The young woman yelped out for help and tore her eyes from the person who caused her pain. There he stood: six feet tall, touseled brown hair, and misty blue eyes. At any other time, Melanie would feel exasperated and madly, wildly in love. Now, she felt a deep resentment towards him.
Why, she thought. It wasn't a question, but an accusation.
The pain seared throughout her body again, and she doubled over letting her curly, brown hair cover her twisted face hiding all indication of hurt.
Finally he spoke. "We need to go if we're ever to make it."
Melanie stared at him in disbelief. "Of course we need to go. I've been saying that for the past hour. It was you.." It was no use. He stopped listening.
Probably for the better, she thought.
Kevin, her husband, stopped listening only to grab the not-quite-newborn's diaper bag filled with all sorts of goodies inside: onesies, diapers, bottles, bibs, towels, and wipes. Everything a newborn would be satisfied with.
Kevin hailed a taxi and in less than thirty minutes time, Melanie found herself being rushed in the hospital on a stretcher and immediately taken to the delivery room. Her contractions were now two minuntes apart; her breathing increased rapidly.
"Get this thing OUT of me!" Melanie yelled as her doting husband sat beside her trying to assist in her breathing he learned in la maz class.
"Honey, breathe. Breathe. Breathe," he said remaining calm, not wanting to wince at the pain she was giving him.
"You want me to breathe? Ha! Like that will stop what you did to me."
Like you weren't invovled either, he thought, but he wisely kept his mouth shut and instead kept assisting her.
The small nurse came in. She looked no older than twenty.
"How is everything coming along, dear?" she asked.
"My breathing is growing shallow, my uterus is painfully dilating, and this man keeps telling me how to breathe. I don't see him having to push a baby out anytime soon. So, if you think I am feeling fine, then I'm fine," Melanie said in one large breath.
"Okay, so minor problems," the nurse said with hesitation and left the room.
"Haha!" Kevin whole heartily laughed before growing serious again. "Sorry, honey," he mumbled more to himself than her.
"Honey," she said in her sweet voice. "If you do not get the doctor in here to give me painkillers, I swear on my life that I will kill you." She smiled and watched him rush out the room in search for the doctor. They disabled the little button on the side of her bed due to overuse.
The doctor strolled in knowing it wasn't a serious problem.
"Miss, you've already had an epidural. I'm afraid there is nothing else I can do. You are dilated nine centimeters now; only one to go," the doctor said bored with repetition.
An hour passed swiftly and it was time to push.
The nurse started to whisper to the doctor and it caught Kevin's attention.
"The baby is breech," one nurse said. "What do we do?"
"Keep her calm. It doesn't necessarily mean something bad will happen. We'll do the C-section if necessary," the doctor replied.
"What- what's going on," Kevin interrupted.
"N-nothing for now," the nurse said and slunk in the shadows of the room, worry etched in her face.
"It's time," the doctor said. "Unfortunately," he stopped. Both Kevin and Melanie hung onto his every word.
"Unfortunately," he repeated, "the baby is breech. Meaning we must perform a C-section."
"No. No, absolutely not. No way. I need a natural birth," Melanie said, and Kevin turned quickly to stare at her.
"If we don't prep you soon, you'll lose the baby," the doctor said. "There is a slim chance we can perform natural birth, but we must do it quickly. What is your choice?"
"Natural birth," she blurted out before Kevin could protest.
"No," Kevin said making himself clear.
"There isn't time. Make your decision," the doctor said. "We have five minutes max."
"I told you my decision," she said.
"Okay. Nurse! Prep her, stat!" the doctor said, and Melanie smiled slightly.
A deep purple mark was becoming visible on her naked stomach. "Honey, what's that?" he asked, worry tainting his tone.
"I'm-I'm not sure. I've never seen it before," she replied.
A minute later, the doctor walked in her room ready for the procedure. A moment later, color drained from his face. "Where did you get that?" he asked her, but she couldn't hear him anymore. She fell flat on her back and her eyes flew shut.
"What does it mean?!" Kevin demanded from the doctor.
"It's-it's internal bleeding," he whispered softly.
"What does that mean?" he asked with equal quietness.
"Stay here!" the doctor ordered.
A few seconds later, a team of nurses ran in the room, shoving Kevin out of the way. For a solitary moment, the heart monitor flat lined, but started beeping again.
Kevin fell to his knees outside the glass wall that acted as a permanent boundary.
The last thing I said to her was yelling. It wasn't 'I love you' like last words should be, he thought crying in his large hands.
"Sir," a petite nurse said. "Sir, we need a response now."
"Response?" he asked.
The doctor came out of the room. "Yes, either she will live or the baby will live. Not both. I'm sorry, but we need your reply ASAP."
"Wha- what? What's going on?" Kevin asked exasperated.
"Your wife has internal bleeding in her abdomen. It's likely been like that for a few days. The baby is very healthy, she is not. She will most likely die either way. You have a choice: save the baby or save her. Which will it be?"
"Wha-? Let- let me think a little. I need to breathe," he said when he realized his breathing ceased.
"Fine, but we need an answer immediately."
Kevin walked away in a small corner.
How did it come to this? Do I save my baby or do I save my wife? What would she want?, he paused when he realized he didn't know the answer right away. I think she would want to save her baby. That is what she would want. I think...
He walked towards the doctor still thinking about his decision. Two quick steps and he was face to face with the man who controlled everything. He was unusually lost for words.
"I-I think she would," he trailed off. "Save the baby," was all he could muster. He fell to his knees again and buried his face in his palms.
Hope is the only thing I can cling onto now. There is nothing else in the world.
Five minutes later, the doctor was visible. He removed his face mask and suddenly looked somber.
For a minute, the world stopped. Time stood still. Nothing moved. His breathing ceased and his lungs started burning for oxygen.
"I'm so sorry," he said and Kevin knew he truly meant it. "You have a little girl. Would you like to say goodbye to your wife. We will need to remove her from life support soon."
"Uh," he said.
"Come this way."
The sight of her was unbearable. She was too peaceful to be gone, but he knew the truth. She had died long ago. There was nothing to say she didn't already know. Instead he clasped his hand around hers and bent over to kiss her forehead.
"I love you," he whispered and left the room collapsing on the chair outside.
He was met by the petite nurse from earlier. "Do you have a name in mind for your daughter?"
Daughter. That would take some getting used to. I'll tell her everything about her mother. Oh, she was wonderful. She IS wonderful. Always will be. How could I ever pull a name from this experience?
"Hope. That's her first name. I haven't exactly worked out the middle name, though, but that is her name," he said determined.
"Beautiful name. Would you like to see her?" she said encouraging him to say yes.
"Yes. Please. I would love that," he said.
He saw his daughter a moment later and a tear escaped his eye.
She is the spitting image of Melanie. How will I ever look at Hope without seeing Melanie. Perhaps, it is necessary I see her in her.
"Melanie," he said without explanation. "Hope Melanie. That's her name."