Giving birth brings Becky incomparable clarity. It isn't the moment people talk about, the moment when she holds her child for the first time. It's before that, when it hurts, when she's in a very nice, private hospital room full of far too many people, that she finds absolute clarity. She knows exactly what she wants.
"Eric," she says, "call Ginger."
"Oh, honey," Margaret says. "It's the middle of the night. There's no need to wake her up. We can tell her in the morning."
"Don't be ridiculous, Becky," Paul says. "You don't need Ginger here."
"We're all here for you, honey," Rose says. "Let the rest of the family sleep until they can meet the baby."
Becky ignores them and looks only at Eric. "Please."
He takes out his phone. It takes long enough for him to speak that Becky thinks that Ginger isn't going to answer. But then he says, "I'm sorry to wake you up. Becky's in labor."
Ginger must say something; he looks surprised and then gives her the hospital name and room number.
Becky closes her eyes in relief. It's easier to ignore them now, all the people who want to tell her what to do and how to think and how to feel. They're still too loud. There are still too many of them.
Eric really did wake Ginger up. There's a pillow crease on her cheek, and she's not wearing the armor of her perfect makeup, her red lipstick, her short skirts. She has on jeans and a t-shirt. Her hair is barely brushed. She's the most beautiful thing Becky has ever seen.
Ginger looks around the room, and then does one of the things Becky was hoping she could do. "All right, everyone out." She claps her hands together. "If you're not a biological parent of this baby, there's a perfectly good waiting room for you."
"Don't be ridiculous, Ginger," Margaret says. "Of course I'm going to be here for the birth of my first grandchild."
"I think you can be here for it in the waiting room." Ginger takes Margaret's arm and steers her to the door. "You'll want a nice, quiet place to pray, of course." Once Margaret is out, the rest of them follow more easily, until it's just Eric and Ginger left in the room with Becky.
Ginger glances at Eric, and then comes over to brush her hand over Becky's hair. "How are you doing?"
Becky turns into Ginger's touch. "I didn't know anything could hurt this much." She stops trying to be strong and lets her eyes tear up. "I don't want it to hurt anymore."
Ginger kisses her forehead, and then presses the call button. "Let's get you something to take care of that."
"So," Eric says.
"Oh, come on, Eric," Becky snaps. "Isn't it obvious? You have your trollop and I have mine."
"Easy there, fundie," Ginger says without heat.
Becky closes her eyes and turns her head toward Ginger, and then another contraction hits and it's still horrible, but this time she has Ginger with her, and she can clutch Ginger's hand, and when the nurse comes in, Ginger takes care of getting her something to take the worst of the pain away.
Ginger stays with her the whole time. Eric's there, too, but Ginger is the one who matters. Ginger is the one who tells her, "You can do this," and holds her hand and feeds her ice chips and tells her outrageous stories about Las Vegas to keep her mind off things.
In the last, horrible part, when Becky cries and sobs and hurts, Ginger is right there, smoothing her hair back and kissing her forehead.
And then Becky is truly, fully a mother, and she grabs at Ginger when she offers to let Becky and Eric have time alone with their daughter. "No, stay."
Ginger takes pictures for them, of Eric and Becky and their daughter. And then Becky insists on Eric taking one of Ginger with her and her daughter, and one of Ginger holding her daughter. Becky has every intention of Ginger being in her daughter's life forever; she wants a record of this first moment.
"Why doesn't Eric take her out to meet the rest of the family," Ginger suggests. "I can go with them if you want."
"No!" Becky grabs at Ginger. "You stay."
Ginger's face is so expressive; Becky can see how pleased she is to be asked to stay.
Things are so quiet when Eric leaves. "I'm so tired," Becky says. She's crying again, but in a listless, helpless way where the tears are just running down her cheeks. She's tired. Everything hurts, body and soul.
"I know you are, sweetheart." Ginger sits on the edge of Becky's bed, puts an arm around her shoulders. "You did so good. You were so strong. I'm so proud of you."
Becky turns her head toward Ginger. "You are?"
"Of course I am, baby." Ginger kisses her forehead, her cheeks, her mouth. "I'm so proud, and you have a perfect, beautiful daughter. You can rest now. You can sleep. I'll be right here when you wake up."
With that, Becky can feel her body slumping, turning toward sleep. "Promise?"
"I promise." Ginger kisses her again. "You can go to sleep now, honey."
"Okay," Becky says. She trusts Ginger. She trusts Ginger's promises. She can sleep, and Ginger will take care of things, and Eric won't let anything happen to their daughter. She can sleep.