Those are supposed to be my words to her, not the other way around.
Carrying her out of the room, I try to think ahead and concentrate. I take her carefully down the dock and slip on my shoes. Marie must have left them there for me, predicting this would happen. Thank God, someone is thinking.
“It’s time,” I say in a panic as I see Sal and Marie waiting.
“We know, son. Just calm down. Everything is going to be okay.”
Sal puts his big hands on my shoulders, helping me into the boat as I clutch Tessa to my chest. I haven’t put her down since she said her water broke, and I’m a little terrified that if she stands on her own two feet, the baby will fall out.
I realize this isn’t possible, but I’m not exactly thinking rationally right now.
Marie comes to sit down beside me and pushes the hair out of Tessa’s face. “You’re doing great. We radioed the hospital. They’ll be waiting at the docks for us.”
“It’s not me and the baby I’m worried about. It’s Twitchy McGee over here.”
Tessa nods at me, and I immediately stop bouncing my feet up and down under her. I’m nervous as fuck, but I need to hold it together. Our baby is coming, and I need to be her rock.
“It’s fine. It’s going to be totally fine.”
“A little less panic in your voice next time and you may convince yourself,” Sal laughs as he gets behind the wheel of the boat and pulls out into the water.
The ride is only fifteen minutes. I can do this.
“You still think it’s a boy?” Tessa is trying to distract me, and I really need it right now.
Taking a deep breath, I decide to focus on this. The sex of the baby is going to be a surprise. Both of us wanted that special moment when the baby comes.
I kiss her forehead and breathe in her scent. It calms me a little. She always calms me, and right now I’m thankful that I’ve still got her in my arms.
“And you’re convinced it’s a girl?” I say, looking into her big golden eyes. There’s not an ounce of fear there, and it warms my heart to know how brave my girl is. She’s always ready for whatever rolls her way. It’s how I know she’s going to be a phenomenal mother.
“Oh, I’m totally right. I’m the mom. I know it all.” She laughs when she says it, not even believing that herself. She reaches up, running her hand through my messy hair. I love it when she does that. Just as much as she loves doing it. “Tell me something sweet.”
She’s trying to keep me focused on her, and it’s the easiest thing in the world for me to do. “If it’s a girl, I’d like to name her Alma, after your grandmother.”
She gets a little teary-eyed but just smiles and nods. After a moment, she clears her throat and smiles at me. “If it’s a boy, I’d like to name him Marcus. After Sal.”
We’d thrown around a few names when we first found out she was pregnant, and I remember her asking me what Sal’s middle name was.
Now it’s my turn to get a little misty-eyed. I think all the stress and emotions are catching up to me, and all I can do is nod my head. It would be a beautiful way to honor the man who made me what I am today. Bad or good, it’s who brought me to Tessa. And that’s the legacy I want to leave behind in a hundred years when we’ve both passed on. That if people only remember that I loved Tessa, it will be a life worth living.
“There they are,” Marie says, pointing to the people from the hospital waiting on the dock just ahead.
Letting out a breath of relief I didn’t know I was holding, I pull Tessa a little closer to me as we approach.
Everything is going to be okay.
* * *
The hospital is what you’d call pretty basic. It’s totally clean, and they have everything we need, but there aren’t a lot of frills like you’d have in the States. Instead, what we do have are three nurses and a doctor all for us, and everyone is standing by to deliver a healthy baby.
Some of my stress is relieved when they get Tessa hooked up to the monitors and see that she’s okay and so is the baby.
Once we’re there and the doctors check her over, they all start speaking softly to one another, and my stress skyrockets again.
Finally, right before I’m about to scream the room down, the doctor comes over and lets us know that Tessa is nearly fully dilated and we need to begin pushing.
“What?!” Tessa and I yell at the same time. Both of us are in shock. She’s barely made a peep and hasn’t said the first thing about contractions.
Suddenly, I feel her gripping my hand, and the nurses get in place.
“It’s not uncommon to only feel pressure when you walk and still be this far dilated.” Tessa looks up at me and glares, because most of her pregnancy I didn’t let her feet touch the ground. “I think it’s time to push.”
I hold her hand and encourage her through everything, and dear God, is my woman a champ. She does everything they say, and when the labor starts to really hit her, she doesn’t crumple under the pressure.
After an hour of solid labor and hard contractions, our son, Marcus Sean Cardinal, is born. Though he’s technically a Cardinal, he’ll always be my little Sparrow.
When the labor is finished and everything has calmed down, the three of us cuddle on Tessa’s hospital bed while she nurses and I alternate between kissing her and our son.
“He’s beautiful,” Tessa whispers, rubbing his full head of dark auburn hair.