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August 30, 2015
Los Angeles, California

A very pregnant Vanessa was sitting on the couch in a camisole and cotton shorts, trying her best to stay cool between the heat of the summer and being pregnant. The baby was kicking furiously, and she was feeling a little bit of cramping, making her even more uncomfortable.

"Eliza, sweetie. Go easy on Mommy," she said, putting a hand over her stomach.

It was then that she felt a burst of liquid flow down her leg. "Babe!" she called. "Zac! Babe!" She stood up.

"What is it?" Zac, who was outside barbecuing, queried as he stepped back in the house.

"My water broke." Vanessa tried to remain calm.

"Oh my gosh. Get in the car. I'll turn off the grill and grab the hospital bag and my keys and meet you out there." He dashed back out the door, switched the grill to "off," then flew back inside, allowing the door to slam behind him. Once there, he darted up the stairs, took what he needed, and rushed out to the car, where Vanessa was already sitting. "Let's go, Nessa."

"Hurry, Zac. It hurts. It hurts..." Vanessa moaned.

"I'll drive as fast as I can." Speeding out of the driveway, Zac whipped around the block and nearly exceeded the speed limit as he raced to the hospital. Within fifteen minutes, he was pulling into a parking space. "Alright, let's go." He grabbed the bag and walked with Vanessa into the emergency room. "She's in labor," he told the nurse that was behind the counter.

"Okay. Take her right up to the maternity floor, which is floor five, and go to the nurses' station. They'll set her up with a room and get her doctor in to look at her," the nurse told him.

"Alright. Thank you." Zac rushed Vanessa into the elevator. Once on the fifth floor, he walked briskly to the nurses' station. "She's in labor. She needs a room."

"Okay." A brown-haired nurse walked over to Zac and Vanessa. "Follow me." She led Vanessa into a vacant birthing room. "And what's your name?"

"Vanessa Anne Efron," Vanessa answered.

"And your birthday?"

"December 14, 1988."

"Okay. Let me go get another nurse to punch you into the computer and go grab some paperwork. I'll be right back. You can get changed if you want now. There's a hospital gown on the counter, or if you have a t-shirt or nightgown, you can wear that. But you will need to remove your bra and panties, and no pants, obviously, so once you change, you can lie down and cover your legs with the blanket."

Vanessa nodded in acknowledgment and, when the nurse left, had Zac help her into one of his t-shirts they had packed in the bag. After she was changed, she lay down and got under the covers.

The nurse knocked soon after Vanessa was finished.

"Come in," Vanessa called.

"Okay. So I'll need you to fill out these papers quick while I go and get an IV started for you. I see in your records that your doctor is Dr. Warington, so I'm just gonna go page her while I'm getting the IV. My name's Catherine, by the way. I'll be your nurse for today."

By the time twenty minutes passed, Vanessa was hooked up to an IV with Zac feeding her ice, Catherine preparing a cloth to wipe the baby off with when she was born, and Dr. Warington telling her she was four centimeters dilated. "It's gonna be a little while," she added. "So Zac, if you want any food or drinks, you can tell me and I can quick run down to the cafeteria to get them. Vanessa won't need me until she's about seven centimeters."

"No, thanks. I'm fine," Zac assured. "I'm just gonna call my mom now if you don't mind."

"Oh, absolutely. Go right ahead."

Zac took his phone from his pocket and dialed his parents' number. "Hey, Mom?"

"Yes, Zac?" Starla responded.

"We're at the hospital. Vanessa's in labor."

"That's great! How's she doing?"

"She's good. She's only four centimeters dilated so it's gonna be a little bit of a wait, but I'll call you again when the baby's born and she's settled into a regular room."

"Okay. Tell her to try to stay calm and think of holding her baby if she starts getting nervous."

"Alright, I will, Mom. Thanks."

"You're welcome. I'll talk to you soon. Bye."

"Bye, Mom." Zac hung up the phone.

...

Two hours later, Vanessa was ten centimeters dilated and was experiencing intense labor pain because of it.

"Alright," Dr. Warington said. "Now you need to start pushing. Just stay calm, take a deep breath, then push as hard as you can."

Vanessa did as the doctor said.

"Good. Now try again."

"You can do it, Nessa," Zac encouraged, holding onto Vanessa's hand. "I'm right here.

Vanessa pushed again.

"Keep going," the doctor urged.

Vanessa pushed five more times.

"There you go! She's crowning," Dr. Warington told Vanessa. "Just a couple more times and you'll be done."

Vanessa gasped for air as she put all her might into the final two pushes.

The cry of a newborn filled the room.

"Let me see her," said Zac.

"Do you wanna cut her cord?" the nurse asked.

Zac nodded and, taking the scissors, cut the baby's cord. He then helped Catherine wipe her off and wrap her in a blanket. "Aww, sweetie, don't cry. Daddy's here." He cradled his daughter in his arms and felt tears of happiness spring into his eyes as he sat back down beside Vanessa. "Good job, Nessa." He kissed Vanessa. "Look at baby Eliza."

Eliza, who had stopped crying as soon as Zac held her, looked around with her deep blue eyes.

"Can I hold her?" requested Vanessa, a huge smile spreading across her face.

"Sure." Zac handed Eliza to Vanessa.

As soon as Zac handed her over, Eliza began to cry again and look toward Zac.

"That's your mommy," Zac explained. "You don't need to cry. She loves you, too."

"Will you be breastfeeding or giving her formula?" Catherine asked.

"I would like to try breastfeeding," answered Vanessa.

"Alright." The nurse gave Vanessa instructions on how to breastfeed, then left the room with the doctor so she could have some privacy.

"She looks just like you," Zac remarked, holding out his finger for Eliza to grab.

"But with your eyes," Vanessa added, putting Eliza to her breast. However, she wouldn't breastfeed. She just looked toward Zac and cried. "Can you try to calm her down?" Vanessa asked, handing Eliza back to Zac.

Taking his daughter, Zac kissed her forehead. "How about if we get you dressed first?" he carefully set Eliza in the baby cradle, then pulled out a diaper and a pink top with a ruffled skirt from the bag. After dressing her, he picked her up again and handed her to Vanessa.

Again, Eliza cried and refused to breastfeed.

"We're gonna have to just give her a bottle for now if she won't cooperate," Vanessa said, shaking her head. "Can you get me one from the bag?"

"I'll have to find a microwave to heat up water for it in," Zac spoke. "So I'll take it and mix some formula together, then come back."

"Okay."

Zac walked out of the room, returning a little while later with a bottle full of formula. "Here you go, Nessa."

Vanessa held the bottle to Eliza's mouth, but Eliza still just cried. "She won't eat, babe. Can you try? She seems to like you better."

"Aww, I'm sure she loves you, too. But if you want me to try, you can give her to me."

Vanessa passed the baby to Zac.

"Hey, cutie pie. You need to eat." Zac took the bottle from Vanessa and watched as Eliza hungrily drank the warm milk from it.

"Why will she only settle down for you?" Vanessa asked.

"I don't know. Are you feeling nervous holding her? Maybe you just need to relax a little." When Eliza was finished drinking as much of her bottle as she could, he handed her to Vanessa. "Just relax, baby girl."

Vanessa took a deep breath and tried to calm herself. Within a couple minutes, Eliza was calm.

"There you go, hun." Zac lovingly rubbed Vanessa's shoulder, then took one of Eliza's tiny feet in his hands. "Aww, look how small. She's such a petite little girl like you."

Just then, the nurse came back into the room. "Can you guys please fill out this birth certificate?" she handed a paper and a pen to Zac. "And if I could see your baby for a minute, can I go weigh and measure her? And I also wanna get her handprints and footprints."

"Okay." Vanessa gave Eliza to the nurse and watched as Zac filled out the birth certificate.

When Eliza came back to Zac and Vanessa, crying after being held by someone other than Zac, it was announced that she was only six pounds and fifteen inches long. Zac and Vanessa were then told to watch her weight since she was so tiny and to be especially careful with her.

In another few minutes, Dr. Warington came in to ask Vanessa if she was feeling okay. Once she was assured that she was fine, she offered to take Eliza to the nursery. However, Zac refused, insisting that he would sit and rock his daughter himself. She would only be little once, so he wanted to get the most out of her newborn weeks.

Once Vanessa was moved to a regular room, a rocking chair was brought in. Zac sat there and, cuddling Eliza, softly sang to her as she fell asleep in his arms.

"How's she doing?" yawned Vanessa, who had changed into a pair of comfy pajama pants and a tank top and was now resting under the covers of the bed.

"She's sleeping," Zac replied. "And I think you need to sleep, too. You seem tired."

"Come lie down with me," Vanessa said, moving aside. "You can put Eliza down in the cradle."

"Okay." Zac laid his new daughter in the baby cradle the hospital provided them with and kissed her head, then took his phone from his pocket and took a picture of her. Getting into bed with Vanessa, he sent the photo to his parents and wrote "Meet Eliza Grace Efron."

A minute later, Starla responded and said "Aww, she's too precious. She looks just like Vanessa! When can I come see her?"

"I'll call you in a little while," Zac wrote. "Vanessa, Eliza and I are all gonna take a nap for a couple hours, then you can come see her." Once he sent that, he put his phone aside and wrapped his arms around Vanessa. Kissing her, he murmured, "We made a really nice baby, didn't we?"

Vanessa laced her fingers with Zac's as she nodded and smiled, then glanced over at her baby daughter before settling down to sleep.

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