Nurses started bustling about the room pushing their friends out of the way while Howie and Becca talked Sarah through the contractions and resisting the urge to push. The bed was shortened and the lights turned on for the babies. Sarah was also helped to an upright position so that she would be able to push.
Holding Howie’s hand as he wiped the sweat off her forehead, Sarah said, “I’m sorry, Howie.”
“For what, Angel? You haven’t done anything.”
“You wanted us to do this alone…just you and me.” Tears were streaming down Sarah’s cheeks.
“Hey, it’s okay. You don’t need to cry over this. You and I will have plenty of time together with the babies…and time for me to win my bet with you.”
“What bet do you two have?” asked Becca knowing Howie was trying to distract her.
“I bet her a thousand dollars that SHE will want to fool around before she’s discharged,” smirked Howie. “Almost won it too when you came back right before we went out to talk to the crowd.”
“Did not,” protested Sarah.
“Sure I did, Angel. You were playing with my chest when Becca knocked. You KNOW exactly what your next move was,” teased Howie.
Sarah blushed as she took another cleansing breath.
From the end of the bed, Kevin said, “Howie, we’re gonna clear out of here and before either one of you protests, it’s cool. We’ll be out in the waiting room.”
His eyes twinkling, Nick spoke up, “Yeah, I’m not sure I wanna get to know my big sis THAT intimately.”
“I’ll come out and let you know as soon as the babies are born,” said Becca.
“Hang tough, Sarah,” said Brian. “You’ve got all of us rooting for you.”
“Thanks, guys,” said Howie. “We’ll see you in a few.”
“I love you, sis,” said Dusty as he gave her a kiss on the forehead. Then softly, he said, “You’ve got a damned good husband this time, Sarah. Just hold on to him and he’ll be there for you.”
Sarah grabbed his hand. “Dustin, thank you.”
“Just get my nieces or nephews here.”
Kevin, Lynne, Brian, Nick, and Dusty slipped out of the room as Dr. Johnson arrived. “What’s this I hear about babies being born in here?”
Howie grinned, “Sarah said she felt like pushing.”
“Well, let’s see what we have here.” Dr. Johnson took a seat at the foot of Sarah’s bed and peered under the sheet that was draped across Sarah’s knees. “WHOA!! We’re there. Sarah, you’ve done this before but just to remind you, focus on your focal point and breathe. Listen to my instructions. Also, we’ve discussed this but we know the first one is in position. There’s no guarantee for the second one. You need to be prepared in case I have to do an emergency c-section. If that’s the case, you’ll have no choice but to have an epidural.”
“Just no morphine,” gasped Sarah.
“No problem. Okay, next contraction, I want you to push. Dad, talk her through it.”
Howie looked at her and grinned. “Let’s get on with the show, Angel. I’d really like to get some sleep tonight.”
“Oh…such encouragement,” snipped Sarah as she took a cleansing breath and began to push.
For the next ten minutes, Sarah pushed and Howie, Becca, and AJ talked to her encouraging her as the doctor gave her instructions.
“You’re almost there. Just a couple more pushes and we’ll have the shoulders out. The rest is a piece of cake.”
Tears streamed down her cheeks. “I…can’t…do it. Howie, PLEASE!”
Reassuringly, Howie said, “Sure you can, Angel. Just a couple more and the first one is here.”
“Come on, Sarah….don’t give up now,” encouraged Becca. “It’s just like getting out there and doing a show.”
AJ was holding Sarah’s other hand, opposite Howie, as he watched in awe. “Come on, ‘Tigger’….you’ve done things harder than this….you got through what Russell did to you like a champ.”
With the next contraction, Sarah pushed and the doctor said, “One more, Sarah….that’s it…bear down.”
Sarah felt the pressure release and the next sound they all heard was the crying of a baby.
“Dad, you want to cut your daughter’s cord?”
“A daughter? I’ve got a daughter!” exclaimed Howie, a single tear rolling down his cheek as he took the scissors and cut the cord. Then he moved back to Sarah brushing her hair back. “We’ve got a little girl, Angel…and she’s going to be just as beautiful as her mother.”
“Is she okay?” whispered Sarah as she leaned against Howie.
“She’s perfect,” answered Becca as she captured on camera the nurses quickly cleaning the baby. “A head full of dark hair and Howie’s eyelashes.”
Sheena handed the little bundle to Sarah as she asked, “What are you going to name her?”
“Caroline Ann,” whispered Sarah as she took her daughter in her arms.
Howie reached in to take her little hand in his, “Hey there, Querido Pequeño.”
“She’s so little,” whispered AJ as he looked on.
“She didn’t feel that small,” snarked Sarah. Feeling another contraction, Sarah passed Caroline off to AJ forcing him to take her. “Here, hold your goddaughter.”
Becca was quick to catch the exchange on camera and the look of uncertainty as Alex tried to protest, “Howie should hold her first!”
“I’ll get plenty of chances at 2 AM when my wonderful wife sleeps through her cries,” teased Howie.
That got a laugh out of everyone in the room as Sarah stuck her tongue out at him.
With Caroline cradled next to his chest, AJ forgot about everyone as he became absorbed by the infant. “Hey there, little angel. You have so many people anxious to meet you, especially your mom and dad. From the very first minute they knew about you, they loved you completely. You might as well get use to it too because that’s the way they are….they love everyone in their lives so completely…and you don’t have to worry if you mess up either…they’re gonna love you twice as much. I know from experience.”
Sarah looked up at Howie as AJ went on talking to Caroline telling her about the rest of the ‘family’. “He’s going to make a great dad some day,” she whispered.
“How do you feel, Sarah?” asked Dr. Johnson.
“Tired….and still VERY pregnant.”
“What about your back?”
Before Sarah could answer, the second fetal monitor sounded an alarm and when Howie looked over, he realized that the heart rate had disappeared.
“What’s wrong?” panicked Sarah as nurses jumped into action and Dr. Johnson began to examine her.
The minute of silence was excruciating for Howie and Sarah but when Dr. Johnson finally spoke, he was smiling. “Everything is just fine. The second baby shifted causing us to lose the heartbeat.”
Howie sighed with relief. “How long before this one is born?”
“I’m going to wait a little…let Sarah’s body do some of the work. It’s moved down but her water hasn’t broken yet. I can give you something to rest if you want, Sarah.”
“I’m….OH!” Sarah’s eyes widened. “Ummm, you don’t need to wait for my water to break.”
“Looks like I was way off on this,” commented Dr. Johnson peering under the sheet once more. “Seems this little one was waiting for its sister to get out of the way. Sarah, with the next contraction, I want you to push.”
“We’re almost there, Angel. One more and no more morning sickness.”
“And no surgery,” added Becca brightly. AJ had relinquished Caroline to the pediatric nurse to be cleaned and he now took the camera from Becca who joined Howie and Sarah on the bed. “You know, Howie never gave up believing that you’d deliver both babies naturally. You ready to hear ‘I told you so’?”
Squeezing Howie’s hand, Sarah said, “I think I can handle it.” A contraction started and she cried, “Oh god…this is what I can’t handle…..please, make it stop!”
“Come on, ‘Tigger’. Focus on the bear,” instructed AJ as he used his free hand to make her bear dance. “Just focus on the bear and listen to Howie.”
As she began to push, Sarah growled, “Bite me, Alex!” which got a laugh from all three of them.
With the contraction over, Sarah collapsed against Howie’s chest as tears mixed with sweat dripped down her face. “I can’t do this!”
“I know my Angel isn’t giving up.”
Sarah turned her face into his chest as she whimpered, “I’m tired, Howie….I just want to rest.”
Stroking her damp hair, he soothed, “You can sleep all you want after you get the second one here, Angel, I promise.”
Becca took Sarah’s hand, “Sis, remember how we use to pull all nighters in college…when you were having such a hard time with music theory?”
“MY wife had trouble with music theory?” questioned Howie in disbelief.
“It was hard,” pouted Sarah.
Looking up at Howie, Becca said softly, “It was the semester she got pregnant with Jesse.”
That was all Howie needed to hear and he understood.
“I remember….I would want to give up but you kept pushing me.”
“And you always came through with flying colors. It’s just like music theory…its tough now but you can do it.”
Once more, Howie and Becca talked Sarah through the contractions and in less time, the second baby was born.
“Congratulations, Mom and Dad….you’ve got one of each. It’s a boy,” beamed Dr. Johnson as he held the tiny baby up for all to see.
Weakly, Sarah said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, ‘D’.”
Howie hugged Sarah to him as his own tears fell in her hair. “A son! You gave me a son and a daughter…..the best Valentine’s Day gift you could EVER give me,” he whispered into her hair.
“Dad, you want to cut the cord?”
Once more, Howie leaned over to cut the cord but immediately moved back to Sarah.
“Name?” asked the nurse.
Proudly, Howie said, “Dwaine James Scott Dorough.”
The road had been long and bumpy but the reward had been well worth it. Both parents were exhausted but extremely happy as they held their newborns in their arms. Quietly, Becca and Alex slipped out of the room to give the new family time alone and to let the others know the happy news.
Chapter 56 Index