“Actually, the doctor is coming back with that, I think a pelvic one, just to confirm that there’s…a heartbeat.” She bit down on her lower lip. “You know she’s not an OBGYN, so she only can do the basics, but she’s been really busy with everything.”
Wait. What did she say?
“A heartbeat?” When she nodded, I was glad I was sitting, because my damn knees were feeling weird again. I brought her hand to my mouth again and kissed each of her knuckles. “Okay.”
She was watching me closely. “But it may be too soon, she told me, to see the heartbeat. I’m barely at six weeks. From what she was telling me, the ultrasound can sometimes detect a heartbeat at six to seven weeks.”
There was a knock on the door, and a moment later it opened to reveal the middle-aged pure-blood rolling in a cart. Dr. Morales drew up short when she spotted me sitting on the bed, her eyes widening. She stopped, her hands tightening on the sides of the cart, and she didn’t look like she was moving any farther into the room.
“Hi.” Josie let go of my shirt and sat up, leaning around me. “Seth just got here.”
“I see that.” The doctor let go of the cart. “I’m sorry. When I see you, I don’t know if I should shake your hand or bow.”
My grin spread. “I do like when people bow—”
Josie smacked my back, and I thought for a moment Dr. Morales would pass out. “You don’t need to do any of those things.”
“Well, that’s no fun.” I grinned at Josie, extending my hand. “Anyway, you’re here to tell me that my child is okay, aren’t you? And if we’re lucky, we’ll hear its heartbeat today?”
Taking my hand, Dr. Morales cleared her throat and then got down to business. “Yes. Like I told Josie, everything about the pregnancy seems fine, but we’re going to see if we can hear a heartbeat today.”
“Good,” I murmured. “That’s real good.”
“Seth,” Josie sighed. “Let go of her hand so she can do her job.”
“Sure thing.” I let go with a wink.
The doctor looked like she might faint.
Josie elbowed me in the side and whispered, “Behave.” Then she said, louder, “How is everyone else doing?”
“We haven’t lost anyone who has been brought in, so that’s good news.”
“Yeah, it is.” Some of the tension seeped out of Josie, but I saw the sadness lingering in her, a sadness I would do anything to take away.
Dr. Morales wheeled the cart to the other side of the bed. “You still feeling better?” she asked as she began to fiddle with the machine on top.
“Yes. I feel completely fine.”
“That’s good.” She clicked a couple of buttons and then turned, looking at the stool waiting in the corner. I rolled it over and her wide gaze shot to me. “Um, thank you.”
“No problem.” I stood, figuring the doctor needed the space, but I didn’t go far. I moved to the head of the bed. “So, what will this entail?”
“It’s completely noninvasive. I use this wand here,” she explained, gesturing at the piece of equipment. “And roll it over Josie’s stomach. It will transmit the image to this screen here.”
Josie glanced at me.
I grinned down at her.
She shook her head. “But it might not show a heartbeat, right?”
“Depends at this stage. This test should give us a clear understanding of when you conceived, unlike our last time, even if it’s too soon for a heartbeat.” Dr. Morales looked over at me. “Either way, like we discussed earlier in the week, she really should be seen by an OBGYN soon. This early on in a pregnancy, it’s not a big deal, but the sooner the better. I’ve made some calls like I promised, and I expect to hear back from them very soon.”
“Hoping that call comes soon.” I crossed my arms. “Real soon.”
“Me too.” Smiling at Josie, she reached for the blanket. “May I?”
Josie nodded. “Yep.”
The doctor pulled it down and then rolled Josie’s shirt up, exposing her lower stomach. “This is going to be a little cold. Just a heads-up.”
Must’ve been a lot cold, because Josie jumped when the gooey liquid hit her skin. Picking up the wand, Dr. Morales moved it in circles along Josie’s stomach.
Josie glanced up, giving me a quick grin. “I’m glad you made it back for this.”
“Yeah, I am too, babe.” My emotions and head were all over the place. Total rollercoaster from start to finish. Had the fright of my life when I saw Josie in this bed, and now…maybe I’ll get to see my child’s heart beating.
Today was a strange day.
“I should be able to see a gestational sac no matter what,” the doctor was saying as a grainy image began to appear on the screen of the ultrasound. “Good news, guys. I can say without a doubt that the pregnancy is viable.”
Josie exhaled roughly. “You can?”
Dr. Morales nodded. “Yes—and there.” She smiled as she twisted at her waist, pointing at the gray and black blobs. “This here is the sac, and see that little blinking right there?”
I squinted. There was something there. No idea what, though. “Yeah, I see it.”
“I do, too,” Josie said.
“That is the baby’s heartbeat.”
The baby’s heartbeat.
The floor had to have moved under my feet. The whole room moved, but good gods, there it was. Our…our child’s heartbeat. I honestly had no idea what was what on that screen except for the part that flickered, and the image of that blinking splotch was firmly implanted in my brain.
“Really?” Josie whispered, finding my hand without taking her eyes off that screen. She gripped tight.
“Yes.” Dr. Morales moved the cursor. “Let me see if I can measure this. It’s been a long time since I’ve done this, but…I think you’re about six weeks, give or take five days.”
Josie bit down on her lip as she stared at the screen. “That’s what we thought.”
“You thought right.” Dr. Morales moved the wand along Josie’s stomach and the picture on the screen flipped. Green lettering appeared on the screen. “The heart rate is one hundred and twenty-one beats per minute. That’s a really good, strong heartbeat.”
Josie’s chest rose with a heavy breath as her gaze moved to mine. “That’s our baby.”
“Yeah.” My voice sounded thick. “Yeah, it is.” I blinked, because my vision had gotten a little wonky there for a moment.
Josie folded her other hand around mine as she squeezed her eyes closed. I bent down, brushing the hair off her cheek with my other hand. I kissed her cheek and then rested my forehead against hers. Dr. Morales was saying something about printing off the picture, and she reiterated how she expected to hear from the doctors soon, but my gaze was locked with Josie’s. In that moment, no one else was in the room and everything that had happened outside of it didn’t matter.
Emotion swelled in my chest to the point it was almost painful as I whispered against her lips, “Boy or girl?”
Josie let out a laugh that danced across my lips. She threw an arm around my neck, burying her face in my shoulder. I sat on the edge of the bed, folding my arm around her shoulders.
I didn’t let go of her hand.
She didn’t let go of mine.
It was unbelievable how in one day I could go from experiencing fear and hatred and heartbreaking loss, to witnessing something so breathtakingly beautiful as my baby’s heartbeat, I almost couldn’t believe it.
Seeing my baby’s heartbeat didn’t take away the hurting Colin’s death had left behind, but it was a much needed reminder that there were still miracles out there.
There was still life in all of this.
And sitting on my bed, freshly showered and wrapped in a fluffy soft robe while Seth checked on Cora and Gable, I clung to that piece of knowledge. There was still the beauty of life.
My child was still okay. More than okay, according to Dr. Morales. His or her little heart was beating strong.