BY : Rina76
Category: Final Fantasy Anime > Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children
Dragon prints: 1511
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII Advent Children or any of the characters from the film. I am not making money from the writing of this story.

Chapter 41. Nesting

A few days later, I get the urge to do some cleaning. As in, the entire lair. The guys normally keep the place acceptably tidy but for some reason, it just doesn't feel clean enough to me so I spend an inordinate amount of time dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping and reorganising. I clean out the pantry and fridge, throwing out old, expired food items and stocking up on fresh supplies. I wash all the baby's new clothing in hot water, and my clothes, and Loz's clothes, as well as all the bedding and blankets we'll be using, not wanting the baby to come into contact with any kind of germs. I scrub our bathroom from top to bottom until it's shining like polished glass and the toilet is clean enough to eat off. Loz tries to stop me from doing so much work while I'm heavily pregnant but I can't stop – I just NEED to do it.

When I'm finally done, I feel much better and like I'm not living in a germ-filled hovel. With everything sparkling and organised, I can finally sit down and relax. Turns out, I'd been hit with the 'nesting' instinct which is common for moms-to-be and a signal that the baby's arrival is not too far away, although by my calculations, I still have around four weeks to go.

It's a good thing I got all the cleaning done because after a mostly uneventful pregnancy, my body decides to develop every annoying symptom at once, including swelling up all of a sudden. Not just my belly, but my hands, my calves and my feet. Frantically checking my books for information, I am reassured to discover that fluid retention is normal during the third trimester and will go away shortly after delivery, but it still sucks looking down and seeing unattractively fat feet and cankles where there wasn't any before. I have to put my feet and legs up on cushions to try and let the fluid drain away but thanks to gravity, it keeps coming back. My fingers are so swollen that I can't wear my gorgeous engagement ring, the backs of my hands resemble bread dough and even my lady-bits swell so much that sex is impossible. Not that I feel like it anyway. I'm so worn-out and moody that the last thing I feel like doing is Loz. Luckily, he understands and doesn't ask me for what I don't want to give.

My lower back has been aching constantly as well as my hips, making walking a painful chore. My butt hurts from a bad bout of constipation that blocked me up for a couple of days, but a large dose of prune juice cleared that right up. I feel hot all the time, sweating even when the temperature is mild. This makes me crave iced water, although I am more interested in the ice cubes than the water, crunching on them like popcorn throughout the day. I'm not hungry and haven't felt like eating at all lately, not that I have room for food anymore. My stomach is too chock-full of alien foetus to fit anything else in. I have to pee multiple times a night, I feel like a beached whale trying to roll over in bed and in the morning there are wet patches on the front of my T-shirt from my boobs leaking milk.

Being pregnant is SO fucking magical and beautiful... Snort.

Thankfully, the baby is still kicking and moving around healthily and the rest of my life is going well, as it is for my dear fiancé and his two younger siblings. They've officially started their employment with the Shin-Ra Company, but are still in the training stage so they haven't actually gone out on any missions yet. However, they are still required to wear their uniforms as they are being trained at the Turks' headquarters and it's still strange and novel seeing Loz, Yazoo and Kadaj in suits. They look spectacularly sexy in them, nonetheless. Very smart, handsome and professional. In the mornings before leaving the lair, their clothes are neat and ironed but by the time they get home, their jackets are off, their shirts are crumpled and their ties have been pulled loose. Still hot, though, and it's a pity I have no sex drive or I'd be jumping on Loz the moment he walks in the door.

The guys are enjoying their new jobs, which I'm really pleased about. Currently, they're all learning how to fly a helicopter and since Reno is the best chopper pilot around, they've been taking lessons from the wise-cracking redhead. I hear that Reno still has little digs at the Remnants every now and again but his attitude towards them has changed dramatically since they willingly sent Jenova's head to the incinerator. Now, Reno can't make jibes about them being pathetic momma's boys, although he still finds ways to poke fun of their green-blooded heritage. Now, when Reno cracks jokes, it's in a friendlier, buddy-buddy kind of way and Loz tells me that the ponytailed Turk even gets a little flirty with Yazoo sometimes, which makes for an interesting flying lesson with casually-dropped innuendos about cockpits, joysticks, friction control and thrust vectoring.

Apparently, Reno even asks how I'm doing, which is secretly kind of thrilling.

Kadaj's new human status has made him very popular at the office, with everyone clamouring to see how different he looks with dark hair and eyes, and asking him for tales of what it was like in the Life Stream and how it felt to be reborn again. Even Elena talks to him now. Although she was tortured by Kadaj in the Northern Crater when he was searching for Jenova, the blond woman accepted his heartfelt apology and the two of them have gotten past that awful day, forming the beginnings of a cooperative workplace relationship. Despite being tortured by them too, Tseng has been a great boss to all three of the guys, ensuring that they get treated like any other employees and that nobody discriminates against them for their alien ancestry. After all, they are there to prevent Jenova and Sephiroth from coming back, not the other way around.

As for Rude, he's still a bit stand-offish with his former enemies, but he doesn't punch them any longer and now that they all share the same uniform, he seems to respect Loz and his brothers a lot more than he used to. It's a good start.

About a week after they began their training with the Turks, I enter the lair's kitchen sometime in the afternoon, following a nap I'd just taken. Kadaj, Yazoo and Loz are all in there, standing around the kitchen bench and drinking coffee while chatting about work-related things. Normally, I'd be interested in what happened that day at the Turks' headquarters, or what entertaining stuff Reno said or did, but on this particular occasion, I just can't pay attention to the conversation. The only thing on my mind is how fat and uncomfortable I feel and how unquenchably thirsty I am.

"Can somebody please get me a glass from the cupboard?" As an afterthought, I add sighing, "I can't bend over anymore."

Kadaj looks at me, a smirk starting to form on his face.

"You make one suggestive comment, just ONE," I emphasise, pointing at him threateningly, "and I'll take your coffee cup and dump the contents down your pants."

"I wasn't gonna say anything suggestive. I was just going to ask why you're wearing a dress. Aren't you a tomboy anymore?"

"It's NOT a dress. It's a sarong," I answer in defence of the long patterned piece of cloth tied around my bust. "I'm only wearing it because nothing else fits my humongous stomach."

"Looks like a dress to me," he says, obtaining a glass tumbler from the lower cupboard. "What's next, high heels and manicures?"

I'm seriously tempted to knee him in the nuts but my leg won't go up that far.

"Don't mess with me, Kadaj," I warn. "I'm not in the mood for your shit today so just give me the fucking glass."

One eyebrow shooting up, he lets me snatch the tumbler out of his hand and looks at Loz. "Inviting a hormonal pregnant woman to live with us...whose bright idea was that?"

"Leave her alone," Loz scolds, taking the glass from me, filling it with ice cubes and topping it up with water from the fridge. "You'd be annoyed too, if you had to go through what she's going through."

"What - carrying around the burden of your enormous child? I could imagine how much fun that isn't." Kadaj indicates to me as I thirstily gulp down water as if I've been stuck in the desert for days. "Poor Cate – look what you did to her!"

Loz scowls. "You know what, Kadaj? You might not be evil anymore but you're still kind of an ass."

Yazoo is wisely staying right out of the conversation, looking on in amusement as his brothers bicker.

"Well, this IS all your doing, Loz. I tried to warn you all those months ago in the club but no, you had to go into the bathroom with her and break the condom."

"I didn't break it! It had a hole. It's not my fault your rubbers are defective."

"They're not defective. If you ask me, it was user error – pure and simple," Kadaj replies smugly, much to Loz's annoyance.

"Well, I didn't ask you so shut up!"

"Can you BOTH shut up?" I snap, glaring at Loz and Kadaj in irritation. "I'm huge, I'm hot and I'm tired. I can't sleep, I can't eat, I can barely walk and my back aches like a bitch. I can't take another day of this hell let alone another fucking month!"

They all stare at me and I angrily slam the half-empty glass down hard on the counter top.

"I don't care how it got in here; I just wish this baby would come out already!"

As Kadaj starts suggesting Loz and I try a vigorous bout of sex to bring on an early labour, I get distracted by something wet dripping near my foot and I glance at the tumbler on the bench beside me, thinking I must have cracked it when I put it down so roughly. Then I realise it's not coming from the glass. I look down just in time to see a clear liquid trickle onto the floor right between my feet. Everyone else has also noticed, shutting up just like I requested and staring dumbly as the trickling turns into a mini-flood, spreading out in an ever-widening puddle.

"Did you…did you just pee?" Loz asks awkwardly.

For a mortifying moment I think I might have until Yazoo answers.

"No, she didn't. Her waters have just broken." The middle Remnant smiles at Loz. "Better call Tseng and tell him you won't be coming in for training tomorrow. The baby will be here by then."

I had thought Loz would race around in sheer panic when this moment arrived but he just stands there, too stunned to speak or move.

"Astounding," Kadaj comments interestedly, staring at my belly. "Quick Cate, wish for money to rain down from the sky."

"Show a little sensitivity," Yazoo chastises, coming to my assistance and steering me towards the nearest chair. "And get a mop."

"Oh, you must be joking." Kadaj appears horrified. "I'm not cleaning THAT up!"

"It's mostly just water," the knowledgeable middle brother comments as he helps me to sit down, Yazoo putting a tea towel on the chair first to soak up any more trickles that might gush out of me.

Eyeing the puddle on the floor, Kadaj ventures, "But what if the baby pooped in it?"

"It didn't. The amniotic fluid would be tinted green or brown in colour if that was the case," Yazoo replies, switching into midwife mode and using both his hands to feel if my stomach is tightening.

"But the baby could have peed in it. You can't see pee in water."

"Just clean it up, Kadaj," is Yazoo's curtly distracted reply, too focused on me and my beginning labour to pander to his little brother's squeamishness.

Kadaj's jaw drops. It sounded like Yazoo just gave him an order, which is something the formerly-passive Remnant never would have done when Kadaj was their leader. Nevertheless, Kadaj is not the leader anymore and so the younger male closes his mouth and grabs a mop from the broom cupboard beside the pantry.

"How do you feel?" Yazoo asks me, having finished his preliminary examination of my belly. "Is there any pain?"

"Not yet." Rubbing my bump, I gaze up at him nervously. "Is it too early for me to go into labour, Yazoo? I wasn't due for another four weeks."

Nodding at my sizeable stomach, he remarks, "By the looks of you, you can't get any bigger. The baby is part-alien so I'd say it's developed quicker than a human one would have. I think you're due right now."

Suddenly panicking at the thought of giving birth, I blurt, "But I'm not ready!"

"It seems the baby is." Reassuringly patting my hand, Yazoo adds, "But don't worry, you've got plenty of time before you need to push. Until then, just relax."

Right. Relax. I suspect that's going to be easier said than done. HE's not the one who'll be pushing a living creature out of his vagina.

Returning to his senses, Loz crouches beside me with a worried expression on his face, holding my hand like a supportive father-to-be and future husband ought to. "What do you want me to do, Catey?"

"There's nothing much you can do right now, Loz," Yazoo assures him. "Just because her waters broke doesn't mean the birth is going to happen straight away. Her contractions haven't even begun yet and when they do, she'll probably be labouring for hours before you see any real action. All we can do for the moment is keep her as comfortable as possible. Do you want to lie down, Cate?"

At Yazoo's enquiry, I shake my head. "I'm fine. I might need a change of underwear, though. And maybe some pyjama pants."

"I'll get them," Loz offers, rushing off to the bedroom to fetch the clean clothing I require. I glance at Kadaj. He's reluctantly mopping up the amniotic fluid from the floor with a grimace of distaste. I feel a bit sorry for the poor kid, going from being the head honcho of the gang to lowly floor-mopper, but in a way, he had this coming.


Feeling restless, I walk around the lair (or waddle, more like it), waiting for the first twinge in my belly, the first sign of any tightening. Amniotic fluid keeps trickling out in small amounts as I'm walking but I have a pad in my panties to catch it. Loz stays within sight of me, watching anxiously. Sometime later, as I'm pacing up and down the hallway in my baggy PJ bottoms and a maternity tank top, I notice the first contraction, followed by another one about fifteen minutes later. Coming at sporadic intervals, they occur low in my stomach and don't seem so bad, only like mild period cramps. For a while I breezily think to myself that labour pains aren't that bad at all and that everyone has been exaggerating them.

Until they abruptly and unexpectedly get stronger, the next pain feeling like a red-hot whip slashing across my stomach and all the way around to my back.

"Motherfuck!" I gasp loudly, my curse echoing down the hall. Loz comes rushing over, closely followed by Yazoo and Kadaj.

"What is it?" Loz asks, his brows drawn together in worry. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing. Her contractions have started," Yazoo remarks, glancing at the way I'm holding my belly, as if I'm trying to keep it from exploding.

"No shit," I mutter. "Loz, help me over to the couch. My legs are gonna give out on me."

After I've been assisted to sit down in the living room, Yazoo approaches me with a couple of items in his hands, asking, "Is it okay if I check the baby's heartbeat?"

I nod my permission and he asks me to lie back on the lounge. Yazoo rumples up my top, exposing my bare belly with its purple stripes and stretched, flattened navel (which never did pop out). He squirts a bit of clear gel from a tube onto my skin and then pulls out something that looks like a hand-held radio. It's an ultrasound monitor and attached to it with a cord is a bell-shaped probe. Yazoo places the probe on my gel-covered stomach and switches the monitor on. Nothing comes out of the speaker yet but the noise of static. Very carefully, Yazoo moves the probe around, attempting to pinpoint the location of the baby's heart, which could be anywhere depending on how the baby is lying. I know from reading my pregnancy books that babies can shift around during labour and may only turn head-down at the very end.

I glance to Kadaj, who has sat himself in a chair near the couch and is watching the proceedings with great interest.

"What are you doing?" I ask him.

"Waiting for the baby, of course." He smiles eagerly, as if on a front row seat for the upcoming show.

"You're not watching me give birth, Kadaj. No way in hell."

He looks crestfallen. "But I'm the baby's uncle and we have a special bond. I should be here when it's born."

"Absolutely not, Daj," Loz commands from beside me, speaking like the leader he is. "You're not watching and that's final. If I see you hanging around trying to get a glimpse, I'll throw you out in the forest and lock the door."

Appearing outraged, the younger male gets to his feet and exclaims, "You can't kick me out! This is my lair too. Who gave you the right to go around barking orders and making threats?"

"You did. Ever since you died and left me in charge." Loz grins smugly, like he's been waiting a long time to use that one.

"That's not very fair," Kadaj replies in hurt indignation. "I didn't CHOOSE to die."

"Well, it was still your fault. You were the one who wanted your Reunion so bad and look where it got you. Dead."

"Calm down, you two," Yazoo murmurs warningly as he's still searching my belly with the probe. I realise he's trying to prevent a fight breaking out in front of me, which could cause my labour to stall with stress, but Kadaj isn't listening.

"Did you ever think how I must have felt, Loz, going to the Life Stream alone? We were all supposed to go together but no, you two stayed behind," Kadaj rants, gesturing irately to both of his brothers. "I missed you guys so much and kept trying to contact you, worried about how you were doing. And here you were all along, surviving just fine without me."

"We weren't fine," Loz argues. "It's not like we had a big party when you croaked it."

"Boys?" I pipe up uncertainly. "Trying to find the baby's heartbeat? I think that's slightly more important than bickering amongst yourselves."

They both go quiet. All of us are listening to static, when a swishing noise comes through the monitor that Yazoo is holding. It's the baby's heartbeat. It doesn't make a steady 'thud-thud, thud-thud' like you'd hear an adult's heart through a doctor's stethoscope, but more of a rapid, 'whoosh-whoosh-whoosh-whoosh' sound. Because babies are much smaller than adults, their hearts beat a lot faster.

"Sounds perfect." Yazoo smiles, checking the rate of beats displayed on the monitor's digital screen. "That's one relaxed baby in there."

Even though I didn't feel that anything was wrong, I still sigh with relief to have confirmation of the baby's healthy state. When Yazoo first offered to be my midwife weeks ago, I wasn't sure if I'd accept that offer but now I'm glad he's here to help me.

"Thanks, Yaz," I utter gratefully after he's wiped my stomach clean. I pull my shirt back down and sit up. "How often will you need to check the heartbeat?"

"I won't need to check again until you're in active labour. Usually, midwives check every half hour and immediately after each push, but that's not necessary," he admits. "You have a strong connection to your baby and will be able to tell if anything isn't right. Besides, by the pushing stage, you may not want to be touched at all. In fact, you may not want me anywhere near you."

"Probably not," I concur. "To be honest, Yazoo, the thought of you witnessing my lady-hole ripping in half as a giant baby-head pops out is more than slightly un..."

I break off as another contraction comes, sucking in a quick breath and doubling over on the couch, a wince of pain tightening my features. I have both hands on my stomach, feeling the muscles harden and clench.

"Are you all right?" Loz queries worriedly. "Does it hurt much?"

Before I can clonk him on the head with a heavy candle sitting nearby, Yazoo explains, "Loz, of course they hurt. And they're only going to get worse and worse. By the end of this, Cate will probably be screaming and swearing at you but you mustn't take it to heart. She won't mean it – it will just be because of the pain. So, don't cry if she says something harsh, okay? Just stay focused on Cate and help her when she needs you to."

He nods. "Okay. You want me to rub your back or something, Catey?"

The pain passes and I exhale slowly. "I'm good for the moment, Loz. I'll let you know when."

"We should leave Cate alone," Yazoo announces, taking his little brother's arm. "Come on, Kadaj. Give her some space to breathe."

I smile at the middle Remnant appreciatively as he leads a pouting Kadaj out of the living room. I know Kadaj is just excited about the baby's impending arrival but the only person I want around at this stage is Loz.


Over the next few hours, the contractions increase in length and strength, coming closer and closer together until Yazoo declares that I'm in active labour. It's not comfortable to sit on the lounge anymore and so I get Loz to blow up an inflatable gym ball that I bounce and rock upon, taking the pressure off my tailbone. When that stops being helpful, I get up and walk again, making a few trips to the toilet. I end up kneeling on the bedroom floor and leaning onto the side of our bed, panting into a pillow and trying to recall my breathing exercises. Relaxing rainforest music is playing in the background. I had fully intended to lull myself into a kind of hypnotic trance during labouring to make the pain disappear, but I can't remember what I'm supposed to be thinking. Somehow, all the useful information I've read about visualising opening flowers and unfurling ribbons in my mind just flies out the window and I can't visualise shit.

I can't focus on anything except getting through each contraction, which are now around three minutes apart and lasting for sixty seconds. Those three minutes between contractions are completely pain-free, but then it's sixty seconds of ouch. Sixty seconds sounds like such a short time, but try holding your hand in boiling water for that long - I bet it seems like a hell of a lot longer. Loz helps me as much as he can: he rubs my lower back where it hurts, brings me ice cubes to suck on and wipes my sweaty face with a cool washcloth. Mostly, he just lets me dig my fingernails into his arms.

As I expected, labour is tough. Basically, each contraction forces the cervix (the opening at the neck of the womb) to open a bit further and wider, going from the width of a pencil to the size of a large grapefruit, just so the baby's head will fit through it. No other muscle in the body can dilate so far all on its own and it's pretty damn amazing but it's also pretty damn painful and it's hard to keep my moans in. If you could call it moaning. I've never heard my voice so low and guttural before, almost like an animalistic growl, but I can't control it.

Trying to help, Yazoo offers me hospital-grade gas, which won't affect the baby, but no matter how much I breathe in, it doesn't dull the pain. It just makes me feel lightheaded and queasy and I vomit into a sick-bag soon after trying it.

"Take it away," I groan, shoving the plastic mouth piece aside.

"I can give you an epidural if you want," Yazoo proposes.

I shake my head firmly. "No."

"What about a shot of pethidine?"

"I don't want any drugs! They're bad for the baby."

"But you need some relief," the slim Remnant insists. "Loz and I...our bodies were designed to withstand massive amounts of pain. Yours isn't."

'Yes, it is. I'm a woman," I snap back. "This is what my body was designed for - pushing out babies. I can handle it on my own, Yazoo, so fuck off and leave me alone!"

Knowing that I'm just irritable because of the pain, he remarks, "It appears by your mood that you're in transition now." To Loz, he explains, "It's the second part of labour and means the baby will be coming soon."

Gods, I hope he's right. This experience seems to be going on forever so to hear that the end is near is a welcome light at the end of a very long and excruciating tunnel.

"Sorry, Yazoo," I mumble meekly from the side of the bed. "I'm not mad at you."

"I know." He smiles at me in understanding. "You're doing brilliantly, Cate."

I snort. "Doubt it."

"You are. Just keep doing what you're doing and your baby will be here before you know it."

Despite what he says, my labour continues on as the hours on the clock tick away. I try standing in the shower, letting the hot water rain down upon my spine and tailbone, but it only provides temporary relief. Loz seems powerless and bewildered now that his back-rubbing doesn't help anymore.

"The lake," I mutter, feeling that that's where I should be giving birth. "I need to go to the lake."

Carrying me in his arms, Loz takes me down the path through the forest. Yazoo and Kadaj come along with us. Not wanting to be left out, Kadaj asked me first if he was allowed to come and I said he could, as long as he kept his distance and didn't intrude on my personal space. He promised he wouldn't. Yazoo carries what looks like a doctor's bag full of equipment (that I hope we don't need to use) and Kadaj is holding some towels and a large metal basin to put the placenta in, but I bet he doesn't know that's what it's for. Keeping his promise, Kadaj sits on the dry ground at the edge of the lake while Loz carries me into the water, wearing a pair of swimming shorts that tie at the waist and finish above his knees. I'm wearing a purple bikini, purely for modesty's sake. I'll only take the bottom of it off when the baby is crowning but until then, it's staying on because I don't want to be completely naked in front of Yazoo and Kadaj, even though I know they probably don't care. But I do.

Staying on the shore until he's needed, Yazoo strips off his top, pants and boots, leaving him clad in a pair of black training trunks, the quick-drying fabric suitable for water use. Realising he's the only one still fully-clothed, Kadaj hastily peels off his shirt and jeans, just in case he has to make a heroic dash into the lake to save one of us. He's got on cotton boxer briefs, not intended for water sports of any kind but I appreciate his effort. With the guys in swimming gear or underwear, it makes me feel a little better about being in a bikini.

Loz lowers me into the lake and I'm enveloped by warmth up to my chest. We are on the sandy bottom, with me sitting between Loz's thighs. I have my head leaning back on Loz's chest, his arms around me. I find one of his hands and clutch it in my own, needing to grab onto something during each contraction. The water assists with the pain, but not enough. I'm not just moaning or groaning anymore, I'm screaming out loud. The contractions are coming one on top of the other and I don't appear to be getting any real breaks between them. It just seems like one never-ending vice of pain clamped around my belly and back. Loz sits there anxiously and lets me crush his hand with mine, my agonised screams echoing through the trees around us.

After a while, Yazoo wades over to where Loz and I are in the lake. I know he's there but I can't acknowledge his presence, too caught up in my own misery.

"Do you have the urge to push yet?"

I shake my head in answer to Yazoo's question, letting out a sob of frustration. I thought I'd be pushing by now but the baby doesn't seem low enough.

"Something doesn't seem right, Cate," he says softly to me. "You've been in labour for 21 hours and I'm concerned that the baby might be in distress. I should do an external exam."

Whipping my head around to glare at him, I snarl, "You're not sticking your fucking hand up me!"

"I said: EXTERNAL," he clarifies in a calming manner, not affected by my snarling in the least. "I want to feel the outside of your stomach, to gauge the baby's position. I would also like to check the baby's heartbeat, if that's okay with you."

"Oh." Speaking in a less-hostile way, I return, "I thought you said it wasn't necessary to do all that checking."

"I'm starting to think it is." Recognizing my reluctance to be touched, Yazoo tries to talk me into co-operating. "When you first came to us I said I would help you with this ordeal in any way I could. I meant that, Cate. I studied this. I researched it, read childbirth books and watched hours of film footage. I know what's supposed to happen and what's not. Aside from a hospital, I'm the best medical assistance you have. The ONLY medical assistance you have. Unless you want me to call Rufus Shinra and get him to send some doctors over in a helicopter?"

"NO!" I yell in answer to his hypothetical question.

"Okay," Yazoo replies. "Then please let me do my job and help you and the baby."

"Fine," I end up huffing, realising that he's going to check me whether I like it or not and I'm simply too tired to object anymore. "Check then."

"Loz, carry Cate back to the shore," Yazoo instructs. "I need to examine her."

Slipping his arms under my knees and around my shoulders, Loz lifts me up, carrying me back to the edge of the lake and sitting me down on a thick towel that someone has already laid out for me. Kadaj is there, hovering in concern, appearing unsure if he should go away or not. I know he's just worried about the baby, as we all are.

"Listen, you." Here, I point at Kadaj. "You can stay but please don't touch me or I will punch you in your pretty, human face."

Holding both hands up, he says quickly, "I wasn't gonna!"

"Good. Don't."

For once, Kadaj is all out of clever remarks and just gazes at me with visible unease in his wide brown eyes.

With Loz holding my hand, Yazoo makes me lie back so he can perform his work. He carefully presses his hands around the bulge of my stomach, attempting to discern how the baby is lying – where the bottom and head are, and which way the baby is facing. I know there are numerous positions that babies can be lying in prior to birth, such as transverse (sideways) and breech (feet first). The optimal one is anterior, which is head down, face looking towards my spine, with the back of the baby facing outwards against my belly. I hope that's what Yazoo feels. However, if the back of the baby is against my spine in the posterior position, that could be causing the pain that I'm feeling and will be a more difficult birth.

He doesn't say anything yet, just brings out his ultrasound equipment and monitors the baby's heartbeat, nodding satisfactorily at what he hears.

"Heartbeat is good." Yazoo looks up at his brothers, who are clamoured around us. "You two, go get some more towels. We're going to need them shortly."

Loz and Kadaj obey, seeming glad for something to do, both of them scurrying back to the lair.

Yazoo leans down, murmuring confidentially. "Cate, I didn't want to say this in front of Loz but although your baby is not in immediate distress, I can feel that their head isn't in your pelvis, where it should be. It's under your ribs, which means it is in a breech position. It also seems as though your placenta is abnormally large and is preventing the baby from turning."

"Oh Gods," I groan. "No wonder it's taking so long."

"Can you talk to your child and tell them to shift?"

Using our mother-child bond, I try communicating with the baby telepathically but nothing happens.

"It's not working," I say in despair but Yazoo has another plan.

"Since we share the same cells, I'll attempt to connect with the baby this time and ask them to try and turn the right way." Yazoo concentrates on my belly, as if speaking to his niece or nephew but there must be no response, or a negative one, because he frowns.

"I'm going to try and manually turn them around," he suggests in a last-ditch effort to make things easier for all of us.

Yazoo puts both his hands on my stomach and tries to move the baby into a different position but he can't. This kid is not budging.

"Sorry, Cate. You're going to have to deliver the baby this way."

Staring up at Yazoo in panic, I yelp, "I can't!"

"Yes, you can," he confidently assures me. "Thousands of women deliver breech babies every year. The bottom and legs will come out first, that's all. The head and face will come out last."

"Oh, this is not good," I mutter fretfully. "This is risky, Yazoo. Don't tell me it's not because I know it is."

From reading books, I know that a breech baby's head could get caught between my pelvic bones or the umbilical cord could become compressed. If that happens the baby won't be able to breathe.

"There are risks with all births, Catalina. But don't worry," Yazoo continues calmingly. "I'll be there every step of the way and I'll help you through it."

"If the baby gets stuck, you're going to have to cut it right out of my belly." I grab his arm, my tone full of urgency. "Don't worry about me, Yazoo, just save my child!"

"Stop talking like that," he gently chastises me. "We're getting this baby out safely and I promise you'll both be fine. Just trust me, okay?"

I guess I don't have any other option. Seeing how confident Yazoo is makes me a little less panicked. The other two finally come back with the extra towels they were sent away for. When Loz finds out from Yazoo that the baby is lying the wrong way around, he pales, but doesn't get upset. He just comes back to me, holding my hand and being my tower of strength as we attempt to deal with this unexpected complication.


To be continued…

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