A/N: Make sure you've read the previous, 'last' chapter, 'Fleeting Escape' before reading this one! The two updates were back-to-back with each other so I just want to make sure no one misses it.
There was pressure. More pressure than Lila had ever felt in her body before. Her back was killing her, she was covered in sweat and there was a dull ache between her legs. Prostrated back against the pillow in the hospital bed, she breathed in and out haggardly, her damp face contorting in pain every minute or so as she felt a contraction grind her insides.
All around her there was activity; two nurses preparing the table a few feet away with towels, a scale and other tools while another remained at her side to monitor her and the baby's heart rates on machines and pat her arm, assuring her 'it would be all be over soon'. After the past 10 hours, however, the last thing Lila was convinced of was that this would be over soon. She was exhausted, more exhausted than she'd ever remembered feeling in her life and the baby hadn't even been born yet. Groaning aloud as another contraction seized her, Lila squeezed the twisted bed sheets underneath her, waiting for it to pass, then when it finally did, collapsed back against the pillows again with strained, heaving breaths.
A few minutes later the doctor came back into the room, dressed in scrubs and latex gloves, unlike when he'd come in to check on her dilation status throughout the night. "All right Lila, you ready to get this baby born?" When she gave him a small, breathless nod, he sat down on a stool in front of the bed. "Okay then, I need you to scoot your bum down towards me, lift your legs up - Nurse Stacy and Nurse Carol here will help keep 'em back for you - aaand let's see here," He examined the area between her legs, making Lila whimper a little when he felt between them, "Yep, looks like you're about ready to push like crazy. Ready? Take a deep breath and give me a big one; push!"
Lila sucked in a breath then let it out as she bore down on the bottom half of her body as hard as she could. She could feel all of the blood rushing to her face, the baby stretching and straining as it came down. Finally she couldn't hold back a cry as her energy gave out and she had to stop pushing to take another breath.
"Breathe in and breathe out," The doctor was saying. "That's it, get ready for the next one...all set? Okay, give me another push, Lila...push, push, push, that's it...that's it, Lila- push!"
Lila's legs were shaking with the strain of bearing down so hard and the skin on her bottom lip was all but pierced through from how tightly she was biting into it, but she pushed with all her might, so hard this time that she felt the walls of her vagina beginning to widen as a head started to emerge from it.
Sure enough, the doctor was going on, "Here it comes, Lila...your baby's coming, just keep pushing...that's it, the head's out...push, push hard now, we're almost home..." Just as Lila let out a final shriek, she felt a final pressure then as she collapsed back against the bed in complete exhaustion, heard the doctor saying, "Aaaand we're there...she's out, she's here, Mommy! Wanna see your beautiful baby girl?"
Lila didn't move at first, then at the sound of a small, but shrill cry, opened her eyes a crack and saw one of the nurses holding out a tiny, red baby to her. All of the life in her limbs had seemed useless, but at the sight of the baby being extended to her, Lila conjured up the strength to reach out and take it in her arms. At the feeling of the feather-light, warm body in her hands, a soft gasp slipped from her lips, both in relief and in shock. A part of her still couldn't believe it; I just had a baby...this is mine; my baby girl...
After a few more seconds, the nurse had taken her away briefly to take her over to the table with the scale and other materials on it to clean the remaining blood and placenta off her body. Lila wanted to stay alert and ready to take the baby back when they were finished, but the weariness from having just given birth didn't take long in settling back over her. As another nurse went to work in cleaning off her legs and the afterbirth from the bed sheets beneath them, she closed her eyes with a light sigh, gradually drifting off into a deep sleep.
The next time Lila opened her eyes, everyone was gone from the room, she was clean and tucked into bed underneath blankets and beside the bed there was a cart-like case that through its clear surface she saw a baby wrapped up in. The sound of her whimpering had woken Lila up and she moved to try and reach over to lift the baby up, but had to stop, catching her breath at the lingering pain between her legs.
Luckily, a nurse breezed into the room as she was attempting to reach over again. "No, no lean yourself right back, sweetie; I'll get her," She said, going over to the cart and lifting the baby out of it. When she saw that Lila was settled back in bed, the nurse lowered the bundle in her arms down to Lila's. Another light breath slipped from Lila's lips as she looked down at her baby in silent wonder.
"10 fingers, 10 toes and a face that'd even melt Jack Frost's heart," The nurse remarked with a smile. "You've got yourself a beautiful baby girl, sweetheart."
"Yeah," Lila murmured, her eyes starting to cloud as the baby's eyelids eventually cracked open to reveal Keith's eyes staring back at her. "She is, isn't she?"
"Mm-hmm. I bet you've got a nice pretty name all picked out to go with that pretty face too, huh?"
"I-I don't know..." She shrugged a little in reply. "I had a hard pregnancy; I wasn't sure if I was even going to be able to carry her full term, so I never seriously considered a name."
"That's understandable," The nurse nodded. "But, now that you've passed that hurdle, you can celebrate with a name, right?"
"Well it's just that...I don't know what to name her. I don't know what would seem right."
"You're the mama, aren't you? Whatever you want's right." When Lila made no reply, she asked, "What's your mama's name?"
"Becky, short for Rebecca? That sounds nice."
"What's your middle name?"
"Well that'd suit her too." When Lila still made no reply, the nurse sighed trying to add as delicately as she could, "The hospital needs you to sign a birth certificate before we can let you leave, honey. Did...did her father ever hint at what he thought-"
"She doesn't have a father," Lila interjected swiftly, her voice cracking on the word. "She doesn't have anyone but me."
"I see," The nurse nodded quietly. "Well...that's still gracious plenty. Here," She placed the clipboard containing the birth certificate she'd brought in with her in the holder at the end of the bed. "You just sign this whenever you're ready."
She'd walked away to leave, but stopped when Lila went on, almost to herself, "I can't do it. I thought I could do it, but now that I see her, now that she's here, I...I just know I can't do this on my own."
Shaking her head and coming back to her side, the nurse began, "Oh hush now, of course you can-"
"He left me..." Lila was shaking her own head tearfully as she continued looking down at the bundle in her arms. "He left me and he's never coming back. I-I only had five thousand dollars and most of that's gone to paying for my rent these past few months . Now I have a baby and next to no money and...and nothing," Her voice cracked again and the tears spilled from her eyes onto the swaddling the baby was wrapped in. "I have nothing!"
As Lila cried softly, the nurse wrapped an arm around her shoulders, rubbing her arm soothingly, "Sometimes all you have in life is hope, sweetheart," She said. "You've just got to have hope."
When she was gone several minutes later, Lila was still looking down at the baby, this time in pensive silence. Hope. Hope... Sniffling away her tears, she lifted a hand to its face, tracing the soft surface with her fingertip. At the contact, the baby began stirring again, lifting a hand to close it's own fingers around one of Lila's.
"It's just gonna be the two of us from here on out," She murmured, lifting the hand to her lips and pressing a soft kiss to its palm. "You've got me, and I've got you now...Hope."
A/N:I'll just start off by stating the obvious: yes, there IS going to be a sequel to IHASF (cue huge sighs of relief all around). I've been pretty sure about it for a while now, but after getting several requests/questions about it lately, I can now say it with certainty, which I'm sure gives a lot of you much relief lol. I know this type of ending still might've taken a lot of you off guard though, maybe even upset you, and for that I apologize. Believe me, I want a HEA for Keith and Lila just as much as you do, but given what happened between them and the broken place their relationship was in (combined with how long this story was getting to boot), I just felt compelled to end IHASF here in the most realistic way possible. Immediate happy endings are nice, but life doesn't always happen that way. As we'll see in the other half of Keith and Lila's story, sometimes it takes a while to rebuild a relationship from the ground up. Sad? Yes. But, the good news is you can all look forward to continuing their story in the future with the knowledge that eventually, they WILL be together.
All right then, now that that's out of the way, this is the part where I do the sappy sign off thing. I really cannot thank all of you enough for continuing to support this story for the past year and a half. Your feedback and reviews have meant so much to me and have been the main driving factor behind my motivation to keep writing it. As you leave your last (or possibly first reviews; all of you silent Story Alert & Favorite'ers I'm looking at YOU) reviews, I'd appreciate it if you tried to not just review the last chapter and epilogue, but the story as a whole. What you liked most about it, the things you didn't, what you'd look forward to reading in the sequel, all that jazz. Now that's it's finally a completed project, I'm really interested in hearing your opinions on the story as a whole.
Finally, I'd like to extend special thanks to several readers in particular for their steady consistently encouraging reviews of IHASF: renegade01 (previously Nightwalkr), Wanderingreader, J.J.2123, somewherecoldviasocal, nicole7579, MuffinsRoxSox, rosieroo, littlemiss76, MCGonzalez, darkgurl92 and tinyHedgehog. I appreciate all of my reviewers so, so much, but these were the guys 'n gals I could generally always count on for feedback for new chapters, which given the length of this story AND the length of each chapter is saying something significant. So, thanks guys; not just for reading through all the thousands of words, but also taking the time to write great reviews afterwards.
Thank you all for reading, and I hope you've enjoyed IHASF,
*~ Look for the continuation of Keith and Lila's story, You'll Remember Me, some time in 2013! ~*