Molly awoke to a beam of sunlight hitting her face and one of the worst headaches she had ever experienced. She groaned as she admitted to herself that she had drank way too much the night before. After she managed to focus her eyes, she was met with a couple of new discoveries. She wasn't in her bed and she also wasn't alone. The room she was in looked vaguely familiar, but in her foggy state she couldn't remember where it was. It definitely wasn't in her house though. She lifted the sheet that was draped around herself and studied the tanned arm currently wrapped around her middle, trying to place it to who it belonged to. She gave up after a few minutes, her pounding head distracting her from her thoughts. She sat up carefully, both trying not to make her headache any worse and trying not to disturb whoever was beside her. Once she had managed this feat, she looked down at her bed partner and sighed in relief when she recognized Justin's handsome face. She even managed to smile slightly at his peaceful expression. She hadn't seen him that happy since before they lost their baby. She took a few more minutes to enjoy the closeness and to watch him sleep before her headache forced her to get up in hopes of finding some relief. She glanced over to where her bridesmaids' dress was draped over the back of a chair and decided she wasn't going to mess with it. She tiptoed over to the open suitcase in the chair and grabbed the t'shirt laying on top. She pulled it over to her head and let it fall down to cover the rest of her body. Then she tiptoed down the hall to the upstairs bathroom and began digging through the medicine cabinet. She was rewarded a while later when she managed to locate a bottle of aspirin. She swallowed a couple of them and then made her way down to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. She sat down at the kitchen table and layed her head in her hands while she waited, hoping the painkillers would take effect sooner rather than later.
"You're an angel," Justin said gratefully as he opened a cabinet behind her to retrieve a couple mugs. She lifted her head to look at him, but instantly regretted it when her head started pounding again. She hadn't even heard him come down the stairs.
"It was a completely selfish move," She replied, speaking softer than usual to try and keep the pounding to a minimum.
"You never could hold your beer," He said and she could hear the grin in his voice without even looking over at him again. She listened to him pour the coffee when it was done and gratefully took the mug he offered her.
"Thanks," She said before taking a sip of the much needed caffeine.
"Anytime, sweetheart." He replied, sitting down beside her and taking a drink out of his own mug. He looked surprisingly good for being hungover. Although she doubted he was feeling half as bad as she was. They sat in silence until the aspirin she had taken began taking effect and she could think straight again.
"Hannah managed to get home safe last night, right? I promised Alice I would take care of her when they left," She explained once she started to remember some of the events from the night before. Alice would kill her if anything had happened to her sister after Molly had swore to take care of her.
"Yeah, Jordan drove her home. He was on call so he didn't drink," He answered, smiling at her concerned expression. "I think he's finally met his match. He followed her around like a lost puppy dog all night."
" 'Bout time," She replied, unable to stop herself from grinning back at him. He had a contagious smile. Always had.
"I think they're just what each other needs," He commented, playing with his empty mug.
"She definitely deserves somebody decent in her life for once," Molly agreed, taking his mug out of his hands gently and taking both of them to the sink to wash them. She could feel him watching her as she washed and rinsed them, then stood on her toes to place them back in the cabinet. She had a feeling he was getting quite a show too, judging by the way his shirt kept working its way up on her.
"I've missed you in my shirts," He said softly, startling her a little bit. When had he gotten so good at sneaking up on people? She turned around to face him, only to find herself pressed into his strong chest.
"I've missed you," She replied, looking up into his blue eyes.
"I would've come back years ago if i hadn't thought you hated my guts," He admitted, reaching up to brush her hair out of her face gently.
"I don't regret tellin' you to go. It was your dream and I knew you would make it. The only thing I regret is losing you," She whispered the words to try and hide the tremor in her voice, but she knew he heard it anyway by the way he tightened his arms around her.
"You never lost me, I've always been yours," He told her softly, pulling her to him gently to remove the small space between them. She layed her head against his chest and closed her eyes, letting the memories rush through her mind. Pain, panic, then the absolute worst pain she had ever felt when the doctor placed her limp baby onto her chest after they had declared there was nothing they could do. She had been stillborn. She wrapped her arms around his waist and held him tight as she relived that fateful day in her mind.
She groaned and reached for his hand again, the contractions getting more intense and more frequent as time went by. She knew she must look like some kind of crazed animal, but she didn't have any energy to worry about her appearance right then. He rubbed the pad of his thumb across the back of her hand gently, trying to offer her some kind of comfort. Seeing her in so much agony was breaking his heart, but he knew he couldn't do anything about it. No matter how badly he wanted to make the pain go away. She continued to breathe through the contraction like the nurses had instructed her to do until the intense pain eased some and she was able to relax for a few minutes. It wasn't nearly enough rest to ease her exhaustion, though. She had been at this for almost 11 hours now and she was starting to regret not getting an epidural when it had been offered to her earlier. She had wanted to do this naturally, but after 6 hours of continuous pain that didn't seem all that important at the moment.
They both looked up when the nurse entered the room. The young woman's smile was friendly and kind as she put on a pair of exam gloves and asked Molly how she was doing. She managed to grunt out a response, in the middle of breathing through another contraction as it gripped her body. The nurse moved to the end of the bed and waited until the contraction was over before checking her gently. Molly squeezed her eyes shut and squeezed Justin's hand again, hating this part more than the actual laboring.
"You'll be done in just a little while longer. You're fully dilated," She announced and Molly managed to sigh in relief. Pushing was supposed to be the hardest part, according to everyone that had decided to give her advice, but at least it meant that she was closer to meeting her daughter and this ordeal being over with. She went over to the call button and paged the doctor to the room before starting to set everything up for the birth. Molly took the opportunity to look up at Justin, wondering if he was as excited and scared as she was. He was busy watching the nurse set everything up, his eyes wide with either shock or horror, she couldn't tell which. She just barely managed to surpress a giggle. Even when she was completely exhausted and in the worst pain she had ever experienced, he could still make her laugh.
"It's for me, not you. Calm down," She joked, smirking as he looked over at her guiltily. He hadn't known she was watching him.
"That''s why I'm worried," He replied, leaning over to kiss her forehead tenderly.
"I'll be alright after she's born. It's for a good cause," She replied, just barely finishing the statement before another contraction had her panting for air again.
"Alright, Molly. On the next contraction I want you to start pushing," The nurse instructed and Molly nodded, continuing to try to breathe through the intense pain. Her grip was so tight on Justin's hand that it was actually beginning to turn white from lack of blood flow, not that he was complaining. He had the easy job this time, although he wished he could trade places with her. He would much rather be the one in pain than the one having to watch her suffer. Molly the minute between contractions to try and catch her breath before gritting her teeth and following her instructions for pushing. Pushing against the pressure and the pain actually helped to ease some of the discomfort, so she was all for it. She threw everything she had in to it, letting her body take over and tell her what to do. She felt Justin's strong hand grip her's gently, his other hand busy laying a cool washcloth against her forehead.
"You're doin' amazing, sweetheart." He whispered softly, giving her the encouragement she needed to repeat all of it for the next contraction. She did the exact same thing, but this time she had a feeling something was different. She wasn't sure what or even how she knew, but she had a gut feeling that something was horribly wrong. And that's when all hell broke loose. The nurse realized something wasn't right about the same time because the baby's monitor started to beep in warning. She glanced up at it before hurrying back to the call button and asking for a doctor immediately.
"The baby's heart rate is too low, we're going to have to speed this up some," She explained to the young couple. Molly clung to Justin's hand, whimpering in both pain and fright. He look just as scared, but she could tell he was trying to be strong for her. Her doctor rushed into the small room moments later, followed by two more nurses and what appeared to be another team of medical professionals. She pieced together that they must be there from the NICU for her daughter.
"Alright, Molly. We're going to have to get this baby out as quick as we can before the heart rate drops anymore. I want you to push as hard as you can for as long as you can, okay?" He explained and she nodded her understanding. She wanted to curl up in a ball and cry, but she knew she had to get her daughter out so they could take care of her and keep her safe. She took a deep breath and followed the doctor's orders when the next contraction consumed her. Justin offered as much encouragement as he could to his wife, but his gaze was focused on the screen of the baby's monitor. The numbers continued to get lower and lower with each passing second. She looked up at him and he knew he couldn't frighten her anymore than she already was.
"You're doin' fine, sweetheart." He told her softly and she quickly went back to pushing her heart out. He knew the doctor was doing everything he could, but as he watched the heart rate continue to fall he couldn't help but think that it might not be enough. He looked over at the doctor and realized he was thinking the same thing, even though he was trying to mask it in his expression.
Molly pushed one last time, using every bit of energy she had left in her small body. The doctor delivered the baby and quickly cut the cord before handing her to one of the nurses to take over to the other doctor across the room. Molly tried to pay attention to what the doctor was saying about delivering the placenta, but all she could focus on was the fact that her baby hadn't cried.
"What's happening?" She asked weakly, trying to see through the group gathered around her daughter. She looked up at Justin for answers, but he looked just as clueless as she felt. She couldn't stop the flow of tears that started to make their way down her cheeks. After a few more moments of holding her breath to hear her daughter's first cries, she realized the truth. Her daughter was never going to cry. She looked up at Justin again and knew from the tears running down his face that he had realized it too. The doctor was still trying to get her to respond, but as the nurses started to move away from the isolete she could tell that the baby had a bluish tint to her skin and that her eyes had never opened. The nurse that had helped to deliver her came back over to the bed and gave them a look of pure sympathy.
"I'm so sorry," She said, but they didn't respond. They couldn't. The shock was too great. He moved over to sit beside her on the bed carefully and wrapped her arms around her. She layed her head against his chest and he held her as they cried together.
Molly opened her eyes and gasped as she realized she had actually started crying just remembering that day. Justin was still holding her to him, and judging by the look in his eyes he was reliving it just as much as she had been. The doctors had latered explained that the umbilical cord had gotten twisted around the baby's neck, cutting off her oxygen supply when she had been in the birth canal. He had said it was just one of those things that they couldn't prepare for and that it would more than likely never happen again. That had did little to relieve the pain at the time, but now it made her start thinking. What if they did try to have another baby? Would it end in happiness or would it end in tragedy like her last pregnancy?