Pharm didn’t really know how he and Dean managed to reach this point. Every time Pharm stopped to think about it, it all seemed so unreal.
He was thirty-five -Dean was thirty-eight-, he was married to the love of his life, Dean was a successful coach for Thailand’s Olympic swimming team, and they bought their own, splendid house.
Oh yeah, they also had nine children.
Yes, they were all theirs. No, they weren’t all planned but yes, they loved them all the same. No, they were not crazy. Yes, it was hard.
And these were just a small part of the questions Pharm and Dean got whenever they were out with all the kids. Pharm was so fed up with all the judging stares and the prying questions he was getting since his first pregnancy.
‘Why are you having a baby? You’re so young, you should enjoy your age!’
What if this was exactly what he wanted exactly when he wanted it? What if this was his way to enjoy his life? Who said he needed to party every night in order to fit his age? Why did he have to explain his life to people? Why did he have to fit the world’s standards?
He was not a normal person, has never been. Not when half of his thoughts were Intouch’s.
So, he just went his own way, he and Dean both. They built their family exactly how they wanted it and they wouldn’t trade for anything.
Sure, life with nine kids was hard. First of all, Pharm wasn’t able to actually get a job.
He got pregnant for the first time a couple of months before graduation and, after that, he never stopped. He tried to get a job after his fifth pregnancy after the twins were born.
He had a job interview with a very unpleasant man who didn’t want to employ him because “Who knows you’re gonna pop out another one, right?”
In the end, Pharm got the job so he decided to let it slide.
I’ll leave it to you to imagine what he said when, a year later, Pharm told him he was pregnant once more. Nothing flattering.
Of course, he was fired on the spot.
That had been his worst pregnancy so far because, together with severe nausea, he fell down a spiral of guilt and self-questioning that led to a vicious post-partum depression.
At that time his oldest was eight and he had two one-year-old twin girls to tend to. He wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for Dean who was such a good father and loved him and the children he gave him.
After that, he didn’t try to get a job because, even though they had decided that their family was all good with seven kids, Pharm got pregnant again two years and a half later. And then again, another year later. And then again, now.
It just… felt right to have other members added to their already crazy big family.
But now that was it. Pharm was pregnant for the ninth time and he was going to make sure this was the last.
He really loved his kids and the atmosphere at home was always so warm and so comfortable, but he also really wanted to get a job and start his career. Late, sure, but he was still pretty young and he wanted to give a shot at the whole patisserie thing since it felt like a natural thing to him.
Anyway, he had no time to think about it now because getting six kids ready for the day was really no joke, even with Dean’s help. Thankfully Nam, his oldest son, Anong, his twelve years old daughter, and Kraisee, his ten years old boy, were quite independent and needed little help in the process of getting ready for school.
“Dean! Where are the twins’ school bags?” Pharm shouted from the kitchen where he was loading the kids' bags with the lunches he made. But the girls’ ones were nowhere to be seen.
“I don’t know, Pharm!” His husband yelled back from upstairs where the kids' rooms were.
“Come on Kriss, put on your pants- I found them, Pharm! They were under Kriss’ bed!”
Pharm heard Dean hastily walk down the stairs. He entered the kitchen already dressed for work and absolutely stunning. Even after so many years together Pharm was still sheerly fascinated with that man who was so much of his past as well as his present. His future too, Pharm had no doubts.
Dean brought the girls' school bags to the counter and Pharm filled them with the last two lunches he still had not packed.
Dean waited until he closed the zip, then he took Pharm by the hips and kissed him hard against the counter -careful not to put pressure on his twenty-eight weeks baby bump- leaving Pharm a little out of breath.
“You look dashing today.”
Pharm blushed and turned around fixing his shirt -Dean’s shirt- that fell down his shoulder.
“’m not. I just woke up and my hair’s a nest.”
Dean hugged him from behind, hands splayed across Pharm’s belly, gently lifting his bump, taking some of the weight of the baby on himself.
Since Pharm was so small, the weight of the pregnancies caused him really bad backaches, but Dean found out that doing this actually helped, so, whenever he could, he hugged Pharm and slightly lifted his belly.
“I love when your hair is like this. It makes you look all fuzzy and cute. Like a chick.”
“Dean I’m thirty-five.”
“Still, you look exactly like you did twelve years ago.” Said Dean peppering kisses on Pharm’s soft cheek.
Pharm giggled and opened his mouth to say something but-
Dean snorted on his neck.
“I’ll go. Can you go look for the kids’ shoes? I will go check on the little ones too.” Said Pharm but Dean didn’t hint on letting him go any soon.
“Come on Dean, let me go.” He chuckled and Dean reluctantly, slowly let go of Pharm’s belly and went to collect the kids’ shoes.
Someone from upstairs started crying.
“Mom!” Shouted Nam. “Mel woke up!”
“I’m coming!” Pharm shouted back and walked to the stairs.
But after a handful of steps, he needed to stop.
Excruciating pain erupted from his stomach, breath kicked out of his lungs, and his knees bending. Pharm fell to his knees, hands desperately gripping the handrail.
A contraction. Pharm was having a damn contraction. Why was he having a contraction?! It was too soon.
Pharm tried to breathe through it, hoping none of the kids would come down and see him in this state.
Tears sprung to his eyes and, with great terror, he felt something come out of him. And there was so much of it.
At first, he thought his water broke, but it couldn’t be, it was soon, too soon.
When he looked down his trousers were stained in blood. There was so much of it, running down to his knees. He felt like dying. His heart fell in the pit of his stomach.
What was happening to the baby? This couldn’t be good, blood was pooling under him, pants thoroughly soaked. He needed to go to the hospital. God, he needed help right now but he couldn’t bring himself to emit any sound, even though he felt In screaming inside of his mind.
“Mom! Malee and Dao are arguing for the hairbrush!”
Yes, Pharm heard them, just as much as he heard Mel still crying in his crib in his and Dean’s room.
But he couldn’t move. He was starting to feel weak, losing too much blood, shaking violently and crying, because something was wrong, very wrong with their baby.
Eventually, since he wasn’t answering, someone came looking for him and, damn it, it was Kriss, the five years old boy looking as if he was in a nightmare.
“Mommy!” The sweet boy hastily walked down the steps that separated him from his mother, tears welling in his eyes.
Pharm tried to suck his back in and closed his legs to hide all the blood from Kriss’s sight as best as he could.
“Mommy! You have an ouchie?” He hugged Pharm tight, just like his mommy did when he scraped his knees. Little did he know it wasn’t nearly enough.
But thankfully, Dean -and also the other kids- were alarmed by Kriss’s shouts.
“Pharm!” Dean got to him and gently detached the boy from him, hugging his crying son instead. “What happened?!”
Dean was panicking because Pharm was going white, kneeling in a puddle of his own blood.
“Dean… call an ambulance.” Pharm’s head was spinning and he barely registered the choir of ‘Mom!’ and ‘Mommy!’ before his hands slipped from the handrail and collapsed.
That’s when Dean’s instinct -strongly driven by Korn- kicked in.
Pharm was in danger, In was in danger, their baby was… Dean just hoped the baby was still alive.
“Nam, Anong, take care of your brothers and sisters. You all go to mom and dad’s room. Play with Mel, he just woke up.”
Anong got down the stairs to take Kriss, the poor girl was shaken but Dean had no time for that, not when Pharm was still unconscious and losing a copious amount of blood.
Dean took Pharm in his arms and called the ambulance with shacky fingers.
“Ok, we’ll be there in five minutes. Please try to stop the blood in the meantime.”
Dean cut off the communication without even saying ‘bye’ and dialed Win’s phone number.
“Hey, Dean, what’s up, man?”
“Pharm fainted, he’s losing blood. I called an ambulance but I need someone to bring the kids to school. They can’t stay home, they will just stress and worry. They need to be distracted.”
Win, on the other side, hesitated at a loss of words.
“What happened, Dean?” He muttered and Dean really wanted to stick his fingers in his hair and pull.
“I really don’t know, Win, but the ambulance is coming. The kids are ready, please, could you take them to school?”
“Ok, ok Dean. We’ll come both and we’ll take them to school.”
“Thank you.” Said Dean extremely thankful to his long-term friend. “Really, thank you. Nam will wait for you.” He shut off the communication.
Dean lifted Pharm bridal style, trying not to look at all the blood staining the stairs, and brought him to the couch.
Pharm seemed to had, thankfully, stopped losing blood, but he didn’t seem to be waking up. And by now Dean’s mind was walking dark paths.
He stroked Pharm’s belly hoping, praying to feel the usual flutter of the baby’s kicks. But nothing.
“Dad.” Nam was staring at them from the living room’s door, a scowl on his face and voice shacking. “What is happening?”
Dean blinked to hide his tears.
“Hey.” Dean walked to the thirteen-year-old and hugged him. The boy returned the hug with despair.
“Dad, is mom dying?” Asked the boy, face smushed on Dean’s chest.
“No, baby, mom’s ok. He’s just feeling bad. I’ll bring him to the hospital and he’ll be all good.” He was lying. He didn’t really know and he was scared. It was hard for Dean to breathe around the lump that formed in his throat.
The sound of a siren was getting closer and Dean really hoped it was for them.
“Now listen to me.” He put both hands on Nam’s shoulders, feeling like he was staring right into Pharm’s eyes. “Uncle Win and uncle Team are coming, they’ll bring you all to school, ok?” He really hoped Nam was following him on this. “I will go with mom in the ambulance, ok? Don’t worry, I’ll be the one to pick you up from school.”
Nam nodded but he was visibly confused.
“Don’t open the door for anyone, ok? Only for the uncles, ok? Remember to ask ‘who’s there?’, ok?”
The ambulance was getting closer, now the sound was so strong it was difficult for Dean to hear his own voice.
“Ok, Nam? Ok?” he needed Nam to tell him he understood because he was going to leave them alone and, even though he had no choice, he was worried sick.
The ambulance stopped right in front of their house.
Nam nodded with tears in his eyes and Dean felt like the worst dad in the world but he couldn’t take care of him now. He just hoped Nam would understand eventually.
Someone ringed their doorbell.
He kissed the boy’s forehead and hugged him.
“Now go to your brothers and sisters. Tell win to call me when he’s here, ok?”
The kid nodded and run up the stairs.
Dean felt relief wash over him as he opened the door for the paramedics.
It’s going to be ok, he kept repeating to himself, they’ll save Pharm, they’ll save the baby.
The paramedics started fumbling around Pharm’s still unconscious figure and Dean forced himself to stand a distance. He didn’t want to get in their way and interfere with Pharm’s safety.
They touched him and threw each other pieces of information, succeeding in waking Pharm up, and how happy was Dean to see his doe eyes, even though unfocused, open and look around.
“Mr, do you know who you are?”
Pharm was still clearly out of it, blinking around, but his eyes were furrowed in concentration as if he was trying to get a grip on what was happening.
“Ye- yeah, I’m… Dean!”
Dean was next to him in a second, finding a seat near Pharm’s head on the armrest.
“I’m here, Pharm.” He said still scared shitless, stroking Pharm’s still too pale face covered in cold sweat.
Pharm closed his eyes again as if it was too tiring to keep them open.
“We need to take him to the hospital, he needs a transfusion.”
Dean didn’t even know which one of the medics said it, but he nodded, his thoughts going to his kids, probably scared, confused, feeling lonely, needing him and Pharm.
But he couldn’t, damn, he needed to go with them to the hospital.
They moved Pharm on a stretcher and brought him to the ambulance, putting the oxygen mask on his nose and mouth and attaching machines to his body. And they were off to the hospital.
When they arrived, they brought Pharm away, leaving Dean outside a door, sat on a plastic chair, heart tight and stomach churning with worry for his husband and children.
Ten minutes later Team called him.
“We got the kids settled, Win is bringing the little to the kindergarten and I have Karakade and Mel here with me and Joy.”
A weight lifted off Dean’s chest as he passed a hand through his hair nervously.
“Thank you, Team, really. How were the kids?”
“They were shaken. Nam and Sanun were silent for the whole trip to school, Anong called Pharm a couple of times and I’ve never seen the twins sit so still. I don’t know what happened, Dean.”
Dean sighed too, sad that his kids had to see their mom faint in a puddle of his own blood.
“Listen, I picked up some things I think Pharm will need since I don’t think he will be coming home today. I’ll bring them to you, message me the ward and room number he’s in.”
Dean did, so, so thankful for their friends.
He waited there, on the plastic chair, trying to keep his mind off a well-known flat and guns and blood and Pharm’s distraught expression.
Team arrived twenty minutes later holding Mel on a hip and Karakade and Joy -his and Win’s second child who was the same age as Karakade- each gripping a hem of the man’s shorts.
Karakade runs to him the moment she saw Dean and he lifted her, holding her on his lap.
He kissed her head and took Mel from Team, sitting him down on his other knee.
Team picked Joy up and sat down on the chair next to Dean’s.
“What happened, Dean?”
Dean exhaled a choked breath.
“I don’t know, really. One moment he was smiling and hugging me, and the next he was losing so much blood he fainted, and I- They- He’s in there.” He pointed at the door across from them. “Nurses and doctors are coming out of there but they’re not telling me anything, always running I- Someone came asking for his blood type but-There’s something wrong, Team. Pharm was barely conscious when he was brought here.”
Karakade picked up on her mother’s name and wiggled in his arms, looking at Dean.
“Mommy? Where mommy, daddy?”
Dean didn’t know what to say. In the end, he opted for a sugar-coated version of the truth.
“Mommy is not feeling well, baby. You’ll have to stay with uncle Team for today, ok? I’ll come to pick you up later, ok?”
Thankfully neither Karakade nor Mel had seen Pharm that morning since he just woke up and she was still sleeping.
She was still not really ok with not seeing her mother and she teared up, Mel following her asking for his mom.
And thank God for Team because Dean was not in the right state of mind to do anything.
After they got the kids settled, Team gave him a bag with clothes, some snacks, Pharm’s phone and charger, underwear, a book, that kind of things.
So, Dean was lest alone again, clutching Pharm’s bag as if his life was in there.
A doctor came out almost one hour after their first arrival.
“Are you Pharm Chatpokin’s relative?” He asked with a practical frown and Dean shot to his feet, still holding the bag.
“I’m his husband.”
The doctor hummed and nodded.
“If you follow me I will speak with you and Mr. Chatpokin together.”
And he dryly provided to open the door and invite Dean into the room with a gesture.
Dean all but run into the room and he felt like melting when his eyes met Pharm’s wide-open ones.
A couple of nurses were still fumbling around the bed, fixing sheets and other things.
Dean avoided them and sat on Pharm’s bed, taking his hands in a vise-like grip. Even though it was nothing but a touch, it was more than enough for them to share their emotions and thoughts. Just like it had always been.
The doctor behind Dean coughed to get their attention and Dean had to, once again, push back the tears that he felt prickling his eyes.
“Since he lost so much blood, we had to give him a transfusion and also a heparin shot. We have all reasons to think he developed preeclampsia but we’ll have him under observation to monitor his blood pressure and organ functioning.”
Dean turned toward Pharm, reading in his eyes the same confusion he was feeling.
And the doctor had the audacity to roll his eyes.
“Do you know what preeclampsia is?” He still asked.
Both Pharm and Dean shook their heads, hands still tightly intertwined, giving each other as much comfort as they could.
“Preeclampsia is a complication connected to high blood pressure and organ failure, in your case, your kidneys.” He said pointing at Pharm’s body covered by thin sheets.
Phar instinctually brought a hand to rest on his belly.
“But-” Pharm muttered, incredibly scared to hear the answer to the question he was going to ask. “Is the baby still- Is he… alive?” The tension was thick in the room, both Pharm and Dean were holding their breath, hoping for the best.
“He is. His conditions are stable for now.”
Dean and Pharm let their breath go and melted into matching smiles. At this point, Dean threw away his sense of decency and bent down to kiss the shit out of his husband.
It was ok, they could work with that, their baby was alive, there was still hope.
“So that’s why he was losing so much blood? Was it because of the preeclampsia?” Asked Dean as the doctor’s face was still hard and serious.
“Actually, it was not because of the preeclampsia. The blood loss was caused by placental abruption. We’ll have to see how much of the placenta has detached from the womb’s walls but, from the amount of blood lost we can suppose it was circa forty, fifty percent of it.”
Pharm felt the earth slip from under his feet.
He knew something about placental abruption. It happened to one of the moms of Malee and Dao’s school. She lost the baby when she was seven months far. Had to push him out naturally only to lay him in a coffin.
Dean knew too, he was the one who comforted him when he was pregnant with Mel and scared to death.
And now all his fears were coming true.
There were tears streaming down his face, he felt them.
“Hey Pharm, stay with me.” Dean cupped his face between his hands. “Calm down, let’s hear what the doctor says, ok? We’ll get through this, ok?”
Pharm took a deep breath and nodded shakily, reveling in the feeling of Dean’s soft lips on his forehead.
The doctor then proceeded to list a long directory of rules, risks, and warnings that made Pharm’s and Dean’s hearts sink even more.
Sure, it didn’t help that the doctor was talking about their baby as if he found the vicissitude deathly boring. It was making Pharm anxious, which was a paradox since he told them he didn’t need to stress for the next months until the baby was born.
Which would happen at the thirty-fourth week by induction because, with placental abruption, a c-section could possibly lead to other post-partum complications. Including Pharm’s death.
But then, after the doctor left them alone, one of the nurses said something that had Dean’s blood boiling.
“You know, abortion is still an option. It would be better for you.” Pharm was speechless. “Your life is at risk, I don’t think you have realized it. You two should really consider getting an emergency abortion. By the way, you already have nine children. Are they not already enough? You can afford to lose this one.”
That’s when Dean shot up, face hardened, so fed up by this people’s behavior. They should be helping them, not speaking to Pharm as if he was stupid and a spoiled child just because he wanted to carry on this pregnancy, like it was such an ignorant move to put his own wellness on the line in favor of his child’s one.
And Dean had had enough because they didn’t need to be looked down on for how many children they had and Pharm didn’t need to feel guilty for being a caring mother. Because Pharm really loved his children, truly deeply loved them and that was one thing Dean really loved about him.
“I don’t think this is any of your business. Also, you shouldn’t talk about a baby as if it was an object, a disposable good.” He wasn’t shouting but his eyes were.
Dean shot a glance to Pharm who was looking down at his fingers, silently.
“You’re making my husband distressed when he should be relaxing. If you really care about his health you will leave us alone. If anything happens we will be the ones who’ll call you.”
The nurse blushed but her expression remained just as judging and strict. She nodded and finally they were left completely alone.
Dean sat back down on the bed, successfully distracting him by taking his hands between his own again
When Pharm raised his eyes on Dean they were again full of tears.
“No, baby.” He hugged him and Pharm let go, crying on his shoulder for a while only interrupted every now and then by his own mutters on: “I don’t want to get an abortion, Dean, I can’t let him down like this” and “I love him too, Dean, I’m his mommy” and again “I’m scared Dean, I’m so scared”.
Dean let him cry, never letting him go, silently taking all his worries and fears on himself, delaying his own tears to a later time.
When Pharm calmed down a bit Dean helped him in one of the pajamas Team had packed and laid down next to him, hugging Pharm who was still upset but was slowly drifting off to sleep.
Later on, a nurse came and woke Pharm up for his lunch, but, since he was feeling nauseous, he ate almost nothing.
The nurse, a sweet girl with glasses, explained to them that the doctor wanted Pharm to stay under observation for a couple of days, in order to be sure the diagnosis was right and monitor his blood pressure.
“Can I at least have visits?” Asked Pharm, looking exhausted and the nurse smiled.
“Of course you can. But you’ll need to stay relaxed, ok? No straining yourself, mhm?”
She smiled again and left.
When the door closed, Pharm turned toward Dean, laying his head on his husband’s shoulder.
“I want to see the kids. Where are they?”
Dean kissed the top of his head.
“After you fainted I called Win and asked him to take them to school. Mel and Karakade are with Team and Joy.”
“We’ll have to buy them a cake. They’re too good to be true.” Muttered Pharm, still visibly sleepy.
Dean chuckled. “As if you wouldn’t do the same.”
“I would.” Confirmed Pharm, then he looked at the clock on the wall. “It’s almost time to pick Kriss up from kindergarten.”
Dean looked at the clock and nodded. He needed to go pick the five years old up. And, an hour later, Kraisee, Sanun, Malee, and Dao from the elementary school. Nam and Anong would be already home, both taking the bus home from middle school.
“Can you bring him here?” Asked Pharm from where he was still leaning over his husband’s shoulder.
“I want to see Kriss first. I can’t stop thinking about his expression when he saw me this morning. He looked so scared. Can you take him here first? Then you could go pick the others up from school and the guys from home and take them here too?”
Dean nodded but looked down at him.
“Are you sure you’re not going to get stressed? With all of them here?”
Pharm raised his head to look into Dean’s eyes.
“I want to see them, Dean. The sooner I see them the less I’m going to stress.”
So Dean gave up, took a taxi home to retrieve his car, and went to pick up Kriss from kindergarten.
The kid stuck to his leg from the moment he saw him in the hall, little face low and mouth shut.
Dean’s head tightened in his chest when the kid refused to even say ‘hi’ and just smushed his face in his thigh.
The long-haired boy seemed to lighten a bit when Dean mentioned Pharm, but he shut off right after, probably remembering what happened that morning.
When Dean opened the door of Pharm’s room and Kriss actually saw his mother, the boy started crying.
“Mom. Mommy.” He cried trying to get on the bed, which was too high for him.
Dean helped him on the bed and the boy right away scooted closer to Pharm, smushing his little face on his chest.
Pharm hugged him tightly, gently shushing him, a hand passing through his shoulder-length hair, and his lips pressed on his forehead.
“Shush, baby. I’m here. I’m all good, baby, mom’s good.”
The child sniffled and raised his eyes on Pharm.
“You-” Hiccup. “You don’t have an ouchie anymore?”
Pharm looked into his eyes, taking in his features: Dean’s lips, Pharm’s soft hair, and Dean’s sharp eyes mixed in his own unique way.
Lie to him? What if in the end, something bad happened to Pharm? He would feel so betrayed. Tell him the truth? Was it right to put such a heavy weight on him? The boy didn’t need it for sure.
“I still have a bit of an ouchie, Kriss. But everything’s going to be ok, alright? I’m at the hospital, doctors are going to cure me.”
Kriss sniffled and nodded but it was clear that he wasn’t convinced.
Pharm tried everything he could to distract the five years old trying with kisses and smiled and small talks about school but it was obvious that Kriss was, in some measure, traumatized from what he had to witness that morning. They would have to work on it.
Dean eventually left to go pick the others up so Pharm took his time to settle the little boy, removing his shoes and getting him under the covers, explaining in child words what was happening to him and the baby.
He actually seemed more relaxed once he knew -more or less- what was happening.
He raised on his knees, scowling at Pharm’s baby bump, and put a hand on it and, with all the seriousness he could muster in his little body -and that was so Dean-like it almost had him laughing- he reprimanded it.
“Be careful baby, you need to stay still or your house will move and mommy will feel bad.”
And Pharm played along, shaking his head and faking a disappointed glare at his belly.
When Dean came back with the other six kids in tow -Karakade and Mel would get their own mommy time later on- Kriss was mostly ok. Pharm was not naïve enough to believe that would be the last time they would talk about it.
Now the most worrisome were Anong and Nam.
They entered Pharm’s room for last. Anong who looked quite disheveled after a full school day was looking at Pharm, questions written on her face but mouth shut.
She was impatiently waiting for her turn to hug Pharm because yes, Dean was serving as his personal bodyguard because: “You can’t stress, Pharm!”
And the: “I’m not stressing, I’m hugging my children” Pharm kept throwing every now and then wasn’t really of any use.
When she sat on his bed, she hugged him tightly.
“I was so scared, mom. Are you ok? Is the baby ok?”
“We’re both mostly good, baby girl.” He comforted her and asked her about her day, hoping to distract Anong enough. And Pharm truly, happily listened to all of it.
From the corner of his eye, Pharm saw that Nam was getting antsy, bouncing on his legs next to Dean.
“Thank you, baby girl, for taking care of your brothers and sisters.” Pharm kissed her cheek one last time and she got up.
Pharm then turned toward Nam who was looking at him from under his lashes, swinging on his feet. Next to him, dean, a hand on the boy’s shoulder, was smiling sweetly, looking down at Nam and then back at Pharm.
Pharm made grabby hands in the boy’s direction.
“Come here, Nam.”
Nam didn’t have to be told twice and he walked up to Pharm’s bed, still not daring to touch anything. His place near Dean was taken by Anong who right away went to hug her beloved dad. She had always been a daddy’s girl.
The opposite from Nam who had been a mama’s boy since he was born.
A mama’s boy who was now looking up at Pharm, finally.
Nam was tall, he took after Dean on that, but his traits were clearly Pharm’s. He had his eyes and his full lips.
Nam’s face scrunched and he started crying. Pharm’s heart broke as he pulled him on the bed and against his chest.
Pharm loved his children all the same, but Nam had been the first. He was already with them when Pharm graduated, warmly tucked in his belly, he was there through Pharm’s maturation, Pharm grew up with him.
“Shush Nam, it’s ok, really. Look at me, I’m good.” Pharm whispered, smiling at his children who all smiled to look at their big brother crying.
Kriss’s lip started wobbling but Dean picked him up right away.
“Who wants a hot chocolate?” He asked taking Malee’s hand. He brought the kids out in the hallway, leaving Pharm alone with Nam for a moment.
Nam slowly calmed down.
“I’m sorry.” He said sniffling and furiously wiping the tears away from his eyes.
“Don’t be, Nam. It’s ok to cry.” Pharm comforted the thirteen years old.
“I was so scared, I thought you were going to die. Dad was so scared too.”
“I was scared too. But now I’m here and I’m going to be ok, your brother too. You’re being such a good big brother for us.”
Dean and the children came back half an hour later, Malee and Dao still brandishing their paper glasses.
They enjoyed their time together until a nurse came to check on Pharm and the baby, and asked them to leave before dinner time.
Pharm didn’t really want to be alone and Dean didn’t really want to leave him there, but they had no choice.
Dean kissed him on the lips.
“Call me anytime, I’ll be awake.” He whispered, putting invisible locks behind his ear. Pharm nodded and kissed him again one, two, three times more.
After Pharm had kissed each of the children, they left with the promise to call Dean first thing in the morning.
The next day Pharm was able to see Karakade and Mel. They were brought to him by a quite stressed-looking Team.
Karakade was so upset that, when Pharm breastfed Mel, she also wanted to latch and it didn’t happen often.
The next weeks were not easy on anyone.
Dean had to take care of all the kids because the doctors wanted Pharm to stay at the hospital until he gave birth.
Thankfully, he had Win and Team’s help as well as Manaw’s and Dean’s parents ‘, and Del’s.
They were really lucky.
It hadn’t been easy for Pharm either. Even though he put on a lighthearted façade, he was terrified. In addition, he started feeling really bad, back aching like crazy, headaches, and a new entry. Severe swelling of hands and face, of course, all mixed with massive nausea that made him feel like he was back at the early stages of the pregnancy.
But he had to keep it up for the kids who were already scared enough.
It also hadn’t been easy for the kids, all of their rhythms turned upside down, passing from an uncle to the other.
Dean had lost count of how many times Kriss jumped on his and Pharm’s bed after a nightmare, or the times Kraisee and Sunan’s teachers asked Dean to have a talk about the kid’s suddenly skittish and asocial behavior. Which was bullshit.
Come on, couldn’t they even try to understand the situation they were all in?
From what it seemed, they couldn’t. If they could, they wouldn’t answer Dean’s explanations with vicious: “If you can’t take care of your children you shouldn’t have made them.”
Dean really hated them. All he wanted was to shut himself in Pharm’s room and cry on his chest. It was tough. But there’s no limit to the worst.
One day, Dean brought Mel for his daily feeding and found Pharm fully laying down, face red and blotchy, silently crying with his eyes stuck to the ceiling.
There was a new machine beeping, one that was connected to his head.
Mel giggled around his pacifier, bouncing in his arms, happy to see his mother. Pharm registered their presence and his eyes moved to them, only to flick back to the ceiling right after.
“H-hi.” He breathed, sniffling.
Dean sat down on the chair near the bed, and Mel’s little hands fisted the bedsheets, trying to hoist himself up on the bed.
“Mel, wait a second.” Dean tried to keep him on his lap, but the boy really wanted to jump on the bed and he started whimpering.
“Let him, Dean.” Whispered Pharm, still in the same exact position Dean found him in. What the hell was going on?! They were doing so well until now!
Dean eyed Pharm doubtful but after some sniffling from Pharm, and Mel as well, he gave way and gently hoisted the baby up on the bed, careful to position him in a way that he wouldn’t have to move much to reach Pharm’s chest.
Mel spitted his pacifier and started grabbing at Pharm’s shirt in a silent request to get rid of it.
Pharm didn’t move but his red, swollen eyes flew to Dean.
Dean took the hint and tried to smile as reassuringly as he could as he unfastened the buttons of Pharm’s pajama shirt and moved it to the side to bare one of his breasts, to which Mel latched right away.
Pharm closed his eyes and softly sighed.
He seemed to have stopped crying by now, only sniffling every now and then, eyes droopy and still stuck to the ceiling.
“Pharm.” The man’s eyes flew to Dean’s. “What happened?”
Pharm sighed again.
“I’ve had a seizure.”
Dean’s blood runs cold. This couldn’t be anything good.
“What do you mean a seizure?” He asked, voice low not to upset Pharm or Mel who looked on his way to dreamland.
“I just- I had a nightmare. One of the old ones, I don’t know why. When I woke up my heart was beating too fast and I was blacking out. It felt like my body was suddenly too tight for me like I was exploding. The doctors said my preeclampsia developed to eclampsia. They are monitoring my brain’s activity. I need to stay still.” Pharm brought his eyes back to the ceiling.
Dean didn’t know what to say. He lowered his head, leaning with his forehead on Pharm’s bed.
This was a nightmare. After they diagnosed Pharm with preeclampsia, Dean studied everything he could find about it and eclampsia was no good. Fuck, this was the worst fucking thing that could happen.
Phar took a shaky breath.
“Because of the seizure” he went on and Dean really wanted him to just shut up. He didn’t want to know anything else. But he had to. He couldn’t leave Pharm alone on this, it wasn’t even a choice. They were together, whatever the hell was coming.
“The placenta detached completely from the uterus’ wall. Doctors are scared the baby won’t have enough nourishment to grow normally. They said that, if he even gets to born, he will be smaller and he will have to stay in an incubator for a long time.” Pharm’s voice broke on the last words.
Dean’s head shot up to look at his husband’s eyes.
“I could hear it. While they were tending to me, after the seizure. His heart was beating too slowly, he was- He was dying, Dean.”
Dean’s heart was hurting, it was jumping out of his chest, feeling for his husband, cooped up in a hospital for weeks and for his unborn child.
“They asked me to get an emergency abortion again. But I- I can’t, Dean. I don’t care if he’s the tenth or the fifteenth, he’s my baby. I want to give him a chance to live, I want him to live.”
Pharm was crying again now, still trying to stay still and relaxed.
But Dean didn’t have comforting words for him. God, he had none even for himself. He didn’t know where to grasp to even start processing all of this.
So he said nothing, and, after Mel was done eating, he kissed Pharm, trying to communicate with his eyes that he wasn’t running away but he needed some time to think.
He went straight to Win and Team’s house. Team, angel Team, understood right away that something was wrong and picked up Mel from Dean’s arms, taking him to the playroom his kids were in.
Right on time for Dean to break down completely, crying and hiccupping on Win’s couch.
Win listened and comforted him but mostly just let him get it all out. Exactly what Dean needed.
And, in the and, when Dean was nothing but an empty shell, all sleepy and pouty, he told him to get his shit together and go talk to his husband, that Pharm didn’t need comforting words from him, he just needed Dean to be there, even if he cried, even if he wasn’t ok.
And that was what Dean needed to hear.
That night Dean asked Del to babysit the kids and flew to Pharm’s hospital room, apologized and, when Pharm started crying, telling him he was allowed to be sad and seek support and to feel his own feelings, he broke down again.
They cried, hugged to each other, just t fall asleep together, both hands joined on Pharm’s baby bump, once again statin to each other that they were both in for it, that they wouldn’t give up on their baby, that they loved each other as they always did.
And so they went on, living the days, trying not to think too much about the future and, someway, against all predictions, Pharm reached the thirty-fourth week.
Dean had asked Team and Win to keep Mel, Karakade, and Kriss at their house, and managed to have Manaw and her boyfriend stay at theirs for a couple of days and babysit the others.
Everything was ready, the bag with the baby’s things was ready -Pharm refused to have it the days before the delivery since there was o assurance that he would reach that point.
But now the moment had arrived and, even though Pharm and Dean were infinitely happy, they also knew things could go really south really quick.
Pharm was, indeed, no new to induction. He had had his fair share of deliveries, so he was prepared for what was to come.
They started the process in the morning after Dean had arrived. Once they were settled and the doctor had checked Pharm’s parameters, a nurse set the IV pole with the oxytocin drip and they waited for the first contractions.
But after a whole day waiting, Pharm only experienced some mild ones.
Both Pharm and Dean were worried because the longer the baby was inside of Pharm, the longer they both would be in danger.
They tried to drip another vial of oxytocin but, at three in the morning, the baby still didn’t hint on moving. So, a nurse, a man with a tired expression came into the room and broke Pharm’s waters.
That’s when the whole delivery process kicked in.
By five in the morning, Pharm was hoisted up on the headboard, knees parted and arms shaky, breathing deeply with his head low. Dean was massaging the little of his back, kissing his spine for its whole length.
“You’re doing great, Pharm.” He kept on repeating, kneading Pharm’s muscles.
“Another one, another one.” Said Pharm hastily, body going rigid and breath catching in his throat as another contraction painfully stroke him.
“Breathe, Pharm. Breathe with me.”
Pharm tried, really, but his breathing broke into a scream when the contraction intensified and he felt the unstoppable need to push.
Pharm tilted his head back, mouth open and eyes shut.
“Call the doctors.” Pharm said between gritted teeth and dean scrambled away.
The contraction slowly subsided and Pharm conscious enough to push the red button on his bedside.
Poor Dean went to call the nurses himself, he must have been so tired. Pharm had the pain to keep him awake, but Dean had, not only been awake for more than twenty-two hours but he also had the past weeks burdening him down.
Pharm really loved his husband, he wouldn’t have anyone to father his children.
Needless to say, Dean came back when the nurse Pharm called had already arrived.
He came back with an obstetrician who unceremoniously raised Pharm’s gown to check on him.
“Mhm, you are dilatated already. Do you feel like you need to push?”
“Ok.” She lowered the gown again. “Go call the gynecologist and his doctor. It’s time for this baby to come to the world. We need to avoid seizures at all costs.”
“Dean,” Pharm called, reaching behind himself for his husband’s hand.
“I’m here, Pharm, I’m with you. Try to stay as relaxed as possible.”
A couple of minutes later the room was full of people and Pharm was biting his lips to avoid screaming from the pain of another contraction.
“Ok, Pharm.” Said the obstetrician. “Once you feel the next contraction and you feel ready, start pushing.”
Pharm nodded, head down on Dean’s shoulder, hands gripping his shirt until his knuckles turned white.
When the next contraction hit, Pharm pushed.
It took him another hour but, at half-past six in the morning, Pharm pushed for the last time and their tenth baby, their little Tahan, was born.
He was little, way too little thus he was brought to an incubator almost right away.
They just gave Pharm enough time to make him latch one time for the imprinting.
Then Pharm fainted. The doctors reassured Dean that it was because of the blood loss, that it was kind of normal, that most of Pharm’s health problems would disappear after the birth. It still wasn’t enough for Dean who stressed until Pharm opened his eyes again almost eight hours later.
“Dean.” He called softly, a hand flying to his belly in an instinctual gesture.
“Hey. Good morning.” Dean stroked his hair, careful to keep a shallow touch, conscious that Pharm was probably hurting everywhere.
Pharm eyed Dean’s eye bags and scowled.
“You didn’t sleep, did you?”
“How could I.” He kissed Pharm’s fingers. “You did great. The doctor said he’s all good. Needs to stay in the incubator for a couple of weeks, then we can take him home.”
“Thank God.” Exhaled Pharm. “I was really scared this time.”
“I was too. Fuck, I was terrified. But everything went for the best.” Dean stopped to take in his beautiful husband, absolutely disheveled and sleepy. “I really love you, Pharm.”
Pharm’s eyes went sweet and mellow.
“I love you too, Dean.”
They actually got to see Tahan almost three hours later when a nurse brought him to Pharm for his milk. He was the smallest baby they had ever seen but he was perfect. Two eyes, two ears, two wrinkly feet. Everything was in place.
They also took advantage of the situation to video call the kids at home, since Pharm was in no state to manage nine kids right now.
And at that moment, with their baby in his arms, Dean on his side, and his kids’ cute voices overstepping each other as they all tried to get a glance at the new brother, Pharm felt complete. He had never felt as full as he did at that moment.
In the end, it was all worth the effort.