Date Published: November 15, 2015
Brandy Chambers was looking forward to the birth of her first child. She and Weston move from San Francisco to the small town of Alameda to start a family, she’s writing her second book, and Weston has a fantastic job working on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge project. Having this baby would make her already-wonderful life perfect.
But when the baby dies after a difficult birth, Brandy’s perfect life blows up in her face. Stricken with grief, she and Weston pull apart. This new distance leads them both to disaster. Not until a chance encounter with her high school friend, Edward Barnes, does Brandy pull herself together. Brandy and Weston agree to recommit to each other, striving to forgive infidelity and recreate their previous existence.
Everything is once again going according to plan—until Brandy discovers she’s pregnant. While she struggles to cope with this new obstacle, Edward Barnes returns to town and discovers she’s having a baby, while Weston is torn between his love for his wife and his anger at her betrayal. Can Brandy manage to keep her marriage to Weston together? Will Edward be a part of Brandy’s life if she and Weston separate?
“Breathe, Brandy, breathe.”
Weston’s voice came from the side of the hospital bed where I lay propped up, knees bent to accommodate Dr. Farney checking to see how far my cervix had dilated.
Gritting my teeth, eyes shut, I inhaled through my nose. The pungent odor of sweat wafted through my nostrils. I imagined the crest of a deep-blue wave curling over, white foam churning, crashing down, wave after wave speeding toward the edge of a sandy beach.
But I couldn’t take in a full breath. I opened my mouth, tried sucking in air, lungs on fire, the pain like a serrated knife to my belly, hands flailing, slapping the sides of the bed to get Weston’s attention.
“She can’t breathe.” I could hear the panic in his voice. He was scared. So was I. Is this how a first delivery is supposed to go?
Dr. Farney’s voice tore through the delivery room. “The baby’s heart rate is slowing.”
A plastic mask lowered over my mouth and nose, and a steady flow of oxygen began pouring through. I shifted my gaze to the right. Weston’s eyes were riveted on my lower body, his brows dipped down, mouth set in a tight line.
“What’s wrong?” I shouted, my voice muffled beneath the mask. Weston leaned down, his body blocking the glare of the overhead lights.
“Take deep breaths. They’re using forceps to get the baby out.” He gripped my hand and squeezed then edged toward the foot of the bed. “Doctor, is the baby okay?”
“Umbilical cord’s wrapped around her neck. She’s twisted in the birth canal.”
Dr. Farney’s voice sounded achingly calm.
Wrapped around her neck…twisted in the birth canal…My baby girl had been due in early June, but she was being born three weeks early. However, Dr. Farney had urged us not to worry.
The pain was beyond bad. It was excruciating. Suddenly the pressure in my groin subsided. I inhaled one deep breath, then another, and my lower body deflated like a leaky tire.
“The baby’s not…She’s not breathing,” Weston whispered.
A deafening silence splintered through the room.
I tugged on Weston’s hand. He twisted his head in my direction, tears glistening along his lower lashes.
My mind registered the screams, but my ears heard only the wild thumping of my heart as flecks of black clouded my vision.
Weston opened the front door of our house on Lauren Drive just a few blocks away from the hospital and I stepped through the threshold. Every chair, each pillow in the front room looked as if it had been reupholstered in drab, lifeless material. Walls, knickknacks, rugs took on an alien quality. I was seeing them for the first time with a new pair of eyes, filtered through a veil of tragedy and disappointment.
I sat on the couch, squinting out the window. Tiny sparrows flitted between the branches of the oak trees in our front yard. The warmer than average May weather had wilted the white petunias and pink geraniums cascading over the sides of the hanging baskets on the front porch. I’d have to water them soon.
Maybe if I closed my eyes when I awakened all of this would not have happened. Resting my hands on my stomach, I felt the place where she’d lived for nine months. Now only a small bulge remained which would be gone in a month or two. There was no baby inside of me. There was no baby outside of me. There was no baby, period.
A heavy blanket of guilt hung across my shoulders like a woolen shroud. I’d destroyed our happiness. On the other side of the room my mother’s gilt-edged mirror reflected an image — a woman with an empty womb, a black void for a uterus. My body had betrayed me. Unable to give birth to a healthy baby, I couldn’t give my husband the child we’d been waiting for nine long months.
About the Author
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Patricia attended St. Mary’s College, studied her junior year at the University of Madrid, received her B.A. in Spanish at UC Santa Barbara then went on to get a Master’s degree in Education at Oregon State University. She lives with her husband and two teenage children in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, along with two very large chocolate labs, Annabella and her son Jack. Patricia's Friesian horse Maximus lives in the Oakland hills in a stall with a million dollar view.
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