The months leading up to the birth of my son were both an eternity and a whirlwind. Though I had thought I was big before, once I entered my third trimester, I felt like a beached whale. Houston would never say such a thing, but Shirley wasn’t afraid to.
“Watcher, Hads! You’re getting enormous. Are you sure it’s not twins in there?” She grinned as she rubbed my stomach.
“Very funny,” I groused. “But you did the ultrasound yourself. There’s only one little boy in there.”
I spent most of my days painting since I was on maternity leave, though I had to take frequent breaks, since I couldn’t stand too long or my feet and back would murder me. I might have liked to just chill out on the couch in front of the television for the last months of my pregnancy, but I wanted to surprise Shirley with some paintings for her new place. I still hated that she was moving out – I had, in fact, begged her on multiple occasions to stay – but I understood why she was going. So I was going to be a good sport about it and help make her new place a home. She had said it was a little too masculine for her taste, but I’m sure that a few paintings and some plants could soften it up.
On one of my many breaks, I found Houston in the living room. “Baby, could you please rub my back? It’s killing me.”
“Of course, sweetie!” He happily obliged me, rubbing and kneading my sore muscles.
I loved how excited he was to become a parent. Every night before we went to bed – and often during the day – he would put his hands on my stomach and talk to our son.
Life developed a wonderful routine. In the mornings, I would get up and make him breakfast. Around noon, I would have a nap, and then I might have another in the evening; being pregnant was really exhausting.
It was during one of my evening naps that I went into labor. I woke up to a constricting pain in my stomach so strong it made me gasp for breath. “Oh, oh Watcher, this is it!” I lumbered out of bed, calling for Houston. By the time he rushed into the room, I had thrown on some decent clothes. “It’s time,” I said in half excitement and half trepidation.
His eyes went as wide as saucers. “It’s time? Oh Watcher, it’s time.”
I took his hand and squeezed as I led him out of our room and down the stairs. “It’ll be okay. Let’s just get to the hospital.”
When we arrived at the hospital, Houston checked us in. It was as we were going to our room that I realized I’d forgotten something. “Shirley! Houston, we forgot to tell her. You have to call her!”
He shushed me and ushered me onto the bed. “I’ll call her right now. Just relax.” Fortunately – or unfortunately? – I was still in labor and nowhere close to delivery by the time Shirley arrived.
Finally, when I was certain I would do anything to get this baby out of myself, I was transferred to the birthing suite. Houston and Shirley were there encouraging me the whole time. I labored for hours but all the pain was forgotten as I welcomed Joshua Hines Yuen into the world.
I knew it was time to go about a month after Joshua was born. I loved being here with my nephew and helping to take care of him, but they didn’t need my help. Hadley was like Super Mom; she never seemed too tired to play with him or feed him. And Houston was outstanding too, always cuddling and talking to him. They were the perfect little family, and I was just the fifth wheel.
I stood in my room, looking around. This had been Hadley’s childhood room, since she had been the older sibling, but I had moved in here after she moved out on her own. I had intended to move out when I reached adulthood, but then Mom had gotten sick. After Mom and Dad were gone, Hads had moved back in and I’d stayed just where I was. This would be the first time I’d been on my own. I was a little afraid, but I was also excited, even if I wasn’t thrilled to be moving to Newcrest.
Newcrest was the very last place I had wanted to live, but the housing markets in Willow Creek and Oasis Springs were out of my current price range, even as a surgeon, unless I wanted to live in a complete dump. Instead, I’d bitten the bullet and bought a small studio in Newcrest for half the price of the same house here in Willow Creek. I was across town from Camille’s place; there was next to no chance I would actually run into her.
I was packing when Hadley came in. She looked like she was on the verge of tears. “I can’t believe you’re really moving out.”
I smiled sadly. “I know. But Newcrest isn’t far. We’ll see each other all the time.” I should know, I used to make that trip at a moment’s notice. “Mrs. Yuen,” I teased. They’d gotten married in a small ceremony a couple of weeks after Joshua was born.
She crossed the room and hugged me tight. “You have to call me every day! And you’ll come over on Sunday’s for dinner.”
I squeezed her before stepping away and grabbing my duffle. “I will, promise.” I went downstairs and gave Joshua a goodbye cuddle, then said goodbye to Houston on my way out. This felt like a moment of finality, even though I would be back to this house. This was the last time I’d be able to call it home.
Fighting back a surge of tears, I left the house and embraced my new life.
A/N: A little bit of pic-spam in this chapter, because Hads and Houston were just too cute while she was pregnant. I almost feel bad for what’s going to happen. *evil laughing*