Six months passed and Ian was escorting a heavily pregnant Celia upstairs. “What do you think?” he asked.
Blinking she looked around at the kitchen and living rooms “it’s everything I could have hoped for,” she said leaning into him.
Taking her hand he opened a door watching her eyes light up as she looked at the nursery. “Oh Ian it’s perfect.” She reached up and kissed his cheek before turning and walking downstairs. Following her he had a good idea what she was going to do.
“Thank you,” she said throwing her arms around Aimee then around Gene. “It’s perfect.”
Kissing the top of her head Gene beamed at her “I’m glad you like it but Ian did most of the decorating.”
Shrugging Celia laughed “you’re still the mastermind behind it and I thank you.” Hugging them again saying “I appreciate everything you’ve done for us.”
“You’re very welcome,” Aimee told her. Looking at the girl Aimee asked “are you feeling ok?”
“Sure. I’m a little tired but that’s not anything new,” Celia glanced at Aimee asking “why?”
Shaking her head “you look a little pale,” she said. “Don’t over do it going up and down the stairs. If you need anything send Ian down to get it.”
Rolling he eyes “I’m fine,” she protested as a sharp pain in her side her gasping for breath. She took a couple of steps towards the stairs before doubling over in pain screaming.
“Celia” Aimee yelled as she rushed to her side in time to see her water break.
“It’s too early,” Celia cried in despair.
Putting her arms around the distraught girl Aimee tried to sound confident reassuring the girl as she said ” it’s going to be alright. We’ll get you to the hospital.” Aimee looked up locking eyes with Gene who nodded.
“I’ll get the car,” Gene turned to Ian “help Celia to the car son.”
Stunned Ian nodded moving towards Celia like an automatron. Putting his arms around Celia he moved to pick her up when she doubled over screaming once again. Startled Ian looked terrified. Shaking him by the shoulders Aimee yelled at him “pull yourself together. Celia needs you.” It was like he was under water unable to move or think. He felt someone push him to the side.
“Sorry bro but Celia can wait for you to get your wits about you,” Matt said knocking his brother out-of-the-way while he picked up Celia and carried her to the car.
Aimee grabbed Ian’s arm and dragged him to the car “Ian snap out of it. Celia needs you.” Nodding he took slow deep breaths as he got into the car taking Matt’s place.
Celia grabbed Ian’s hand squeezing so hard it almost brought tears to his eyes. The pain had the effect of clearing his fuzzy mind. He looked into Celia’s pain filled eyes and smiled. “Don’t worry. It’s going to be alright. I’ll be with you all the way.”
Nodding she shrieked in pain. Glaring at him “we’re not doing this again. You’re never touching me again.”
Aimee glanced over at Gene smiling as she touched his hand. Gene turned to look at her with a wicked grin “bring back memories?”
“A few,” she admitted “I believe I told you the same thing a time or two.”
“I think you did but we still have two beautiful boys,” Gene glanced into the rear-view mirror “and we’ll have a beautiful grand-baby too.”
Arriving at the hospital Aimee ran inside to get help. As a couple of interns came out Ian got out of the car to give them room to work. They lifted Celia from the car and into a wheelchair. Holding her hand Ian ran along side with her. “How far along is she?” one of the interns asked.
“30 weeks,” Ian and Celia said together. The interns needed grimly making notes as they went.
Several hours later the baby was born and whisked away before wither parent could see her. Grabbing Ian’s forearm “she’s not crying. Baby’s always cry when they’re born,” Celia’s eyes swelled with tears. “Is our baby dead?”
Shaking Ian swallowed hard “I….I don’t know.” It felt like someone was squeezing his heart in two. How could this be happening? Their baby dying before it even had a chance to live. He cradled Celia in his arms sharing a grief couldn’t possibly be endured alone. Nurses came in to move Celia to her room. “How is a our baby?” they asked only to be told the doctor would be in to talk to them soon. They could see the pity in the nurses eyes and their hearts dropped further as their fears took control.
Gene and Aimee came into their room. “They won’t tell us anything” Celia cried. “What’s wrong with a our baby?” Aimee rushed to her bedside and wrapped her in her arms letting her sob on her shoulder.
“Ian,” Gene began his voice breaking. Ian ran into his father’s arms burying his face on Gene’s shoulder sobbing. Gene held his son wishing there was something he could do to take this heartbreak away from his son. He wanted to shelter Ian from all the bad and ugly things but he couldn’t. To do that would be like not living at all. Life was sometimes painful but the joys outweighed the bad.
Matt walked in oblivious to what was going on asking “what are you going to name her?” When everyone turned to stare at him Matt lost his smile “what? What’s wrong?”
Celia erupted into a fresh tears and Ian dropped into a nearby chair. Gene took control of the situation. “The doctors took the baby away before they could see her. She wasn’t crying. We’re waiting for the doctor to come and tell us what’s going on.”
“All I know is their’s a preemie in the neo natal unit going by the name of ‘Baby Bennett’. I assumed it was ours.” Matty explained stepping aside as his dad stormed out of the room followed closely by Ian.
Charging toward the neo natal unit Gene looked in and found the baby Matt described. Motioning for the nurse to come out he demanded “whose baby is that?” pointing towards ‘Baby Bennett.’
“I don’t think I can tell you that,” the flustered nurse said attempting to go back inside the room.
“Look lady” Gene said grabbing her arm “my son just had a premature baby. No one has bothered to tell us a damn thing. Then my other son comes in and asks what we’re going to name ‘Baby Bennett’. I want to know what the hell is going on,” he dropped his arm as an after thought not fully realizing he had been gripping it.
The nurse looked at their distressed faces as she rubbed her arm. “I’ll see what I can find out. Please wait here.” She walked into the neo natal unit and picked up the phone debating whether to call security or help. Their distraught manner convinced her they needed help. Calling the doctor she waited for him to arrive. She stepped out of the room as the doctor came running up.
The doctor’s mouth dropped open upon seeing Ian “I’m so sorry.” Running his hands through his hair making it stick up every which way. “It’s been a mad house here and I…I forgot.”
“So that’s …. that’s my baby?” Ian asked pointing towards ‘Baby Bennett.’ “She’s alright?”
Clapping a hand on his shoulder the doctor nodded. “She had some trouble breathing. That’s why we rushed her out so quick. Once we got her breathing on her own she’s been doing well. Good enough to be moved from the NICU. We had a mother come in a few minutes after your baby was born and I was called in to assist. She had quads that were 27 weeks along. In the rush to keep them alive I forgot completely about coming to see. I’m truly sorry I can only imagine the anguish of not knowing was causing.”
Gene looked at his son who had his face pressed up against the glass staring as his baby girl. “I think your forgiven,” Gene told him. Sticking his hand out turning towards the nurse “my apologies. I hope I didn’t hurt you” Gene said sincerely.
“Not at all,” she smiled at him “I’m glad we were able to clear this up.” Walking over to Ian she escorted him into the neo natal unit.
“Will the baby be alright?” Gene asked the doctor.
“She should be fine,” The doctor smiled “she’s a little small but a good weight for a being 30 weeks. Her lungs are a little underdeveloped but otherwise she’s a healthy baby girl.”
“Thank you doctor,” Gene said again as he brought his hands to his eyes overcome with emotion.
Putting a hand on his shoulder the doctor smiled saying “I’ll go tell the young mother and offer my apologies.” Looking at the scene within the unit he continued “why don’t you go and meet your granddaughter?”
The constant wailing coming through the baby monitor had Ian pulling the pillow over his head. “Ian it’s your turn,” Celia moaned beside him.
“Why can’t the monster sleep?” he groaned emerging from the pillow. Walking bleary-eyed to the baby’s room he picked the little bundle up. “Daddy’s here,” he said cradling her in his arms. Wrinkling his nose “you stink.”
Trying not to gag while changing the baby’s diaper Ian grumbled “I think your mommy should have agreed to take care of everything that come out of you. That was just disgusting.” After cuddling the baby for a few minutes Ian walked back to the bedroom. Laying down he felt Celia cuddle into him. Smiling he fell sleep.
The alarm went off way to early “Ian get up.” Celia pushed him “we have school remember.”
Growling Ian burrowed further into the warm blankets “you go I’m staying right here.”
Dropping her hands Celia went to the other side of the bed. Standing with hands on hips she said “if you don’t get up I’ll just have to drag you out of that bed.”
Opening one eye Ian frowned “you wouldn’t dare.”
“Oh wouldn’t I,” she said grabbing hold of his arm and pulling,
“Celia I’m tired,” he protested “leave me alone.”
“If I have to go to school so do you,” she said pulling harder determined to get him out of bed. “I’m just as tired as you.” One final tug she pulled Ian from the bed. He landed on the floor with a thud.
“Ouch,” he complained loudly rubbing his knees. “I’m up I’m up.” He scowled up at her “satisfied.”
“Yes” she shrieked as he grabbed her pulling her down to the floor with him. They rolled around for a moment before Ian succeeded in capturing her mouth with his.
“Good morning sweetheart,” he smiled down at her.
Pushing on his chest she smiled at him “now that you’ve had your fun we really do have to get moving before we’re late.”
“Why do you have to be such a joy kill?” Ian asked rolling off her losing his smile.
“Because one of us has to be an adult around here,” she said standing fixing her hair and straightening her clothes.
“I’m just as much of an adult as you are,” Ian grumbled getting to his feet.
“You sure don’t act like it,” she accused.
“Oh don’t you dare,” Ian roughly threw some clothes on the bed to change into. “Who works around here? Cooks and cleans? I get up in the middle of the night with Katrina same as you.” Ian pointed out moving towards the door “let’s not forget I also have classes, homework, studying and tests too. Don’t you dare say I’m not acting like an adult.” He opened the door and slammed it behind him. Skipping breakfast he slid down the stairs and out the front door.
The sound of the door slamming woke Katrina. Going into the nursery Celia picked up the screaming baby. “It’ alright sweetie mama’s here.” She soothed “I know dada is a big jerk for waking you up like that.” Cuddling her Celia recalled the day she was born. The fear that had gripped them as they took her away before letting them see her. It was a miracle that Katrina survived. Five months later all she and Ian did was argue with each other. Holding their baby she wondered if it was worth it. Should they try to stay together just because they have a baby together? Maybe they should just cut the losses and split before they hated each other.
Looking up as the door opened she smiled as Gene limped in “you know you shouldn’t be climbing all those stairs.”
“Let me be the judge of what I can or can’t do,” Gene replied back clamping down on his irritation.
“I was going to bring her down to you,” she continued unaffected by the frown he gave her. “I know Aimee is away for that video game thingy…Why someone her age still plays video games is beyond me. No wonder Ian doesn’t know what it means to be an adult.” She gave Gene a bewildered look when he simply frowned and remained silent “Don’t you think it’s time she grew up?” she continued despite his rising anger.
Shaking his head Gene took a step back and walked away. It was either that or say something he’d regret. He wondered if she had been like this all morning and if that was why Ian had left like he was being chased by a herd of stampeding buffalo.
Staring at the place Gene had been Celia shrugged muttering “what’s his problem?” Putting the baby back in her crib she came out into the living room expecting to find Gene waiting for her. The room was empty. Groaning she went back into the nursery grabbed the baby and her things and marched down the stairs. “You could have told me you were coming down here.” She thrust the baby into Gene’s arms. “I brought down everything she may need so you don’t have to navigate the stairs again.”
Gene’s eyes narrowed in irritation “Celia contrary to what you believe I’m neither old, frail or an invalid. I wish you wouldn’t treat me as if I were.”
Slightly affronted Celia said “I’m just looking out for your own good. You don’t seem to realize your limitations and I don’t want you hurting yourself.” She patted his hand talking down to him “if your wife would stay home and take care of you instead of playing those stupid games I wouldn’t have to worry about you.”
His brow furrowed in anger Gene stared at her “Celia who appointed you as my guardian? Since when have a become an invalid? Since when has Aimee’s passion for video game become a problem and why is it a problem to you?”
“You’re just in denial,” Celia smiled and patted the top of his head while he sat holding Katrina. “My professor said you a classic example of denial.Aimee’s predilection to video games shows how she can’t confront unpleasant truths about your declining physical abilities. Ian has Peter Pan syndrome in not wanting to take responsibility and become an adult. I should have my professor come over here and talk to you. He’s the best in his field. People come from all over the world to get his help.”
“It’s a load of shit,”Gene told her too angry to censor his words.
Eyes narrowing “that’s your opinion.” Looking at the time she said “where’s Ian?”
“He left” Gene told taking delight in her fleeting look of annoyance.
“Then I’ll take your car,” she said moving towards the door.
“No you won’t,” Gene told her with barely contained anger.
“Why not?” she asked hand’s hovering above the keys hanging on the wall. “It’s not like you’ll be using it.”
“Why? Am I too feeble to drive? If I’m too feeble to drive my own car maybe I’m too feeble to babysit.” Gene stood up his fury evident as he went over to Celia. “Use your head little girl. Your professor is a filling your head with a lot of nonsense and your lapping it up like a school girl with a crush.” He grabbed his keys “find your own way to school.”
Glaring at him she slammed the front door as she left. How dare he say she was acting like a school girl with a crush. Just because she admired her professor did not mean she had a crush on him. Although he was rather cute a voice in her head told her. More like handsome she thought while she waited outside for the taxi to pick her up.
Arriving a few minutes late for her first class she wondered if it was time she took up her professors offer of a room where she would be free to study without interruptions. She really was too young to have had a baby. She’d give Ian custody he needed something to motivate him to grow up. Like her professor said she really wasn’t mother material.