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Dinner and a Baby

 

 

Dinner and a Baby

By Jamie Sommers

Email: jamiesommers23@hotmail.com  

Rated: PG-13

Synopsis: Jamie and Landon are having a baby! It’s about damn time.

 

Thanks to my dear friend, you know who you are. You have held my hand and lifted me up when I was at my lowest point, for that I will always be thankful. Not to mention you’re a kick ass beta!! Pookie you da man!!!

 

Dinner and a Baby

 

Landon could feel the rain seeping through the soles of his shoes as he ran from his car into the church.  The door flew opened with a gust of wind causing it to bang against the wall. 

 

“Landon!” Reverend Sullivan rushed down from his podium to greet him. “What are you doing here?  There’s a terrible storm…”  The reverend’s words froze in his throat as his worst fears suddenly hit him.  “Is it Jamie?  Is she alright?”

 

Landon stood in the entranceway dripping wet.  Shaking his head to get some of the water off of his hair, he immediately eased the reverend’s worries.  “She’s fine sir.  I just needed to talk to you.”

 

“Oh.  Oh.”  Reverend Sullivan took a deep breath of relief and said, “Well you stay there and let me go get you something to dry off with.  You must be freezing.”  He quickly went to the pantry of the church and grabbed some of the dish towels they had, along with a sweater he kept in his office.  “It’s not much, but it’ll help warm you up,” he said as he handed Landon the items.  “Let me go make you something warm to drink while you get dried off.”

 

Minutes later Landon joined the reverend in the church kitchen, “Sorry to scare you like that.”

 

“Think nothing of it.  It’s just the way a father’s mind works sometimes.”  Revered Sullivan chuckled and said, “You’ll know what I’m talking about soon enough son.”  He paused then said, “I will admit I’m a little surprised to see you here, with Jamie being so far into her pregnancy and all.”

 

“My mom is at home with her right now.  It was kind of important that I speak with you sir.” 

 

“Well, take a seat,” the reverend made a gesture to one of the chairs with his hand.  Sitting down in the chair opposite of Landon he said, “What’s on your mind Landon?”

 

“Sir, a few months ago you asked me to meet you so we could discuss Jamie’s nightmares…”

 

“Yes, I remember that.  I assumed when you didn’t show up that it was no longer a concern for you.”  The reverend folded his hands on the table top and watched the expression on Landon’s face change dramatically.  “I take it that Jamie is still having some nightmares.”

 

Landon gulped as he said, “Yes sir.  I apologize for not being able to come that day.  With Jamie’s toxemia and this whole thing with Tracey, I kind of forgot about meeting you and then… well time just kind of got away from me.”

 

“It’s not a problem.  We’re both here now.” He paused for a moment and said, “What’s going on Landon?  Why did you brave this storm to talk about some bad dreams my daughter is having?” 

 

“Sir, I’m afraid that Jamie may be having nightmares about…about what happened to her mother during her own childbirth.”  It took a lot for Landon to say that, but he knew he needed to be up front with his father in law.  “I was just hoping that maybe you could tell me…”  Landon couldn’t quite say what he was thinking.  He had no idea how to ask this man about his wife’s death without causing him an enormous amount of pain.  “If maybe you could explain what happened to…ahem…” he cleared his throat and asked the remainder of the question with pleading eyes.

 

“You want to know the details of my wife’s death?”  Reverend Sullivan stood up and grabbed two mugs and filled them with the hot tea he had brewed for them.  Handing Landon a cup he said, “Tell me, what Jamie has told you about it?”

 

“Not much sir.  All I know is that she passed away during childbirth.”

 

Just hearing the words caused reverend Sullivan a lot of pain.  It had been two decades since his wife’s death, but talking about it now felt like it was just yesterday that she left him.  Taking a deep breath he began telling Landon about his late wife.

 

“She was a beautiful woman Jamie’s mother.  She was,” he swallowed his tears then finished with; “She was the love of my life.” 

 

“We knew each other our whole lives.  I was five years old when I told her father that I was going to marry her.  He laughed at me and told me that he was certain I would make a good husband to her, but that I’d have to make sure I had a good job to take care of her and that I raised whatever children we had to be god-fearin.’” The reverend chuckled as his thoughts brought him back to an earlier time in his life.  “I was determined to do just as he asked and as I grew older I realized that God was going to be a major part of my life.  My wife and I went to this church our whole lives.  Back then it wasn’t more than just a little square building with some benches in it.”

 

Landon looked around and said, “Wow.  Are you serious?”

 

“Yup.  This room here was being built as I took over the church.  A few years later we were able to add on more of the rooms.”

 

“Wow.  I can’t believe it.  You really did a lot for this church.”

 

“No Landon.  Not me.  It was Jamie’s mother that did it.”  He smiled as he thought of his wife.  “When I told her that I was going to dedicate my life to God, she told me that she knew I would be a wonderful leader and that she would do her very best to be a good example for the community.  So while I was going to school she spent her days doing charity work for the church and for the town.  It was her idea to start up a youth group.  Now, she wasn’t much older than the kids she started it for, but she was determined to make it a success.  She went to the parishioners homes and spoke with the parents directly.  She told them that it was important to bring God into their lives at a young age and that she was going to have a weekly gathering for them to keep the young folks in this town entertained and off the streets at night.” He chuckled to himself as he recalled the night of the gathering.  “That first meeting there was only four kids here.  They really didn’t know what to do so she thought it would be fun if they came up with ideas to better improve the church.  That’s how the idea of the pantry came up.  One of the kids wanted a snack and she thought we needed some place to keep food.  So every week these kids would get together and go to the local businesses trying to gather materials to build an addition to the church.  After that the group of kids got larger and larger.  They’d tell their friends about it in school and soon enough she had parents gathering in their own groups while the kids were gathering in theirs.  She thought that they needed more room to get together so once again they went out looking for charitable donations to put up yet another addition.  I graduated from school and was in awe at the work she had done with the parishioners.  Once the kitchen was done, the volunteers quickly started adding on some of the other rooms.  There was an office put in for me, the groom’s room.  Outside was the bridal suite… All of these rooms and the other additions were due to one woman’s dream to build a church that her own children would be proud of.  Needless to say, when we found out that we were expecting one of our own… well… there was a great celebration.  It was a joyous occasion when we made the announcement in church that Sunday.  People had really come together before, but now that she was expecting… it was a beautiful thing watching a community come together like that.”  Reverend Sullivan stood up and said, “Come on son.  Let’s take a walk.”  He led Landon through the building and into one of the rooms in the back of the church.  It contained cribs, and children’s toys.  On the wall was a plague that read “In memory of Elizabeth Sullivan.” 

 

“The parishioners built this for my wife,” he explained. 

 

“I don’t recall ever seeing this room before.”  Landon walked around the dark room and noticed a build up of dust on the window sill.  “I had no idea it even existed.”

 

“Not many do.  There are those that remember and those that chose to forget.”

 

“Geez,” Landon said.  “I thought that if the babies get too loud the mom’s just go into the groom’s room.”

 

“Yes, they do… now, but there was a time when the plan was…”  Reverend Sullivan walked to the crib and touched the mobile that hung above it.  He cleared his throat and said, “This here was built for Jamie to lie in.”  He turned and looked at Landon with tears in his eyes and said, “She was supposed to be the first baby in this room and when my wife passed away no one had the heart to open these doors up.  This room’s been shut off ever since.”

 

Reverend Sullivan wiped the dust on his fingers onto his pant leg and walked over to the rocking chair.  He closed his eyes for a moment and imagined that his beautiful wife was rocking their little girl right that very moment and with a flash of lightning from the storm outside the thought vanished.  He turned to Landon and said, “Come on.  Let’s go finish our tea.”

 

They walked together to the kitchen and sat at the table in silence for several minutes.

 

“She died of a brain aneurysm and she never got to see our beautiful child.”  Reverend Sullivan hung his head down and quietly cried into the palms of his hands.  “She never got to see what a wonderful woman Jamie grew up to be.”

 

It tore Landon apart inside knowing that he opened up a terrible wound.  “Sir, I’m so sorry.”  He laid his hand on the Reverend’s shoulder and said, “I understand how you feel.  When I thought I was going to lose Jamie I felt as though my life wasn’t worth living.”

 

The Reverend sniffled into his hands and wiped away his tears.  Lifting his head up he said, “Yes Landon.  If there’s one person that would understand my pain, it would be you.” 

 

“Sir, maybe we should talk about this some other time?” Landon suggested.

 

“No. Don’t be silly.”  Reverend Sullivan stood up and walked to the counter to grab some paper toweling.  “Jamie knew that her mother never got to see her Landon.  She knew that her mother died before getting to hold her.”  He turned and faced his son in law and said, “I suppose it’s only natural that Jamie’s afraid that the same thing will happen to her.”

 

Landon walked slowly towards the Reverend and laid his hand upon his arm, “Thank you.” 

 

They sat for a while and spoke over another cup of tea, giving Landon time to dry off and helping him to get a little more insight into Jamie’s dreams.  After the rain died down they both decided to go home.

 

Standing outside of the dark church Landon turned to face his father in law and said once again, “I don’t know how to thank you for sharing such a painful part of your life with me tonight.”  Landon nodded his farewell then stepped into his car and made his way home.

 

Reverend Sullivan stood there for a moment and thought about what Landon had said.  ‘A painful part of your life.’  Was it, he thought to himself.  Was remembering his beloved wife painful?  He turned and looked at the church, its dark windows haunting his thoughts and he made a decision right then and there to end the pain.  He got into his car and drove to the cemetery and walked to his wife’s grave.  Standing before her he said, “I’m sorry darling.  I’m so sorry for not sharing the pleasure of you with others.  I’m sorry for letting the pain of your death overshadow the joy of your life.”  He bent down as the rain stopped and cleared away some of the debris that had blown across her headstone.  Laying his hand upon the top of it he said, “I’ll do better Elizabeth.  I promise.”

 

~ ~ ~

 

She could feel the force of the baby’s head trying to make its way out of her body.  She longed to push and relieve herself of the terrible pressure, but it wasn’t time yet.  The doctor was across the room with another couple helping them prepare for the birth of their child.  Jamie tried to call out, but something was wrong.  She could feel it.  There was something terribly strange about the pain she was feeling.  Her body began to tingle as though her extremities were asleep.  She turned her head over and saw Landon sleeping peacefully next to her.  “Landon,” she whispered.  “Please wake up.  Something’s wrong.” She watched as Landon rolled over and draped his arm over her in peaceful slumber.  Jamie sighed, knowing that it would take a miracle to wake her husband up.  Giving up on that thought, she tried once again to get the doctor’s attention.  “Excuse me,” she said in a quiet tone, but nothing came out.  The panic started to fill her throat.  “Doctor!” She called out loudly, but still no sound would come out.  The tingling in her body had turned to pain and the baby was coming.  Jamie was sure of it.  She began to get lightheaded, as though she were going to pass out, but forced her eyes to stay open, telling herself that she needed to stay focused.  The baby needed her.  She tried to wake Landon again, but her body couldn’t move any longer.  She immediately noticed the tubes that were going into her arm and realized that they must’ve given her some kind of drug to help her with the pain, but she could still feel everything.  Everything.  The medication wasn’t working.  Didn’t anyone realize this?  The drugs didn’t cease the pain, instead it seem to prohibit the use of her basic bodily functions.  She couldn’t speak nor could she move.  “Please…someone…” she gurgled.  “Help me.”  She could no longer feel her baby coming out of her body, but noticed that the doctors and nurses were surrounding her.  They were talking her through it.  Landon was standing at her side now, and whispering in her ear, encouraging her to continue her pushing.  Jamie felt relief, knowing that the baby would be taken care of and closed her eyes.  Everyone around her was fading away.  The baby had made its way out into the world, but she still didn’t get to see it.  Her mind was fading fast.  It must’ve been from the drugs they gave me, she thought.  Jamie forced her eyelids to open so that she could get one glance at the baby, but the newborn seemed to be surrounded by medical personnel.  Landon was standing there taking pictures; the camera’s flash looking like flashes of lightning in their little birthing room.  Her father was smiling and watching along with Landon’s parents.  “Please…”  Jamie tried once more before giving into the haze that was consuming her.  “Please just let me see my baby…”  Her eyes closed just as Landon lifted the infant out of the bassinette for Jamie to see.  Jamie could hear the noises around her; the sound of the baby’s crying, the loud beeps of the machines she was hooked up to and Landon crying out, begging her to stay with him.  Of course she would stay with him.  Where else would she go?  The sounds were getting muffled now.  Everyone was telling her to fight, but there was no fight left in her.  She needed to rest now.  She’d fight again another day.

 

“Jamie,” Landon’s mother shook her shoulder gently.  “Jamie, dear wake up.”

 

Jamie opened her eyes and noticed the noise from the storm outside and then saw the flashes of lightning.  She tried to adjust her eyes to her surroundings as she heard a woman’s voice speaking softly to her.

 

“Jamie, please wake up.”

 

She finally realized that she was safe in her and Landon’s bedroom and whispered to her mother in law.  “I’m okay now.  It was just a bad dream.”  She closed her eyes once again and drifted off to sleep and in the back of her mind she prayed that it would be peaceful slumber.

 

 

“Look Jamie, I’m not going to fight with you about this.  The doctor said, no more traveling far distances.  We need to stay as close to the hospital as we can and that’s that.”  Landon continued to pack a suitcase with Jamie’s belongings.  “Now normally I wouldn’t be so adamant about this, but…” he turned around and noticed the tears silently streaming down his wife’s face.  “Oh baby.  Please don’t cry.”  Landon ran quickly to her side and began wiping away her tears.  “Please baby.  Please don’t cry.  I can take just about anything, except your tears.”

 

“I know but…”  Jamie sniffled and tried her hardest to stop the tears from coming, but couldn’t.  “I just feel like I’m inconveniencing everyone.  If I just stay here… I mean… it’s not that much further than my father’s house is and… and…”  Her tears started to stream once more. 

 

“Jamie, it’s not like we’re leaving home forever.  It’s just for one more week.”  Landon kneeled between her legs and held her face in his hands.  “Would you rather spend the last week of your pregnancy in the hospital?”

 

Jamie shook her head ‘no’ and blew her nose into a Kleenex that Landon had handed her.

 

“Well then, we have to stay at your dad’s.”  Landon stood up and placed a light kiss against her forehead, then lifted her up into his arms.  Her belly was so rounded that he had to bend over to hug her, but he was thrilled to do so.  “Look,” he said softly.  “If your father was ill and he needed someone to take care of him, wouldn’t you want him to stay here with us so we could watch over him?”

 

Jamie nodded her head as she said, “But I don’t need someone to take care of me.  I can take care of myself.”

 

“Yeah, I know baby, but sometimes you need a little help, right?” Landon waited for Jamie’s response, but got none.  “I promise.  I’m going to be there as much as I can.  You know that, but when I’m not, your dad or my mom will be there, and if anything happens with this little one here,” he placed his hand over her swollen belly, “we’ll only be a few miles away from the hospital.  Okay?”  Landon ducked his head down to look into her face, waiting for her to agree as he said once again, “Okay?”

 

“Okay,” the reluctance was apparent in her voice, but what choice did she have.  Jamie’s doctor had preferred for her to stay at the hospital.  Thankfully Landon convinced her otherwise during her weekly visit.

 

Landon knew that Jamie hated hospitals and didn’t want to stay in one unless she absolutely had to, so he convinced Dr. Basso that it would be in Jamie’s best interest to stay at a location closer to the hospital then in their own house.  “Dr. Basso,” Landon pulled her quietly to the side as he spoke in a hushed tone, “Isn’t it better if we don’t put any undue stress on Jamie?”

 

The doctor looked at Landon with caution and asked, “What are you getting at Landon?”

 

“Well, I was thinking that we could just move closer to the hospital.  Her father lives about two minutes away from here and if there are any problems…” he left the thought unfinished for the doctor to stew on for a moment.

 

Dr. Basso hemmed and hawed over it for a minute before walking over to Jamie’s examining table and saying, “Okay here’s the deal.  I’ll let you stay out of the hospital until we deliver the baby next week, but you’ll have to stay somewhere close and there’s got to be someone with you at all times.  Understand?”

 

That was earlier in the day and now it was time to leave for the house she used to call home.  “Landon, I appreciate you arranging this with the doctor.  I really do, but… but…” she began to sniffle as she continued.  “The last time I left this house to go to the hospital neither one of us was sure if I’d ever see it again and I can’t help but be a little afraid.”

 

“Oh baby. Baby.  It’s okay.”  Landon took his wife in his arms once again and kissed her forehead.  “Are you kidding?” he pulled back to look into her face.  “Not only will you be coming back to our home, but you’ll be coming back with our baby.”  He smiled at her and ran his hand down the back of her hair and let it rest on what was left of her waist.  “We’re going to leave here as a husband and wife and come back as a family.  Personally… I can’t wait to leave because the quicker we get out of here the quicker we can come back carrying this one here,” he touched her stomach, “In our arms instead of in your stomach.”  He gave her a genuine smile and placed a kiss on the tip of her nose. 

 

Jamie lifted her face and wiped the tears from her eyes before placing a kiss on Landon’s cheek.  “I guess I never thought of it that way.  Thank you Landon.”  Her smile was genuine as she said, “So what are you waiting for?  Get my luggage and let’s get out of here already.”

 

 

Her father’s home was a familiar sight to her.  The photographs of herself as a child, pictures of her and her father together during holidays, of her mother and father together on their wedding day and several others, but Jamie had always felt like something was missing in those pictures.  She always wished that there was a family photo of the three of them together sitting on the mantle along with all of the others, but that had never happened.  She silently vowed that the first thing her and Landon would do when the baby was born was to take a picture of the three of them together. 

 

“Jamie?”

 

She turned and said, “Yes daddy.”

 

“Are ya hungry?  I’ve got some homemade peach cobbler here that Mrs. Washington brought over this afternoon and some ice cream in the freezer.”

 

“I don’t know about Jamie, but I’d love some Reverend,” Landon said with a wink.

 

They sat in the living room eating their desserts and catching up on the local gossip.  Jamie was curious about the church as well as the parishioners as she hadn’t been able to attend a church service for months. 

 

She hadn’t slept for forty eight hours and it was taking its toll on her. It’s not that she didn’t want to sleep, she did, it was simply that she couldn’t. Every time she lied down, the baby would do summersaults inside of her belly. She had to pee every ten minutes and it took her at least twenty to stand up and make her way to the bathroom. When she would doze off the nightmares would start. Those were the worst. She could live with the discomforts of pregnancy, but the emotional turmoil she was going through…that was close to impossible to handle.

 

“Hey baby. Did you get any sleep last night?” Landon walked into the kitchen and poured himself a glass of milk.

 

Jamie’s head snapped around and she said in a terse tone, “DO I LOOK RESTED??”

 

Landon tried to hold the smile back. He knew that if he looked amused by Jamie’s temper she would get really upset.  “I’ll take that as a no.” he turned to face the cupboard so he could smile as he listened to her grumble under her breath.

 

“Landon, do I look like an idiot to you?” Jamie asked in a clipped tone.

 

This took Landon by surprise and he turned to answer her. “Of course not.”

 

“Then why are you finding my discomfort amusing? Do you think I can’t tell that you’re trying to hide that cocky grin of yours?”

 

“I don’t find amusement in your discomfort Jamie. It’s just that…”

“WHAT?” She quickly snapped at him.

 

“Listening to you get angry is kind of cute.”

 

“Cute? OH you sooooooooooo didn’t say that I’m CUTE!!!” She made an attempt to stand up and walk out of the kitchen but she just couldn’t balance herself. It was easier to give up and stare at the enemy, at the man who did this to her. Landon.

 

“The only reason I think you look adorable is because it reminds me of the first time you got mad at me and closed the door on my face. Remember?”

 

Jamie’s mind did a flashback and her anger quickly turned to tears. “Oh Landon I’m so sorry,” she cried. “I’m just so tired and I don’t know what to do,” she sniffled.

 

“Baby, baby don’t cry. I didn’t mean to make you cry.” He quickly rushed to her side and began to comfort her. “Shhhhhhhhhh,” he kissed her hair. “It’s okay.”

 

“No it’s not Landon. It’s not.” She ran her hand under her nose and made another lame attempt at standing.

 

“Here,” Landon grabbed her upper arms to give her some support. “Let me give you a hand with that.”

 

“Thank you,” she smiled softly.

 

“There ya go,” Landon bent over her protruding stomach and kissed her gently on the lips. “That’s what I like to see, a smile.” He started to kiss her again when she pulled away.

 

“I’m sorry Landon,” she began to waddle down the hallway and called back to him, “I really have to go to the bathroom.”

 

Reverend Sullivan’s head peeked through the swinging door that led to the pantry. “Is it safe?” He asked innocently.

 

Landon’s laughter bubbled up from deep within and said, “Yeah, she’s in the bathroom.”

 

“I remember when her mother was in the final stages of pregnancy. Whoooooooooooeeey, you want to talk about a temperamental wife.”

 

“Hey,” Landon turned to him and asked, “Did she have a hard time sleeping too?”

 

“Oh sure,” revered Sullivan picked up a banana and his box of cheerios. “Lots of women can’t sleep at the end. From what I understand, they can’t seem to find a comfortable position.”

 

“Yeah. I guess.” Landon grabbed two bowls and spoons. “Truthfully I think it’s more than that.”

 

“Think she’s still having some trouble with the nightmares?”

 

“I don’t know,” Landon shrugged. “She never sleeps anymore.”

 

“Want me to talk to her?”

 

Landon thought about it for a minute then said, “Yeah, I think you should. I’ve tried, but… I don’t know. It’s like she needs to be assured that the same thing that happened to her mother won’t happen to her and as many times as I tell her everything will be okay… it just doesn’t seem to make it any better.”

“Perhaps she should hear it from someone that was there with her mother?” the reverend began to slice his fruit into his bowl and said, “I’ll talk with her later on.”

 

“Thank you sir. I really appreciate it.”

 

“She’s my daughter Landon. I’d do anything for her.”

 

“Do anything for who?” Jamie asked as she waddled back into the kitchen.

 

“For you,” Jamie’s father said. “I’d do anything for my little girl,” he smiled as he poured milk over his cereal.

 

“Does that include giving me your breakfast because that looks really good?”

 

“Sure thing,” he slid the bowl and spoon over to her.

 

“Thanks Daddy. I’m starving.”

 

Reverend Sullivan smiled as he stood up and got himself another bowl of cereal. While slicing the bananas into the bowl he said, “Jamie, what do you say we have a little picnic out back this afternoon? Just you and me?”

 

“What about Landon?”

 

“Oh, I’m going to my mom’s later on baby so this is perfect.” Landon gave a knowing look towards his father in law and took another bite of his breakfast.

 

 

“Wow it’s beautiful out here Daddy. I wish I could come out back more often,” Jamie said.

 

“Soon enough you’ll up and about so often that you’ll think back to this time and wish that you could be confined to bed rest again.”

 

“You really think so?” Jamie asked with a crinkled nose.

 

“I know so,” her father said with a smile as bright as the day. “You’ll be up at all hours of the night with that little darlin’ there,” he pointed at her belly with a fork. “Once that starts, you’ll be begging Landon to take over so you can get some sleep.” As he took some items off of a tray for lunch he said a silent prayer. ‘Lord please help me to find a way to ease my daughter’s anguish. Help her to feel at ease with me so that she may confide in me and share with me the nightmares that keep her from a peaceful night’s sleep.’

 

“It doesn’t feel that way now,” Jamie pouted as she tried to lift her feet onto a nearby chair.

 

Noticing that his daughter was having a hard time he quickly went to her aid. “Here, let me.”

 

“Don’t bother Daddy. The chair’s too high off the ground for me.”

 

“Well then let me get the footstool. I’ll be right back.” He returned swiftly with a low, quilted foot stool.

 

Jamie tried once more to lift her feet onto the stool, but her stomach got in her way and she finally gave up.

 

Reverend Sullivan looked at his frustrated daughter and gave her a slight grin. “May I?” He asked. Without waiting for her to answer he bent down and lifted one foot onto the padded stool, then the other. “Would you like me to take your shoes off for you?”

 

“That would be great, but you may have to help me get them back on when we’re done with lunch.”

 

“That’s not a problem.” He slipped one shoe off then the other and stared at her feet with a huge smile, thinking, God most certainly works in mysterious ways.

 

“Are my feet funny looking Daddy?”

 

“What?” He looked up at her.

 

“You’re staring at my feet like I’ve got an extra toe or something.”

 

“No. It’s nothing like that. It’s just that…You have your mother’s feet.”

 

“I do,” she smiled softly and her eyes began to tear immediately at the thought of her mother.

 

“Yes, you do. And they’re beautiful feet may I add.”

 

“Thanks,” she turned her head and wiped away the tears in her eyes with the palm of her hand.

 

“What’s wrong sweetheart?”

 

“Nothing. It’s just…” she sighed and for a moment she thought that maybe she’d tell him. Instead she blamed it on being pregnant. “These hormones make me cry over the silliest things.”

 

“Yes, your mom was a lot like that too. In fact she had more mood swings then the ocean has tides.” He laughed at the memories of his wife that flooded his mind. “Your mother was so beautiful when she was pregnant with you.” He turned to the tray full of food and began making plates for himself and his daughter. “Fried chicken?” He offered.

 

Jamie nodded as he continued reminiscing about her mother.

 

“She would be laughing and smiling one minute and the next she’d be in hysterics. In fact there was this one time…” He laughed and shook his head as he thought back to that moment. “We were in the Piggly Wiggly doing our weekly shopping when your mom came upon this big display of Oreo cookies. She picked up a package and as she was putting them in the grocery cart I made the mistake of saying, ‘do you really think you should be eating those?’ Whooooooooooey,” he ran his hand through his hair and guffawed. “That woman went from sweet as pie to tears in a split second.”

 

“Really? Over cookies?” Jamie asked in amusement.

 

“Yup. Over cookies. Her bottom lip started to quiver and the tears just started streaming down her cheeks. I’ll never forget how the women in the aisle next to us stared at me. They looked at me like I had just beaten her silly.”

 

“Oh no.” Jamie was completely enthralled with the trip down memory lane she was taking with her father.

 

“Oh yes. In fact one woman walked up to your mother and asked her what was wrong and she said,” he shook his head as he remembered his late wife’s words. “She said, ‘my husband thinks I’m too fat to eat cookies.’ I kept apologizing to her. Told her over and over again, that I had only asked her, because she had been complaining about outgrowing her new maternity clothes. Boy oh boy, you wanna talk about a moody woman. Your mother was the epitome of a hormonal pregnant woman.”

 

“So what happened?”

 

“I bought her some Oreo cookies. In fact, I brought her home a package of cookies every week until you were born.”

 

“Oh daddy you didn’t?”

 

“I most certainly did. In fact I even brought a package to the hospital with us when she went into labor with you.”

 

The smile on Jamie’s face quickly disappeared.

 

“Jamie what’s wrong?”

 

“She never got to eat them did she daddy?” The tears that were collecting in her eyes quickly poured down her cheeks.

 

“No Jamie, she didn’t. But that’s not your fault sweetheart.”

 

“I know. I know.” Jamie was practically blubbering. “Oh daddy.”

 

“What is it Jamie? What’s going on sweetheart?”

 

“Nothing. It’s nothing.” She lied to save her father from heartache.

 

“It is not nothing Jamie so quit saying that. There’s been something bothering you for quite some time now and you won’t talk to Landon about it so why not talk to me? I’m a very good listener you know.” He tried to lighten the mood, but nothing seemed to appease her. “Jamie. Jamie.” He tried once more to get her to open up. “Your mother died because of an aneurysm not because of childbirth.”

 

“How do you know that daddy? How do you know that the pressure of labor didn’t cause her blood vessel to burst? How do you know that daddy? How do you know when she pushed it didn’t cause it??”

 

“Because the doctors told me one had nothing to do with the other. Jamie, she was my wife. Don’t you think I’d ask? Your mother would’ve died whether or not she was pregnant with you Jamie. It was going to happen and there was nothing we could do about it. It was God’s will Jamie. It was God’s will that your mother lived long enough to see your face and know that you were alive and well. Now I can’t promise you that nothing will go wrong with your baby Jamie. I just can’t do that. No one can. No doctors, no specialists. No one. Just like no one could’ve predicted your mother’s passing. It’s just something that happened.”

 

“I know that. In my head I know that and I keep telling myself that same thing. I keep telling myself that I’m being silly. The nightmares don’t mean a thing. It’s just my overactive imagination, but daddy,” she reached for his hand and grasped it tightly. “I swear daddy, they seem so real. They take my breath away.”

 

He turned his hand over and clutched her hand in both of his. “Tell me about them Jamie. Talk to me.”

 

Without thinking she just started confiding in him. “It always starts out beautifully. Me and Landon excited about the birth of the baby. Lying in bed with his arms around me or lounging in the hammock out back and in an instant everything gets still. I can’t move a muscle. I can barely breathe. I try calling out but no one hears me. Everything is going on around me. People are preparing for the baby and I just keep slipping away. One minute I’m lying in silence and the next I’m in the midst of childbirth. Landon keeps telling me to push and then I can hear it daddy. I can hear the baby cry, but…but…” Her breath began to labor and the tears started to come down in buckets. “I never see the baby. Never. I try, but…buhh….”

 

Reverend Sullivan jumped off of his chair and grabbed her in a tight embrace.

 

“Landon keeps saying how beautiful the baby is but no one notices that I can’t see it. Then I just close my eyes and that’s the end.” Jamie pulled back and looked at her father. “Did she really see me daddy? Did she really know who I was?”

 

“Yes sweetheart. She saw you. She saw you Jamie. She saw you.” He repeated it like a mantra. “She held you in her arms and kissed your head. She smelled your sweet scent and felt your soft skin. She died holding onto you and telling you that she loved you.”

 

“Oh daddy,” Jamie cried silently on her father’s shoulder, washing away the months of pain and worries.

 

~ ~ ~

 

“Did you pack a change of clothes for yourself?” Jamie asked Landon.

 

“No. Why? Do you think I’ll need one?” Landon was rushing around the house in a frantic state.

 

“You may.”

 

“Okay. Okay…” He raced from one end of the room to the other. “What should I bring?”

 

“Why not just take an extra change of underclothes and a  t-shirt?”

 

“Yeah. Good idea. Okay. T-shirt. T-shirt.” Landon started throwing his clothes from the drawers onto the floor. “Where the hell is my t-shirts????” He screamed in frustration as he threw one on the floor behind him.

 

“Right there Landon,” Jamie said with a sense of serenity in her voice.

 

“Where?” He looked behind him, over his shoulder, then the other before seeing it lying at his feet. “Oh. Okay.” He grabbed his stuff and threw it in Jamie’s bag then walked briskly to the bedroom door.

 

“Landon! The car’s all gassed up and ready to go,” Reverend Sullivan called out as he ran through the front door. “Is she ready?” He stopped short as he looked into the bedroom where Jamie was sitting. There were clothes strewn about the bedroom floor. A glass of milk was spilt across the nightstand. The television was making a static noise and in the midst of this Jamie sat perched atop the bed with a glowing smile.

“Hi daddy. Are you ready to go?” She said as she stood up and walked toward the bedroom door.

 

“Yes. Are you?”

 

“I think so,” Landon answered. “I think we’ve got everything we need.”

 

“Well let’s go,” Reverend Sullivan suggested.

 

They drove to the hospital in record time with Jamie holding on for dear life.  When they got there Landon raced inside for a wheelchair while Reverend Sullivan helped Jamie out of the car.

 

Jamie put one foot out the door when the contraction hit her. It started in her lower back and gradually spread to the front of her stomach. The pain was so intense she screamed and placed a white knuckled grip on her father’s hand.

 

“Jamie are you okay?” He asked with concern in his voice.

 

“Noooooooooo,” she moaned as the waves of pain coursed through her.

 

“Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe,” he chanted as though that would cure her of the pain.

 

“You breathe!” She yelled in frustration.

 

Landon ran out of the hospital with wheelchair in tow and noticed Jamie doubled over in pain. “Baby? Oh my God are you okay?”

 

Jamie turned and glared at him wishing people would stop asking her that.

 

Once the contraction stopped Jamie quickly turned to her father and apologized for being abrupt. “I didn’t mean it daddy. I’m really sorry about yelling at you.”

 

“Jamie don’t you worry your pretty head over that.”

 

“I think I should just apologize now for whatever I may say tonight to both of you.” She looked between Landon and her father. “Just remember that it’s not me talking, it’s the labor pains.”

 

The nurse checked them in and brought them to her birthing room informing her that Dr. Basso would be paged immediately.

 

Landon’s parents arrived within the hour as well as Jamie’s doctor.

 

After monitoring Jamie’s progression for a few hours Dr. Basso decided to help Jamie along. She was concerned with Jamie’s blood pressure and the baby’s heart rate. “Jamie. Landon. I think the best thing to do at this point is go ahead with a cesarean section.”

 

“Is everything okay?” Jamie asked with a worried tone in her voice.

 

“Just some complications from the toxemia Jamie, but we’ll get you into the operating room within the next thirty minutes or so and have ourselves a baby. I think it’s time you both got a little rest so I’m going to send the nurse in with a little Demerol. It’ll help to relax you between contractions. Once the anesthesiologist arrives he’ll give you an epidural which will numb you from the waist down…” the doctor started to explain the procedures for the surgery and reassured both Jamie and Landon that this was the best course of action. She looked to Landon’s father for support, which she quickly found.

 

“Okay then. Let’s get started,” Landon said with a nod.

 

~ ~ ~

 

The doctor sat her on the edge of the hospital bed and told her to relax as he pushed the needle into her spine. It was supposed to numb her but just as he placed the needle into her skin a contraction hit her and took the breath right out of her. The only thing that kept her going was the thought that this should be the last one. The medicine should kick in and this should be the last contraction she feels. She prayed what she was telling herself was the truth.

 

Landon held onto her hand and whispered in her ear, “In through your nose. Out through your mouth. Good. Good.”

 

She tried her best to follow his directions but it was difficult. She didn’t know what was worse, the labor pains or the pain of the long needle going into her spine. Jamie was pretty sure that one was equally as bad as the other. A few minutes later the pain seemed to melt away. She couldn’t feel a thing. Her legs went completely numb and the contractions were gone. She laid her head back against a pillow and took a deep breath. The nurse was getting Landon dressed in some scrubs so he could be sterile in the operating room. Jamie and Landon had decided that they would be the only ones in the room. Their parents and friends would have to wait in the waiting room for the big news.

 

Tracey and Dean sat in the waiting room along with Jamie’s father and Landon’s parents. It was the last place Tracey had ever expected to be. She never thought she would be awaiting the new arrival of their baby, yet alone be excited about it, but she was. A few months ago, when she went through her own battle with ovarian cancer, the last person she wanted to see was Jamie, but Jamie kept calling her. Helping her. Befriending her when she least expected it. She certainly hadn’t invited Jamie’s friendship in, but Jamie Sullivan-Carter  was a strong willed woman. At first it was a phone call wishing her well and letting her know that she was praying for her. Then it was a gift basket with teas and specialty crackers. Nothing exotic, but very soothing for someone going through cancer treatment. There were days in which the only thing Tracey could keep down was a cup of tea and some crackers. After a few weeks of phone calls Landon brought her by the hospital during one of her treatments. Tracey was trapped, it wasn’t as if she could rip the IV out of her arm to avoid Jamie so she just sat there and let Jamie do the talking. After that first visit, Jamie made it a point to have Landon bring her to the hospital on the same day for her checkups. One day Jamie was telling Tracey a silly story about Landon and a mud puddle when Tracey turned to her and asked her why she was wasting her time trying to become friends with her. “It was simple,” Jamie said. “You gave me back my life. You saved my husband from pain and heartache and you gave me the life that I now carry inside of me. Sitting with you is the least I can do. I know you don’t want me here, but there’s no where in the world I’d rather be than with you. You may never be my friend Tracey, but I will always be yours. And to be honest with you, I’m the perfect friend for you. I know what it is you’re going through. I can tell you how to prevent hair loss from chemo and I’ve got the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies in the world. What more could you want in a friend? I come bearing chocolate??” It was in that moment that Tracey knew she and Jamie were destined to be life long friends. Tracey couldn’t help but laugh at Jamie’s comments. Not because they were exceptionally funny, but because they were true. What girl could turn down chocolate? Tracey sat in the waiting room with everyone else, but for some reason she felt as though Jamie needed her. She stood up and walked towards the nurse’s station, “Excuse me. Is there anyway that I could see Mrs. Carter before she goes into the delivery room?” Tracey hoped that they’d say yes.

 

“I’ll ask the Carters.” The nurse stood up and started walking down the hall, “What’s your name dear?”

 

“Tracey.”

 

A few minutes later the nurse returned and said, “Mrs. Carter said to show you in.”

 

As Tracey walked into Jamie’s room her heart started pounding in her chest. She hated hospitals, hated the smells that permeated from them, hated the sound of the nurses shoes on the floors, hated everything that had to do with them, but for some reason she didn’t mind being in this portion of the hospital. “Hey,” Tracey smiled as she saw Jamie lying on the bed.

 

“Hi,” Jamie smiled back and held her hands out to her. “I’m so glad you’re here.”

 

“Me too, but I do feel a bit guilty.”

 

“What on earth for?”

 

“Everyone else just stared at me when I walked back here. Why did you want to see me and not them?”

 

“Because, I needed you right now. I needed my friend.” It was at that moment that a contraction hit. Jamie’s medications prevented her from feeling the vast majority of the pain, but she knew something was wrong. She turned her head towards the fetal monitor and noticed that the baby’s heart rate had dropped. The alarm started to sound and three nurses instantly appeared.

 

“I’m sorry ma’am you’re going to have to go,” one of them said to Tracey.

 

“NO!” Tracey stood her ground. “I’m not leaving her!”

 

Jamie gripped Tracey’s hand in her own and said, “Don’t go. I want you to be there for the birth, okay?”

 

“Okay,” Tracey brushed a hand over Jamie’s and said, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

 

Jamie’s doctor entered the room and immediately went to the readout on the fetal monitor. After looking at it for a moment she said, “Okay Jamie. The baby’s heartbeat is getting dangerously low so we’re going to have to do a c-section.”

 

“Is everything alright?” Jamie asked.

 

“It will be. We just need to get you in the delivery room right away.”

 

The nurses began to get everything prepared. Another hospital bed was brought in and Jamie was transferred from one to the other. Tracey was whisked away and told to put on some scrubs and a cap. Shortly after she was led to a room where Landon waited patiently.

 

“Hey!” He was surprised to see Tracey standing there. “What’s up? What’re you doing here?”

 

“Jamie asked me to stay for the delivery. I hope that’s okay?” She asked sheepishly.

 

“It’s totally cool.” Landon smiled and said, “I’d hug you but then we’d have to go wash ourselves again. I got in trouble when I tucked my hair into this cap so I can’t imagine what they’d do to me if I touched you.” They both giggled nervously.  “Gosh, what’s taking them so long??” Landon’s impatience was starting to surface.

 

“I don’t know. The doctor came in and said they were going to do a c-section and then…”

 

“What???” Landon’s jaw dropped.  “What do you mean a c-section?”

 

“There was something wrong with the baby’s heartbeat so they were doing a c-section. I’m sorry Landon, I thought you knew.”

 

“No. I didn’t.” He started to pace. “Maybe I should go out there and…”

 

“Mr. Carter are you ready?” A nurse held a door open and asked them to follow her. “Your wife is already prepped but it seems that the baby is insisting on a natural delivery and not a cesarean.”

 

“Huh?” Landon looked confused. He saw Jamie lying on a hospital bed with her legs bent. She was panting and seemed to be in a lot of pain. “What’s going on here? Dr. Basso?”

 

“Landon,” The doctor stood up and walked towards Landon and Tracey. “I’m sorry; I didn’t get your name.”

 

“It’s Tracey.”

 

“Okay Tracey. I need you to get on that side and Landon you’re going to be on this side. I want you both to hold onto one of Jamie’s legs and pull backwards. This baby is coming and we need to get it out.”

 

Jamie started screaming in pain. The medication that was dripping into her IV was stopped for the delivery so she would know when to push and when the contractions were coming.

 

Landon stood on one side of her and whispered to her, “You’re doing great baby. Great.” His eyes were glued on what the doctor was doing. It was then that he remembered, “The camera.”

 

“Do you have one Landon?” Dr. Basso asked?

 

“Yeah,” he fished it out of his pocket. “It’s a recorder, is that alright?”

 

“Yes. Julie?” The doctor called one of the nurses that were waiting for the baby’s arrival. “Would you mind? Landon’s going to be a bit busy for the next few minutes.”

 

“Sure,” The nurse took hold of the digital recorder and began capturing the birth of a Carter.

 

“Jamie, just try to relax until the doctor tells you to push,” one of the nurses said.

 

Jamie screamed out, “Here it comes. I need to push!!!!!!!”

 

“Go ahead Jamie,” Dr. Basso said as she guided the baby’s head out. “Landon, Tracey, pull Jamie's legs back. Push Jamie, Push!!!”

 

Jamie’s cries echoed through the room as the baby’s head finally made its way out.

 

“Okay, relax Jamie.” The doctor told her.

 

Landon just stared at what the doctor was doing. She held a bulb syringe in her hand and suctioned out the baby’s mouth, then there was a loud cry. He and Jamie’s baby. “Oh my God,” he whispered as his eyes filled with tears. “Holy cow.” He looked up at Tracey who was staring in awe, then looked back down.

 

“Okay Jamie, One more push. You ready?” The doctor asked.

 

“Yeah,” she panted. “Oh God! AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!” With one scream and one push their child slipped into Dr. Basso’s hands.

 

“It’s a girl!!!!” Dr. Basso said out loud. “You’ve got a beautiful baby girl.”

 

The tears were streaming down Landon’s face as he took a good look at his daughter.

 

“Oh my gosh Jamie, she’s beautiful.” Tracey cried as the doctor cleaned up the infant.

 

“Landon? Would you like to cut the cord?” Dr. Basso handed Landon an instrument and he cut the line that kept his child alive for the past nine months. “Wow,” he took a deep breath and said, “That’s incredible.”

 

Jamie closed her eyes and felt a sharp stabbing pain. “Oh my…….” The tears started pouring down her face. “There’s something wrooooooong,” she groaned as she felt the pain intensify.

 

Dr. Basso massaged Jamie’s stomach and said, “Its okay Jamie. We’re going to deliver the placenta now and then you should be fine.” She looked down and noticed the blood that began to saturate the bedding. “Landon, Tracey? Why don’t you go stay with the baby? Jamie we’re going to put you to sleep for a little while. Don’t be alarmed.” The doctor looked at the anesthesiologist then at the nurses. “Call Dr. Lewis, she’s hemorrhaging.”

 

Landon heard the word hemorrhage and turned quickly around. “What’s going on? Is she okay? Jamie?? Jamie???” He called out to her but she didn’t answer.

 

“She’s under,” the anesthesiologist replied.

 

“Landon you’re going to have to leave. Julie!”

 

The nurse knew that it was time to remove Landon and Tracey from the operating room. “They’re going to have to operate on your wife Mr. Carter. Why don’t you come with me and…what’s the baby’s name?”

 

“I don’t know yet. We haven’t decided.” He turned to look at Jamie’s lifeless body on the operating table. “She’s so pale.”

 

“Come on Landon,” Tracey guided her friend out of the room. “Let’s go with the nurse.”

 

Landon could hear the noises coming out of the operating room as the doors closed behind him. The doctor was screaming for some clamps and more blood just as another physician ran into the room.

 

“I can’t leave her.” He mumbled to himself. “I can’t,” he said it just a little louder. “Julie is it? I need to stay with my wife. Tracey’ll stay with our daughter.” Landon quickly turned around, but Tracey stopped him.

 

“You’ll just be in the way Landon. Let them do what they need to. She’ll be fine.” Tracey stared into Landon’s eyes and said, “Just have faith.”

 

Landon sat in the hospital room for two hours just waiting to hear whether or not his wife was alive. His parents and Jamie’s father were with him, but he had never felt so alone in his life. “Please God, don’t take her from us.”

 

“Landon,” Dr. Basso and Dr. Lewis walked into the room together. “This is Dr. Lewis. She helped in the operating room.”

 

“Jamie? Where is she? Is she alright??”

 

“She’s fine. She’s in recovery. It was a little touch and go there for a minute, she lost a lot of blood, but she’s doing great.”

 

The group erupted into quiet cheers. “Thank you God. Thank Goodness and Praise Jesus,” was spoken more than once among the group.

 

Landon was led into recovery where Jamie laid waiting. She had yet to see her daughter. 

 

She looked at him walking towards her and said, “You.”

 

“Me,” he replied. “And she,” he looked down at the sleeping infant in his arms and handed her to Jamie.

 

“Oh Landon, she’s so pretty.”

 

“She looks like her mother.”

 

“I can’t believe she’s here. She’s finally here.” Jamie kissed her baby’s forehead and whispered to her, “I love you.”

 

Landon looked at his beautiful family and said, “We need to name her.”

 

“Yes we do. Any suggestions?” Jamie asked.

 

“Well I’ve got an idea….”

 

~ ~ ~

 

The sun was shining brightly as the people arrived at the church. It was a beautiful day for a baptism.

 

Reverend Sullivan stood at the front of the church and smiled as he continued with this Sunday’s special church service.  “Let us affirm our common faith in Jesus Christ.” He turned to Landon’s father and smiled then to face his granddaughter’s Godmother, Tracey. “Do you believe and trust in God the Father, source of all being and life, the One for whom we exist?”

 

They replied, “I believe and Trust in Him.”

 

“This is the faith of the church.”

 

“This is our faith.” They replied in unison, “We believe and trust in One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

 

Reverend Sullivan then dipped his fingers in the holy water that stood before him and placed the sign of the cross on his granddaughter’s forehead.  “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

 

The congregation responded, “Amen.”

 

Reverend Sullivan continued on with the baptism ceremony, bringing tears of joy to the eyes of every parishioner.  “May God who has received you by baptism into His church, pour upon you the riches of His grace, that within the company of Christ’s pilgrim people you may daily be renewed by His anointing Spirit, and come to the inheritance of the saints of glory.”

 

Everyone joined in with a final “Amen.”

 

Reverend Sullivan then took the child from her Godmother’s arms and turned her towards the congregation. “It is my pleasure to present to you, Elizabeth Alicia Carter.”

 

The End