“They’re getting a lot closer. Are they harder too?” I nodded again. I’d barely begun to relax from that one and another started. Involuntarily a little cry escaped my lips. “I’m going to have the nurse come in and we’ll check you again. I think you may be ready.”
The nurse came in and together she and the doctor checked. He said that I was dilated to ten and “fully effaced” whatever that meant. I didn’t care. I just wanted to get this show on the road. I concentrated on the pains while the bed was broken down and moved around underneath me. I heard the doctor say that he was “crowning” and I could push soon.
“Sir! You can’t just come in here!” I turned my head and thought I was hallucinating. Alex was standing in the doorway and the five foot tall nurse was trying to block the big man’s way into the room. His face looked more determined than I’d ever seen it.
“It’s okay. He’s the father.” She stepped aside. I think he would have stepped over her if she hadn’t. He came up to the bed and grabbed my hand.
“Are you okay? Is the baby okay?”
With tears in my eyes I nodded. “We’re fine. What are you doing here?”
“Karen called me, thank God. I wasn’t going to let you go through this alone. Besides, I wanted to be here. I want to see my son be born. I hope that’s okay with you.”
I felt a tear escape down my cheek as another pain hit me. I tightened my grip on his hand. It was amazing how much it helped to have him to hold on to. When I could speak again I said, “It’s better than okay. Thank you.”
He looked distressed, like he hated seeing me in pain. It made my heart feel good, especially when he leaned down and pressed his lips to mine. When he stood back up, I had the worst pain I’d felt so far and I felt an incredible need to bear down.
“Doctor! I need to push.”
He was doing something on his end and he said, “Hang on just a second Vicki, just one more second…”
“No! I have to push now!” Alex still looked distressed, but he put his hand on my forehead and brushed the hair there back and made shushing noises.
“You’re doing so good Vicki. I’m so proud of you. You can do this. Thank you for doing this. Thank you for not letting anyone pressure you to do something you didn’t believe in. I’m so very proud of you.”
“Okay Vicki,” the doctor said. “With the next pain, push as hard as you can.” I started to nod, but the pain hit and I pushed. I felt like I was crushing Alex’s hand but he didn’t seem to care.
“You can do this. You got this. I can’t wait to meet our son.” It only took about three pushes and he was out. The pain was over. I was shaking all over and my baby was crying… loudly. Alexander was grinning from ear to ear and suddenly a wiggly, wet little baby boy was laid across my belly. I looked down at him, all covered in muck and I knew that I would never see anything as beautiful again. “Look what you did,” Alex said with tears in his eyes. “He’s beautiful.”
“He’s perfect,” the doctor said. “A little small, but not too bad. Dad, do you want to cut the cord?” Alex’s eyes were a mixture of joy and terror.
Alex looked at me as if asking for permission and I said, “Go ahead.”
The baby’s cord was clamped close to his belly and the doctor handed the scissor things to Alex. His hand trembled slightly as he snipped and once the baby was loose the nurse said, “I have to clean him up and weigh him. He’ll be back in a minute or two.”
Alex was still staring at him in awe. “Hurry,” he said. He dropped down in the chair next to my bed and lay his head down against me. I could smell his musky shampoo and I couldn’t help myself… I ran my hand through his soft hair. He closed his eyes and just lay there for a few seconds and then he lifted his head up and looked at me again. I saw the same awe and wonder in his eyes that he’d looked at the baby with and it filled me up with such strong emotion that I wasn’t sure what to do with it all… so I cried again.
The nurse brought our beautiful boy back to us, wrapped tightly in a blanket. He was all cleaned up and his skin was pink and beautiful. He was so small that as I held him I was afraid he might break. He was wearing a little stocking cap and Alex pulled it up and peeked underneath. “Blonde fuzz,” he said with a grin. The baby had his eyes closed, so I hadn’t seen the color yet, but none of that mattered. He was gorgeous and like the doctor said, “Perfect.”
“How much does he weigh?” I asked.
“Four pounds eleven ounces,” the nurse said.
“Wow, that’s incredible,” Alex said. “It’s amazing that something that weighs less than five pounds can be such a perfect little person.”
“It is amazing. It’s also amazing that I already love him so much. My chest feels like it’s going to burst when I look at him.”
Alex reached over and let his finger trace the round line of his tiny little face and said, “Me too.” I looked up at him and I could see that he was as consumed by this child as I was. That did my heart good because no matter what ever happened with he and I… anything or nothing, the baby would have a father who would love him. “Do you know what you want to name him?” he asked me.
“No, not yet,” I said. I thought about Manny and all of his silly names. “What’s your middle name?” I asked him.
“Michael,” he said.
“Hmm, I like that. What about Michael Alexander Reigns?”
He pulled his head up to look at my face quickly like he was afraid I was kidding. “Really?”
I nodded, “Yes, I like it, don’t you?”
The tears began to flow freely down his face and he said, “I love it. I didn’t think you would give him my last name.”
“Is that okay?”
“I don’t think I could put into words how okay it is,” he said. He touched the baby’s cheek again and said, “Hi there, Michael Alex. I’m your daddy.”
We sat there silently staring at him, watching him sleep, watching him breathe and finally I asked the question that had to be asked. “What about Cassandra… and the lawyers… and the tabloids…”
He sighed and said, “Cassie will not be easy. She’s angry and I understand that she has a right to be. But most grown-ups would take that anger and try to begin their own new life. Cassie is not most grown-ups. She’ll come at me hard… and you.”
“I should probably not work at the house then…”
“Cassie’s not going to be at the house, Vicki. I’m going to finish the divorce. I don’t love her. I’m not going to stay with
her out of fear that she’ll take my money any longer. My attorneys can deal with her and I’ll do my best to help them reach a settlement with her that she’s satisfied with. But I don’t want to be with her any longer. We’re both miserable and it’s as unfair to her as it is to me.”
That news made me happier than I probably had a right to be. I felt a little ashamed that a divorce made me happy. But I’d heard so many awful fights and I’d borne witness to the fact that he was right; they didn’t belong together. “I want to share him with you, Alex… but please promise me something.”
“Anything,” he said.
“Please promise me you will never try and take him from me. I couldn’t bear it. I already love him so much that the thought of being without him makes it hard to breathe.”
He shook his head and looked back down at our son. “I promise. I would never consider it. He needs you and you need him and we need each other. We’re a family now. How ‘bout that, Michael Alexander? You made us a family.” He looked up at me again. His long, dark eyelashes were wet with residual tears and he said, “Vicki, I’m so sorry for everything. After we were together that day in the basement… I was so confused. I didn’t understand why being with you had made me feel so differently from being with the other women I’d been with since Cassie left. I was overwhelmed by the emotional part of it and it scared me to death so I just tried to ignore it and pretend it never happened. That was so wrong.”