Chapter Thirty Two
The young doctor whose name I still didn’t know had sent me off with a prescription for some kind of supplement and an anti-nausea medication that was supposed to help me keep food down better and get my energy levels back up.
I’d thought we were done then but Mom had swooped in to ask a thousand questions. I looked at the time. They’d been in there for over ten minutes now.
I blew out a sigh. Typical Mom. I wouldn’t be surprised if she came out with the poor woman’s home number ‘just in case’. She’d always been paranoid about our health, mine and Rayyan’s most of all. I suppose it came with being a doctor who dealt with dying people most of the time.
When Mom finally emerged, she looked preoccupied.
“Is something wrong?” I asked as she clipped her seatbelt on, expecting to hear the usual unfounded worries.
I waited but Mom was fussing with her handbag. I repeated my question in an insistent tone. “Mom?”
“Don’t worry about it,” she said unconvincingly.
“What’s there to worry about?” Had the doctor told her something she’d kept from me? I thought about the tiny baby that was meant to be growing inside me and felt a stab of panic. “Is something wrong with the baby?” Suddenly I understood Mom’s paranoia. I was about to demand that Zak’s chauffeur turn the car around march back into the doctor’s office and demand to know what was going on.
“No!” Mom reached out and took my hand, squeezing it tight. “The baby’s fine.”
Then why was she behaving so strangely?
“You know I worry about everything,” she added.
“Yeah,” I smiled. “I know.” I tried to focus on something else. “How did you tell Dad you were pregnant?”
Mom smiled nostalgically. “With Rayyan, it was easy. I found out right before your Dad’s birthday so I wrapped up a onesie and booties. Your brother wore that onesie home from the hospital. But with you,” Mom wrinkled her nose. “It wasn’t much of a secret. I was hunched over the toilet day and night and crying at the drop of a hat. Dad brought home a test and ten minutes later we were calling your grandparents.”
I latched onto what she’d said about me “You were sick too?”
Mom’s fair skin had taken on a vaguely green tone just thinking about it. “I was miserable almost that entire pregnancy. I got so used to puking that it was strange to be done with it after you were born.”
I made a face. “But the doctor said it goes away after the first trimester!”
“It does for most people and there’s no reason that it shouldn’t for you. But just in case, we’re going to pick up some things that are known to soothe nausea. Ginger, saltines. And we should look at scented candles. You’re not feeling great so we’ll avoid the stronger oness but maybe you can find a scent that you like. That might help.”
I loved scented candles. I had a large collection scattered between Sweden, America and Australia. My mother had no way of knowing this – I’d probably mentioned candles twice to her in my entire life – but it upset me that she didn’t already know anyway.
I stayed quiet for the rest of the car ride, closing my eyes and pretending to be asleep. I didn’t even know why it mattered so much, but it did. I wanted Mom to know everything about me. But she didn’t. It was an unwelcome reminder that while we were closer, for a long time she’d known less about me than she did about any one of her thousands of patients.
Daddy’s Biggest Fan, the tiny bit of cloth read. Looking down at it, I began to remember…
Strong arms wrapped themselves around me. It was pitch black but I wasn’t afraid. I’d know his touch anywhere.
I settled myself against my husband’s muscled shoulder, feeling his hand come up to cradle the back of my head. Even now that we’d left the so-called newly-wed phase, he was still my favourite pillow.
I felt certain that he always would be. “Love you most, Zak.” I whispered to him.
The dream I’d had a lifetime ago came back to me with sparkling clarity. I knew with utter certainty that there had been a crib in the corner of that room, that I’d been returning from tending to a tiny baby.
I’d tried to block those dreams out when I’d had them, terrified of the future that they seemed to be foretelling. I’d felt like a noose was tightening around my throat, terrified of the vulnerability that came with giving myself to someone.
And look at me now.
In the end, I’d been all to eager. And now we were having a baby.
Whatever fate has been ordained will eventually come to pass.
“Do you need any help?”
“Ma’am?” The saleslady had clearly been trying to get my attention for a while. “Do you need any help?”
“Uh, yes.” I handed her the armful of baby clothes I’d been holding. “I’ll take them all. And could you gift wrap them?”
I couldn’t wait to get home and show everything to Zak. I was itching to share the joy I’d been feeling all day with him.
The second we got home, I abandoned Mom with our bags, carrying only the gift wrapped box I’d kept on my lap into the house.
I found Zak alone – a rarity since his mother usually clung to him and handed him the gift right there in the small lounge. I didn’t particularly care if his parents came in and found out and I had a feeling Zak would want to share the news too.
“Open it!” I sounded like a hyper kid.
Zak took his time while I bounced on my heels and fought the urge to tear the wrapping paper off myself.
He lifted the lid on the box and looked up at me, his face unreadable. “Is this what I think it is?”
“Yes.” I grinned. “I’m pregnant!”
His face paled under his tan and I faltered. “Zak? What’s wrong?”
My husband shot to his feet and took my arm, leading me into the bedroom we’d been using. “What are we going to do about it?” he asked urgently, his hand still wrapped around my bicep.