd love her unconditionally and never take her for granted. And then she gives you time to think it over, leaves you with her phone number and says she hopes you'll consider her for your baby's mother.
It's a lot to take in.
You don't know what to think of all of it. So, rather than trying to figure out what you feel about everything you just heard, you ask Puck, "What do you think?"
He shrugs. "I don't know," he begins. He rubs his face with his hands and for the first time, you realize that he looks nearly as exhausted as you feel. You suppose all those times you awoke and saw him sleeping, he may not have been asleep as he appeared. He drags the chair he's in closer to your bed, so he's right there next to you, and reasons, "Given that her team slaughtered us, I guess I believe the part she said about never having a problem finding a well-paying job. I mean, she made them really good so she's obviously…good at stuff." He sighs and offers, "But I don't know."
You nod. You bite your lip. He starts to play with the edge of the blanket that's draped over your legs. You're not sure what you feel about this new thing that's come up, but you know what you've felt. You decide, maybe you should tell him that, before the opportunity passes you buy. "I lied earlier," you confess. He stops playing with the frayed threads on the blanket, eyes meeting yours. "I always wanted her. Even when being pregnant seemed to be ruining everything in my life, I always wanted her," you tell him, looking down, away from him, trying not to cry so you can get all the words you intend out. You look up, meet his eyes, and confess the harder part, "But I've also always known that we can't keep her. Neither one of us is from a very good environment and we can't really get out of them. And I don't want my life for her, I want something better. She deserves better than anything we could give her." You're crying a little now, because despite having nine months with this, it's hard to accept. Your little girl would be much better off without you. Sure, your mother said that you can keep her and she'd make the guest room into a nursery. But what happens if your father wins your mother back, convinces her to forgive him? You already know the answer to that- you and your daughter would be out. And you just can't do that to your daughter. You can't let your mother abandon her like she abandoned you.
As your eyes blur with tears, you feel him take your hand. "I know," he says, "I want her too. But I want her to have a better life than I can give her. We probably couldn't even give her as good of a life as either one of us has had, and I don't know about you, but my home life has kind of really sucked." He strokes his thumb across the back of your hand and adds, "I don't want her to be able to say that."
You squeeze his hand, grateful that he's on the same page as you with all of this (grateful that he's here with you at all).
The door to your room opens and a nurse comes through, wheeling in your daughter in her bassinette. "She's hungry," the nurse announces. "Want to try breastfeeding?" she asks you.
Right. With everything, you'd actually forgotten about that. "Uh," you stutter.
"We're giving her up for adoption so…is something like that's okay to do?" Puck jumps in for you. (You give his hand another grateful squeeze.)
"Well, that's up to you," she says. "She's already had a bottle a few times and she may not even take to breast feeding easily. If you want to give it a try, I can go get your lactation nurse, who will show you how to do it. If not, I can go get a bottle and let you feed her."
Breastfeeding her, feels like it would be really intimate, personal, and she's not going to be yours. And, logically, if you breastfeed her and she never gets to do that again, wouldn't that be bad/weird for her? You don't want to do something that seems like it could really get either one of you more attached to each other. So you decide (and hope you don't regret it), "A bottle would be fine."
"Okay," she says as she rolls your daughter's bassinette around to your bedside, right next to Puck. "I'll be back with a bottle in a minute then," she tells you, "and I'll tell your lactation nurse to stop by later. She'll explain how you'll be needing to pump and dump."
Pump and dump? You really should have read about what all this would be like more. It seems like you keep encountering things you know nothing about. (Things you're not ready for.)
Puck's been peering into the bassinette since she was rolled over. He tears his eyes away from your daughter and asks you, "You wanna hold her?"
Since you may not have many more opportunities to, you nod and say, "Yeah."
He lets go of your hand and stands up to get your daughter out of her bassinette as you try to sit up better in your bed. Settling back against the pillows again, Puck gently places your daughter in your arms. (He smiles every time he looks at her, you've noticed.)
It still feels the same to hold her. Like some emptiness in your heart fills up and overflows. You trace the curve of her cheek with your fingertip. You inhale her sweet baby scent deeply. Your lips are finally released from the smile she induces on them, as you kiss her forehead praying to God you remember every second of this.
You play with her tiny little hand and she grabs your finger, making your smile return. You smile at Puck, who's watching the two of you intently, and say, "She's strong."
"Like her mother," he says softly.
You glance back up at him, surprised by the tenderness you heard and that you see now.
The nurse returns and gives you a bottle. You feed her. You offer to Puck to let him feed her the last half of the little bottle, but he refuses. He already got to once, he says it's your turn. He does hold her for a while after you're done feeding her though.
As he's gently rocking her in his arms, in his seat next to you, he softly starts singing "Beth." It's so sweet, you feel like bursting into tears, not sure you'd ever be able to stop crying. (Because this, all of this, is exactly what you've come to desperately want forever. And you really wish you could have it.)
Luckily, Puck ruins the moment and prevents your downward spiral into unending longing by stopping in the middle of the first chorus and saying, "I think she just farted on me." He maneuvers her so he can smell his hand and scrunches his face at it. "Yeah, I think she did," he concludes.
"Well she did just eat," you offer, laughing just a bit. (Even though he seems to have a tendency for ruining good moments, you still want this.)
The nurse comes back in to get your daughter. You lean up to touch a hand to her and hold on to her little hand as Puck places her back in the bassinette. If it wasn't for the nurse talking, you think you probably would have started to cry as she's wheeled away (because you know, soon it will be the last time you see her go). The nurse says, "You'll be able to check out as early as this afternoon, but if you need some extra time, you technically have until midnight until we absolutely have to release you."
Then she's out the door with your daughter, leaving the two of you to think about what she's just said. This afternoon is technically only three hours away. Midnight is only fourteen hours from now. So, at most, you have fourteen more hours with your daughter. You know you shouldn't take all of them though. It's probably best if you don't draw this out until the last second you can.
"I guess we really need to decide something, quick," Puck says, echoing exactly what you were thinking. He leans forward in his chair next to your bed, resting his elbows on the edge of it and resting his head in his hands. He looks like he's trying really hard to give this a lot of thought.
You think you know what's right though. You hadn't known what you were looking for in parents for her, not completely, but you knew what you didn't want. You tell him, "You know, I looked at adoption ads online. There's a lot of agencies that list parents for you to read about. And all the parents had really sad stories about not being able to have children of their own, and they all sounded like they really wanted a baby, but I could never pick one. They all sounded perfect and on paper, so did my family. But I don't want her to have a family that's anything like mine and I could never get past the possibility of any of those families I'd read about being like mine."
"Shelby wouldn't be like your family," Puck offers, pointing out what you already realized about her. You bite your lip and Puck must have caught on to why you haven't said anything else (it's hard to get these kinds of words out). He continues, considering, "I think Shelby would be a good mom to her. It sounds like she wants this as much as anyone could."
"Does she seem warm to you?" you ask him. It was one of the things you wanted, one of the things that never came across on paper. You thought you knew the answer, but this is a big decision so you need to check and see that someone else agrees. But he just raises an eyebrow like he's not quite sure what you mean. You explain, "My family was never very affectionate. But, watching Shelby teach and sing "Funny Girl," and the way she was earlier, to me, it seems like she's the type of person that would hug anyone that looked like they needed a hug, without hesitation. And I want her to have a mom that would be warm like that."
You're tearing up again and he takes your hand again as he agrees, "Yeah, she seemed like she'd be like that."
You point out, "But if we give her to Shelby, she won't have a dad." This had seemed really important to you once. You're not too sure what to think about it now.
Puck shrugs, "Well, my dad being in my life, for what little time he was, didn't turn out to be a good thing. And, no offense, but your dad seems like a total jackass. Maybe having a dad is overrated. If she didn't, he'd never be able to screw her over like our dads did to us."
He makes a good point. Your dad has hurt you far more than he's done anything else for you and you know the same is true for Puck. So if you give her to Shelby, the fact that she won't have a dad seems okay.
You sit in silence for a while, Puck still holding your hand. You could still go to an adoption agency, but what if you didn't find anyone that really felt right for her? If you didn't, you'd be keeping her longer and what if you can't bear to let her go then? (It's already so hard.) You could also just give her up to the state right now and let them find her a home. But you know you can't trust anyone else to pick her family. You wouldn't be able to sleep at night if you weren't sure she was with good people, good people you met and got to see that they'd really love her. On that thought, maybe it only needed to be a person. Because here, with Shelby, you had someone that wanted her enough to come here and proposition two strangers for their child and without really even meeting that child she had sincerely promised to love her forever just as much as you would.
"We're going to give her to Shelby, aren't we?" Puck asks after a while, though it sounds far more like a statement. Apparently, he's reached the same conclusion you have.
"It seems right," you say with difficulty. You check, "Right?"
"Yeah," he says, assuring you. He offers a small smile and says, "We wanted someone who would provide more for her than we could, that would have a different kind of family than our own, and that would love her. She seems like she fits that." He glances away from you, looking down and playing with the threads of the blanket again and adds, "I kind of really liked that she mentioned allowing us to be around Beth a lot if we wanted to." He glances back up and continues, "I mean, I know we never talked about whether this adoption thing would be open or closed or whatever, but I liked that she was willing to do either one, whatever we decide."
Yeah, you had liked that too. You're not sure what's right with that though. On the one hand the idea that you could still see your daughter all the time and be a part of her life sounds like a better ending to all of this than you could have imagined and you feel like jumping at the chance. On the other hand, you know that seeing her with the woman who she's going to know as her mother all the time and leaving her over and over again may be too hard for you to tolerate. "I'm not sure what the right thing to do about that is yet," you tell him honestly, "I think that's something we should give a lot more thought to. Take our time with it."
He nods and checks with you, "Well I don't want to be a part of her life without you being a part of her life and I don't want to not be with her if you're not going to be with her. So, we are going to be deciding that together, right?"
"Absolutely," you promise. You didn't want to do this without him either.
A couple of beats of silence pass until Puck says, being braver than you could at the moment, "We should probably tell Shelby then, right?"
"Yeah," you respond, though neither or you make a move for a phone. "We're doing the right thing," you say softly, trying to convince yourself that you really are despite how horrible it feels.
"We are," he promises. He jokes, trying to make you feel better, "She's even Jewish, which makes her completely the right person to raise Beth." You manage to laugh a little at that.
He turns serious again and swears to you, "You ever change your mind though, for any reason, just let me know and I'll make sure we get her back. Even if we have to kidnap her back and take off with her, I'll do it. I'm good with crime." He smiles at you softly.
(In moments like these, you know you don't have any doubts about how you feel about him.)
You return the smile through your watery eyes, give his hand that's still in yours a squeeze and simply respond with a sincere, "Thank you." (You mean it for a lot more things than just this moment.)
You take a deep breath, let go of his hand, and reach for the phone that's by your bedside. You pause before you dial. Maybe you should let your mom know about this decision first. Although, now that you're thinking about her you realize she hasn't been around. What if that means she's going back on her offer? What if she doesn't really want you back?
"You okay?" Puck asks, noticing your pause.
"I'm fine," you say (you're surprised by how automatic it is for you to lie like that already, but you suppose you've been lying about how you've been doing for months). You explain your lack of action, "I was just thinking that I should probably tell my mom our decision. Not that I want her input on it or anything, but she may want to say goodbye too. And I definitely want her to bring her camera back so we can have some pictures with the baby and more pictures of just her." Your mom had brought a camera to Regional's and took pictures of you on stage, which worked out well because otherwise the only other cameras with you at the hospital as your daughter was born were cell phone cameras and you're really glad the only images you have of her first hours in this world aren't grainy camera phone pictures.
"Good idea," Puck interjects.
When you still don't dial the phone, Puck looks at you curiously, waiting, and you continue, "She hasn't been back though, not since she dropped off that bag of stuff for me while I was sleeping that first time. Right? You haven't seen her?"
He looks sheepish as he says, "No. I've kind of only been wherever you've been so… haven't seen her."
That makes you smile, but it's not enough to distract you from the issue that is your mother. As you ask, "I wonder where my mother could be all this time then?" a nurse comes into the room and seems to catch most of your question.
The nurse, whose attention was caught by your question, interjects, "If you don't mind, I actually have a bit of an answer to that." You nod and she continues, "Your mom was here most of the night so I'd imagine right now she'd be sleeping or just on her way back after finally getting some rest. She was here until about dawn."
"She was?" you question because you hadn't seen her and if she was here, why didn't she come see you?
"Yeah," the nurse says as she checks makes some notes in the chart at the end of your bed, "she didn't want to disturb the two of you since you were trying to get some sleep, but she hung around for a while. She talked to a guy with a perm for a while, I gathered he was a teacher of some sort. Then she talked to some of those kids that came, as they were heading out. A couple even stuck around and talked to her for a long time." She puts the chart back, stops her work, and confides, "Nurses tend to pick up on a lot of conversations around here. Just in case it means anything to you, you should know that from what I could tell, it seemed like she was trying to…catch up on your life."
You're pretty surprised at that. You're not sure you've ever had your mom take such an interest in your life. As soon as the nurse is out the door, you don't hesitate to call her anymore.
"Quinny, is everything alright?" she answers the phone, sounding worried.
"Yes mom," you respond. You tell her that you've made a decision about who to give your daughter to and that you were going to be calling the woman next and having her meet you to tell her the decision. She asks you what the woman is like and you tell her a bit about her. She tells you that it sounds like this Shelby will make a great mom to her granddaughter. You ask her to come back and bring the camera because you want more pictures before you have to say goodbye to your daughter. She explains that she actually left the camera with you- hid it in your bag to make sure the nurses didn't get any ideas about stealing it while you were sleeping. She also says that she'll be by in a bit- she's still getting things for you. She went to Mercedes' house and got all of your things, had a nice talk with her family. Right now she's finding you some loose, comfortable, and stylish clothes for the next few weeks. And she still needs to stop and buy you a breast pump before she returns to the hospital because she doesn't plan on leaving again until you do and you'll need the pump tonight probably. She asks you if a nurse explained what you'd be doing about your lactation yet and then tells you to make sure someone explains that very soon, you need a nurse to explain things before you leave. She adds on that she loves you and she's proud of you before she hangs up (her voice sounded watery and it made your eyes tear up).
When you get off the phone with your mom, you look to Puck as you hold the piece of paper with Shelby's number on it in your hand. He nods, and you dial her number. She sounds excited to hear from you and like she's even happier when you tell her that you'd like her to come back to the hospital to talk to her. (It's pretty apparent that you're going to give her your baby. This meeting with her is probably a little time wasting since you could have just told her- and basically did tell her in simply asking to meet- what you decided over the phone. But this is a big moment for all of you and it feels wrong to do it any other way than in person.)
Puck takes your hand again the second you hang up the phone and you sit there for a while, just hanging on to him, letting this decision settle.
Eventually, you say, "We should get cleaned up. I don't want either one of us to look horrible in the pictures I want of all of us with Beth." (It's the first time you've called her Beth. Shelby seemed okay with keeping the name the two of you wanted for her, which is something you liked and appreciated about her. Now that you've made your decision, you can finally accept that the name you want for her is actually going to be her name. You get to leave that little bit of yourselves with her.)
"Are you saying I don't look good?" Puck teases. He gets up though and says he's going to go clean up in the bathroom down the hall, let you stay and take all the time you need to get ready to see your daughter again.
You get interrupted as you've just begun digging through the bag your mother brought by that promised visit from the lactation nurse. Now, after a rather brief conversation and demonstration of the use of a breast pump, you know what "pumping and dumping" meant. The nurse explains that you won't be doing much pumping, in fact you should only do just enough to relieve any swollen feeling or extreme discomfort. By doing just a little bit and leaving most of the milk in your breasts, additional production of milk will slow and you'll stop producing milk- which shouldn't take too long for you so if it's still continuing in a few weeks, come back and see her. At the end of the short appointment with the lactation nurse, you realize that having to tend to and deal with this part every day (maybe multiple times a day) for however long it lasts, is going to be a really giant reminder of everything (though you already know you're not going to be able to forget it for a second).
When the nurse leaves, Puck walks back in as if he was waiting at the door for whenever she'd exit so he could come back to you. He takes notice of the bag that was pushed off to the end of the bed and the fact that you look exactly the same as when he left and realizes, "Oh, so you didn't get to get ready before that lady came in."
"Nope," you answer.
Since he's here and for some reason the bag your mother brought has three robes, none of which you've ever seen, you pull them out and ask, "Which one of these will look better on me and next to the baby?"
"Seriously?" he asks in return, his face scrunching up like it's a ridiculous question.
"It's a legitimate question. I don't want to clash with either one of us in pictures," you explain, leaving out how you don't want anything ruining what may be some of the only pictures you ever have of her, with her.
"Nothing's going to clash with her," he says as if it's ridiculous, "she's by far the best looking kid in this whole hospital. Seriously, I was just at the nursery and you should see some of those kids. Though, I passed some of their parents and they didn't have anything going for them either. How some of those women ended up pregnant is completely baffling."
Probably the same way you ended up pregnant, you think. But you're tired of bringing up the past and you're tired of being angry with Puck especially when he's actually been really great through most of this. It's not like you had to believe him about having contraception anyway. So, instead of responding with something you know you'd regret, you concentrate on the issue his response didn't solve. You examine the robes and decide, "I think the white, with the little pink flowers- that should go with her blanket without blending with it."
He's clearly not listening and you wait for him to catch on to the fact you may want a little privacy to prepare yourself. He doesn't though so you prompt him, "Can you…?" you say with a gesture to the door.
"Really?" he questions, "After what I just saw I don't think there's really any need to be shy."
You glare at him. You were only changing your robe and heading to the in-room bathroom to make sure your eyes didn't look puffy and red, maybe clean up a little. So technically you really didn't need him to leave, but you'd like a minute to yourself to prepare for what may be your last moments with your little girl.
He concedes to your glare quickly and leaves.
When you get up from your bed, you hold your stomach again and you try not to think about it at all (try not to notice how it feels smaller, empty). You go to the bathroom and stand in front of the mirror for a minute, just looking. In all the times you'd been in here to use the bathroom since you delivered, you hadn't looked in the mirror. Technically you suppose you don't look any different than you ever have, but it feels like you do. It feels like you don't know how you became the person who's looking back at you (a person you don't really know at all).
You take a deep breath and try not to think about that as well. You wash your face, your hands, and fix your hair. You put on the other robe you picked out and make sure it looks right, fits the image you'd like to keep of you and your daughter.
You wanted a minute alone to think about that: your daughter. This may be your last moment with her, ever. But it turns out you're not going to come to terms with that and you can't prepare yourself for it. Instead, at that idea, you feel like crawling back into bed and never waking up. So, before you fall apart, you exit the bathroom quickly and open the door to your room to let Puck come back.
He's right there waiting at the door, only he's not alone. Shelby has arrived.
This is it. The moment you actually give your daughter to someone else.
You say, "Sorry to keep you waiting," because you're not sure what else to start with.
"Oh no," she waves off, "I just got here."
You all walk back into the room and you take a seat back on your bed, legs hanging off the edge of it towards Puck, who's back in his chair right beside you. With the both of you settled in, she waits politely at then end of your bed for you to tell her the reason you called her. You really have nothing else to say but your decision and some things that couldn't proceed your decision. So, this is really it, you have to do this now. (You remind yourself, chanting in your head, you have to do this. It's the only way she could have the kind of happy and full life you want her to have.)
Puck takes your hand, like he knew what you needed. You turn to him, meet his eyes. He gives you a nod, letting you know that he's still okay with all of this, still on the same page as you. You have tears in your eyes already and you swallow thickly before looking up at Shelby. You have to do this, so you force the words out, "We decided, we'd like you to…raise Beth."
Shelby's crying now too. "Really?" she checks, her voice coming out in an emotional squeak. You both nod and then in a flash she's over by your bedside hugging you tightly, crying on your shoulder as you cry on hers. She's thanking you over and over again and then she's going around your bed and hugging Puck too. He doesn't seem too pleased at first, but he hugs her back. While he does, he gives you this look like he's thinking the same thing you are: you were right in thinking she's warm and would give their daughter a hug any time it seemed like she needed one.
She pulls away from Puck and wipes at her eyes as she says more clearly now, "Thank you both so much. I promise I'll be a great mom and I'll love her just as much as you would."
"We know," Puck offers as he takes your hand again, as if reassuring you that you did make the right choice (even though this is so hard you wish you could take it back).
She smiles at you and excitedly asks, "Okay, so how are we doing this? Closed adoption? Open adoption?"
The adoption part was actually something you needed to bring up with her and you address that first. "We actually don't know about the whole adoption thing legally," you begin, "I mean, we don't have anything formal ready and we don't know how that's going to… work. We were kind of hoping you know what we need to do next to make this official."
"As luck would have it, I actually contacted a lawyer today, just in case. One of the parents of one of my Vocal Adrenaline's kids is a family lawyer, he's good too, and he said that he could get the paper work drawn up in an hour or two, we just need to call him and discuss some specifics," Shelby explains, barely able to contain her joy as she does so.
The mention of specifics has you looking to Puck with concern though. There are some other things you had realized you wanted to talk to him about before Shelby arrived, some stuff you realized the two of you never addressed. "Uh, while you get a hold of him and tell him what's going on, can we have a minute alone?" you ask.
"Sure, absolutely," she agrees easily and pulls out her phone and heads for the door as she continues, "I'll just give him a call and when you guys are ready, let me know."
As soon as the door shuts, Puck pounces, "What? Did you change your mind? Cause if you are you probably shouldn't have told her to call that lawyer."
"No, it's not that," you begin, feeling horrible that you may have gotten his hopes up. You explain, "We just didn't talk about everything yet."
His brow furrows. He seems to consider what you said, but ends up asking, "Like what?"
"Like…I don't think I can watch her leave with Beth," you tell him, "if it's okay with you, I want to leave in a few hours and ask Shelby to come by after to get her so we don't have to watch her take her."
"Yeah, okay," he agrees immediately.
"And," you continue, "No matter what we decide about it being open or closed, I don't know if I could handle seeing her for a little while." That doesn't sound like you intended it, but you'd been worrying about this. You pause for a second, try to gather your thoughts, and try again, "If we just go visit her later today or tomorrow or even this week, I don't think I'd really be letting her go, I don't think it'd allow me to really adjust to her not being ours anymore. And we need to."
"So how long were you thinking that we'd definitely stay away? A month? And then during that time we decide about the open or closed thing?" he questions.
A month sounds like forever to you so you suggest, "Or three weeks maybe?"
"Or two?" he counters.
You're not sure how long it may take you to adjust to the idea that she's not yours or to really need to see her again if you both decide you want it to be an open adoption. Puck seemed hopeful with his suggestion of two weeks and you understand that, it's going to be awful not seeing her. So you consider, "Maybe we should just be vague and say a little while."
"I'm good with that," Puck agrees. "Anything else?" he prompts.
You're sure there's probably things you haven't considered, but there isn't anything else that comes to mind. Just, "Are you ready for this? For legally signing her over to someone else?"
"No," he answers immediately. "You?" he returns.
"No," you answer just as honestly as him.
He gives your hand a squeeze, tries to smile at you, and says, "But we've both got to do it anyway, right? We do this, we get our daughter a good life."
Yeah, you'd like to think of it like that too. This is too hard for knowing something like that to make it easier, but you hope that eventually, it will. You nod in response and ask him to get Shelby so you can get this over with.
She comes back in and has the lawyer on speakerphone. He begins asking you for some details, for the paper work, and telling him the things he needs to know isn't hard, for the most part.
When you get to the open or closed adoption part you hit a snag. Shelby isn't bothered by the fact that you haven't decided; she seems to understand that such a big decision would take more time. The lawyer started claiming the indecision would cause a problem in the paper work. But Shelby jumps in and tells him that he should just do whatever he has to do, add a clause or something that says that they will work it out between them and she'll go along with anything they want to do concerning the adoption being open or closed. Naturally her lawyer advised her against agreeing to any terms as vague as "anything," but she told him very sternly that if he doesn't come through, his kid is out of her glee club now, before State and before Nationals. He agreed after that and said he'd make it work.
You liked seeing that side of Shelby, fighting for what she wanted and what was best for all of you. Sure, it kind of reminds you of Rachel and if anyone had told you that you'd want the person raising your daughter to be anything like Rachel you would have thought they were insane. But that fierceness, that determination, you can see it being good for your daughter.
When the conversation with the lawyer is coming to a close (after about thirty minutes), he mentions coming by with the papers for all of you to sign and you stop him. Shelby puts him on hold and you tell her how you're planning on leaving here at seven, five hours from now, and you don't want to see her walk away with your daughter. She understands, says she could use the extra time to hurry up and get all of the necessities she'll need (definitely a car seat first), and she'll be back to get her a half-hour after you leave, to make sure you're gone. So you get the lawyer back on the phone and he agrees to send a notary over with the papers for you before you leave and then meet Shelby to have her sign them when she comes to pick up Beth.
Everything is worked out. This is really happening.
After the phone call with the lawyer is over, Shelby warns, "Barry seemed to forget to mention it, but just to make sure you guys know, according to Ohio state law, you have a year change your mind and challenge the papers we'll be signing today. I hope you don't of course, but I understand if you realize you need to and I just wanted you to know." You nod appreciatively and she continues curiously, "For my piece of mind though, you don't have any family members who aren't going to be okay with your decision right? None coming out of the woodwork to contest the adoption? Like your parents?"
"My mom knows our decision and, it's a long story, but given the state of our relationship right now she's okay with anything I want," you tell her. You have another parent though and you're not quite sure what to say about him. You offer, "And as for my dad, I think he's out of my life." You promise, "He's not going to be a problem."
"My dad's never been anything but a problem," Puck offers, "but he ditched me and my family quite a few years ago and hasn't been seen since so I don't see him even finding out about any of this."
"What about your mom?" Shelby prompts him when he doesn't continue.
Puck seems to consider it, as if he's not sure how to explain, and sighs before he settles, "I think she's in denial about all this. I mean, we had Quinn staying with us for a while and still, she keeps not acknowledging it no matter how many times I try to talk to her about it."
That captures your attention. "You tried to talk to her about it?" you question, surprised. The whole time you lived with him, you two really didn't talk about the baby or anything much at all.
"Yeah, of course," he says, "I tried to get her on board with all this, tried to get her to help us so maybe we could keep Beth, but…never got through to her." He adds on, "And I tried to get her to stop looking at you like she would. Told her you getting pregnant was my fault. I-"
"You did?" you interrupt, surprised by him again.
He looks guilty as he responds, "Well, yeah. It was my fault."
You've been saying stuff like that to him for months (and you're pretty sure you screamed it at him at some point while you were in labor). And the whole lack of contraception thing was mostly his fault since he claimed to have it covered. But, while you've never admitted it, you know that the having sex part was not his fault- or at least, not just his fault. So, for the first time, you tell him, "No, it wasn't. I think you convincing me took less than a minute. A girl who didn't want to would have put up more of a fight. So it wasn't like you had to talk me into it or like you seduced me into it, which means I was as big a part of allowing that to happen as you were so you can't be to blame."
A beat passes between you. You're not sure what he's thinking of. For your part, you're thinking of that night, how you got here. You're thinking of what he said to you this morning while you watched your daughter.
"I'm sorry," you hear suddenly, breaking you from this moment you're having with Puck. Shelby continues, "I can see something's going on here, but I am still here and this is getting a little awkward. Did you have anything else you wanted to talk about before I go?"
You tell Shelby about how you think you should definitely spend some time apart from your daughter to help everyone adjust to the idea that she's Shelby's now. You tell her that during the "little while" you'll be spending apart, the two of you will be making a decision about whether or not the adoption should be closed or open. She tells you that if you don't want to wait a "little while," if you decide tomorrow that you want the adoption to be open, just give her a call and let her know, you can come right on over and see Beth. (You're getting the feeling that she thinks you're definitely going to have an open adoption. She knows what it feels like to give up a baby girl though, so you suppose she's probably concluding that based on experience.)
This is when the nurse comes through the door, once again wheeling in your daughter's bassinette. "Guess who's hungry again?" she comes in saying. She wheels her over to the bed, near you and Puck again and leaves the room.
You watch Shelby stay politely away, but clearly all her attention has gone to your baby and staring at her in awe.
You don't know where you find the strength to suggest it, but you say, "Do you want to hold her?"
"You sure?" she checks, and you nod. She doesn't hesitate to come closer to the two of you, to the bassinette, and pick her up. She cradles her in her arms and she's smiling just as big as you always do when you see your daughter. And as much as it hurts to see her with the woman who she'll know as her mother instead of you, the sight helps ease the ache in your soul just a little because you can see that Shelby already loves her.
You reach for the camera in the bag at the end of your bed and snap a picture of the two of them (you want to capture that look on Shelby's face to reassure you that you made the right choice in the difficult times you're sure will come). The flash of the camera draws her attention away from the infant in her arms for the first time. "Oh," she laughs, "I wish you warned me about that. I must look awful with all the crying."
"You look happy," you tell her, "and now you'll have the first moment you met her captured in a picture." You want your daughter to have that moment too. A picture proving how happy her adoptive mother was to meet her and become her family.
Shelby smiles at you gratefully. She sighs and says, "Well, I could stay here all day like this." She looks up at you, "But if I'm going to get a car seat and somewhere for her to sleep tonight and bottles and food…and gosh, just so many things, all in the next few hours, I should probably get moving." She passes Beth off to Puck, continuing, "Besides, this is your time with her. I don't want to steal any of it away."
She heads for the other side of the room, to the counter where she left her purse and her phone. She pulls some papers out of her purse and brings them back over to you. She lays them out on the bed before you and explains that one of them has directions to her house, another is a whole list of contact information (work, home, and cell numbers, email addresses, screen names, and fax number).
This will be the last time you see her for a bit, until or if you decide you want the adoption to be open. She seems completely aware of this too because she hugs you again and tells you how grateful she is to you for making her a mother and how she'll do everything she can to repay you for that enormous gift. Since Puck has Beth in his arms, she doesn't hug him (which he looks relieved about), but she pats him on the shoulder. Then she reaches for one of Beth's hands and tells her she'll be back soon to get her with an overjoyed smile.
It's only the three of you alone again for about a minute. Then the nurse comes back in apologizing for how long it took to bring in a bottle- there was an emergency down the hall. You ask if you could keep her in here for a while and she says of course, just come get a nurse when you want her to be taken back to the nursery.
Once the nurse is gone, it's the three of you again. Your daughter and her dad and you and it may very well be the last time you're with her. It's definitely the last time you're going to be with her while she'll actually still be yours. By the time you let her go back to the nursery, she's going to be someone else's.
Since he already has her, Puck feeds her the first half of her bottle. You take at least twenty pictures of him feeding her. And then the two of you trade roles and you feed her while Puck takes pictures.
You spend the next forty minutes doing nothing but the two of you taking pictures of each other with your daughter in your arms. A variety of positions, a variety of angles, a variety of techniques tried in attempts to get her facial expressions to change. Then you spend another twenty minutes taking pictures of just her.
Your mom finally shows up, complete with another bag of stuff for you and better food for both of you to eat- for which Puck is very grateful. You take several pictures of your mom holding Beth. You're not sure you've ever seen your mom seem so much like a mom than when she held your daughter and cooed at her. You explain how you chose the name Beth, much to Puck's embarrassment, and for while everything is pictures, stories, smiles, and happiness.
When Beth drifts off to sleep, you finally dig in to the food your mom brought. She takes her camera back and goes through the pictures you've taken so far with a smile on her face. As you're finishing eating she's finally gotten through all the pictures (you probably had well over three hundred at that point) and she realizes, "There's not any pictures of the three of you together."
You hadn't realized that. Earlier, you know you thought about how you wanted some of the three of you, but somehow you had gotten caught up while taking pictures of her so far and you just hadn't gotten around to it.
Luckily, it's not very long before Beth is waking up again and you hurriedly try to get at least one picture while she has her eyes open. You stay on the bed, Beth in your arms, and Puck leans in around you while your mom snaps a quick picture. She takes a bunch more, perpetually rearranging you and Puck for new poses even after Beth has fallen back asleep. She gets one really good one that makes her pause where Puck's sitting on the bed beside you, his right shoulder behind your left, and him peering over your left shoulder to your daughter sleeping in the crook of your arm who you're looking down at too, both of you smiling at her.
By the time all of the pictures are done, it's nearing five. You told Shelby you'd be checking out at seven and you didn't want to keep your daughter in here until the very last minute- that's why you decided not to stay in the hospital until midnight, until the last second you could. You didn't want to make this harder. You wanted a goodbye and you know that whenever that comes it's going to hurt, but you're going to have to go through with it anyway.
It's exactly at five that the promised notary with the adoption papers shows up. He's a very friendly man. He comes in, introduces himself (Jim Hutton), and calls your daughter gorgeous like he really means it. Then he explains that first, the hospital paper work should be taken care of and he told a nurse to get it together for you on his way in.
It only takes a few minutes for a nurse to show up with said papers, all the while complaining that the birth certificate in particular should have been given to you two hours ago. The lawyer tells you to fill out the hospital papers first, it'll make filling in the bits of the adoption papers easier.
Puck takes the papers from him. He's still sitting next to you on your bed as he'd been there watching your daughter sleep in your arms. Now, he flips through the papers for the both of you to look at them. Some are pretty typical like the usual HIPPA law related paper you need to sign and a paternity affidavit. All those types are pretty easy to get through. You shift your daughter in your arms and sign them.
Then, last in the hospital papers, is the information for her birth certificate. The notary, standing by, comments as if he knows one of the reasons you're hesitating at it, that you put your names down as her parents because you're always going to be her biological parents no matter what. Also, the adoption will change her last name, so you can go ahead and give her yours on the birth certificate, because, again, she is yours.
Beth begins to stir in your arms so Puck takes over filling out this form. His handwriting is kind of awful and he could just take Beth from you so you could finish filling this out, but instead, he doesn't ask you to let her go, he just takes over the form.
He writes in Beth for her first name and skips over the rest of the name for a minute. He fills in some of the other answers he knows- your name for her mother, his for her father. He checks off hospital as the birthplace and checks the box for her to get a social security number. He fills in her birthday, time of birth, sex. He fills in all the information for himself: level of education, ethnicity, social security number, address, etc. He asks you for all the same information (except, you notice, he filled in your address and birthday without having to ask you). Then he has nothing but the harder questions left. He asks, "So, uh, what about the rest of her name? We didn't talk about a middle name or anything?"
Right. You'd forgotten about that actually. "Maybe it should be up to Shelby," you suggest because you don't want to pick something that she thinks clashes with it. Plus, you already picked her first name and Beth is going to be her daughter, she should probably have some say in her middle name at least.
Puck grabs your phone, dials the number and puts it on speakerphone.
"Is everything alright?" she answers worriedly. You notice your mother perk up at the sound of her voice.
"Yes, Shelby, we were just filling out the information for Beth's birth certificate and wanted to know what you wanted for her middle name?" you ask, getting right to the point.
"Oh, I just assumed you guys would pick that," she responds. You hear background noise for a few seconds, it sounds like she's in a department store or something, probably buying stuff for Beth. She reconsiders, "Actually, I think you should pick her middle name. I want you to be able to give that to her too. I want her to have as much from you, from her biological parents, as she can and that's something else you can give her so I think you should."
"Are you sure?" you check.
"There's not a family name or anything you want her to have?" Puck chimes in, thinking what you were thinking.
"Nope. You guys go ahead and pick a name and I'm sure it will be just as right for her as Beth," she returns.
"Okay," you agree. You say goodbye to her and thank her for letting you pick her middle name, because she's right, this will be something extra you'll get to leave with your daughter- something extra you'll get to give her. Only, you have no idea what her middle name should be.
"Well there's always Jackie," Puck jokes. You raise an eyebrow at him and he continues, "What? Beth Jackie Fabray doesn't sound bad."
"Puckerman-Fabray," you correct. Honestly, you'd been going back and forth on that issue throughout your pregnancy. But in the end, he deserves this and so does your daughter.
He seems surprised. "Thanks," he says softly, looking down at the bed like he's embarrassed to show that this actually means a lot to him.
"She's yours too," you remind him, explaining away your decision even though you both know it means more than just biology.
He looks to you and there's something there, like he wants to say something important, but you're not alone and this isn't the right time anyway.
"Noah," your mother says thoughtfully, chiming in with a suggestion, "You could put her father's first name as her middle name. I've heard Noah has become a very popular middle name for girls lately."
"Thanks for trying to get my name in there Mrs. Fabray-"
"Judy," she interjects.
"but I don't like going by Noah myself so I don't want to stick her with it," Puck responds politely.
"How about one of your middle names?" the notary, Jim, suggests trying to help.
Your mom laughs dryly, "We chose my mother's name for Quinn so she could get in her will and I always regretted that we went with it- Camille sounds like an old lady name."
"But the inheritance I got did get me my car," you remind your mom. She'd been better than you could have imagined over the last day and while you're not sure you'll ever forgive her for the past, you don't want her to feel bad about something as small as your middle name.
"And my mom made my middle name Abraham because she apparently wanted my name to be as Jewish as possible," Puck says, clearly ruling his middle name out. His eyebrow raise, something occurring to him, and he suggests, "Hey, I already got a bit of her Jewish heritage in there with Beth and with her going to Shelby who's Jewish, maybe you should make her middle name something Christian. That's a big part of who you are, right? You should get something to leave that with her."
Beth is a Jewish name? You hadn't actually realized that. Not that you mind. You love it anyway and it really does fit her. But Puck makes a really good point. Perhaps you should leave her with something of your faith too. "Yeah," you agree, "I like that idea." But, you realize, "I can't think of any though…". Your face scrunches, trying to remember a name from the Bible that you like, something with a meaning you like too.
You all sit there, trying to think of names. Your mom looks like she's really struggling- which makes sense, church is only a social event for her. Puck looks like he's trying, though you know knowing a Christian name isn't something he's inclined to be aware of. You keep running through names you remember from the Bible, Eve, Mary, Ruth, but you don't like them.
"If I may," Jim, the notary speaks up again, "my wife and I had this same type of situation when our last child was born- we wanted a Christian name, something from the Bible. What we found was that most names from the Bible have a Hebrew origin, which makes sense if you think about it, so, just to let you know, anything you pick would probably fit both faiths apparently in the room."
"Thanks," you say gratefully. That is helpful to know that both of the names would technically be Hebrew if you take it from the Bible. But you don't want to just go with any girl's name and you don't want to go with a random saint's name. You want it to have more meaning than that.
"And," he continues, but pauses to see if you don't want him to say anymore, which you don't mind, you could use the help. Since you don't stop him, he proceeds, "It turned out that we had a son, but if we had had a girl, one name we were considering was Abigail. It means 'father's joy' or simply, 'source of joy.'"
Source of joy, well that certainly fits Beth. You smile and say, "I really like that." To Jim you add sincerely, "Thank you."
"Sounds good to me," Puck agrees.
"Beth Abigail Puckerman-Fabray," you decide and Puck writes it in.
"It's lovely," your mom compliments.
The birth certificate is done now though and since it was the last of the hospital papers, that means that you only have the adoption ones left. That fact sucks away all the joy you felt over giving her a name.
Jim takes all the finished hospital papers from you, saying he'll leave them with the nurses on his way out. Then he puts the adoption papers in front of you. He reviews what they say, which is basically all the same things you went over with the lawyer on the phone. He fills out Beth's now decided full name according to your birth certificate form and then he points out the places you need to sign- one for you, one for Puck.
The whole room grows quiet and somber. Your daughter is sleeping peacefully in the crook of your right arm, oblivious to the awfulness of this moment.
Puck reaches across himself, takes your left hand with his left hand even though it's awkward. He picks up the pen with his right hand, clears his throat. You notice the water starting to pool in his eyes, like it's already spilling over the edges of yours. He signs it quickly, like he's ripping off a band-aid, and then he swipes his hand over his eyes, trying to get rid of the tears.
There's no point trying to wipe yours away, they've come and they're not stopping. It's your turn now though. You have to give up your rights to your daughter. You have to give her to someone who can take care of her, who can give her a better life than you could ever imagine giving her. This moment hurts more now than all the others. It's like someone's ripping your heart right out of your chest. You move to switch your daughter in your arms, so she goes from your right to your left. You pause in your movement and kiss her forehead, all the while telling yourself that you're doing what's best for her. And then you take the pen and sign your name, hoping it will hurt less if you sign it fast enough (it doesn't).
Jim notarizes the papers, wishes you both the best, and leaves quietly. You don't notice it really, you're crying too much. As soon as he's out the door though, your mom is rushing to your side. Puck takes Beth from you so your mom can hug you and you can cry on her shoulder. You try to get a hold of yourself as quickly as possible though because you know you only have about thirty minutes left with your daughter.
When you've calmed down again, your mom suggests you go wash your face and change into the clothes she brought you to leave in, it may help you feel better. So you do, all the while not looking in the mirror while you're in the bathroom because you don't want to see the person you are right now (even if you did the right thing, you hate yourself for it a little for how awful you feel because of it).
You return to Puck still on your bed with your daughter. He's staring at her like he's trying to memorize the way she looks. He kisses her forehead and smiles as she yawns as she wakes up.
You climb back into your bed beside him and watch your daughter open her eyes. His eyes are watery again and yours are starting to feel that way. But you try to contain yourself because you don't want to waste this precious time crying.
"Hey Beth," Puck says to her, "you know, originally your mom was going out with my best friend, who she was telling everyone was your-"
"Don't tell her that," you jump in, smacking him lightly on the arm. You know she won't remember, but still, it doesn't say very good things about you.
"Fine," Puck concedes. He starts over, "You know, you're here cause one day I decided to act on the fact that I was really into your mom- still am."
He smiles at you and you smile at him- it's like you're back in front of the nursery window.
He looks back to your daughter and continues, "So you came from a good place. And now, we're making sure you're going to be in the best place possible. And, even though we're not going to be with you, we're always going to be here for you and we're always going to love you."
Tears are back streaming down your face like you have two faucets for eyes.
Luckily, this is Puck you're with and so the next thing he says makes you laugh. "There's something you gotta do for us though Beth," he begins, "see, your new mom, she's cool, but she works with a bunch of douches. So, if she ever lets any one of those Vocal Adrenaline kids hold you, I want you to spit up on them- much as you can. And when you grow teeth, you bite them. Deal?" She smiles at him, which prompts him to smile at you and say, amazed, "Look at that, she got me. She's totally going to do that."
You laugh again.
He picks her up, places another kiss on her forehead, and passes her to you.
There are so many things you want to say to her. So many things you want her to know. For the moment though, you settle on simply holding her and once again trying to remember everything about her.
You try to remember the way she feels in your arms. The way she curls into your chest. Everything. All over again, you try to make sure every little detail of her is imprinted in your memory so you at least have that to hang on to when you won't have her.
You turn your eyes up, trying to clear the tears for a moment so you can look at her without a blur. You look back down at her, smiling again at her perfection. You kiss her cheek. You tell her simply, "I love you, always." This is your daughter (forever, no matter what any piece of paper says), and that she knows you love her is all that really matters.
Your mom comes back in the room and says, "It's time." She offers, "I'll take her to the nurses, make sure she gets back to the nursery."
You nod. You kiss her one last time and then Puck leans over and does the same.
Your mom takes her from your arms. The second she's gone from them Puck takes your hand. Your mom places her in her bassinette and rolls her out of the room.
Every cell in your body feels like it's screaming, like they're all shaking and on the verge of collapsing. But you suck up your tears, take a deep breath, and try not to fall apart. You start grabbing the stuff on your bed with your free hand and shoving it in the bag, packing up so you can go.
Puck's clearly trying to hold himself together too and starts helping you clean up the room.
Your mom is back in a couple of minutes and see's that you're just about ready to go so she gets a nurse and tells them you're checking out now.
You scan the room, making sure you haven't left anything behind because you know that the feeling that you have is going to stay with you. Puck grabs both your bags and waits for you at the door. You continue to work really hard not to cry, but as you exit this room, the only place she was ever yours in, some tears escape.
A signature is needed, that's all, apparently your mom took care of everything else. The nurse says you shouldn't be walking, they were going to come get you with a wheel chair (hospital policy), but you politely plead that that's not necessary. The nurse seems to understand.
Puck takes your hand and your mother takes your other as you walk away from this place, all the way to the elevator, all the way out to her car. Walking away, leaving without her, is just as hard as signing the papers. Your body shakes with the sobs you're trying to fight off as it feels like you've left your heart and soul behind you, both torn away in tiny pieces with every step you took.
On the car ride home, you sit in the backseat with Puck. You clutch his hand with all your might and he does the same. It's as if you both think that if there's enough pain in your hand, you won't notice how much all of this hurts.
(On the way out of the hospital, no one had asked you if you were okay. It was pretty obvious that you're not.)
A/N: I hope you enjoyed reading!
I'm really, really going to try to get the second part out by next Thursday (otherwise, God only knows how long it may take me as my schedule will get even more chaotic). If it's not up by then, be assured I'll be trying to get it finished ASAP.
Thank you for reading:)
And remember, REVIEWS equal love so please leave one!