"Come on, we have to go!" he shouted, leaping over the edge of a building. "Blake, let's go! Time's running out!"
"Peter, wait for me. I can't… I'm scared." I called back, my toes gripping the edge of the walls.
He looked me straight in the eyes. "Believe in yourself, you can do anything if you put your mind to it. Don't let the muggles get you down."
Right then Voldemort appeared behind me, wand pointed straight at me. "Prepare to die!" he yelled.
I jumped right off the ledge. I looked up to see Peter Pan's eyes go wide with fear as I tumbled down to the streets below me,
"Fuck," I mumbled, rolling out of bed. The dream was actually getting pretty interesting. But oh no, my bladder had to get in the way of everything and try to wake me up.
Like a zombie, I stumbled out of my bedroom, my feet skidding the carpet as I trudged to the bathroom. For once, Daddy wasn't smoking up a storm of the nasty Marlboro Light 100s in a hard pack that he and Momma both smoked.
I opened the door and shivered as my feet touched the icy cold tiles. The air conditioning only ever seemed to do a great job in this room and in mine at night, but thankfully I had carpeting in there. It helped nothing that the toilet seat was just as cold as the floor, if not colder.
Sighing, I sat down to pee. In my half-awake, half-asleep state I contemplated on whether or not my old brown pajama pants that had bright orange and pink deer leaping all over them fit anymore. I couldn't even tell if I liked them anymore or not. I went to wipe and….
My mother burst in through the bathroom door, holding her bladder. "Move, move, move!" she shrieked.
In confusion, I burst of the toilet, ass completely exposed, and nearly tripped several times in the process of trying to get out of the bathroom while pulling up my underwear and pants.
A few minutes later after the pants fiasco had been solved and I had washed my hands, my mother came out of the bathroom. Her face was sweaty and she was clutching her stomach.
"My water broke. Call your aunt Kari, now." she said, her voice cracking. Slowly, she shuffled back into the bathroom. As I dialed the number, I could hear more liquid hitting the toilet.
"You okay?" I called out as the dial tone rang.
She groaned. "Yeah, sure, as much as one can be okay when they're in labor!"
Not a half an hour later, my Aunt Kari showed up with her own newborn, Jeremiah. He was still asleep as my mother put on one of her maternity dresses and my aunt set up "The Cadillac", I.e., the Eddie Bauer stroller we had picked out a couple weeks before Jeremiah was born.
I played with his soft, dark curls as my mother hunched over in another contraction. Her face was contorted in pain, and I cringed at the thought of a baby popping out of her privates any time now. Even though I was only ten, I knew how things worked down there, thanks to the "You're Growing Up, So Let's Traumatize You By Telling You About ALL Of Your Bits And Pieces" talk that they had given in the last month of fourth grade.
Aunt Kari scowled at me crouched so close to the baby. "You're going to wake him up, just go back to bed yourself."
I looked at the clock. It was only about seven in the morning now, and by my standards, extremely early. For me, it was the middle of the night. It was rare that summer that I would wake up any time before noon, or go to bed any time before four in the morning. What could I say, I was a night person. I still am, actually.
"I don't want to," I mumbled, rubbing my eyes. "I don't want to wake up and you guys be already at the hospital. Being stranded isn't really on my agenda for today."
My mom laughed. "No one's going to leave you here. I'll call Kevin or your dad to come pick you up once things are all settled."
"What do you mean, 'settled'?" I asked quizzically.
Kari popped into the conversation. "She means once things are actually happening. You know, after all the paperwork is filled out, the doctor has come, and she's been hooked up to all the monitors and what not. For now, though, we're just going to walk around to get her contractions picked up."
I sighed but nodded. "If you say so," I said wistfully.
Even though they seemed like they meant what they said, I wasn't so sure. After all, I had a spot to uphold. Months ago, I had claimed dibs as being the third person in the family to hold the baby when it came out. Obviously, the doctor would be the technical first person to hold the baby, and then it would be a nurse or maybe perhaps my mother. Then it would be more nurses or doctors, or maybe Kevin, the father. So I decided that I, as the biggest sister of the baby, should get to hold it as soon as I was allowed.
But at that point in time, it was too early for me to function correctly. I somehow managed my way back to bed and remained awake only long enough to turn my volume up and yell out to them, "You better call me if anything happens!"
The hospital lights kept flickering on and off, but it would happen fast enough to give off a kind of strobe light effect. At first I had thought it was cool, but after a few rounds of doing that, all it was to me was annoying.
It was sometime around eleven. Momma and Kari had walked around for an hour or two before they decided that the contractions were getting close enough to the point that my mom needed to go to the hospital. When Aunt Kari called me, they were both surprisingly calm, considering she was about to give birth literally any minute now.
So maybe that's an bit overdramatic, but at ten years old, it seemed like things like that would happen incredibly fast. After all, my parents had told me so many stories about how the doctor had come in just in time to catch me when I was born. With that impression of labor, how could one blame me for thinking things happened so quickly?
I had been there for about an hour. I didn't really know where my dad was; he hadn't been the one to take me, it was Kevin. The car ride there had been equally annoying. He was so antsy and nervous that he kept fidgeting almost every few seconds, then would let out a scared little chuckle at nothing at all. I couldn't really hold it against him since his first child was about to be born, but then again…. I totally could.
At this point in time, I knew my Aunt Jess, my cousin Kaytie, and my Nana were on their way. My mom had mentioned something about my Aunt Jenny and possibly even my Aunt Charity coming, too, but I had no idea how long it would take for any of them to get here. Kevin's parents were also coming; I hardly knew them then, but I figured they were probably pretty nice people. I knew I'd have plenty of time to get to know them, considering the baby was their grandchild.
Every few minutes I would go back to my mother's hospital room to check on her. Kari and Jeremiah were in there, but Kari was breastfeeding, so I couldn't really talk to her. Women just whipping their boobs out wherever to feed their kids was still a strange concept to me.
My mother looked so weird hooked up to the different machines. There was one checking her heart rate, another monitoring the movement of the baby, and there was one that showed each contraction as it came and how intense it was. She also had an epidural hooked up; I was so glad that I wasn't in the room when the inserted it. Needles would always make me want to puke.
Already I could tell this was taking a toll on her. She hated hospitals, and hated not being able to move around or go smoke or drink her Starbucks even more. The feeling of being stuck wasn't really her thing; I knew she was just dying to get the baby out of her so she could finally smoke through half a pack and drink a Venti Zebra Mocha, with 2 ½ pumps of chocolate and white chocolate syrup in her coffee. I made a mental note to have Daddy pick one up for her later, and to tell them that there needed to be whole milk used and they needed to stir it well. As one could tell, I had been pretty much branded with the orders my mother usually got. It was always easy to recall something I had heard over and over again, unless it came to doing the dishes or cleaning my room.
"Are you okay?" I asked, trying not to seem overly concerned. I didn't want to freak her out and think that I was thinking something awful was going to happen, although I was really worried that any minute now there would be a shrieking, screaming, bloody thing popping out from down under while I was still in the room.
"I guess," she mumbled. "Why do you keep asking me that?"
"Just wondering," I said as I went to sit by Kari, who was finally pulling her top back up to cover her breasts. "Obviously I have no idea what this is like."
Kari laughed. "From my standpoint, it's safe to say that it hurts a lot," she said. "But then again, I wouldn't know fully. I had a C-Section."
"Yeah, it fucking hurts," my mom said, whimpering as another contraction wracked her body. I watched her knees scoot up to her stomach and her eyes squeeze shut tightly. She clenched her fists and her jaw; I was almost anticipating her to punch whoever was closest to her.
A few minutes later a nurse came in to check how much my mother had dilated since the last time. I nearly sprinted out of the room the instant they started to spread her legs. Consider me immature, I thought to myself. That's just fine, so long as I don't have to see whatever the hell is down there!
Not long after the nurse left, a big crowd of people came in. It was like someone had announced that there was a party going on in my mom's room or something, for as many relatives showed up.
Maybe there weren't really too many of us, compared to the usual size that was at family reunions, but in a relatively small room, it seemed like we were packed in like sardines. I sat on the foot of the bed as everyone clamored into the room and smiled at my mother.
I was a little confused as to why the adults were smiling at her. What, was it making fun of her in a new way? Some kind of way to say, "Ha ha, you're in pain and I'm sitting here perfectly fine. Life sucks for you!" I didn't have the guts enough to ask anyone if that's why or not.
Time passed slowly in that room. Everyone was making small talk and none of it was particularly interesting to me. My cousin Kaytie wasn't even there yet; she wasn't coming until later, after the baby was born, because she had summer camp. As awful as it sounded, I was a little jealous of her. At least she wasn't wasting her last Saturday of summer in a hospital like me. She was out doing things, having fun, playing with her friends.
"Lucky," I whispered under my breath. No one heard me.
After a little while longer, I was almost positive that this baby was never coming out.
We had been in the hospital for almost six hours. I was getting extremely bored, hungry, and thirsty, but the cafeteria wasn't open yet and the only thing to drink in the soda machines was Diet Coke, and I refused to drink that due to rumors I had heard about it causing cancer.
Even though my mother's contractions were getting closer together, it still felt like nothing was really changing. Any time a nurse would come in, most of us would leave the room. We'd only go back in once she had left, but the look on her face was just about as annoyed as the rest of us. Why were we wasting our time here, again? Oh, yes, the look on her face said. Because the damn baby won't come out yet!
I slumped on the couch in the delivery room. My mother looks so worn out. Sweat and oil was already pooling on her forehead and around her nose, and she was breathing out of her mouth. She looked so tired and exhausted; her hair was tangled and curling from the heat of staying in one place for so long. I was pretty sure that the contractions weren't helping anything for her, either. I didn't even want to know how much pain she was in.
My Aunt Jenny came in a little while after I had gotten back in; she'd been out on a smoke break with the other adults, but wanted to check in on my mom.
"Bien," my mom said hoarsely. "I want you to be the one to cut the chord."
Jenny looked shocked. I had to fight giggles and the urge to call her Bien like my mom had; the last time I did that, I kept saying it over and over again until I got a reaction from her. She had turned straight around in the car to face me and teased back, "Little Ca? Little Ca? Little Ca!" I hated being called a miniature version of my mother, so I had never done it again.
"A-are you sure?" she stammered, trying to digest it fully. She ran her hands through her auburn hair, ruffling and spiking it with her fingers. There was always so much gel in it, I can remember that pretty clearly.
My mom nodded. "I don't want Kevin to do it, just you."
Jenny's face lit up and she turned to me. "You hear that Blakerini?"
"Yup yup!" I said, smiling. I loved it when Jenny grinned completely; her plump cheeks would almost block out her eyes completely. What you could see of her eyes were like little happy balls of light; the corners were so far upturned, she almost seemed Asian.
She went over and gave my mom a big hug, and I smiled knowing that it made her feel a little better. They had been best friends for over sixteen years at that point; I know, because they'd mention it almost every freaking day. I knew it meant a lot to them both for Jenny to be able to cut the chord.
A couple minutes later, there was another really strong contraction, and my mother nearly screamed out in pain. I could feel a cold sweat break out on my forehead.
"You okay, Momma?"
In the midst of her pain, she called out, "Stop fucking asking me that, the both of you! Yes, it hurts! Now stop!!!"
I shrunk back and Jenny turned to
look at me. Her face was red, but I didn't know if it was because
she had been called out or if it was because she had been
laughing at my mother's reaction to my question.
"I'll go get a doctor," she said as she slipped out of the room.
Everyone but Jenny and I were in the waiting triage for the maternity floor. Jenny was in the room with Momma and the doctor and nurses, whereas I sat outside the room, listening intently to what was going on.
From what I could hear, there was a lot of screaming and cussing. I had to try to keep it together in order not to burst out into laughter from my mother screaming at the nurses.
"You fat fucking cow, I need to push!" she yelled. I wondered how the nurses were responding to all of the profanity, especially since this was a Catholic hospital.
There was a lot of murmuring from the staff that was in the room, followed by grunting and moaning from my mother. It sounded like they were attacking her with needles and knives from the sounds that she was making. Every little whimper that came out of her mouth scared me a little. After all, my mother had always boasted that she had a really high pain tolerance. If that was true, then why was this affecting her so much? Did it really hurt that bad?
I was snapped out of my thoughts by the doctor saying rather loudly, "Okay, now I need you to push on the count of three."
Jenny's voice piped in. "One…. Two…." I could hear her voice shaking as I stared at the closed door. I wondered what things looked like in there with all the nurses and the doctor and Jenny crowding around the hospital bed. My mom was claustrophobic, I remembered just then. Did the closeness of everyone bother her?
More screaming. I cringed as I tried to scoot away from the door. My mother was really, really loud. It almost made my head spin. I tried to knock my knuckles against the linoleum floor as some kind of distraction from the noise.
"And again," the doctor said in a calm voice. I didn't understand how he wasn't spazzing out from all the action that was going on in there. Maybe he was wearing ear plugs, I thought to myself.
"One, two, three!" Jenny said, her voice rising, trying to fight for volume control over my mother's.
There was a lot of screaming and grunting, but then there was a tiny, brief moment of silence. There was no sound at all, it seemed. None coming from outside, none from within the room, and there wasn't even a single song playing through my mind at that moment.
And then I heard it.
A tiny, high-pitched wail. The voice bubbled up out of the silence and pierced my ears, but I was so comforted by it.
The baby was out. And it was alive. What more could I have asked for? A smile rose to my face. The baby was still crying, and I could still hear it through the heavy door. It had a set of lungs on it, that much was for sure.
"It's a girl!" the doctor called out. I thought right then that he might have known that I was outside listening in on what all was going on. Or maybe he just couldn't hear very well after all the screaming and didn't really know how loud he was.
I grinned. I had a baby sister and she was alive and healthy and well. And hopefully very soon, I would get to meet her.
Jenny had gone out to the waiting room to tell everyone the great news.
I was in the room with my mom, looking at the beautiful baby girl that was in my mother's arms. She was so tiny, only barely six pounds. Her skin was like a soft peachy-red color, and it was so soft. I understood finally what people meant when they said baby-soft skin; it was pretty freaking smooth.
"You want to hold her now?" Momma asked. Her voice was so worn out, but after what she had been through, I understood why.
I nodded. "Go sit down," she instructed me as she gently swung her legs out of the bed.
Shakily, she got up. I nearly leapt up to help her, but she swatted me away. "I can do it on my own, thanks," she said, smiling at me.
And then, she was in my arms. A beautiful, pink, tiny little bundle of a baby. Her eyes were closed, but I could see them moving underneath the lids. Her tiny little mouth was puckered in a dainty pout, like she was almost a little mad that she was out in the world now. Carefully, I unwrapped a little bit of the swaddling blanket she was in and got out one of her hands. I examined every small fingernail; they were crescent shaped and surprisingly long for a newborn, or so I thought. Her fingertips were all wrinkly and pruned, like when someone had stayed in the bathtub for too long.
I tucked her arm back in the blanket and gently caressed her cheeks. They were crazily smooth, and she just seemed so cuddly. But then, I was a little afraid that if I pressed on her too hard, she would shatter into a million pieces. She seemed so…. Vulnerable. Frail. Breakable. It was so new to me.
Underneath her quaint blue and pink striped hat, there were tiny, thin wisps of blonde hair. From what I had been told of when I was a baby, she was lucky. I had come out with no hair at all and I looked like one of the Cone Heads in baby form. My mother had asked the doctor if that was a permanent thing, and if so, could we do surgery on it now to fix it, please?
But no, this baby's head was perfectly rounded. The little tufts of hair seemed like baby duck down; I almost wanted to pet her like an animal, but I refrained from doing so, even though it was tempting.
"What should we name her?" my mother asked after a little while. "I still like the name Carson."
I nodded. "That sounds perfect for her,"
"I was thinking…" she trailed off. "Since Jenny got to cut the chord, we should put a little bit of her name with Carson's."
"Carson Jennifer? I don't like the sound of that."
My mom laughed. "No, no. Her middle name. Elizabeth. Carson Elizabeth."
It sounded pretty good, but to me there was just something…. Missing. The name didn't seem like it was really complete yet. There needed to be something in there that would prove to everyone else that she was beautiful even from day one. A couple minutes after that, the idea popped into my head.
"What if… what if she had two middle names?" I said, trying to phrase everything just right. "You know, double special."
She thought for a moment. "What
did you have in mind?"
"Belle." I paused. "And no, not for the Disney Princess. Belle because that means beautiful in French and I want her to know that even when she was just born, she was pretty."
My mother smiled. "That's what it is, then. Carson Elizabeth Belle Gray."
As I looked down at the baby, I swear it seemed like she was smiling in approval of her name. and, for just a split second, I could see a small sliver of her bright blue eyes.
This was almost four years ago, but I can remember everything perfectly. I suppose it helps that I had been going through a phase around that time with keeping a diary, so I got everything down to a very close replica of what was going through my mind at that exact time. Even if I hadn't, how could I ever forget the birth of my first sister on my mother's side?
Carson turns four on August 17th, and you have no idea how insane it is to me. It doesn't feel like four years have passed by that quickly, but then when I compare her baby pictures to how she is now, there's a definite change. In fact, so much has changed that in a way, it almost seems like all of this was a lifetime ago, and yet feels like it just happened yesterday.
Thankfully, she still has the cutest button nose, the just barely there cleft in her chin, and the brightest blue eyes. Her smile can still light up a room within a split second, and her laughter is possibly one of the most infectious things in the world.
As I'm sitting here, writing this, Carson is curled up next to me with her little monkey baby blanket. She calls me Blakerz a lot, or sometimes just Sister. There's so much more that I could tell you about this amazing little girl, and maybe someday I'll have a chance to. But she has gotten to be so big in those four years.
Now she does tap and gymnastics; she's the strongest little kid I know. She loves monkeys and unicorns and dinosaurs…. Oh, who am I kidding? She loves literally every animal, but she hates bees.
We call her Carson the Monkey, because from three months old she started trying to get into things or roll off the couch. Earlier I actually caught her trying to climb the refrigerator, so I'd say the nickname fits her rather well.
She's one of the bubbliest, happiest little girls I have ever known. She is so loving, so kind, so funny, and overall weird, but then again, she IS my sister. And she's definitely living up to her name. Carson for my mother's eccentric grandfather, Elizabeth for not only our Aunt Jenny, but for our Grandma Jane, Jenny's mom. Both have passed away in the past year, and it's going to be difficult to cope with that in the upcoming days.
But most of all, I'm so proud that I got to give her the middle name Belle. She's so incredibly beautiful, and I just know that when she's a teenager, she's going to break so many hearts. Not only is she beautiful on the outside; likewise, the inside is made of gold as well. It isn't hard to see even now that her heart and mind are in the right place and that she is going to grow up to be the amazing person that I know she will be.
This memory is most definitely the most precious summer memory that I have, and I will never forget it.