The news of the arrival of Ali came as a surprise to Bianca - as it probably was for the parents as well. She had just finished her homework for the day when her phone had distracted her from her original plan of poptarts and YouTube videos. Meeting the tiny child that, if you really thought about it, she’d already been rooming with for months was definitely more important than any cat video. In a flurry of movement, she scampered from the room - grabbing her bag and one of the veritable zoo of animals she’d knitted for the new arrival. Bianca would give the rest later, but there was no harm in bringing one now. Her trip towards the gates was very quick before she stopped dead in her tracks, chuckling softly to herself. How am I going to get there? As soon as that thought crossed her mind, she spotted the art teacher making a quick movement towards the faculty parking lot. She’s close with them, isn’t she? Shifting her direction, she ran to catch up with the raven haired woman, simply assuming she was right. “Miss Trish!” she called, finally catching up with a bit of a flaily flourish, “Hi. Okay, hey. Are you going to the hospital? Did Steele text you too? Can I hitch a ride with you?” Her words came in a single breath, entirely too excited to slow down.
Furrowing her brow, she turned towards the voice that was calling her name. A red head, one she’d talked to a handful of times, came barreling towards her with a plethora of questions. Catching the few important words, she nodded slowly while eying the girl, “As long as you calm down, it’ll be hard to stay on the motorcycle if you’re flailing.” Trish smirked as she saw the girl’s blue eyes widen in what was unmistakably fear. Her intention was the same as the ginger’s: get to the hospital to see the new baby, she didn’t see a reason to not give her a ride. Handing the teen a helmet, she settled on the bike and looked over her shoulder, “You gonna think about this all day, or are you just going to suck it up and get on?” After another long moment of hesitation, Bianca finally got on and held on almost too tight. Trish made fast work of getting to the hospital, something she was sure the teen holding onto her was grateful and spiteful of. “Come on,” she clapped the girl on the shoulder as they walked through the doors, “you’ll live. You made it this far.” Chuckling softly, she left Bianca to regain her sealegs as she asked the nurse about the location of Jane’s room. She turned back and rolled her eyes, raising her voice a little, “snap out of it! Come on, you came here for a reason right?” Bianca finally seemed to perk up a bit as they approached the room which housed their friend. Knocking softly on the door frame, Trish peaked inside, “you guys up for visitors?”
The entire process of giving birth to Ali had taken it’s toll on Jane, as her body weight was too low to have had the right amount of energy for the event. She felt like all she did was sleep, and even when she was awake, it didn’t feel like she really made any sense when talking. There was a meal plan the nurses tried to have her keep to, but the appetite just wasn’t there, mostly due to the anxiety that filled her due to worry about Ali. The baby was to be in the incubator for a few days because of the early birth and respiratory issues, and although Ali’s stay there would be short, the worry was still there. Jane’s last day in the hospital would be soon which was more than frustrating. She didn’t see why she needed to be kept in the hospital at all, and her frustration grew every time a nurse or Steele had her lay back with each attempt she made to sit up. Though, she preferred when Steele talked her into laying down. He had been there for her the whole time, sleeping in the chair by her bed each night and sitting besides her all hours of the day. When she was sleeping, he most likely was with Ali, but he was always there when Jane woke up.
She woke up from her sleep to the sound of a familiar voice and the feeling of Steele gently patting her arm to wake up. As her eyes fluttered open, Trish stood by the doorway with Bianca behind her, a soft smile crossing Jane’s lips. “Trish, Bianca” she greeted, sitting up as quickly as she possibly could before Steele could get her to lay down. “Visitors are great, I’ve been asleep for longer than I should be allowed to sleep. Seriously come in there are seats over there you can grab.” Her words were clearly drowsy, but she was doing as best she could. At the sight of her food tray laying near her, she made a face, pushing it away before smiling towards Trish and Bianca with Steele beside her.
As Steele looked up at the doctor, he saw that the staff grouped around the bed were poised and ready for delivery. The doctor spoke and readied Jane to push on his count, and began to count down. The doctor nodded towards Steele, telling him it was time for him to play his part. The numbers that left the doctors mouth slowed time around Steele as he took a deep breath in. He felt so far away from being ready, but he would do his best. Steele looked around him at the difference in the expressions on the faces of all the people in the room. The nurses and doctors were unfazed, seeing sights they saw every day. Then there was Jane’s face, concern etched on her face, but looking up at him and the doctors with faith. She trusted, even now, and she was trusting in Steele not to let her come to harm. And that was something he would always be there to make sure of. The yell of pain that erupted from her mouth jolted him back into the scene, as he willed her on to push. “It’s okay Jane, you can do this.” Her words of disbelief and the lack of confidence in herself struck him deeply. He believed she could do it, he’d never believed in anything more. Whether that was because the lives of the people he adored the most depended on it, or whether it was because he knew how strong she was, he didn’t know. But Steele had more confidence in Jane than she had in herself. “You can. You can do it. Not much longer now, Jane.” His thumb stroked against her flesh, even though the sensation probably would not register below the pain she was feeling. Every shout of pain that escaped his fiancee brought him pain too, despising the way he had to witness her in such agony. But he knew it would be over soon, and he told her so.
The doctor assured them that Ali was almost there, and after what seemed like an age, the doctor delivered their baby delicately, aided by the nurses. Steele’s first reaction was to look over at Ali, to check she was okay. Her red skin and her moving chest told him she was safe; she was tiny, but perfect. His gaze switched back to Jane, who had collapsed back on the pillows. Steele leant down to her. “Jane, you did it.” Finally letting the emotions overwhelm him like they had been longing to do since he’d spoken to Queenie, tears sprung up in his eyes as he smiled down at her. “You did it.” He said again. Looking up, confusion met him as he saw that Ali wasn’t being handed to Jane, as he had expected. She was being taken away from them. Not letting go of Jane’s hand, he looked questioningly at the doctor, who saw the confusion in his eyes and came over to answer his silent question. The answer left him more confused. “An incubator? What respiratory issues? Please tell me they’re not serious. This is because she’s premature, right? So she’s having trouble breathing, and is underweight? That’s what that means, right?” He shook his head, still overwhelmed. “I just want to know when my baby will be fine. When can she come home? And what about Jane? Is she going to be okay?” Steele glanced down at Jane again, whose eyes were pressed shut, her chest heaving from exhaustion. “When will she get to hold Ali?” His questions sounded childish and demanding, but he needed to ensure he had the answers, for himself, and for his friends. Steele needed to be able to reassure himself and everyone he cared for that Jane and Ali would be okay.
The doctor was accustomed to the worried questions of Steele, especially when he was a father hearing about medical complications with his child. “It’s not serious, I can assure you of that. She has infant respiratory distress syndrome and we treat this by providing her oxygen in the incubator. Basically, the lungs are unable to produce surfactant that keep the lungs open so the baby can breathe, and without it, the baby works harder to breathe. Again, the incubator will provide oxygen for the baby so she can develop the surfactant that will help her to breathe.” Taking a breath, he gave a reassuring smile. “Yes, but she’s not dangerously underweight, so she will be okay in both areas of issue. I suspect she’ll be in the incubator for five days, four nights, which is short compared to how long other babies have been known to stay in one. After five days, she’s free to go home.”
He glanced over at Jane and walked towards her to check her heart rate. “We’ll keep her here for a few nights. She’s more exhausted than most mothers because she herself was underweight while carrying the child. The lack of energy her body held made it more difficult to give birth. After some fluids and proper rest, she should be able to go home after those three days, but you’ll have to make sure she sticks to the meal plan that the nurses will provide for her. She’ll need her strength now that she’s a mother. I can assure you, both Jane and the baby are healthy and will be healthy for years to come. These next few days will be more stressful than usual, but they should run smoothly.” With that, the doctor nodded. “Anymore questions, you can get one of the nurses to page me,” and he left the room. Jane looked over towards Steele, attempting to sit up. “Steele, where is she? Where’s Ali?”
Steele stared as calmly as possible at the doctor, his hand still clasped around Jane’s. There was no way he was letting go, not until all this was over, and she wasn’t in any pain. Taking in the information that the doctor was conveying, Steele glanced down at Jane’s hand, tensed around his, and he saw the promise ring he’d given her a while ago now still wrapped around her slender finger. He replied to the doctor as he looked down at the ring. “I’ll do anything I need to do to help her. Just tell me what I need to do.” The ring was a physical symbol of the promise that he’d never leave her, and that promise was manifesting itself in this situation. Steele would be by her side through this whole ordeal, and he would shoulder as much of the pain as he possibly could. Whatever she needed, he would be. Steele looked back up at the doctor, thankful for the words “the baby will be healthy”. That was what he’d needed to hear. The reassurance that though she was early, she’d still be okay. His daughter was going to be healthy.
Hearing his instructions from the doctor, he nodded silently, acknowledging that he would help her push through the pain. Crouching down next to her bed, his mouth near her ear, he made sure she could hear him above the noise of the conversing hospital staff, the whirring machines, and spoke to her gently. “Jane. You’re going to be okay, and our Ali is going to be healthy. I’m here, and I’m here to help you get through this. I know it hurts, but you just need to do everything the doctor says. You have to be brave for the b-both of us, because I can’t do it for you. But I know you can do it.” It took all Steele’s strength and willpower to talk to her without breaking down from the pressure, but he knew there was no way he would crumble. He was strong enough for this, and he knew that his Jane was strong enough to push through the pain. He just needed to make sure she knew he was there for her. Squeezing her hand again, Steele glanced up at the doctor to see what was to come next.
As Steele crouched down beside her, Jane gave it all she could to focus solely on his words before she’d have to focus on giving birth to Ali. His words were comforting and all she needed to get through this. She just needed him by her side, and with that she knew that this would all be okay in the end. As he reassured her Ali was healthy, Jane let out a sigh of relief, that being her main concern. Nodding once, Jane took in a deep breath and exhaled, looking towards the doctor along with Steele. “Okay, Jane, I’m going to count to three, and you’re going to push as hard as you can once I reach three. One, two, three…” And Jane pushed as hard as she possibly could, letting out a distressed yell of pain as the doctor looked for any signs of the baby’s head. “Harder Jane, one, two, three…” Jane took a deep inhale and pushed even harder, every muscle in her body clenching, her hold around Steele’s hand tightening for support. “Steele, I don’t know if I can-…” Her words were cut off by another yell of pain as she instinctively pushed. “Good! She’s coming. Three more times Jane, ready, one…two…three.” Jane continue pushing as hard as she could, the doctor and two nurses assisting in bringing baby Ali into the world. It took all the strength Jane had, and as the doctor counted down one more push, Jane gave even more to make sure this was Ali’s time to be delivered. And sure enough, within seconds, the sound of a baby’s cry filled the room as Jane collapsed against the bed. The nurses quickly cleaned the baby and cut the umbilical cord, the doctor quickly checking it’s health before nodding for it to be brought to an incubator. The doctor walked to Steele, focusing mainly on him. “As a precaution, we’re having the baby put in the incubator due to some respiratory issues that will surely be cleared up within a short time. It’ll give her time to gain some weight as well, but overall…” The doctor took off his gloves and patted Steele’s shoulder. “It’s a healthy baby girl.”
The drive took 5 minutes less than it usually would have done, as Steele sped along the roads, desperate to see Jane safe. And yet, it still felt too long. His mind was overcome with all the things that could have happened. What if’s and maybe’s were haunting him and he knew they wouldn’t stop until he saw her, and held her hand. Steele saw the road sign for the turning to the hospital and sighed with relief, knowing he was almost there. Not much longer, and he could be there for her. Through whatever it was that was happening. He pulled up to the hospital and parked right next to the entrance, jumping out as quickly as he could and sprinting into the building. He made his way straight towards the reception, and saw Queenie moving as fast as he was towards him. Steele scanned her face and saw that it was serious. And her words told him his thoughts had been right. Ali was on her way, early, and he didn’t know what that meant for Jane. He hadn’t catered for the possibility that she might be premature, and he was mentally slapping himself. How could he not have planned for this? Steele smiled faintly as Queenie smiled at him, not letting himself rest or relax until he’d been reunited with Jane. He pulled her into a fast hug, thanking her silently for all she’d done and knowing she’d understand, before he followed the Nurse who was waiting for him. Steele quickly informed the Nurse as to who he was, and he was instantly led into a private room, where Jane was lying on a bed, her face screwed up in pain. His heart stopped for the second time that evening, but it didn’t prevent him from rushing over to her and grabbing her hand in his. Leaning down to press his cheek to hers in reassurance, he spoke gently into her ear, pushing down all the fear and the feeling of the unknown that was making him sick to his stomach. “It’s going to be okay, Jane. I’m here. Soon Ali will be with us too. We’re g-going to be fine.” His voice faltered towards the end of his words, but he refused to show the same hesitancy in his eyes. No matter how petrified he felt, she wasn’t going to see it. He was there to be strong for her. His fear was nothing compared to what he could read on her face. Steele clasped her slender fingers tightly in his large palms, looking around at the Nurses and Doctors whose faces were calm and more reassuring than he could ever be. He looked searchingly at the nearest Doctor, asking for answers. “What’s going on? Is she going to be okay?”
Jane was wheeled down one of the many hallways to the hospital before she was brought into a private room where she was helped out of her regular clothing and into a hospital gown. Soon enough, she was laid down on the bed, the contractions closer together in time Once she was situated, the nurse took her pulse, blood pressure, and temperature along with the set up of a monitor that kept an image on the abdomen to check the baby’s heart rate as well. Jane had so many questions that raced through her mind, but she wasn’t prepared to ask the nurse any of those questions, not when she knew that all they would do was reassure her to prevent anxiety.
Before she knew it, a familiar hand was clasped around hers. Jane opened her eyes that had been squeezed shut to distract her from the pain and saw Steele beside her, his cheek soon pressed against hers as he whispered words of comfort. All she could manage was a nod, looking over towards the doctor that Steele spoke to. “We’ve done an ultrasound and an exam and the cervix is shortened, meaning her body is prepared for labor which the baby seems ready for as well. We’re going to give her a steroid injection to help mature the baby’s lungs. Since the baby is only two weeks early and she’s more than 34 weeks pregnant, the baby will be healthy. Just very small.” As he finished, Jane let out a short yell of pain and the doctor quickly rushed to the proper position. “Steele, you’re going to have to help her through this. What she’s about to do is going to be painful, you’ve got to make sure she pushes through the pain, okay?” With a reassuring smile, the doctor then focused on Jane. “Okay, Jane. I need you to push as hard as you can for me.”
All Queenie could focus on was the small amount of blood that was trickling down her leg, and the words ‘something’s wrong’. Of all people to have this happen with, why her? Not that she wasn’t willing to help, of course she was willing to do anything for these two, just she was so clueless and was afraid to do something wrong. “Jane, keep breathing alright, I need to get you to the car first okay? As soon as we’re in the car, I’ll give Steel a call. I promise. He’s going to be there and everything is going to go smoothly” Queenie tried to to hide every last drop of fear in her voice for the sake of Jane. Moving as quickly and as safely as possible she managed to get Jane to the car and opened the door helping her down in the seat. She could only imagine the pain and discomfort this must’ve been for her. Reaching down she pulled the lever that brought the seat back giving the girl more leg space so she wasn’t so crunched in the seat. Racking a hand through her hair she pulled her phone on quickly and dialed Steele’s number. She didn’t give him two seconds to speak, as soon as she heard his voice she let her words fly out. “Get to the hospital now, It’s time” Throwing her phone in her back pocket she got into the drivers seat and started the movement towards the hospital, keeping a close eye on Jane. “Hey, keep taking deep breaths, you’re going to be alright.” Reaching over Q took her hand giving her something to squeeze. “We’re almost there Jane”
Steele was struggling with the latest passage of the book the College Prep Engligh class had been assigned when his phone went off. Contemplating letting it ring out and concentrating on the words, he decided against it. Jane had sent him a text earlier about not being able to find Nimbus, she might be letting Steele know he was safe. Or perhaps it was one of his friends, needing advice, or wanting to hang out. Either way, he decided to pick up. Grabbing the phone from the side of his desk, he checked the caller ID and saw that it was Queenie. Smiling at the photo that popped up, the one he’d assigned to her contact details, and pressed the accept button. Placing the handset next to his ear, Steele greeted her with a hello. “Hey Queens, you okay?”. And the words that followed stopped his heart. Or at least, it felt like it. “Get to the hospital now, It’s time” . The hospital. The only reason Queenie would be phoning him about a hospital is if it was about Jane. His knee-jerk reaction carried him straight up from his chair, hearing Queenie put the phone down straight after speaking told him it was urgent. Phone in hand and grabbing his keys from his bed, he ran out of his room, pulling the door shut behind him, and sprinting down the hallways and the stairs to the car park. He was thankful for his athleticism with every step he took, wasting no time in getting down to his car. Steele’s mind had little time to think as he slipped into the drivers seat, revving the car and pulling away at haste from the school, taking the fastest route into town, towards the hospital. Sat still in the car, he had more time to think. Why was Ali arriving this early? They had two weeks to go, at the very least. It made no sense. Perhaps Ali wasn’t even arriving. Maybe there was just a complication. But even that filled his mind with terrible thoughts. What if she wasn’t okay? And he wasn’t even there. His knuckles turned white as he gripped the steering wheel tightly, turning corners at speed and heading quickly towards the hospital. Steele sent a silent prayer of gratitude that Queenie was with Jane. Even if it wasn’t something serious, though her words told him otherwise, he was so thankful that Jane wasn’t alone. Queenie would look after her, until he could be there.
Jane sat in Queenie’s car, eyes shut as she leaned her head back against the seat. There were so many things she knew she needed to be focusing on, but the only thing that her mind would let her focus on was the pain that coursed through her abdomen and back. She held onto Queenie’s hand like it was the only support she had. “She’s coming so early…” Jane mumbled, realizing that if she kept reminding herself of this, the anxiety and fear of the labor would be too much to handle. The one thing she knew could relieve her was the fact that Steele would be there along with Queenie, two people who were reliable and comforting. Soon the car pulled up to the front of the hospital where Jane was helped out of the car and led inside with the great help of Queenie. A nurse immediately ran over to Jane with a wheelchair, helping her into it. “Queenie, make sure Steele gets here!” Jane called over her shoulder as she was wheeled away by the nurse.
Wrong? [observes Jane trying to stay as calm as possible, tearing up a bit at the sight of the blood] Oh shit, fuck fuck fuck, Alright. Jane. look at me, Take deep breaths okay, if there’s one thing you need to do it’s to keep breathing. Shit! Alright, I’ll just ca-, yeah no, calling will take forever. I just need to get you to my car, and then to the hospital. [wraps an arm around her again] Alright but as much weight towards me as you can and let’s get you to the car.
Jane’s eyes clouded with tears from the pain of the contractions. Her lower back tightened and began to ache, and no matter what position she tried to adjust herself to, the pain just worsened. Her abdomen cramped as the contractions came and went every few minutes, each contraction more painful than the last. The only thing on her mind was the safety of the baby and being able to get Steele. Jane’s brow was permanently furrowed from the hurting sensations but she tried her best to focus on Queenie. “I need Steele! I need you to get Steele, Queenie, please!” Jane bent over and leaned into her friend, trying not to put too much weight into her as difficult as that was. “Please, Steele needs to come with us. Please call him.”
[notices Jane in pain and puts an arm around her shoulder trying to help her stay up] Whoa, hey you alright? I mean she must really love me already if she’s giving you a hard time [smiles uneasily with a look of panic over her face] Do you need to sit? water? Jane… you okay?
[Tries to smile but immediately winces once more in pain] Queenie, something’s wrong… She’s not supposed to be coming this early! [Clutches her stomach and yelps once more in pain as a small trickle of blood runs down the inside of her leg]
But that’s my own fault. Jane honey darlin’, you’re gettin’ so big!
[Laughs] I know, I’m literally the size of a hippo right now!
Oh my goodness, two weeks till this little sunshine is going to be spoiled rotten for the rest of her life. [grins] I’m so excited and happy for you and Steele. [grins bigger] Oh really? [leans down to the stomach to talk to Ali] Hey there princess, you’re going to have the greatest life ever with you’re wonderful parents, and aunts.
[Grins, nodding and watching as Queenie leans down to talk to the baby. Suddenly, a sharp pain hits her abdomen] Ah! [Her hand automatically goes to her stomach, brow furrowed as another sharp pain hits her once more.]
Sasha isn’t the type to run off, or she hasn’t tried yet so I am flying blind here. We’ll figure something out though, two smart ladies like ourselves.
Nimbus tends to get active when he smells good food and- Oh! He’s probably heading towards the kitchen.
[ignores everything she says about the cat] AHH! Look at you , with little Ali in there. [touches… the… belly] Oh my! I can’t wait for her to get here.
[Jane grins wide] The little girl’s got two weeks before she gets here! [Laughs a bit, rubbing her stomach] She might kick if you keep talking. She kicks for people she likes.