Ben snuck up behind his wife and wrapped his arms around her protruding belly.
“Where are you, Dol?” The child within kicked his hand. He patted the spot and then kissed Dol on her neck. “Are you in another world?”
Dol jumped as he touched her. She hadn’t realized she’d been staring out the kitchen window for the last few minutes engrossed in the past. “Oh, Benny. You scared me. I didn’t even hear you come in. Just deep in thought, that’s all.”
She leaned into his embrace. “Sure. I’m fine. It’s nothing.” Unconsciously, she rubbed at the sore spot on her lower back.
He gave her another kiss on her neck and rubbed the spot where she had put her hand. “Baby boy’s jumpy today, huh?”
“Boy? You’re so sure, are you?” she smiled.
“I can hope. Well, supper smells delicious, Sweets. Sure glad I won the bet when I got you.” He winked.
Dol gave Ben a little push and giggled. “Benny Ryan! I’m surprised you’d think of that now,” she laughed. “You always know how to cheer me up. Go relax now. Supper is almost ready. I’ll call you when it’s done.”
Ben turned to leave the room when he heard Dol gasp for breath. He whirled around in time to catch her before she sunk to the floor.
“Dol!” Alarm sounded in his voice, “What’s wrong?”
Dol grasped her belly as another searing pain coursed through her body. “The baby…Benny. Help…” she gasped again, “it’s…too…soon.” She started to sob.
“Don’t worry Sweets. I’ll take care of you,” Ben said, but his insides quaked. It was too soon. She still has close to two months to go. He led her to the couch.
“Benny…” her eyes brimmed with tears and pain, “take me to the hospital. Now. The baby’s coming.”
It shook Ben to see her eyes wild with fear, her face wracked with pain. He was flustered – something which didn’t happen often. A well-trained lawyer with full control of his inner emotions, he couldn’t afford to be rattled, but this was an area out of his control, out of his territory. All he knew was he had to take care of his wife and it had to be quick. It was too early for the baby to be born, but she did seem to be in labor. He ought to know those signs after two births. He kept his voice calm, his demeanor soft. He didn’t want to alarm her any more than necessary.
“I will call Mama Vi. We can drop the girls off there on the way to the hospital.”
“Hurry, Benny,” Dol yelped as another pain gripped her. “Please. Hurry.”
Almost as soon as Dol was settled into her hospital bed, the pains stopped. Ben parked the car and rushed toward her room. He met the doctor in the hallway, who followed him into Dol’s room.
“Nothing but false labor, Mr. Ryan. I would like her to stay overnight so we can keep an eye on her –just in case,” said the doctor.
Relieved, Ben walked into his wife’s room where she sat up in bed with a sheepish grin.
“I feel so foolish, Benny. All that trouble for nothing. I should know by now what real labor pains feel like.”
“Shhh… It’s okay, Sweets. It never hurts to be on the safe side. Besides, maybe you just need a good night’s sleep without worrying over the children or me.”
“I’m just a worrier, you know?”
Ben nodded. Yes. He knew. They had been through this with their first two children. Dolly imagined herself dying like her mother each time, and it frightened her to wits’ end. Their first child, Elizabeth Vi, was no problem at all. The pregnancy went smoothly throughout the nine months despite Dolly’s worry. Molly Lou came along a couple years later and was also a normal pregnancy and birth.
This pregnancy was different, he had to admit. Different in every way. The first three months Dolly was violently nauseous, in her second trimester her digestive system settled down, but she began to spot and worried constantly about losing the baby. As the child grew – and seemed to grow fast – her belly swelled making her think of her mother often. The doctor always insisted there was nothing to worry about. Spotting could be normal.
“I’m just glad I have you, Benny. You’re my rock,” Dol continued oblivious to Ben’s thoughts.
Yes. He knew the story well, but he was concerned too. This child was a fighter. Maybe I’ll get me my son yet, he mused. He smiled inwardly as he rubbed his wife’s back.
“You know I’m here for you, Dol. You rest tonight, hear? Listen to the doctor. He’ll take good care of you. Don’t worry about Lizzie and Molly. They’ll be just fine. I’ll be back to pick you up in the morning.”
Dol reached up as Ben lowered his face to kiss her good night. “Thanks, Benny. I love you.”
“You’re my sweet love,” he whispered back, as he stroked her hair away from her face. “You rest now. I’ll be back tomorrow. Promise.”
Dol smiled and waved goodbye. How she loved her man. She snuggled under the warm covers and rubbed her belly. “Well, little guy, you definitely want to make a grand entrance, don’t you? Help your mama out now, and behave tonight. Let me get some rest.” She smiled, and dreamed of having the son her husband always wanted. The girls’ pregnancies were so different; this one just had to be a boy.