Spencer stood outside of the OR for what felt like an eternity. He didn't know what was happening. After staring at the doorway for a long time, he started to move again. Backwards, toward the wall opposite the door. His back hit the wall and he slid to the floor.
What was he going to do?
The fear and the exhaustion proved to be almost too much. He was wiping at his eyes furiously with the back of his wrist when the nurse came out of the OR.
He sprung to his feet so fast that it hurt his old hip injury. The profiler in him was desperately trying to read the nurses face, but the concerned husband and father was too distracted and emotional.
Matt didn't like hospitals. He wanted to leave, but then he remembered he would see his little sister soon and he thought it might be alright to stay for a while. He just wished he could see her sooner. He wanted to see Ava too. Matt wished he could have gone with her like his dad had. He was scared because of the way she had been acting. He hoped it wasn't his fault she was so hurt.
Matt glanced at his grandmother. He wanted to ask questions, but she didn't look like she wanted to talk. The elevators chimed and Matt looked over at them. His face lit up when he saw Derek. He ran toward the man and smiled as he was lifted up. Matt loved being lifted up like that and wanted it every chance he got. He knew it wouldn't last long because he planned on growing to be the size of Superman.
"Hey there, little man," Derek said. "How is everything?"
"I dunno," Matt mumbled. He cleared his throat, remembering that it was rude to mumble. "Ava had to go with the doctors and Dad stayed with her, but I'm waiting out here."
"Well, I'll wait with you then," Derek said.
It was a beautiful day and the ocean air smelled wonderful. Ava knew she had to be dreaming. She heard a child shouting and she turned to see what it was.
Matt was jogging with a plastic bucket full of seashells. He was laughing as the shells spilled out of the bucket. A little girl, about two years old was following behind. Her dark hair was in pigtails and she looked mad. She stopped every few steps to pick up the seashells that had been dropped. "No!" she shouted again.
Coming up the hill and into view, was their father. Spencer's pants were rolled up and his feet were bare. He watched the children with an amused look on his face.
The little girl turned and ran to Spencer. She was still clearly distressed that some of the seashells were lost. Spencer bent down and lifted the girl in to the air.
Ava wanted to go join them. She started to call out to them, but a loud beep interrupted her. And then another. Her vision blurred until she couldn't see them anymore.
"Your wife experienced a lot of bleeding. We expected some due to her past injuries, but this was much worse than we anticipated."
Spencer braced himself for the bad news.
"Fortunately, we were able to stop the main source of the bleeding. Doctors are still working to stop it all, but the biggest danger is gone."
"Chances are good."
"What about the baby? My daughter?"
"She's being examined by the doctor on call in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She's what we call moderately preterm. Generally, babies born this early will have some respiratory problems and she'll have difficulty learning to eat, but there should be no long term effects."
"They're both OK," Spencer whispered.
"Yes, sir," the nurse replied. "If you want to go to the waiting room, someone will come for you as soon as your daughter is ready for a visit. Your wife will be in surgery for a while longer."
"Where's Momma?" Matt asked.
Spencer made a soft hushing sound. "She's resting. We'll get to see her soon. It's important that you be quiet and gentle because she just had surgery."
Matt put a finger over his lips and nodded. "What about the baby?" he asked, just as loudly as before.
"We'll see her soon too, Matt."
The nurse opened the door and stepped out of Ava's hospital room. "She's ready for you now."
"Remember what I said?" Spencer asked.
"Be quiet," Matt replied.
Spencer nodded and took his son by the hand. They went inside. The lighting in the room was low and cast an eerie glow on Ava's pale face. She looked frail and vulnerable, but there was a steady rise and fall to her chest. She opened her eyes and managed a small smile.
Matt sniffed and rubbed his eyes. "Are you dying, Momma?" he said.
She smiled. "No, honey," she said. "I'm not dying. I'm just a little tired. No more tears, OK?"
Matt nodded and tried to smile back.
Spencer smoothed Ava's hair back, having no option to hold her hand because of the tubes and needles. They locked eyes for a moment. They couldn't and wouldn't discuss just how close a call it had been with Matt in the room. The entire pregnancy had been terrifying and exhausting for both of them. It had strengthened their relationship in many ways, testing its strength through the complications, fears, and emergencies.
There was a quick knock on the door and then it opened. A wheel squeaked and the family was still as the newest addition was brought in. She was in an incubator, shielded from the world by clear plastic. Monitors were attached to her and machines on the cart kept track of her breathing and heart rate.
The nurse was a pudgy, middle aged woman with a kind smile. "Hello, everyone."
"Hi," Matt whispered.
"This little girl is quite the fighter," the nurse said. "She's five pounds, six ounces and twenty inches long. She's going to have to stay in the incubator for another day or two, but she's doing well breathing on her own. This is the first preemie I've ever had that improved so quickly."
The nurse wheeled the cart closer and they all peered down at the sleeping baby. She was tiny. Smaller than Spencer had ever expected. A pink, soft hat on her head couldn't hide her dark hair. Her eyes were closed as she slept peacefully. Her lips were perfect, her cheeks were perfect. Ten tiny toes, ten tiny fingers, with paper thin nails were pink and perfect.
"She looks like a bug…but a cute bug, I think," Matt assessed.
"She's beautiful," Spencer murmured. He glanced at Ava for a moment and quickly decided that their little daughter was somehow everything good about both of them.
Spencer felt like they could have stayed there for an eternity, just looking at her, but the nurse had to take her back.
"Bye," Matt whispered.
Spencer held Matt a little tighter as he sat down in the chair next to Ava's bed. He felt like, if he'd wanted to, he could finally rest knowing that everything was right in the world because of that baby girl in the NICU and the little boy in his lap and the strong, beautiful woman in the hospital bed before them.
Ava sighed and closed her eyes for a moment. "We still need a name," she said.
"You need to rest," Spencer said.
"Not until she has a name," Ava insisted.
"Katharine," Matt suggested. He yawned. "Like in the book that night, me and Daddy saw it. I think it's nice."
Spencer and Ava smiled at each other. "I think that's a great name," Spencer said.
Matt yawned again and rested his head on Spencer's shoulder. "I think it's a good name. So is Easter Bunny."
Spencer chuckled. "I like Katharine better."
Ava nodded. "I agree. What do you think for a middle name?"
Spencer thought for a moment, his mind racing. He thought about all the hopes and dreams he had for his daughter. A poem sped through his mind and he couldn't stop from speaking the last stanza.
"Since she will laugh in April's face
No matter how he rains or blows -
Then O that I wild April were,
To play with laughing Rose."
"Rose," Ava repeated. She considered it and then nodded her approval.
"Katharine Rose," Spencer said. He liked the sound.