1.40: Complications

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The Meadowstone household bustled with the children and their friends: teens, children, toddlers–and soon to be another infant. Overnight it seemed, Carrick was more a man than he was a child.

 

 

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Gardening still wasn’t his favorite activity, but he pitched in his fair share now–without being asked, most of the time. He’d long since graduated from Scouts with top honors, and had signed up instead for two of the more advanced after-school clubs. Sports–because he loved roughhousing with his buddies–and music. Music had been an important part of his life, since both his parents played the guitar and his mother sang. He and his friends also often took to the woods or lagoons around the island, pursuing game or hooking fish to bring home to their families.

 

 

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He was old enough now that he’d begun thinking of his own future as a man, with his own camp to tend to, and hopefully a wife of his own. There hadn’t really been any girls that particularly caught his eye so far, though. Oh, Bronwyn Swift was often flirting with him, but then, she flirted with every man and boy in sight, which Carrick didn’t find seemly or tasteful. He was pretty sure his own mother would’ve never acted so loosely, and, he guessed, Mother was a pretty good woman. He’d want a girl like that, someday.

 

 

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Lilith’s pregnancy appeared to be further progressed than she’d at first thought. Her belly ballooned out so much that she’d had to bring out her maternity clothes early, and then actually had to make new clothing to fit her comfortably. Shane seemed to be looking forward to the baby just as much as she was. He’d always been especially attentive during her pregnancies, but this time around he pampered her even more so. “Have you thought of names yet?” he asked her one afternoon. She’d come to sit with him in the orchard as he finished up his work there. He went to his knees before her, kissing her belly.

“I have, a little.” She smiled down at his head against her stomach. “What about you? Do you have any ideas for names?”

“Guy, perhaps, if it’s a boy. After your father.” That touched her. She’d named Carrick after Shane’s father, and given Jace the surname Stone to carry on the Stone family name.

“So what’s it gonna be this time, darling? A boy or a girl?” She was teasing, because when she was pregnant with their first child, Shane had insisted all along it would be a boy–and he’d been right.

“I’ll let you decide this time,” he grinned.

 

 

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But this pregnancy was also going a lot rougher than she’d experienced the first three times. Lilith found that she was deeply fatigued and her energy ran out so quickly and so often that she’d collapse in bed exhausted before the day was done. She’d had little time to think of names. Between Carrick and Shane, the younger two children were cared for, and she allowed herself the rest she seemed to need. It was odd though, she’d always been so energetic and felt so good when she was pregnant.

 

 

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She’d also never gotten headaches during pregnancy–or really much at all, in general. But the headaches gripped her frequently now, and along with them came a great deal of dizziness. This she hid from Shane as much as possible. It was nice to be pampered, but Shane had a tendency to be overprotective sometimes, and having someone hovering over her wouldn’t make her feel any better.

 

 

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The nausea, too, seemed at an extreme. Lilith had experienced morning sickness while carrying Carrick, Ayala, and Jace all three, but it had passed after the first few months. Some days it seemed like she couldn’t drag herself away from the toilet for fear she’d vomit again. And yet she was hungry as hell through it all.

 

 

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Walking into camp after school one afternoon, Carrick stopped short in alarm. Mother lay supine on the ground, her eyes closed and arms loosely prostrated. Jace was wailing beside her, which hadn’t roused her at all.

 

 

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His school books slapped into the dirt when he dropped them, running to kneel by Lilith’s side. Touching her face, he could feel she was clammy but breathing. She groaned, her eyelids fluttered. “Shane?” Her voice was thin and weak.

“MOM!” he cried in relief. “Stay here, I’ll get Dad!”

 

 

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Shane was in the orchard, gathering up the day’s harvests when Carrick came barreling down the path. “Dad! DAD! Come quick! It’s Mom!”

The bucket fell at Shane’s feet unnoticed, a spurt of cold fear blooming in his stomach. Lilith!

 

 

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He sprinted up the path, faster than he’d ever run in his life, bursting into the courtyard where Lilith lay, seemingly unconscious. Oh gods no. NO! She wasn’t moving.

 

 

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Shane raised Lilith carefully. She’s so limp. He was scared. She was breathing, but there was blood on her lip where her teeth had apparently gnashed it as she’d fallen, and what looked like more blood soaking through her pants. Oh no, the baby.

“Lilith, Lil, baby, wake up for me,” he implored in terror. Her head rolled, and the green of her eyes slitted open, trying to focus on his face. But then the eyes fell shut, and she seemed to pass out again.

“Lilith! Keep your eyes open,” he shook her arm gently.

“The baby…”

“Honey the baby’s fine, stay with me.” He didn’t know if the baby was fine or not, but he was too terrified for Lilith at the moment. “Carrick, run for Daniela,” Shane yelled over his shoulder.

 

 

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“Can you sit up? What happened?” He held her up as she slumped against him, then she winced feeling the gash in her lip.

“The baby, Shane!” She struggled to sit up, head weaving slowly back and forth.

He helped her sit up against his arm. “I’m going to lift you, can you hold on to me?”

“Always,” she said weakly.

 

 

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As gently as he could, he scooped her up, bowing a little under her weight, but adrenaline and fear gave him strength. He carried her into their bedroom and gently laid her across the bed. Blanching, he saw there was more blood than he’d first noticed; his hands and arms were streaked with it from carrying her. “Please tell me you’re ok baby. What happened?” He was shaking now.

“I don’t know,” she mumbled, her voice slurred. “Passed out I think. My head–” she ran a hand across the back of her head, wincing, then touched her fingers to her gashed lip again. “I was dizzy,” she remembered.

 

 

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She tried to sit up gingerly, a little more lucid now. Then she let out another groan, this one deeper, more gutteral, a hand clasping her stomach. Another ironlike-vise gripped her midsection and she doubled over again, feeling a fresh spurt of sticky blood on her thighs. Taking shallow breaths, she said, “Daniela, …I need…Daniela. It’s too early for the baby to come.”

“Daniela’s coming, Carrick went to bring her. Shane didn’t think he’d ever felt such fear, his chest was so tight he grasped it, and this broke through to Lilith. Weakly, she reached for him and pulled him down next to her.  He lay across her legs, and she registered the tears on his face. I’ve never actually seen him cry, she realized. I must look as bad as I feel. Then again, she didn’t even want to think about how she’d feel if something serious had happened to him.

 

 

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Daniela rushed in a few moments later, her eyes wide when she took in Lilith’s state. “Lilith! What’s happened! Carrick said he found you on the ground passed out!” She rushed to the bed, embracing Lilith before pulling back to examine her more critically. Her lip’s cut and bleeding, and she’s crying, and there’s blood–oh. Oh this could be bad.

“You’ve cut your lip,” she observed aloud, quickly passing that off as superficial.

“I must have bitten it when I fell. I think I hit my head too. But I’m bleeding, Daniela, the baby–”

 

 

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And just then another contraction steamrolled over her, choking off her words. “Too. Soon.” she managed.

“Shh now. We’ll just have a look at you,” Daniela said briskly. She sent Shane scurrying for water and towels, then dispatched him back to her camp to have Daniel fetch some various herbs. I hope Daniel has the sense to sedate Shane, that is, if Shane can sensibly tell him what’s happened. Maybe I should’ve sent Carrick. Closing the curtain across the door, she began helping Lilith out of her clothes. So much blood. And if Lilith was right, then this was too soon for the baby to be born. But maybe she was wrong; she certainly looked nearly full term, maybe the fall had simply hastened labor.

After a quick examination, Daniela came to a conclusion that she tsked herself for mentally, for not realizing sooner. After all, she was a mother of twins herself. “Lilith, I think you may be having twins this time.”

Daniela smoothed the hair off Lilith’s forehead soothingly when her eyes widened.

 

 

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“Daniel thought you might need me.” A cool voice wafted from the doorway. Daniela nearly sighed with relief when she looked up to see Kaila standing there. Kaila had much more experience with midwifery and healing, and Daniela was growing more and more worried. Lilith was losing a lot of blood, and still the labor pains rolled on.

 

 

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“Where’s Shane?” Lilith whispered. Her face had taken on a chalky pallor.

“Daniel is keeping him out of our hair,” Kaila said, not unkindly. “We’ll send for him if need be, but first Lilith, we need to get you taken care of. Your husband is very distraught.”

“At least Daniel’s good for something,” Daniela muttered, but with a smile.

Kaila began her examination, punctuated by questions to Daniela. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she explained that the labor wasn’t progressing fast enough. As Lilith grew weaker and weaker from the bleeding, the danger to both herself and the babies grew. She concurred with Daniela’s assessment that this was not to be a single birth. “I’m going to give you something to speed the contractions,” she said, preparing a potion from the herbs she’d brought with her. And a dash of magick may be needed as well, she thought to herself as Daniela caught her eye hopefully.

 

 

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How much was Kaila’s magick and how much was medicine, Daniela could only guess, but it was a relief when Lilith was finally in active labor.

“Push!” Kaila’s sharp command wound its way through the haze threatening to overwhelm Lilith.

“Can’t,” she whispered. Black dots swam across her vision.

“You can and you will,” Kaila said firmly. “Stay focused Lilith, you have to. This will be over soon and you can hold your babies and rest. I promise.”

Daniela moved onto the bed behind Lilith, alternately rubbing her shoulders and pushing for her.

 

 

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Carrick brought Jace and Ayala to the Riverhaven camp. After putting the kids to bed, the boys and men sat around the fire. Daniel had given Shane a calming drink and some nectar. A few drinks, actually. Conversation was sparse. What was there to say? Carrick had filled him in on finding Lilith unconscious, after apparently falling, and about the blood. When Daniela hadn’t returned, and then Carrick had been sent for healing herbs, he knew Lilith had gone into labor. It was fortune that sent Kaila on the path that ran past the Riverhaven camp; Daniel knew a thing or two about healing and childbirth, but between the injuries and early labor complications, it seemed best to send the island midwife, rather than just the herbs Daniela had requested.

Worry hung like a cloud over them, swirling with the early morning fog that crept across the ground. It was well into the wee hours now. Eventually Jake and Alastair too retired. Shane never raised his head from his hands. Carrick had never seen his strong father so stricken; this was the first time he’d ever seen Shane cry. But then, he himself had never seen his mother in such a state. Was it always like this when women had babies? It seemed very frightening.

“It’s been too long,” said Shane, from behind his hands.

There was a pause. “Shane, I know this is hard. The women would have sent for you if something was bad wrong. Kaila’s the best healer on the island. I’m sure Lilith will be ok,” Daniel said. I hope.

 

 

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Suddenly, Daniel stood up as Daniela materialized through the early morning fog. She looked exhausted, but there was a tired smile on her lips as she walked over to Shane and laid her hand gently on his back. Finally he raised his head from his hands, looking at her questioningly, fearful. She could see he’d been crying.

“Lilith?” he asked, hoarsely.

Daniela nodded. “Lilith is resting now, with the babies. She lost a lot of blood Shane, she’s going to need to stay in bed and rest for at least a few days, and then limit her movements to short durations for exercise. She’s going to need time to regain her strength. It was bad, Shane, but it could have been worse. And she made it. Your wife’s a strong woman. She wants you now.”

He stared at her for a few moments. “Babies?”

She smiled compassionately. “Yes, babies. Go and meet your new daughters, and get some rest yourself. You look like you need it.”

“Hey Shane, the kids can stay here tonight and tomorrow too. They’re already asleep except Carrick here.”

“I’m going home with Dad,” Carrick stated. “He’s going to need me. Ayala and Jace can stay. Thank you, both of you.”

Carrick went around to Shane. “Let’s go home now, Dad, and see Mom.” Shane allowed Carrick to pull him up off the stump he’d been sitting on.

“Kaila is still there right now, cleaning up and tending the babies,” Daniela informed Carrick. “When she’s finished, Lilith will need both of you.” Shane nodded mutely, and followed Carrick out of the camp, through the dark woods toward their own camp.

 

 

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Once at camp, Carrick and Shane stole softly into the bedroom, unsure what they’d find. Carrick hung back while his father went to Lilith’s side, touching her face and arms gently to reassure himself. Her eyes opened, and a small smile ghosted across her face. “Shane.” She was so pale, her voice barely a whisper.

“I’m here baby.”

“Have you seen our daughters?” A faint smile appeared on her pale lips.

“Not yet,” he shook his head. “I had to see you first. I had to make sure you’re ok.” Truth was, the babies were the farthest thing from his mind at the moment; Lilith had really given him a scare. And babies hadn’t quite sunk in yet. “Seeing you like that, it really scared me.” His shoulders started to shake a little as he looked down at her.

Carrick backed out of the room to give his parents privacy.

He decided to go check out his new sister. Sisters? Daniela had said babies and daughters.

 

 

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When he entered into the new sleeping room his father had built onto their shelter, he nearly choked when he looked upon the babies.

“Carrick! You’re back. Meet your four new sisters.” Kaila said.

FOUR?! They’re so tiny.

 

 

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Carrick looks a lot like his daddy <3

 

Challenge notes: This completes the roll for number of children, and then some. I’d been trying for multiples, as Shane and Lilith are nearing elders, but I wasn’t expecting quads!

Even I didn’t know what she was having until tonight. The rest of the chapter has been written over the past several days, with the exception of the very last scene, for which I needed the babies. Since this is a Perfect Children roll, I’m going to have to keep a checklist to keep track of which child has completed which requirements per stage of development.

One of these four little ladies will the generation 2 heir.

Their names are Annika, Mary Jane, Ashlyn, and Lakelyn.