#69 I need a ring
The ultrasound tech smiles brightly when she sees the four of us in the waiting room. “Ready for your first ultrasound?”
Deidra jumps up immediately, holding onto Imani’s hand tightly. “Never been more ready for anything in my life.”
At eight weeks along, we’ll find out today if the baby is okay. If her little heart is beating, if it’s not an ectopic pregnancy, and so on. I know after today there’s still a chance something will go wrong, but at least we’ll know now if we were foolish to hope things would work out for us. If there is indeed a baby growing in there.
“Okay, so let me make sure I’ve got this right.” The technician sits down behind her computer and we all take a seat as well. “We’ve got one baby, two mommies, and two daddies. Which one of you is the biological father?”
I raise my hand like I’m back in high school, getting called on by a teacher. “Present.”
She laughs. “Very good. And the handsome man on your right is your husband?”
I love this woman already. “Boyfriend, actually. But we’ll be raising the baby together, of course.”
“Wonderful.” She truly doesn’t seem to think it’s strange at all that there are four prospective parents in this small room with her. “I’m Tanya, and I’ll be the one taking cute pictures of your baby today.” She looks over at Deidra. “I got your file from your fertility specialist, so for now I know all I need to know. I want to ask you some more questions about how you are feeling, talk about vitamins, all that stuff, but I can tell you’re anxious to just hop onto the table and show me that baby, so let’s do that first.”
Oh thank God. I was worried that it would take ages for the ultrasound to start. Tanya instructs us where to sit or stand so we can see the screen without being in the way. Imani and I are sitting, with Andre behind us, his hands on my shoulders. Deidra gets naked from the waist down, since it will be a transvaginal ultrasound. Eight weeks along is not far enough for the whole transducer on the belly thing. It baffles me how easily Deidra gets half-naked like it’s nothing and scoots up on the table, her knees up and legs wide. She doesn’t even flinch when Tanya sticks that condom-wrapped, lubed-up stick into her vagina. The things women have to deal with… Then again, I’ve stuck weirder shit up my own ass, I guess.
“Oh look, this baby really wants you to see her.” Tanya causes all of us to stare intensely at the screen. “Can you see it? Here is the head… and here is the body… and the gestational sac…”
I see it. I wasn’t sure if I would, but it’s undeniably a baby. As Tanya keeps talking, Deidra starts to cry, and Imani grabs her hand to squeeze it. I tear up as well, and I swear I can hear Andre sniffling. My eyes can’t tear themselves from the screen, so I just reach up to put my hands over his. Together, we watch the tiny heartbeat, and listen to Tanya pointing out that everything looks good so far. She’s indeed about eight weeks along.
Finally, when Tanya has taken some screenshots for us and put them on a USB stick to take home, she takes the transducer out of Deidra’s southern regions. Finally able to look away from the screen, I glance up to see Andre wasn’t merely sniffling. He’s straight-up bawling, tears running down his face.
“Hey…” I get up to hug him, praying these are good tears.
“That’s our baby,” he murmurs into my shoulder. “She’s real.”
“Yeah, she is.” I guess Deidra insisting it’s a girl has rubbed off on all of us, even Andre.
When Deidra is done dressing herself, she and Imani hug and a few tears are shed between them as well. The ultrasound tech gives all of us a moment before asking us to sit back down. She and Deidra talk about how she’s doing – the exhaustion, nausea, and a dizzy spell she had a couple of days ago. Nothing to worry about, all perfectly normal. Still, it sucks that pregnancy comes with so many discomforts. For nine months, she’ll never feel a hundred percent like she did before, always having one symptom or the other. Still, I know for a fact that she thinks it’s all worth it. We all do. If I could be the one carrying the baby, I would. Since I can’t, I will do whatever it takes to help her out before the baby gets here.
“I’ll see you for your next ultrasound in five weeks,” Tanya tells us when it’s time to leave. “Keep taking those vitamins, and take care of yourself. You’re doing great.”
The four of us go out for lunch after, wanting to spend some more time together. Andre is quiet. Uncharacteristically quiet. I don’t want to ask him what’s wrong in front of the girls, so I carry on the conversation on my own. Obviously, Imani and Deidra do notice the change in him ever since we left the clinic. They know him well by now. They don’t say anything until we’re at the car and Andre is getting in already. Deidra pulls me back for a second, hugging me tightly.
“I have an idea,” she whispers. “Come by tonight, okay? Alone.”
“Okay,” I breathe, dreading the conversation that I’m about to have.
I know Andre. I don’t even need to ask what is going on with him. I already know.
It’s just that I thought we were done with this.
At home, Andre freshens up right away, saying something about Liv needing him at work. That’s crap, and we both know it. He’s got the full day off, and no one has called him in a panic. It happens sometimes, but not today. Liv and their employees know this is a big day, and they wouldn’t ask him to come in unless he absolutely needed to.
“Talk to me,” I order, not planning on letting him leave without admitting he’s struggling.
“About what?” He grabs his keys from the side table, giving me his best confused look.
“You’re not fooling me, babe. You’re spiraling.”
“I’m not-” He cuts himself off, sighing. “Okay, yeah, I am.”
“I thought you were okay. I thought that… I mean…” I struggle to find the right words. “You’re calling her our baby these days. You came to the ultrasound. You cried when you realized she’s real.”
“I did.” He shuts his eyes and leans against the wall, fighting his tears again. “It was a happy feeling, but also… sad.”
“Sad because…?” I need to hear him say it, no matter how much it’ll hurt both of us.
“Because she already feels like mine, and it hurts like hell to know she never will be.” He sounds broken, and he’s keeping his eyes closed like he can’t stand looking at me. The ‘real’ father of our baby. The one with an actual claim on her. The one with parental rights.
“She’s yours. You know she is. You will be her father, and you’ll raise her, and I’ll never-”
Andre cuts me off. “You can’t know that. I know you think we’ll never break up, and I swear to God I hope you’re right. But fact is that fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce. So there’s basically a fifty percent chance of me starting to raise a child I will not get to see grow into an adult.” Finally, he opens his eyes, a tear making its way down his face. “Fifty percent, Dylan.”
“I know, but… I mean… It’s just statistics.” I make my way over to him, wishing I knew the perfect thing to say or do to make him feel better. “The main reason why couples split up is communication issues. If there is one problem we definitely don’t have, it’s communication.” I touch the side of his face gently, not sure if he wants a full-on hug or not. No, we don’t have communication issues, but I haven’t seen him like this often. I’m still learning how to be there for him when he’s upset.
He leans into my touch immediately. “No, we don’t. But we’ve only been together for little over six months. Plus, we’re not married.”
“No, we’re not.” I flashback to when I asked him to move in with me, and he thought it was a proposal for a second. He seemed disappointed, and now he’s talking about us not being married. Is this a hint I should be getting? But he also just said fifty percent of marriages ends in divorce. I have no idea what to make of this. Lucky for me, I know some statistics too. “Same-sex couples have way better statistics than straight couples. And I bet that if there were Dylan-Andre specific statistics, they would be off the charts.”
That earns me a small smile. “We’re pretty good together.”
“Pretty good?” I huff, trying to lighten the mood. “We’re amazing together. We’re the real fucking deal. And this baby? She’ll be raised by the both of us, loved by the both of us, together. I really don’t think we’ll ever break up, but if we do, I hope you know I’ll never keep her from you. We’ve got a whole damn contract to make sure I can’t, and I know that you will say that I can fight that thing in court, and I could win, but I promise I’d never do that. I will never ever try to keep you from your child.”
“You say that now, but-”
“Andre.” My voice is sharp now. I need him to listen to me. “When I was younger, I thought my dad didn’t care much for me. I thought he walked out on me and my mom without a second thought and that he only came to pick me up for the occasional weekend because he felt obligated. I found out this year that my dad wanted me. He wanted me, but he gave up on fighting my mom in court. He wanted the best for me. I don’t know if he should have fought harder. I truly don’t know, but I do know he did what he thought was best. I love my mom. She’s been gone for a long time, but I still love her as much as I did when she was alive. She shouldn’t have kept me from getting to know my father, though. Now that I finally truly know him, I love him as much as I love her. It took me way too long to get to that place. Do you really think that I’d ever do that to my kid? To our kid?”
He doesn’t say anything, but I know I’m getting to him. Finally.
“Say something happens between us. Say you meet someone, like my dad did. Someone better suited for you. You cheat on me, and-”
“I’d never cheat on you,” he spits out. “If you think I’d ever-”
“I know, I know.” I smile, trusting him one hundred percent. “Just let me finish, okay? I know you never would, but maybe I… I don’t know. Maybe I turn into a raging asshole in a few years, and you meet someone else who makes you feel good again, and you decide to leave me. You cheat on me, and I hate you. Just like my mom hated my dad for leaving her for a younger woman. Even then, I’d never do what my mother did. I would still want our child to have both of her fathers in her life. Do you believe that? Do you believe I learned from my parents’ mistakes?”
“Of course I do.” He loops his arms around my shoulders, his fingers playing with my hair. “Of course I believe in you.”
Finally, we kiss. It’s that kind of slow, soft kiss that you share when you want the other person to know just how much you love them. And I love him. God, I love him so much. Nothing has ever made sense in my life the way he and I do. Us raising a family together is exactly what we need to be going. He’ll make an amazing dad.
“I need to go to work,” he murmurs when we break apart. “I need a distraction from all of this. I love you, and we’ll be okay, but right now… I just need to…”
I’m disappointed, but I’m glad he’s telling me what he needs. “We’ll talk more when you get back.”
“Yeah,” he breathes. “We will. I’ll be alright. Sometimes, it’s all very… It’s a lot, Dylan.”
It is. I know it is, and I’ll need to be patient with him. I just thought that we were stronger than this by now. He’s going to stop freaking out at some point, right? It won’t be like this forever. I need to believe that.
Andre is back home after dinner, and while he still seems a little off, he does snuggle up to me on the couch. We watch a movie together, and then he tells me he’s tired and wants to go to bed. He looks tired too. Tired as hell. Mentally, physically, the whole ordeal.
“I’m not that tired yet. Would you be okay with me going on a walk for a bit? I need to clear my head.”
“Sure,” he replies right away, yawning. “Be careful, okay? It’s late.”
“Safe neighborhood,” I remind him.
“Which is why we’re raising our kids here.”
That one little remark fills me with a huge sense of relief. He’s still in this, even when he’s having a bad day. I hug him tightly, and he holds me for a long time, neither of us saying anything.
We’ll be okay. I know we will be.
I do really need to clear my head, though. Just not by taking a walk. I don’t normally lie to Andre, but I didn’t think it would be wise to tell him I’m about to see our baby mommas when he’s having a hard time accepting he’s the only one without proper parental rights.
I haven’t forgotten Deidra’s comment about her having an idea, though. I want to know what it is, and somewhere deep inside of me, I have a feeling I need this talk with her and Imani today. I don’t know how I know, but I have this feeling something is about to change. The same feeling I had when I knew I had to buy the house and get the happily ever after I didn’t know I could have. With them, a baby, and Andre.
Turns out I’m right. As soon as the three of us are sitting down in their living room with a cup of tea, Deidra speaks up.
“We know Andre is struggling, and we think we have a way of giving him some more security.” She takes Imani’s hand, squeezing tightly. “We want to change the agreement we made, all four of us. About the baby.”
Say what now?
“You want to do… what?”
“Just a small detail,” Imani assures me. “Everything says the same, we still give Andre the stepparent rights he deserves, all of that, but we… we change the baby’s last name.”
“But we already agreed the baby will have your last name,” I reason. “Because you’re not the biological parent like Deidra and I are.”
“I know, but I still have full rights the way we can’t give Andre,” she goes on. “Even without the baby having my last name, I will still have full rights should Deidra and I ever get divorced. Andre isn’t so lucky, so we thought…”
“The baby should have his last name,” Deidra finishes for her. “Baby Peterson.”
My heart skips a beat. This is the sweetest thing ever. “That would be amazing, but… how can we do that? The baby can only have my last name, yours, or Imani’s. None of us are called Peterson.”
“Not yet.” Imani holds up her hand, showing off her wedding ring. “I didn’t used to have two last names, but then I got married, and I added Deidra’s last name to mine.”
Deidra holds up her hand as well. “Two last names here as well.”
“All it takes is signing a piece of paper at the courthouse,” Imani says when I don’t reply right away. “Dylan Dyer-Peterson has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?”
That more than has a nice ring to it. That name sounds bloody perfect.
I get up from the couch, my mind reeling. Of course. This is it. Why didn’t I think of this before? It makes all the sense in the world. Not just changing my last name and that of the baby, but the whole thing. Andre is it for me, and there is no better way to show him that. It’s soon, but if I read the signs right lately, I think that he might just agree the timing is perfect.
“I need a ring,” I say more to myself than to them. “I need a ring, and I need… I should…”
“You should sleep on it.” Imani gets up, putting a hand on my shoulder. “This is a big deal, Dylan. Don’t rush into things. We just wanted you to know that if you decide you want to marry Andre, we would be perfectly okay with that, and we’d gladly give our baby his last name.”
“Baby Peterson,” I breathe. “God, that sounds good.”
“It really does.” Deidra gets up, grimacing. “Sorry, I’m getting nauseous. I need some ginger tea and crackers.”
“Of course, go!” I stare after her as she bolts into the kitchen. “You should go take care of her.”
Imani shrugs. “Nothing much I can do. I’ll only annoy her by pretending I can help in any way. How about I walk you out instead?” She puts her arm around me as she leads me to the front door. “Sleep on it, okay? Don’t do anything rash. If it’s too soon for you guys, that’s fine too.”
“It’s not too soon.” I can feel it in my bones. “If anything, I should’ve bought a ring weeks ago.”
She smiles. “I agree, but who am I? Let us know what he says, okay?”
I promise I will, and then I’m on the streets again, wandering around the neighborhood. I need to feel a little normal again before slipping into bed with Andre. That man deserves a proper proposal, not me blurting it out in the middle of the night when he’s half-asleep. And to do that, I need to take care of a couple of things. Important things.
I’ll start first thing tomorrow.
Author’s note: the whole idea of the baby getting Andre’s last name? That idea came from one of my readers, actually! I saw it in the comments, and I was like HELL YEAH. So big shout-out to @Emzee1986 for giving me this wonderful idea.
I already had some lovely plans for Dylan and Andre (still coming up in future chapters), but this amazing detail wasn’t originally a part of the story. I think it makes perfect sense, though. So thank you so much for commenting and giving me that lovely idea. I hope you’ll be happy with what I did with it.