My phone is vibrating in my pocket. I’m being paged to curtain area three over the loudspeaker. And my stomach is growling.
The emergency room has been chaos since I walked in ten hours ago. I’ve barely had time to think let alone stop to grab a bite to eat and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
There was a massive collision on the highway last night and the influx of patients was enough to put us at max capacity. The last time I checked, the waiting room was full, and people had been sitting out there for hours, hoping to be seen.
But I wouldn’t change my situation even if I had the choice.
Okay, maybe a little.
At the very least, I’d give myself a break. A moment of peace and quiet to decompress from the trauma.
Even though I can deal with the crowd these days without wanting to run in the other direction, that doesn’t mean I enjoy feeling surrounded all damn day. It still stresses me out but I’m managing my disease and being in situations like tonight, or rather, today since it’s now close to five o’clock in the morning, when I have no choice but to push through, forces me to deal with it.
My phone vibrates again as I pass the patient chart to Karen so she can administer fluids to the flu patient in bed seven. Pulling it from my pocket, I slide my finger across the screen to find a waiting text from my wife.
The love of my life.
DOVE: Room 616
Scrolling back and reading the other texts I’ve missed, my hands begin to shake and my phone almost slips from my fingers.
DOVE: Headed up to L & D. Where are you?
DOVE: Just got here.
DOVE: My mom said it’s time to go.
DOVE: My water broke.
This can’t be right. It’s not time yet. We have four more weeks before she’s due. Our miracle baby needs to cook a little more.
“You shouldn’t say she needs to cook, Brady. She’s not a turkey.”
The corner of my mouth lifts with a hint of a smile at the memory of Mya chastising me for comparing our daughter to poultry. It was funny at the time but now… she’s making her grand entrance.
Scanning the room for my mentor, Matthew Hayes, my eyes land on him, and as if he knew I was looking for him, his head lifts. When our eyes meet, an unspoken conversation passes between us, his smile grows, and he motions for me to go.
Yes, I have to go. Because my wife is about to give birth to our child.
I’m in the elevator and frantically pressing the button for the sixth floor before I even realize I’ve moved. The elevator climbs as slow as it possibly can and when the doors finally slide open, my phone vibrates again.
DOVE: Brady, it’s time. You need to hurry. I just text Matthew to find you.
I don’t bother to type out a text as I head down the hall to the room where I know I’ll find her waiting for me. Angry, scared, excited. Every emotion we felt when we found out we were pregnant. And every emotion we’ve been holding onto since with bated breath. Because the doctors told her it was impossible. That she would never be able to carry a child, especially to full term.
Yet here we are. About to prove them wrong.
“It’s about damn time,” she screams as she squeezes her mother’s hand through a contraction.
“I’m sorry, dove.” Moving to the other side of her bed, Mya reaches out, takes my hand, and grips it for dear life.
Holy shit, my girl is strong.
But I already knew that. Her strength comes from within. She’s the one that’s held us together all these years. The one who has kept a positive attitude through her entire pregnancy. Kept me calm anytime my fears have tried to drown me.
She’s my guiding light.
And soon, sooner than I had anticipated, I’ll have another purpose in life. Another woman to steal my heart and show me how to love. Another girl to share my heart with.
Mya releases my hand and falls back against the bed. “That one really hurt.”
“Did you ask for meds to help with that?” I ask, giving her a once over.
If she knew I was checking her out, she’d yell at me. She wouldn’t even let me monitor her blood pressure for the last few weeks. And when I asked to check and see if she was dilated, she growled at me.
Not going to lie, it scared me a little.
It’s hard, being a doctor and not being allowed to care for her the way I want to.
Hover over her is more like it, but toe-mato, tah-mato.
“We talked about this, Brady. No drugs. I don’t want to risk anything. I can handle this.” Her words are said through gritted teeth and when I look at the monitor over her shoulder, I can see it’s because another contraction has already started.
“Are you sure you don’t want-“
“Shut up and give me your hand!” Mya screams, reaching for me.
We go round and round like this for the next hour until the nurse comes in with the doctor in tow. Mya’s fully dilated and it’s time for her to push but Mya is exhausted.
Her hair is matted to her head, a sheen of sweat across her brow. Her eyes are barely open as her mom and I help her sit up. My wife needs me more now than ever, so I carefully climb up behind her and let her rest back against me, whispering encouragement in her ear when the doctor tells her to push.
She has both of my hands and she’s squeezing, the lack of blood flow causing the tips of my fingers to tingle. Her grip is getting looser with every contraction, and I feel my wife losing steam, ready to give up, when a high-pitched cry echoes through the room.
With Mya in my arms and tears streaming down my face, they place our daughter on her chest.
I’ve never experienced such happiness in my life. Not when I woke up from the dead. Not when I met my beautiful wife for the first time. Or when she agreed to spend the rest of her life with me. Not even when Mya walked down the aisle toward me.
This moment is everything.
Our family is complete.
She’s holding our future in her hands and she’s perfect. Ten tiny fingers, ten tiny toes. A little tuff of blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. She’s a miniature version of her mothers.
“She’s perfect,” Mya says, her voice sounding strained.
“Thank you,” I whisper in her ear. “Thank you for being mine. For making me the happiest man in the world. For making me a husband and a father.”
“I feel like I should say thank you to you as well only I don’t think I want to thank you for the things I’m thinking of right now in front of the doctor and my mom,” she whispers.
Only my girl would have dirty thoughts at a time like this. I know exactly where her mind just went so I whisper you’re welcome in her ear and tighten my hold on her.
Mya’s adrenaline crashes and she falls asleep as soon as I take our sweet girl from her arms. Pacing the length of the room, I softly sway and stare as she sleeps in my arms until the nurse comes in to take her for a checkup.
ME: 5 lbs 12 oz 18 inches long and sweet perfect
I attach the picture my mother-in-law took of the three of us and hit send, attempting to guess who will be the first to reply. I don’t have to wait long to find out.
MAX: Congrats, man! She’s adorable.
FINN: Congrats! How’s Mya doing?
MICAH: Lucky girl. She looks just like her mama.
ME: Mom and baby are both good.
The rest of the crew chime in one by one with their congratulations. Everyone except Julian. I’m not surprised when instead of texting, he calls.
“Congrats, daddy,” he sings as soon as I answer.
“Do you ever get used to hearing someone call you that? I mean, outside the bedroom.” I can’t help but smirk when he groans into the phone.
“She’s a cutie, man. Looks just like her mama.”
“She sure does which means I’m in for a world of trouble in about fifteen years. Is there a way to keep them from dating until your dead?”
“If I find a way to make that happen, I’ll let you know. If anyone needs that secret though it-“
“Max,” we say in unison.
The poor bastard has been blessed with two girls already and one more on the way. We thought we saw an overprotective side of him in college with his sisters. I can only imagine what he’s going to be like when those girls start dating.
In fact, I think we all might resemble big brother Max when our daughters start dating. Because the last thing I want is for her to end up with someone who doesn’t appreciate her for exactly who she is, who she wants to be.
“You know,” I start when I look up to find Mya staring at me. “I have a feeling we’re all going to be just fine as long as we stick together. Our kids will all grow up to be friends and lean on each other for support. They’ll have each other the way we did and look at us. We all turned out okay.”
“As long as they don’t date each other, I like the sound of that.”
“Why would they want to date each other? Half of them will be related in one way or another.”
“Um, we all fell in love with someone that was part of the group. What do you think is going to happen with our kids if they’re constantly around each other? They’re going to catch feelings unless we stop it before it begins.”
“Max and the fam are moving home soon. We should let him lay down the law. Everyone’s scared of Uncle Max.”
Julian laughs, we talk for a few more minutes and then I hear Piper calling him in the background. After hanging up, I slide into bed next to my wife and wrap her in my arms.
“We did good, dove. We created a beautiful daughter and beat the odds. Both of us.”
“And apparently you’re already forbidding her to date.”
“Just taking precautions. What if Max eventually ends up with a boy? You really want her to date a mini-Max?”
Mya shudders in my arms and shakes her head, her smile never fading as she falls back asleep. Hopefully, her dreams are peaceful, beautiful, and full of love and happiness. I’d hate to think she has a nightmare about a little Max dating our daughter. Because that’s something I’ll never let happen.
Did you catch the little hint I just dropped??? Well, it was more like a bomb but I can’t say more yet. Because there are still three books left to read in this series and I’d hate to spoil any of them for you. Snag your copy of the next book in the series, Tangled Little Truths, and you’ll be one book closer to finding out if everyone in the group gets the happily ever after they deserve.