Author: Teresa Mummert
"I don't know what to say." I ran my hand over my hair as I tried to force my fear from my head. I loved Jenn. I loved everything about her and the idea of creating another person with her made my heart skip a beat.
"Are you happy?" she asked.
"I'm happy." I blew out the breath I didn't realize I had been holding. How could I not be happy? I tried to envision her with a round belly with a large smile across her face. Now I knew that it was more important than ever to meet my father and make sure I didn't let history repeat itself. I would finally have to face my past to make sure my child had a good future.
June 20, 2010
"Happy Father's Day!" I waved to Shane as he stared back at me over the computer screen.
"How is our little guy?"
"He or she is doing just fine. I promise."
"You been taking those vitamins the doctor gave you?"
"They make me sick."
"But they keep the baby healthy." He stared at me until I finally nodded my head. I blew out a sigh as I dug out my bottle of prenatal vitamins from my purse. I held them up in front of the computer screen before unscrewing the cap and popping one in my mouth. I washed it down with my bottled water, choking and sputtering before it finally went down.
"That wasn't so bad." He laughed.
"I should make you take them." I narrowed my eyes playfully.
"You could try." He raised an eyebrow and I couldn't help but laugh. "I love you so much."
"I love you, too." I blew him a kiss and he pretended to catch it.
"I know this is Father's Day, but I have wanted to give you something for a while. Turn around."
I turned the chair at May's kitchen table and nearly screamed when I saw her standing behind me. My eyes drifted down to Jake who was on one knee holding up a small black velvet box. Tears flooded my eyes and my hand covered my mouth to keep me from sobbing.
"I will do this in person very soon, but I couldn't go another day without asking. Jenn, will you marry me?"
The computer screen blurred as tears of joy clouded my vision. I couldn't speak. I nodded as a wild laugh escaped me. Jake took my hand as I glanced up at May who was smiling and wiping away a tear of her own. He pulled the ring from the box and slid it onto my ring finger. The ring was white gold with a square diamond in the center, flanked by two smaller diamonds.
"I love you so much, Shane." I looked down at my hand, not able to believe that this was really happening.
"You mean more to me than anything is this world. I can't wait to come home and spend the rest of my life with you. Now neither of us has to worry about what will happen when I come back."
"I wish I could kiss you." I laughed as I ran my fingers over my cheek to catch my tears.
"Don't look at me!" Jake rose to his feet and held his hands in the air as we all laughed at him.
August 13, 2010, 9:30 a.m.
"You look fine." May smiled at me as she placed her hand on my belly.
"I'm so nervous. This whole thing has been so surreal."
"Trust me, when you see your baby on that screen and know whether it is a son or daughter, it will all become real. That is if you ever make it to the appointment." May laughed and checked the silver watch on her wrist.
"Message received. Let me just grab a snack." I hurried into the kitchen and grabbed a cereal bar from the cupboard.
"That baby is going to be a full-on adult if you don't quit eating so much." May laughed, following me into the kitchen and leaning against the doorway.
"Well, he gets his appetite from his daddy." I smiled sadly as I thought of Shane on the other side of the world.
"You said he."
"I like the idea of a little Shane running around. I could hug him whenever I want." A tear slipped from my eye and ran down my cheek. My chin quivered as I struggled to be strong. Deployments are hard on everyone, but they are torture on a pregnant woman.
"Oh, honey. He will be home soon. Let's go find out the good news so you can tell him the next time he calls, okay?" May slipped her arm around my shoulders and slowly walked me toward the door. I nodded, wiping away the dampness from my cheek.
August 13, 2010, 9:30 a.m.
"So the drill sergeant says, 'All you idiots fall out!' All the soldiers took off and one stayed. So the drill sergeant walks over to the soldier and raises an eyebrow and the soldier says, 'Sure was a lot of 'em!'" Owens laughed as we stepped inside the small shop filled with hookahs and flavored tobacco.
"You told me that one before." I looked over my shoulder before stepping inside and running my fingers over one of the pieces of colored glass. "You think Jenn would like one of these?"
"What the hell is a pregnant woman going to do with a hookah?" He laughed as he looked around.
"For decoration. I thought it would be nice to send something home for her."
"You sent home the tea set. My mom loved the one I got her. She won't shut up about it every damn time I call."
A loud popping sound got our attention and with our hands on our weapons, we made our way to the door. I motioned to Owens and we exited the building, ready for a fight.
August 13, 2010, 10:15 a.m.
"I'm here for my appointment at ten thirty," I spoke through the glass window at Dr. Bosque's office.
"Fill out this form and have a seat over there. We will call you back when we are ready," the receptionist replied, handing me a clipboard.
"Thanks." I turned around and smiled at May as they made their way to the row of seats along the wall.
"I should have brought a snack." I groaned as I sat down in the blue plastic chair, my hand falling on my round belly.
"You had a snack before we left and we had fast food on the way." May laughed as she grabbed a magazine from the coffee table and began to flip through the pages.
"That doesn't count. My fish sandwich smelled weird and the fries were too salty."
"You make it through this appointment without making me run for takeout, and I will buy you food from any drive-through your heart desires, sunshine." As soon as the word slipped from her lips, May closed her eyes and wished she could take it back. "I'm sorry. I know he used to called you that."
"Does call me that. Don't say it like it's in the past. He's coming home."
"I know." May smiled and placed her hand on my belly, grinning from ear to ear. "I think it's a girl."
"I think it's a sumo wrestler with a cheese fry fetish."
"Cheese fries it is."
"Ms. Reynolds?" A nurse in Disney scrubs called from the door next to the reception window. I smiled and stood up, grabbing May's hand as she followed suit. "This way, ladies."
I was so excited to finally be able to put a name to our baby. I hated referring to him or her as an it. I couldn't wait to be able to give Shane the good news. It had been all he talked about for the last week. I was terrified to become a parent. I didn't want to be like mine, but I wasn't sure how to raise a child. Shane was the opposite. He knew everything was going to be all right. He didn't doubt us.
I climbed onto the long chair as I pulled up my shirt, staring nervously at May who was grinning from ear to ear. The nurse squeezed some clear gel on my stomach and I jumped at the coldness.
"I'm sorry. I know it's cold." She smiled as she turned her attention back to her black-and-white screen. As soon as the device touched my belly and my baby came into view on the computer screen, I began to cry. I had been waiting for this moment for so long.
"I'm just going to be taking some measurements and we will listen to the heartbeat."
I watched as she twisted and turned her wrist, looking at the baby from different angles, making sure it was healthy and growing as expected.
After a few minutes, the familiar sound of the heartbeat filled the room. It sounded more like a washing machine, but it was my favorite noise in the entire world.
"Do you want to know the sex?" She turned to me with a grin, and I looked to May.
"Hell yes, we want to know!" May was practically bouncing off the walls with excitement. She was hoping it would be a girl so she would finally be able to dress a baby up in bows.
"Yes," I said with a nod as the technician moved the device around before freezing a picture on the screen.
"You are having…a little boy." She grinned as she explained what we were looking at on the screen.
I clasped my hand over my mouth to keep from squealing. At that very moment in time, I felt like a mother. A mother with a tiny little son that I would spend the rest of my life protecting. It all became real. I couldn't wait to show the pictures to Shane so he could have that same feeling.
I wiped the goo from my stomach as the technician printed out a final picture and held them out for me. May took them and carefully slid them into her purse.
"You can have them when you stop crying. We don't want your tears messing up the picture," she said with a wink. My mind was racing trying to figure out what our child would look like. I hoped he would have Shane's face.
"I'll drive us back to your place. We can hang out and watch a movie while you wait for Shane to call. Should only be a few more hours."
"Sounds good. No war movies or chick flicks. I am going to dehydrate if I keep crying at this rate." I laughed as we made our way out to Shane's car. I slipped into the passenger seat and waited for May to get in.
"Do you think a car seat will fit in the back?" I asked as I pulled the seatbelt around me and clicked it into place.
"I'm sure we could get one in here." She nodded and pulled out onto the road. We hit the drive-through on the way. They didn't have cheese fries so I settled for curly fries and a Coke. May and I discussed boy names the entire trip to my apartment. I wanted to name the baby after Shane but wasn't sure how he would feel about it.
I wondered what he was doing right then. I was sure he was playing cards with Owens and ragging on him about his horrible taste in women. Not much was going on anymore, according to Shane, so I didn't worry as much as I did when he first left for Iraq. The hardest part was being separated. Another deployment was always in the back of my mind, but Shane assured me that they had a long dwell time in between deployments and by then, the wars could be over.
I climbed the stairs to my apartment with May close behind. I couldn't wait to move out of this place and start our new life together as a family in North Carolina, preferably a place with no steps and a large yard where Roxy and the baby could play.
I unlocked the door and Roxy jumped up on me, happy to not be alone.
"You want me to take her for a walk?" May asked as she pushed Roxy off me and petted her head.
"If you wouldn't mind. She hasn't been out all day."
"Of course I don't mind. I'll run her out and you pick a movie."
I made my way into the living room and grabbed the leash for May while I decided what movie we should watch. I decided on Remember Me. I knew it would make me cry, but it would also remind me of the time I went to see it with Shane. Memories are all I have until he comes home.
I set up the movie and made a bag of popcorn by the time May arrived. It was nice to have someone to spend time with. Roxy was great company, but I needed someone to talk to who could actually respond.
The movie was amazing and we were so wrapped up in it that we almost didn't notice it was time for dinner.