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The Fruits of Labor

The Fruits of Labor

Matthew

“I think you’re pregnant.” 

I try to think of something sarcastic to say with comebacks whizzing behind my eyes like lightning bolts. The one I choose is, “Huh?” Kerry repeats himself, as though that will clear everything up. Tomorrow I plan on buying a pregnancy test. Or three. I don’t want kids. 

Besides, I’ve finally decided to leave him.

***

“He’s not here yet.”

It’s cold and it’s snowing, two things I despise more than most. I’m glad I found a dress with long sleeves that fit me. Still plenty of belly room. Nails are done, hair is in curlers, face is painted. No fat wedding pictures for me! Oh, I don’t want to do this. I can do this. I love you, baby.

***

“I think you could be having twins.”

The doctor means well, but I do my best not to cry. Maybe I’m just big for four months. 

“We can’t leave until I make an appointment for next month.”

“You already saw the doctor so you shouldn’t have to go back until you have the baby.” 

***

Butterflies. It feels like a bunch of butterflies, like the flutters in your stomach when you drive over a sudden dip in the road. I have to lie very still and hardly breathe, but if I concentrate I can feel him move. 

***

“You’re the worst mother!  You don’t even care about this baby, do you?” 

I try telling him, again, that when my doctor’s appointment is at 9am, and I get up at 8am, that doesn’t leave me a lot of time to drink enough fluids to flush out the built up proteins from overnight, but he doesn’t hear me. Only two more months.

***

“I need an epidural.”

“No, you don’t. You’re almost done. Just a few more hours and it’ll all be over.”

“I can’t do this. I’m scared. I need an epidural.”

“You don’t need it.”

“I. Want. An. Epidural. NOW!”

***

“It’s a boy.”

He’s slimy and screaming, and I worry he might slip off of my stomach.

“He’s peeing on you.”

“I don’t care. Just give me my baby.”

He’s beautiful.

Jarod

Two pink lines. That can’t be good. Look at the box: one line good, two lines not so good. I’m sure Shawn is going to love this.

***

“We should get married now, I guess.”

“Fuck that.”

Never again will I get married “for the sake of the baby.” That lesson was learned the hard way.

***

“You’re going to have a baby brother or a baby sister.”

“I want a baby sister.”

“Well, what if you end up having a baby brother?”

“You can take him back and get me a baby sister.”

***

“The baby’s moving. I don’t think I should be feeling him move yet.”

“I’m sure everything is fine.”

“But I didn’t feel my son move until I was five months. I’m only four. Either I’m farther along than you think, or I’m having twins.”

“I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about.

***

“Hey Bighead, I’m going to get your baby.”

With a war cry that is much too big for a three year old, Matthew smacks him across the back with his plastic light saber, leaving a stunned look on his face.

“That’s what you get for telling him you’re going to get his baby. And don’t call him Bighead.”

***

“Well, I have good news and bad news for you,” the doctor says. Which would you like first?”

“What’s the bad news?”

“The good news is you’re only having one baby.”

“So what’s the bad news?”

“You’re due in three days.”

So much for having that extra four weeks to prepare.

***

“Why do I hurt?”

“We couldn’t wake you up so we had to turn your epidural off.”

“Why can’t I feel my legs?”

“We couldn’t wake you up so we couldn’t turn you.”

What the…”Why am I WET?”

“Your water broke.”

I wonder what else I slept through.

***

It’s a boy. He’s had a bowel movement and it being moved to the NICU for observation. I told them for months something was wrong. We go in pairs to see the baby once I’m coherent enough to walk, Matthew and me. He washes his hands and sits in a chair with his brother in his lap. He cradles the baby’s head in the crook of his arm and touches him gently. He’s already the best big brother in the whole world.

Bennett

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” 

I’m beginning to hate pink, hate lines, and hate them both together. 

“Are you ok?” asks the guy I had just broken up with. He wants to talk, and I find out I’m pregnant. This sucks.

“Does it sound like I’m ok? I’m pregnant, I’m not happy about it, I don’t want to talk, and I especially don’t want to talk to you.”

***

I bring up the “A” word to my “friends.” 

“We’ll never speak to you again if you do that.”

Outside, April tells me, “You need to do whatever is best for you and the boys. If you need me, I’ll go with you.” 

I won’t decide that, but I needed to explore the option. Glad to know who I can count on.

***

Rebound guy wants joint custody of the baby. That’ll be a neat trick considering I’ve already decided to place the baby for adoption.

“I’m going to fight you on it.”

“You do that.”

***

Hospitals suck. Being admitted to said hospital for dehydration sucks, too. I look like a pincushion from all the times the nurse tried to stick me for the IV. I’ll have those bruises for a month. I can go home once I get three bags of fluid in me. 

***

We go to meet Tiffany and Eric for the first time. Matthew doesn’t want strangers to have our baby, and Jarod is too little to understand any of it.

“Matthew, we can’t have our own baby so your Mommy said we could share this one. We’re going to love him, and take care of him, and you can see him and talk to him whenever you want.”

As we leave the restaurant, Matthew tugs my hand and says, “Mama, it’s ok to share our baby.”

***

Contractions. This is bad. This shouldn’t happen for six more weeks. The doctor gives me medication to stop the labor, and it makes me sick. He gives me medication to stop the nausea, and I start to spasm. They give me anti-seizure medication but it doesn’t help. They tell me they’re going to try flushing it out of me instead, but I’m barely aware.

***

“Please induce my labor.”

After twice-weekly trips to the hospital for contractions and sitting at three centimeters dilated for almost six weeks, I am reduced to begging. I’m huge, I’m in pain, and I can’t even get up or down without help. The doctor agrees to end my misery, so I call the new parents.

“I think you should start packing.”

***

“I’m here to give you your epidural.”

“Her blood pressure is dropping.”

“The baby’s heartbeat is dropping. We have to shut it off.”

“The shoulder’s stuck. Support her leg.”

“It’s a boy. Nine pounds, thirteen ounces.”

***
My only request is that I hold him first. He is toddler sized, and to my dismay, looks just like his father. I count fingers and toes to make sure everything is there, look into my eyes, and kiss his forehead. His new mother comes to me when I call her, and for just a moment we stand there together, holding this new person, and we smile for the camera.

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Categories: Labor

Erin Britt

Erin R. Britt is a fiction writer, poet, and essayist. She has a BA in English-Creative Writing from Indiana University and is currently working on her MA. Her book, Celia, is available through Barnes & Noble online and Amazon.
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