“I swear to God, my vagina is on fire!” Magnolia groans as she breastfeeds, flinching every few seconds. “No one tells you that after givin’ birth, your whole bottom half burns. So let me be the first to prepare ya. That first pee afterward…” She shakes her head with a terrified expression as if scarred for life. “Never again.”
I snort as I sit next to her hospital bed, rubbing over my thirty-eight-week belly that feels twice the size it should be. One big sneeze and I’ll pop this baby right out.
“So I take it the epidural wore off?”
“There was no time to get one!” She glances down and switches the baby to her other breast. “Ouch.” I cringe just thinking about it. Every inch of my body aches. I’m hardly getting any sleep because I can’t get comfortable in bed or on the sofa. Waddling around the training center makes my ankles swell. And every inch of me is covered in sweat, considering it’s the hottest month of the year.
Nothing is glamorous about being pregnant at this stage.
Magnolia went into labor, and the next thing I knew, Tripp called to tell me the baby was here.
“Yeah, zero out of ten do not recommend.”
“What? Givin’ birth?”
“Sex. Sex is to blame for this. Get the drugs, Noah. Trust me.”
I burst out laughing and hold my stomach as my bladder contracts. “Oh my God, you just made me pee.”
“Get used to that.” She chuckles. “I hear it’s even worse after birth.”
Tripp walks in with Fisher and immediately covers his eyes when he notices Magnolia’s tits are out.
“Are you gonna let me hold the baby or what?” I tease, knowing I’ll have to share soon when more people visit.
“Yes, as soon as we’re done. This hurts, by the way. Another thing to prepare for. I swear, they come out with teeth or somethin’. My nipples are gonna be raw within a few days.”
I snicker at her serious tone. “I think that’s normal, Mags. They’ll toughen up. Soon, you won’t even feel it, and your breasts are no longer your own.”
I’m proud of how quickly she caught on. It’s something I’m worried about since my nipples are pierced. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I removed the barbells.
“I’m still mad you weren’t behind me chantin’ push push push like we planned.” She pretends to pout. “But you had to go and get knocked up right after me. The reward is worth it, though.” She smiles wide at the baby.
“First, I never agreed to that. Second…” I inhale sharply as more liquid slides down my leg. Gross.
“You okay?” Magnolia asks.
“What’s wrong?” Fisher steps closer.
“Um…” I sit up, and my stomach tightens. “Shit. I think my water broke.”
“Seriously?” Magnolia exclaims.
“Are you sure?” Fisher asks.
“Either that or I’ve lost all control of my bladder.” Fisher takes my hand and helps me stand. “It’s like a slow trickle but with cramps in my back and lower stomach.”
“Oh my God, if you have the baby before midnight, they’ll have the same birth date!” Magnolia squeals.
“Are you in pain?” Fisher asks. “Sounds like contractions.”
“I felt some earlier but figured it was just Braxton Hicks. I still have two weeks.” I try to control my breathing as the contractions get more intense.
“We should call your doctor.” Fisher grabs his phone out of his pocket.
“Hello! You’re on the L&D floor!” Magnolia waves around the remote. “I’ll get the nurse.”
She presses the red button as Tripp stays next to her side. I’m glad she didn’t go through this alone since I couldn’t get here on time. Tripp helped her through the whole process and even cut the umbilical cord.
As soon as the nurse arrives, Fisher tells her what’s going on, and she returns with a wheelchair. Then another nurse calls my doctor as they secure a room for me.
“I love you! I want updates every ten minutes!” Magnolia calls as they push me out of her room.
“Love you!” I wave and try to steady my anxiety.
“The on-call doctor is on her way to examine you, Mrs. Underwood. We’ll get you comfortable until she arrives.” The nurse’s calm tone settles my nerves as she takes me to a room a few doors down from Magnolia’s.
Fisher helps me undress and get into the horrid gown that makes this feel all too real. Once I’m under the covers and hooked to a monitor, I FaceTime my parents.
“We’re already on our way, honey!” Mom squeals. “I can’t believe we’re gettin’ two grandbabies at the same time!”
She loves Magnolia as one of her own and was coming to visit when I called.
“Hang in there, sweetheart.” Dad grins when Mom points the screen at him.
“I am. I’ll see ya soon.”
Once we hang up, Fisher stands beside me and cups my cheek. “We’re havin’ a baby, love.”
“No backin’ out now.”
“Never.” He dips down and gives me a tender kiss. “I can’t wait to meet her.”
I never thought I’d be fortunate or deserving enough to have another child.
A little girl.
A baby who stole my heart the moment I knew she existed.
A daughter who looks just like her mother—the love of my life and soulmate. Watching Noah prepare to become a mother for the past nine months has been the highlight of my life. Each milestone she hit was a blessing. We spent late nights working on the nursery together and discussing all the fun adventures we’d have once she was older.
Poppy Grace Underwood was born after four hours of labor. She entered this world with a full head of blond hair and screaming at the top of her lungs.
I’d never seen or heard anything more perfect.
My strong and resilient wife did incredible. She nearly broke my hand, but I’d take anything to help relieve the pain she experienced. When the doctor examined her, she was already six centimeters dilated and progressing quickly. They told her she’d be ready to push soon and decided not to get the epidural. As soon as I witnessed the baby’s head crowning, I had no idea how she was doing it without meds.
“I should’ve gotten the epidural,” Noah groans as she waddles from the bathroom.
“I tried to warn ya!” Magnolia holds her baby as she sits next to Noah’s bedside. “But at least now you can walk afterward instead of waitin’ for it to wear off. That’s a bonus.”
“She wasn’t jokin’. It really does burn,” Noah tells me as I help her sit on the bed.
“That burn spray is a godsend. I think I sprayed a gallon of it up there.” Magnolia chuckles.
Once Noah’s comfortable, I grab Poppy from the bassinet and bring her over. “I think she’s hungry.”
“I never did get to hold your baby,” Noah tells Magnolia as she settles Poppy across her bare chest.
“We’ll get to take turns now. Breastfeeding parties and midnight diaper changes. We should just live together.”
“Or better idea, make the men live together and put them on nighttime duty while we sleep,” Noah suggests.
“Ooh, yes. Love that. Tripp? Pack your bags. You’re movin’ in with Fisher,” Magnolia taunts.
“You kickin’ me outta my own house, woman?” Tripp says next to her.
“Just until the baby can sleep, eat, and take care of itself.”
I chuckle at their banter. You’d never be able to tell Tripp isn’t the father. He loves her and the baby as his own.
Hours go by with visitors, diaper changes, and more feedings. Magnolia and Tripp go back to her room so she can rest, and while Noah sleeps, I rock Poppy in my arms.
“Thank you for choosing your mama and me,” I whisper as she sleeps soundly in a floral blanket wrapped tightly like a burrito. “I promise never to take a day as your father for granted. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but fallin’ in love with your mama and havin’ you wasn’t one of them. Your brother’s excited to meet ya. And someday, we’ll take you to meet your big sister, Lyla. She’d love you so much.”
Jase and Amelia went camping and won’t be back until tomorrow, but I know he can’t wait to see her. We tried FaceTiming, but their bad reception kept dropping the call.
“Knock, knock,” someone whispers at the door with a light tap.
I’d recognize that voice anywhere.
“Come in, Damien.”
For once, he’s not here to visit me in the hospital.
“Wow. Look at you, a new dad at your age.” He chuckles, and I scoff.
“We’re the same age.”
“Yeah, but my kids are grown, and you’re startin’ over. How do you feel about that?”
I lower my eyes to Poppy’s precious face and melt. “Like the luckiest man in the world.”
He pats my shoulder. “Good. She’s beautiful.”
“She really is.”
My eyes water as my emotions hit me in the throat, and I choke them back.
“It’s okay for you to be happy about havin’ a new daughter and miss Lyla at the same time. She’d want you to enjoy every moment with Poppy.”
I nod. “Just don’t feel worthy of it.”
“You’ve turned your life around, Fisher. Be proud and give yourself some credit for all you’ve done. It wasn’t easy. You deserve to have a family and be loved.”
“Didn’t know you were comin’ to give me a pep talk,” I taunt, wiping my cheek.
“I’m always here to give ya what you need. A chat or an ass-kickin’. Either way, I’ll be here.”
“Thanks, man. Glad ya came.”
He gives me a reassuring smile and nods.
“You wanna hold her?”
He sits next to me, and I hand her over.
“If she’s a mix of you two, y’all are in for a ride. Stubborn and adventurous. Get ready.”
“I know.” I laugh.
“But she’ll also have patience and a kind heart,” he adds.
His words warm my heart because that’s exactly how Noah is.
“Noah’s best friend, Magnolia, had her baby today, too. A built-in buddy.”
“Double trouble.” He snickers. “That’ll be fun. I’m excited for ya.”
Noah stirs and wakes a few moments later, and after I take Poppy, Damien greets her with a hug.
“Congrats, Mama. Heard you did great.”
“Thanks. Did my best work, I think.” She smirks.
“Before ya go, can you take our photo?” I ask him, placing Poppy in Noah’s arms. “We need it for her scrapbook.”
I wink at Noah as I wrap an arm around her. Damien stands a few feet away with my phone and asks if we’re ready.
“Yep,” I say, then glance down at Poppy and smile proudly.
He takes a few, then hands it back. “They look perfect.”
We took a bunch of pictures when her family came but never got one of just the three of us.
“I’ll let y’all go and rest. Call if you need anythin’, okay?”
I pull him into a hug. “Thanks for always bein’ there for me. I don’t deserve you.”
He pats my back. “You deserve everythin’, Fisher. It’s time you accept that.”
After he leaves, I sit with Noah as she feeds Poppy.
“How’re ya feelin’? Anythin’ I can get you?” I watch as Noah stares adoringly at her.
“You’ve given me everythin’, Fisher. Couldn’t ask for anythin’ better.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, love. You’ve given me everythin’ and so much more than I could’ve ever asked for. A second chance at love, bein’ a father again, and a reason to feel worthy.”
“You’ve always been worthy to me.”
I tilt up her chin and press my lips to hers. “I love you, Mrs. Underwood.”
“I love you, too, Mr. Underwood.”
A best friend’s brother stand-alone from small town romance author Brooke Montgomery about a girl who falls pregnant by the wrong man and the cowboy who takes her in…
If you want to read Magnolia and Tripp’s romance, find Stay With Me here!