Write a Review


Chapter 3

“Well, it appears that your tiny human knows exactly what she wants and she’s a hungry little bugger!” Arizona’s voice carried to where he anxiously waited, slumped and relaxed yet contrarily on the edge of his seat. Figuratively speaking, of course. In the general scheme of things a literal edge of the seat posture definitely did not signify a tranquil frame of mind. And yes, the dimness of his normally piercing gaze coupled with his calmly waiting look (perhaps his own version ‘Blue Steel, Derek Zoolander’ pose), denoted the comfortable exhaustion he felt.

“Yeah, she latched on real fast. Girl knows where her foods at. We tried earlier too, just after Jackson brought her to me,” he overheard, surprised that in the short space of his absence, when he left after introducing mother and child, that he’d missed the first feed.

Dismissing the tug on his heartstrings that the thought and corresponding image evoked, he deemed the disappointment he experienced as an overly sensitive, impassioned response. And well they were uncoupled co-parents (whatever the freaking hell those PC terms meant), so probably he would have been asked to leave, or more likely he would have left of his own volition when the baby needed to nurse.

Canning those thoughts and brushing aside those emotional reactions, he sat there still, unmoving; an unintentional eavesdropper. Or so he justified it. Accidental and unplanned listener. Okay fine...he admitted that he was simply too exhausted to attempt any motion away from the comfy spot he’d appropriated. Transporting himself required a mental drive to physical action, and movement was absent from the repertoire of feats that he was capable of at that moment in time.

But listening he had no problem with. He could armchair snoop without lifting a finger.

“Why are you trying to sit upright April? Your incision is barely hours old and we don’t want you re-opening the cut.”

“It’s fine Arizona, although a bit uncomfortable trying to breast-feed while flat and not moving. Don’t worry, I’ll try not to jostle too much.”

Damn April Kepner stubbornness. He had half a mind to barge through those curtains and demand that she take care of herself. And if he had to hold her breast up to the baby to feed, then so be it. He was the dad, wasn’t he? And this was simply a biological imperative. A reproductive, essentially nurturing function.

Yeah right, his inner devil replied. To which his alter ego self-righteously argued the point. He was not an uncouth youth who could not restrain himself in front of a pair of knockers…err breasts. In fact breasts as sexual fetishes were a cultural construct. And Western Society, where patriarchy made the rules, had latched onto the concept of equating breastfeeding with sexual attraction. Now while he was quite mesmerized by April’s breasts, in the normal scheme of his sexual proclivities, that was not how he saw them now. They were a means of sustenance for his child. At the risk of an inappropriate comparison, April’s breasts were on par with a cow’s udders – the vessel through which liquid nourishment flowed. Yeah right, tell that to your glands, his inner sexual being once again chimed in. And he shut it down. He was an intellectual man, not a Neanderthal controlled by his physical desires and no conscience. He could do this.

“I’m sure you must be in pain from the surgery and if you open that wound, you’ll be in for a whole lot more hurt. You’re a surgeon, you should know better. Oh Physician, heal thyself.” Arizona’s chastising voice brought him back to his surroundings. He didn’t need to interrupt, he realized. Arizona was on the ball.

“I’m okay. See, we’re handling it just fine. I knew the need to get her settled and feeding as quickly as possible after she arrived and to start her diet off right, with the requisite prescription of colostrum. My first milk helped her pass her first stool, so meconium’s out and hopefully excess bilirubin is history…we want to prevent jaundice, right? So she’s quite successfully managed to latch on and had her first diaper change too.”

April News did not disappoint and since Arizona gave the thumbs-up to the feeding posture, he figured that no dad assistance was required. Just listening to her exacerbated his fatigue. And apparently Arizona’s visit seemed to be more as Jordan’s physician than April’s. Where was Alex, he idly wondered?

Having a baby was hard work, work, work, work, work, work…Rihanna could attest to the work ethic. He smiled to himself at his self-inflicted inner wit. It was too bad that others couldn’t read his mind – he really was quite the joker. If they only knew. Even April, unfortunately, saw him as second to Alex in the humor department. But then come to think of it, he hadn’t had much opportunity in recent times to impress her with his comedic genius. Damn divorce.

Being that he was one half of an uncoupled unit, the clueless one, he needed all the parental guidance he could muster. Boning up on ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ hadn’t quite prepared him for real life, after the expecting. And yes he could confidently state that he’d read the book. Cover to cover. No skimming, no shortcut guides and no swopping out to the straight to movie version. Not to say that he hadn’t watched the film. He had discovered however, that there was a very slim correlation between the two mediums – Hollywood had simply created a family drama focused on the same subject matter and labelled it as an adaptation of the book.

He’d been so thorough with that recommended literary must-have that he’d left no stone unturned...no page unturnt? (Where was Alex now huh? Here he was able to back up his pun-worthiness but without any audience to appreciate his smack talk!) Of particular interest he’d found, in his literary travails through the land of human gestation, was an informative section covering sex and hormonal urges during pregnancy. Those segments were definitely not part of his curriculum, but he couldn’t seem to leave them unread. Yet something else he got to miss out on. Damn divorce.

He had to admit too that he’d ignored the other informative texts in the ‘What to Expect’ range. The immediate after, he’d figured, would mostly be all April. She was a natural earth mother so he knew that breastfeeding was always gonna be on the cards. This meant that, initially and until the baby was no longer nursing from her body, but on formula (something neither of them were keen to have to administer in lieu of breast milk) or even solid foods, thereby allowing the structure of a feeding schedule that wasn’t reliant on April’s availability, Jordan would be with her mother.

If that rare occasion arose where he was solely in charge (perhaps necessitating supplemented formula or if April had pumped milk at the ready – did he mention that he was familiar with that tome? Cover to cover? And yes he could totally see the benefits of April’s farmish upbringing in this context) then he knew that he would be micro-managed from a distance. No items on her ‘To-Do’ Lists would be left uncrossed. Barring all foreseen circumstances, he knew that real life, many a time, threw you curveballs that no book could prepare you for. The key to solving these unique challenges was simply, as Rihanna put it, work. Hands on experience was all that. It was textbook, right? Pun intended.

How do you ensure that your fears, prejudices, learned dislikes don’t inadvertently get transferred to your child, he wondered? I mean farm life and animal husbandry were things he could never relate to, he actually shied away from animals. Seeing them alive and knowing they were destined to end up on his plate, made him all kinds of uncomfortable. If he started thinking of them as having human-like characteristics, he knew he would be toast. He’d have to give up meat and become vegan. But then what about plants also having a voice? He’d read a study that said plants felt pain too but the sounds of agony they emitted were of a decibel indistinguishable to the human auditory canal. He’d have to give up food, man, and subsist on…he had no freaking clue. He wouldn’t last a day. It was best not to even start down that path, he supposed.

Beat though he was, he almost laughed out loud while simultaneously being pseudo offended at the truth bombs April continued dropping in the midst of the follow-up comments he was unknowingly privy to.

“I may be biased but my little Jordan is one smart cookie,” she said to Arizona. “She takes after me in that regard. And honing in on food…that she gets from her father,” her running commentary…well, ran.

So he agreed with one out of the two. Jordan had come by her natural appetite for food quite honestly and yeah that part was all him. Her already seeming limitless appetite for breast milk a pleasing counterpoint to his voracious love of food. I guess his enthusiasm in the pursuit of gastronomical satiation was legendary, so he didn’t begrudge April the comparison. The other, however, he might take slight issue with. He was too a smart cookie. Although, judging from some of his actions…

Damn divorce.

“Jordan, hey? How does Jackson feel about the name?”

He was fine with it, Dr. Robbins, thank you for asking. He mentally inserted his responses as though he were a part of the conversation and not merely a bystander to it.

“We…llll…I haven’t told him yet.”

He could just picture the sheepish expression, possibly accompanied by a lip bite.


“It’s not like I’ve seen him since he left with Cross to check on a patient. Oh wait, he did return to escort his mother outa here…don’t ask…but I haven’t seen him after. And don’t you go blabbing like before Arizona! I will discuss it with him as soon as I do see him.”

It’s all good, April, I like it. But thank you for considering my input, he thought, slightly sarcastic.

Okay, he understood her motivation after overhearing her reasoning to Ben but I guess he was put out at having no say on something as important as his daughter’s name. He felt like his girls were conspiring against him, sharing secrets which he was excluded from and which seem to have started from the womb. He would have to nip this in the bud. Or at least make sure that he was included in this womb to the tomb posse. He would ride or die for either of them.

“Well I guess you could flash your boobs at him to soften the blow. A double whammy so to speak. Boobs and baby hanging off them. Doubt he would be able to resist.”

“Come on Arizona! You’re asking me to manipulate him, and not only by using my breasts but by perpetuating the cycle of misogyny, feeding into the equation of parts of my body as simply sexual objects! And all this while I’m nursing my daughter! Being that you’re a woman yourself, I must confess, I expected better of you.”

“Whoa there High and Mighty, I was just making a joke. Come off your high horse for a moment and see that. No social indictment on a flyaway comment, please.”

No way, he thought. Arizona had just majorly put her foot in it. April would not take this lying down. She was very capable of floating like a butterfly, stinging like a bee. It was the stinger that one had to look out for. He had a ring-side ‘view’ to what he guessed was going to be a knock-out round. Well more acoustical effect then physical observance. He was expert level status at reading April’s expressions though, so he was quite confident that he could pull off the reverse. Guessing her expressions and the impact of her words simply from the subtle nuances and inflections of her voice. She was nothing if not transparent about her views…about her feelings, she’d become a locked vault. Damn divorce.

“It’s an indiscriminate comment Arizona! Especially in jest, our true views meant to amuse, actually just confuse. Unbeknownst to the joker, her prejudices clearly show up, much more than her punchline.”

“What the blazes are you on about April?! Way to overanalyze a random…”

“Sexualizing the breasts so that they’re simply an appendage to please men? How sexist is that? Since when is the natural phenomenon of feeding your child all about titillation? Men need to keep it in their pants. Everything is not about men. The world does not revolve around how everything affects them…or at least it shouldn’t be. That’s why feminism is so important and the only way to teach this to my daughter is leading by example. I will breastfeed her anywhere and anytime she’s hungry, or on schedule, and anyone who is offended by my boobs can simply lump it.”

Whoa, outa the gate charge…both barrels blazing and all those other western clichés. Arizona was seriously being schooled.

“You are aware that I’m a lesbian right? And a proud feminist! And that I agree about the world not revolving around men, right?” Apparently, Arizona was highly insulted that her rhetoric placed her on par with men. She’d assumed, erroneously it seemed, that her sexual orientation had created the mindset that she was an evolved feminist. “Are you saying that because of that joke, that I’m…what? A sexist misogynist too?” she continued on her own mini-rant.

“Well, you’re perpetuating the stereotype. You know western culture, which is really an oxymoron if you think of it, but anyway this so called culture has overly sexualized every aspect of a woman’s body to the nth degree. So every natural purpose of her body that reflects a biological function other than sexual attractiveness has been connoted as being shameful and cause to be hidden out of sight, out of mind. Like the reclusive, antisocial relative living in the attic who nobody wants to admit exists. Or even the scary one down in the basement. I’m sure you’ve figured out that both those are analogies to what we’ve been discussing. Breastfeeding being one and a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle another. Patriarchy has created a correlation between the first and associated it with sexual fetish whereas the second has been linked as a cause of embarrassment. Do you see now how we’re propagating these sexist tropes ourselves when we buy into the misogyny, allowing ourselves to be the butt of the joke?”

“It was a mild, harmless quip April. I simply meant that you have quite the handful at the moment, and it would be a shame to let it go to waste. To not let Jackson get an eyeful…”

“Don’t fall into the trap of mansplaining to me Arizona. It’s never just a funny haha, it’s a farce actually. We need to inculcate honest communication between us and the younger generation, so that our children can start discerning fact from falsehood and with the self-respect they’ll develop they will be able to differentiate between truth and man-created myths. So much so that old-view sexism actually becomes the parody.”

“…and for him to be regretful,” Arizona finished, almost losing her point with April’s long-winded interruption.

“Are you aware that women have been forced to nurse their babies in bathroom stalls? Away from deviant eyes of men who feel offended by the sight of babies having their food organically while they themselves stuff their faces? Why is that, do you suppose?” April continued, driving her argument home.

“Because society has been brainwashed to oversexualize breasts, to believe that their natural function is to give pleasure and that anything else is considered indecent. Yeah, I get it. It’s the craziest thing. That the actual purpose of breasts, suckling a baby to produce life-giving, nutritious food causes discomfort to a misogynistic, porn-warped society. And I get that women can fall into that category of sexist misogyny too,” Arizona replied, finally getting the point. “You’re right April and I apologize for my offensive, unthinking remarks. Women themselves don’t need to contribute to the inequality between the sexes by siding, however misguidedly, with these societally damaging perps. I guess misogyny is not restricted to men, huh? But you know, I love women right? So what’s the opposite of a misogynist?”

“That would make you a philogynist. Maybe a sexist philogynist?”

“But not anymore, right? You totally schooled this philogynist…your doctor…your friend?”

“Well you did fire me as your patient so we could remain friends. Friends who don’t let friends drive drunk.”

“What? I haven’t been drinking and you just had a baby! What are you on about now April?”

“It was a metaphor Arizona. Even though you fired me as your patient you haven’t been able to disengage. You’ve been looking out for me…for us, all along haven’t you? You’ve been my designated driver and I just…thank you for being there and for stitching me up. While I can’t see the cut for myself I know Ben’s handiwork was not about aesthetic. Although…poor Ben. He really tried. And I didn’t give him much of a choice. And at least this time he went with a horizontal incision, whereas a vertical under those circumstances would have just created more room for error. But I know you. You prettied everything, right? And made sure that all my internal organs are where they’re supposed to be? And that I still have a functional uterus and ovaries? I know you’re a perfectionist and I trust you. Those jello moms never had any complaints.”

While he was confused by that last part of the statement, he was even more bamboozled at the joint laughter that filled the room after Arizona answered in the affirmative to each and every post-op question April threw at her. What was so funny about having attractive, correctly situated internal organs, he wondered? And what the freaking hell were jello moms?

They were so comfortable with each other. He wondered, since Arizona was a lesbian and April such a good friend to her...was Arizona trying to steal his woman?! Wait, that thought had such a multitude of wrongness to it. Chalk it down to tiredness. Perhaps he should just revisit the jello question, coz dammit now his curiosity was piqued!

“You continuously surprise me, you know that. I should be used to the way you insert hyperbole into your speech. Frustrating sometimes, but it’s endearing actually,” Arizona laughingly continued.

Wait, what? Go back, go back, he felt like screaming at them. WHAT ABOUT JELLO MOMS?! What if it was some code word, some extra edge they had in taking care of a newborn? If he didn’t find out…he had a strong suspicion that he was losing out on some magical secret potion that mothers kept to give themselves a leg-up in the parental race. They already had one with the food boobs and from what he’d read a baby could sense and smell the boob food. So, geez, help a dad out here. Maybe google could render some aid…?

Although, ever since Google Maps had replaced Palestine on their maps with the name of the genocidal, illegal occupier ‘israel’ thereby flouting international law and providing legitimacy to racist, war-mongering oppressors and child killers, he’d divested himself from everything Google and Google-related. Google had chosen its stance and made itself complicit in the ‘israeli’ government’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine. For himself he refused to even acknowledge the name of this thieving, murdering, appropriated country. How, he wondered, in these times was it possible that an occupied and oppressed country could not secure its own independence and freedom from these apartheid aggressors, who were in turn supported by his very own country? It pained and embarrassed him that the US was complicit in these atrocities, to the tune of funding the persecutors. Thriving racism of a different colour, justifying its privilege by means of the violent occupier framing itself as the victim.

Back to the regular broadcast though…

“You surprise me too with your acceptance. I know I’m a real person to you. I mean you proved that when you got angry with me when I was out of line. You didn’t tiptoe around me and neither do you quote religious scripture to me. Given my sexual orientation, it’s hard for me to simply be friends with a woman without all the societal expectations from them. So, I value you too. Tremendously. You have no idea what a rare breed you are. And what a catch. Jackson is an idiot.”

Well, I never, he thought. Arizona was not pulling her punches about his lack of intelligence. But she was right, absolutely, about everything that April was. But wait a minute, when was Arizona out of line? The thought he’d had earlier, that he’d pushed to the back of his mind, once again reared its ugly head. Did Arizona hit on his wife…I mean his ex-wife?!

“Why wouldn’t you be a real person? And I know you’ve had bad experiences with religious zealots…I’m sorry that you went through that. All believers are not like that though. My religion actually espouses tolerance so wouldn’t I be a total hypocrite by denying you, or anyone, their right to self-determination?

And, by the way, I forgive you for telling Jackson about the pregnancy. I know your heart was in the right place, just your method was flawed,” April responded to Arizona.

He could hear the smile in her voice at the last. It also cleared up for him which situation Arizona referred to in the ‘out of line’ category. And it was nothing untoward or lesbianic. So he was cool with her. He realised that his own prejudices were leaking through, but he was trying. Unfortunately, April’s inherent fairness and enlightenment were not qualities that could be imbued into another person simply through proximity, but yes it was something he could learn from her. So he dialled in once again to her conversation.

“It’s sad isn’t it? That because of your sexual orientation, which should be your personal business really, that hetro-normative society…people…immediately want to stamp a label onto our relationship? A label that fits into their narrow-minded views. And conversely, but equally sad, that a friendship between two women, one who happens to be gay, is viewed as impossible, unattainable. Political correctness has tarnished the innocence of a true friendship between members of the same sex to the degree that people judge from extreme viewpoints. Either a closeted lesbian couple or the other extreme, someone with a hidden bias towards homosexuals. Why can’t you just be my friend, huh? With no hidden agenda?”

Luckily for him April had long since given up on worrying about what people thought of her. Add to that her unhesitatingly offered hand of friendship. She epitomised fairness in that regard. That is, she never discriminated against anyone based on colour, creed, sex or sexual orientation. All things he should have remembered about her.

Well didn’t he just feel like a complete A-hole. He was lucky that the women didn’t know he was eavesdropping and even luckier still that the one who could read him so well, didn’t anymore. Effing hell! How was that a good thing? Damn divorce.

He never knew that women routinely had such off the cuff intelligent discourse. And he wasn’t a patriarchal, chauvinistic, anti-feminist, sexist misogynist – he had a woman friend. Okay, so maybe he needed to work on his own slight sexism. While he admired April’s feminist stance (he liked to think that he was one too, a feminist that is) and while he absolutely agreed with teaching his daughter to be a strong, take charge and no shit from men feminist, an unjudgemental, unbiased person of character, he was conflicted about the public breastfeeding. While he was an enlightened fellow (to some degree), he didn’t like the idea of other men ogling April’s breasts.

A part of it was territorial, but mainly he worried at the mindsets of some men, the misogynistic Trumps of this world. Women were simply an added appendage to them and the main and only purpose of this accessory was submission to their depravity. These men only framed the wrongness of something done to women, like rape for example, as it affected them; having mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. The moral imperative and physical wrongness of their actions were not even blips on their radar. It’s why a convicted rapist could get away without true accountability for his crime and only face a 6-month jail term and why a rapist could get away with his crime of rape as he’d had previous consensual intercourse with the woman.

These type of men showed no remorse and consent was an alien concept to them. Women were simply there for their use, they were not individuals in their own right. So taking what they wanted was simply the normality of their lives. Society had much to answer for. He promised himself to do better for women and not simply because he was father to a girl child. It was the right thing to do. It was the respect he would have taught Samuel to have for women and what he hoped to teach Jordan to have for herself. And of course the very important lesson of power and respect for the word NO. Consent was key.

It pained him though that because of a morally lax culture he would have to educate his child in the teachings of self-defense too. For her protection. Not only to circumvent attacks from predators (the majority of which happen to be male and privileged), but also from the mindsets of mass society. Where a female could eschew responsibility from her son and not hold him answerable for attacking an unconscious woman. Where this vile attack is seen ‘as 20 minutes of action’ for the guy and the effect on the woman not even considered. Where a remorseless perpetrator could get off on a technicality, drive his female victim to suicide and paint himself as the victim instead. His defense? Claiming racial bias and being railroaded by a public that has given white men a pass, so why not him? The true victim of his heinous actions, as usual, not even given the respect of consideration. And where women were taught to defend themselves but men not educated to not rape. This Trumpeske view is the world that he and April would need to bring up their daughter in. If he were a believing man, he would be supplicating to a deity to help them both.

His mind travelled on the dollar paved road to the land of politics and by his unwitting Trump comparison, it became incumbent upon him to follow the thought pattern to where it culminated, with the other contender. It’s not that he considered Hillary Clinton a shining beacon of feminism deserving of respect. Her lying, stealing and murderous collusions simply made her an equal opportunity perpetrator – a predator of a different sort who was not an intersectional feminist but played the part when it behoved political expediency and who was simply there for herself.

She was there for herself and the cronies who lined her pockets with ill gotten gains. It was an unhappy state of affairs to say the least. That even if she was beneficial to America, her views and previous examples of her actions ensured that those in other countries (brown people essentially), she was prepared to obliterate. Her collateral damage. Acceptable as it perpetuated the myth of protection from ‘terrorists’ while her aim was essentially boot-licking and ass-kissing elitist America. Her platform of being the lesser evil was a downright depressing indictment of humanity and it pained him yet again that this was the calibre of leadership that the country held up to his daughter to emulate.

It really wasn’t outside of the realm of possibility that the creation of Trump was simply a ploy to make Hillary the palatable choice. Members of both camps decried this as a conspiracy theory, but the method of creating these terms became a media manipulation tool, employed to discredit truth seekers and paint them as nut jobs. And if these tricks didn’t work, ‘fair Hillary’ always had voter suppression, rigging and fraud to fall back on. It was a card that the Bush’s had famously played, with no culpability and which Hillary had imitated already in her drive to obtain the Democratic nomination.

Once again, if he were a believer he would be thanking April’s God for her. She was their daughter’s hope, a beacon of morality and an example. Even at Grey Sloan, the feminist doctors he worked with were with Hillary – simply because she was female. Now was that any kind of a conscientized vote? How would a country whose elected official, the lesser of two evils, hold any moral high ground to not only the rest of the world but to its own citizens? It seemed this mentality would set feminism back instead of promoting the equality women desired. Well, not in one respect. Becoming President of the USA meant that Hillary would be an equally opportunistic, morally bankrupt example. Yay to feminism. April’s God help them all.

While many were falling for these hidden agendas and blatant power plays, some Americans were waking up to the truth. Why in the most recent animated box office release, these very topics were spotlighted. Yes, he’d watched Zootopia. He figured he had to start somewhere and this seemed as good a place as any. What he did not expect was that societal issues incorporating the 2016 American Presidential Election would reverberate so fiercely in what, essentially, was a children’s movie.

Innocent looking Sheepish Mayor Dawn Bellwether (and no, that was not really a characteristic, she was an actual sheep – well ewe if he were to be gender specific and non-PC) villainously conspired against a whole segment of the population, while working behind the scenes to obtain power, and with blood on her hands, railroading the guiltless. All this while hiding behind a façade of niceness and equitable fairness. What a load of bull crap…or buffalo crap if he were to tie in to the film – Idris Elba played the police chief to a T. His favourite though was Flash, the hundred yard dash, Sloth. Disney had gone tongue-in-cheek ironic on the names, true? But anyway, he digressed. Was this plot not a familiar one? And the hidden main antagonist? Now who did she remind him of? Wasn’t she a dead ringer for a certain political candidate? And good triumphing over evil…would that only ever be the result in Disney-Pixar Land?

He interrupted his interrupted bulletin of thoughts and returned to normal programming…

“He was worried about you, you know? And hearing you tell Ben to save the baby if it came to a choice...I think you really scared him April.”

Arizona was exactly right. He had been scared shitless. He was not ready at all for April to be out of his life, he never would be. And he definitely was not prepared for how the near reality of losing her forever made him feel. It was a harsh wake-up call.

“Losing a child again…this was exactly what I didn’t want to happen, what I didn’t want him to have to go through. When I realised how Samuel’s death affected him and how he hid that from me…I guess I wanted to protect him too. At first, I was trying to think of a way to break the pregnancy news to him gently to avoid dredging up this very scenario, him being helpless and unable to save his own child. Having no control. It would have devastated him for it to happen a second time.”

How did they end up at this place, he wondered? They were tiptoeing around each other, walking on eggshells. Both trying to protect one another. He admitted that initially he’d been in denial, running from this huge mistake he’d made (Damn Divorce) and his continued feelings for April, but today had opened his eyes big time. He realized how much at fault he’d been, to the extent where he couldn’t presume anymore to even touch her. He was being respectful of her body and ultimately her choice. Considering that their relationship from their early friendship days had been a tactile one, being unable and not permitted to touch her even casually, had become torturous. This time they weren’t able to bicker about baby names or be there for each other during the worry, aches and pains. So he’d respected her decree and her personal space. After all, he’d asked for the damn divorce and as she’d said, he wasn’t her husband anymore.

“Again, I’m so sorry I spilled the news. It wasn’t my place. It’s just…after your last pregnancy, I was thinking of you going through this one all alone, when you didn’t have to be, when you were carrying the burden of worry on yourself. And all the while you were protecting him.”

“It’s why I understood his anger with me and why he wanted an abortion when he first found out. Although, I never saw him quite as angry as he was then, to the point where he was prepared to reject the baby too. I think he probably felt trapped. There he was, free of me, free of drama, enjoying being single and dating and I messed his life up. Again. What I was trying not to do, but as usual I screwed that up as well.”

No, No, No…that was not it at all, April! He’d run from feelings he’d buried so deep that lukewarm or no emotion was all he was capable of displaying, post divorce. It was okay, as long as he had control. His big fear then had been the loss of control and the propensity for pain that being vulnerable to hurt or relying on another person for his happiness brought. He’d been in extreme denial. Once he found out about the baby, from someone other than April, the stopper damming his emotions had uncorked, erupting and spewing verbal bile. This last ditch attempt to keep those feelings stomped down had ironically emitted as the opposite of the emotions he felt. Anger and hate were easy to show but fear and love he’d become an expert at hiding.

“No, April, he was worried about you...both of you. He begged Ben to save you both. Didn’t you hear the anguish in his voice when he said that? And when you screamed, he looked tormented. But it was when you went quiet that he almost broke down…the possibility of losing you this way, I don’t think even occurred to him.”

“He’s not a monster, Arizona. Of course he was worried. But I stopped deluding myself a long time ago. My priority is my baby and I love her without limits. The same as I love Samuel. I would do anything for them and if it meant that my life was forfeit, I was and I am prepared to give that up too. If it’s ever a choice between my life and my child’s, you know which I’ll choose. I mean you get it. You’re a mother too.”

“Yeah I get it. I would do anything to ensure Sofia’s happiness. Once you’re a parent every other relationship pales in comparison to what you feel for that child. I guess it’s true when your mother says ‘Wait until you have your own.’ But that doesn’t mean that Jackson…”

“I know Arizona, he was worried for the baby and after what we went through with Samuel, he was afraid to hope. But I trust him and I entrusted Jordan to him if anything happened to me. I knew he would love and provide for her. I trust him. And I’m at peace with that decision.”

He sat there openmouthed, listening in to a surprising defense of his actions by one Dr. Arizona Robbins. This confused him. For while he’d considered (which thought process required re-evaluation) The Bailey-Warrens his by default in the category of custodial friends, there was no question that Arizona was all April’s. To hear a defense of him, from her, was quite the conundrum, enough to boggle the mind.

Reflecting on Arizona’s words, his thoughts took him back to earlier, just after April had been wheeled into surgery. He’d went from a perfectly normal work day to sitting with his daughter in his arms, knowing it could be a very real possibility that Bailey could exit through those doors with bad news, telling him that the baby girl he’d been handed, he had to raise all by himself. He’d sat there with the knowledge that his daughter could very well not ever know her mother, who loved her so ferociously that she literally let a surgical intern cut her open with a kitchen knife, all to save the life of her child. He knew that April never got to hold their little one and probably never even knew it was a girl before blacking out. He knew then that if she had died, that was it. There would be no goodbye, she never would have left him any instructions on how to raise their daughter, and she would be gone from their lives just like that.

It was gut-wrenching. His mind operated just enough to make two things crystal clear to him. One, that he had already, instantly, fallen in love with that baby girl. She was his priority after April was in good hands. He never let go of her and he didn’t let the nursery at the hospital keep her. He wasn’t letting that baby out of his sight. The second was that he would never be able to have April out of his life. Just the thought of her dying was enough to destroy him. He was not prepared for the annihilation this caused to the walls he’d built up after the decimation of their marriage. He felt everything now and it came at him like a Tsunami. Damn Divorce.

“You know I got a lift to the church with Owen, so my car’s in the lot outside. Key’s in my purse. And my hospital to-go bag is in the boot. Please will you get it for me Arizona? I’d like to put Jordan in her own clothes.”

“Of course, you’d have your bag ready,” Arizona laughed. “How long have you had it packed?”

“Only when I started my third trimester. I wasn’t going to be influenced by negativity. But of course all Jordan’s onesies and blankets are gender neutral. And so is the nursery. No conforming to any gender norms for my little nugget,” April cooed, obviously including Jordan in the conversation.

He leaned back in his chair. When had he moved to the literal edge of his seat, he pondered? Probably early on when the conversation was hot. Anyway, as he heard Arizona say her goodbyes, promising to bring up April’s pre-packed hospital bag (which he should be doing…damn divorce), he simply exhaled the breath he wasn’t aware he’d been holding and rested his head against the back of the chair. He crossed his legs at the ankles and used his right hand and forearm to cover his eyes, for all intents and purposes replicating a sleeping pose.

He heard Arizona stop next to what appeared to be his place of rest and he could sense her uncertainty as to the veracity of what her eyes foretold versus what he guessed her thoughts supposed. He imagined that her mind probably circled the question of whether he really was asleep or if she herself was once again complicit (this time unknowingly) in betraying a confidence? She loitered there for barely a few moments before he heard her footsteps receding. She’d obviously given him the benefit of the doubt or she likely decided that even if he’d overheard her exchange with April, the result was no harm no foul.

Since he had to be sure that the sound of Arizona’s retreating footsteps were in fact that and not some fake-out to catch him red-handed in the act of eavesdropping, he once again missed his window. Interspersed with some groans of pain, probably as she changed position, he could clearly decipher the cooing sounds April made to Jordan. It was something he’d picked up that women, and yes some men, did when encountering a fluffy bundle of baby. He wouldn’t be capitulating to that patronising behaviour. He would respect Jordan enough to have a non-condescending conversation with her. No goo-goo gaa-gaa baby talk. Even though she had those adorable, dimpled cheeks. And those big eyes. Surrounded by the longest eye-lashes. And the cutest little baby face. Oh man, who was he kidding? He was toast. Let the oohing and aahing commence! He would be first in line. For the moment though, she was steeped in serious bonding time with mommy. He could wait.

“Hello there my darling. We missed our regularly scheduled conversation today…so did you miss me? I hear you had daddy for company, what did you think of him? I know you recognized his voice when you were still in my belly, so how was that first meeting? I have a feeling that you’ve wrapped him around these tiny fingers of yours, isn’t that so?”

Of course, she was right. He’d heard her mention it earlier while speaking to Ben, but because of the information overload it had slipped his mind. But hearing it again now and recalling the previous time he’d heard her say it, lit a warm fuzzy glow through his system. His little girl knew him from the womb!

He was surprised, pleasantly so, as he’d felt her kick but only once. Respecting April’s boundaries, he hadn’t encroached on her personal space. And yet through it all his daughter knew him. He did wonder if perhaps it was April’s emotions she’d sensed? He knew he was late to the race and apparently she’d had many conversations with April already, so he was behind. Well, whatever the reason for this good fortune, he grabbed it with both hands.

“It’s so wonderful to see you face to face. How was your trip? You know you scared mommy right? I thought we discussed this young lady, no scaring me like that! You really didn’t want me to be Uncle Owen’s best man hey,” he heard the tinkle of her laughter as she and Jordan conversed. Only April, he smiled, would enquire about her trip. Manners and etiquette bred into the DNA.

“It’s okay, though. I’m very, very happy to have you here, in my arms, healthy and well. I guess you felt the lead-up to the Hunt/Sheppard wedding right? It was a crazy day – I didn’t even get a chance to paint my toe-nails. Although, I doubt I could’ve reached them. So that was okay, but looks like you wanted to attend your first wedding in person, my little Jordan Kepner-Avery. My JKA…Hmm, I wonder…do you suppose we should rethink the order of your double-barreled surname? Do we want to be the acronym for ‘Just Kidding Around’ huh? And anyway if we switch it around then you’ll be JA – just like your dad. Except…JKA sounds better than JAK don’t you think? Well it is your name, so what do you say? Happy with mom’s choice huh? JKA it is. Let’s just keep this waffling and the acronym between you and me, okay sweetheart?”

Well he had to admit, this was the most interesting (and entertaining) conversation yet, that he’d overheard today. Mother and baby were conspiring against him…and it was the most adorable thing ever. He was enchanted. And after everything that April had been through to bring her into this world…Jordan could wear the Kepner moniker as a badge of honor. He was freaking proud of the Kepner strength and the name.

“Speaking of waffles…you do realize that yesterday was the last waffle-run you had your mother going on, right kiddo? You gave me the weirdest cravings, Jordan, aside from the waffle-love that you surely inherited from the Averys. Dang it, now I feel like calling you JAK…JKA sounds like an unintelligible Star Wars nom-de-plume. We’ll really have to seriously think about your full name. Maybe discuss it with your father…”

He smiled. April conversations were the best to listen to, when she was not running circles around you. Being who she was, he knew that April would resolve the baby name equation herself. She hated asking for help but she was open to others weighing in their opinions before she made up her mind. So they would just have to see how this played out.

“So, as I was saying before I rudely interrupted myself, I hope that all those cravings were satisfied. I don’t have those anymore and all you’re going to be getting for possibly the next six months, is non-flavored milk. But I see that you love your food. Just like your dad. My little J…Okay, gimme a break, I’m trying all these out to see which ones work.”

As he was saying…

April was so damn independent. Not once had she asked him to get her anything she, or baby, craved. But then, they were freaking uncoupled, co-parents. Damn divorce.

“You’re such a lucky girl, Jordan. You’re surrounded by love, you know. And because your dad and I aren’t married, just think, you’ll have two of everything. I’ll have to temper everything though, because your father, he’s a bit of a spendthrift, and I know he’s going to buy you whatever your little heart desires. But, sorry girlfriend, your mom has to make sure that you learn the value of money and have a good work ethic.”

Since everything was so pointed, he wondered if April was aware of his presence. In-between her statements, he heard tiny groans of pain emitting unbidden from her, so perhaps he considered it was time to interrupt so that she could get some rest. The conversation did seem to be winding down though…

“Well maybe not two of everything. I’m sure Jackson will re-marry, so you’ll have a step-mother – not two mothers okay? I don’t think my heart could take being rejected by you in favor of another mother. And for myself, I guess I don’t see myself re-marrying…unless Idris Elba swoops into the hospital and whisks Dr. Bailey away, leaving Ben single and free and well he has seen my vagina…You understand, although it’s Idris Elba and any woman (including me) would give it up for him, no one else would stand a chance with Bailey in the running.”

What the effing hell April?! Where was this coming from?! Now he had Ben to worry about! And he would not be giving Jordan another mother, step or otherwise…what the hell? How did this conversation get so screwed up? Damn, Damn, Damn Divorce!

“How long do you think your dad’s gonna sit out there, huh Jordan? We’re really beat, right? Let’s just go to sleep…”

He groaned out loud, a counterpoint to the soft groan he heard from behind the curtain as April and Jordan settled. He’d been masterfully played.

He smiled to himself as he prepared to stand-up in a bid to go forth and check on his family, when a bright red stain caught his eye. Underneath April’s hospital bed. It looked like a puddle of blood dripping from the cot. He leapt up and violently pulled the curtain aside, receiving no reaction from April. She looked paler than her normally pale complexion, which he didn’t think was possible. And she was unresponsive. The next moments all passed in a blur – his screaming for help, the code, someone handing him a wailing Jordan, the cacophony of hospital personnel in the room and finally him standing in the passage with a crying baby watching while they wheeled April away to emergency surgery…

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.