"I'm warning you Kurt, this baby had better be good- Ah!"
She doubled over again as they waited for a nurse to see them.
"Rachel, she's half you. She's going to be fabulous. Now keep breathing just like they taught you-"
"Yeah, well good luck breathing when I tie your windpipe in a knot for doing this to me!"
Kurt ignored the voice in his head that kept telling him this had all been a terrible idea. It was about nine months too late to think like that now. They'd both always wanted kids, and the most stable relationship either of them had ever had was with each other. They lived together, they went out together, they had the same friends; they were already a family. Why not make it official? Rachel's hand clamped onto his even harder, making him lose his cool for a second.
"Fuck! Oh, God, I mean, uh, was that a bad one, Rach?"
"A bad one? A bad contraction of my uterus as it stretches to fit a person out? Well gee, Kurt, have you had a bad kick in the face lately? Or have there been any bad mass killings in the area?"
"Excuse me nurse, how long do you think it'll take for us to get a room?"
The nurse peered over her desk to get a look at Rachel, who was clinging to the counter and growling at Kurt under her breath.
"I'll see what I can do."
Rachel's hair was plastered to her face and her feet were in stirrups. She didn't like it. At least her hospital gown covered up the stuff Kurt really didn't want to see. She kept scrunching up her face to power though the pain and making indistinguishable sounds as Kurt tried and failed to comfort her.
"I know it hurts-"
"Kurt, not being rude, but you don't have a vagina."
"No, you're right, but you're doing so well, I promise-"
"Kurt. Be quiet. Just hold my hand- Hnaargnh…"
She kept panting and squeezing Kurt's hand until he had to bite his lip to stop himself from screaming. There was enough of that in the room already. It stopped suddenly as the beeping coming from the monitor by Rachel's head started speeding up. The numbers on the screen were getting higher and higher, and a doctor rushed in and started to put his hands on Rachel. She looked to Kurt, terrified. He didn't have any words of comfort. He was as clueless as she was. The doctor moved his hands down, still saying nothing to either of them, making Rachel wince. Kurt leaned up to kiss her head. She'd forgotten about the pain. Something was wrong.
"Doctor?" Kurt piped up as soon as he remembered to breathe, "What's happening? Is everything okay?"
"Hmm. The baby's heart rate has gone up. We really need to get her out as soon as possible."
He was so clinical. Obviously this was just another day at work for him; things went wrong and he fixed them, but they'd never done this before. It was their baby. At the thought of losing her, Kurt knew they hadn't made a mistake. The heavy, sick feeling in the pit of his stomach told him he was already in love with this little girl. He couldn't handle losing her now.
"Okay, so what now? Is she dilated enough?"
"Do I have to push?"
"No. We don't have time to wait for that now. It looks like the cord has gotten wrapped around the baby's neck, so we're going to have to go into surgery."
Everything was a blur of wheels and swinging doors and scrubs and medical words they didn't understand, and before he knew it Kurt was back at Rachel's side, trying to pretend he wasn't terrified, trying to keep her calm. She could barely keep her eyes open, having been in labour for eight hours, and Kurt kept stroking her hair and desperately attempting to decipher what was being said over his head.
"I'm… I'm scared."
More than anything, he just wanted to tell her it would all be fine, that soon they'd be back home with their daughter and they would be happy, but he couldn't. He couldn't promise her anything.
"I know, Rachel. I'm scared too."
He put his arm around her shoulders and tucked her head under his chin, feeling her cold sweat against his neck.
The shouting stopped.
They heard her before they saw her. It was hardly surprising that she was loud. She was laid across Rachel's chest, still covered in blood and squirming, but undoubtedly alive.
"We're just going to get her cleaned up. You might want to rest, while you still can. I think this one's going to be keeping you up a lot."
Kurt and Rachel smiled at each other, both of their eyes brimming.
"Yeah. You did it, Rach, I'm so proud of you."
She cupped his face with her free hand, the one that wasn't still clinging to Kurt.
"Thank you, Kurt. I still can't believe it, but thank you so much."
"Are you kidding? I didn't even do anything!"
"Well, thanks anyway."
"Rachel, she's beautiful. She's got your eyes."
"Let's just hope she doesn't have my nose." He laughed and kissed her head again. "Kurt?"
"Can you go with her?"
"Rachel, I want to stay with you, she'll be fine-"
"I know, I just… I want her to be with her dad. She shouldn't be all alone on her first night here."
He put his hand over hers and nodded.
"Sure. Whatever you want."
"Oh, and Kurt, one more thing?"
"I love you."
"Love you too, Rach."
Kurt was sitting next to the crib, thinking about names. He'd already given Barbara and Patti a firm no. He had his hand in with her, stroking her face with the back of his finger, staring at her tiny ears and nose and mouth. He was still in shock. He was a father. He had a daughter- with Rachel, of all people. He wanted to laugh at how ridiculous the whole situation was.
Kurt turned to see a different doctor from before, in pale green scrubs and a white coat. He looked much more official. He didn't move his hand away from the baby.
"I'm afraid there were complications."
"There's no easy way to tell you this, but… Rachel died at 3:15 this morning. We did everything we could-"
"What? No! She can't – what was wrong? I don't understand…"
"After you left, she started haemorrhaging. We tried to stop it, but she'd lost too much blood. I'm so sorry. We've called her fathers and they should be here in an hour or so. Is there anything I can do?"
Was that it? Was that all he had to say? There's one thing you can do – you can bring my best friend back. You can bring my baby's mother back. He didn't know what to do. He couldn't help wondering how differently the doctor would have broken the news if he'd been her husband, or any kind of romantic partner. Like that would be a more valid relationship. That had never mattered to them. They were intent on spending the rest of their lives together, raising their daughter, and now… Now he was alone.
His hand went limp next to the baby, and he felt her grasping onto the tip of his little finger. He shook his head at the doctor silently. There was nothing either of them could do. The doctor walked away, and Kurt stood up to look more closely at her. He put his shaking hands into the crib, sliding his fingers underneath the tiny thing in the woolly pink hat, gasping when she wriggled, terrified of hurting her. She mewled quietly and her nose twitched as he lifted her up, balancing her carefully on his hands. He shifted around awkwardly and slowly until he was holding her to his chest. She breathed a delicate sigh, finally comfortable when she could feel that he was at ease, and the combination of her soft skin, her dark hair and her gentle whimpers was too much. It was too Rachel. Kurt shook violently as his head fell forwards and his face crumpled. He stood, crying, with his daughter in his arms, and he breathed in that smell before it got away. He knew this was as close as he would get to holding Rachel again.
The baby sensed his discomfort in the stiffness of his arms and started to cry with him. He tried to soothe her despite the cracks in his voice.
"I know, baby, I know. I'm so sorry."
He held her close and rocked her gently. It was all he could do. The only other person who could have comforted her would never get the chance.