The irony was not lost on Marlee when Dr. Angel Gabriel returned to the room to announce that her feelings of lethargy and nausea was not an illness but a pregnancy.
The room began to spin as she realized she would have to tell her father, Reverend Joachim Wilkerson, and her mother, Anne Wilkerson, about the looming pregnancy. They would be appalled, of course. Then there was Joel. He would have to know.
Her parents were upset, of course. She severely damaged their stellar reputation. As her growing belly started to become obvious, her mother suggested an extended trip to her cousin, Beth. Joel was only starting to look at her in the eye again but he vowed to stick with her, to Anne’s relief. She learned so much from Beth and was thrilled to be able to witness the birth of baby Johnny. As she stayed at Beth’s another month, she constantly kept Joel up to date on the baby’s progress via email. Her heart soared as Joel’s emails reflected excitement at the upcoming birth of their own baby. Two weeks before their baby was to be born, he arrived to take her home in his new-to-him Mustang. His eyes fell on her blossoming abdomen and then up to her glowing eyes and she met him at the bottom of the stairs.
Marlee smiled, “As ready as I’ll ever be!” Joel helped her with her coat and she turned to embrace Beth holding a growing Johnny. “Take good care of him!” Marlee kissed Johnny on the forehead. Stepping through the door she glanced at the shiny silver Mustang, “It’s beautiful!”
Joel grinned back, “I just had the shocks replaced since car rides seem to bother you and the baby.”
Marlee was touched, “Thanks.”
The first two hours of the car ride were uneventful until Marlee realized her stomach cramps were becoming regular cycles. Worried, she glanced at Joel, but Joel’s attention was focused on the snow which seemed to get heavier by the minute. Within the hour it became apparent that the heavy snow and increasing wind was making travel difficult. Snow plows were having a difficult time keeping up with drifting snow. Marlee’s contractions were becoming stronger and closer together. They had just entered the small town when, Joel turned to Marlee. “This is going to take longer than I thought. You hungry?”
Marlee moaned, “A little.”
Joel immediately became concerned, “What’s wrong?”
“I’ve been cramping. I’m sure it’s nothing.”
Joel’s eyes traveled to her belly, “You sure?”
Joel’s eyes returned to the streets. After a few minutes he stated, “Everything seems to be closed. Wait, that bakery has lights! I’ll stop there.”
Joel pulled in front of the bakery and disappeared inside. It was at that moment Marlee felt the telltale loss of fluid escape her, “Oh no! God, no! I’m only 36 weeks!”
When Joel returned with a loaf of bread a few moments later, he immediately noticed her tears. “We were lucky. He was just preparing to close. What’s wrong?!”
“The baby.” Marlee looked up, “The baby is coming.”
“What?! But we still have a couple hours to go! Can’t the baby wait?”
Marlee smiled through a contraction, “No, Joel, a baby sets its own timing. I know it will be soon. My water’s broken and the contractions are like six minutes, maybe five.”
Joel glanced up at the now dark bakery. A car pulled away from behind it. He gave her a worried glance. “I have to get you some place safe. We can’t have the baby in the car!”
His worry intensified when the car refused to turn over, “Oh no!” Joel was still trying when there was a knock on Marlee’s window causing her to scream. Her terror magnified at the sight of a large dude in leather and a heavy chain hanging from his neck. A long scraggly beard adorned his face. Timidly she cautiously cracked her window.
“You guys okay?”
Joel glanced at Marlee and then back at the man at their window, “Our car won’t start and my girlfriend seems to be in labor.”
“Oh!” The man’s eyes immediately grew concerned, “Look, man, you are at least an hour- in good weather- from the nearest hospital and the local clinics are closed for the holidays. My wife and I have a trailer behind my shop. It ain’t much but you are more than welcome.”
Joel sighed, “I don’t think we have much choice. Thank you! Where is your trailer?”
The man pointed up the street, “Behind my shop.” He pointed to a Harley-Davidson shop, “I was just setting up for a chapel service for our biker’s group for Christmas.”
Joel helped Marley from the car and threw a blanket around her, “Church?”
“Yeah,” the man grinned, “Our Christian biker’s group holds a chapel service every Christmas morning. I’m Zeke, by the way.”
Joel smiled, “I’m Joel and this is Marlee.”
The trailer was obviously an old one from the outside but the inside was comfortable and warm. Marlee immediately was at ease as Zeke’s wife, Sarah, scurried to find extra blankets and offering their only bed, “I delivered mine both at home, “ Sarah smiled, “It was a choice between that or the back of Zeke’s Harley.”
“Now be fair, Sarah, “Zeke scolded, “I did offer you the side car, remember?”
Sarah giggled, “Yes, you did!’
Another contraction hit Marlee and she groaned. Sarah looked at her, concerned, “How far apart are they?”
Marlee grimaced, “About two minutes.”
Sarah gasped, “Oh my goodness, Child! I believe you are about to deliver!”
About four am Joshua Emmanuel was born. Sarah produced some clean microfiber cloths for diapers and a fuzzy warm blanket to wrap him. Marlee had just fed Joshua when there was a knock at the front door. A few moments later, the room was filled with bikers, men and women, to ooh and ah over the baby. One of the ladies even brought a tiny leather jacket.
Marlee looked up at them in surprise, “But how did you know?”
The lady smiled, “Why Facebook, of course”
Immediately the room was filled with “Joy To The World” as almost thirty bikers overflowing into the hallway lifted their voices and Marlee treasured all these things in her heart and often thought about them.