After what felt like an eternity, Sam made his way back to the hospital waiting room. He had no reason to go back there and several reasons to stay away. Avoiding his brother and Leanne being the two biggest reasons.
Sam took inventory of his extended family as he approached the open waiting area. His mother looked sick. He wondered if she was heading into labor soon. He met his father’s eyes and saw worry there. Sam knew he needed to do a better job of smoothing things over with his brothers if only for the sake of their mother’s health.
The two sources of contention, Liam and Lyle, sat beside one another in the chairs closest to the door of the maternity wing. Neither of them glanced his way when Sam walked in the room but the scowl on Liam’s face spoke volumes.
Leanne huddled in the corner with her sisters Adele and Rachel whispering in angry but hushed tones.
Sam didn’t even try to listen. He made a beeline for his brothers Nicholas and Jacob and the three of them sat together in companionable silence.
Cassandra Ashish paced near the doors to the maternity wing, chewing nervously on a thumbnail to the point where Sam wished he had nail clippers to offer her. She glanced frequently at the door as if her willing it to open would miraculously help her daughter get through this frightening time.
Finally, the door opened, and a disheveled doctor emerged with a hopeful, albeit tired, expression. Every family member in the room rose to their feet in anticipation, or maybe just the need to stand and stretch.
Lyle hurried to stand before the doctor, remorse and worry evident in his creased brow. “Is my baby…”
“You have a little boy,” the doctor said, placing his hand on Lyle’s shoulder. “He’s very little, and he’s going to need a few weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit, but I think he’s going to be fine.”
“Oh, thank goodness.” Lyle’s shoulders slumped with relief. “And Mirium?”
“She was alert during the surgery and is resting in recovery. There’s not much you can do for her right now so you might as well get scrubbed up and we’ll take you back to meet your new son. Have the two of you named him yet?”
Sam had to give the patient older man credit. He was probably used to dealing with scared, young fathers and spoke more kindly to Lyle than he probably wanted to after what Lyle had said earlier in the delivery room.
A woman blaming her husband for the pain she was in during delivery was common. Turning that blame around and putting it back on the wife rarely happened. Probably not the first time. The doctor had likely heard it all in his years of service.
“Ishy,” Lyle said with breathy reverence,
“Ish…Ish-ee?” The doctor raised his eyebrows.
“Ishmael,” Lyle clarified, raising his chin with mature confidence. “Our son’s name is Ishmael Daniel Cohen.”
“That’s a fine name,” the doctor said. “Now let’s take you back there and meet your son. Woah…”
The doctor looked over Lyle’s shoulder to the side of the room near where their mother was cringing and breathing heavy, having just stood from the waiting room chair. Her eyes were closed, and her hand rested on top of her very pregnant belly. The doctor pushed past Lyle.
“How long have you been having contractions?”
“A few…” Sarah breathed several times then continued. “A few hours.”
“A few hours?” Their dad hurried to her side. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Oh, phooey, we had enough to worry about than little ole’ me.”
“Yeah, well, you’re done worrying about everyone else,” the doctor said. “Time for you to worry about you.”
A woman rushed forward with a wheelchair and Sarah was helped into the seat. Before the whole gravity of the situation could register, their mom was whisked away to go deliver baby Joseph.
“Good luck, Mom,” Sam called. His brothers and the Ashish family all called out similar well wishes. The mood in the room relaxed into subdued excitement after the doors closed, taking their father and Lyle with them.
The sisters all gave each other hugs, then Adele stepped over to Nicholas and they kissed then gazed into each other’s eyes. Sam wondered if they’d be celebrating the arrival of another baby sometime in the near future.
He hugged his youngest brother, Jacob, then rubbed the top of his head. “Not going to be the baby of the family anymore.”
“He’ll always be the baby of the family,” Liam said with a good-natured chuckle, approaching Sam and Jacob, his face a mask of remorse. “He’ll just gain the title of Big Brother, like the rest of us did. And being a big brother is usually pretty cool.”
“Usually,” Sam mumbled. “Unless your younger brother rats you out.”
“I had it coming,” Liam admitted with a shrug. “Rachel will forgive me… eventually.”
Sam glanced in the direction where the sisters were huddled together and wondered at the likelihood of Rachel forgiving Liam.
Nicholas noticed Sam and turned from his wife to join his brothers. He smiled as he approached. “Looks like we’re all going to be big brothers now, eh?”
“We were just discussing that, actually,” Sam said. “We told Jacob he’s still the baby in the family even if there’s another baby in the family.”
“Nah, he’s all grown up now, aren’t you, buddy?” Nicholas wrapped his arm around Jacob’s shoulders and then reached his other arm around Sam’s. “Come on, guys. Group hug.”
Sam took a deep breath then reluctantly wrapped his arm around Liam’s shoulders as Liam wrapped his other arm around Jacob’s.
“There is one thing we all have in common besides gaining a brother,” Liam said. “We all became uncles today too.”
“That’s right.” Nicholas nodded in recognition.
“Pretty cool that I got to become an uncle and a big brother in the same day,” Jacob said with a grin. “I’m the only one who can say that.”
“And Lyle became a dad,” Sam added. “He’s the only one who can say that.”
“I love you guys,” Nicholas said. “I’m proud to call you my brothers.”
“Me too!” Jacob said with enthusiasm.
Sam and Liam glanced at one another and offered half-hearted smiles. Sam fought the desire to roll his eyes or to glare at Liam. Love. Pride. Not sure about that, but family was family and Liam was part of their family. For that reason alone, Sam would choose to be nice to Liam. For now.