Fandom: The Baby-sitters Club
Word Count: 1,076
Summary: There was nothing worse than watching her fear become realized – she’d clutched his hands then much like she was now, as if he was her lifeline as she dangled over the side of some perilous cliff.
Author’s Note: Written for the fluffy prompt for my 2016 Summer Mini Challenge table. Written for Table 5 at babysitters100. Further author's notes can be found here.
DISCLAIMER: The Baby-sitters Club concept, storyline, and characters are © 1986 – 2000/2010 Ann M. Martin/Scholastic Corporation. No money is being made from the creation of this material. No copyright infringement is intended.
“Here we are,” Charlie mused, tucking a second pillow beneath his wife’s knees. He lingered by her side. “Do you need anything else?”
Janine didn’t respond immediately, so lost was she in the mounds of paperwork that she’d propped haphazardly against her expanded midsection. She sighed, absently brushing her hair out of her face as she read through the lab report on the top of the stack, occasionally marking errors with her felt-tipped red pen.
The sight of her, sustained by a veritable fortress of pillows as she diligently worked on her class papers, amused him as much as it worried him. Here they were, counting down the days until she was due, yet she was bound and determined to finish grading all of the midterms from all of her physics sections before she went into the hospital. Usually he found her stubbornness endearing, but this time, it concerned him.
She was a formidable scientist, splitting her time between teaching and research; she had spent quite a few years building up her name and reputation as an expert in her field. She was not an easy person to bring to ground, but she had run herself down trying to do it all in the last few months, to the point of being put on strict bedrest by her obstetrician.
He was starting to wonder how much of her still-frenetic work pace was due to her inability to delegate the tasks at hand, and how much of it was her trying to cover up her fear of impending childbirth – and motherhood.
She’d always been indifferent about having children; it had never been a sticking point in their relationship, even after he’d made it clear that not having a family of his own was one of his major dealbreakers. Having amazing sexual chemistry had certainly helped sway her; after they’d agreed to start trying, she’d become pregnant right away, and had surprised even herself with how easily she’d taken to it.
All had been well until her final trimester, when the pain and exhaustion started to become too much for her to handle. Only when her doctor had insisted on total bedrest did she finally agree to slow down. She’d tried to rest, but after a couple of days, “rest” had turned into “restlessness,” and she was starting to panic over every little twinge she felt.
“I’ve become too attuned to the changes of my body,” she’d informed him one evening. “I need to do something to distract myself.”
The next day she’d had the first of her physics midterms delivered to their house, and she’d picked up right where she’d left off.
Janine suddenly winced, sucking in a sharp breath through her teeth as she squeezed her eyes shut, her expression lancing with pain.
“Janine?” Charlie murmured, his heart skipping a beat. He placed his hand on her forehead; she felt flushed, but not feverish. “Maybe you should stop for a little while.”
“No,” she insisted with a grimace. “I need to finish this.”
“C’mon,” he cajoled, lowering his hand, brushing the tips of his fingers over the fullness of her cheek. “The papers can wait five minutes.”
With great reluctance, she eased back against the pillows, releasing a long sigh. Her eyes fluttered open, and she watched him as he took her pen from her hand, carefully capping it before setting it aside along with the sheaf of lab reports. He sank down beside her on the mattress, taking one of her hands into both of his and offering a soothing caress.
“The pain is happening more and more frequently,” she admitted after a long moment.
He nodded, stroking her arm. It was obvious to him how much she was hurting, even when she tried to hide it.
“It scares me,” she whispered, tears welling in the corners of her eyes.
He lifted her hand to his lips, pressing a kiss to the back of it, and then into the heart of her palm. “I know,” he said softly, “and I’m sorry. I wish I could make it all go away.”
She sniffled. “I just wish I knew what to expect,” she confessed. “I mean – logically, of course, I know what will happen, how I’ll have to position my body, how to push, to breathe…” Her voice trailed off. “But I don’t know how it feels – how I’ll feel, bringing a new life into this world.”
He thought back to when his mother had had Kristy, and then David Michael. He didn’t really recall that either birth had been terribly strenuous; all he remembered was that she’d been exhausted, yet joyous, and there was something about holding her new baby that had made his mother positively glow, in a moment of pure magic.
He couldn’t wait to see Janine with that glow, when she held their child in her arms for the first time.
But he also knew that she couldn’t see past the pain of the birth itself. There was nothing worse than watching her fear become realized as they watched the birthing videos in their Lamaze classes. She’d clutched his hands then much like she was now, as if he was her lifeline as she dangled over the side of some perilous cliff.
Janine shook her head. “Sometimes I want nothing more than for this baby to be out of my body,” she mused wryly, “and sometimes, I think I’d be better off just keeping her inside of me for the rest of my life.”
Charlie smiled. “’Her’?” he teased, smoothing a hand over her belly. They’d purposefully not found out the gender of their baby, wanting to be surprised at birth. “What makes you so sure it’s a girl?”
“A mother knows,” Janine said loftily, matching his cheeky smile with one of her own. “She’s very temperamental” – she winced again – “and impatient.”
“I’m looking forward to meeting her,” he said, closing his hand around his wife’s. He ran his thumb over the backs of her fingers. “You know I’ll be with you every step of the way, right? I’m not going to let you go through this alone.”
“I know,” she breathed, tugging him close, “and I love you for it.”
He needed no further invitation. A warm wave of satisfaction washed over him as he leaned over her, his mouth a whisper’s breath away from hers. “I love you, too,” he said tenderly, before pressing a soft, sweet kiss to her lips.