As soon as we were driving, he was back on the phone calling the rest of our family. He was so excited, his smile stretched across his face farther than I’d ever seen it, and all I could do was sit there and stare at my favorite dimple. I reached out and ran my fingers over his buzzed hair and he looked over quickly before looking back to the road.
“Are you okay?” He asked as he set his phone down in one of the cup holders, “You’re really quiet.”
I shrugged, “I’m great. I was expecting it to hurt or something, or to freak out. But I’m just really happy. I feel peaceful. Is that weird or what?”
Yeah. That didn’t last long. Right before I was taken to my room the contractions started getting really painful, another two hours later and they were even worse and coming much too often for my liking. I gripped Brandon’s hand tight as another one started and he brushed a few loose strands of hair behind my ear before resting his forehead against mine.
“Good job Harper, it’s almost done. I love you so much.” His deep voice was slow and rhythmic, I’m pretty sure it was the only thing keeping me from screaming right now.
I blew out a deep breath when it was over and relaxed my hold on him. He kissed my lips softly and sat back in the chair, keeping his hand wrapped around mine. If there was ever a next time, I was definitely getting the epidural, I didn’t care what they had to stick in my back. I looked around at my family and smiled at them. They were all caught in conversations, reading books, or talking on their phones to extended family and friends. Jeremy walked back in with bags and boxes from In N Out.
“I hate you.” I grumbled as I caught a big whiff of the delicious food.
“Sorry sis,” he grinned and started passing out the food, “I got you a cup of ice.”
I narrowed my eyes and everyone but Brandon laughed. He shook his head when Jeremy passed him his food and I pulled my hand from his. “I know what you’re doing, if you don’t go eat, you’re not staying in here when it’s time.” We obviously hadn’t gone to dinner, so I was starving, and he hated that all he could do for me was get me more ice.
He looked at me for a moment, brow furrowed, then with a sigh walked to the side of the room where the food was. I put my headphones back in my ears and closed my eyes. When another contraction hit I gripped the side of the bed and tried not to inhale too deeply, I knew Brandon would come right back to my side if he knew what was going on. But since I couldn’t hear them, I’d forgotten about the monitors and within seconds his hand pried my fingers from the thin mattress and held it tight until it was over. When I relaxed, he kissed my hand and went back to his dinner.
Another hour went by and everyone was now curled up on the couches and chairs watching something on the muted TV. Brandon helped me onto my side, and when I was comfortable he brought his chair around the bed so he could be facing me and rested his head next to my chest. One hand acting as his pillow, the other holding mine loosely for when I would need it again. I was glad he was going to get some sleep. I knew when I rolled to the side, he would think I was going to sleep as well, and would do the same. But that hadn’t been my reasoning. I was now in so much pain, I couldn’t hide it anymore and I didn’t want the family to see. My face twisted when another one hit, but I kept my fingers from curling around Brandon’s large hands. A few tears escaped my eyes and I let out a sigh when it was over again. Brandon’s thumb started making slow circles against my palm and I opened my eyes to see him watching my face, his head still resting on his other hand. He looked like he was in as much pain as I was by just having to watch me.
He rose out of the chair, bending over to brush the tears off my cheeks, and then rest his forehead against mine. “Is there anything I can do for you sweetheart?”
“You’re doing it.” I replied. I wouldn’t have been able to do even this part of it without him. He was my rock. “What time is it?”
Brandon glanced at his phone before shoving it back in his pocket, “Almost eleven. Try to sleep, he’ll be here before you know it.” He kissed me softly once, then pressed his lips harder to mine.
“As long as you get some sleep too.”
He sat back in the chair and put his head back on his hand, this time it was next to mine, so our noses were touching. His other hand cupped my cheek and his jaw fell slack within minutes. I smiled at him and braced another fierce contraction before dozing off as well.
Loud persistent beeping jolted me out of my nap, Brandon jumped out of the chair and turned to look at the monitors. His eyes went wide and he ran to the door but a nurse was already coming through and began checking everything. She had me turn onto my back again and made everyone except Brandon and Mom leave. Another nurse came in and they spoke quickly back in forth while having me do certain things. Mom was holding one hand while Brandon gripped the other, keeping his gray eyes trained to mine. I felt like neither of us was breathing while we waited for the monitor to go back to normal, or for one of the nurses to tell us what was happening. Dr. Lowdry walked in and began speaking with the nurses and taking one of their spots, but I couldn’t look at her. Brandon was now cupping my cheeks with both hands, and whispering to me, trying to calm me, but his own eyes looked terrified.
“Okay Harper, are you ready?” Dr. Lowdry asked from the end of the bed, Brandon released my face and I finally looked to her, “We’re going to have to do this now, the umbilical cord is wrapped around his neck, but you’re both going to be fine. Just do exactly as I say, and we’ll have him out in a few minutes.”
I nodded and took a deep breath, squeezing Brandon’s hand like it was the only thing keeping me tied to this earth. Mom squeezed my other hand telling me everything would be fine, Brandon kissed me quick and hard and continued to say reassuring and loving words throughout the next six minutes. We all cried in relief when we heard little Liam’s piercing wail. While they cleaned him and did a quick check to make sure he was okay, Brandon leaned over and alternated between kissing me sweetly through our smiles and pressing his cheek against mine to tell me how proud he was. As a nurse brought Liam over to us, she repeated information they’d been saying sporadically throughout their mini exam. Fourteen point three inches, six pounds six ounces, born at twelve oh three in the morning.
She handed me Liam and I knew I would never be the same. He was no longer crying, his wide eyes were staring right into mine while his mouth was shaped in a perfect little quivering O, like he didn’t know if he should cry again or stay silent. He was beautiful. Mom was standing near my head, silently crying, Brandon was bent close to us, lightly brushing his fingers up and down Liam’s side. His eyes were bright and his smile breathtaking as he looked at our son.
“Hi Liam.” My voice cracked as I smiled down at him.
He wiggled his hands out of his blanket and was clasping his long fingers around each other. While still brushing his fingers down his side, Brandon let his thumb brush against Liam’s fists, and Liam instantly grabbed hold. Brandon’s breath came out in a huff and we looked at each other, smiling wide before looking back down. Mom rubbed her fingers over where Liam was holding onto Brandon, before kissing each of us on the cheek and leaving the room to let the rest of the family know.
The nurse took him out of my arms and placed him in Brandon’s while the Doctor did some last minute things with me. I understood immediately why Brandon wanted to see me hold him. Looking at Brandon, all six feet four inches, two hundred and forty pounds of pure muscle holding our six pound son was what finally had the tears rolling down my cheeks.
“Hey little man.” He whispered as he stood a couple feet from the bed.
“Babe,” his head snapped up to look at me, his smile the only thing I could focus on, “did you hear the nurse? About when he was born?”
Brandon nodded and looked back down to Liam, “You have pretty good timing son. You couldn’t have come on a more perfect day.”
I smiled at them and the nurse piped up, “Did you want him to be born on September eleventh?” She asked, her face gentle and sweet.
Looking over at Brandon, I saw the tears falling down his face and knew he wouldn’t be able to respond, “It’s not that we wanted it, we really weren’t expecting him yet. But it’s fitting for us and our family. He’s named after Brandon’s dad, Liam. He was on one of the planes that crashed into the twin towers.” I said softly.
Dr. Lowdry and both of the nurses gasped and fell silent. After Dr. Lowdry was done fixing me up, she looked at the baby, still in Brandon’s arms, and said, “This day will always be significant for you three. Loss and a gain, it’s bittersweet, but I agree, it is perfect.”
Brandon walked back over to me and gently placed Liam back in my arms. He kept one hand on him, the other on me. “You were amazing. I love you so much Harper.”
“I love you too. So much.” Liam let out a soft cry, and we both looked quickly back to him. “Look at him Brandon. He’s perfect.”
“He is.” Brandon agreed, “He’s finally here.”
“I know, this is so surreal.”
Liam started crying harder, sounding so precious, and so sad. But with his little arms waving and finally hearing him, I still couldn’t stop smiling. Brandon put one of his fingers near his shaking hand, and as soon as Liam touched it, he grasped it again and fell silent.
“Daddy make everything better little Liam?”
Brandon looked at me, his expression full of pride, love and so much joy I started tearing up again. “I’m a dad.” His voice was thick as he tried to speak around the lump in his throat. He pressed his lips to mine and pulled away slightly, “Thank you sweetheart, you have no idea how happy this makes me. How happy you make me.”
With the hand that wasn’t holding Liam, I ran my fingers down his jaw before cupping his cheek. “I think I have an idea. You are my world Brandon, I couldn’t do any of this without you, nor would I want to.”
Mom came back in then followed by Carrie. They both took turns holding him, and while they did, Brandon and I shared sweet kisses and meaningful glances. When he told his mom what time Liam was born, she smiled at us before seeming to understand what that meant. Her face fell soft, her eyes misting.
“Well hello Liam.” She said like she was just seeing her husband for the first time in years, “You sure know how to make an entrance.”
My heart tugged as I recalled stories she had shared with me. The night she first met Liam, it was pouring rain outside and she’d just been about to leave a coffee shop with her girlfriends. Liam opened the door and stepped in, his foot sliding on the wet tile floor and knocking into Carrie causing her to fall on him. They had laughed so hard it took them almost two minutes to finally get standing again and when they did he apologized and held out a hand to her, introducing himself.
She took his hand and shook it lightly saying, “Well you sure know how to make an entrance Liam Taylor.”
When she turned to leave, Liam looked at her and said, “You’re really going to leave after something brought us together like that?”