Baby Jared's Arrival from Riley's POV

 by Ellen S.

You can read the Andi's Journal post HERE and HERE about Jared's arrival. Here is Riley's POV, told in first-person. Enjoy!



Riley Prescott has just finished “checking on something in the barn” and is heading outside…
***
There, that should do it, I thought with satisfaction, shutting the barn door securely behind me. Now to join my beautiful wife down by the creek.
     With a light skip in my step, I started in the direction of the small trickle of a creek that ran by our house. As I neared my wife, I called, “Andi!”
     Quickly picking up my pace, I ran towards her. “How’s the water?”
     Andi’s only response was a look on her face—a look filled with fear and—is that pain? In the bright California sun, she appeared to be almost pale.
     I fell down beside her. “What’s wrong?”
     She shook her head, dark braid swishing. “I don’t know. I think I’m having some pains.”
     Pains? My breath caught.
     “Mother says they’re only practice ones though,” Andi hastened to assure me.
     I stared at her, unconvinced. Her breath sounded almost ragged, and that expression on her face! I wasn’t about to just brush it aside as “only practice pains.” What if…what if this is the real thing?
     “When the ranch hands return from the celebration,” Andi went on, “you can send one of them over to the ranch.” She licked her lips—a sure sign of uneasiness, I thought. “Because I think I want my Mother.”
     Suddenly, she gasped. Her eyes took on the unquestionable look of piercing pain.
     “Andi!” My heart raced out of control. My head spun.
Andi shook her head. “It’s all right.”
“No, it’s not.” I felt badly shaken by it all, and I began to stand. “I’ll go get your mother right—”
     Quick as lighting, Andi reached out and grasped ahold of my hand. “No.” Her voice was tremulous, almost tearful. “You can’t leave me here all alone. These might be practice pains like Mother says, but they hurt mighty bad.”
     I swallowed. Now what? I didn’t want to leave her alone anymore than she did. But I’m at a loss as to what to do when it comes to child-birthing. I couldn’t help her pain or explain what was going on.
     The best thing to do would be to just take her inside and make her comfortable, I decided, and rose. Gently, I pulled Andi to her feet and wrapped a steady arm around her shoulder. “Well, the least I can do is make you comfortable. We’re going inside. Our walk is over.”
     She didn’t protest, but just leaned her head against my shoulder. It scared me. Any other day she’d have insisted she was fine and begged to stay outside.
     God, please, give us both strength, I pleaded inwardly.
     As we made our way to the house, I was aware of my wife’s sudden and continual gasps for air and the frightened look that repeatedly entered her eyes.
     The pain isn’t letting go, I realized. Didn’t her mother say that practice pains only last a little while?
        
We stepped inside and I wasted no time in taking Andi to the bedroom. Still shaking and breathing hard, she fell down on the bed. I stacked up my pillow and hers and she gratefully laid back against them.
     “You all right?” I asked.
     She smiled grimly. “As ‘all right’ as I can be right now, I guess.”
     “I’m going to the kitchen to get you a glass of water,” I told her. “I’ll be back in a moment. If you need anything before then, just call.”
     Andi gave a small nod and closed her eyes.
     I went to the kitchen, but didn’t make any move to fix a glass of water. Instead, I paced the room.
     What am I supposed to do?
     I wrung my hands. I don’t know the first thing about babies and labor and all of that. I took a deep breath. Calm down, Riley Prescott. Maybe you’re just making a mountain out of a molehill. Maybe these are just small pains that’ll leave as quickly as they came. Maybe Andi won’t even have the baby for another week.
     I slipped a hand through my hair. “But what if they are the real deal?” I whispered aloud.
     “Riley!”
     As soon as the agonized cry came from the bedroom, I bolted forward. Boots clomping noisily, I rushed to the bedroom. “What? What’s wrong?”
     “The baby is really and truly coming,” Andi gasped out.
     I could feel my face drain. My hands clenched. No, no, no! Maybe this is all a horrid nightmare I’ll wake from any moment.
Nope. This was real.
     “Andi, are you sure?” I demanded. “Are you really sure?”
     She didn’t say anything, but she didn’t need to. Her face said it all. As another pain gripped her, she writhed.
     I sat down next to her on the bed. My fingers found hers and squeezed. I wanted to say something, but my tongue was stuck as if by glue to the roof of my mouth.
     Instead, she spoke up. “What are we going to do, Riley?”
         I leaped from the bed and began to pace the room. “I don’t know. I don’t know.” My stomach felt as if it were being clenched by a huge fist. I ran a hand through my hair.
     “You’ve gotta help me.” Andi barely managed to say the words. She seemed to be fighting for her every breath. So was I, and I wasn’t even the one in labor! “I don’t know what to do,” she panted.
     “I don’t either!” I cried out. “I’m just the father. Fathers don’t have the babies. Doctors and women help the mothers.”
     “Dr. Weaver and Mother aren’t here,” Andi told me through tightly gritted teeth. “You have to help me.”
     I shook my head. “I’ll ride Dakota lickety-split and get the doctor and your mother.” I didn’t like to argue with her—especially seeing that she was practically too short of breath to respond—but…I’m not a midwife! I’m scared, too. I don’t know what to do.
     I stopped pacing and faced her. “Didn’t your mother say first babies take their time? I’ve got plenty of time to get to town and back. Three hours. Not a moment longer. I promise.”
     Andi stared at me as if I’d just said something absolutely ridiculous. For a moment, she was silent. Then she burst out, “The only promise you’re going to make is that you won’t leave me alone!”
     “Then…what?” I approached the bed.
     One of her sweaty hands uncurled and grabbed mine. “There’s no choice,” she stated bluntly. “You’re the only one here. You have to help me.”
     Yes, Riley, I told myself firmly. What other choice have you? This is your wife. Your baby. With God’s help, you can do this. I looked at Andi’s pain-filled face and felt my heart squeeze. For Andi’s sake, I’ll give this my best shot. If she can take care of her brother’s bullet wound, I can take care of my own wife and child. My aunt may have died, but Andi won’t!
     I set my jaw. “All right. Tell me what I have to do.”
     That seemed to take her back. She scrunched up her forehead, deep in thought. As another pain grabbed ahold of her, she grimaced.
     Finally, she said, “Boil some water. Boil some string to tie off the baby’s cord. Uh…” Here, she hesitated.
     I braced myself. What now?
     She took a breath and finished, “…and throw the scissors in there too. You need it to cut the cord.”
     My face drained all over again. Cord? I made no move to begin.
     Another pain must’ve ripped through her at that moment, for suddenly she cringed and almost wailed, “Do it!”
         Terrified half out of my wits, I ran. I charged to the kitchen, filled a pot with water, and set it on the stove. Fingers shaking, I started a fire. Afterwards I banged through each drawer, at last stumbling upon some string and a pair of scissors. I tossed them into the pot.
     Suddenly, a memory sparked my mind.
     Andi’s mother had ridden over to check on her only a few days before, and I had come in just then for a cool drink. What had I overheard her mother saying?
     “The pains can get pretty rough. What you need is raspberry tea. It can most definitely help with the delivery.”
     I hurriedly put on a kettle of water and made the raspberry tea. Pouring it into a cup and leaving the boiled utensils in the kitchen, I went back to the bedroom.
     I immediately noticed Andi’s wet cheeks. Has she been crying? In an attempt to help her feel better, I held up the cup of tea.
     “I heard your mother telling you that raspberry tea helps with the delivery.” I grinned. “And boy, do we need all the help we can get.”
         Her laugh went a long way in soothing my ruffled nerves. She must not be in pain right at the moment, I concluded with relief.
     I set the tea down on the bedside table and allowed her to once again clutch my hand.
         “Talk to me,” she begged. “Please.”
     “That might help the both of us,” I told her, smiling. I launched into a story of going on a treasure hunt with some of the boys back at Fort Bridger. After that, I lost track of all I talked about. I just talked on and on, story after story, word after word…anything to keep her mind off of the current predicament.
     About an hour or so later, her eyes opened, and she turned her head. I could tell she was looking at the clock.
     Poor Andi. I squeezed her hand. Time can’t go by slower for her.
     “Riley.” Andi turned to me, her bloodshot eyes full of desperation and pleading. “Let me get up.”
         “Get up?” I shook my head. “No! No way.”
     “I’m so tired of lying here,” she insisted. “I want to do something—anything—that’ll get my mind off of all of this uncertainty.”
     I stayed firm. “No.”
     “Just let me try,” she begged. “Please?”
     “I’m not going to win this one, am I?” I sighed. “Okay. But only for a little while.”
     It was a slow process even to get Andi out of bed. She paused with each movement to take a few deep breaths. I kept my arm firmly around her the whole while, opening up my mouth to protest at each obvious struggle.
     Finally, she had both feet on the floor, and I helped her stand.
     “Let’s go to the sitting room,” I suggested, and she nodded.
     My arm never leaving her shoulder, we walked to the sitting room.
     The next hour and a half were the slowest of my life. We walked up and down the braided rug of the sitting room, pausing only when a bad pain overtook my wife and she fought hard for courage.
     After a pain that seemed especially hurtful, she looked up at me.
     Does she know how scared I am? I smiled at her, thinking, don’t let her see any such thing in you, Riley. She’s agitated enough as is. Stay strong. God, please…
     “You made a good choice,” I told her. “Walking is better. Maybe,” I added in a quieter voice, “it’ll speed things along.”
         Her face said she understood.
We were both noticing the extremely hot air around us. Sweat poured in thick, fast rivers down Andi’s face. I looked around desperately and grabbed the Fresno Expositor, which lay forgotten on the sofa. Using it, I fanned my wife’s face.
     Only a few minutes later, she said, “I can’t do this anymore. Let’s go back to bed.”
     I helped her to the bedroom, where she lay down once again. Then I took possession of the overstuffed bedside chair and stayed ready for anything she might ask of me.
     “Riley, I don’t think I can do this.” Andi shifted, as if looking for a more comfortable position. Tears stole down her cheeks. She moaned.
     Oh, God, isn’t there anything I can do to help her pain? Reaching over, I rubbed her back. “But you are doing it,” I encouraged. “Hang on.”
     Her lip trembled. Her hands clenched. “What if…what if the baby never comes?”
     No, please, Andi, don’t speak of such things. I can’t bear it. Of course, I didn’t say that aloud. Instead, I shook my head and said, “It’s only been three hours. Three short hours.” Really? More like three days. Three long days.
     “But…it…” Andi paused between each word to suck in a breath. “…hurts!
         I grimaced as the last word turned into an anguished cry. I bowed my head in silent yet desperate prayer. One hand rubbed her back and the other kept a tight hold of her own hand. What else was I to do?
     I could plainly tell that she was overwhelmingly tired. After a pain, her eyes closed, and she dozed off. When her eyes snapped open only one minute later, I knew another harsh pain was coming over her.
     For the longest while, Andi bravely tried to keep her hollers reined in. She clenched her jaw and fought at her pain.
     Truth be told, that was hard on me. I felt she’d be better off if she gave into the labor and allowed herself to release the cries pent up inside. It tore my heart to watch the silent tears stream down her cheeks and to feel the unrelenting grasp of her hand on mine.
     Finally, she seemed to read my thoughts. As the pains continued to grip her with increasing speed and discomfort, she at last stopped fighting and gave in. Her outcries could no doubt be heard outside.
     “I’m sorry, Riley,” she apologized. “It just hurts so bad.”
         “Nobody but the horses can hear you,” I quickly assured her. I smiled. “And me. And I think you should yell as loud as you want. Especially if it helps.”
     It did seem to help her out, but, of course, it didn’t erase the pain entirely. Although I knew practically nothing of childbirth, I did know that after every pain came the need to push—how else could the baby be born?—and that also took a toll on my poor wife.
     “I want Mother,” she whimpered, and I didn’t blame her. I wanted my mother-in-law, too. I wanted anyone who could help Andi even the slightest bit more than I could.
     The next few hours passed in much the same way. We both looked out the window. The sun was going down.
     In an attempt to comfort both her and me, I said, “It’ll all be worth it soon enough.” I gently brushed back the stray strands of hair that’d plastered themselves to her sweaty face. “Don’t focus on the pain. Just keep thinking about the baby.”
     She appeared to contemplate on my words for several minutes, and I didn’t miss her softly whispered prayer (which she probably hadn’t even realized she’d said aloud): “Lord, help me to do this. For the baby. For Riley.”
         Yes, Lord, please, I added quietly.
     Andi cried out from another sharp pain. “How much longer?” she wailed.
     I didn’t know, but I figured I might as well hope for the best. “Not much longer.” Hopefully that’s not a lie.
     She gulped in a shuddery breath and labored on.
     It had all settled into a dull, heart-tearing pattern: pain, cry, push. Pain, cry, push.
Will this ever end?
     The most trying moment of the day was when Andi gave up her will to keep on trying. For once, she didn’t feel like fighting. She couldn’t breathe, and she couldn’t stop crying.
     Her hand clamped mine in a vicelike grip, and her desperate outcry made me sure my heart would stop beating: “I…can’t…do it!”
     “Yes, you can.” My voice came out choked. I swallowed hard. “Please, Andi,” I found myself pleading, “Don’t give up. Please.”
     As she searched urgently for her next breath, her eyes opened, and she looked straight up into my face. A sudden look of determination flashed through her eyes, and she clamped her teeth together, breathed hard, and…pushed.
     This time, her efforts were rewarded.
     From the end of the bed, a thin, high baby cry sounded.
     Andi barely heard it, for the next moment, she was out cold. Yet, there was a small but noticeable smile on her face.
     “You did it, Andi,” I whispered, even though I knew she couldn’t hear me. I looked up. “Thank You, God.”
     Then, springing up, I ran for the kitchen, leaving my wife to have some much-needed rest. I scooped up my string and scissors and returned to the bedroom. I did as Andi had earlier instructed: I cut the cord and tied it off, then tenderly—almost scared I would break him—picked up my little son. I washed him with warm water and soap and afterwards swaddled him in diaper and blanket.
I laid him in his cradle and bent over Andi. “Andi, wake up.”

***
Another scene from Riley’s POV. He’s just recounted his aunt’s death to his wife, and is now on his way to the Circle C to pick up Mrs. Carter.

     I galloped Dakota to the Circle C and yanked on his reins, pulling him to a shuddering standstill. Leaping down, still holding the lantern, I zipped for the house.
     “Riley!”
     My head turned around. Chad was leading Shasta to the barn, but, on seeing me, he was quickly making his way to the house so he could talk with me.
     “What are you doing here?” he called. “Did Andi miss her horse that much? We’d have returned him in the morning.”
     I shook my head. I would’ve replied, but my breath was too short.
     “Hey, calm down.” Chad, having approached me, clapped his hand on my shoulder. “What’s wrong?”
     “It’s Andi.”
     “What about her?”
     “Oh, Chad, you wouldn’t believe it. But I haven’t time to explain. I need your mother.”
     Realization dawned on my brother-in-law’s face. “Baby?”
         “No, not the baby. Andi. The baby is fine. Would you hitch up the buggy for me?”
     “Riley, wait—”
     I left Chad’s sentence unfinished as I made a beeline for the house. I’d hardly even been aware of what I’d said. It was all a jumble for me.
     I barged through the door. “Mrs. Carter!”
     From above, doors flew open. Ellie and Mrs. Carter, both in their housecoats, ran to the stairs.
     “Riley!” they exclaimed simultaneously. “What is it?”
     “Is it Andrea?” Mrs. Carter added.
     I nodded.
     “Just a moment.”
     Mrs. Carter hurried back to her bedroom. A few minutes later, she returned, dressed in a rumpled blouse and skirt. Her hair rested against her back in a loose, sloppy braid.
     Descending the stairs, she led me to the kitchen, where she began to throw things—I was too worked up to noticed just what things—in a basket.
     All packed up, we headed outside. Mrs. Carter climbed into the buggy, which Chad had hitched up and waiting. I mounted Dakota.
     We set off for Memory Creek and were halfway there when I’d urged Dakota a little too far ahead of Mrs. Carter.
     “Riley!” she called. “Slow down! I can’t keep up, and I don’t have a lantern.”
     I drew up beside her. “Sorry.”
     “You’re certainly worked up,” she commented. “How long has Andrea been in labor for? Or are you just the anxious father?”
     “Labor?” I shook my head. “No, ma’am. She’s not in labor.”
         “What? Oh, just some practice pains and she sent you for me?”
     “No, ma’am.”
     “Then what?”
     “She was in labor all day.”
     “She what?”
     “Yes, ma’am. She’s already had the baby—a little boy.”
     “Who delivered him?” Mrs. Carter demanded, her face pale.
         “I did.”
     “Well, let’s get a move on!” She chirruped to Pal and slapped the reins.
     It took only a half hour to reach Memory Creek. I wasted no time. Dismounting, I leaped up the porch steps and threw open the door, Mrs. Carter close behind.
***
Still Riley’s POV.

     After Mrs. Carter told me to sleep on the sitting room sofa, I told Andi “good-night” and headed for my “bed” for the night. Now comforted with the thought that Andi was all right, and the fact that Mrs. Carter was here, I suddenly noticed that I was absolutely exhausted.
     Stretching out on the sofa, I prayed softly, Thank You, God.
     It’s all over. At the thought, my whole body slumped, and the tears I hadn’t even known I was holding back spilled. All the stress and heartache of the day washed over me, and I cried unashamedly. My precious wife was fine, our baby was here, and God had kept me strong through all of it.
     From the bedroom, I could hear the murmurs of soft conversation. Jared released a shrill wail, and I smiled. Suddenly, Andi’s mother’s favorite saying came to mind: All’s well that ends well.
     “Thank You, God,” I whispered once more.
The next second, I was fast asleep.

12 comments:

  1. Oh, Ellie! That's awesome! Thanks so much for writing! and sharing :-)

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  2. Good Job Ellie!

    -Patience

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  3. Wow!! That was realy good Ellen!! Thanks for sharing!!

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  4. Thank you all so much! I am glad you enjoyed the story. I had a lot of fun writing it :-).

    ~Ellen

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  5. This is so good! I love it! Amazing job, Ellen!
    Emily

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  6. I loved the story Ellie! How did you learn to get soooooo good at writing?

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  7. Thank you, Emily and Savannah! Your thoughtful comments are very encouraging to this young writer. I'm so glad you both enjoyed the story; it was super fun to write!
    And thank YOU, Mrs. Marlow! If it wasn't for you, this story never would've been created. Thanks for all you do!

    ~Ellen

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  8. Wow! This is so good! Thanks fro writing this!

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome! Thank YOU for taking the time to read and comment!

      ~Ellen

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  9. Oh my goodness! This is amazing! I love it!!!!!!!!
    Sage

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