I was despondent for days. I cried quite a bit, and Doug left me alone to work out my anger alone. He had apologize for the cheating thing, but kept reminding me how happy we’d be with a baby. Our baby.
Sometimes I thought I was being cynical, accusing him of going through the pregnancy thing just to soften the blow of the cheating thing. But sometimes I thought–why else would he do that when we had agreed that I’d be the pregnant one?
After a few days, I was unable to stay angry with him. What was in the past was in the past. He told me all about his indiscretion. He had basically slept with his (male) boss, to keep his job. It was a spur of the moment thing, and he regretted it.
He wouldn’t do it again, he assured me. I wasn’t sure if I believed him or not–this was the second time–but I had to trust him. I made myself trust him. Besides, he did love me… just because he made mistakes didn’t mean he didn’t love me.
October came and went, and I didn’t get the second half of the procedure done. My parents had had triplets out of no where so there was every chance we could have multiples. What would we do if we both had multiples? Four kids at once, five, or even six? It was too much a risk, so I remained with a flat tummy while Doug’s slowly started growing.
We made our announcement in December, over the holidays. Of course we were asked why it was Doug and not me, but we just shrugged in reply. There wasn’t a real answer.
During this time, Doug was a complete angel. He stopped having mood swings and I could see he looked happier. Maybe this was a good thing, him being pregnant. Maybe it would help–after the baby was born, perhaps he would remain without the mood swings.
In January, Viola had her baby. I was awoken in the middle of the night with a frantic phone call from Zari. I woke Doug up and let him know I’d be gone. “You don’t have to come,” I said, kissing his forehead, throwing some clothes on, and taking his car to the hospital.
I can’t believe she’s having a baby! I thought as I tried to find a parking space. IT WAS THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, WHY WEREN’T THERE ANY PARKING SPACES?! But I finally found one, and ran into the hospital.
“Seb!” Zari called and I jogged over, grabbing his arm. “She’s still in labor,” he said, not waiting for me to ask. “I can’t believe this… our little sister is having a baby…”
“She’s older than both of you,” a very pregnant Julie stated from where she was sitting. “Hey Seb.”
“Hey,” I replied, brushing my hair from my eyes and smiling. “How are you doing?”
She put her hands on her swollen belly. “Hungry,” she laughed.
Zari perked up. “What do you need? I can go get you something from the cafeteria.” He got a list from her, and then left the two of us alone. Julie and I chatted for a few minutes and then Mom and Dad came in.
“Is she okay?” Dad asked right away.
I stood up. “She’s still in labor,” I replied nervously. “Zari went to get some snacks.”
Mom looked very nervous, rubbing her hands. “I hope she’s okay. She’s so young…”
Dad pulled her into a reassuring hug. “You weren’t much older when you had the triplets. At least Vi’s only having one.”
Mom nodded, sinking into the seat next to Julie. “That’s true.”
Zari brought the snacks back but none of us could eat, except Julie. We sat around, looking up every time someone walked by. All we could do was wait, and wait, and wait. It felt like forever–thought it was only about twenty minutes–when the door opened and Claude came out, a little bundle in his arms.
“It’s a boy,” he said, looking both bewildered and ecstatic.
We crowded around him at once, looking at the newest addition. He was so tiny… so adorable. “Hey there little fellow,” I said, leaning in. “I’m your Uncle Sebastian.” I paused, looking sideways at Zari. “Look at him!”
Zari was leaning in too, reaching out to touch the tiny hand. “He’s beautiful.”
“Grandma first,” Claude said, putting the baby in Mom’s arms.
“Grandma,” she said with a laugh. “Wow. Hey there! Oh Claude, he is beautiful.”
“Have you thought of a name?” Dad asked, beaming at his first grandchild.
“Yeah, Vi picked it out,” Claude said, looking even happier. “His name is Sawyer.”
We stood around and each got to hold Sawyer briefly, before Claude took the baby back to his mother. We followed so we could see Vi but she was far too exhausted to stay up much longer, so we all gave her a kiss and then headed back to our homes.
“Sawyer is adorable,” Hal said over the phone when I talked to him a couple days after Sawyer was born. “I’m really glad you were able to be there for her.”
I rolled my eyes at the underlying message. “She’s my sister, it’s an important event…”
“Like when she announced it.”
I gripped the phone. “Hal,” I said in a warning tone.
“Okay, okay, sorry,” he sighed. “I try not to say anything but it’s hard. I want you to–” He stopped himself and then said, “But I guess it doesn’t matter. Just… stay safe, ok?”
“Doug treats me just fine,” I replied. “But I need to go. He’ll be home soon and I need to get dinner ready.” I hung up before Hal could say anything else.
Two months later, Zari called me up to let me know that Julie was about to give birth. Though it was the middle of the day, Doug stayed at home while I went to be with my family at the hospital. I sat with Vi and we talked about Sawyer and all the cute things he was doing. In a few months I’ll be able to brag about my kid, I thought rather cheerfully.
Julie’s labor lasted a bit longer than Vi, but finally Zari brought out a little girl. Once again the family gathered around to coo and exclaim over the new addition. She was positively adorable, and Zari just grinned from ear-to-ear.
“Exhausted,” he said when I asked how Julie was. “But so happy. By the way–we’re naming her Melody.”
We got to go in to see Julie and she sat up in bed, chatting with us for a while before we all tiptoed out to let her and Zari to spend some time with the baby.
“She is so beautiful,” I sighed as Doug and I talked about my new niece. “And Sawyer is so adorable. Here, Claude sent me another picture…”
I showed Doug who wasn’t very interested. “In a couple months there will be an even cuter baby,” he said, rubbing his very swollen belly. His lips curled into a smile. “I bet this house will be full of pictures.”
I looked down at my phone, my nephew’s squinty face looking back at me. I switched the pictures to one of my niece. Suddenly I felt so distant from my brother and sister… My eyes darted towards Doug then just as swiftly flicked away.
“I was thinking we could throw a baby shower,” I said quietly, waiting for his reply. I already knew what he would say.
“Nah,” he sighed, settling back and stretching out his legs. “Your family had thrown two baby showers already, we won’t want them to shell out money for gifts for us. Besides, we have plenty of money saved up and we’ve picked out the furniture so we know we can afford it.”
“My family wouldn’t mind,” I mumbled. “It’s not about the gifts, you know.”
“We can take care of our own baby,” he said stiffly.
“We can take care of our own baby, Sebastian,” he said rather darkly. He hadn’t sounded like this in ages, this was the first time since he had announced his pregnancy that his mood had dipped down.
I shrank back, worried that he’d start throwing a tantrum. “Okay,” I gulped. “It was just an idea, anyway. S-sorry…”
He immediately smiled and reached over, squeezing my hand tightly. “I love you, Seb.”
“I love you too,” I said, squeezing his hand back. I’ll always love you. I couldn’t imagine being without him. I felt like… he was like… he was everything to me. And without him I’d be nothing.
I had no idea how he’d react to me inviting my family over to the hospital, but when it was time for the baby to come I texted my family–and Hal, though I doubted he’d show up.
“You can’t go in, Mr. Danevbie,” the nurse said when I headed to the room where they had taken Doug.
“But–why?” I asked, panic swelling up. Was Doug okay? Did something happen in the three minutes that it took to send texts?
The nurse looked at her clipboard. “You’re not his husband, are you?”
I swayed a bit, then shook my head slowly. “No, but we’re partners. We’ve been together for years. This–he’s having my baby, ma’am. We’re a couple.”
She frowned and squinted at the clipboard. “He’s signed it that nobody but immediate family can go in. I’m sorry.” She gave me a slightly apologetic look.
I couldn’t believe this. “He is having my baby!” I snapped, ignoring the looks a couple people in the maternity waiting room were giving me. “If he were a girl having a baby, would we be having this conversation?”
A tight look went over her face. “A woman having a baby and a man having a baby are two different things, Mr. Danevbie. I am sorry, but it’s true.”
She left me, standing in the waiting room, feeling beyond upset that this was happening. Doug… I wrung my hands and paced over to a chair, sinking down. Oh Doug, please be ok. This was NOT fair. Women had C-sections all the time…
I didn’t look up until someone arrived for me. It was Mom and Dad, hurrying in and looking rather surprised to see me sitting there. “They wouldn’t let me in,” I said as Mom hugged me. I repeated everything the nurse said.
“That–is ridiculous!” Mom said, looking angry. “The discrimination in this town, I swear–sometimes it feels like nothing’s changed. I am calling your uncle… something needs to be done about this… Hello, Rion?” She stepped away from me, her face dark. “You’re not gonna believe this…”
Vi and Julie came in next, both of them rather dressed up. “We were going to the bistro,” Vi said, seizing my arm. “Is everything ok? Is the baby born yet?”
I had to once again explain, and she went into a tirade just like Mom. Julie turned to me and explained that Claude was with the babies. “He was doing some bonding with Sawyer,” she said, “but Vi called him up and agreed to watch Melody. Zari’s dropping her off.”
My brother showed up not longer after, and like Mom and Vi, went into a tirade and he actually went over to the desk to complain. The nurse behind the desk kept spouting out things like ‘protocol’ and ‘difference between women in labor and men in labor’.
I sat between Mom and Vi, feeling very sick as I watched the door. Please be okay, please be okay, please be okay. I no longer cared about whether it was fair or not for me to be away from him at this moment–I just wanted everything to go smoothly.
I leaped to my feet, my heart in my throat. But the nurse had a baby in her arms and she gently placed the bundle in my arms.
“Congratulations, it’s a boy.”