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"Abby, breathe," coaxed Jake, for her body was tensing with the oncoming contractions.

"They're getting worse," she moaned, trying hard to be brave for Jake. He had said he was proud of her, and Abby didn't want him to regret those words.

"I know," said Jake, stroking her hair, "but we're almost at the hospital. Try to hang in there, Abby. Please, don't have the baby in the car."

Abby couldn't help smiling in spite of her present condition. Another wave of tightness gripped her body, and Abby cried in pain.

"Hurry," she whimpered.

"We're in the parking lot," Jake soon announced. "Wait, Abby. Wait."

The car stopped and Jake helped her out of the vehicle.

"Can you walk inside," asked Jake, "or do you want me to carry you?"

"Walk," mumbled Abby. As her legs started to move, she wondered why in the world she had chosen to go on foot. But Jake and Izumi steadied her every step, and before Abby realized it, she was inside the large hospital.

Abby heard Jake talk to someone, and then a wheelchair appeared from nowhere. A nurse took her blood pressure, and the wheelchair started down one hallway after another, until they stopped at a room with a bed. Abby held onto Jake's hand the whole time, only relinquishing it when a nurse changed her into a hospital gown. Izumi watched as a monitor was hooked up to Abby's belly to track the contractions and the baby's heart rate.

"Are you doing all right?" asked Jake, squeezing her hand a little tighter as he spoke.

Abby nodded that she was, and then wondered if she could take it back. Before she could make up her mind, Dr. Chambers appeared in the doorway.

"Well, well," he smiled warmly, "it's not every day that I get to deliver the baby of someone I once delivered, myself."

Izumi smiled, for Dr. Chambers was the same doctor that had been present for Abby's birth.

"From the way you're looking right now," he continued, "I'd say you're feeling some pretty strong contractions." Dr. Chambers didn't wait for his patient to respond, but checked the monitor and nodded knowingly. "Okay, let's see how far along you are."

The doctor checked Abby's cervix to see how dilated she was, but before she had a good opportunity to feel too embarrassed, a fresh contraction took hold. With a cry, Abby gripped the railing on her bed in pain.

"You're four centimeters along," he determined out loud.

"Is that all?" cried Abby in horror.

"Try to do your breathing exercises," directed Dr. Chambers. "I'd also like to see you up and walking around for awhile. We want to get that baby into position to be delivered. Mr. Murphy," he said, turning to the expectant father, "the nurse told me that you thought your wife's water had broken. It didn't."

"It didn't?" gasped Jake in surprise.

"No," smiled Dr. Chambers, "I'm afraid it didn't. It's not uncommon to leak a little urine at the end of a pregnancy, so it's nothing to be concerned about. I'll check back later to see how she's progressing."

If Abby wasn't humiliated before, she was now. But the young woman didn't have long to wallow in her embarrassment. She grabbed Jake's outstretched hand, and bore down on it as a contraction sent her body into another wave of pain. Suddenly, Abby wished she could be embarrassed, or angry, or happy-- any emotion but pain!
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