Chapter 23: Birth Day
The air was thick with tension as Margaret stared at her book, trying to read through one of Steven King’s works and divert her mind from the gravity of the situation unfolding beyond a closed wooden door. Five feet away, her husband paced back and forth, his anxious steps echoing slightly throughout the wide corridor and he kept rubbing his chin nervously. Sighing, she decided to address him.
“John, please stop pacing; you’re only making yourself more nervous.” She heard him grunt and then he put his hands in the pockets of his lab coat.
“I can’t relax. My daughter is giving birth.” His head hung slightly. “I can’t help but think she isn’t ready for this.”
Margaret resisted the urge to sigh again. They had been over this countless times, especially after Buttercup had moved away to make her own home with which to raise and nurture her new family. It was hard to see her growing away from them so suddenly but they had resolved to support her and their about to be born grandchildren. The two of them had known the three girls, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup for virtually their entire lives, though she had only been their mother for about half of it. Perhaps that was why she was able to let go easier than John Utonium, because he had not only created them, he’d raised them their entire lives and now Buttercup was making the final step out of their nest to make her own.
“She’s not the same girl she was before John and she’s spent months making herself as prepared as she can. She isn’t the rough, reckless girl she was before; she’s grown up and she’s grown up well. You should be proud of how she’s ended up. Maybe it is too soon but she’s in the best position she can be and she’s decided to accept the responsibility of being a parent.”
“But does she know what that means?” John asked. “Does she know how much work and worry is involved?”
“Nobody knows until they become one. Now stop casting doubt around, it’s not helping anything. She’s going to be just fine, now relax.”
John let out a sigh, as if indicating that he conceded her point but he continued to pace. Margaret shook her head in resignation and resumed reading, though she was starting to feel that a Steven King novel might not be the best material to be reading in this situation.
“Blossom will you sit down?”
Blossom and Bubbles were waiting in the atrium, away from the sounds of pain and distress that they anticipated coming from the two pregnant girls through their respective doors. Unfortunately with time to ponder came time to figure out more reasons to worry and as a result Blossom was busy pacing back and forth across the atrium, hand on her chin and eyes intense, deep in thought.
“I can’t sit down, I’m too nervous.” Blossom finally answered. “I mean, it’s enough that our sister is giving birth, but on top of that we have the responsibility as aunts to think about as well.”
Bubbles raised an eyebrow in puzzlement. “What do you mean ‘responsibility as aunts’?”
Blossom sighed. “Oh come on Bubbles, we’re Buttercup’s sisters. To the children, that will just put us one removed from their mother; thus we will be looked upon as role models for them, so we have to make sure we conduct ourselves accordingly. We have to make sure we maintain the utmost maturity and responsibility.”
Bubbles rolled her eyes. “Oh come on Blossom, they’re just babies, newborns. You’re supposed to make funny faces and get messy with them. That’s why they put babies in colourful jammies and cute outfits, not business suits.”
Blossom crossed her arms. “You know what I mean. Children are imitative and they learn by doing what their role models do. We have to make sure we are responsible adults around them so that they become responsible adults when they grow up.”
Bubbles waved her hand dismissively. “C’mon Blossom, stop over thinking things. Just enjoy being an auntie and love the babies. Think of it more as a way to learn how to take care of your own children someday.”
Blossom grimaced and a light flush coloured her cheeks pink. “I... It’s way too soon to be thinking about that kind of thing. I’m more concerned with how we can best help Buttercup. After all she is having children at a very young age and she’s going to need help.”
“She has help.” Bubbles reminded her. “Blossom, Buttercup doesn’t just have us anymore, she has a whole other family that she’s a part of now. I know it’s tough and you’re used to having to bail her our of trouble but she’s a big girl now, she can take care of herself and she has other people to help her too. Don’t worry we’re still relevant to her otherwise she wouldn’t have wanted us here for this special day.”
“I’m not worried about becoming irrelevant” Blossom insisted. “I’m just trying to be a good aunt and sister; and show my support!”
“That’s fine but you’re over thinking it. Just relax and figure things out as they come. You don’t have to plan ahead for absolutely everything.”
“You do for kids.” Blossom countered. “You be an aunt your way and I’ll be one mine.”
Bubbles sighed. “Fine, but if you get an ulcer before you’re twenty, it’s your own fault.”
Blossom actually smirked at that. “Fair enough, but if you’re in a bind because you didn’t plan ahead, then it’s you’re own fault.”
Bubbles rolled her eyes. “Whatever Bloss; whatever.”
Buttercup clenched her teeth and grunted with effort as she felt her abdomen squeeze hard, trying to force her children out between her legs. It had been almost an hour since she went into labour and the contractions were happening almost every minute now. They were coming out and they were coming out soon.
G and Laura were busy preparing for her children’s arrival into the world, making sure there was a steaming hot bath, towels blankets and the pajamas that Bubbles had made for them. She was glad her sisters were here even if they weren’t physically in the room at the moment. Laura had shooed out anyone not needed in the room for the big moment leaving the two ladies and Will as her only companions for the moment.
She hissed through her teeth as another contraction wracked her body and she felt Will’s grip on her hand tighten slightly. “You holding up okay?”
Buttercup sighed and relaxed as the contraction passed. “Yeah, I’m okay; just kinda getting sore is all.” He smiled and then brought a damp cloth to her face, the cool sensation helping to soothe and relax her. She gave him a small smile of thanks.
“Okay Buttercup” Laura began. “It’s showtime.”
Buttercup felt a spike of anxiety and her heart rate jumped, her eyes widening with alarm. It was happening, the moment she had been both craving and loathing was at hand. Her wings curled inward protectively but Will put a hand on one of them to keep it away, jarring Buttercup out of her mild panic. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, relaxing her wings and giving Laura a nod to proceed.
Laura gently grabbed Buttercup’s feet and slowly spread her legs out before placing a towel down in front of her spreading womanhood. “Are you ready?”
Buttercup licked her lips and took a deep breath. “Ready as I’ll ever be.” She gripped her husbands hand, her grasp tightening reflexively as she was hit with another contraction. Yes, it was definitely time.
G stood by with a towel, ready to help catch the babies when they came out and Laura blew fire on her hands to make sure they were nice and warm. “Okay then, remember your rhythm: two breaths and push.”
“I got it.” Buttercup reassured her, only a bit of anxiety creeping into her voice. Truth was she was still scared witless at the moment but she refused to give into it and refused to think about it. Chanting her breathing rhythm in her head to keep the fearful thoughts at bay, or at least to help drown them out she let out a long, slow breath.
“Okay then, let’s start. Push.”
Buttercup gritted her teeth and then pushed as hard as she could manage. Her face turned red with effort, her jaw clamped tightly and her free hand balled into a white knuckled fist.
“Whoa easy Buttercup” Will warned. “You’re just trying to push the baby out, not launch him across the room.”
Buttercup ceased and turned her head to glare at him. “Easy for you to say” she panted.
“Push!” Laura commanded sharply.
Buttercup obeyed and pushed hard again, getting into the rhythm of two quick but deep breaths followed by a push. Her whole body was becoming flushed from the hard work and she was starting to get a bit of a headache but the baby was moving, slowly but surely. She could feel it.
“It’s crowning.” Laura told her. “Come on Buttercup you’re almost there.”
Will clasped the one hand he held in both of his, as if to lend some of his strength to her. Buttercup licked her lips and took a few more deep breaths before pushing her hardest yet. She cried out in effort and her face turned purple with the strain.
She’d never felt like this before, so vulnerable, so helpless so desperate for a good outcome. She had fought terrifying villains, monsters and aliens but never before had she been in such a vulnerable and helpless state, and at the moment she would rather fight all those enemies again than face the possibility of her child emerging in less than perfect health.
Shrill cries filled the room, ones that were not Buttercup’s. The girl lay on her bed, panting heavily and exhausted. Her whole body was flushed and were she still human she would have been sweating profusely as well. She flinched as the cool damp towel again gently touched her forehead.
“Nice job Buttercup.” Will whispered to her. He kissed her cheek and began to stroke her hair.
“Dray” Laura began as she gently placed the wailing newborn tenderly into the towel that G held out. “You have to cut the chord.” Buttercup felt Will stiffen briefly, something that amused her a little. He looked down at her and she nodded, giving him leave to perform his first official duty as a father, cutting the umbilical chord.
From her position and with her daughter, still inside her, she couldn’t see but she could hear and sense her son’s presence, the strength of his wails indicating strong healthy lungs and constitution. She was relieved to hear it, finally one of her babies was out in the world and from the further contractions she was starting to feel again the second one, their still unnamed daughter, wasn’t far behind.
Buttercup saw G turn away and carry Danté towards the small tub to clean him of the blood and fluids that covered him. She just caught a glimpse of his tiny form, his little feet sticking out of the towel before G gently dipped him into the tub.
“Ready for round two?” Laura smiled as she grabbed another towel. Buttercup could see a hint of watery eyes in the older woman, emotion brought about from the birth of her first grandchild no doubt. She reached out and took Will’s hand as he sat down again, ready to help her along again as best he could. She nodded and got ready for the next series of pushes.
Mandy moaned softly as gentle fingers kneaded her shoulder muscles, helping slowly relax her body and relieve some of the anxiety she felt. It was incredible that after all the horrible things she had encountered in all the adventures she had been on, she would rather face them all again, all at once no less than continue with what she was currently enduring.
Billy’s shoulder massage was only partially alleviating her anxiety, the feeling of helplessness the feeling that something terrible was coming and all she could do to get past it was endure it and wait for it all to pass. Unfortunately that involved hours, perhaps days of unbearable pain and exhausting work. To top it all off it was potentially life threatening, not just to her but the unwilling cause of all her pain: her daughter Ymaera.
She and Billy had finally agreed upon the spelling of her name, pronounced why-mair-ah, Mandy couldn’t deny that is sounded unique and exotic. She only hoped that the kids she grew up with wouldn’t make fun of her for it.
Regardless, as bad as she felt, Billy had to be feeling worse in some ways. He probably felt like a bystander, unable to do anything as this terrifying even in both their lives unfolded and the uncertain future they had been worrying about for nine months was finally arriving. He probably felt helpless and hated himself for it, unable to do anything to help her suffering. Well that wasn’t entirely true since the massage did feel good and was helping her relax but he no doubt wished he could do more.
Mandy knew this because of the talks her mother had given her to prepare her for this day as much as possible, but finally being in the situation seemed to drive it home more and she couldn’t help but feel sorry for Billy a little because of that helplessness, that feeling of being powerless that both her old and current self loathed with passion.
The door opened and Krystal entered the room carrying a bowl of steaming water and a facecloth. She smiled warmly and placed the bowl on the night table. “How are you feeling sweetie.”
“Like hell” Mandy muttered. “But the massage helps.”
“I’m sure it does. GG will be able to give you something for the pain soon, but you’ll have to endure it for now.”
Mandy sighed. “It’s not so bad. I’ve had to endure worse. I’d rather know when I’m going to give birth. It feels like it’s taking forever. I’ve been here almost two hours already.”
Krystal chuckled. “Well I was in labour for a day and a half with you, and two days is not uncommon for human births either.”
Mandy shuddered and she felt Billy hesitate for a moment before resuming his massage. That was a sobering thought. She never thought speed of childbirth would be a useful statistic comparing humans and non humans. In her case she was not entirely human so she hoped that would speed things up a little bit.
“H-how long then?” Billy asked. It was a question Mandy was afraid to ask herself and she wasn’t sure if hearing the answer would make things better or worse.
“Every pregnancy is different” Krystal sighed. “But I wouldn’t worry too much. The baby will come when it’s time.”
Mandy put a hand on her swollen belly and gently rubbed the top of it, wondering how much longer she would have to stare at it and rub it before her daughter emerged into the real world. She was going to miss these moments of bonding with her unborn child, but at least when she was outside she could hold her in her arms and watch her grow.
Krystal put a hand on her head. “Don’t worry Amanda. Everything will be alright and you’ll have a wonderful baby in your arms to hold and nurture. Trust me, it’s worth it. I have no regrets about how my children have turned out, except that I could have been a greater part of one of their lives.”
Mandy smiled and leaned her cheek against her mother’s. “Aw mother, I don’t blame you one bit. You did the best you knew how to do and in the end you got me back. I’ve never been happier and it’s thanks to you.” The two shared a warm hug Billy suspending his massage to let the them have their moment.
Krystal pulled back and stood to her feet. “Well I’d better get back and check on your siblings. Don’t worry I’ll be here for when the moment comes.”
Mandy nodded. “Sure. Tell them not to worry about me okay?”
Krystal giggled. “I’ll be sure to do that. So you later sweetie.”
As Krystal left the room and Mandy relaxed again, Billy resumed his massage. “You two sure have gotten close.” He commented.
Mandy sighed. “Well we have had half a year to bond as mother and daughter. I’ve gotten to know my siblings better too. Does it really seem different compared to the last time you were here?”
Billy shrugged. “Well you two seem willing to show affectation more openly than before.”
“Hm, I guess that’s true. Well even though I have a great home there’s always something missing.” She put a hand on the one Billy was using to work her right shoulder. “I miss you ya’ know. I want us to have our own home someday.”
Belly grimaced. “I know, I’m working on it okay.”
Mandy chuckled. “Oh I know Billy, I wasn’t trying to pressure you or anything, just trying to let you know how much you mean to me and the baby.”
Billy sighed. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay. Let’s try not to fight today alright? It’s our babies birth day.”
Billy smiled and kissed the back of her neck, eliciting a pleasant mewing sound from his love. “As you wish.”
“Come on Buttercup just a little more. Push!”
“I am pushing!” Buttercup half screamed.
For the past ten minutes or so Buttercup had been trying to force her daughter out of her but the stubborn child refused to be removed from her warm enclosure without a fight. Buttercup was starting to feel distressed as well as tired because she still hadn’t seen her son or held him in her arms.
“Come on Buttercup, you’re almost there, just a little more” Will encouraged.
Buttercup was honestly getting a bit tired of all the encouragement but she was sure not going to leave this job half finished. She gritted her teeth and pushed, giving it all she had.
“She’s crowning.” Larua told her, keep going you’re so close.”
Buttercup pushed with all her might, the rhythm of breathing and pushing was almost an autonomous function by now. Her face and neck was completely purple as she tried to force her other child out. Will’s hand was equally discoloured due to the lack of circulation but he didn’t utter a word of complaint.
The familiar sound of crying permeated the small room. She finally did it, she had given birth to the children she’d been carrying for nine months. She never thought she would be happy to hear babies crying, especially as Danté started to cry too, no doubt frightened by his sister’s distress.
Will took the damp cloth and carefully applied it to Buttercup’s forehead. The feeling of the cool cloth caused Buttercup to wince reflexively but it gradually began to soothe her and she sighed in relief.
“You did great Buttercup.” Her husband whispered softly. You are utterly fantastic.”
“Heh, you better believe it” Buttercup replied breathlessly.
“You really did very well for your first time.” G said as she brought a little blanket wrapped bundle over to them. “Here’s your son.” She handed him over to Will who accepted him tenderly and held him in his arm. He smiled down at him and then leaned over to show his exhausted wife their first child.
Buttercup reached out and moved one of the blanket folds to give her a better view and her heart instantly melted. Danté had a little tuft of brown hair on his head and his little red wings were curled around him like a security blanket. She smiled and gently caressed his cheek. “Hey there little guy. How are you?”
Danté’s crying quieted down and he turned his head towards the sound of Buttercup’s voice. Buttercup grunted and sat up and held her arms out. Will chuckled lightly and carefully handed him over, placing him gently in Buttercup’s arms.
Buttercup held her son close to her warm breasts looking down at him with tears in her eyes. “Hey baby, how’s my little boy? How’s my baby?” She cooed softly. She felt like she was in heaven. All that effort and nine months of carrying them around had led to this moment and right now she couldn’t imagine it not being worth it. Danté finally went quiet and then he finally opened his eyes, revealing a pair of shiny red orbs, gazing upon his mother for the first time and looking up at her in wonderment.
”Hey there baby. I’m your Mommy.”
He emitted soft noises as he wriggled slightly in her arms. Buttercup giggled and began gently stroking his head, totally absorbed in the moment, this first time bonding with her offspring, her child, her son, her baby. Holding him at last and seeing what he looked like, she wondered if she was dreaming again.
Some soft whining from another source grabbed her attention and she looked up from Danté to see Laura walking over to her carrying her daughter, wrapped in a little green blanket.
“Here” she said softly, gently helping Buttercup adjust her hold so that she could carry both infants at once. She then placed the baby girl into Buttercup’s right arm and then stepped back to let the new parents have their moment with their first two children, she and G quietly excusing themselves, carrying out the bloodied towels and afterbirth with them.
Will gently reached over and adjusted the green blanket wrapped around their daughter, peering down at her little face with Buttercup as she opened her eyes. “I knew she’d have your eyes.” He smiled. “They fit her perfectly.”
Buttercup giggled. “Well of course. Only the best for my baby girl. Speaking of which, are you finally going to give her a name?”
Will chuckled. “Of course my dear, I’ve had several name in mind for a long time.”
Buttercup rolled her eyes. “Well don’t keep it to yourself, let’s hear it.”
Will reached down and tenderly caressed his daughter’s cheek. “I’d like to call her Emerald.”
Buttercup brought her gaze down onto her daughter, peering into her green eyes, shining like gemstones as she gazed back up at her, full of awe and innocent wonder.
“Emerald” She echoed softly. “I love it. It’s perfect. They’re both perfect.” She brought both newborns up and held them close to her face. “Our babies are perfect.” Her wings partially wrapped around her, as if to also embrace her children, her eyes welled up with tears, now streaming down her face in fast flowing rivers.
Will sat on the side of the bed and did his best to wrap his arms around her, and his family. “Yes, they’re perfect Buttercup. My family is perfect.”
“Augh, when is this agony gonna end?” Mandy yelled as another contraction wracked her body. She had been in labour for more than eight hours now and she was utterly exhausted. She wondered how some women could be in labour for days when she felt like this after less than a quarter of one.
Billy had stayed with her the entire time, leaving only to use the bathroom or check on Buttercup for her. Mandy envied Buttercup for having only about an hour’s worth of labour before she finally got her twins out into the world. Well at least at the rate things were going she wouldn’t have to wait long for Ymeara either.
GG was getting everything ready for their daughter’s birth, with the steaming little bathtub sitting next to a collection of towels and blankets. Krystal stood off to Mandy’s right, occasionally giving her words of comfort and encouragement as the moment of truth got nearer and nearer. Mandy just wanted it over with.
Mandy gripped Billy’s hand tightly as she could feel her body trying to shove her baby out of her womb. She could only imagine what Ymeara was going through right now as she was forced out of the safe comfortable place she’d been for nine months and out into the cold harsh world outside.
“Okay Mandy, looks like it’s time.” GG said as she came over. “Now start breathing like I told you and when I say push, you push alright?”
Mandy puffed a few heavy breaths. “Y-yeah, let’s get this show on the road already.”
“Okay then.... Push!” Mandy pushed with all her might and clamped down on Billy’s hand as the pain surged through her body. She clamped down on her mouth to keep from screaming. She wasn’t going to chicken out on this, she was going to win this!
“Come on Mandy, push!” Mandy shut her eyes tightly and pushed for all she was worth. Tears streamed down her cheeks with pain and she couldn’t really hear what GG and her mother was saying, but soon enough it didn’t matter because a shrill crying noise managed to register in Mandy’s mind. She stopped pushing and began panting, taking a moment to recuperate and assess her situation.
She turned her head to look at Billy who was looking away from her and in the direction of the crying. His hand was purple and just starting to get its normal colour back as she relaxed her grip. She felt someone grab her other hand gently and she turned her head to the other side to lock eyes with her mother who was smiling proudly.
“Congratulations Amanda. You’re a mother.”
It took almost a full minute for Krystal’s words to register. Mandy wasn’t sure if she should cry or not but she just felt so tired that she just wanted to sleep, after she got to see her new baby of course.
Krystal motioned Billy over to come and cut the cord. Mandy took some amusement in Billy’s pale expression as he was given the scissors. Mandy did hope he didn’t throw up but she couldn’t deny that it would be amusing to tease him about it the rest of his life. Billy cut the chord without any drama and GG carried their newborn child towards the tub.
Krystal returned to Mandy’s side and used a damp cloth to start wiping the sweat from Mandy’s face. The sensation helped ease Mandy’s condition and helped her to relax.
Krystal smiled and kissed Mandy on the forehead. “Congratulations sweetie.”
Billy returned to his seat next to Mandy’s bed and rubbed Mandy’s head affectionately. “Nice job Mandy.”
“Heh, nice job yourself.”
Billy grimaced and hung his head ever so slightly. “Well I didn’t... Really do anything.”
Mandy sighed and lightly slapped the top of his hand. “Don’t be all ‘captain bringdown now Billy, this is supposed to be one of the happiest moments in our lives.”
Just then, GG carried a small bundle wrapped in a light pink blanket while Krystal and Billy sat her up to receive it. Mandy held out her arms and GG gently placed the wriggling little blanket into her arms and finally Mandy was able to see the little girl she’d carried inside her for nine months.
Instantly, Mandy forgot how tired she was, how much she wanted to sleep, her mind banished everything that didn’t have anything to do with what she was seeing now. Ymeara’s skin was flushed with the heat of her bath and she cried and fussed, wanting to be back in her familiar world.
“Shhhhhh baby, shhhhh it’s okay; Mommy’s here, Mommy’s got you.” Upon hearing her voice Ymeara finally started to calm down. Her cries reduced to small coos and infantile murmurs.
Billy reached over and pushed a blanket fold out of the way to give him a better view of the life he had helped create. He smiled and gently rubbed her cheek with his index finger.
“She’s beautiful. I can’t believe I helped make this.”
Mandy chuckled. “Well she gets her looks from me obviously.”
Billy raised en eyebrow and then reached over to the top of his newborn daughter’s head and held up a small hair between his fingers. “Red hair.” He said smugly.
Mandy rolled her eyes. “Well whatever, she has my eyes.”
Billy smiled and kissed his lover on the cheek. “As I knew she would.”
GG came up to Billy and gently put a hand on his shoulder. “We should probably let them rest now.”
“Huh.. Oh right.”
Mandy quickly latched onto Billy’s arm with her free hand and held him in place. “Just a... Just a little longer?” She pleaded.
Krystal sighed. “Alright but only for a little bit. You and Ymeara both need to rest. You’ve had a busy day.”
Mandy nodded and let the two women leave the room before she settled down against her pillow and held her daughter close to her, nuzzling their cheeks together. “I didn’t think I would be this happy unless I conquered the world.”
Billy smiled and rubbed her head. “You conquered my world. Maybe that’s where it’s coming from.”
Mandy chuckled and gave him a playful shove. “Somehow you’ve learned what to say to make me feel better.”
Billy leaned in and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “And this is only the beginning. Someday all three of us will learn that together” He started to rub Ymeara’s head. “And we’ll all be together as a family.”
Mandy nodded. “Yeah, together. A family.”