I show up to Sookie’s about thirty minutes after she calls. If she’s sick we don’t want Brie sick so I’m sure I’ll be hanging out with her until she’s past the contagious state.
“Here!” I call when I walk in.
I don’t get a response so I search for her. Brie is bouncing in her Johnny jumper so I leave her be. When I find Sookie she’s huddled over the toilet in her room.
“Do you need anything?” I ask as I walk up to rub her back.
“A new stomach,” she grumbles.
“I’m sorry, baby,” I say quietly. “Do you want crackers or something?”
“Not right now.” Sookie lifts her head and flushes the toilet.
“I’ll turn down the bed for you. Take a nap, maybe you’ll feel better when you wake up,” I say. I’m not very nurturing so I don’t really know what to do here.
“Okay.” Sookie pulls herself up and moves to the sink to rinse her mouth out. “Thank you for coming over.”
I give her a sad face in the mirror before I go to the room to turn down the covers. I head downstairs to get her a glass of water and a sleeve of crackers just in case. I tell Brie I’ll be right back for her as I walk past her again. By the time I get back to the room Sookie is lying bed.
“Does Brie need to eat or anything?” I ask when I set the glass and crackers down.
“I gave her a bottle when we got home. She should be ready for a nap soon. Her diaper might need changing too,” she says and snuggles under her blanket.
“I’ll check when I get back down there. Did you have a plan for dinner, or do you want me to figure something out?”
“I haven’t thought about it,” she says. “I don’t know if I’m going to want to eat.”
“Okay. I’ll figure something out.”
I go over to give her a kiss on the head. I go back downstairs and find Brie bouncing still. She looks up at me, throwing her arms up for me to pick her up. When I pick her up I can tell immediately she needs a diaper change. Yay shitty diapers. I take her back up to her room and lay her down to pull her diaper off and she immediately starts grinning. Her feet start going a mile a minute. I hold them up and start wiping her little butt. When she’s clean I make her giggle when I lean down and raspberry her belly.
“Alright, pretty girl, Mommy is sick so it’s just you and me for a couple days.” I get her new diaper on and give her face kisses.
We get back downstairs and I lay her with her toys in the living room. I start cleaning up the toys she’s not playing with. When I’m done I take a seat on the floor and wait for her to notice me. When she does she starts whining. She wants me to bring her to me.
“Nope, you come to me, pretty girl,” I smile at her. She isn’t having it. Oh well. If she wants me I’m making her get to me on her own. She starts rolling a little but I get up and move her to her belly. I prompt her to get up on her hands to try to get her to crawl. She’s not doing it. Oh well. I sit back in my spot and when she rolls to me she climbs up my chest so she can stand against me.
We go on like this for at least an hour before I get up to check on Sookie. I put Brie in her bouncer and head up the stairs to find Sookie leaning over the toilet again.
“I’m sorry you’re so sick, babe,” I sigh when I walk in on her. I kneel down with her and rub her back.
“Me too,” she croaks out between heaves.
“I’ve been trying to get Brie to crawl,” I tell her, hoping it will help her get her mind off of throwing up.
“She’s not getting on her hands and knees in her own yet,” she says. “She won’t crawl until she does that first.”
“I got a tiny combat crawl from her. She moved like six inches and started rolling again.”
“She’ll crawl when she’s ready,” Sookie says and starts dry heaving.
“I know,” I sigh. I sit back against the wall and kick my legs out.
“Is she sleeping?”
“Back in her bouncer right now. She doesn’t want to calm down.”
“She’ll sleep good tonight.” Sookie flushes the toilet and she’s white as a sheet when she lifts her head.
“I hate this,” I tell her. “I know you hate it more, but I can’t stand seeing you so ill. I want to hold you.”
“Thal doesn’t think I’m sick,” Sookie says and rinses her mouth out.
“Oh yeah? What does she think?”
“She thinks all your creamsicles have spawned a sibling for Brie.”
“What?” My face goes pale.
“She thinks I’m pregnant, but I got my period two weeks ago,” Sookie waves it off. “I’m sure it’s just the flu or something.”
“Okay. You’re on birth control, right?” I can’t believe I never asked.
“Yeah. I went on the pill after Brie was born to get my cycle back on track.”
“Okay, figured, I just wanted to be sure.” She’s not pregnant.
“Totally understandable. I’m not ready for two kids in diapers at the same time.”
“I’m not exactly ready either. I love Brie, but… no, just not ready.”
“It’s okay, Eric. Only one of us can look like they’re going to hurl at a time,” Sookie jokes.
“I’m fine,” I lie.
“Uh huh.” Sookie’s not buying it.
“It’s okay, really, you aren’t pregnant. I don’t have a reason to be worried.”
She nods and turns to go back to bed.
I follow behind her and take a seat next to her.
“You know if you are pregnant, I’m not going anywhere, right?”
“I know,” Sookie nods. “I’d definitely never get rid of Nina.”
I chuckle and say, “No, you wouldn’t.”
“I think we’re a long way from dealing with that.”
“We are,” I agree and rub her back.
“I’m just going to try to sleep for an hour or so and then I’ll come down,” she says.
“Alright. I’ll get dinner started. I’m making vegetable soup,” I tell her.
I kiss her head and go back downstairs. Brie is chewing on her hand. I pull her out of her bouncer and get her settled in her high chair. I go to the fridge to get some of her green beans. She seems to like them well enough. Plus when she gets them all over her face Sookie giggles when I call her Kermit.
“Is my favorite girl ready for dinner?” I ask.
I take a seat at the table with her and she’s trying to talk to me while she eats. Mostly noises. I always feel a tightness in my chest when she starts making the da-da sound. I know she’s not calling me Da-da, but the more I’m around, the more I kind of want her to call me Dad instead of Eric. Especially now that we know Rasul wants nothing to do with her.
Speaking of Dads. If Sookie is pregnant there’s no doubt I’ll be terrified. Right now I could walk away from Brie and not have any real repercussions. If Sookie is pregnant with my biological child walking away is not an option. I actually think Rasul is an idiot for not wanting to be a father to Brie. It works as a benefit for us, but this beautiful little girl has the potential to feel unwanted. That just fucking blows. Also, if Sookie is going to have my baby I don’t want Brie to feel like I love the new baby more. She’s already got me, hook, line, and sinker. At this point it might be too soon to bring it up, or even feel this way, but if I’m having my own baby I’d happily adopt Brie. That way if Sookie and I don’t work out I’ll take responsibility for both of them. I don’t know if Sookie wants that, though.
As soon as Brie is done eating I clean up her face and take her upstairs to change her into her pajamas. I check on Sookie and she’s sleeping so we go back downstairs so I can start dinner. Brie has a playpen I move into the kitchen and I stick her in it before I get started on the soup. I use a lot of root vegetables and some green beans, beans, and cabbage. Brie is off and on yelling at me and playing with her toys. Right around the time dinner is ready I hear Sookie trudge down the stairs.
“Hey, how are you feeling?” I ask once she walks into the kitchen.
“Sluggish, but I suppose that’s to be expected,” she replies.
As soon as Brie spots her mother her little arms go flying up to get her Mommy cuddles. Sookie washes her hands and then picks Brie up to keep her from flipping out.
Before I can comment she says, “If I’m sick she’s already been exposed. If I’m not, it’s not like I have something she can catch.”
“True,” I say and walk up to wrap my arms around my girls. I hate that Sookie feels like this for whatever reason.
“Dinner smells good,” Sookie smiles and kisses Brie’s head.
“Thanks. I figured this is something you might be able to keep down. It’s ready if you want to try some.” I doubt she’s kept anything down today.
“Yeah, I’m starving. My stomach doesn’t feel so wonky.”
“Good,” I smile and kiss her head. “Go sit, I’ll bring you some.”
“Thanks.” Sookie takes Brie to the table with her and sits. She’s a master at eating with Brie parked on her lap.
I get a small bowl down and fill it with soup. I made a shitload of it so if she can keep it down she’ll have food for a couple days. As I set down her soup I tell her, “I was doing a lot of thinking while I was hanging out with the girl this afternoon.”
“Oh yeah? What about?” Sookie stirs her soup while Brie bangs her hands on the table.
“I know in a relationship standpoint this is way too soon to discuss, but on the baby side I want to throw this out so you know where I stand. If you are pregnant, I want to adopt Brie…” I leave out the sooner rather than later part. “It’s just something to think about. I know it’s a huge decision.”
“It is and I will think about it,” she says.
“Okay.” That’s all I can really ask for. I don’t think I have to say much more on the matter. She knows that I’ll do anything for Brie. “Do you want anything to drink?”
“Some water would be nice. I’m probably dehydrated,” she says and takes a bite of her soup. “Mmm… this is yummy.”
I get her water and set it down with more crackers just in case she wants them.
“Thanks, I started making this a few years ago when I got sick and needed more than broth to eat,” I explain and I sit down with my own bowl.
“Well it’s fantastic.” Sookie gives Brie a cracker to gnaw on. “Did this one nap?”
“Nope. She’s going to sleep like a rock later. She was probably too excited that she had me all to herself,” I wink.
“I’m sure,” she snorts.
“We had a good time and the living room is clean,” I shrug.
“Thank you for looking after her,” Sookie says sincerely.
“You’re welcome,” I smile and reach over to hold her hand for a second before Brie decides to peel my finger off of Sookie’s. Apparently I don’t get to touch Mom right now.
“We need to work on your sharing skills, little missy,” Sookie tickles Brie’s side.
“She’s not going to be too happy if a second baby gets thrown into the mix,” I chuckle. “Sook… do you think I should go get a pregnancy test?”
She stops nibbling on Brie to say, “If it will give you peace of mind I’ll take one.”
“It will. My mind has been going every which way since you mentioned it,” I admit.
“Okay, then I’ll take a test. It’s not a big deal,” she shrugs.
“Alright. I’ll go get one after dinner,” I tell her. “And I haven’t been thinking bad things, you know.”
“That’s good to know,” she smiles softly.
After dinner Sookie says she feels good enough to hang out with Brie while I run to the store. I could wait weeks to see if she misses her period or if she continues to be sick, but I’d rather get this out of the way now. If I’m going to be stressed I want a real reason to lose sleep.
While Eric is gone Brie starts nodding off. Her schedule is destroyed for today. She’ll be up early tomorrow if I let her sleep now but she’ll just be crabby if I keep her up. So I just let her snuggle on my chest and play with my hair until she falls asleep.
I’m lying on the couch, rubbing her back, when Eric comes back with a bag full of pregnancy tests. I restrain myself from laughing. I understand wanting peace of mind since I would just as soon get this off the table too, but I doubt I’m going to need a dozen tests to clear the air.
I sit up slowly and when I stand, I pause near Eric so he can whisper a goodnight to his other girlfriend.
“Goodnight, pretty girl,” he says and leans down to kiss her head.
“Meet me upstairs?” I suggest.
“Yep. I’ll line them up in the bathroom,” he chuckles.
“Thanks,” I smile and head upstairs to Brie’s room.
I take a risk in changing Brie’s diaper while she’s sleeping, but I don’t know when it was changed last and I don’t want to have to change her sheets. Her eyes open and her lower lip gets going but I have her in a new diaper and zipped into her jammies before she lets out more than a whimper. I pick her up and rock her for a minute to get her settled again. When I put her in her crib I cover her with her blanket and she rolls to her side.
For a minute I brush her curls back and watch her. Being mom has been a big adjustment for me and I’m worried that having another baby will put me back where I was two months ago. Yes I had my issues outside of the baby but the hormones that came with giving birth really messed me up. I really don’t want to go through all of that again, at least not so soon.
“I love you, Peanut,” I whisper and then leave her room.
Down the hall in my bedroom Eric is sitting on the edge of the bed.
“Are you okay?” I ask as I close the door.
“Yeah, a lot more okay than I thought I’d be in this situation,” he admits.
“Well hopefully you’ll be even better in a few minutes.” I pause to kiss him before I go into the bathroom to start a test.
I read the instructions and then grab one of the stick things to pee on. Once I’m done I set the test on the vanity to wait for the results. I wash my hands and go back to the bedroom to lie down and wait.
Eric curls in behind me and pulls me close to his chest. He kisses my shoulder before he sags against the pillow. I close my eyes and relax. The house is silent and it’s comfortable just lying here like this with him. I don’t want to talk and ruin it. We’ll have plenty of talking to do after the test results are ready.
I let myself doze for a few minutes until the test should be done. I roll over and ask, “Do you want to look or do you want me to?”
“I can look if you’re comfortable,” he says and rubs my hip.
“Go for it,” I say and move closer to kiss him.
He kisses me back for a moment before he gets up to go to the bathroom. I hear a clank in the sink before Eric walks out a few seconds later. He looks like he’s going to be sick.
“What?” I can figure out what the test says but I want to hear him say it.
“We’re having another baby,” he whispers. He staggers over to the bed and sits next to me.
I suck in a breath and say, “It could be a false positive. My brother took a test – don’t ask – and it came back positive.”
Eric looks at me and I can tell he doesn’t believe it’s a false positive.
“Baby, do you really think it’s false?” he asks quietly and reaches out to hold my hand.
“I want it to be,” I reply.
I don’t even know what to say at this point. Shock. I’m definitely in shock.
He nods and lies down on his back. He rests his hands over his stomach and stares at the ceiling.
“It’s okay if you want to throw up now,” I tell him.
“I’m fine,” he says barely above a whisper.
“I’m glad one of us is because I’m not sure if I am,” I reply.
Eric looks over at me and says, “Honestly, I’m more worried about you right now. I have at least seven months to get used to the idea. You’re already going through enough shit, and having a baby terrorize your body is the last thing you need.”
“Well the pregnancy part wasn’t too bad. It was after Brie was born that I had trouble. But on the bright side at least now I know I’m susceptible to postpartum depression so I can plan ahead for that,” I ramble. My mind goes to where I’m going to put another baby since this house isn’t big enough for that.
I bought this place because I only needed three bedrooms and it didn’t matter that the third one is the size of a large closet because it’s my office space. I need that space if I’m going to keep working from home but I can’t have a newborn and a toddler sharing a room. I’m not into that attachment parenting stuff that’s all trendy right now. I’m definitely not interested in keeping a family bed on a full-time basis.
“Hopefully having me around for this pregnancy will help…” He trails off and rolls onto his side so he can rest his head on my leg.
“Yeah,” I say quietly. I wish I had more to say, but there’s still the shock factor.
Eric shifts to pull me down with him. He wraps me up tight in his arms. He’s in the same boat as me.
“We’ll be okay,” he promises and kisses the top of my head.
“You know… we don’t… we don’t have to keep it,” I whisper. It’s an awful thing to say and I know it, but we have options.
“Can we just let it sink in a few days before we discuss what to do with it?” he asks quietly.
“Yeah,” I agree. “I was just putting it out there.”
If he’s thinking it I don’t want him to feel guilty for it.
“Thank you,” he whispers.
“There’s never a good way to bring that up,” I sigh heavily.
“No, and honestly I didn’t even think about it as an option. It would… right now it might be the best option,” he tells me, his voice cracking on the last word.
I take a deep breath and hug him back as best I can.
“I’m sorry this isn’t the good news it should be,” I whisper. “Brie surprised me but I wasn’t disappointed. I figured out really fast that I wanted her and that I was happy, even though I was going to have to raise her alone.”
Eric pulls back and says, “Right, but when you have a man that’s wants to be in your life, Brie’s life, and scared, but willing to have this baby with you it’s disappointing?”
“That’s not what I’m saying,” I say defensively.
“Then what are you saying? That’s exactly what it sounds like to me…” When he looks at me I can see he’s devastated by the idea I might not want to have his kid.
“I’m saying that this time I’m not going into a pregnancy with the same rose-colored glasses I had on last time. I know what it’s like and I know what it can do to me. And yes, I would have your help but… I’m just… I’m not excited about it yet. I’m thinking about how Brie is going to handle it. I’m thinking about the space I don’t have for a baby. I’m thinking about whether or not you would stick around just because you feel obligated to do so. I’m thinking about the extra months of therapy I might need or how deep I could get into depression because it was worse before you came back…” I trail off.
“I would stay because I want to… I want you in my life, Sookie,” is his only response.
I sigh and turn onto my back. I resolve to keep quiet because anything else I say is just going to make this worse.
“I’ll go home if you want me to…”
“I think maybe we should take a night to sleep on it,” I tell him. “We’re both upset right now and I don’t want to get in a fight.”
He nods and gets up from the bed. He moves around the room gathering his things and before he goes he comes back to the bed. He crawls up and presses a soft kiss to my lips before he backs away.
“I’ll call you tomorrow,” he whispers and stands up.
“Okay. I’ll be home most of the day. I’ll call my doctor in the morning and make an appointment.”
“Okay.” Eric grabs his keys and disappears down the hallway. I hear the front door close about thirty seconds later.
I just lie there and stare up at the ceiling.
The next morning Brie is up with the sun. I call early to make an appointment with my gynecologist and secure one for Tuesday afternoon. Brie is all thrown off her schedule but I gladly accept the offer when Thal calls to ask if it’s safe for her to drop by during lunchtime.
“Thal, I’m feeling much better,” I tell her.
“Good. Maybe it was just a twenty-four hour thing.”
She’s going to find out anyway so I say, “More like a forty week thing.”
“I knew it!” she exclaims.
“Yeah,” I sigh.
I look over and see Brie pushing herself onto her knees. I smile at her new achievement and then try to imagine a very pregnant me chasing a speedy toddler. I’m fucked.
“Did you tell Eric yet?”
“Oh he told me. He’s the one that looked at the test,” I tell her. “I thought he was going to barf.”
She laughs and asks, “How are you feeling about this?”
“Shitty,” I reply honestly.
“Once his color came back how did Papa bear react?”
“He’s in shock, like I am.”
“Understandable. At least he didn’t drop down on one knee and ask you to make an honest man of him,” she chuckles. “Or did he?”
“No, he didn’t and I would have smacked him if he did,” I tell her. “He’s not even in love with me so marriage isn’t on the table.”
“I think he is but he doesn’t want to admit it to you. That’s just my observation.”
“Well until those words come out of his mouth I’m not banking on anything.”
“Regardless, he’s going to be a good dad which is more than you got with Brie,” she reminds me.
“Assuming we keep the baby. I’m not sure if we are yet,” I admit.
“Oh…” she says.
“Yeah. It’s not a good time for us to have a kid,” I say quietly as I watch my daughter rock back and forth on her hands and knees, testing out the mobility.
“But you guys already have one. Why would you even think about giving this one up?”
“Because it’s a lot of stress to put not just on me, but on our relationship. We’re still getting to know each other. I like him a lot and I know he’d be a great dad but I don’t know if I can go through this right now. I’m still recovering from Brie,” I explain.
“Oh, okay.” Thalia is at a loss for words.
I’m sure this sounds selfish but she’s not in my shoes. When she gets pregnant it will be because she wants to be and she won’t have to worry about Mustafa being disappointed or any of that. It will be a happy thing.
“Listen, Thal, I need to get in the shower before you get here so I’ll just talk to you in a few hours.”
“Alright. I’ll see you in a bit.”
We hang up and I pick up Brie to take her upstairs with me. I put her in her playpen in her bedroom and then go down the hall to my room to shower. After I get the water going I strip off my clothes and look at myself in the mirror. I just finally got out of my stretchy clothes and now I’ll be back in them. I sigh heavily as my eyes focus on my belly. I can’t be more than five weeks along so it’ll be a while before I start showing.
Then again, with this little pooch I can’t get rid of, maybe it’ll be sooner. No doubt this baby will be about the same size as Brie was. Eric and Rasul are about the same height although Rasul is definitely broader than Eric. I sigh again and step into the tub. I let the hot water beat on my back for a few minutes before I start washing up.
After my shower I put on yoga pants and a long sleeved shirt. Brie is sitting up on her knees, grinning at me through the netting on the side of the pen.
“So you’re a big sister, kiddo. How do you feel about that?” I ask.
She puts her arms up and yells, “Ma!”
Tears spring to my eyes because she’s never done that before. I pick her up and snuggle her, smothering her little face with kisses that make her giggle and squeal.
“Ma,” she repeats and puts her hands on my face like she does to Eric. I puff out my cheeks and she squeezes them so I blow a raspberry. Brie cackles so I do it again.
Five minutes later she’s still losing her mind over this little trick but I need to get to work. I take her down the hall and put her in her exersaucer so she can jump and play while I do my work. My hand settles on my stomach and I offer a silent apology to the new baby for not feeling the excitement that I should. It’s not the baby’s fault and I feel awful for even considering not keeping it, but I’m really not sure I can handle another baby right now.