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by Kristi Stokes
Description: For Val Smith, adoption was the easy way out of her mistake with Brian Turner nine months ago while also serving as an answer to Lila Snyder's prayers for another child. But when Val changes her mind, Lila must decide if she should risk everything for her new baby.
eBook Publisher: SynergEbooks, 2009 SynergEbooks
eBookwise Release Date: October 2009
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [225 KB]
Reading time: 148-208 min.
"Push! Come on, push!"
"You can do it, Val!"
Encouragement came from nurses and staff on all sides. Though she didn't think she had the energy or the strength left, Val Smith pushed with all her might as the next contraction reached its peak. "Ahh!" she cried as pain, pressure and relief came together during the final moment, leaving Val breathless and completely exhausted.
"You did it! It's a boy!" the doctor exclaimed. He wiped his forehead against his shoulder removing small traces of sweat that accumulated there as though he were the one to have just labored for hours. He smiled kindly at Val while he held the tiny babe up for her to see.
He was wet and crying, his little eyes scrunched tight against the glaring lights in the room. Even so, he was the most gorgeous baby Val had seen in her entire nineteen years on Earth. "He's so beautiful..." she mumbled, leaning back against the slightly damp sheets on her hospital bed. She was exhausted and her eyes were heavy, but she wanted to meet her baby, her son whom she had worked and labored so hard for.
A nurse took the crying baby from the doctor's hands so that he could finish the delivery, but Val's attention was no longer on him but on the handful of nurses crowded around her newborn.
"He's a 9."
She wasn't sure what any of it meant, and no one offered her any explanation. She had no family in the room. Now that the baby was born, the attending staff cared only about him. It didn't matter if she knew what there numbers were for. Not that she cared. All that mattered was that he was here and that he was healthy.
When they were finished checking him out, the nurses handed the new bundle to Val without another word. But she didn't care. This was the instant she'd lived for the last nine months. All she wanted was to enjoy these precious moments before they were over.
Missy, the kindest of all the nurses in attendance, held up Val's camera and snapped some photos for her. Val barely noticed as she nuzzled her nose into the tiny babe's neck, breathing in the scent of him. She studied her son's face, trying desperately to memorize every bit of it.
Someone else entered the room making a scene. "Is that him?" she asked. "Is that our baby?"
Val looked up, disappointed that her time was over. She held him a moment longer, taking him in once more, before handing him, reluctantly, to his new mother, Lila Snyder.
She watched Lila hold him. She couldn't believe this was happening right now. He was so perfect, so small and helpless. He had grey eyes and smashed features from the hard work he'd just done coming into the world. His dark hair was still wet and matted to his head. Wrapped in a hospital-issued receiving blanket, he almost looked like a baby burrito. A slight smile crossed her face briefly at that thought.
"Oh Val, he's just perfect," Lila said to her; she looked in awe at the new baby. She was so amazed and engrossed by the newborn that she couldn't take her eyes off of him.
"Please, call him Matthew. It means 'gift from God,'" Val said to her, her voice barely more than a whisper. She was too sad, too choked up to say it any louder.
But Matthew's new mother didn't seem to hear Val. She turned and walked to the other end of the birthing room. Val looked, heartbroken, at the scene. The nurses scurried about the room doing what needed done. No one noticed Val anymore. She lay there all alone, recovering from what was quite possibly the hardest thing she'd ever done.
Hurt and angry thoughts swirled in her mind, intermixing there. This moment should be hers, not Lila's. Could she really do this? Could she really give up her firstborn son to this woman? Would this pain she was feeling over the loss of her baby really ever go away? She wasn't sure but she had to do this. It was the right thing to do. She wanted to finish college, she wanted a career, and she wanted to marry someone she loved and have his children. How could she keep a baby that she wasn't ready for?
Her heart was screaming at her to get up, grab Matthew, and run with him. She wanted more than anything to listen to it. She pictured herself walking over to Lila, taking Matthew from her arms, and walking out of the room. For a moment, she lay there seriously considering it and dreaming about what it would be like to have this small baby at home with her. She'd be a single mother with very little help. Her mother lived close by but she was much too busy. She hadn't even made it to the hospital today. The two of them would struggle through life every day. There might even be days when he'd be hungry and she could do nothing for him. Let's not forget, she had to work. She couldn't stay home like Lila. Matthew would spend the majority of his days in daycare since she'd probably need two jobs to take care of him. She couldn't give him a cozy life at home with mom for a few years.
Val's heart sank still further. No, it would be impossible. All she could offer Matthew was her love. Her love wasn't enough. She couldn't offer him a big house or two married parents that loved him. With her, there would be no huge birthday parties, no grandparents to go gaga over him. She'd been right from the beginning. This was the best thing for him right now. She had to love him enough to let go, to let Lila raise him. She'd chosen Lila to be his new mother after all. She'd had thousands of parents to choose from.
Fresh tears streamed down her face as she considered the decision she'd already made. She watched Lila happily holding Matthew on the other side of the room completely oblivious to Val's pain. Val put her hand to her mouth, trying to stifle the sound of her crying. How would she ever recover from this? Would yearly pictures and letters really be enough? Would that small glimpse into his life satisfy her desire to be with him? How would she ever make it through the rest of her life without her son, her special gift, straight from God?