And don’t give me that bullshit about having the “full experience” of childbirth. Pain is pain—there’s nothing “wondrous” about it.

It just f**king hurts.

Roberta smiles soothingly. “I’ll get it set up right away.” She makes a few notes on the clipboard, then returns it to its hanging place. “I’ll come back in a little while to check on you. have the nurses page me if you need anything.”

“Okay. Thanks, Roberta.”

Once she’s out the door, I stand up and grab my cell phone.

“I’m going to go call your mom—I can’t get any reception in here. Will you be all right till I get back?”

She waves her hand. “Sure. Not going anywhere. We’ll be right here.”

I bend over and kiss Kate’s forehead. Then I lean down and kiss the hump, telling it, “Don’t start without me.”

Then I’m out the door—jogging to catch up with Kate’s doctor down the hall. “hey, Roberta!”

She stops and turns. “hi, Drew. how are you?”

“I’m good—good. I wanted to ask you about the baby’s heart rate. Isn’t one-fifty a little high?”

Advertisement..

Roberta’s voice is tolerant, understanding. She’s used to this by now.

“It’s well within the normal range. It’s common to see some minor fluctuations in the fetal heart rate during labor.”

I nod. And go on. “And Kate’s blood pressure? Any sign of preeclampsia?”

Knowledge is power. The more you know, the more control you have over a situation. At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself for the last eight months.

“No, like I told you on the phone yesterday—and the day before that—Kate’s blood pressure is perfect. It’s been steady the entire pregnancy.”

I rub my chin and nod. “have you ever actually delivered a baby with shoulder dystocia? Because you realize you won’t know it’s happening until the baby’s head is already—”

“Drew. I thought we agreed you were going to stop watching ER reruns?”

ER should come with a warning label. It’s disturbing. If you’re a mild hypochondriac or a parent to be, expect to lose a shitload of sleep after just one episode.

“I know, but—”

Roberta puts her hand up. “Look, I know how you feel—”

“Do you?” I ask sharply. “have you ever taken your whole life and put it in someone else’s hands and asked them to take care of it for you? To bring it back to you in one piece? ’Cause that’s what I’m doing here.” I push a hand through my hair and look away.

And when I speak again, my voice is shaky. “Kate and this baby . . .

if anything ever . . .”

I can’t even finish the thought, let alone the sentence.

She puts her hand on my shoulder. “Drew, you have to trust me. I know it’s difficult, but try and focus on the positives. Kate is young and healthy—we have every reason to believe that this delivery will progress without any complications at all.”

I nod my head. And the logical part of my brain knows she’s right.

“Go back to Kate. Try and enjoy the time you have left. After tonight, it’s not going to be just the two of you anymore—not for a long time.”

I force myself to nod again. “Okay. Thanks.”

I turn and walk back toward the room. I stop in the doorway.

Can you see her?

Surrounded by pillows—buried under the puffy down comforter she insisted on bringing from home. She looks so tiny. Almost like a little girl hiding in her parents’ bed during a thunderstorm.

And I need to say the words—to make sure she knows.

“I love you, Kate. Everything that’s good in my life, anything that really matters, is only there because of you. If we hadn’t met? I’d be f**king miserable—and probably too clueless to even realize it.”

She looks at me, totally straight faced. “I’m having a baby, Drew—I’m not dying.” Then her eyes widen. “Jesus Christ, I’m not dying, am I?”

And that’s all it takes to snap me out of my panic.

“No, Kate. You’re not dying.”

She nods. “Okay, then. And just for the record, I love you too.

I love that you’re funding Mackenzie’s future because you won’t stop cursing. I love how you tease your sister unmercifully but would kill anyone who hurt her. But most of all . . . I love how you love me. I feel it every moment . . . every day.”

I walk up to her and cup her cheek. Then I lean over and softly kiss her lips.

She takes my hand and gives it a squeeze. And then her jaw tightens with determination.

“Now, let’s do this thing.”

Turns out all the worrying was for nothing. Because at 9:57 this morning, Kate gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. And I was right next to her the whole time. Sharing her pain.

Literally.

I’m pretty sure she broke my hand.

But who cares? A few broken bones don’t mean much—not when you’re holding a seven-pound, nine-ounce miracle.

And that’s just what I’m doing.

I know every parent thinks their child is adorable—but be honest—he’s one good-looking kid, don’t you think? A patch of black hair lays smoothly on top of his head. his hands, his nose, his lips—looking at them is like looking in a mirror. But his eyes, they’re all Kate.

he’s exquisite. Perfection made flesh.

Granted, he didn’t come out looking like this. A few hours ago, he bore a strong resemblance to a screaming featherless chicken.

But he was my screaming featherless chicken, so he was still the most beautiful f**king thing I’ve ever seen.

It’s unreal. The adoration. The worship that’s so overwhelming, it almost hurts to look at him. I mean, I love Kate—more than my own life. But that took time. I gradually fell in love with her.

This . . . was instantaneous. As soon as I laid eyes on him, I knew I’d gladly jump bare-assed into a pool of battery acid for him.

Insane, right? And I can’t wait to teach him things. Show him . . .everything. Like how to change a tire, and sweet talk a girl, how to hit a baseball, and throw a right hook. Not necessarily in that order.

I used to make fun of those guys at the park. The dads with their strollers and goofy smiles and man purses.

But now . . . now I get it.

Kate’s voice pulls me from my baby gazing. “hey.”