Don't pay it all up front, and don't agree to do so. If you are absolutely, flat-out broke, you should still be able to pay something, even if the artist hand waves and doesn't want anything for their work. Be good to your conscience and at least ask if you can make a small donation to one of their three favorite charities.
If the covers in your genre's section of the bookstore are all orange, should your cover be orange, too? It's hard to say. You want it to look like it belongs in that section, right? But you also want it to stand out. I would say, if you are a new author and you are predominantly selling online, you need to consider how your work is going to look when it's shown with others in the genre.
For 2022 NaNoWriMo, I have decided to create a prequel for each of the 5 main universes: Real Hub of the Universe, Obolonks, Time Addicts (while the Obolonks and Time Addicts are in the same universe, I just plain want to write two separate prequels!), Untrustworthy, The Enigman Cave, and Mettle. So, I anticipate a lot of fun and perhaps a little confusion. But it's all good!
Apart from having love interests in many of my works, I kind of don't have a continuity or Easter Egg for him. I love his memory, and may write a similar character in the future. Imagine Dalton's POV!
Of course these days only women and transmen give birth (although medical science may change that someday!). However, anyone can always witness it, not only the actual event but also everything leading up to it. And don't forget about how it can even be a bitter fight as to who gets to be in the delivery room. Mothers in law, I am looking at you.