The doctors have made her comfortable with pain medication, and though she seems relaxed as she crunches on ice chips, her eyes look as if they’re struggling to stay open, her skin is paler than white, and strands of hair are strewn across her forehead and matted down with the sweat. She looks like the definition of miserable, and watching her go through this pain and agony only brings up even more questions on how she could go through this and then hand our baby over to someone else.
“We’re graduating in a month. I was thinking we could get an apartment, and I’ll decorate one of the bedrooms for her,” I say, placing my hand down gently over her stomach. “She’s our daughter. We should give her everything we can.” I’m aware I sound insane. I feel insane, but I can’t give up hope, even if it’s the truth that she has no say in this.
“AJ,” Cammy mutters. “It’s too late.”
“No, it’s not,” I argue senselessly. I don’t know if it is or not, but I want to stand firm and tell her it’s not. It can’t be too late. She’s our child.
An older male doctor walks in during the middle of more pleading from me to her and tells us he was informed that Cammy is ready to push now. A nurse slides two clean gloves onto the doctor’s hands and he sits down on a circular stool at the end of the bed where Cammy’s feet are being perched in stirrups.
I’m at a loss for words. I should be soothing her and trying to take some of her pain and fears away, but I can’t because of my anger. I’m so angry, and I know I’ll never get over this. I should leave. I should do what I can to avoid the pain I’ll feel when I see my daughter, knowing I will have to give her up. This is all too much.
Coming to terms with the thought of being a dad has taken me months. Every minute of every day since Cammy told me, I have convinced myself this is the way it’s supposed to be. I’ll make it through this. We’ll all make it through this. Now that I’ve finally come to terms with it, I’m not sure I can suddenly come to terms with not having this little girl in my life.
My thoughts fall quieter, and the pastel-washed room filled with a scent I will never forget joins me in silence as Cammy pushes through her pain. I’m still as a statue, holding her hand as sweat trickles down her red cheeks. I can’t hear anything. It’s as if the world around me has paused except for Cammy, the doctor, nurses, and...that cry.
The doctor holds her up like a trophy we just won, and to me, she feels like a trophy. People don’t give up trophies.
After cleaning her up, one of the nurses gently hands Cammy our baby girl, and I wait and watch for the look on Cammy’s face to morph from pain to love, but…it doesn’t happen.
“I can’t hold her,” Cammy utters. She closes her eyes to avoid looking at the most beautiful thing she will possibly never see.
How could she not touch our daughter? “I’d like to hold her,” I speak out, louder than I meant to.
“No,” Cammy argues. “She isn’t ours.” Cammy breaks down into a fit of tears, which turn into loud cries. She’s suffering in pain, both emotionally and physically, and I don’t know how to fix that because I don’t know how to fix my own emotional pain at the moment. “It’ll make it worse, AJ. Believe me.”
“It’s the only chance I’ll have,” I argue. “I wouldn’t give it up for the world, Cammy.”
Cammy clenches her eyes tighter and inhales sharply through a painful groan. The nurse takes her cue and walks over to me, placing my daughter into my arms.
Her skin is so pink and perfect. Her eyes are looking at me wildly like she’s trying to figure out what’s going on and how she ended up here. Little sprouts of dark hair are coiled into fine curls, and her lips are shaped like perfect bows. She’s the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen, and I love her more than I’ve ever loved anything or anyone.
“Are you naming her or are the adopting parents naming her?” the nurse asks Cammy.
“They’re naming her,” Cammy says, with only a soft sound to her breath. Her words float through the air, and I realize the names we came up with were never set in stone, but I didn’t think she would choose against naming her.
My daughter is still staring up at me. Maybe she’s trying to memorize my face before she’s taken away. I wish I could tell her to memorize me. “Don’t forget me,” I whisper softly. “Please.”
“The adopting parents were called about an hour ago, as requested. They are in the waiting room. Once we freshen you up, would you like me to bring them in?” The nurse is focusing solely on Cammy because Cammy has said she doesn’t know who the father is. I am this little girl’s dad. I will always be her dad whether she knows it or not.