A/N: I know my writing is a little clunky. Please bear with me. I'm out of practice but trying to get back into it. Please let me know your thoughts!
"Breathe, Laura," Her midwife, Anita, instructed.
Laura had been laboring for nearly three days now and was exhausted and irritable. "Easy for you to say," she grunted. Sweat dribbled down her forehead, and she made a weak attempt to wipe it away. Everything just took so much effort. Her hands found the swell of her belly as she tried to follow the midwife's instruction and take some nice, deep breaths.
Anita took the opportunity to examine her patient. "Things just aren't progressing like we had hoped, Laura," she shook her head. "I'm going to call Doctor Reynolds."
"I don't care what you do. I just want this baby out of me." She tried to find a comfortable position. She should have known that it was a lost cause since she hadn't been comfortable in months. The pregnancy hadn't been easy for her and with the way her labor had stalled, she felt like she might never have the baby. The worst part though was that her husband wasn't allowed in the room.
The first twenty-four hours, she could tell that he was right outside the door waiting for news. Now though, she wasn't even sure that he was still home. It was as though he had decided that maybe she wouldn't give birth after all. The thought definitely crossed her mind.
"The baby has to come out sometime, right? I mean, I can't be like this forever, can I?" Laura had asked Anita after thirty-eight hours of labor. The midwife had assured her that what went in had to come out sometime. Thirty hours later though, she wouldn't be surprised if she were pregnant for the rest of her life.
She looked up at the ceiling after Anita left the room to make the call. She wished that she weren't all alone. She had always thought that her mother would be in the room with her when she gave birth, but her mother hadn't spoken to her since she found out that she and Rob had eloped the previous year.
She was pulled from her thoughts by the pain of the next contraction. "Hurts," She breathed.
Once it passed, she stood on shaky legs, determined to walk to the bathroom and freshen up. Halfway to the bathroom, she became lightheaded. Normally, she would just get down on the ground, but her awkward body didn't want to move. Spots formed in front of her eyes, and she came crashing down to the ground.
She came to feeling groggy and disoriented. "What-what happened?" She asked as she started to look around the room.
"You had the baby," Rob smiled proudly. "It's a little boy. We have a son."
"Oh." She didn't know what to say.
"I'll go get the nurse to bring him to us," he kissed her forehead.
She watched him leave the hospital room before she looked down at her body. Her stomach appeared less round now, but it was obvious that it had recently housed a baby. Her hands trailed down her body and rested on the tender, squishy skin. She had grown so accustomed to her belly's curvature over the last few months that it seemed foreign to her to feel anything else. During her pregnancy, she had felt so full of everything: full of life and hope and a promising future. Now, she just felt painfully empty.
Her husband came back into the room, and she gave him a forced smile.
"Here he is, honey. Nine pounds and six ounces," Rob beamed as the nurse wheeled the bassinet over to Laura's bedside.
Laura peered into the bassinet and saw her son for the first time. Everyone had told her that the first time she saw her baby, she would instantly fall in love. As she looked at his tiny features, his full head of hair and dimpled cheeks, the feeling of emptiness she had been experiencing since she came to remained. She thought it would go away immediately when she saw the little person she had been growing in her womb for so long.
"Why don't you hold him, honey?" Rob smiled over at her.
She nodded and hesitantly picked up the baby. Having been deprived of their postnatal bonding immediately following the birth, she felt little connection to him. Here was this tiny person that she had created and was responsible for, but she didn't even feel that he belonged to her. She felt so isolated, but she didn't dare tell anyone. They would think she was a bad mother.
When it came time to nurse the baby, she couldn't seem to do it. The nurse assured her that they would be able to try again later. Later came and still she was unsuccessful. It turned out that her milk hadn't come in properly, and it was unlikely that it would. She watched as the doctor shook his head and wrote "formula fed" on her baby's chart. She felt like a complete failure. Her milk hadn't come in, she was having a hard time healing, and she felt no emotional connection to her child. No one had told her that it would be like this.
A few weeks after the baby was born, Laura took a deep breath and knocked on the door to her husband's den.
"Come on in, honey," he called. "Hi, beautiful," He looked at her from behind his desk.
"Rob, I want you to have a vasectomy," she said quickly before she lost her nerve.
"A what?" He looked at her like she had just suggested they feed their son to a wild animal.
"A vasectomy, Rob," She repeated. "I don't want any more children."
"Honey, you'll change your mind," He insisted. "A vasectomy's a really big deal. It's permanent, no going back. We're talking major surgery, Laura. I don't want to do that."
"Oh Rob, it's not major surgery. Besides, I don't want to go through the hell I've been through the last few weeks ever again. It's been absolutely horrible on me, Rob. I'm already a failure as a mother, and I'm just starting out. I don't want to be responsible for any more children."
"First of all," Rob sighed. "You aren't a horrible mother. You're not a failure at all. You just had a rough time of it is all. Next time you'll know, and you can have a planned cesarean and not work yourself to the point of exhaustion before the baby gets here. And I am not having a vasectomy. I mean it, Laura."
"Then I'm l-leaving you," She started to sob.
"Honey," he sighed and put his arms around her. "I just really think you'll change your mind is all."
"Well th-then, I'll have to live with th-that, but I don't think I'll ever change my mind. I n-never want to do that again."
Rob looked at his sobbing wife. He knew that she wouldn't actually leave him over this, but he also knew that she was liable to withhold sex from him until she got her way.
"Can you let me think on it for a little while?" He asked.
"O-okay," She reluctantly agreed and took his handkerchief before she left the room to give him some space.
"Hey Jerry. Yeah. It's Rob," he said when his neighbor answered his phone. "Listen, I need some advice. Laura wants me to have a vasectomy."
"What?! A vasectomy? She wants to take away your ability to have a baby?!" Jerry exclaimed.
"Calm down, Jer," He had to laugh. "Yes, she wants me to have a vasectomy, and I just wanted your opinion, but I guess it's pretty obvious how you feel about it."
"Well yeah, Rob. She can't make you do that," he said. "That's crazy!"
"I want to keep her happy, Jer. She's really serious about this. She threatened to leave me."
"Well then, Rob. You know what you do?" He asked. "You tell her that you'll get one, you pretend to get one, and then in a few years when she wants another baby, you'll surprise her with the fact that you can give her one."
"You know, Jerry. You might be onto something there. I just don't like the permanence of her decision at all. I don't think she's really thought it through." Rob had been looking for an out, and Jerry had given him one.
"I know I'm onto something. Do you think Freddie would be here if I had listened to Millie and gotten a vasectomy after Ellen was born? She's the one who insisted on having another so that she and Laura could be pregnant at the same time."
"I guess you're right," Rob said. "Thanks again, Jer." He hung up the phone and took a few deep breaths before he went to find his wife.
He found her standing behind the kitchen island with a piece of cheesecake in front of her. Tears were still streaming down her cheeks.
"Okay, honey," he came over to her. "You can stop crying. I'll do it."
"R-really? Oh, thank you, Rob. Thank you!" She hugged him tightly and buried her head against his chest. "I just know I won't regret it."
If Laura hadn't been so wrapped up in her emotions, she might have noticed that her husband had his fingers crossed.