#68 Love really trumps all
Some days, I don’t love my life. In fact, some days I hate every single part about it.
Okay, maybe not every single part, but today is tough for sure. Tracy gave birth to a tiny little baby girl named Scout, and I get the call from Thomas while I’m having dinner with Deidra, Imani and Andre.
“Oh my God, send me pictures!” I tell him, feeling excited for him. “Are they okay?”
“Baby and momma are both doing well.” Thomas sounds exhausted. “Don’t rush over here, okay? I know you want to, but we’re going home in about an hour, I think, and we desperately need some sleep. My parents and Peter are at the house with Alex and Teagan, so we have all the help we need.”
“I’ll stop by tomorrow, or the day after. Whenever you guys are up for it.” I can’t wait to meet their newborn. Those two make adorable kids.
It’s not until I hang up that I realize I should have taken this call in the hallway. Deidra is getting up from the table, tears in her eyes, and Imani is trying to calm her down. The reason we’re having dinner here tonight is because Deidra got her period this morning, but she didn’t want to spend the whole night in bed, depressed, like she did last time. Instead, she wants to feel like it will still happen for her, so she invited us over. And here I am, chatting about someone else having a baby like it’s no big deal.
“I’m sorry.” I don’t know what else to say. “I am so sorry Deidra.”
“I need a minute,” she whimpers, pushing off Imani’s hand and storming out of the room.
Imani sighs and gets up as well, rushing after her wife without another word.
“I suck. I lean against Andre for support. “What was I thinking?”
“Your best friends just had a baby.” He puts his arm around me. “Of course you’re happy for them.”
Still, it’s not okay that I didn’t consider Deidra’s feelings. “Honestly… I’m a little disappointed as well. I’m happy for Thomas and Tracy, but I also really want Deidra to be pregnant. It’s been three months, Andre.”
“And the doctor already assured all of us that it’s perfectly normal that she’s not pregnant yet,” he reminds me. “You and Deidra are both fertile, and there is no reason why it won’t happen. Just give it time.”
“Aren’t you disappointed?” I’ve been wondering about that all day. He seems the least upset of all four of us. “I thought you were on board with all of this.”
“I am,” he assures me. “Trust me, Dylan, I am. But I guess I’m not as emotionally invested yet.” He almost looks guilty about saying it out loud. “I know that when she gets pregnant, I’m having a baby too, but it doesn’t truly feel that way yet. Maybe it will once I see a positive pregnancy test or something.”
That worries me a little, but I do understand what he’s saying. And I know he’s all in. He’s moved all of his things into the house by now, we’ve been talking about what changes we need to make to babyproof everything, and he’s keeping his parents and friends in the loop every step of the way. All of that shows me that his heart and soul are in this. He can’t help that he’s not emotionally invested the way I am. He had walls built up so high when it came to the kid issue that it must take a lot for him to break those down.
The walls aren’t completely down yet, but I’m able to look over them, and I can easily step over the left-over bricks if I need to. For now, I’m fine on the other side, allowing him space to breathe. To be. To acclimate to this crazy life with me. In time, the last bricks will come down. I know they will.
Scout is such a little cutie. All sleepy and soft, with tuffs of blonde hair sticking out in all directions. It’s hard to say who she looks like the most. Thomas, I think. But then again so did Alex and Teagen when they were first born, but as they grow older it’s becoming more and more clear Tracy definitely left her mark there too. Especially on Teagan. That boy is definitely a momma’s boy, and he’s got her way of moving, smiling, laughing…
“Hey little lovebug,” I murmur to the baby in my arms. “I’m your Uncle Dylan. I’m going to be babysitting a lot. You’re going to love me.”
Thomas laughs softly. “Always so humble.”
“She is.” I don’t doubt that for a second. “And my little boy or girl – if I’m lucky enough to have one, that is – will adore the hell out of you and Tracy.”
“I can’t wait to meet your kid.” He lifts Teagan off the floor, who is feeling neglected with everyone spending so much attention on the new baby. “It will happen, Dylan. Mark my words.”
“Yeah…” With how upset Deidra is about not being pregnant, I am starting to lose hope too. Even Imani has trouble staying upbeat. Andre is right that it’s only been three months, of course. That’s not that long. It just feels like forever. Especially with a baby in my arms, making my…
Wait, what do guys say when they feel that intense need to procreate? I know women say their ovaries are rattling, but that doesn’t apply to a man. Maybe my balls are vibrating? Ugh, that sounds dirty. What I mean is that holding Scout makes me feel like I should have my own baby girl instead of always ending up playing with Thom’s three rugrats.
One day. One day soon. I have to keep believing in that.
“Hey,” Thom whispers, smiling at me in that way only he can. Like he knows all my secrets and can read my damn mind. Because he can. That’s what happens when you’ve known each other as long as we do.
“I know, I know.”
He shakes his head. “I know you know, but you gotta feel it too.”
“Not everyone knocks up their wife on the first try, Thom.”
He wiggles his eyebrows. “Are you saying Andre is your wife? If you’ve been trying to knock him up all this time, I’m pretty sure I can tell you why there is no baby yet.”
Despite everything, I laugh. I can’t help it. It’s the magic of Thomas Riley.
Andre and I are snuggled together under a blanket on Sunday morning, having a cup of coffee while we watch one of his favorite rom-coms. It’s one of those lovely lazy mornings that we’ve been having a lot more of since he scaled back on working at the bakery so much. He went from 60- or even 70-hour workweeks when he just opened the coffeeshop to a more normal and healthy routine this past month. He’s finally experiencing the perks of being the big boss and hiring a decent staff instead of needing me to pitch in whenever I was around.
“Are you expecting someone?” Andre asks when the doorbell rings.
“Ugh, no…” With a sigh, I get out from underneath the blanket and look down at myself. I’m in nothing but sweatpants, without any boxer shorts underneath. “Do I need to put on something more to open the door?” Old memories of Kian surge up, of him disapproving of me stepping onto the porch in the morning to grab the paper and waving at his neighbors in my underwear.
“No, why?” Andre asks, taking another sip of his coffee. “Your cock isn’t out or anything.”
My heart surges at the way he looks at me, and how easily he accepts me for who I am. It will take some more time, but Andre is rapidly undoing the damage Kian did. In return, I think I might just be restoring his faith in relationships. What happened between him and Eric will always be a part of him, but he seems lighter these days. More trusting.
“I love you so fucking much,” I tell him before making my way to the front door, where someone is now ringing the bell for the second and third time. “Coming!” I call out. “Jesus, be patient!”
The moment I open the door, it becomes abundantly clear why the person on the other side has absolutely no chill.
“Look!” Deidra cries out, trusting something into my face. “Two lines! Two fucking lines!”
“Are you serious?” I yank the stick out of her hands, confirming that it’s indeed a pregnancy test. Two pink lines stare back at me. “You’re pregnant?”
“Yes!” she shouts, hugging me so tight it hurts. “We did it! Your sperm finally did its job!”
I let out a shriek so ear-splittingly loud that Andre comes rushing into the hallway as well, even though he’s in a stained shirt and pajama pants. He doesn’t like anyone but me seeing him like that, so I must really have sounded like I was dying.
“Oh my God, oh my fucking God!” I shout, jumping around with Deidra. “How far along… I mean… Obviously I already know, because I was there, but this is… Is this for sure?”
“Yes yes yes!” Deidra can’t stop yelling either, her arms still around me as we celebrate. “It’s a girl. I can just feel it. I know it’s way too soon, but I just know. A mother knows. We’re having a baby!”
“You’re pregnant?” Andre asks, his voice full of wonder. “That’s amazing!”
Behind us, Imani reaches the house as well, rushing up the steps to the front door. “You crazy woman,” she pants, trying to catch her breath. “You can’t just sprint out of the house! I wasn’t even dressed yet!”
When Deidra and I finally let go of each other, I realize Deidra is in string pants and a robe, while Imani put on some jeans and a sweater before rushing after her excited wife. I can imagine what their morning must have been like perfectly. Deidra and I are so much alike. I’d have sprinted out without getting dressed as well. Lucky for Imani, we live very close.
“You’re going to be a mom,” I tell Imani, feeling like the whole world just shifted for all of us. “Oh my God, you’re both going to be moms! And we’ll be dads!”
“That’s the idea, yeah,” she replies dryly, but she’s smiling. “Can we come in properly or what?”
We finally close the front door and go into the living room. Andre and I don’t even think about getting dressed. We just sit back down on the couch together, with Imani and Deidra flopping down on the other side of the large corner sofa. Imani’s arm goes around her wife immediately, the other resting on her belly protectively.
“It’s early days,” Imani reminds us. “A lot could go wrong. We can’t go around telling the whole world yet.”
“Fuck that.” Deidra rolls her eyes, still grinning. “I already texted Liv and Derrek. Everyone already knows we’re trying, Immy. If something goes wrong, we’ll need them to know anyway. I’ll definitely need a gazillion shoulders to cry on.”
“Nothing will go wrong.” Andre sounds like there is not a doubt in his mind. He can’t possibly know that, but I love him for saying it anyway.
“Exactly,” Deidra agrees. “Nothing will go wrong. We’re having a baby girl.”
“You can’t know if it’s a girl.” Imani sounds completely exasperated. “Honey, it’s been two seconds, you can’t just-”
“I can.” She looks fierce. “And I will. I don’t need to be rational and careful right now. Fuck that shit. I’m pregnant after years of hoping and praying we’d find someone perfect to do this with, and then all the waiting, all the stress about Andre wigging out on us, and four months of Dylan’s spunk being pumped into my poor vagina. I’m not stupid, Immy. I know can have a miscarriage, that a million things could go wrong, and that I can’t possibly know the gender yet.” She shakes her head and looks over at me. “Right now, I don’t need to think about any of that. I’m pregnant, we’re becoming parents, and it’s a girl, okay? It’s a girl.”
“Okay,” Imani says with a small smile. “It’s a girl.”
While Imani gets on board, and she talks about the baby with Deidra, I start wigging out. They’re right. A million things could go wrong. What if I never get to meet this baby?
“Hey,” Andre whispers, his arm going around me. “You okay?”
“Yeah, great.” I fake a smile, but it doesn’t fool him. Not even for a second.
It takes over an hour before Deidra and Imani go back home. Deidra wants to call every single family member she’s got, but Imani is trying to talk her down so she will just call her father and not the rest of the world as well. I manage to keep pretending to be nothing but happy until the door shuts behind them. Finally, I can let the fake smile slip off my face.
“Why are you spiraling?” Andre asks, looking worried.
“I’m not, I am just…” I shrug, knowing lying is no use. “Okay, yeah I’m spiraling. I guess I never realized until today that getting her pregnant isn’t the hard part. The scary part. So much could go wrong, especially during the first trimester, and-”
“Dylan,” he cuts in before I can go further into my spiral of panic. “When you step outside in the morning, a million things go wrong too. You could get hit by a car or something, but that doesn’t stop you from living your life, does it? The baby will be fine. You and Deidra are in great condition, both of you. Her uterus is the perfect environment for a baby. Yeah, okay, there is a small chance something will go wrong, but you already did all you could to prepare for that.”
“Prepare for that,” I mutter as I walk back to the living room and sink onto the couch. “Can we, though? Prepare for that?”
“Yes, you can.” Andre sounds so confident he almost makes me feel better. Almost. “You thought of everything. If something goes wrong, you take two months – or longer if the doctor says Deidra needs more time – and then you will start trying again. If it comes to making a decision about abortion, the four of us have already decided for every single scenario we could think of what the course of action would be. But in the end, Deidra can change her mind and we all have to accept that, because it’s her body. There is even a custody arrangement in place in case the baby can’t live in two houses because of something like Down syndrome or severe autism or something else entirely that makes it too complicated to have the kid switch houses every few days.”
“No, you can’t prep for every little thing, and things might feel different than we predicted, but so far the four of us are a good team, aren’t we?”
I nod, smiling slightly. We really are.
“You did everything you could to prepare for every single scenario, Dylan. Right now, just enjoy the fact that Deidra is pregnant. Let yourself hope. If things go south, we’ll deal with it then. No need to dwell on it.” He takes my hand in his and squeezes tightly. “Come on, love. This isn’t you. You always see the positive side of things. The silver linings.”
“I know, I know.” I shake my head, trying to snap myself out of it. “I just… I never stopped to think about how it would feel, you know? When Deidra got pregnant. I was so focused on getting to this point, getting you on board, and working on all the legal shit, that I forgot that at some point, there will actually be a baby in her belly. My baby. Our baby.”
“Our baby,” he repeats, looking like he can’t quite believe it himself. “Dylan, we’re having a baby. Next year, there will be three of us. The nursery will be full of tiny little onesies and a cute crib and all of that newborn stuff.”
Because of the picture he’s painting, I feel like I can breathe again. I can see it too, the vision I had when I first stepped into this house. The family we’ll make together, with some help from the girls. The four of us are making my dream vision from that day a reality.
“If it’s a girl, we’re totally painting her whole room pink and buying her a gazillion adorable dresses.”
Andre laughs. “I agree, but I never thought you’d say that. It’s not exactly gender neutral, is it?”
“That’s Thom, not me. I love how him and Tracy are raising their kids, but it’s not my thing. I love pink, sparkles, all that girly shit.” God, I really hope we have a little girl. Of course I’ll be fine with a boy too, and even if it’s a girl she might be a total tomboy who never wants to wear dresses or skirts. I’d be perfectly okay with that. In my mind, she’s a tiny little princess, though. I think I’d make a great girl dad.
“Pink and glitter it is.” Andre gets up and walks into the kitchen. “We’re having a beer. I don’t care that it’s still morning. We’re celebrating. Let’s toast.”
And we do. We toast to the tiny little baby in Deidra’s belly. To our future family. To the love we share that will help us get through every single thing that comes our way.
Just like that, the panic leaves my body.
Love really trumps all.