Feisty Francesca

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#74 Come home to me

“No no no no,” I say, panicking. “Oh no. Fuck. No, that can’t be it, right?”

“When do you need to get your IUD replaced?” Jacob asks again.

“Months ago,” I reply, feeling sick again. “I’ve had it for way longer than the maximum of five years. Oh God. I never use condoms with Josh.” I get up and smack down my mug on the table, causing coffee to flow over my hand. “I can’t be pregnant. I just… I can’t, Jacob.”

“Take a deep breath,” Jacob tells me, pushing me back down on the couch. “Go back to work, I’ll take care of everything.”

It takes a few more minutes for me to calm down enough to go back into one of my patient’s room without hyperventilating or bursting into tears. I know I need to focus on my patients, but I’m too stressed to do so. Jacob is getting me a pregnancy test and trying to fit me in for a sonogram, while I talk to the parents of the kids whose vitals I’m taking. I pretty much sleepwalk my way through my shift, almost entering the vitals I just took into the wrong chart.

“Time to pee on a stick,” Jacob whispers when he’s back, slipping the test into my pocket. He takes over for me, even though is shift is already over, and I rush into the bathroom.

I’m so nervous that I can’t even pee, which doesn’t make any sense, but that’s how my body works, apparently. I turn on the faucets, hoping running water will help my bladder relax or something. Ten minutes later, I’m finally able to take the test and I set a timer on my phonr. I pace the small staff bathroom, praying that Jacob is wrong and that my IUD still works even though I should have gotten it replaced over six months ago. How the fuck could I be so stupid? I’m a nurse for crying out loud. I should know better.

When the three minutes are over, I turn over the stick to read the results. I’m pregnant. More than three weeks. Which makes sense, since I last saw Joshua four weeks ago.

Fuck.

I’m pregnant.

“Franny?” Jacob calls from the other side of the door. “Are you okay in there?”

I unlock the door and show him the test. “I’m fucked.”

“Yeah, that’s kind how you got into this,” Jacob jokes, smiling despite my panic. “By fucking.”

“Shut up.” I grunt and lean against the wall, trying to remain calm. “I can’t be pregnant.”

“You turned 28 recently, right?” Jacob asks. “That’s not that young to have a baby… You’ve got a steady job, a boyfriend you’ve been with over a year… Things could be much worse. It’s not like you’re a high school kid who got knocked up during a one-night stand or anything.”

“Josh turned 24 not that long ago,” I breathe, cursing myself for being so stupid. “He’s so young. He’s in London for three more months. He’ll be starting a new job the moment he moves back here, it’ll be rough. He’ll be busy. He’s too young. This isn’t what he signed up for. He thought I had an IUD – which I do, just not one that works properly anymore.” I gasp when I realize just how messed-up this is. “Oh no, my IUD is still in there with the baby! The risks are huge… I’ve got a higher risk of having an ectopic pregnancy, which would be really bad for me and the baby. I’m talking tubes bursting, bleeding, the baby dying…” I’m starting to feel my breathing speed up and I’m rambling, but I can’t seem to stop. “Even if it’s a normal pregnancy, the IUD will need to be removed, but that’s not always possible… And I’ve got a higher chance at having a miscarriage, and a premature delivery… My membranes might rupture prematurely, I could get placenta previa, or a pelvic infection, and the baby-”

“Stop!” Jacob yells straight through my rant. “Yes, there are risks, but they’re not huge. And there a risks with every pregnancy. We’ll get you an ultrasound to see if the baby is okay, how far along you are, everything you need to know, okay?”

“I’ve been drinking so much caffeine,” I mumble, my mind still going a hundred miles an hour. “And alcohol! I don’t drink much, but I have a beer every so often, which could result in-”

“Stop overthinking,” Jacob insists. “We will get you every single test there is to make sure you and the baby are okay. Don’t panic before you know the facts.”

“I’ve been eating red meat,” I go on, barely hearing him. “And sushi.” I’m the worst mother ever and the baby isn’t even here yet.

“Franny!” Jacob grabs my shoulders and shakes me gently. “Snap out of it. Panicking isn’t good for your baby either. You’re pregnant. Deal with it. The only thing you can do right now it take a deep breath, get an ultrasound and a blood test. I got you in with the OB-GYN in just an hour, so just keep it together until then, okay?”

“Okay,” I breathe. “Thanks.”

Jacob gives me a hug and tells me everything will be okay, and then it’s time for him to go home and for me to get back to work. I don’t know how I do it, but I manage to drag myself from room to room, talk to people, do my job. I don’t do it well, but I do it without messing up anything big.

“Franny?” Christopher asks, his hand on the small of my back, making me jump. I didn’t even hear him come into the doctor’s lounge where I’m waiting out the last five minutes before I go to my ultrasound appointment. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, why?” I ask, sitting down on a chair with my cup of tea.

“You’re drinking tea?” Chris asks, frowning at me. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you drinking anything but coffee at work. Or water, maybe, but tea…? What’s wrong?”

“I’m pregnant,” I blurt out, wiping at my eyes when a tear makes it way down my cheek. “I just found out.”

“Oh wow, that’s wonderful,” Christopher says, a smile lighting up his face. “Congratulations.”

“Yeah, I don’t feel very lucky right now.” I take a deep breath to calm myself down. “It wasn’t exactly planned. Joshua doesn’t even know yet. I have no idea how far along I am. I’ve got an ultrasound in a few minutes.”

“Do you want me to come?” Chris asks, reaching out to take my hand. “You look freaked out, Fran. If you want someone to hold your hand, I’ll be there. I’ve got a break soon anyway, and I can reschedule the meeting with Dr. Patel I’ve got right now. Not a problem.”

“No, you don’t need to do that,” I say quickly, not wanting to burden him. “I’ll manage. I shouldn’t even have told you. Oh God, you and Jacob know before Joshua does… I’m already doing this all wrong, and I drank alcohol and sushi and red meat and-”

“You drank sushi?” Christopher asks with an amused smile. “Franny, it’ll be fine. Lots of young mothers don’t find out they’re pregnant until a few weeks into their pregnancy, and lots of them eat and drink things that may not be best for the baby, but it’s usually okay. It’s not like you smoke or do drugs or anything. So, you eat some raw fish and had a beer. The baby is probably fine.”

His calm tone relaxes me. I know he’s right. No need to freak out before I have an actual reason to do so.

“I’m coming with you,” Chris decides, squeezing my hand. “I’m not going to let you freak out on your own. Come on, let’s go.” He pulls me to my feet and leads me to the OB-GYN’s office. He greats the nurse at the front desk and asks her is we can go in for my appointment. The girl looks a little stunned that one of the hot shot doctors of the hospital is taking a nurse for an ultrasound – a nurse half his age, to make things even weirder – but she doesn’t say anything and leads us into Dr. Gio’s office.

“Hi nurse Berger,” she says, smiling. I’ve worked with her a few times before, so we know each other vaguely. “Nice to see you. I understand congratulations are in order?”

I shrug. “We’ll see.”

Dr. Gio’s demeanor changes when she realizes I’m not jumping for joy. “Is this your first ultrasound? I see Jacob put on my schedule, but I don’t have any information other than the fact you’re pregnant.”

“I found out this morning and all I know is that I somehow forgot to get my IUD replaced, and now I’m at least four weeks pregnant and I haven’t been taking prenatal vitamins and I’ve been drinking and eating stuff I shouldn’t and I don’t even get enough sleep some nights and-”

“Franny,” Chris interrupts me, rubbing my back. “Stop the nervous rambling, lie down, and try to relax. You know you’re in good hands with Dr. Gio.”

Five minutes later, I’m on the table, and Dr. Gio is moving the transponder over my gel-smeared belly. I’m clutching Christopher’s hand, feeling like I might start hyperventilating any moment now.

“I’d say you’re about 16 weeks pregnant,” she says, causing me to gasp.

“What?” I ask incredulously. “16 weeks? But… that means…” I fall silent, realizing that I got pregnant around Christmas time, when Joshua was here for a full week and we had sex multiple times every single day. Well, fuck. I’m so stupid. “I don’t even have a baby bump,” I protest. “I’ve only been a little tried, my taste buds are scrambled, and my breasts are a little sensitive, that’s it! I don’t even feel pregnant.”

“Not all women start showing at the same time, although most would have baby bump by now. You’ll pop soon, trust me.” She turns the screen in my direction and shows me what I can only describe as a small miracle. It’s a baby. A real baby, growing inside of me.

Dr. Gio assures me everything looks normal, and she promises to get my bloodwork analyzed as soon as possible. She shows me the baby from all angles, pointing at the little hands and legs and everything else, making me tear up. It’s a baby. My baby. Our baby.

“16 weeks,” I breathe, shaking my head. When Dr. Gio lets me hear the heartbeat, I close my eyes for a moment to let it wash over me. There’s a little human being alive inside of me. That pretty incredible. “Wait… can you determine the gender yet?” I ask, my eyes flying open. “That’s possible at 16 weeks, right?”

“Fran, don’t you think you should wait to find out with Joshua, when you’ve told him?” Christopher asks, his thumb rubbing over the back of my hand. “I think he’d like to be here.”

“I want to know,” I insist. I know he’s right, but there is so much unknown and I’m so goddamn scared. Knowing if I’m having a boy or a girl might bake this feel a little more real, give me something to control. If I know it’s a girl or a boy, I can try to picture the baby, think about colors for the nursery… Yeah, there’s no way I’m going I am going to get an abortion. No fucking way. This baby is going to be born if it’s up to me.

“Are you sure?” Dr. Gio says. “Because I can tell you the gender if you want to.”

“Yes,” I say, looking at the screen. “Please.”

She points at something, smiling. “That’s your little boy. See that? That’s definitely a boy.”

“A boy,” I breathe. “I’m having a baby boy?”

“Yes, you’re going to have a son,” Dr. Gio confirms. “And so far, everything looks normal. I’ll have the bloodwork back for you in two days. I’m sure that as a nurse you know what we’ll be able to determine through the blood test, right?”

I nod. Of course I know. I know all about the defects my baby could have, what my stupid behavior could have caused already… Oh God, everything may look alright now, but what if I fucked this perfect little baby boy’s life up so much that there’s no coming back from it?

“Your IUD is in the perfect position get it out right now, to avoid any complications,” Dr. Gio says, making me sag in relief. “I have to warn you that the risk of miscarriage is slightly higher with an IUD than without one. We need to get it out regardless. I’d have preferred to have taking it out earlier, but I think it’ll be fine. It’s a good thing it doesn’t need to stay in during the rest of the pregnancy.” She explains that I might bleed a little today and tomorrow, and that I shouldn’t be concerned about that.

I tell Christopher to leave for a moment so I can undress, and she can take the IUD out. I feel a brief shooting pain when she does so, but it’s not worse than when my IUD got put in five and a half years ago. I put a sanitary pad in my panties and get dressed again. Dr. Gio gets me some pictures of the baby and takes a blood sample to have it analyzed.

Half an hour after walking into her office, I’m outside again, suddenly with a 16-week-old baby in my belly, no IUD, and the sinking feeling that my life will never be the same again. I’m both sad and happy, and I don’t know how to truly feel until I’ve talked to Joshua.

Christopher insists that I need to go home and get some rest. I don’t fight him on it. I need to lie down and have a good cry right now. No way I can work today.

By the time I get home, I’m trembling like a leaf. I put on some pajamas and sit in bed with a cup of tea and I call Joshua. I’m not going to tell him this over the phone, but I do need to make sure I get to see him in person. Soon.

“Hey baby,” he says when he picks up, sounding cheerful. “I’m about to go into a meeting. Can I call you back later?”

“Can you spare five minutes?” I ask, trying not to sound too freaked.

“What’s wrong?” he asks right away, his tone alarmed. So much for not scaring him.

“Nothing,” I say quickly. “I just… I know I’m supposed to fly out to London this weekend, but I was wondering if you could come to me instead.”

“Of course,” he says immediately. “Why?”

“I erm…” I can’t tell him that I’ll feel better telling him something this big in my own home, or that I’m scared to fly while pregnant even though I know that’s stupid because it won’t affect the baby. I may be a nurse, and I know it’s perfectly safe to get on a plane, but I don’t want to. I’ve been a bad mother so far, but I want to step up now. Flying doesn’t feel safe to me, so I’m not doing it.

“Franny,” Joshua says softly. “You’re scaring me, honey. What’s going on?”

“I just…” I start crying, and I try to hide it by pressing the mute button as fast as I can, but I’m just a heartbeat too slow.

“What’s wrong?” he asks, his voice tight. “Fran, are you okay? Talk to me!”

I take a deep calming breath and unmute the call. “I’m okay, don’t worry. I have something to tell you, and it’s not something I want to do over the phone.”

“Okay, I’ll get a flight out as soon as possible,” he says.

“No, Josh, you’re about to go into a meeting,” I remind him. “It can wait until this weekend. I just wanted to ask you if you could be the one to get on a plane instead of me. That’s all.”

“Franny, I know you,” he says kindly. “You wouldn’t call me crying if something isn’t wrong. And if you can’t tell me over the phone, I will get on the next plane to you and be with you as soon as I can, okay? I don’t know what’s going on, but we’ll get through it together.”

I start crying again, putting a hand on my belly even though there’s nothing to feel yet. I truly don’t feel pregnant, even though I know I am. I’ve got the pictures to prove it. “We will,” I agree. “It’ll be fine.”

“I texted my dad while we talked and he’s booking me a ticket as we speak,” Joshua tells me. “I’m going to let my boss know I’m leaving. I’ll be home soon, honey. Hold on, okay? You’ll be in my arms in just a few hours.” He pauses. “Are you sure you can’t tell me what’s going on?”

“I can’t,” I say, feeling horrible for making him worry like this. I can’t tell him he’s going to be a father over the phone. I just can’t. “I’m fine, don’t worry, I’m just… freaked out.”

“Are you home?” he asks, letting out a relieved sigh when I tell him that I am. “Go see if Thomas is home. Have him stay with you until I get there, okay? I’ll feel better knowing you’re with a friend. Is he’s out, call Shaughna or Destiny or anyone else, okay? I don’t care who it is, I just don’t want you to be alone when you’re crying.”

“Okay,” I promise. “I’ll do that.”

He tells me he loves me and I say it back, hoping that our love will be enough for the baby in my belly. What is Joshua doesn’t want this baby? What if he asks me to have an abortion? Or gets mad because I was so careless with my birth control? Oh God, what will his parents say? And my mother? How the fuck am I going to raise a kid when I feel like a kid myself?

When we hang up, I don’t go to Thomas’ apartment. I know I’ll end up telling him and I don’t want to tell yet another person that I’m pregnant before telling Joshua. And if I am going to tell someone, it shouldn’t be Thomas. He won’t be able to understand what I’m going through. I can only think of one person I want to talk to right now.

“Hey,” he says when he picks up after ten rings, right when I was about to give up. “Steffi just managed to get poop on pretty much every single part of her body. Can I call you back in a minute?”

“Can you come over?” I ask, my voice trembling. “You can take Steffi if you want.”

“Sure,” he replies right away, not even asking me what’s wrong. “Give me fifteen minutes, okay?”

“Thanks.”

“Sure thing.” He mumbles something to his baby girl and I hear a loud giggle. “Yeah, we’re going to Aunt Franny,” he hear him say, laughing. “You dirty little poop monster… Franny?”

“Yes?”

“I’ll be right there, okay? Whatever it is, it’ll be okay.”

Hearing him say it makes me believe it. He freaked out when he realized he was going to be a father, and he’s okay, changing diapers like a pro. Maybe I’ll be okay. I have to be, for my baby. It’s time to become a real adult instead of just pretending to be one.

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