Life After Dark
Chapter 45

"So far, so good, right?" Dr. Newman asked with a smile as Dawn, dressed in the standard paper examining gown, came from behind the curtain. Dr. Newman had asked Nikolas to wait outside and it was just the two of them.

"Yes," Dawn said with a tentative smile. The majority of the visit had been pleasant. Dr. Newman was nice and had a good sense of humor which immediately set Dawn's mind at ease. As she thought about how comfortable she felt, Dawn wondered what she had been so afraid of in the first place. She was silly to be so scared, she thought. It wasn't like she was in labor.

"Okay, good. Now, I need you to lie down and relax on the examining table. Also, place the sheet across your lap." As Dawn did as she asked, Dr. Newman continued. "Okay, now that you're settled, I need you to place your feet in the stirrups. That's it. You've had a pelvic exam before, right?"

"No," Dawn answered, her eyes straight ahead on the ceiling. She had nothing to worry or be scared about, she kept telling herself, as she forced herself to lie still.

"You haven't?" Dr. Newman asked with a frown. "Even after you became sexually active?"

"No, but I planned to," Dawn said. Silently, she added, eventually.

"Okay, well, just as a reminder, but it's very important that you don't neglect to have this procedure, especially now that you're sexually active."

Dawn nodded and smiled at the doctor. She tried to prepare herself for the doctor's touch, but nothing could have prepared her. Her body grew tense as her hands clutched the side of the table.

"Dawn, I need you to relax. Being tense won't help either of us, okay?" Dr. Newman said as she paused her examination. After Dawn nodded, she continued with the physical. Again, Dawn became tense, and again, Dr. Newman stopped.

"I'm sorry, Dr. Newman, but I..." Dawn began. She paused to take a breath and then she continued. "Can Nikolas come back, please? I know he's not supposed to be here, but I'd feel so much better if he were here, too."

"Dawn, this is highly irregular. I'm not sure-"

"Please!" Dawn said. She softened her tone and asked again. "Please, Dr. Newman. I really need him. I'll be okay with him here. I know I will."

"Very well, then." Dr. Newman rose from her stool and went to the door. After discarding her latex gloves, she opened the door. She saw that Nikolas sat directly in front of the door and his eyes were anxious as they flew to hers. She smiled at him to reassure him and said, "Would you come in please?"

Nikolas nodded and was in the room before Dr. Newman had a chance to change her mind. He went straight to Dawn. One hand wiped away the bead of perspiration that had formed on her forehead, while the other hand gently pried hers from the table. He gently squeezed her hand as he said, "Hi, there."

Dawn felt herself immediately relax from his gentle touch and his presence. Her eyes holding his, she smiled, "Hi, yourself."

Watching them, Dr. Newman smiled to herself as she put on a new pair of gloves. She sat on the stool again and began the procedure. After a slight involuntary jerk, Dawn remained still until Dr. Newman finished.

"We're all done," Dr. Newman said, rising from the stool. "You can remove your feet from the stirrups."

"Let me," Nikolas said softly. He carefully removed her feet from the apparatus and gently placed them on the table. He then moved back to stand beside her and hold her hand.

Dawn smiled her thank you to him. She took a deep breath as she collected herself. She didn't like the pelvic examination, but she knew she'd have to get used to it. She liked having Nikolas there to calm her nerves, but she promised herself that the next time, she'd do it alone.

Having discarded her gloves in the waste basket, Dr. Newman turned to face the young couple. She smiled gently at them. Making eye contact with Dawn, she said, "The worse is over. How would you like to hear the baby's heartbeat?"

"Isn't it too soon?" Nikolas asked with a small frown.

"Maybe. Maybe not. We won't know until we try," Dr. Newman said as she placed the stethoscope's earpiece in her ears. She stood beside Nikolas as she readjusted the sheet which lay across the lower half of Dawn's body. She parted the gown and carefully placed the flat end of the instument onto Dawn's abdomen.

Dawn jumped as the stethoscope made contact with her body. She saw Nikolas' eyes widen and she laughed, "It's cold. I'm okay."

He relaxed and his eyes moved to the doctor's face. He and Dawn watched her as she moved the stethoscope in an attempt to find the young heartbeat. Mother and father-to-be held their breaths as they waited for Dr. Newman to give them a sign that she had found it.

Dr. Newman's brow wrinkled. She wanted to find the heartbeat. She always loved the prospective parents' reaction, and she was sure that she would adore theirs. She didn't find the heartbeat the first go round, but she refused to be defeated. Silently, she begged baby Cassadine, come on, sweetie, I know you're in there. She breathed a sigh of relief and pleasure when the rapid fire pounding fired away in her ears. She smiled at Dawn and Nikolas and said, "I found it."

"What does it sound like?" Dawn asked, her eyes filled with wonder.

"Why don't you tell me?" Dr. Newman suggested. She placed the earpieces into Dawn's ears. A warm smile crossed her face as Dawn beamed.

"It's so fast! Should it be that fast?" Dawn asked with small frown.

"How fast is it?" Nikolas asked, anxiety and worry evident in his voice.

"Here, listen," Dawn said, handing Nikolas the earpieces.

As Nikolas adjusted the instrument in his ears, Dr. Newman answered Dawn's question. "Babies' heartbeats are very fast. There is no need for worry. Your little one sounds just fine."

"Oh my God!" Nikolas breathed as he listened to his child for the first time. His hand moved to rest on the other end of the stethoscope where it lay on Dawn's abdomen. When Dawn's hand covered his, he said softly, "Our baby...the heartbeat is so strong."

"Yeah," Dawn said, wanting to hear the precious sound again, but not wanting to intrude on Nikolas' moment. She had seen him happy before, but the joy that radiated from his eyes at that moment was incredible and she loved seeing it there.

Dr. Newman looked at Dawn's face. Instinctively, she knew that Dawn wanted to hear the heartbeat again, but was too much in love to tell her husband so. Dr. Newman handled the situation for her. She quickly removed the stethoscope from Dawn's abdomen and replaced it with the instrument that would allow all three of them to hear the priceless beating of the unborn baby's heart.

Boom boom boom boom.

The sound was strong, determined and fast. It was also the most wonderful thing Dawn and Nikolas had ever heard in their lives.

Chapter 46

Home Page