I’d never seen him look awed quite like this.
“What did you just say?” The words came out a little too loud, too tight, like a mallet dropped on a drum.
“I said you’re going to be a daddy.”
His hand rose, shaking, and he pressed it over his mouth. “You’re sure?” he said from behind his fingers. His eyes had begun to shine.
I nodded, feeling my eyes burn, too. His reaction—his relief and thrill and tenderness—nearly made my knees buckle. “I’m sure.”
After two years of trying, I’d never once gotten pregnant. Months of charting and planning. Two rounds of failed IVF. And here we were, a month after our mutual decision to give up for now, and I was pregnant.
Bennett slid his palm over his face before reaching for my elbow and pulling me a bit off the dance floor and into the shadow of the tent. “How do you . . . When?”
“I took the test this morning.” I chewed my lip. “Okay, to be fair I took about seventeen tests this morning. I mean, I’m barely pregnant. I was only a few days late.”
“Chlo.” He stared at me, breaking into an enormous smile. “We’re going to be horrible parents.”
“We’ve never known failure,” he said, eyes manically searching mine. “I mean, we will probably be the most uptight—”
“No,” he said, shaking his head, his eyes shining again. “You’re going to be perfect. You’re going to blow my goddamn mind.”
His mouth covered mine, open and claiming, his tongue sliding across my lips, my teeth, and deeper. I took a handful of that thick, perfectly messy hair and held him as he pressed closer, grew nearly desperate.
I’m going to have this bastard’s baby.
Our driver met my eyes in the rearview mirror, apologizing silently for the fact that we seemed to be hitting
“Hhee-hhee-hhee,” I prompted, reminding Chloe how to breathe the way we’d learned.
Chloe’s eyes were wide, pleadingly fixed on mine as she nodded frantically, as if I were the life preserver thrown overboard in this goddamn biological farce called My Wife Gives Birth to a Melon Through a Straw.
“Did you text Max?” she cried, squeezing her eyes shut.
I watched as a drop of sweat rolled down her temple. “Yes.”
I have so many fucking questions. Not the least of which: how in the hell is this supposed to work?
Faced with the reality of this giant kid coming out of my wife, I was suddenly less confident that history can offer any statistical conclusion about women successfully giving birth.
She bent over, letting out a growl that turned into a scream. And then she sucked in a huge breath, squeaking out: “George and Will P.?”
“Sara called George,” I told her. “Breathe, Chlo. Worry about this, not them.”
I’ve seen her body up close, and I’ve seen that kid on the 4-D ultrasound. I’m no expert in physics, but I just don’t see this happening the way they tell us it’s going to happen.
“Are you sure you don’t want an epidural as soon as we get there?” I asked as the town car hit a pothole and Chloe cried out in pain.
She shook her head quickly, continuing to breathe with cheeks puffing and her hand a vise around mine. “No. No. No. No.”
It became a chant, and I thought back to the estate planning we’d done, the living wills and power of attorney documents we’d signed. Had there been a provision in there for me taking over all health care decisions in the event of sudden and terrifying childbirth? Could I choose for her to have a C-section as soon as we pulled up to the hospital, to spare her the pain she was about to endure?
“How are you so calm?” she asked, breathless, forehead damp with sweat. “You’re so calm. It’s freaking me out.”
I do not have a fucking clue what the fuck I am supposed to do.
She looks like she might be dying.
My hand itched to reach into my pocket, pull out my phone, and call Max.
What does it mean that she’s screaming every minute? Only a half hour ago her contractions were ten minutes apart. Is it possible she might break my hand in her grip? She said she’s hungry but the doctor suggested I not give her anything to eat . . . and yet, I’m a little afraid of her. She’s smiling—but she looks terrifying.
Another contraction hit her and her grip tightened again, painfully. I’d let her break every bone in my hand if that’s what she needed, but it made it hard for me to count how long this one lasted.
Gasping, Chloe whispered to me, or to herself, “It’s okay, I’m okay. It’s okay, I’m okay. It’s okay, I’m okay.”
I watched her struggle through it and then her face relaxed and she slumped back against the seat, her hands clutching her stomach.
Instinctually, I felt like she should be glaring at me, or picking a fight with me to distract herself, or something—anything—quintessentially bitchlike, but she still treated me so gently.