The idea had startled me but as we talked about it and I gave it some thought, it seemed the natural thing to do. My brother, Mark, who had been my defender against teasing at school and who had made sure I went to college after our parents died my senior year of high school, Mark needed me to do this. He was the one who had stayed by my side and helped me out of despair when my Ron was killed in that train derailment, so how could I refuse him?
His Elaine had been pregnant I don’t know how many times, but never able to carry a baby to term. She was now desperate and Mark, faithful, strong, loving, rescuing Mark, had asked me to do this for them.
Why not? Ron and I had no children, I would not marry again, and had no desire for children, but I could do this and give back to Mark some of what he had given me.
The in vitro was an easy outpatient procedure, a mere day away from work. I managed the museum staff by day and at night fed my cat and put my feet up with a book just as I had the last ten years. The little fertilized seed grew. I explained the favor for Mark and Elaine to my staff as I began to show and life went on, predictable and uneventful.
Mark and Elaine were thrilled. Mark pampered and Elaine gushed and giddied and I smiled in indulgence. Elaine had baby showers and everyone seemed so impressed I would do this, which seemed a little extreme; after all, I wasn’t doing much more than carrying the package for them. I’d always been strong physically and while I will admit the last two months had been uncomfortable, none of it seemed that difficult or impossible.
Tonight, however, I could not rest or find ease lying, sitting or standing. I’d been to the bathroom again as my bladder seemed to stay squashed and just as I maneuvered myself carefully back onto the bed, my water broke. I called the taxi and Mark, and then waddled out the door.
“Don’t push!” The nurse commanded. The glare of the delivery room lights bounced off the white walls and bored through my closed eyelids as I huffed and panted and gritted my teeth through the long slog up the hill with each contraction and slid down the other side when they eased. The sound of monitor beeping mingled with the overhead hospital intercom and the faint noises the nurses and doctor made as they worked.
Mark and Elaine, gowned and masked, on either side of the delivery table, gripped my hands; Mark telling me how great I was doing and Elaine crying. She had pressed into my hand a small silver cross on a ribbon for her baby’s wrist and every push, every pain, every effort seemed poured into the rounded edges of that cross as it made indentations in my palm.
Then came the great wave of release followed by the sound of the first cry of the baby girl I had carried into the world. My head was spinning as the nurses and doctor gave more instructions and worked to finish the job. Mark pried his hand from mine and took the bundle the nurse handed him.
“Thank you,” he said into my eyes as he leaned over and placed the bundle next to me so that I could see what I had done for him. His eyes brimmed with tears; his face was lit up with a huge grin.
She was beautiful! I kissed her cheek and a huge rip opened my heart. Out bloomed a wave of longing, love, desire and beauty. All those things I hadn’t felt since Ron was killed.
Mark picked up his daughter and handed her to her mother, Elaine, whose face shone with joy even through her tears. “Thank you, God. Thank you, God.” she kept saying.
Those months of life pushing and kicking; that little heart beating against mine now pierced my heart and I was back among the living. That first kiss had set me free. Free to ache, to feel sorrow and pain, free to cry again. Through my tears I could see Mark with his arms around Elaine as hers held their baby girl, their heads bent together. I wanted to be in that hug, but from here on out, I would be Aunt.
[2nd Place Award-LinkedIn Writing Contest #13]