Two in as many days? Clearly it’s the end of the world! Thank you guys so much for the love on the last chapter, it really means a lot in the home stretch! It’s so appreciated you have noo idea!! xo
I woke up that morning in the middle of June and just knew that I had reached my limit, I was tired of waiting, tired of wondering and just generally just tired of the whole thing. I wanted to know, and needed to know if I would be having a baby or not, I needed medical evidence to prove that I would or the news to let me down and tell me that I would not. Eric knew by my face that morning that I was done waiting, and his first thing to say to me before we even told each other ‘good morning’ was that he would make the calls. I nodded in agreement, and snuggled with my husband late into that morning, just enjoying our time together, I had plans that day with Ames, we were going into town to get material for some new dresses, and perhaps a new hat for her, as she had a cousin’s wedding that August and wanted to look nice.
“Pam is back in London, so we’ll have time with her next week if that’s what you want? If not I can explain…” Eric suggested after getting off the phone with Doctor Wilson, one of the top fertility doctors in London, apparently. We were booked in, both of us at Eric’s assistance – even though we both knew fine well who the problem was with – me.
“No that’s great. I miss Pam, no matter the circumstance she’s always one to cheer me up.” I nodded folding the bigger blankets for our bed, and putting them on the chair by the window.
“Great. She wants to do dinner and possibly the theatre one of the nights, and apparently there’s a jazz club newly opened that she’s obsessed with and think’s we’d like.” I did like Jazz, I loved it in fact, I also loved that London seemed to offer so many more distractions from my internal emotional battle than Scotland currently did. Maybe that is what we needed, if the news from the doctors was bad, many distractions.
“Fine by me, she’s due to telephone tonight, so I’m sure I’ll hear all of her plans first hand then.”
Eric was busy tying up his riding boots, he was taking the horses out for a decent exercise, Thor would be by his side too I imagined. He looked so dashing in his riding gear, I thought. It took all the resolve I had not to strip us both down to our skin and dive back into bed, but plans were plans, and I didn’t want to let Amelia down on her day off, for once it was about her needs. Not mine.
A concept that continued to be strange to me, my former co-worker was now my employee, my ladies maid and I was the lady. I thought it would be something I would always find strange now, I was glad I found it strange, I figured it would keep me honest, and help me to remember the journey I had taken to get to where I was, to earn a ladies maid of my own, having been one myself.
“I haven’t told her why we’re going to London now, it’s not really her business unless you want to tell her.” He continued as he watched me clean up the room with a somewhat amused look on his face. “Darling you know we have people that do this… right?”
“Of course I know. I used to be one of those people.” I sassed making him roll his eyes as he walked toward me.
“Of course. I’m just saying, you can relax, someone will take care of it.”
Someone would always take care of things, if you had enough money there was always someone in the world willing to take care of just about anything for you, for the right price. Just like this doctor in London, I thought.
He grasped onto my chin gently.
I snapped out of my thought-filled daze with a nod.
“I will be. Sam and Amelia want us over for dinner at six, so as mucky as you’re going to get today… try and show up looking respectable.”
“Of course, you too. I do know how shopping works you ladies up into a tizzy.”
“In town? Hardly. It’s not as if we’re in the city or anything, fabric and food is what we’re shopping for, hardly silver and gold.”
“Well, whatever you bring home I hope you have fun finding it.” With that, he kissed me sweetly, tapping me slightly on the ass with his riding crop making me laugh.
“Oh you like that? Interesting…” He said with a jolly laugh before I all but pushed him out of the room, both of us running into Mrs Fortenberry, who wore, as always, a disapproving look on her face.
“Ahem, good morning.” She said with a scowl.
“Good Morning Mrs Fortenberry, lovely morning for it, eh?” Eric said with the same happy tone, it was almost mocking her grimace; I had to stop myself from getting the giggles.
“Uh, yes… indeed Sir. Sook…Mrs Northman, Amelia is waiting in the kitchen, said you both have… plans?”
Disapproving wasn’t the word. I laughed then.
“We do indeed; tell her I’ll be right out.”
“Amelia is driving, right?” Eric asked, knowing of my lack of co-ordination in that department. I would have to remedy it eventually I knew, but as things stood, Sam or Eric were my drivers and I took full advantage.
By the time, Ames and I got to town it was lunchtime and we were both admittedly starving, so a pub lunch was called for, where I ordered wine and she ordered water. That should have been my first clue.
“I think the blue fitted one in Stevenson’s would be nice on you.” I added on the subjected of dresses for her cousin’s wedding.
“I like it but it might be a bit too fitted.”
“Fitted is good, I mean I’m thankful the fashions are changing and we don’t have rely on those god awful corsets regularly, but still… for such an occasion a little extra security couldn’t hurt.”
She grinned then, her cheeks pinking.
“Sookie I have news, and I’m really excited about it but I’m also really nervous of telling you because I know how much you want … this and I just don’t want to be the insensitive bitch that rubs it in. But I’m excited and I don’t know how to be unexcited.”
I knew instantly then, she was pregnant, of course, she was.
“You’re pregnant.” I said, forcing a smile.
“I am!” She said with a slight shout, she was so excited God love her, she was so happy. I couldn’t be grudge her happiness at all and I decided not to be the bitter old bitch that sucked the happiness out of my friend. I plastered on the biggest smile I could think of and I hugged my friend tightly before congratulating her.
“I am so happy for you and Sam of course. This is wonderful news, and I don’t want you nervous because of my… situation.”
She had tears in her eyes, happy tears. I had tears in my eyes that I hoped appeared happy. I really was happy for her, I was just more unhappy for me.
Selfishly of course.
“He’s so excited. Of course he wants a boy and he’s convinced it’s a boy, but I just don’t care either way, I just want a happy baby, and I pray it’s healthy, that’s all I want.”
I nodded before hugging her again; the hug I hoped distracted her from seeing the pain on my face.
“Eric will be thrilled to hear it; he thinks you’re a fantastic couple and was just waiting for the day when he’d get to be a sort of uncle.”
I did view Amelia like a sister, not that Sam and Eric were that close but the men both knew that she and I had been through a lot together too. Unlike my bond with Pam that is steeped in so much pain and suffering from my past, Amelia and my friendship was always one that reminded me of ones I had with girls at boarding school it was innocent and lovely, and based on just being silly together. Even back when we would clean the house together, we spent half the morning messing and dancing like idiots before any work got done. Now, I was late for almost every dinner Eric had hosted because of our chitter chatter, and I would not change it for the world.
“I’m so happy that you’re happy for us, not that I thought you wouldn’t be, but you know what I mean. With everything you’re going through I was unsure if –“
“Never be unsure, Ames. This is a great thing, and something that of course, I wish for Eric and I but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish it for you and Sam! I’m so pleased I’ll get to spoil this little one rotten, because his or her parents are cherished friends.” Amelia was beaming from ear to ear from then on out, and of course, our shopping trip broke down from scattered conversation to baby talk for the rest of the day. By the time I had helped her choose a loose enough dress, hat and shoes for this wedding it was just after four and I was physically and more so emotionally exhausted. She dropped me off out the side of the house, I waved, and smiled as she drove back out to go home, I on the other hand barely made it through the side entrance and into the library before I broke down in sobs against the shelves of leather bound books. I sat in utter self-pitying cries, I was sure I looked a complete fright when Eric came in and found me there, rumpled up on the floor like a wounded animal.
“Hey…hey…” He said coming to my side instantly on his knees in front of me; his newspaper threw to the side. “What happened? Are you hurt?” His worried eyes searching me from top to bottom as if to look for some physically signs of injury, the only hurt was internal and having endured a lot of physical pain in my time, this was almost worse. At least a wound or cut I could bandage and heal this I could not. Instead I said nothing only sobbed harder and hugged him for all I was worth, he grasped me into his arms as I weighed nothing at all and he carried me ever so gently up all those stairs and into our bedroom. He removed my shoes and my coat, loosened my blouse and unpinned my hair, all without so much a word. He knew that it was not the time for words, not that I was able to form any even if I tried. I had cried myself into such a state, I had even shocked myself at how utterly tired of it all I was. Tired of my own thoughts, and I just wanted to sleep them away, wake up fresh and new and stop the worrying I was doing. Because deep down I knew Eric wanted a family, and I knew I wanted to be the one to give it to us. Nevertheless, I also knew how much of an empathetic man he was and that one way or another we would have a family. It was trying to connect that rational part of my brain with the so very irrational part that had me sobbing like a child for what seemed like hours until my poor husband had to carry me to bed and watch over me until I slept.
Who knew it would be such a hard thing to do.
When I woke up it was dark outside, and I felt his weight in bed next to me, I turned to face him and sure enough, there he was, reading. He looked to me when I turned and put his book down. My heat felt like it had been split in two and put back together again.
“Welcome back.” He said with a slight sympathetic smile before scooting down to my level. “Want to tell me what happened this afternoon to leave you in such a state? I think I can guess…but…”
“Amelia’s pregnant and I’m a horrible person.”
“I thought as much, and no you’re not so stop that right now.”
“I just… lost it.”
“Eric I don’t want to feel like this. I want to be really happy for them but when she told me all I could think was ‘why not us?! Why them?’ and that is so utterly selfish of me, because it’s not an either or situation. I just…I wanted it to be us.”
“Sookie, it’s understandable.”
“No it’s not, it is for you because you’re lovely and understanding and my God why don’t you think your wife is a complete basket case by now? I would think it if I were you!” I said loud and frustrated.
He just shook his head.
“Because my lovely basket case, I know what you’ve been through, at least in part and I hold no judgments on how your brain chooses to deal with everything after that. This is not good news for you, not when we are heading to London to become test bunnies for some doctors and Amelia is just pregnant like that with no trouble at all. I see that, and I understand that feeling of why, believe me I see it. So if you want to cry and sob about it, go right ahead, I’ll be here when you’re ready to stop and I’ll help you in any way I can.”
I was silent then, I just took his hand and kissed it, words failing me yet again.
“I’ve cancelled dinner there tonight; I’m guessing it’s the last place you want to be. I lied, a little and said I had a work problem come up and that you were annoyed with me and would organise another night. They seemed to buy it.”
I just shook my head at him then.
“Taking the blame for my complete mental break down, such a good husband,” I half sassed but was half-serious also. “When you’re checking me into the crazy hospital I hope I can come up with as believable lies to save face for you.”
He chuckled then, pushing some stray hair behind my ear.
“Of course, Dear.” He mocked before kissing my forehead.
“You’re too good to me, you know that?”
“You’re good to me too, more than you know; you see the good in other people so often but never in yourself. Believe me, it is there and it is there every day, I see it, I feel it. So me being good to you is only me trying to keep up with you, that’s all.”
That made me smile and I moved closer to cuddle with him some more, we had London the next day, and the tests the day after that. After that, I at least would know where I stood and at least then could brace myself, one way or another. With Eric there, it felt like it was possible, and that is the feeling I knew I had to hold on to, as long as I held onto him.
The journey to London was a tense one, as was the wait and the testing. Everything felt so heavy, real, and serious and ever so daunting. I insisted on getting tested with Sookie, I didn’t want her getting poked and prodded by more doctors, not alone if I could help it. While I suspected that, it was not I had that the issue with fertility, it was still something I wanted us to rule or in completely before, we moved on. Sookie’s tests took considerably longer than mine did, they were as I imagined internal and probably painful for her too. I hated the idea of her in any pain, but I knew she was strong enough to go through it and come out the other side. Pam was none the wiser and just assumed we were getting a head start on the summer season by leaving to come to London as she was. She was busy hosting parties as usual, and living a life with Claude that seemed to suit them both very well. Debauchery and dining were there specialities and neither saw the need to change. The night after the tests we both claimed to have other plans, to which Pam accused us of neglecting her, I set her straight with a wink and nod and kept things light, letting her assume that our ‘early night’ would be a lot more exciting than what we really had planned which was sleep – and lots of it.
The weeklong wait for the results was the longest of our lives it seemed. Sookie was on eggshells practically, so nervous and just not herself. Pam noticed it of course and the day before we were due to receive the results, Sookie told her all of what we had been going through at dinner that night. Sookie cried, Claude cried and hell, even Pam – who never cried – cried. It was a sight to behold alright. Pam was never the maternal type, not even when she still imagined she would one day marry a man who would want her to have his children, but she saw as I saw, the strong maternal instinct in Sookie and it broke her heart to think that it would go wasted. We all drank too much that night, Sookie more than all of us, and getting to bed was my mission because the morning awaited and so did the results.
Results I wish I had never gotten.
We sat in the cold and dank waiting room, one that with what this doctor was charging was a surprise. Usually London doctors put on the show with airs and graces, particularly when it came to their waiting rooms.
“Mr and Mrs Northman?” The nurse came out with an awkward smile, Sookie took a deep breath and latched onto my hand for dear life, I was sure she bruised a bone by the time we took our seats. There was a lot of white noise at first, a lot of x-rays this, blood tests that, and basically what it boiled down to was Sookie’s grip on my hand loosening as it dropped to her side.
I was fine, apparently my ‘swimmers were fantastic for a man your age’ and while I took that as a slight insult considering I was barely into my mid-thirties, the real tragedy was my wife’s face when he told her, her news.
Blunt force trauma was the apparent cause, one that earned me the evil eye from the good doctor, before Sookie stepped in to tell him the truth.
“No … No it’s not my husband he would never have… it was my former… ex-husband there was a lot of …issues there.” She choked out, the tears unshed in her sad eyes. “He… it was bad.”
“I see.” Said the doctor. “Well, there is considerable internal damage, but it’s not all bad.”
“It’s not?” She asked a spark of hope in her broken voice.
“Not entirely, I mean, it’s risky, extremely risky. This type of procedure…”
“But if it means there’s a chance of us having a child then it’s worth it, right?” she looked to me and she knew my answer. It had been my answer since before we even married; I wasn’t willing to risk her life for anyone’s not even our hypothetical child.
“Mrs Northman, it’s not an easy task, it’s rare, and so rare we don’t even do it here in England.”
“Well where do you do it then?”
“America, New York specifically. There is a doctor there; she is a one off in her field, Ludwig. She specialises in female reproductive… issues.”
“So she’s good then? Eric? What do you think?”
I squirmed in my seat, I didn’t really want to have this conversation here.
“I think we have to assess the risk.”
“But if there’s a chance –“
“And there’s also a chance of it failing and risking your life in the process. We’ll need to discuss it.” I said to her and the doctor who nodded.
“There are other avenues open to a couple of your standing. Adoption for one, I know for sure you would be approved, and since a war has just ended, there are – sadly- too many children in need of a loving home. It’s a safer option.”
“And one I’m sure we’ll consider once we’ve exhausted every other possibility. I want my own children, Eric.”
I wasn’t going to argue with her, not there at least. I knew she was reeling from the news, so her harsh behaviour could be forgiven.
“We’ll look into this… option and we’ll see then shall we?” The doctor added pulling out his letter paper I assumed ready to make the initial arrangements.
“Yes. Please as soon as you can.” Sookie spoke before I could, and stood up. I guess we were leaving then. We both exited the room and the building without saying a word. We got into the car, without saying a word and we made it to the front of the London town house – without saying a word.
“Say something.” She begged.
“What else is there to say, Sookie? You have made it clear where you stand on this problem. You know not that we can talk about it rationally after the initial emotional reaction dies down. No, you have lit the fire and we are apparently going to America so you can be hacked open by some doctor. Excellent.” I got out of the car with an angry force in my movements, I was angry and I was not sure at whom. Her, the doctor, the damn situation, or myself.
She sat in the car for a few minutes more, just staring out the window, and I just left her there because I wasn’t sure I had the energy for an argument. Not right then. Instead, I did what my time in the UK taught me to do in times of crisis. I made a cup of tea.
It didn’t help.
When she came in I handed her her cup and we took a silent seat next to each other in the living room, nothing but the sound of the clock echoing through the room.
“He’s taken so much from me, Eric. I refuse to let him take this from me, from us too.”
I closed my eyes then, of course this is what it boiled down to. That bastard.
“Sookie I don’t … want to risk your life for the sake of a hypothetical child. I have you, you have me, and that should be enough. I’m putting no pressure on you to have a child, have I put pressure?”
“No you haven’t you’ve been wonderful, really. However, this is not about you, it is about me and my need to be a mother, Eric. I thought it was something I could not do, something I would be okay without that part of my life opened up. Nevertheless, that was when I was alone and scared and poor and a possible murderer. Now I’m just… you know, a secret murderer.” She shrugged and it was almost comical. “But it was before you, and our love and how much I can see that a child would benefit from having you as a father, wondering what I would be like as a mother now, with you as my partner… it’s a whole new world for me and one I want to embrace if I can.”
I understood where she was coming from. Of course, I wanted children with her, more than anything I wanted a part of us both out there in the world but if meant risking her, I would gladly give that dream up. She was more stubborn than I was however, and she had her heart set on this option.
“If we go…”
She smiled then, big and wide and damn it she had me wrapped around her little fingers it seemed because I caved like a umbrella in the wind. “IF I said IF.”
“Yes, if… of course. If we go…?” She was smiling then, she had hopped closer to me and I was a complete sucker for that smile. “I want use to know everything, every part of what you’ll go through before we sign off on anything, but I mean it Sookie if I think it’s too dangerous, we’re not doing it. We have to agree on that. The risk is too great and too real –“
“I understand, I do. I promise. I just think that it might help if we do this, I mean she’s an expert, and who knows this time next year it might be us planning for our baby.”
We wouldn’t be.
We left for New York two weeks later, I left the Estate in the hands of the lawyers and co-workers, all keeping me abreast by telephone and letters, but we simply packed our bags and left England. Much to Pam’s irritation, her playmates upping and leaving without much noticed didn’t sit well with our pampered Pammy.
We rented a two-floor apartment in the city, we did the tourist thing for a few days before we settled, and got down to business with the doctors, and it was overall a tiring experience for me, so I could only imagine how Sookie felt. There were more tests and consolations and she came out looking like death warmed up a few times, and like she had been shooting needles in her arms, because in fact they had been! I hated every second of it and I knew it quickly took its toll on Sookie too. My once bright eyed, rosy-cheeked wife soon became tired, haggard, and just so done with it all. I hated seeing the affect it was having on her, but there was very little I could do about it. She was still steely determined to go through with the treatments and the operation, even if we argued about it just about every day.
We’d been there a month when her date for the operation came up, we were both terrified to be sure, but she was again so determined it made my heart sing to know she was doing this ultimately for us, for our future, and to give me – to give us – a child. One that even though I talked a big talk about not minding one way or another, I did want in the end. However, to me, it didn’t matter really how we achieved that goal. To Sookie however, she wanted what she wanted, and considering how much she had gone through in her life, if I could give her this, I could give her the world.
I just hoped for her sanity’s sake, it worked.