Five months and a dozen therapy sessions later…….
It turned out to be a good thing that Leroy and Ben had decided to use Ben’s house as an interview for prospective contractors. The four month project turned into five when they had to fire the first contractors and hire new ones. The new ones were awesome. They were able to beat their scheduled time which meant that Ben and Sofia could actually move in before the baby was born. But just barely. She was due any day.
“Sofia, sit down. Please. I will get the rest,” pleaded Ben as they moved the last of the remaining boxes into their new home.
Sofia gratefully took his suggestion this time. She sat on the front porch bench, rubbing her aching back as she did. She had been having contractions off and on for a few hours. She figured they were Braxton-Hicks contractions, so she hadn’t told Ben. He would have already made her go to the hospital just to be sent home. But not after insisting on seeing the doctor and getting himself upset. She just wasn’t ready to deal with that until she knew it was real.
Still, she smiled thinking about how far Ben had come since she and his parents did an accidental intervention. Therapy was helping and the nightmares had all but disappeared. Still, she didn’t trust him right now. His anxiety had ratcheted up the the last few days as her delivery date grew closer. Everyone knew her labor might trigger him. She was afraid he might lose it again like he did the day she told him she was pregnant.
His therapist instructed Ben to call if he needed to talk during the delivery and had given him Xanax to help him through the next couple of weeks. Ben had refused to take it, so the Doctor’s number was in everyone’s phone. Including the Obstetrician and staff. Her mom and Ben’s mom were going to be in the delivery room with them. She was confident that Kate would know what to do if Ben lost it. Sadly, Sofia was more nervous about Ben than the actual delivery. Still she couldn’t wait to hold their daughter.
“Coleman Ramsay! Leave that dog alone!” shouted Ben around the box he was carrying, startling Sofia out of her thoughts.
“Daaaddddy, I want a puppy dog!” whined the six-year-old. “You promised!”
“Come here honey,” said Sofia from her supervisory perch on the front porch.
The little boy glumly walked over to his mother and sat on the bench next to her. “Daddy promised,” he said with his bottom lip stuck out.
It was all Sofia could do not to laugh at how cute he looked trying to gain her sympathy. He had her number. He knew the pout worked. She smiled brightly before answering. “As soon as your little sister is born, we will get you a dog. That was our deal remember? Maybe we can find out who owns that dog and they will let you help with him until then. He has a tag. We can check it for a number. That way you can get some practice for when you get your own dog. Okay?”
“Okayyy,” said Cole. Then he looked up at Sofia with those gorgeous blue eyes. “Mommy?”
Sofia loved that he called her Mommy. He had easily accepted her into his life. When he started calling her Mommy it felt right and warmed her. She knew she had big shoes to fill. No shoes are bigger than those that never had a chance to make mistakes. Still, she prayed everyday that she was making Grace proud.
“What sweetie?” she asked smiling down at him.
“I love you. I’m going to marry you when I grow up,” he said.
She looked up and saw that Ben had stopped and was listening. The look on her husband’s face, plus his sweet little boy, completely melted her heart. She wished he were truly hers. Maybe one day she would get the courage to ask Ben if she could formally adopt him.
She flashed Ben a quick grin and hugged Cole tightly, “I love you too kiddo. But what about Daddy?”
He thought about her question for a minute and a satisfied grin spread across his face, “Well, I guess it would be okay if Daddy marries you too.”
Ben and Sofia both couldn’t help but laugh.
Sofia abruptly stopped laughing. She instinctively grabbed her middle as a pain shot through her back around to her belly. By far stronger than any she had been having.
Ben was instantly on red alert. “Pia! Are you okay?”
“Yes,” she said, giving Ben a weak smile once the pain subsided, “but that one was strong. I think maybe it’s time.”
“That one? That wasn’t the first one? You’ve had more?” Ben’s eyes were wide.
Sofia rolled her eyes. “Calm down Babe, and please, don’t forget to breathe,” she said very matter of factually. “Call your Mom and tell her we are on the way to the hospital. Ask them to meet us there so they can watch Cole. Get the overnight bags and let’s go.” Her husband didn’t move, he just stood there and he was breathing too fast. Damn.
She redirected her attention to his son. “Cole, honey, go get your bag from your room,” she instructed.
“Are we getting my sister now?” asked Cole wide-eyed.
“Yep, scoot kiddo so we can go,” she said with a little more urgency, motioning for him to run along.
“Yay! Then I can get a puppy!” said Cole as he happily skip-ran to his room.
Then she turned her attention back to Ben. She lowered her voice and was as calm and direct as she could be. “Ben, you can get my bag later. I really need you to sit down and hold my hand for a minute.”
When he sat down, she breathed a sigh of relief. He was still with her. She took his hand. He was sweating and a little pale. “It’s okay. Just remember Ben, slow deep breaths. I need you to drive.”
Ben did as she instructed and his color returned as his breathing went back to normal. “I’m sorry. I will be okay,” he said.
Sofia was still holding his hand when another contraction hit. She got quiet and breathed slow breaths just like Ben was doing when Cole ran back out. The contraction was over quickly and not as bad as the last one. Thank God, she thought. Her water hadn’t broken yet so she was pretty sure they had plenty of time.
“Boys, time to even things out. Let’s go get us a baby girl!” she said happily as they climbed in the car.
* * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ben, Sofia and Cole were greeted by their parents plus Rachael and Nick with their two year-old little girl, Macy in tow. Ben was relieved they made it to the hospital in one piece. He knew when Sofia was having contractions in the car, because she would suddenly get still and quiet. She was trying really hard not to worry him. It was so different from Grace. They took her by ambulance straight to the Operating Room. His therapist has been having him talk about it and it has helped but this was so much more intense. He almost wished he had taken the Xanax.
Their families were a good distraction for Ben. It kept him from focusing so much on Sofia and what was happening. When Sofia’s contractions began to get close and hard, the nurse cleared out the tiny room they were in and called the doctor. It was time.
Now that he was alone in the room, with just, Sofia and their mothers, his anxiety level began to rise. It was hard to focus on his breathing when he had to watch how how much pain his wife was in – coupled with how bad his hand hurt. He figured Sofia had crushed at least two bones so far. It felt like it anyway.
When she saw him shaking his hand between contractions she laughed at him and called him a wimp. She was trying to keep him calm, when he should have been trying to help her. All he could do was let her pulverize his hand.
The doctor looked up and held up his hand. “Sofia…Don’t push yet…I need to turn her just a little….Okay good. You are doing great. On the next contraction you can push…..”
“Okay, now Sofia – PUSH – keep on – don’t let up – here she comes!”Ben barely registered his mom behind him telling him to breathe slowly when Sofia let out the only scream she had the whole time and broke the remaining bones in his hand. Then he heard the most beautiful sound in the world and forgot about his crushed hand. He heard his daughter’s very first cry.
Moments later, he saw the source of the cry when the doctor placed the tiny baby in Sofia’s waiting arms. Ben caught his breath at the site.
There was so much love on her face for their newborn. She was so happy. Ben was overwhelmed and began to feel a little dizzy. The anxiety began to creep in. Grace had looked at Cole the exact same way.
“Ben, do you want to hold her?” she asked.
He nodded his head. “Yes…”
He looked at the tiny baby in his arms and started to cry. “We’re gonna be okay Cole. I promise to take care of you. Just you and me.” He kissed him on the forehead.
Suddenly, his arms were empty…someone took the baby from him….”Cole…?!” he said, and looked at his empty hands. Someone was crying in the room. Why? Where is Cole?
“Should we get him out of here?” asked the nurse.
“Not yet,” said the doctor. “Give him a minute. She is helping him.”
Ben was confused and looked at the doctor. “Where is he? I need to see him! Who is helping him?” Why won’t they tell me what’s wrong? he thought.
Then he heard his mother’s voice….. “Breathe Ben. Please. Cole is okay. Sofia is okay. Deep breaths. It’s me. Mom.” Mom’s not the doctor.
Why is Mom here? What’s wrong with Sofia? Did she take Cole? “Mom? Where’s Cole?” asked Ben, as he tried to look around the room for his baby boy.
“Ben. Look at me sweetheart,” begged his mother. So he looked at her for the answers.
“Good,” she said. “Now, take slow deep breaths.”
Ben’s hand went to his head. “I don’t feel so good.”
“Sit down.” she commanded, so he did.
When he sat down, he looked around the little hospital room.
Sofia was in the bed holding Cole. No….not Cole, he thought. Why did he think she was holding Cole? He blinked and took a deep breath. Their daughter. “Shit….” he murmured, mostly to himself. He suddenly realized what had just happened. He blacked out.
“Do you know where you are?” asked his mom.
He was so humiliated and ashamed. He couldn’t look at anyone. “I’m okay now,” he whispered. “How long?”
“Is he okay Kate?” It was Sofia asking. His sweet Sofia, having just given birth and now worried about him. I’m such a jackass.
Ben got up on shaky feet and walked over to her. He sat on the bed and leaned down to kiss her. She was crying so he gently wiped her tears with his thumb. “I’m so sorry. Please, don’t cry sweetheart. I promise, I’m okay now. It was just too much. I will call Dr. Bradshaw when things calm down.”
Sofia looked down at the little girl in her arms. “Look at her Ben,” she said softly, “she is so perfect. We are right here for you. Both of us. Me and Amelia. Please believe that we are okay.”Ben smiled. “I know. I love you. And I love both of our children more than anything.”
This is the official end of Generation 1.2. I think of Starting Over as the real Generation 1 that began with Kaitlin’s journey.
My readers wanted to see what happened to Ben after her story ended and New Beginnings was born. ♥♥♥ I want to thank you all for encouraging me to go on Ben’s journey and for going with me. I love my readers! ♥♥♥
Generation 2 will pick up with our heir, Coleman Ramsay Murdock, three years later….. at age 9 and his new little sister at age 3. Look for it to begin within the next two weeks. As always, thank you for reading!