The room erupts into chaos as the staff scrambles to get Avery out of the delivery stirrups and back onto the bed so they can transport her to the OR. The staff is shouting back and forth and I’m lost as to what my role just became. “What do I do?”
Dr. Knight removes her gown and gloves and pulls me aside as the staff preps Avery. “We can’t use her epidural for the cesarean because it isn’t dosed with enough medicine for surgery. She’ll have to go to sleep so you can’t go back with her but if anything strange happens during the delivery, I’ll need you to wipe it from their minds so they can’t remember or document it.”
A full whirlwind later, Avery is whisked from the room. I catch up and run beside her bed. I stretch upward and she rolls toward me as I kiss her forehead. “I love you and everything is going to be okay.”
I just lied to my agápe. I have no idea if everything is going to be okay. And we both know it.
“I love you too,” she calls out as I watch her disappear down a sterile hallway leading to the OR where I once again have no control over her safety.
“You can wait in your wife’s room, Mr. Alexander.” I feel numb as I return to the place where it looks like a tornado just blew through leaving empty medical supply packaging in its path.
My daughter was taken to the nursery during the chaos so I’m alone behind the closed door and I drop to my knees to pray to anyone willing to hear my plea. “Please keep Avery and our child safe by placing your arms of safety around them both.” I don’t ask but it’s what I’m thinking. Please be a boy so we don’t have to worry about losing this child.
It seems an eternity when there’s finally a knock at the door. I recognize some of the staff from earlier but there’s a new face in the crowd this time. And it’s wrapped in a blue and pink beanie hat and soft flannel blanket. “Here’s your little trouble maker. I think you owe her a spanking for what she just pulled.”
My heart stumbles. She? “Another girl?”
“You seem surprised. Were you expecting a boy?” she says as she passes the baby girl to me.
I hesitate in answering because I’m too stunned as I look at my second daughter. “No. We didn’t know the gender.”
“I don’t know how you went the whole pregnancy without finding out what these babies were.” I’m so glad we didn’t. We’d have expected the worst if we had known they were both girls. “Looks like you’ll be seeing a lot of pink around your place.”
I immediately rack my brain to remember every detail I can recall about fylgias but all three have one thing in common. They died the moment they were born. And this child isn’t dead. She’s very much alive and looking at me.
I pull back her beanie to look at her hair and it’s different from our other daughter’s. This baby is blond like Avery. They are total opposites so it isn’t possible for them to be an agape and fylgia.
I’m able to relax for the first time in months knowing I have two healthy daughters. One is like me, the other like Avery. And all is right in my world.
I’m waiting in Avery’s postpartum room when she’s brought in from recovery. It’s been more than two hours since she was rushed toward the operating room for an emergency cesarean and I’m anxious to see that she’s unharmed. Our connection was severed when the general anesthesia hit her vein but it’s slowly wearing off because I’m beginning to pick up bits and pieces of emotion from her.
I’m excited to tell her about our two healthy daughters but disappointed I’ll have to wait since she’s still sleeping. “I thought she’d be awake after she left the recovery room.”
“She was hurting when she woke after surgery so we had to give her some extra pain medicine. She’ll be groggy for a little while.” The nurse is leaving when she turns back. “She did wake up long enough to ask about the babies.”
I immediately panic. “What did you tell her?”
“I’m sorry. She dozed off before we could tell her she had another daughter.”
Good. Avery would have lost it if she had learned the second baby was a girl. I need to be the one to tell her so I can immediately reassure her both babies are fine.
Avery is assessed by the nurse and then left to rest until time for vital signs again. She looks so young lying in bed with her blond curls fanned out on the pillow beneath her head. The beautiful sight reminds me of what a sleeping angel might look like.
It’s still night but the others have gone home. They felt it was important we have this time to bond with our new babies so I’m alone with a sedated Avery when the nursery staff member brings them to the room for their first visit. Avery sleeps through the nurse’s teaching about the care of our babies and I’m left peering over at them in their cribs once the nurse is gone. And I’m scared shitless.
They’re so tiny. And fragile. I’m afraid I’ll break them so I’m content to gaze at my newborn children from where I stand hovering over them. All is well for a while until one of them becomes fretful and her crying escalates into a screaming fit.
It’s the dark haired one making all the fuss. I can’t even call my daughter by her name because she doesn’t have one. Neither of them do. We discussed a couple of options but never agreed on anything. Avery was determined one was a boy so we certainly didn’t choose names for two girls.
I don’t have a clue what’s wrong with her but I pick my elder daughter up and hold her for the first time. She continues screaming and I rock her gently without any improvement in her mood. “I don’t know what you want, little one.”
“Sol,” Avery says in the softest voice. She’s finally awake so I walk to her bedside with our screaming daughter and lean over so she may see her face. “That’s a welcomed sound.”
She presses the button on the bed to lift the head and I feel her joy when she notices there are two cribs. “I want to hold my babies.”
I pass our daughter to her once she’s sitting up and comfortable. “This is the firstborn.”
“Yes. My sweet, dark haired girl.” She strokes her cheek. “Everything’s a little fuzzy but I remember you, my lovely.”
I collect our sleeping daughter from her crib and return to Avery’s bedside. I pass the second baby to her and give her a moment to register the wellbeing of our second daughter before I tell her we have two girls. “Both are safe and healthy.”
She’s beaming. “Yes they are. I can clearly see that.” She leans forward and presses a kiss to each of their heads.
“And both are girls.”
She looks up at me and her fear is almost overwhelming. “No.”
“Both of them are fine, Avery. One is dark like me, the other is blond like you. They’re complete opposites so it isn’t possible for them to be an agápe and fylgia.”
She’s panicking and it’s my job to soothe her through our connection and reassuring words. “They’re more than two hours old. The second baby wouldn’t have survived if she was a fylgia. But she did and she’s fine. Look at her, Avery. She’s alive and healthy. Watch her chest rise and fall as she breathes. Place your hand over her heart and feel it beat.”
A single tear rolls down her face. “We have two daughters.”
“Yes. Two very nameless little girls. We’re going to need to rectify that soon. I’m sure they don’t want to spend their lives being identified by the color of their hair or being known as the first or second born.” We debated girl names for a couple of weeks but never decided on anything. Choosing names for girls felt like we were admitting we were going to lose one so neither of us would commit to anything.
“You really liked Sophie,” Avery says.
“And you really liked Sadie.”
“So we use both and we each get our preference.” She looks down at our dark haired beauty. “I pictured a little girl with dark brown hair and green eyes like yours while I was pregnant. I think Sadie fits this one perfectly but she needs a middle name.”
My dark hair and green eyes came from my mother and I’m reminded of her when I look at this child. “I’d really like to use Caroline after my mother.”
Avery caresses the top of her head. “Sadie Caroline Alexander.” She looks up at me. “I adore the way it sounds but I love it more because she’s named after your mother.” She moves her hand to the top of our other daughter’s head. “Now what about a middle name for Sophie?”
“We’re using my mother’s name. Would you like to use your mom’s as well?”
Avery’s eyes glaze. “Sophie Elise Alexander.”
“It sounds good.”
“Just like it was meant to go together.” My wife admires our daughters. “Sadie Caroline and Sophie Elise. Both are lovely and immortal flowers without a single physical defect. They are perfect and worthy of being brought forth in Eden.”
She’s quoting The Scarlet Letter and she couldn’t be more right. These babies are perfect. I suppose every parent feels that way about their children but they can’t all be correct. At least we aren’t plagued with the unfortunate circumstance of being wrong about our children’s perfection.
It’s been three days since we welcomed our twin daughters into the world and today we are bringing them home to the Savannah compound. It’s almost noon so the family is asleep–except for the Brennan crew–and we find them waiting for us in the living room.
Chansey swiftly rises from the sofa to greet us. “I’m so happy you’re home. I’m beyond ready to meet these little ladies.” Both babies are in their carriers and I place them on the couch side by side. “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to make it to the hospital to see you but I couldn’t leave my sick babies.”
I guess being half vampire wasn’t going to keep our children from catching the common cold. “It’s okay. We totally understand.”