Yellow (M/L ADULT): Ch. 19 9/17/20

Fics using the characters from Roswell, but where the plot does not have anything to do with aliens, nor are any of the characters "not of this Earth."

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keepsmiling7
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Re: Yellow (M/L ADULT): Ch. 15 8/4/20

Post by keepsmiling7 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 8:30 pm

Of course Liz still misses her mom, despite this wonderful support system she has.
I'm glad she has be warned about postpartum depression. At least she can watch out for those signs.
Parenting classes and birthing classes......and they were the youngest couple there.
Diane sponsored a great shopping trip.......she's proud to be a first time grandmother!
And to top everything off.......Michael's art work!
Great emotional part.

keepsmiling7
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Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2007 9:34 pm

Re: Yellow (M/L ADULT): Ch. 15 8/4/20

Post by keepsmiling7 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 8:31 pm

Of course Liz still misses her mom, despite this wonderful support system she has.
I'm glad she has be warned about postpartum depression. At least she can watch out for those signs.
Parenting classes and birthing classes......and they were the youngest couple there.
Diane sponsored a great shopping trip.......she's proud to be a first time grandmother!
And to top everything off.......Michael's art work!
Great emotional part.

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ChemChic
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Re: Yellow (M/L ADULT): Ch. 16 8/12/20

Post by ChemChic » Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:34 pm

Hi All! Thank you for the feedback as always! Sorry I am a few days late, I'm still reeling from these last few weeks!

This next chapter is longish and the one that will follow is a bit shorter, so hopefully this will make up for the brevity of next week's update! Enjoy!

Also, I do not own the rights to Wild Horses, I'm just borrowing a great song. And if you haven't ever heard of Sigur Rós, I highly encourage you to check them out. I promise that you've never listened to anything quite like them!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~


“Well, except for the glider, I’d say we’re pretty much done!” Max proclaimed, surveying the nursery.

We’d spent the week following the shopping trip assembling, sorting, washing, and organizing all things baby. I’d also tackled our bedroom closet and dressers and was about to start in on the kitchen when Max had to rein me in. Apparently, my nesting instinct was rather strong!

“I can’t believe our baby is actually going to be in this room in a little more than a month,” I said, taking it all in.

“It’s incredible,” Max agreed. “I still can’t believe we’re about to have a baby.”

“It’s pretty surreal. If you asked me a year ago where I would be today, standing in our son’s nursery would not be on even my longest list. But after everything that’s happened, I’m so glad we’re here. I’m so glad he’s here,” I said quietly, caressing my bump.

Max pressed a kiss to the top of my head and I leaned into him.

“What do you say we go out tonight, just the two of us?” He suggested. “Maybe Señor Chow’s and we’ll figure out something to do afterwards?”

“I think that sounds like my idea of the perfect night.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Do you remember the first time we came here alone?” I asked, taking a bite of my Kung Pao tacos. The combination of sweet and spicy hit my tongue and I practically moaned. That’s the stuff!

“Of course I do. It was the night of our first official date as boyfriend and girlfriend,” Max grinned. “We sat in that booth over there and you ordered Lo Mein but would only take these tiny bites because you were so worried about getting it on that lavender dress that looked so beautiful on you. And I was so nervous and excited to take you to the dance as my girlfriend and to get to kiss you romantically for the first time that I barely ate and ended up being hungry all night.”

I laughed. Poor Max had ended up eating like six of these terrible oatmeal raisin cookies the school had at the snack table because his stomach was growling so badly!

“I felt so grown up that night. It was the first time my mom let me get my nails done and I was wearing my first pair of heels which I’d insisted upon because you’d just gone through a growth spurt and I was like 8 inches shorter than you without them!” I giggled, relishing the memory.

“And then because we were both so nervous you suggested that we play some pool and you whupped my butt but I didn’t even care because I was convinced that it was the single best night of my life,” Max said and I smiled. I’d felt the same way, too.

If only we’d known at 11 and 12 how many incredible nights there would be to come!

“What do you say, want to play a round for old time’s sake?” Max asked, raising his eyebrows excitedly.

“Max, I have a beach ball protruding from my abdomen, how on earth do you propose I play pool?” I laughed.

“We’ll improvise! I’ll even give you a handicap!”

“You only get a handicap in golf,” I shot back, rolling my eyes without malice.

“C’mon, please? Let’s recreate our first date! We’ve already got the dinner part down, now we just need to play pool, go dancing, and have our first kiss!” He looked like a kid on Christmas.

“Fine! Okay! You are such a hopeless romantic!” I relented with a chuckle.

And I absolutely love it.

Max walked over to my side of the booth and held out his hands, helping me to my feet. Just as we did on that night almost 6 years prior, I took stripes while he played solids, but this time I got to call a redo every time Gabriel got in the way of my shot or kicked me in the ribcage which allowed me to win handily.

“Eight ball, corner pocket,” I said, lining up my shot and sinking the ball with ease. “Guess I’ve still got it, Evans!”

“You’ve still got it alright,” he laughed. “But I have to say, the view totally beats the game any day!” And he winked at me.

I was wearing a black, fitted, scoop neck top that was apparently more cleavage-friendly than I’d intended when selecting it.

“God, you can be such a guy!” I groaned, tugging the neckline of my shirt up in mock indignation.

He leaned across the pool table conspiratorially. “Oh, it’s not just the shirt, Lillabet. Those white pants are doing all sorts of wonderful things for that perfect little ass of yours.”

“You still think my ass is perfect and little? I could kiss you, Max Evans!” I exclaimed.

“Not until we dance,” he insisted. He pushed away from the table and walked over to the jukebox on the far wall, flipping through the selections for a few minutes before a slow smile spread across his face. He dropped a quarter in the slot and pushed a few buttons before returning to me with an outstretched hand.

And then I heard the opening chords of The Sunday’s version of Wild Horses and I almost began to cry. It was the last song played that night of our first dance and it was absolutely perfect.

Childhood living is easy to do
The things that you wanted
I bought them for you
Graceless lady
You know who I am
You know I can’t let you
Slide through my hands


“You know, Lillabet,” Max said as we gently swayed to the music. “I had this grand plan to kiss you at the end of this song. You were so beautiful and your lips looked so soft, but I didn’t want to embarrass you or make a fool of myself in front of the whole school. I spent the entire dance trying to decide if I was going to go for it.”

And wild horses
Couldn’t drag me away
And wild horses
Couldn’t drag me away


“And did you know that I spent the entire dance hoping that you’d end it with that kiss? I was so heartbroken when it ended and you pulled away. I thought maybe you’d decided you didn’t like me that way. I was about to run off to the girls room in a puddle of tears, but then you reached for my hand and laced your fingers in mine and you gave me the Max Look…”

“The ‘Max Look’?” He asked, cocking his head curiously.

“That way you look at me that makes me feel like I’m the only person in the entire world. That way you look at me that makes me feel no one in the world has ever seen me the way that you do…” As I explained myself, his face morphed and I grinned. “Yeah, that one.”

“That’s because when I look at you, Lillabet, you are the only person that exists to me.”

I watched you suffer
A dull aching pain
Now you decided
To show me the same
No sweeping exits
Or offstage lines
Can make me feel bitter
Or treat you unkind


“So when you looked at me like that, I knew that you felt what I felt but that for whatever reason, you were waiting. I had butterflies the entire way home, all I could focus on was the tingly feeling that kept shooting up my arm as you rubbed my hand with your thumb.”

And wild horses
Couldn’t drag me away
And wild, wild horses
Couldn’t drag me away


“I’d really thought that after we got back, we would be able to just sneak up to your room and I’d have my opportunity, but then Maria insisted on that infernal after-dance dance party and I had to wait almost two more hours. By that time, I was absolutely kicking myself that I didn’t just go for it!”

“But when you finally did, it was so incredibly worth it!” I said. He was about to lean down to kiss me then when an idea struck me and I stopped him.

“Max, wait,” I implored him. “I want to recreate that first kiss. I want to go to my balcony one last time.”

He stopped swaying and looked down at me in surprise. “Really?”

“Yeah. I mean, everything is still there. I just…I don’t know, I just want to relive one of the best nights of my life,” I felt suddenly and ridiculously shy, but I forced myself to hold his gaze.

“There is nothing I’d like more.”

And wild, wild horses
We’ll ride them someday
And wild, wild horses
We’ll ride them someday


~*~*~*~*~*~*~
We’d been back to my family’s apartment a few times since the first day we started sorting through everything and were mostly done with the kitchen, main living area, and my parents’ bedroom, but while I’d packed all of my clothing and necessities, my room was otherwise untouched. Part of me knew that the day I completed that task was the day I truly let go of the only home I’d ever known. I just wasn’t ready yet.

Max pulled the Jeep up in front of the side stairs and we got out, making our way up to the back door. He reached above the doorframe and produced the key, unlocking the door and stepping aside to let me in.

It was so strange to walk into an empty living room, all of the furniture either already packed into storage or donated, but I tried not to dwell on it. Instead, I took Max’s hand and led him to my bedroom. Once the door was shut soundly behind us and I was surrounded by all things familiar, I pretended for just a moment that my old, normal life was just on the other side of that door. That my mom was reading in the living room and my dad was at the kitchen table doing the books and that I was just going to bed and they’d both be there in the morning when I woke up.

It was a wonderful fantasy.

Max climbed through to my balcony first and then helped me up. While it wasn’t as easy or as graceful as it once was, it wasn’t as difficult as I’d expected it to be.

I was surprised to find that most of my cacti and succulents had survived the summertime drought and were still thriving in their terra-cotta pots. Max took a moment to plug in my tea lights and light a few candles while I took in the familiar surroundings that felt entirely incongruous to my present life. When my parents died, everything became cleaved into ‘before’ and ‘after’. The person I was before lived in that bedroom and spent hours on this balcony. The person I was after did not.

But I wasn’t there to dwell on my loss or to war with these two versions of myself. No, I was there to relive a precious memory with the man that I love beyond measure.

“So if memory serves,” Max said, coming up behind me. “You were standing right…here,” he moved me a few paces to my right and turned me to face him. “And I was here having a minor panic attack,” he said, stepping back from me about six inches with a lopsided grin.

“And I told you that I’d had an amazing time that night and I was really glad that we got to go as boyfriend and girlfriend and as I said that, I turned about a thousand shades of red and had to stare at my shoes.” I said, getting into the moment.

“And then I stepped towards you so that we were a few inches apart,” he moves towards me until my bump is firmly pressed against his abdomen. “Of course, we didn’t have this little Bug between us,” he quipped and I laughed. “And then I reached out and tucked your hair behind your ear,” he demonstrated by slipping his fingers through an errant strand and brushed it back. “Because you had…”

“A hair thing,” I finished for him, looking up at him through my lashes. “And my heart started beating a mile a minute because I could feel your warm breath on my face and all I could think about was that you were about to kiss me and I was convinced that if you didn’t, I was going to explode.”

“And I was convinced that I was going to explode when I did do it,” Max smirked, his mouth drifting tantalizingly close to mine. “And I said, ‘well, since I’m your boyfriend, I’m going to have to do this,” and finally, finally his lips were on mine. The kiss was soft and tentative, just as it had been all those years ago, filled with a yearning and a promise of a lifetime together that was to come.

We separated slowly and he dropped his forehead to mine. “Exactly how I remember it,” I murmured, wrapping my arms around his neck.

“But you know what makes it a million times better?” He asked, his eyes smoldering.

“What’s that, Max?” I breathed, pulling my bottom lip between my teeth and letting it go slowly in anticipation.

“That now I can do this…” And he really kissed me. Deeply and passionately, his tongue seeking mine, his lips sucking, exploring, teeth nipping, hands roaming.

“Max,” I moaned, holding him closely as he trailed kisses down my neck and across my jaw. “Max, let’s go lie down.”

“Yeah?” He whispered, catching the bottom of my ear between his teeth.

“Uh huh,” I mumbled, pressing into his obvious arousal.

He kissed me once more before taking my hand and leading me back towards my bedroom. Getting back in was a bit more cumbersome than crawling out, but we managed and as soon as my feet were firmly on the floor, Max’s hands were underneath my shirt tugging it upwards in one swift motion.

“God, Lillabet,” he groaned as he released the front closure of my bra and exposed my full, soft breasts. He palmed my pliant flesh and ducked his head to take my dark nipple into his mouth and I hissed as I felt my let down reflex and I looked down to see a few drops of colostrum leak from the breast not currently occupied.

Max released my nipple and licked his lips. “So sweet,” he murmured, catching the dripping fluid on his tongue and lapping his way back upwards. He kissed the valley between my breasts and dropped to his knees in front of me, hooking his fingers under the edge of my belly band and slipping it down slowly, exposing my bump inch by inch. I’d been incredibly lucky to have no issue with stretch marks and though tight, my skin remained smooth and unmarred.

He kissed and caressed my belly, the tenderness juxtaposed with the eroticism sent my need into overdrive and intense desire bloomed anew deep in my core. I threaded my fingers into his hair, encouraging him to move lower and he did not disappoint. He sat back on his heels just long enough to gently remove my shoes and socks before sliding my pants and panties down in one swift movement. I steadied myself on his shoulder while I stepped out of my last scrap of clothing and then his mouth was on the underside of my belly and my leg hooked over his shoulder as he finally laid purchase on my wet, aching center.

I convulsed involuntarily as he sucked my swollen bud into his mouth, holding it between his pursed lips as his tongue drew languid patterns over the exposed bundle of nerves. I held tightly to him, the pleasure of his mouth on my core emanating throughout my whole body. I gasped as he teased my opening; first with one finger, then with two, before plunging them deep inside of me and curling into my g-spot.

“Max!” I cried, my knees buckling at the onslaught of pleasure crashing over my body.

He withdrew from me only long enough to stand and push me gently backwards towards the bed, dragging his shirt over his head in the process. He unbuttoned the fly of his jeans and let them fall to the floor along with his boxers and I leaned up on my elbows to watch him over the swell of my belly. He was rock hard everywhere and I pressed my legs together in delicious anticipation.

“No, Lillabet,” he whispered, slipping his palms between my thighs so I would open up to him. He dropped back down to his knees and his mouth followed the path of his hands until his hot breath spread over my core once again.

“Mine.” He kissed my mons. “Mine.” Then the juncture of my thigh. “Mine.” Then the opposite side. “Mine.” My clit. “Mine.” His fingers slid home once more.

Definitely mine.” He kissed my belly possessively as he stimulated my g-spot.

“It’s all yours, Max. I’m all yours!” I cried as his mouth closed over my core. My orgasm came hard and fast as I screamed out my release, twisting the bedclothes in my fists.

I trembled with the aftershock as he withdrew from me slowly, kissing my inner thigh one last time before standing up.

“Can you turn over and get up on your hands and knees?” He asked, stroking his erection languidly.

“Can I?” I tried to process his request through my post-orgasmic haze. “Yeah, I can do that.”

He helped me to sit up and I repositioned myself so I was on all fours in the middle of my bed, looking over my shoulder at him in anticipation.

“Is this what you had in mind, Max?” I asked sultrily, biting my lip.

Instead of replying, he knelt on the bed behind me, massaging the globes of my ass before leaning down to playfully nip at one cheek. He smoothed his hands up my back and then under to cup my breasts before trailing down to cradle my belly. I felt his throbbing tip at my entrance and I pushed back, desperate to feel him inside of me. He did not disappoint.

“Fuck,” he groaned, burying himself in me. “The fantasy doesn’t even begin to come close to reality, Lillabet.”

His thrusts were long and slow, teasing every nerve as his hands explored my body.

I closed my eyes and surrendered myself to him, the pleasure mounting like a hurricane, spiraling outward from my core until every inch of me was in a frenzy.
“God, Max, that feels incredible,” I moaned and then I gasped as he began to massage my clitoris in deliberate circles. “Don’t stop, please don’t stop, that feels so fucking good!” I cried, pressing my hips into his hand, my body begging for more.

“Sit up,” he commanded, wrapping one arm around my belly and the other around my chest, helping me rise up onto my knees. He rocked back and suddenly I was in control, my back firmly against his hard chest and his hot breath on my neck as I rode him. He found my clit once more and I almost sobbed in need; the onslaught of sensations was overwhelming.

“Max…fuck, Max, I am so close…oh god, please!” I moaned desperately, grinding into his hand.

“Then come for me, Lillabet.” Those five words were all it took to send me careening over the edge, my inner walls convulsing around his thick member and in a few short strokes he joined me in utter bliss.

“Jesus, Liz,” he rasped, dropping his sweat slicked forehead to my shoulder.

“Mmm,” I agreed incoherently. After a few moments, I let him slide from my body and I laid down on the bed completely spent. I rubbed my tight belly and took a few cleansing breaths.

“Contractions?” Max asked, concerned. He lay facing me, massaging my womb.

“Little ones,” I smiled. “Totally worth it!”

Max chuckled at that and kissed my forehead. “If you say so, Lillabet.”

“You know, I’d have to say that was a revisionist version of our first date. Because I certainly don’t remember this part!” I teased.

“Well, we did sleep in this very bed that night,” Max pointed out. “Of course, we were definitely a whole lot less naked!”

I kissed his lips sweetly. “Thank you for this, Max. This was really special.”

“I’m so glad, Lillabet,” Max said, brushing my hair from face.

“It’s really surreal to be here,” I said quietly. “I keep expecting to get a knock on the door telling us to leave it open.”

Max kissed my forehead. “I know.”

“What’s even more strange to me is that Gabriel will never get to know his grandparents nor will he ever set foot in the Crash Down. We spent so many of our formidable years here. It holds so much history for me and it was always something I thought that we would be able to share with our children. It just makes me sad to think he’ll never have a breakfast cooked by my dad or a Crash Down birthday party. As much as I’ve always complained about being from a small town in the middle of nowhere, there was something really special about having grown up here and our son will never get to experience that.” I gave Max a sad smile. “I just wish things could be…”

“Different,” we said simultaneously.

We were quiet for a while, taking in the last time we’d ever be in this room that held so many firsts for us.

“Did you want to head back, Lillabet?” Max asked, jostling me from my reverie.

“Do you think we could sleep here tonight, just one last time?” I asked in response.

“Of course we can,” he said softly. “Let me just call Michael so he can give my parents a heads up in the morning. I can only assume they’re already in bed.”

Max untangled our limbs from one another and after pulling on his boxers went in search of his phone. I sat up with some effort and scrutinized my bedroom. While we’d packed all of my clothing and toiletries, all of my books, pictures, CDs, and knick knacks were still exactly where I’d left them. I stood and grabbed my favorite bathrobe off of the hook on the bathroom door and slipped it on, just barely getting it to close over my belly. I could hear Max’s side of a murmured conversation on the balcony as I slowly explored my room, almost as though I was seeing it for the first time. There were so many photographs of the 6 of us and even some of all of our families together. And of course there were countless pictures of me and Max, from us as infants all the way up until January of that year. The nostalgia that surrounded me was warm and comforting, overshadowing the ache that had settled in when I realized I would never sleep another night in this room.

When I approached the dresser that held my CD player, something caught my eye. There was a jewel case set atop the player that I hadn’t seen before. I picked up the album and read the cover: Sigur Rós - Ágætis Byrjun. I furrowed my brow in confusion and then realized what I was holding. A few days prior to their death, my dad had come home raving about this incredible Icelandic band he’d discovered that was unlike anything he’d ever heard before. My father had the uncanny ability to find obscure music that was exactly my taste, so I was always excited when he found something he thought was particularly special.

Gingerly, I popped the case open and placed the CD in the player, turning the volume up just a bit before sitting back down on the edge of the bed, still holding the case. When I went to pull out the booklet, the edge of a yellow post-it note caught my eye.

Lizzy,

I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything more beautiful than this album and I know I have never seen anyone more beautiful than you - inside and out. If you’ve ever wondered how deeply I love being your father, just listen to this album because the feeling you get from hearing these songs is the same feeling I get when I see you. I’m the luckiest dad in the whole world. You’re the poem, Liz.

Love,
Your biggest fan


“What are you listening to?” Max asked curiously as he climbed back through the window.

I looked up when his feet hit the ground, silent tears streaming down my cheeks.

“Lillabet, what’s wrong? Is it the baby?” He’d crossed the room in 3 short strides and was crouching down in front of me so that we were almost at eye level.
I shook my head and handed him the note.

When he looked up at me again, his eyes were brimming with fresh tears.

“Where did you find this?” He asked softly, handing it back to me.

“It was in the CD case on top of my stereo, my dad must’ve left it there that Sunday or maybe the day before,” I sniffled and wiped my face with the sleeve of my robe.

“I just can’t believe this even exists,” I said, staring at the note.

“Had he ever left you a note before?”

“Never,” I whispered.

“Wow,” Max breathed, stunned.

“Yeah,” I agreed. I looked at the note for a moment longer before adhering it to the CD booklet once more and closing the jewel case. “So I don’t lose it,” I said as much to myself as to Max.

He nodded and stood, taking the case from me and setting it gently on my nightstand.

I sighed quietly and rose, shrugging off my robe before slipping back into my bed, my cheeks still damp from my tears. It seemed like everything was a duality during that time; the note was so beautiful, so incredible and I felt immeasurably grateful that he wrote it and that I found it, but it also shattered my heart yet again. I hardly felt the suture lines had a moment to heal before something else tore it asunder.

The bed shifted as Max crawled in behind me, cocooning me against him. He cradled my belly protectively and I felt Gabriel shift under his touch; there was no question in my mind that our son knew his father.

“This is gorgeous,” I said quietly, finding myself lost in the music.

“I’ve never heard anything like it,” he agreed. “I wonder what they’re saying?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I don’t know if it matters, it’s so beautiful.”

I paid attention to each song, trying to imagine what my father had heard and felt when he’d listened to the album. I felt Max’s breathing even out, his chest rising and falling rhythmically against my back as he drifted off, but I did not sleep. I drank in every instrument, every inflection in the lead singer’s voice, every note. I closed my eyes and pictured my father, his hair flopped over his eyes with his oversized headphones plugged into his beloved stereo from the early 80’s that he refused to part with, reclined in his favorite chair at 2 in the morning listening to this album. Whenever he found himself battling insomnia, his panacea was music. But my mother was a light sleeper, so he’d plug into that behemoth of a stereo and vibe until he invariably passed out in that recliner. But that night he hadn’t fallen asleep. Instead, he’d gotten up, dug through the junk draw for a pen, and took the time to write that note. A note in that moment that may’ve seemed sweet but insignificant in the scheme of the decades of life that lay ahead for him and for us as a family. A note that became more valuable to me than any amount of money in the entire world. And sometime after I left that January night, sometime perhaps after my mother had placed those neatly folded piles of clothes on my bed, sometime before he’d crawled into his own bed with my mother for the very last time, he’d taken a moment to tuck that note into the jewel case of this exact album and leave it on top of my own stereo for me to find. He didn’t know if I would read the note right away or even take the time to listen to the CD, even though he was spot on that I would love the band. For all he knew, I’d never slip the booklet out of its holder; I’d simply flip open the case and pop the album in while cleaning my room or doing homework or getting ready for school, never once seeing that small square of yellow paper. And when he would ask me in passing what I’d thought of Sigur Rós, I’d tell him that I thought they were spectacular, wouldn’t it be great to see them live someday, and that I couldn’t wait to share them with Isabel because she’d absolutely love them. Maybe I would never have found his note, never have realized that my father’s love for me could be described by music so beautiful that it made your soul cry. That I was his poem.
But I had found it. I had found an unknown vestige of my father in this terrible new world where he and my mother no longer existed. This is what I had left of him now. This album and that note and these unintelligible lyrics and this feeling.

“I love you, Daddy,” I whispered, a sense of incredible peace settling around me. And in that moment, I knew that I was finally ready to let go.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I awoke the next morning to the album still playing quietly, punctuated by Max’s soft snores. I sat up and stretched, taking a moment to look around my room. It would be the last time I’d ever see it like this; the way that I saw it countless mornings of my life. How the sun came in from the balcony and created dust moats over the end of the bed or how the sounds of Roswell waking up floated in through the open windows. What was painfully absent were the familiar noises of the Crash Down below or of the apartment beyond my bedroom door.

I felt Max stir beside me and I glanced over at him, brushing his bangs off of his forehead.

“Morning,” he mumbled sleepily, scrubbing his face.

“I’m ready, Max,” I said with quiet conviction.

“Ready?” He bolted upright, panic stricken. “Are you in labor? It’s too soon! We need to get to the hospital!”

“No, Max! Calm down! I’m not in labor!” I laughed, his bedhead only adding to the comedy of the situation.

“But you said you’re ready?” He said, perplexed. “Are you sure you’re not in labor?”

Oh dear, I may’ve broken him!

“Max,” I said firmly, taking his face in my hands. “I promise you, I am not in labor. Okay?”

“Okay,” he nodded, still confused.

“I’m ready to pack up my room. I’m ready to put this place on the market. I’m ready to move forward,” I said.

Max’s eyes softened in understanding. “Wow, Lillabet. That’s pretty incredible.”

I nodded in agreement. Anyone else would’ve asked if I was sure, if I wanted to wait a little longer, if I was going to regret my decision - but not Max. He knew that once I made up my mind on something, there was no going back.

We spent the better part of the day labeling and packing boxes. Most of the contents of my room were going into storage and we decided that we would use my bedroom set for our apartment once we moved out of the Evanses house. Aside from Max making a few trips down the street for breakfast and sandwiches, we worked straight through and by evening all that was left were a few piles of boxes, my furniture, and a stripped mattress.

As for my balcony, I decided to take my telescope and plants back with us and packed the candles and tea lights for later use. Everything else was to be donated.
“I think that’s it,” Max said, looking around the room.

“You know, if I try hard enough I can convince myself that I’ve just packed to go to college,” I said quietly, the enormity of what all of this meant settling in.
Max wrapped his arms around me and pulled me to his chest, kissing my hair. He didn’t say anything; he didn’t need to.

After a long moment, I leaned up and kissed his cheek. “I want to take one more walk around,” I said. “Do you mind waiting for me outside?”

“Of course,” he agreed, understanding. He kissed my forehead. “I’ll be in the car when you’re ready.”

He closed the door behind himself and a few moments later I heard the apartment door open and shut as well.

I took a steadying breath, a combination of sorrow, nostalgia, and acceptance gathering in my chest. I walked around my room slowly, touching the exposed brick, my fingers bumping along the ridges I knew so well. I stepped into my bathroom, studying my face in the old mirror for the last time, my fingers trailing over the porcelain of the sink and the tile on the walls. I looked out onto my mostly empty balcony, remembering the countless nights I spent out there and all of the wonderful memories made with Max and with our friends.

I stopped at my bedroom door, my palm memorizing the worn knob, the tiny hitch before it gave, the way it squeaked when you opened it slowly. I stepped out into the short hallway and crossed the few steps to my parents’ room which now sat empty. I stood for a moment, reconciling this strange empty space with the room I knew so well. I closed the door behind me before walking into the living room, then the dining room, and finally the kitchen. It looked ready to be shown to its’ next family. Empty and clean and waiting. I tried to imagine the memories that someone else would make here. Would another little girl grow up in my room, spending her nights watching the stars and wondering what this big, wide world has in store for her? Would she help her parents in their own restaurant? Would the Crash Down remain a restaurant at all? The one thing that I was adamant about in regards to the sale is that if the new owners chose to have a restaurant, they could not call it the Crash Down and they would have to completely change the dining area. I could not bear the thought of someone else running my family’s business.

A part of me wanted to go downstairs into the restaurant, to see it one more time. Diane and Phillip had hired a forensic cleaning company and apparently everything was in order with no sign a crime had even been committed, but somehow that almost made it worse. I understood why it had to be done, but it felt like they’d just erased the greatest tragedy of my life with impunity. What happened in that space made it perversely sacred and that act felt almost profane.

I went as far as to open the door to the staircase leading to the break room and stopped. Those were demons that it would do me no good to face. I realized that going into the Crash Down wouldn’t bring me peace or catharsis, it would just cause more pain. So I shut that door quietly and headed for the side entrance, pausing to take the apartment in one last time before stepping outside and locking the door behind me.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
"It's like...chemical" ~ Liz Parker

keepsmiling7
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Re: Yellow (M/L ADULT): Ch. 16 8/12/20

Post by keepsmiling7 » Thu Aug 13, 2020 9:56 am

So many memories for Max and Liz........I loved the "hair thing".
The note from Liz's dad caused the emotions to break forth.
Wonder if packing up the room will start the contractions......and soon Gabe will be here?
It certainly was a painful experience for Liz's last visit at the Crashdown.

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ChemChic
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Re: Yellow (M/L ADULT): Ch. 17 8/30/20

Post by ChemChic » Sun Aug 30, 2020 11:46 am

Ack, I am SO sorry this update is so late! I drove straight through from Florida to New England and back with a 4 day turn around and I've been overwhelmed with farm stuff since getting home! I will try not to be this late again, but I can't make any promises! Hope you all are well and enjoy this next chapter!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When I opened my eyes a bit over a week later on September 18th, I wanted nothing more than to close them once more, sleep until the day was over, and pretend it had never happened.

Why? It was my birthday. And it was the first important day without my parents.

16 year old Liz had parents; 17 year old Liz was an orphan. It was an unfathomable juxtaposition.

I’d begged Max not to make a big deal of my birthday. I didn’t want a party or presents or fanfare. Not that I ever wanted these things, but I was especially adamant that year. I just wanted a quiet, ordinary day.
Max’s breathing was even and soft behind me, warm puffs of air tickling my shoulder in regular intervals. His arm was loosely draped across my waist, so I gently lifted it off and padded into the bathroom, shutting the door quietly behind me.

After tending to my bladder, I stood staring at myself in the mirror for a long moment, scrutinizing my face. When I was a little girl, I would giddily rush to the first mirror I could find on my birthday and look for any signs that I was older. My mom would join me and confirm that my hair was definitely longer and that surely anyone who looked at me would know that I was now 6 or 7 or 8. It made me feel so important and grown up. Like any child, I was desperate to be older, to be seen as competent and mature.

But now? Now I saw a face far older than its 17 years. Eyes that betrayed experience more traumatic than my youth should be able to endure and a body far too round and ripe for such a tender age. If only I could convince that child to slow down and to savor every day, every minute of that innocence. If only I could warn her of how drastically different her life would be in less than a decade. Of how drastically different she would be.

I sighed and pushed away from the counter, turning on the taps in the shower and stripping out of my pajamas. I stepped under the hot spray and closed my eyes, letting the water course over me, plastering my hair against my face and neck. My eyes snapped open when I heard the bathroom door clicking shut. I watched passively through steamy glass as Max stepped out of his boxers and slid the door across the track, cool air mixing with the heat that surrounded me.

I moved aside so he would have room and then once again I was enveloped by hazy warmth. He pressed his lips into the hollow of my neck and I turned to face him, wrapping myself around him and tucking my head under his chin. I could feel a few errant tears escape my eyes and mingle with the water and I forced myself to focus on the feeling of being in his arms.

“I didn’t mean to wake you,” I finally mumbled against his chest.

“I’d much rather be awake with you than asleep without you,” he assured me and I chuckled in spite of myself.

“I know today is your birthday and that’s really hard,” he said, backing us out from under the water just enough so that he could look at me. “But it’s also our 17 year anniversary, and I think that might be worth celebrating.”

“How can you always find the good in everything?” I asked, shaking my head with a small smile. “I will concede to that as long as you still promise not to make a big thing of it, Max.”

“Well, I was thinking that we’d finish this shower, have some breakfast, and see where the day takes us. Sound fair?” He offered.

“Sounds fair,” I agreed. I could handle that.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“So what do you want to do?” I asked as we finished cleaning up our breakfast dishes. As it was a Monday, everyone else had either gone to school or work and the house was blessedly quiet.

Aside from a simple note from Diane wishing me a happy birthday, there was nothing else to indicate that today was different from any other and for that I was grateful.

“Well…” Max began, clearing his throat and looking suddenly guilty. Oh boy. “What if I told you that I did have something planned?”

I sighed in frustration. “Max…” I groaned. I knew it, I knew he couldn’t help himself!

“Before you get upset, this is not at all birthday-centric. I need you to trust that this is going to be something that will bring some genuine happiness to your day. Do you trust me?”

I sighed again. “Of course I trust you, Max. I trust you more than anyone else on this planet! But you have to tell me what we’re doing,” I insisted. “I really cannot handle a surprise right now, even a good one.”

It was Max’s turn to sigh. “Okay, that’s fair,” he agreed and slipped a brochure out of his back pocket.

Blissful Baby Ultrasound - Specializing in 3D/4D Ultrasound Technology

“I know he’s due in a little more than a month, but I though this might be a nice distraction from the day and something special for us to have,” Max said, trying to gauge my reaction.

I closed my eyes for a moment, willing myself not to cry. “It’s perfect, Max. It’s absolutely perfect,” I murmured, turning the pamphlet over in my hands.

“You’re not upset?” He asked, still tentative.

I shook my head. “No, I’m not upset at all. I can’t think of anything better to do today,” I replied honestly, walking around the island to kiss him.

“Happy anniversary, Lillabet.”

“Happy anniversary, Max.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“How did you even find this place, Max?” I asked once we were on the road.

“I saw them mentioned in one of the parenting books you bought and called Dr. Greenberg’s office while you were away to ask if they did them at her clinic. The secretary told me that they didn’t, but she put me in touch with this place. I actually tried to get you an appointment while you were up there since it’s in Albuquerque, but they were booked. I didn’t want you to have to make the drive twice,” he explained.

“But then you wouldn’t have been there,” I said. “I’d much prefer it this way.”

“Me too,” Max said, smiling.

It was an unseasonably warm day for September and I was grateful that Max had the forethought to borrow Phillip’s Durango that had both working A/C and comfortable seats. The idea of driving the Jeep 3 hours in each direction at almost 36 weeks pregnant was less than appealing!

I relaxed back against the headrest and stared out the window, watching the arid landscape fly by us. Gomez’s Liquid Skin was playing softly on the stereo; it felt like the perfect soundtrack.

“I’d been hoping to go see them in Santa Fe this winter,” I lamented, turning up the volume as We Haven’t Turned Around began to play.

“I know, that would’ve been amazing,” Max agreed. “But I’m sure there will be more opportunities for us to go when Gabriel’s old enough to stay with a sitter.”

“God, did you ever think that ‘sitter’ would be in your vocabulary at 17? Or 3D ultrasound?” I shook my head. “I don’t feel remotely old enough to be a parent, Max. But at the same time, I feel like I’ve lived 5 lifetimes. I don’t even know how to explain it.”

“I get it,” Max said, glancing at me before turning his eyes back to the road. “There are a lot of things that I didn’t think would be in my vocabulary at 17…or ever. But I’d say all things considered, we’ve done a damned good job adjusting to this new reality.”

I nodded. I imagined those seemingly forbidden words floating in front of me like soap bubbles. Murder. Pregnant. Orphan.

Orphan.

“Max? Do you ever think about the fact that we’ve both been orphans? You as a baby and me now?” I asked him tentatively. The thought had occurred to me on more than one occasion, but it seemed like such a morbid thing to bring up, particularly considering how little Max knew about his birth parents.

“It crossed my mind shortly after your parents died,” Max admitted. “What got you thinking about this?”

“I don’t know…I mean, I know it’s two completely different situations; you were 6 weeks old and adopted shortly thereafter and have no memory of a life with anyone other than Phil and Diane. But it still remains that we both lost our parents. Do you ever think about them, Max? Wonder what your life would’ve been like if…if it hadn’t all happened?”

I really don’t know what possessed me to ask him about it; in the 17 years we’d know each other and in the countless hours of conversations we’d had, I didn’t have any recollection of ever discussing his birth family. Everything I knew about them came from overheard conversations between the parents or the rare, off-handed comment in front of us kids. Once, when I was old enough to realize that asking about such delicate things directly was impolite but still young enough to be relentlessly curious, I’d asked my mother why Max, Isabel, and Michael had been adopted. My mother gave me the age-appropriate story (mother died in childbirth, father was in a car accident and Jim worked the case) and for a long time that was really all that I knew. It wasn’t until I was in my early teens that I found out the accident happened because their father was drunk.

“I mean, occasionally I guess,” Max began slowly. “To be honest, their existence is such an abstract concept for me. I have absolutely no memories of a life before I was adopted; none of us do. And from what I know, there was some issue between CYFD and the apartment complex where my parents lived and the landlord basically gutted the apartment for back rent. Anything valuable was sold and anything he deemed worthless was trashed. That’s why the only photos I’ve ever seen of my birth parents were from their obituaries.”

“I’m sorry, Max,” I murmured. I didn’t know what else to say.

“It’s okay,” he replied, threading his fingers through mine atop the center console. “On an intellectual level, it makes me sad. I’d like to think that they had hopes and dreams for the three of us and were looking forward to many years together as a family. But that’s all supposition. For all I know, they were overwhelmed with a 14 month old and dreading the idea of having two more mouths to feed.”

“Max…” I began, but he cut me off.

“I’m not saying that as though it is something to pity, it’s just an honest assessment. We literally do not know enough about them or their lives to pass any judgements. I know that my father was quite a bit older than my mother. Of course we know that they were both only children with no known immediate family, though it’s possible with have some distant second cousins out there or something. But when Jim and CYFD went looking, there was no one that wanted us, so I’m more than okay with the assumption that we just have no other biological family.”

This idea made me suddenly and intensely sad, but I kept quiet and let him continue.

“What I do know is that I cannot imagine my life without my mom and dad because that very likely would’ve meant a life without you,” he said, his voice thick with emotion. “I am grateful that they brought us into this world; for the sacrifice my mother made giving birth to us and for the fact that my father had the presence of mind to hire a sitter that night instead of taking us to the bar with him.” He took a deep breath.

“I honestly think that it’s an insult to your experience to refer to myself as orphaned. My biological parents died, yes, but I was adopted before I can remember and I’ve lived my whole life with Phillip and Diane Evans as the only parents I’ve ever known. You had this whole rich, wonderful life with your family and that was taken from you in an instant. Our experiences both fit the literal definition of the word, but it would be grossly unfair of me to assume I know how you feel just because my circumstances meet the criteria, too.”

He squeezed my hand and I gave him a weak smile. “I understand what you’re saying and I appreciate it, but I don’t ever want you to think that my experience outranks yours in any way. It’s not a competition. We both lost our parents. Under very different circumstances, yes, but the fact remains. And I never want you to feel like you have less right to your feelings because it happened to you at such a young age or because you don’t remember them. Knowing that your loss doesn’t define you gives me hope that mine will no longer define me one day. That you can lose the people who brought you into this world and still be a whole person. That there are people who will love you unconditionally even if they didn’t create you. Though I suppose it’s a bit ironic that those people are one and the same for both of us.”

“I just wish you didn’t need to hope for any of this,” Max said quietly. “And it kills me that I can’t take the pain away.”

“But you do, Max. You’re the only thing that has made all of this bearable. Survivable. Even Gabriel…there is no way I could’ve faced this pregnancy and impending parenthood if you hadn’t been with me every step of the way. Supporting me, championing me, loving me. There’s just no way. The hurt would’ve been too great.”

Max lifted our hands to his lips and pressed a lingering kiss to mine. “We’re going to be okay, Lillabet. Together, we can face anything.”

“I’m beginning to think that you just may be right.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The clinic was tucked away in a quiet corner of town; just an unassuming storefront in a small strip mall. The waiting room was tastefully decorated and besides a plump, middle aged receptionist, we were the only people there. Per the instructions, I’d downed 32 ounces of water during the last hour of the drive and I was doing my very best to focus on my excitement about seeing Gabriel in 3D than the incredible pressure on my poor bladder.

“Elizabeth Parker?” A soft-spoken young woman in bright fuchsia scrubs called from the open doorway.

We stood and followed her back into a cozy suite with a large screen facing the ultrasound table.

“Do you go by Elizabeth?” She asked, ushering us in.

“Liz,” I replied, smiling. “And this is Max,” I offered.

“Well it’s a pleasure to meet both of you! I’m Vanessa. I’ll be performing your scan today,” she said brightly, settling on a stool facing a rather complex looking piece of machinery. “Go ahead and hop up here, unbutton your pants, and roll up your top if you don’t mind. Is this the first 3D/4D scan you’ve had?”

“It is,” I said, following her instructions.

“Well, we’re glad to have you! Max, why don’t you take that chair to her left,” she gestured to my opposite side. “I just have to enter a bit of information here and then we’ll begin. The process is no different from a standard ultrasound, but you’ll see the image transmitted in 3D to the screen in front of you. Hopefully your baby will be in a good position so you can see the face. Do you know what you’re having?”

“A boy,” Max replied and the note of pride in his voice made my heart swell. “His name is Gabriel.”

“Congratulations! You two must be getting very excited,” Vanessa said, her fingers flying across the small keyboard.

“We are,” I agreed, glancing over at Max who gave me a wide grin and reached for my hand.

“And I see today is your birthday! What a fun way to celebrate!” She commented and I stiffened. I was hoping that little fact would be overlooked, but apparently I wasn’t so lucky.

“She’s impossible to buy for, so I thought this would be a good alternative,” Max spoke up and I squeezed his fingers in appreciation.

“Well, hopefully we can get you guys a few great images of Gabriel to take home with you today.”

She applied a liberal dollop of warmed gel to my belly and tracked the wand through it. “So first I’m just going to use a standard doppler to determine position,” she explained and the now-familiar profile of our son appeared on the screen in front of us in black and white.

“He’s gotten so big,” Max murmured in awe. The last time we’d seen him on ultrasound was during our 20-week anatomy scan when he was around the size of a bell pepper; at 36 weeks, he was almost fully developed. It was wild.

“Looks like he’s in a great position,” Vanessa said, making a few adjustments on her monitor before switching probes. “You guys ready?”

Max and I exchanged excited smiles and nodded enthusiastically.

“Oh my g…” I breathed, too awestruck to fully form words. There on the screen before us in absolutely exquisite detail was our son, our Gabriel.

“Lillabet,” Max whispered, enthralled.

A torrent of pure love slammed into me so hard that it almost hurt; the feeling radiating outwards from the center of my chest to the smallest capillaries in my fingers and toes. My heart thrummed against my ribcage and a sound I could only describe as incredulous joy escaped my throat.

Max smoothed my hair from my face and kissed my forehead reverently; his face damp with fresh tears.

Vanessa was narrating the scan, measuring the size of his head and the length of his tiny little fingers, but I barely heard her. I was too busy drinking in every intricate detail of his gorgeous face. Except for his ears which were definitely mine, it was like looking at a baby photo of Max; his chin and nose especially. I could see a bit of myself in the shape of his eyes and his cheekbones, but there was no question that he was a spitting image of his father.

“He looks just like you,” I murmured, my gaze still transfixed on Gabriel.

“No, he’s more beautiful than I ever was; it’s all the pieces of you that make him perfect, Lillabet,” he said, his voice low and earnest.

“I cannot believe that is how he looks, right now, inside of my body. I cannot believe that my body was capable of making something so incredible,” I said. Of course I fully understood the biological process, but logically comprehending the conception and development of human life did not make it seem like any less of a miracle.

“I can,” Max whispered into my ear. Any other time, such a sappy comment would’ve had me rolling my eyes in an instant, but all I could do was smile. In that moment, I was so overwhelmed with love for Max and the child we created together that nothing seemed too over-the-top.

Vanessa took several photos and also explained that we’d be able to take home a VHS of the 4D scan to show our family and to have as a keepsake.

“Well, everything looks great from my end. I’ll seen the 2D images to your doctor along with his current measurements; from what I can see he’s right on track,” she said, helping me wipe the gel from my bump. “Once you’re finished getting dressed, if you can take a seat back in the waiting room for a few minutes, I’ll put everything together for you guys to take home.”

I stopped off at the restroom while Max went to check us out and by the time I was finished, he had a small, blue bag in hand containing the tape and print outs from the scan. We thanked the staff once again and headed for the parking lot. Max walked with me to the passenger side to open my door, but before he could I wrapped my arms around his waist.

“I cannot even begin to tell you how special that was, Max,” I said, looking up at him. “I woke up this morning convinced that this was going to be a horrible day and you turned it into one of the best days I’ve ever had. I could not have asked for a better non-birthday gift.”

Max kissed me softly and gave me a lopsided grin. “I’m not going to lie, it was a little bit selfish on my part; it was all I could do not to drag you here the moment I found out this technology existed!”

I giggled and stood up on my tiptoes to kiss him. “I’d say this was one of those mutually beneficial situations,” I teased. “But really Max, thank you,” I said quietly.

“Anything to see you happy, Lillabet.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

We stopped for a quick lunch before heading back to Roswell, making it back into town just after 5. Turning onto Murray Lane, we had a clear view of the driveway and were both surprised to see an unfamiliar SUV parked next to the Jeep.

“Whose car is that?” I asked Max curiously.

“I have no idea,” he replied, pulling in behind it. It was a brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee with temporary tags on it. “Maybe Amy got a new car?” Max suggested.

“Maybe,” I replied, not convinced.

We made our way into the house, expecting to see company, but we only found Phil and Diane in the kitchen.

“Oh, hi kids! How was your day? How was the ultrasound?” Diane asked excitedly. I guess she’d been in on it, too!

“It was incredible!” I replied, beaming.

“We even have a video,” Max added, handing Diane the bag.

Diane clapped her hands together in delight. “I can’t wait to see it! Should we watch it now?”

“Why don’t we wait until after dinner, sweetheart?” Phillip suggested, chuckling at his wife’s mirth.

Max placated his mother with the strip of photos and both she and Phil marveled at just how much Gabriel looked like Max.

“I can’t believe that’s really my grand baby,” Diane said with a soft sniffle. Phil patted her shoulder, but I could see him holding back his own tears. “Isn’t he perfect, Phillip?”

“He is,” Phil agreed. “Absolutely perfect!”

Max took the prints back from his mother and placed them in the envelope. “Hey, whose car is out front?” He asked.

Phillip and Diane shared a glance before turning back to us. “Well, it’s your dad’s,” Diane said slowly, a small grin on her face.

“But what about the Durango?” Max asked, confused.

“Well, we know that you didn’t want to do anything to celebrate your birthday this year, Liz, and we fully understand that, but there really wasn’t a better time to do this,” Phillip said.

“You’ve both shown incredible maturity and responsibility over this past year and you’ve made a lot of sacrifices for your son. And Liz, you’ve done a tremendous job with the work we’ve given you for the firm. I know that you didn’t want us to pay you and that you wanted the money you would’ve earned to contribute towards Gabe’s expenses, so we took your request to heart. There was no way that we were going to let you drive our grandson home in that rickety old Jeep you kids insisted upon, so we decided that Phillip would upgrade his car a bit early and that we’d give you guys the Durango. This way you have a safe, reliable vehicle for your family,” Diane explained.

“I…I don’t even know what to say,” I said in complete shock. “This is way too generous, there is no way we can accept this!”

“Of course you can!” Phillip interjected. “Just think of it in terms of Gabriel; this gives you a safe, reliable way to get your son from point A to point B without having to worry about engine troubles or having to attach a roof in bad weather.”

“This is incredible, Dad. Thank you both so much,” Max said earnestly, hugging his parents in turn.

“We’re more than glad to be able to do it for you,” Diane said, squeezing his shoulders.

“Everything you’ve done for me, for us; I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you,” I said, hugging Diane and then Phillip.

“There’s no repayment necessary, Liz. We’re more than happy to do it for you. You two are extraordinary kids and you deserve all of the advantages we can possibly give you.” Phillip insisted earnestly.

“Besides, Michael has that godawful bike and now Isabel can have the Jeep all to herself, so everybody wins!” Diane added with a flourish.

“Except Izzy is going to be none too happy that she’s the one stuck with the Jeep,” Max replied, smirking.

“I think she’ll make an exception for Gabriel,” Diane countered and I nodded in agreement. Under any other circumstances, Max getting an upgraded vehicle instead of Isabel would’ve been the fuel to ignite World War III, but given the circumstances she’d likely be a bit more forgiving.

“Now we’ll just have to get the car seat installed and you’ll be all set to go!” Phillip said. “I remember when we brought you kids home; trying to get three carseats into a 1984 Plymouth Voyager was no easy feat,” he chuckled. “After that, putting in just one is going to be a breeze!”

It took a number of years and a significant amount of distance to truly appreciate just how supportive and instrumental the Evanses were in my journey. Not that I wasn’t grateful at that time; quite the opposite was true. The gratitude was so overwhelming I hardly had the ability to express it. But because of the type of people - the type of parents - Phillip and Diane were and still are today, it just seemed a reasonable extension of their nature. But examining that time in our life with 20 years of perspective, education, and experience has made me realize just how utterly remarkable their love and succor of us was throughout those years. And for it all, I have felt exceptionally fortunate despite the tremendous losses I have suffered. I’ve come to realize - unequivocally - we never would’ve survived what was to come without them by our side.
"It's like...chemical" ~ Liz Parker

keepsmiling7
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Re: Yellow (M/L ADULT): Ch. 17 8/30/20

Post by keepsmiling7 » Mon Aug 31, 2020 12:45 pm

Can't believe you made a four day turn around between Florida and New England.
I'd be in bed for a week after that!

Well, Max does seem to always find good in everything. But then Phillip and Diane have set an excellent
example.
Yes, these 17 year olds seems to have a different vocabulary than most.
3-D scan......certainly didn't have that back in my day. How special for Max and Liz.

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Re: Yellow (M/L ADULT): Ch. 18 9/10/20

Post by ChemChic » Thu Sep 10, 2020 9:30 pm

Hey guys! Figured I'd pop in quick and get this posted. I've been doing quite a bit of work on this recently, but I've been focusing on later chapters. I'm just about to hit 100K words and I'd venture to say that I'm only about a third of the way done with this story. These characters have given me so much to work with and so much to say, parts just keep coming!

After this chapter, I'd venture to say we're anywhere from 5-7 chapters away from the shit hitting the proverbial fan, so nothing horrible is happening in the very near future.

Also, this is our last chapter before we meet Gabriel! How exciting!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

After the last night we’d spent at my family’s apartment, Phillip made a few phone calls and hired a realty firm and by the time I was 39 weeks pregnant, we had an offer on the building.

“That was incredibly fast,” Isabel commented as we discussed the pending sale over dinner.

“Well, it was priced correctly and there are few commercial properties on the market in Roswell right now, especially not ones that are fully equipped,” Phillip said, passing the green bean casserole to Michael.

“Do you know what they plan to use it for?” Diane asked, spooning roasted potatoes onto her plate.

“A restaurant,” Phillip said. “But they agreed to the stipulations in the contract. Sounds like they’re interested in bring Indian food to Roswell.”

“That’ll be a nice change,” I said, pushing food around with my fork trying to feign interest in dinner. “Roswell could definitely use some multicultural cuisine!”

I felt Max’s hand squeeze my thigh and I glanced over at him with a small smile. The news of the offer had been surprising, I’d really expected it to sit on the market for awhile, so it was going to take some time to process.

“How was your doctor’s appointment today, Liz?” Diane asked.

“It was good!” I said, glad for a change of subject. “Gabriel is measuring right on target, Dr. Greenberg thinks he’ll be just over 7 pounds.”
“Wow, I can’t believe he could be here by next week!” Isabel said excitedly. “Are you dilated at all?”

I blushed, not keen to talk about my cervix and its present state at the dinner table, but I answered anyways, “I’m 1 centimeter and 70% effaced, so we’re getting there!”

Truth is, when my doctor told me that I had begun to dilate, I had a bit of an internal panic attack. It made Gabriel’s eminent arrival feel very, very real and suddenly the idea of going into labor and giving birth had me more than a little anxiety ridden.

“You’re a very petite woman, Liz,” she’d said, finishing my exam. “I wouldn’t have any problem with you going at any time. Your son is very robust and healthy and I don’t want you to have a difficult delivery and we’d like to avoid a C-section if at all possible. If you don’t go into labor naturally by your due date, I’d like to go ahead an induce you.”

I bit my lip and nodded, looking to Max in a bit of shock. “I’ve read that induced labor can be quite a bit more painful, is that true?”

“The contractions tend to be a lot stronger early on, yes,” Dr. Greenberg confirmed, offering me her hand to help me sit up. “But you’ll have the opportunity to get an epidural which will help combat the pain regardless of whether we jumpstart your labor or you begin naturally.”

“Is there anything we can be doing to help get things going?” Max asked, his concern etched on his face.

“Well, I just swept her membranes, which basically separates the amniotic sac from the cervix and will help with dilation and effacement. Other than that, there are a lot of old wives’ tales, some with more validity than others. There is nothing wrong with walking or light exercise and some women find that it helps more than others, but the jury is out on how much it will actually encourage labor, though it is very good for you to keep moving. Quite frankly, sex and nipple stimulation are your best bets if that is something you are both comfortable with. Sex and particularly orgasms release prostaglandins and the lipid is also present in semen. There is some controversy regarding how effective sex really is, but it is also an excellent way for the two of you to connect. Your pregnancy has been uncomplicated, so there is no medical reason to avoid intercourse and it is okay to engage in it even after you’ve lost your mucus plug, but if your water breaks all bets are off,” she said simply. “But that’s entirely up to you guys. Not all women are comfortable being intimate at this stage in pregnancy - or at any stage. There is no harm either way.”

Max and I exchanged an impish glance. “I think we can…manage…that,” I mumbled, my face burning with embarrassment.

Dr. Greenberg noticed my discomfort and smiled warmly. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of, Liz. Intimacy is one of the cornerstones of any healthy relationship. Embrace it.”

“Did your doctor say anything else, Liz?” Diane asked, bringing me back to the present.

I could feel Max’s hand tighten on my thigh and a blush creep up my neck, but I swallowed and shook my head. “Nope, not that I can recall. Max? Do you remember anything else?”

“Uh, no!” His voice broke and he cleared his throat. “Nope, that was about it!”

Michael eyed the two of us suspiciously and then grimaced but kept his mouth shut.

If the floor could’ve opened up and swallowed me whole, I would’ve welcomed it!

“Oh, well, I suppose that’s good, then,” Diane said, turning back to her dinner. “Don’t forget, kids, we’re leaving for Clovis after dinner tonight and we’ll be gone the next few days. Of course if anything happens Liz, we’ll come right home, but we’re hoping to get this case squared away before Gabriel arrives!”

“I appreciate that, thank you!” I said, smiling. “I think we’re in the clear, at least for a little while. But I promise we’ll call if anything changes.”

The rest of the meal continued without incident, but the conversation resumed while Max, Isabel, and Michael were cleaning the kitchen. I’d wanted to help, but Max insisted I stay in my seat, even trying to convince me to go sit in the living room but relented when I promised I wouldn’t move from the kitchen table.

“Maxwell. I have midterms next week. If you two keep me up because you’re going at it like rabbits, so help me god…” Michael griped, furiously drying the pan in his hand.

“Oh, give Max a break, Michael. We’re all going to be kept up by another screaming Evans soon enough! May as well let him enjoy it while he can!” Isabel interjected with a smirk.

“What Liz and I do in the privacy of our own bedroom is none of your business!” Max insisted. I could see his ears turning red.

“You make it our business when I can hear it over Metallica! At least Maria and I have the decency to make sure the house is empty!” Michael shot back.

“These are extenuating circumstances!” I called, pointing at my belly when Michael turned around to look at me. “Doctor’s orders!” I grinned and Michael groaned.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It just so happened that Gabriel’s orders that night were for ice cream. And I didn’t want the ice cream that we had in the freezer, or the ice cream that we could get from We Cone In Peace. No, I wanted Alvero’s on Main in Artesia…40 miles away. They had this fantastic Fireball ice cream that was all kinds of spicy and the idea of that and a scoop of strawberry had me beelining for the Durango.

“Lillabet, are you sure there isn’t anywhere in town that can make this…concoction for you? I don’t know if being 40 miles away from the hospital is a great idea,” Max hedged once he slid into the driver’s seat.

“Max, the baby isn’t coming tonight. I’m not having contractions, I’m barely dilated, and damnit, I want Alvero’s!” I insisted resolutely.

Max sighed and shook his head. “If you go into labor while we’re an hour away…” He began, but I cut him off.

“Oh, for god’s sake, just drive the damn car!”

He - very wisely - shut his mouth and then nodded. “Yes ma’am!”

I settled back into my seat with a contented grin.

Sometimes being the pregnant lady has its perks!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I was a whole lot more recalcitrant an hour and a half later when I was revisited by that ill-advised concoction in full force.

“I think that’s the last of it,” I groaned weakly, still hugging the toilet. Max had already tied my hair back and was pressing a cold compress to my forehead.

“I think that scoop of cotton candy on top of the Fireball and strawberry might’ve been your undoing,” Max said gently.

I groaned, dry heaving one more time before collapsing back against the bathtub. “It sounded really good at the time and it tasted really good going down. Coming back up? Not so much!”

Max chuckled and sat back next to me. I dropped my head onto his shoulder and moaned pathetically before letting out a quiet belch. “Gross. The acid reflux isn’t helping, either! Why did you let me do that?”

I could practically hear him roll his eyes. “I solemnly swear to do a better job keeping you from your cravings next time,” he vowed and I batted at his chest.

“You’re making fun of me!” I whined. “I’m about to have your baby and you’re making fun of me!” I sounded like a petulant 2 year old.
“Oh, Lillabet,” Max laughed, kissing the top of my head.

It took a few more minutes, but he eventually convinced me that getting in bed would be a good idea and after brushing my teeth and splashing some cold water on my face, I trod behind him and crawled in.

Max helped me configure the mound of pillows it took for me to find a comfortable sleeping position; tucking one between my knees, another behind my back, and a third under my belly before kissing me chastely and turning out the light.

“Love you,” I murmured sleepily, settling into my little nest.

“I love you both,” Max replied, resting his hand on my stomach. I heard his breathing even out almost immediately.

“…Max?” I hedged. Nothing. “Max?” I tried again a bit louder and with a small shake to his shoulder.

“What?” He shot up, alarmed.

“I want a brownie.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I awoke the next morning bright eyed and bushy tailed…and breathing better than I had in months. Gabriel had dropped.

I’d kept Max up for the better part of the night between weird food cravings and several bathroom trips, so I left him sleeping while I headed into the kitchen to make breakfast. Overnight, my walk had become a waddle as I felt like I had a bowling ball sitting in my pelvis. My hips ached, but I felt surprisingly energized and chipper, like I could take on the world.

It was a gloriously sunny day and the high was supposed to be in the upper 70s, so I was contemplating an outdoor activity when I was surprised by Maria walking into the kitchen.

“I didn’t know you’d stayed last night,” I said, pleased to see her.

“Michael called me at like 10 asking me to come over, something about wanting a distraction from listening to you and Max all night?” Maria said with a yawn. “But all I heard was you going back and forth to the bathroom about a million times, I don’t know what had his panties all in a wad about!”

I laughed, shaking my head. “The doctor told us that sex would bring on labor. Michael was grumpy that he was going to have to listen to us going at it for the next however many days, so I’m guessing his plan was to give us a taste of our own medicine while Phil and Diane are out of town!”

“Are you freaking kidding me?” Maria seethed. “I didn’t even get laid last night! We were up for like an hour but after awhile he just grumbled something about how this would be the one night you guys would keep it in your pants and then he turned over and went to sleep! I had to listen to him snore like a buzzsaw with nary an orgasm to knock me out!”

“I’m sorry, Maria!” I gasped between giggles. Typical Michael. “If it makes you feel any better, I totally intend to take my doctor’s advice later on tonight?”

“No! No way, nuh uh, if Michael thinks I’m going to have revenge sex with him he is dead wrong! I have a perfectly good vibrator that has been sorely neglected, I will happily go home to that tonight and Michael can turn up his Metallica and get reacquainted with his right hand!”

“You know, I really don’t need to think about what my brother does or does not do with his right hand,” Isabel groaned, joining us.

“And I am pleased to say that mine has happily been out of commission for quite some time!” Alex added, coming up behind Isabel and kissing her on the cheek.

Gross!

“And when did you get here?” I asked, perplexed.

“I think you and Max were on your way to Artesia,” Alex said, resting his chin on Izzy’s shoulder.

“I didn’t see your car when we got back?”

“I picked him up, the Rabbit’s in the shop,” Isabel explained.

“Oh look, it’s the breakfast club,” Michael deadpanned, trundling into the kitchen with a sour expression. He leaned in to kiss Maria and she put her hand in his face to stop him.

“Oh no you don’t, Evans!” She announced, pushing him away. “You dragged my ass all the way over here to use me as a prop to get back at your brother and you end up falling asleep before I can reap any benefits from this interaction? I don’t think so, buddy. You’re in deep shit!”

Michael stared at her for a second before trying to defend himself. “Hey! I was tired!”

“No, you were pissed off that you didn’t get the opportunity to harass your brother and his very pregnant fiancée so you pouted like a toddler and went to sleep! And left me unsatisfied and stuck listening to you snore the house down the rest of the night!” Maria bit back.

I watched my friends bicker back and forth with a grin. This felt normal. This felt like 10 months ago, like one year ago, like the way things always were.

“Why are they yelling?” Max’s groggy voice was in my ear and I turned around in my seat to greet him.

“Oh, well, Michael invited Maria over last night so they could have loud sex and annoy us when we got too boisterous. But apparently my misadventure with Alvero’s ruined his plans, so instead of doing it anyways, Michael got grumpy and went to sleep,” I explained with a smirk.

“Yikes,” Max said, shaking his head.

“I was tired!” Michael argued grouchily.

“Dude, you’re so not helping yourself,” Alex said and we all nodded in agreement.

“Fine, whatever. I want breakfast. What are we eating?”

Isabel and Michael rummaged through the kitchen for a few minutes and came up empty, so we decided to head out to the Cowboy Café, a quirky western-themed diner that was once one of the Crash Down’s greatest competitors. It was a friendly rivalry, however, and my parents had been close with the Sanchez family who owned it.

I stood up from my seat at the counter and Max’s eyes went wide. “Um, Liz?” He said, his gaze fixed on my belly.

“He dropped last night,” I grinned, rubbing my bump.

“You don’t say?” Max quipped, his hand joining mine.

“Won’t be long now, Daddy,” I said quietly. As if on cue, my stomach tightened in response. Before Max could open his mouth I said, “still Braxton-Hicks, I promise!”

“Maybe we should bring your hospital bag to breakfast,” Max suggested.

“I’ll be fine, Max. I swear. Now come help me get dressed, I want to make sure I have on matching shoes!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was an absolutely beautiful Saturday, sunny and warm with a light breeze so we decided to head over to Mirror Lake for a few hours after breakfast. It was late enough in the season that there were few tourists and we had the shoreline to ourselves. Michael and Alex were across the lake, jumping off of one of the limestone ridges that encased that side of the water and I’d encouraged Max to go with them, but he insisted on staying close.

“Still feeling okay?” Max asked as we watched our friends splash around.

Truth was, I’d been having small, irregular twinges all morning, but there was no pattern and the pain wasn’t intensifying. I knew that was to be expected, but if I said anything to Max it would send him into a tailspin. We needed this time with our friends, to get to be just us for a little while longer. I wasn’t going to ruin that.

“I’m good, Max. I’m really happy to be here with everyone. It feels…spectacularly normal.” I smiled at him and squeezed his knee. “I’d only be better if you’d get out there and enjoy yourself!”

“I am enjoying myself! I’m doing my favorite thing in the whole world,” he grinned.

“Oh yeah? And what might that be?” I asked teasingly.

“I’m sitting here talking to you!”

“Really? That’s your favorite thing in the entire world? There is absolutely nothing else that we do together that you like better? Not one single, little thing?” I asked coyly, running my hand slowly up his thigh before just barely brushing his groin with the back of my hand. He jumped.

“Okay, so maybe it’s tied for first…” He chuckled, eyeing me admonishingly.

“Well maybe later we can see if we can give it a little lead,” I said seductively, suddenly wishing that we were by ourselves.

“You are such a little minx!” Max said and then he groaned as I nipped at his earlobe.

“Go hang out with our friends, Max. I promise I’ll make it worth your while when we get home,” I whispered, my lips brushing against his ear.

“You sure we can’t just leave now?” Max murmured, nuzzling my neck.

“Go!” I insisted, giving him a playful push. “Besides, I’m totally here for the show!”

“You are incorrigible!” He groaned, giving me a quick kiss before stripping off his t-shirt and heading for the water.

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was a little after 3 when we got back to the house, relaxed, happy, and slightly sunburnt.

I was starting to get a bit more uncomfortable, but I attributed it more to the pressure on my pelvis and lower back than anything else. There was still no regularity to the contractions, but I knew that I was going to have to say something to Max sooner rather than later because the man could read me like an open book. He’d started watching me more carefully when we were packing up at the lake and he hadn’t taken his eyes off me since.

“Liz, why don’t you go lie down? I’m going to take a quick shower and then I’ll join you,” he suggested as we walked into the kitchen.
Even though I was having some pain, I was still feeling remarkably energized and not particularly interested in taking a nap, but I knew that arguing with him would be futile and it would only make him worry more.

“Only if you promise not to put anything back on after that shower,” I replied, biting my lip.

“And on that note, we’re going to find something to do outside of the house!” Isabel announced, shaking her head. I hadn’t realized she was close enough to hear me. Oops!

I laughed and we headed for our bedroom as our friends made plans to give us the afternoon to ourselves.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“You really should be resting,” Max argued without much conviction as my lips trailed across his jaw and down his neck while I massaged his erection to life; though admittedly it didn’t need much help!

“But I’m not tired Max,” I replied, teasing his nipple with my tongue before working my way back up to his mouth. “I am however really, really horny,” I mumbled against his lips before kissing him hard.

I straddled him without preamble, and sank down onto his length and we both moaned as he filled me. Finally!

I rocked against him gently, my heavily gravid body felt awkward and alien, but seeing the way Max looked at me, feeling his hands all over me, feeling his arousal inside of me, I couldn’t help but to feel beautiful.

He rose up and took one breast in his mouth, his teeth grazing my sensitive nipple as he massaged the other, stimulating my flesh reverently. I buried my fingers in his hair, holding him hard against me in ecstasy. The things that man could do to my body! I don’t know if it was the hormones or the shift in Gabriel’s position sending blood to vital organs, but my mouth fell open in a silent scream as I orgasmed long and deep and without warning.

“Liz!” Max gasped, his hands roaming everywhere like he couldn’t touch me enough or get close enough.

“Don’t stop, Max!” I rasped, leaning back to brace myself on his thighs, my hips undulating in slow circles.

His slid his hand from my belly to the juncture of our bodies, teasing my clit with quick, deliberate strokes.

“Fuck!” I cried, the stimulation almost overwhelming. “Don’t stop, don’t you dare stop!”

“I want to feel you come again,” Max demanded, his free hand massaging my engorged breast as his erection thrust tantalizingly against my g-spot.

I shuddered from the myriad of sensations; his hands on my overheated flesh, his manhood buried deep inside of me, and his fingers dancing across my clitoris causing shockwaves of pleasure to radiate from my core. And there was something else underneath it all; a tightening, an ache that was becoming more persistent. But I closed my eyes and I focused solely on the pleasure. Mine, his, ours together. And then I let go.

“Max!” I moaned, my nails digging hard into the muscles of his thigh.

“Christ! Liz!” Max growled as he exploded, holding me hard against him as he cried out in euphoria.

I stilled over him, panting and satisfied.

“Jesus, Lillabet,” Max groaned, collapsing bonelessly beneath me.

I grinned like the Cheshire Cat and was about to say something coy when a contraction very different from any other I’d experienced took my breath away.

“Liz?” Max asked, suddenly alert.

I rubbed my back with one hand and signaled for him to give me a moment with the other, taking slow, deep breaths as the pain finally subsided.

“Braxton-Hicks?” He ventured, but I could hear the uncertainty in his voice.

I shook my head. “I think that might’ve been the real deal,” I said quietly.

Max went utterly still, his eyes wide. “Are you serious?” He croaked and I couldn’t help but laugh at his expression.

I eased off of him and onto my side of the bed. “I am,” I replied. I could see him getting ready to leap into action, so I quickly added, “but I don’t think anything exciting is going to happen for awhile, so I need you not to go into a blind panic just yet, okay?”

He swallowed hard, still looking like a deer in headlights. “Okay,” he agreed shakily. “So what do we do now?”

“Well, right this second, I am going to go take a long, hot shower all by myself because it may be the last time I get to do that for awhile and you are going to do everything in your power to relax. I can only keep it together if you do,” I said, holding his gaze. “Okay?”

He nodded. “Yeah, okay, I can do that. I think I can do that.”

“Good!” I said brightly. I leaned down to kiss him soundly on the mouth and then shimmied off the bed. “And let’s not panic everyone else yet, either. I don’t think I can deal with Maria freaking out from now until he’s born. I think we should probably call your parents and just give them a heads up, but other than that I’d keep it quiet for the moment.”

“I think that’s very wise,” Max agreed.

I started to shut the bathroom door behind me when he called me back. “Hey, Lillabet?”

“Hmm?” I replied, turning around.

“I love you.”

I smiled. “I love you too, Max.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
"It's like...chemical" ~ Liz Parker

keepsmiling7
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Re: Yellow (M/L ADULT): Ch. 18 9/10/20

Post by keepsmiling7 » Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:03 pm

Thanks for the early warning of trouble ahead.

But right now things couldn't be better. Loved Max and Liz dodging the sex discussion from Diane and Phillip. But my favorite was Phillip passing the green bean casserole to Micheal. That's one of the things I'll never forget.
Liz's food cravings are to be questioned.
Can't wait for Gabe to arrive!

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ChemChic
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Re: Yellow (M/L ADULT): Ch. 19 9/17/20

Post by ChemChic » Thu Sep 17, 2020 6:57 am

Well, here it is! It's by far the longest chapter, but I promised we'd meet Gabriel so here we are!

I've worked very hard to achieve authenticity in this story - from researching dates and locations and area-specific things as well as bringing as much cannon into an A/U story as possible. This chapter is no exception. I have never had my own children, so I did quite a bit of research and "interviewed" a few friends who have, so I hope that I've done the process justice!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I’d made a mental note of the time of that first contraction and I only had one other while I was in the shower, lasting a bit less than thirty seconds.

I luxuriated in the hot water, taking the time to wash and condition my hair and shave as much of myself as my belly would allow. I ran my soapy hands lovingly over my bump, a mixture of emotions swirling through my head as I contemplated what the next day or so would bring. I was certainly ready to no longer be pregnant and desperately eager to meet my son, but there was a part of me that realized how much I was going to miss having him inside of my body and so close to my heart. I felt like I could protect him so completely, nestled beneath my ribcage. There, the world couldn’t touch him and I could keep him safe.

“There are so many people that are so eager to meet you, Bug,” I murmured, staring down at my swell. “But no one in this world wants to meet you more than me and your Daddy.”

I took the time to blow dry my hair, lotion my skin, and even put on a touch of makeup. It would be a long while before self-care would come first again.

Another contraction set in as I stepped out of the bathroom and I leaned against the door jamb and breathed slowly until it passed.

“15 minutes apart,” I said to Max who was perched on the edge of the bed, watching me intently. He’d procured a notebook while I was in the shower and I watched him jot down the time.

“How long are they lasting?” He asked.

“About 30 seconds,” I replied, rummaging through the dresser for an old pair of sweats and a t-shirt.

Once I was dressed, I sat down beside Max on the bed and took his hand in mine.

“How are you feeling?” He asked quietly.

“Honestly? Terrified. And desperately glad I don’t have to do this alone,” I said, resting my head on his shoulder.

He pressed his lips to my hair.

“But I’m so excited to meet him, Max,” I added, stroking my bump. “By this time next week, we’re going to be seasoned pros at this parenting thing!” I joked and he chuckled in response.

“Or at least not completely floundering!” He quipped and I nodded in agreement. “So what do you want to do now?”

“Well, we’re not supposed to even call the hospital until the contractions are 5 minutes apart and lasting more than 45 seconds, so we’ve got awhile yet to go. Why don’t we go watch a movie or something?” I suggested, trying to think of things that would keep my mind occupied.

“You’re the boss!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

We decided on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off - easily one of our favorite movies of all time - figuring it would be a good distraction. My contractions stayed consistently 15 minutes apart, but by the time the movie was over there was a definite change in intensity. What began in my back and moved into a dull ache low in my belly was now deep and persistent in my pelvis as well.

Sitting still was getting desperately uncomfortable, so I asked Max to take a walk with me around the block. We were a little more than a week from Halloween and a number of the houses on Murray Lane were decorated for the occasion.

“I can’t wait until next year when we can take Gabe trick-or-treating,” Max said as we passed by a house that was particularly festive.

“We should come up with a family costume!” I suggested excitedly. “We could do something Disney themed, like Aladdin, Jasmine, and Abu!”

“Or we could do something punny like ‘Ice, Ice, Baby’!” Max replied and my eyes lit up.

“Oh my god, that would be hysterical!” I laughed, imagining Max and I dressed up like convenient store bags of ice. “But only if we can dress Gabe up like Vanilla Ice himself!”

“Do you think I’d have it any other way?” Max said, waggling his eyebrows.

“Oh man, now I really can’t wait until next…” I was cut off mid sentence by a particularly strong contraction. I turned and braced myself against Max, doing my best to take slow, deep breaths but all I wanted to do was freeze against the pain.

“You’ve got this, Lillabet,” Max murmured into my ear, his hands on my hips as he slowly rocked us back and forth, his fingers massaging my iliac crest.

I sighed as the pain finally subsided, sinking into him for a moment, drained.

“Gone?” He asked, brushing my hair from my face.

I nodded. “Yeah. That was a bad one,” I replied, still catching my breath.

“You’re doing incredible, Liz,” he said quietly before kissing my lips.

“That was less than 15 minutes,” I said as we began to walk again.

Max glanced down at his watch. “Eleven. And it lasted for 40 seconds.”

“We’re getting somewhere!” I said, trying to look on the bright side. “But I think I’m ready to head home.”

“Of course,” Max agreed and we made our way back towards the house.

“Everyone’s here,” I commented as we approached the driveway. The Jeep was blocked in by Maria’s Jetta and Phillip’s new SUV was parked next to the Durango. Apparently he and Diane decided to head back early from Clovis.

“What do you want to tell them?” He asked, pausing on the sidewalk.

“I need this to be just you and me, Max,” I said. “I need this to just be about us. The three of us. Maybe that’s selfish, but it’s the only way I think I can handle this right now.”

“It’s not selfish, Liz. This is about you and what you need and no one else. Why don’t we go inside and you can head straight for our room and I’ll hang back and talk to everyone. They love you, they will understand. I promise,” Max said soothingly.

I nodded. “Okay. Thank you, Max.”

“Anything for you, Lillabet.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As luck would have it, the kitchen was mercifully empty when we walked in. I made my way towards our bedroom while Max went to find everyone.

I closed the door quietly behind myself and stared at the bed for a minute, contemplating whether or not I wanted to lie down. I was hoping to get at least a few hours of sleep later in the evening, so I decided that it was still too early. I knew some laboring women found relief in hot water, so even though I’d taken a shower several hours before, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to run a bath.

As I let the tub fill, I unpacked a few of the candles I’d brought back from my balcony and set them out around the bathroom. I leaned against the counter, swaying my hips as I waited for another contraction to pass, a low moan escaping my lips as it peaked.

“Liz?” Max called from the bedroom.

“In here,” I replied, letting out a long breath.

“You okay?” He asked, his hands immediately going to my lower back to massage my sacrum.

I moaned again, this time out of pleasure. “Better now. I thought I’d sit in the tub for a bit. Is everyone freaking out? Are they mad that I wanted to be left alone?”

“Mad? Absolutely not. Freaking out? Maybe a little,” Max teased and I smiled. “Everyone is going to stay here tonight and they’ll follow us to the hospital when you’re ready, but they totally understood you wanting it to be just us right now. I don’t know how much sleep anyone is going to get though, they’re all pretty excited!”

I nodded gratefully. I was incredibly appreciative of their support and it meant the world to me that they all wanted to stay nearby, but I was even more thankful that they understood how much I needed Max and only Max through this process.

“Can I do anything to help?”

I began to shake my head, but an idea came to me instead. “Actually, would you mind brining in the CD player? I think some music would be nice.”

“Absolutely. Anything in particular?”

“Sigur Rós,” I said definitively. I couldn’t think of anything that would be more soothing.

“Do you want help getting in the tub first?” Max offered.

“Probably!” I laughed sheepishly. As pregnant as I was, Grace was certainly not my middle name!

I stepped in and held onto his hands as I slowly lowered myself into the water, the heat immediately relaxing my muscles.

“Better?” Max asked as I settled in.

“You have no idea,” I sighed, leaning my head back against the wall.

He leaned down and kissed my forehead. “Give me two minutes.”

He returned with his portable CD player, an armful of towels, my robe, and a large bottle of water.

I raised an amused eyebrow at him.

“You need to stay hydrated!” He said, handing me the water bottle. “And I didn’t want you to be cold when you got out,” he shrugged.

“Have I told you lately how much I love you?” I asked.

He grinned at me over his shoulder as he finished setting up the CD player and moments later Svefn-G-Englar came floating quietly out of the speakers. He stacked the towels and robe on the lid of the toilet and came to sit down next to me.

“Still eleven minutes apart?” He asked.

“Yeah, though the last one was longer. Maybe 50 seconds,” I said, trying to focus on releasing the tension from every cell in my body.

I imagined my body softening and opening, every muscle, tendon, and ligament relaxed and pliable. It was an exercise I’d learned in our birthing class and I was surprised by just how helpful I found it.

As I felt another contraction building, I reached out for Max’s hand and he slid his fingers between mine without saying a word. I focused on the sound of his breath, matching mine to his as it kept me from holding it. The contraction felt different in the water; no less intense, but definitely less painful.

I stayed submerged in the tub for several hours, Max periodically adding hot water as the temperature dropped. I needed a distraction between contractions, so I asked Max to talk to me. I didn’t particularly care if he started reading the ingredients off the back of a shampoo bottle, I just wanted something to occupy my mind.

“How about I tell something I’ve never told you before instead?” He offered when I said as much.

I turned to look at him, mildly surprised. Our lives were so intertwined that I had trouble fathoming that there were any secrets left between us. I nodded with eager curiosity.

“It was last year right around this time, I remember because the Crash Down was decorated for Halloween. You were working and I was hanging out with Alex in our regular booth suffering through a problem set for AP physics, both of us wishing you would go on break so you could help us.”

I laughed. “You know, for a computer genius and a guy who can do discrete math in his sleep, the two of you had a bear of a time with that class!”

“I can’t speak for Alex, but I like math for math’s sake. Applied math? Not so much!” Max replied, shaking his head. “But anyways, I was spending a whole lot more time watching you than I was paying attention to my homework. You were serving a particularly frazzled looking woman with a very fussy baby who looked to be 8 or 9 months old. You’d gone over to see if she needed anything and just as you approached, the baby reached out and knocked over her soda, absolutely soaking her. I was positive the poor woman was going to burst into tears, but you jumped right in, helping her mop up the mess and insisting that she go to the bathroom to clean up while you watched the baby.

“She must’ve asked you to hold him because you scooped him out of the high chair and propped him up on your hip, making funny faces and chatting away to him while you waited for his mother to return. And as his mother walked into the bathroom, your mother came out from the break room and stopped at our table to say hello. She noticed you with the baby and me watching you.

“And your mom said, ‘for someone who grew up as an only child, she sure does have a natural maternal instinct. I think if you two decide to have children someday, she is going to be the most incredible mother.’ She patted me on the shoulder and then continued about whatever it was she was going to do. And I remember thinking the exact same thing. You looked so comfortable and happy holding that baby and I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like to see you with our own child one day.

“I know your mom isn’t here today to tell you that you are going to do an amazing job and that you are going to be the most wonderful mother Gabriel could ever ask for, but she saw it in you. She always saw it in you. And so do I,” he murmured, his voice cracking with emotion.

“Oh, Max,” I whispered through quiet tears. I’d never even considered the possibility that my mother had contemplated my potential future as a parent. That she’d ever observed those qualities in me, that she saw me as someone capable of doing for my own child what she did for me was astounding.

Max gently ran his thumb under my eyes. “I didn’t tell you at the time because I thought it might embarrass you; you always hated it when your parents were sappy!” He teased and I laughed softly. “But I’m really glad that it happened so that I could tell you now.”

“Me too,” I agreed. I needed to hear that more than I even realized in that moment and it was something from which I drew strength many times in the years to come.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

By the time I wanted to get out of the tub, my contractions were hovering around eight minutes apart and still lasting 45 to 50 seconds.

I spent the next few hours doing my best to keep my mind occupied. I read between contractions and when I couldn’t focus on the text any longer, Max read to me. I tried all sorts of positions, trying to find anything that would bring a modicum of relief, but it was always fleeting. Max even managed to talk me into eating some soup and crackers. I wasn’t particularly hungry, but I felt significantly better after I ate something.

I knew that it was called labor for a reason, but I was still surprised by how exhausted I was. While I was hoping to be able to get some rest, I didn’t really think that it would be a possibility with my contractions coming with relative frequency. But by 10:00 pm, all I wanted to do was sleep.

“The next time we go to sleep in this bed, Gabriel will be in that bassinet,” I said gesturing towards the beautiful, deep blue Moses basket standing like a sentinel in the corner, waiting for its charge to arrive.
“It’s so crazy,” Max said, tucking a pillow under my hips as I situated another between my knees. “Comfortable?” He asked.

“As comfortable as I’m going to get, I think,” I sighed.

“Will you be okay for a few minutes if I just let everyone know how you’re doing and that we’re going to bed?”

“Absolutely,” I replied, yawning.

Max kissed my cheek. “Get some rest, Lillabet.”

I was drifting off before he even closed the door.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was shortly after 4 am when I woke up to pain infinitely more focused and persistent than anything I’d previously experience. I’d managed to rest for most of the night, but not truly sleep, though I must have passed out at some point. I was covered in a cold sweat and could see my belly shrinking and tightening with the contraction, my body trembling with the exertion.

I tried to breathe as quietly as possible, wanting to wait and see if this was an anomaly or worth waking Max over, but the second I shifted to sit up, he was awake.

“Liz?” He asked, concerned. He sat up beside me, rubbing my back in slow, soothing circles.

I moaned in response, the sound low and primal and entirely out of my control.

“You’re doing great, Lillabet,” Max murmured in my ear. “You are so incredibly strong. I love you so, so much.”

I slumped against him with a quiet sob as the contraction finally abated, not entirely willing to admit that this was the real deal. Max wrapped his arms around me and kissed my hair.

“I don’t know if I can do this, Max,” I whimpered, feeling suddenly and completely overwhelmed. I was 17 years old for christ’s sake! How was I supposed to not only give birth to an entirely new human being, but then be a parent - a good parent? What possessed me to think I could do this?

“Liz Parker, you are the strongest, most resilient person I’ve ever known. I cannot begin to fathom how difficult and scary this is for you, but I need you to hear me when I say that you are beyond capable. You’ve trusted your body to carry and nourish and nurture our son for the last nine months, you need to trust that it can do the work to bring him into the world. I do. I trust in it implicitly. And more than that, I believe in you. And I’m not going to let you do this alone; not labor, not birth, and not parenting. I’m with you every step of the way, Liz.” His words held such deep conviction that I couldn’t find room for argument. Intellectually, I knew that all of this was true, but I was admittedly having trouble connecting with my rational mind.

“I love you, Max,” I whispered into the hollow of his neck.

He held me through another freight train of a contraction just a few moments later. “That’s less than 5 minutes, Lillabet,” he said gently.

I nodded and sighed. “I think we should probably call the hospital.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max offered to phone labor and delivery while I got myself together. There was a significant amount of pressure in my pelvis when I stood, almost as though I needed to go to the bathroom, so I figured I’d do so before we got in the car. I could hear Max relaying information to someone on the other end of the line, and he’d just begun to answer that my waters had yet to break when I felt a ‘pop’ and an unexpected rush of fluid along with another contraction.

“Uh, Max? Tell them that my water just broke,” I called shakily.

Max’s head appeared around the corner of the door. “It did?” His wide eyes met mine and we stared at each other for a moment. It was as though up until that point there was a possibility that this entire process could somehow just stop and Gabriel’s birth would no longer be eminent. But as soon as my membranes ruptured, I knew there was no going back.

“Actually, her waters just broke,” he said into the phone, about a thousand times more composed than I felt. “Okay, we should be there in 15 minutes,” he added after a beat and then hung up.

I cleaned myself up the best that I could and Max grabbed a few towels for the car.

“I need to let my parents know that we’re going,” he said, slinging my hospital bag over his shoulder.

I paused at the door and looked up at him. “We’re really doing this?”

“We really are,” he replied, kissing me gently. “Let’s go meet our son!”

Max stopped at Phillip and Diane’s door, knocking quietly.

“Mom? Dad?” He called, cracking it open a few inches. I could hear rustling and murmured voices and then the door flung open wide.

“Is it time?” Diane asked excitedly, tying her bathrobe. “Liz, sweetheart, how are you feeling?”

“Should we start getting dressed?” Phil asked. I could see him already rummaging through his wardrobe.

“We’re going to head in,” I said calmly. “I’m doing okay, but my contractions are less than 5 minutes apart and my water just broke, so we’re pretty sure this is it.”

Diane’s eyes lit up and she clapped her hands excitedly. “Okay! We’ll get dressed and meet you guys there!”

“Mom, don’t rush. It’s going to be awhile yet. We still have to get checked in, Liz needs to be triaged, assigned a room, and I’m sure there will be about a million pages of paperwork. Why don’t you guys try to get a little more sleep and then come in at a reasonable hour?” Max suggested.

“Son, we couldn’t go back to sleep if you paid us!” Phillip said, beaming. “You two go, we’ll let the other kids know and we’ll be right behind you.”

“Oh, Liz!” Diane said, enveloping me in a hug. “I am so excited for you and so, so proud. I cannot wait to meet him!”

“Me too,” I said, hugging her back. As soon as she released me, she wrapped her arms around Max and kissed his cheek. “And I’m so proud of you as well, Max.”

“Thanks, Mom,” he mumbled and I could see his cheeks reddening.

“Okay, honey, let them go before our grandson is born here in this house!” Phillip teased her. “We love you both, we’ll see you in a little while,” he added, resting his hands on his wife’s shoulders.

“We love you too, Dad,” Max replied and then turned to me. “Ready?”

“As I’ll ever be!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

There was a kindly, older nurse and an attractive red-headed woman in a short white coat waiting for us when we arrived.

The nurse showed us into a small triage room equipped with a gurney and a fetal heart rate monitor. She handed me a hospital gown and some no-slip socks and asked me to get changed and let them know when I was ready.

I stripped out of my sweats and Max helped me to tie the Johnny before kneeling down to swap my Adidas slides for the hospital-issued footwear.

A soft knock sounded before the door opened to reveal the young woman followed by the nurse.

“Hi Elizabeth, I’m Seurena Becker,” she introduced herself with a bright smile. “I’m the medical student assigned to your case. Luckily, Dr. Greenberg is the OB on call, so she should be here shortly, but she’s asked me to examine you and get you settled into your room for her. And this is Nurse Susan, she’s going to be your nurse until change of shift at 7.”

“It’s nice to meet you both,” I said, grimacing as Max helped me up onto the gurney. “I go by Liz. And this is Max.”

“Well, it’s very nice to meet you guys. Sounds like we’re going to be having a baby today!” She said as she donned a pair of gloves. “Susan is going to hook you up to the fetal heart monitor as well as a second device that monitors your contractions so we can get an idea of how your little one is handling labor and how your contractions are progressing. And if it’s okay with you, I’m going to do a brief pelvic exam to check your dilation and your baby’s position.”

I nodded in agreement and Susan draped a sheet over my legs before lifting my gown to expose my belly.

“Just a bit of gel,” she said, squirting the warmed liquid on my bump. She placed a flat disc over the gel and moved the probe around for a few seconds before the sound of Gabriel’s heartbeat came through loud and clear. She then placed a second disc above it.

“I’m going to slide two bands underneath you so we can strap these into place,” she explained. Max gave me his hand and helped me to sit up a bit and she got the monitors situated quickly.

As I laid back down, another contraction began to build and I held onto Max hard, moaning.

“Look at me, Lillabet,” Max whispered, pressing his forehead to mine, his free hand cradling the back of my neck. I pried my eyes open, my vision swimming from the tears that threatened to spill over, but I locked onto his gaze. “Breathe, baby. Breathe. That’s it. You’ve got this, Liz. You’re doing an amazing job.”

I focused on the sound of his voice and my breath in my lungs until the pain finally subsided and I slumped back on the gurney once more. Max brushed an errant strand of hair away from my face and kissed my forehead.

“Well, you are certainly having some good contractions,” Seurena commented, watching the digital output to my right. “And it looks like you have a great birthing partner,” she added, smiling.

I squeezed Max’s hand. “I’m very, very lucky,” I agreed.

“Alright, while you’re between contractions, let me take a quick peek at you,” she said. She lifted my legs into stirrups and helped me to slide down to the edge of the bed. Her exam was brief but uncomfortable and I was glad that it was over quickly.

“Well, it looks like you’re at 7 centimeters and your baby is head down and fully engaged. Your membranes are completely ruptured and your contractions are productive, so I think we’ll be able to avoid having to use any Pitocin unless your labor stalls. I will have Susan place and IV; Dr. Greenberg does like to put her patients on supportive fluids during labor to help you stay hydrated and that way we have a line in case we need it. Is that okay with you?” She asked, depositing her used gloves in a biohazard bin.

“That’s fine, whatever you guys need to do,” I said. I’d never had an IV before, so I was nervous about the prospect, but I knew that it was for the best.

“Okay, great! And what about pain management? Did you and Dr. Greenberg discuss if you’d like to have an epidural?” She asked, making a few notes in my electronic chart.

“Yes, definitely yes,” I said quickly. If the past 14 or so hours were supposed to be easy compared to what was to come, I didn’t want any part of that unmedicated!

“Epidural it is, then! We’ll have anesthesia paged and they’ll come see you once we get you settled into a room. Now are you planning on having anyone besides Max in the room with you? Maybe your mom?” Seurena asked, glancing from the computer screen to me.

I felt a lump form in my throat and tried to swallow it down to answer. “My mom…” I began shakily, but Max stepped in.

“We just want it to be us. There are going to be a bunch of people in the waiting room, though.”

“That’s fine! Do you want any visitors after you have your epidural or do you want to wait until he’s born?”

I looked up at Max. I wasn’t sure what I wanted at that point because the only person other than him I truly wanted wasn’t going to be there.

Seurena noticed my hesitation and added, “you don’t have to make any decisions now, you just let us know what you’re comfortable with and that’s what we’ll do. We just like to know ahead of time in case eager family members try to crash the birthing suite!” She chuckled and I managed a weak smile.

“Hey, Lillabet,” Max murmured. I looked up at him and he gently ran the pad of his thumb under each of my eyes. I didn’t even realize I was crying. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” I whispered in return.

“Alright, if you two can just hang tight about five minutes, we’ll be able to get you into a room and have you well on your way to meeting your son!” Seurena said.

“Thank you, we appreciate it,” Max replied.

She paused at the door as though she wanted to add something else, but she just smiled softly after a moment and pulled the curtain closed behind her.

“She didn’t know, Lillabet,” Max said gently, wrapping his arms around my shoulders.

I nodded against his chest. “I know she didn’t; I think I’m just feeling super emotional.”

“With good reason!” He added sincerely.

He held me through another contraction and just as it was ebbing, an orderly came in to move us down the hall to our room.

I noticed a gradual shift in my focus during that time; while there was a flurry of activity that included a seemingly endless parade of medical and administrative staff trying to complete my admission, I felt like I was watching them on television and not in real time. I have a vague recollection of answering a barrage of questions, of being transferred into a bed vastly more comfortable than the gurney from triage, of a collection of contractions - each gradually more intense than the one before.

Even though I was experiencing progressively more pain, my energy turned inward; my body instinctively recognizing that I was going to need every last reserve I had for the hours to come. I whimpered and I moaned, but there was no exertion or screaming. Had I the ability to be objective during that time, I would’ve been in absolute awe of how my body knew exactly what it needed. I did not make any conscious decisions during that time; that would’ve been nearly impossible. Instead, I surrendered to a biological imperative that was infinitely stronger than my own will. I trusted that my body - no matter how young or immature - knew exactly what to do and I did my very best to listen.

“Will you hold me?” I asked Max once we were alone again. We were still waiting on Dr. Greenberg and the anesthesiologist and Susan had stepped out to check on another patient.

“Always,” he replied.

I did my best to shift over in the small bed to make room for him and he situated himself next to me, careful to avoid my IV line and monitors. I curled into him, breathing in his familiar, comforting scent and I felt myself relax automatically. His touch has always been the single most comforting thing in the world to me; it still is. There is no place on earth I’ve ever felt safer or more grounded than in his arms.

I clung to him as my contractions peaked, the pressure in my pelvis growing more persistent and the pain lasting longer each time. I was lying on my left side, my bent knee resting on Max’s hip and my head tucked under his chin. After an indiscernible amount of time, I gradually found that if I deviated from that position even by a few inches, I was overwhelmed by nausea. So I stayed very, very still. Though I knew it was common during labor, the last thing I wanted to do was start vomiting while having a contraction!

I vaguely registered the door opening and I felt Max shift ever so slightly so he could address whomever it was that walked into the room.

“She’s okay,” I heard him murmur in response to an unintelligible question. “If she moves at all, she feels like she’s going to throw up.”

“Liz?” I recognized the voice of Dr. Greenberg. “You don’t need to move, but I can give you something for the nausea if you’d like.”

I nodded, desperate for even the smallest reprieve.

“Okay,” she replied and I registered the rapid clacking of a keyboard for a few moments. “I just put the order in for both Zofran and Zantac, so the nurse should be in very shortly to administer them both. Once you’re feeling a bit better, I’d like to examine you. I think you’re probably in transition, so believe it or not the nausea is a very good sign. It means we’re getting close!”

“What about the epidural?” Max asked. I’d been wondering the same thing.

“Anesthesia’s been paged, but there are only two attendings on and at the moment both of them are in surgery. One of them will be here as soon as they possibly can, but I know how hard it is to wait,” she said sympathetically.

“It’s just that she’s in a lot of pain,” Max said plainly. “I hate seeing her like this; I hate that she’s suffering.”

Dr. Greenberg’s response became background noise as another contraction slammed into me and I braced myself against Max. “Pressure!” I ground out, my fingernails digging hard into his shoulder as he massaged my back. “So much pressure!” I repeated, gasping.

“Okay, Lillabet,” Max murmured soothingly. “She’s going to check you as soon as you can move, but for right now I just need you to breathe for me. In and out, as long and slow as you can.” He took a deep breath of his own and I matched my exhale with his.

“That’s it, Liz. That’s incredible. You’re incredible.”

His words of encouragement were such a small, simple thing, but they were my lifeline. I’d never felt so completely out of control in my entire life, but hearing his voice, knowing how unequivocally he believed in my ability to safely bring our son into this world made me feel like I had the power to endure - that I could actually survive this experience.

“Okay,” I whispered, blowing out a long breath as the contraction finally ebbed. “Okay. I’m okay.” I wasn’t sure if I was trying to reassure him or myself at that point.

“The nurse is here with the medicine, can you let her get to your IV?” Max asked gently, smoothing my sweat slicked hair away from my damp forehead.

I nodded and released his shoulder from my right hand, holding it out so she could access the clave.

“Hi Liz, I’m Jennifer. I’m going to be your nurse for the rest of the day,” a 30-something woman in fuchsia scrubs and spiky blonde hair introduced herself. I realized then that it must already be after 7. “I’m going to give you these two drugs and then I’m also going to hang some fluids. They’re electrolyte balanced and have a bit of sugar so they’ll hopefully get you feeling better shortly and give you a bit of energy,” she explained. “This is the Zofran, you should feel better as soon as I flush it.”

She wasn’t lying. I could taste the drug as it entered my system and as soon as she flushed the saline behind it, the nausea became almost non-existent.

“Oh my god,” I breathed, feeling my entire body relax in relief.

“Better?” Max asked, gently rubbing my bump as I rolled onto my back.

“You have no idea,” I sighed. “I’d rather suffer through another 5 hours of contractions than 5 more minutes of feeling that nauseated!”

“It’s good stuff,” Jennifer added, as she locked in the next syringe. “This should help as well. And hopefully anesthesia will be by soon to help with the pain and then you’ll be cruising!”

She finished administering the medications and setting up the IV drip, then she went about checking the monitors and making a few notes in my chart.

“Is there anything else I can get you right now?” Jennifer asked kindly, standing at the foot of the bed.

“Can she have ice chips?” Max asked and I was suddenly aware of my cracked lips and the dryness in my mouth.

“Of course,” Jennifer replied. “I’ll be right back with those and I’ll send Dr. Greenberg and Seurena in to do your exam.” I hadn’t even realized that Dr. Greenberg had stepped out.

We both thanked her and she shut the door quietly as she exited the room.

“This is so hard, Max,” I mumbled, feeling like I was about to cry. “I don’t know if I can do this.”

“Hey, look at me,” he insisted, crooking a finger under my chin and turning my face gently towards him. I pried open my eyes and met his, bright with concern. “I know I cannot begin to imagine how much pain you are in, but I also know that you are more than capable of getting through this, of giving birth to our son. You are working so incredibly hard and your body is taking amazing care of our baby. His heartbeat is so strong and he’s handling the contractions perfectly; Dr. Greenberg was absolutely thrilled. I know this is so hard, I know this is the hardest thing that you’ve ever done, but you are doing it with grace and aplomb.”

“Aplomb?” I managed to tease with a quirk of my mouth.

“It’s an SAT word I can’t seem to get out of my head,” he replied bashfully and I rolled my eyes. “Regardless, the point is that you’ve got this. And I’ve got you, Lillabet. If you stop believing in your ability to do this, I’ll believe for both of us.”

How is he even real?

“Promise?” I asked quietly, not trusting my voice.

“I promise. And you know I never make promises I can’t keep.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I rode out another contraction before Dr. Greenberg and Seurena made their way back into the room.

“Jen told me you were wanting these,” Seurena said, setting a large cup of ice chips on the tray table along with a plastic spoon.

“Thank you,” I managed, still getting my breathing back under control.

“Do you mind if I do a brief exam?” Dr. Greenberg asked, donning a pair of sterile gloves.

I shook my head and Max pressed a quick kiss to my forehead before easing off the bed so that they had room to work. He didn’t go far, however, immediately taking my hand in his as Seurena helped me into the stirrups.

I sucked in a sharp breath, wincing as I was probed, but the discomfort was almost laughable compared to what I’d been experiencing to that point.

“You’re at 9 centimeters, Liz. All that pressure you’re feeling is your baby’s head moving into the birth canal,” she explained, removing her fingers. “Your contractions should start to slow down a bit as you get closer to pushing.”

“What about the epidural?” I asked, panic fluttering in my chest. I never anticipated having to give birth unmedicated, but it was suddenly a distinct possibility.

“You can get an epidural up to the time you start pushing, it’s just a matter of how much time it has to work. Some women go from 9 to 10 very quickly, but others take quite a bit of time, so let’s not rule it out yet. I’m going to page again and see if either of the docs are able to escape the OR long enough to come get this done for you, but I can’t make any promises. It’s one of the disadvantages of being a small hospital; there are only so many physicians to go around,” she explained empathetically. “In the meantime, you might find it helpful to move around a bit. Let me go see if I can get someone from anesthesia up here.”

“Thank you,” Max said for both of us as another contraction began.

Slowing down my ass, I thought as the pain quickly took center stage again.

Once the pain finally subsided, I realized that I was no longer attached to the fetal heart monitor or the contraction monitor and I looked up in confusion, surprised to see Seurena setting the disks aside.
“You and your baby are doing really well and if you’re going to walk around a bit, it’s going to be difficult to do so hooked up to all of this machinery. At least you can take your IV pole with you,” she said, offering her hand to help me sit up.

I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and sat for a moment, leaning into Max until the room stopped spinning.

“The Zofran can make you a bit woozy, so just take it easy,” Seurena said, watching me carefully.

I nodded, gingerly rising to my feet, expecting another contraction to come crashing into me at any moment. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to find that being upright was alleviating the majority of my lower back pain.

We paced slowly around the spacious room, stopping every so often to breathe through a considerably less painful contraction. Dr. Greenberg was right; they were coming less frequently, but with each one the pressure in my pelvis seemed to increase exponentially.

“God, it feels like he’s right there,” I said to Max, rolling my hips as he held me.

“Do you feel like you want to push?” He asked, massaging my lower back.

I shook my head against his chest. “Not yet, it’s just the pressure, but I don’t think we’re far off.”

Seurena - who had stepped out of the room once she was sure that I was stable on my feet - came back in with a large, green rubber ball.

“I thought you might like to lean on this for a bit,” she said, placing it down in the center of the bed.

I glanced up at Max who gave me a small shrug and an encouraging nod. “What do I do?” I asked.

“Basically, you are going to lean over and give it a hug and rest most of your weight on your arms and upper chest. Max can stand behind you and rub your back, or come stand in front of you if you want to focus on him. Some moms don’t want to be touched at all during this stage of labor, but I think it’s safe to say that you’re not one of them!” She said, though not unkindly. She was right, the longer I labored, the more I needed physical contact for support.

“Where do you want me, Lillabet?” Max asked as I situated myself over the ball. I let out a small sigh as the change in position brought unexpected relief.

“Behind me,” I mumbled, rocking gently back and forth and then I let out a quiet mewl of pleasure as the heels of his hands pressed into my middle pelvis.

“‘Lillabet’ is a pretty nickname for Elizabeth,” Seurena commented. “Is that what your family calls you?”

“Just me,” Max answered in my stead. He could feel the tension seeping from my body and he knew that I wasn’t in any shape to reply. “‘Elizabeth’ is quite a mouthful when you’re two and a half, so I called her ‘Lillabet’ instead and somehow it stuck.”

“Wait, did you say two and a half?” Seurena asked, surprised. “How long have you guys known each other?”

“I met her for the first time in this very hospital when she was about 2 hours old. I was just shy of 5 months. Our mothers were best friends,” Max explained, still massaging my back. “I’ve loved her for longer than I can even remember.”

“Wow, that’s pretty incredible,” Seurena replied. “I’m pretty sure the longest relationship I’ve ever been in is with my student loans officer!”

I managed a quiet chuckle at her joke.

“I’m very, very lucky,” Max said, though it was definitely directed more towards me than to Seurena.

“I’m pretty sure I’m the lucky one,” I mumbled into the crook of my arm as Max worked his magic. It’s incredible the things those hands can do!

“That position seems like it’s helping, Liz,” Seurena commented after a moment. “Are you comfortable to stay like that for a bit while I check to see if there are any updates from anesthesia?”

I nodded my head in agreement, trying to focus solely on Max’s touch and my breath.

“Okay, I’ll be back in a few minutes,” she said and I heard the door close quietly behind her.

“How are you doing?” Max asked quietly, his fingers working their way up my spine to my shoulders and back down again.

“Okay. There’s a more definitive break in between contractions. And your hands feel incredible,” I added with a lilt. “Though I’m pretty sure that your incredible hands had something to do with why we’re in this present situation,” I quipped and Max laughed.

“I dunno, I seem to remember your hands doing some pretty amazing things too,” he teased back and I giggled groggily. While we both knew that the actual circumstances that brought us to that moment were a hell of a lot more sober, it was nice to have some playful banter in the middle of an otherwise serious situation.

“I can’t believe how close we are to meeting him,” Max said, bringing his arms around to encircle my bump.

I opened my mouth to reply, but I was suddenly and relentlessly bombarded by the overwhelming need to push.

“Lillabet?” He could feel the difference in the size and tightness of my stomach.

I couldn’t answer him, I couldn’t do anything except drop into a deep squat, my body bearing down entirely of its own volition. The sound that escaped my throat was deep and loud and primal, coming from somewhere inside of me that I’d never before accessed.

“Shit, Liz!” I heard Max yelp. He must’ve hit the call button because I vaguely registered a staticky voice ask if we needed assistance.

“She’s pushing! We need someone in here!” Max all but shouted into the receiver.

The contraction finally began to fade and with it went the need to bear down.

“I…don’t think…I’m getting that…epidural,” I gasped, but in that moment my brain and body were so dedicated to bringing my child into the world that my comment was no more than a simple, passing observation. Instincts are fascinating things.

Max was crouched down beside me, a hand on my lower back. “What can I do?”

“The bed…I need to get on the bed,” I insisted. “Quickly!” I added as another contraction began to build.

Just as Max was helping me up off of the floor, Seurena entered the room.

“You’re feeling pushy?” She asked, scrubbing her hands in the sink before donning a pair of surgical gloves.

“She’s not ‘feeling pushy’, she is pushing!” Max bit back as the contraction crescendoed and I once again bore down without any conscious intention.

“Okay, let’s take a look. Dr. Greenberg is on her way,” Seurena said, unfazed by Max’s outburst.

“Max he’s right there, the head is right there…It hurts so bad, Max!” I cried, my entire body trembling.

“I know, Lillabet, I know. He’s almost here, it’s almost over. I just need you to hang on for a few more minutes, everyone is coming to help. You are so strong and so capable. I am in absolute awe of you.” His voice was a refuge in a raging storm. I clung to his hand and forced myself to look at him, trying to block out the flurry of activity that suddenly surrounded us.

“I can’t do this, Max,” I whispered, tears rushing down my cheeks.

“Not only can you do this, but you already are,” he replied, staring deeply into my eyes. “And in just a little while, you’re going to be holding our son. He’s going to be right here,” he said, pressing his palm against my sternum. “And he’s going to look up at you and all of this pain and fear are going to be a distant memory. So what do you say we meet Gabriel?”

My body responded for me. The pressure became an indescribable burning and I knew that no matter what I wanted in that moment, I was going to have my baby.

“Okay, Liz, you’re doing great,” Seurena said, the end of the bed suddenly disappearing as she moved to sit between my legs. “I’m going to ask Jen and Max to hold your legs and I want you to relax your hips and let them do all of the heavy lifting. I want all of your energy to come down towards me. Can you do that?”

I nodded and then groaned which quickly devolved into a scream as I bore down against the licking flames.

“Lillabet, oh my god Lillabet, I can see his head! He’s right there, you’re doing an amazing job!” Max’s exuberance was palpable.

“Little pushes, Liz. That’s exactly right, nice and easy,” Seurena coached. “Good. Just keep breathing. Zoë, she’s crowning,” she called over her shoulder and I saw Dr. Greenberg enter the room out of the corner of my eye.

The next 20 minutes were some of the most agonizing and exhilarating of my entire life, culminating with the single most beautiful sound I have ever heard to this day: my son’s first cries.

At 3:33 pm on October 16th, 2000, Gabriel Parker Evans was born.

And our lives would never be the same again.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
"It's like...chemical" ~ Liz Parker

keepsmiling7
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Re: Yellow (M/L ADULT): Ch. 19 9/17/20

Post by keepsmiling7 » Thu Sep 17, 2020 10:14 am

That's right, your lives will never be the same again.
Felt like I went through child birth again, you were very descriptive.
Maybe you could have added the part when Liz tells Max he can touch her again! But sweet Liz wouldn't do that???
Love the idea of family halloween costumes next year.
It appears the whole gang will be arriving soon to meet Gabriel.

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