She’d never seen a Santa suit used in quite that way, huddled and burrowed under a sterile sheet covering her spread legs. When Santa straightened and the tail and white furry ball of his hat flopped backward, a smile spread between his fake beard and mustache. “Well, Dee, you’re at six centimeters. You’re definitely in labor.” His capped head tilted to the side. “Now, will we have a Christmas Eve baby or will she hang on until Christmas Day?”
Theo snapped off his blue latex gloves, tossed them into the proper container and scooted his stool beside Trudy, whom he’d been calling Dee since she was twelve and he, nineteen. “Not to add any pressure, but I was a Christmas Eve baby.” He waggled his dark eyebrows. “You won’t even need to wrap my present.” His glance shifted to her distended abdomen. “She’s already wrapped.”
Could my embarrassment get any worse?
Another contraction hit and he slid his squeaky stool to her pelvis again and disappeared under the sheet.
“Are you watching a football game under there, or what?” Of all times for Dr. Witherspoon to get a little wither in his spoon, it just had to be the day she went into labor. So while he was home with a cold and a bad cough, Theo Parker was on call for all the pregnant patients seen in their practice. Just her luck to have her legs spread and everything exposed in all its glory for her one-time neighbor she’d seriously crushed on through her teen years.
“Football?” Theo chuckled as his head rose so he could also check the monitors during the contraction. “Not for our little angel. This is more like a ballet, only the star seems a tad shy about coming on stage. In fact, she’s turned the wrong way.”
Panic reached out and squeezed Dee’s vocal chords so badly she could barely speak. “Wi…will she be…”
“Let me tell you the options I usually give my patients in these circumstances.” He moved his stool back to her side and took her hand between his warm palms. “Through walking and, later, rolling from side to side in the bed, we can hope nature will take its course and she’ll turn on her own. Option two, I can go in and manually turn the baby. A simple procedure for me, but it’ll be rough on you. Or, we can do a C-section. So far, the monitors show no stress on the baby. At this point, I’m not overly concerned.”
Theo scratched at his fake beard and then tried fluff it into a better shape. It looked like a French Poodle with a bad cut, a strange comparison to all the perfect puppies and kittens on the border around the yellow labor and birthing room.
“I recommend some walking and turning first. How would you feel about that? At this point in the birthing process, I can allow you to make the choices. But if the baby comes under stress, then the decision making becomes mine, based on my experience.”
“Whatever you think, as long as my baby girl is okay.” She fisted her hands in the furry cuff of his Santa jacket and glanced at the paunch above his black belt. “You been putting on weight?” Theo was a little young for the middle-aged spread.
He patted his belly and winked. “I’ve been on a strict diet of foam rubber pillows.” Theo, short for Theodas, had been her geeky neighbor across the street during her growing up years, and she’d learned more from him about science and computers than any of her teachers. The older and taller he got, and the deeper his voice became and the way his facial features matured, she simply adored him.
Imagine the thrill of having a handsome, blue-eyed, college student read her his books and clarify the long words and charts on anatomy. Theo had always known he wanted to be a doctor.
From the day she’d turned thirteen, she’d always known she wanted to be his wife.
Unfortunately another obstetrics resident got that honor. Anna Marie was everything Trudy wasn’t—intelligent, highly educated, cultured and stylish. In Trudy’s opinion, Anna Marie was also stupid, for she’d walked out on Theo two years after their high society wedding.
He watched the monitors hooked up to Dee’s abdomen, slowly explaining everything to her. But that’s how Theo Parker had always been. Patient, gentle, eager to share what he knew, all woven with a touch of humor he claimed he got from hanging around with Dee. These fine qualities were what helped make him an excellent doctor.
Another contraction started and he moved to where he could use his pen to point out what each blip’s rise or fall meant. “Your contractions are weak, Dee. I suggest you get out of bed and walk. This is the signal you need to watch.” He indicated the safe zones and at what point she should ring for a nurse. “There’s a Christmas tree at each end of the hall. The ladies of the hospital auxiliary decorate them every year and this year they went with themes. Check out the ornaments on one tree and walk to the other end of the hall to admire the tree there. Do that four times. Then ask the nurse to help you back in bed and re-hook you to the monitors.”
“Okay. What you’re telling me is I’m in for a long night, but my baby should be okay?”
Theo smiled and her heart flipped like it did in her teen years. “You always did catch on quickly.” He unhooked her from the monitors and helped her into a gown with the opening in the front to work as a robe.
“I have to leave for a couple hours, but the hospital knows how to reach me. The family is having our Christmas Eve celebration tonight. There will be food and too much noise, plus I get to play Santa and pass out gifts. How much do you want to bet I get peed on? Chrystal’s youngest isn’t completely potty trained yet and he has an excitable bladder.” He placed his hands under her arms and helped her big, awkward body off the bed.
“Well, I can certainly sympathize with his over-active bladder.” She waddled toward the bathroom in her labor room. “I won’t be long.”
“Let me know if there’s any blood in your urine.”
“Oh God, is nothing sacred in this birthing business?” She closed the door and leaned her face against the tiled wall to cool off her blush and accidently hit the emergency buzzer.
Theo yanked the door open, his eyebrows raised in concern. “Dee, are you okay?” His warm hands wrapped around her abdomen. “Are you having another contraction?”
“No, I’m so big and clumsy, I hit the emergency buzzer by mistake. I’m sorry.”
“Not to worry.” He cupped her face and kissed her forehead and she nearly peed herself in excitement. “All right, then.” He backed out and closed the door.
He’d been blushing. Dee glanced in the mirror. So was she.
~~*~~ COME BACK TOMORROW FOR PART 2 ~~*~~