Frayed Page 61

I tremble at the painful memory.

She reaches across the counter to grab my hand. ’’I just don\ want you to get hurt.’’

Tears spill from my eyes. ’’But, Mom, I\m hurting now. Every time you bring it up, it hurts me. Don\ you get it? I want to forget it.’’

’’I\m sorry, honey, but you can\ and I can\ let you not this time.’’

I run to my room crying and throw myself on the bed. My hand goes to my belly button, then to my scar, and the memory comes back as if it were yesterday.

•••

There were no breathing exercises, no Lamaze classes. It was nothing like Rachel giving birth on Friends. I had been diagnosed with preeclampsia and was being monitored closely. Corticosteroid shots were part of my daily regimen to help mature the baby\s lungs. Magnesium sulfate also became part of the ritual to help prevent seizures, but that drug wasn\ an easy shot;it was given in IV form and I hated it. I was warned that when delivery time came the magnesium sulfate dosage might need to be increased. I didn\ understand what that meant, but the nurses looked as though they felt sorry for me.

On March seventeenth, almost eight months after the baby had been conceived, I understood why. My already high blood pressure had risen to an unhealthy level, putting the baby\s life in danger. The doctors had decided it was time to induce me. So with Pitocin in one IV and mag in another, I was in pain, burning up, and dry-heaving in a basin my mother held for me. Her tears only made me cry all the more. The contractions came on quickly. They were nothing like what I thought they would be. They were the worst kind of cramps and so painful I was screaming before I was even close to being fully dilated. I had opted to remain drug free, but the pain was so bad I begged the nurses to call an anesthesiologist. The fear of a needle stuck in my back seemed so small compared to what I was feeling.

However, before relief could even arrive, I was being wheeled down a sterile hall with the words emergency C-section being thrown at me. My blood pressure had reached an alarming level and the doctors could no longer wait for the birth-inducing drug to kick in. My mother wasn\ allowed in and I was terrified. With fear and pain all I could fathom, a mask went over my face and as I counted backward, blackness came. I awoke sometime later in the recovery room. I patted my stomach but couldn\ feel anything. I looked around for my mother, my brothers, but sleep called to me. The next time I woke up I was in a different hospital room. It wasn\ the same one I had been recovering in since the accident. The one I had to stay in even after the trauma had passed while we waited for the baby to come.

I remember the nurse asking, ’’Do you want to see the baby?’’

’’I don\ know,’’ I cried out.

I had told them I didn\ . All I could think about was why were they asking me? The adoption was already arranged I had selected the people I thought would make the most perfect parents, but having my baby taken from me before I expected left me empty, wondering. I started to second-guess myself. I became hysterical and screamed for my mother. The nurses brought her to me.

’’Is the baby okay?’’ I asked.

She cried, nodding.

’’Did you hold it?’’

She cried even harder, nodding again.

Once I knew the baby was safe, my doubts were no more. I couldn\ hold the baby, because if I did I just knew I\d never be able to give it up. So on that day I signed my child over to its new parents, never seeing it, never knowing if it was a boy or girl because it didn\ matter. All I knew, all that mattered was that my child would be raised by two people who would forever love him or her. What I didn\ know is I would never stop loving that child either.

•••

A familiar comforting hand runs up and down my back and I twist around, wiping my tears away.

’’Bell, you know how much I love you. I want more than anything for you to be happy. And if you think this man will make you happy, I will accept him with open arms. But you have to be honest with him. I\ve been through a lot in my life and learned from my mistakes. I never told your brother who his real father was and I could have lost him because of that. I\m not trying to hurt you. I know thinking about the baby is painful, but please think about what I\ve said. I won\ bring it up again. How you move forward is your decision.’’

With the memories so vivid and painful, I sit up and pull my mother to me. Eventually my cries muffle into familiar sobs as everything I\ve tried so hard to forget circles around me.

CHAPTER 19

Pain

Ben

The beach is quiet as I sit outside on the deck and sip a cup of coffee. After I left S\elle\s house I decided to come home and change quickly and then head into the office before going back to get her.

I can\ help thinking about her while I scan the ocean view. She\s just so f**king se*y all I have to do is glance at her and I\m hard. Everything about her captures my attention from her cute quirky personality to the se* kitten underneath it. I\m so hot for her I can hardly stand it. The strange thing is our day at the beach was so much fun and last night, although not what I planned, was still memorable. And I actually think that running into her mother and stepfather this morning didn\ turn out to be so bad. She\s been so determined not to tell her family that maybe this was the best way for them to find out about us.

Heading inside, I rinse my cup and walk into my bedroom. My dirty clothes are in a pile on the floor and I stop while picking them up to look at the picture on my dresser my mother, my sister, Trent, and me just before my mother died. It\s hard to believe she\s been gone a year. I pull my phone from my pocket with an urge to talk to my sister.


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