My wife, over at Emma Jane Writes, started telling the story of Alessandra and Xavier.
Single mum Alessandra and her best friend of many years, Xavier, finally got together when her son was 13. You can read the bit from that story that Em has shared here.
Three years on, Alessandra’s son Nico has a girlfriend, Abi, who is also 16. I started writing from Abi’s mum’s point of view. This is the first part.
Celia looked up from the patient file she was updating to see her sixteen-year-old daughter Abi hovering in the doorway. She looked nervous and it was not a look Celia was used to seeing on her eldest child’s face.
“Honey? Is everything ok? Was I supposed to come pick you up? What’s the time anyway?” Celia stopped her rambling and checked the time on her phone as Abi made her way into the exam room.
No, she definitely wasn’t late to pick up anyone but Abi looked close to tears which meant something was definitely wrong.
She walked around the desk to her daughter and wrapped her arms around her, starting to really worry when the teenager hugged her back tightly and gave no sign of wanting to let go.
Celia stroked her daughter’s hair in an attempt to soothe the teenager who was now sobbing against her chest. It reminded her of when Abi was little and would come to her for comfort.
The two had always been close and it hadn’t changed when Abi had hit puberty or when she’d started going out with Celia’s friend Alessandra’s son Nico about six months earlier.
“Aww baby girl, what’s wrong? Did something happen at school?” Abi shook her head then looked up at her mother, tears streaming down her cheeks.
“I’m scared, Mum,” Abi whispered and Celia took her over to the chairs and sat her down, taking the chair next to her and keeping her daughter’s hands in hers.
“Talk to me, baby,” she encouraged gently and was rewarded when Abi took a calming breath before looking her mother in the eye.
“You know how me and Nico decided we were ready to… to have sex a few months ago?”
Celia nodded, she remembered vividly that particular conversation, especially the reaction her husband, Wade, had had when he’d found out. He’s ranted and raved, threatening to inflict a world of pain on Nico for even thinking about touching his precious baby girl until Celia had reminded him that even though Abigail would always be their ‘baby’, she was now the age they were when they’d started having sex.
Celia knew that her daughter was a very responsible teenager who could be trusted, and felt that the fact Abi had decided to tell her parents of her plans meant she trusted them and their judgment.
“We’ve always been very careful. I have my alarm on so I always remember to take my pill on time every day and we always always use a condom. I promise!” Abi was very insistent and Celia had no reason to doubt her word.
Abigail had been on the pill since she was around thirteen, an attempt to make her periods less horrific, and it had worked. They’d had enough talks about contraception in recent years that she knew the importance of using more than one method to prevent an unwanted pregnancy as well as the slew of STIs and STDs out there.
They’d also touched on the fact that while Celia had been nearly eighteen when she’d had her daughter, Abi had plans for her future that did not involve a teen pregnancy, no matter how in love she was with her boyfriend. They’d received the same assurances from Nico, who had looked very uncomfortable the night they’d had the sex talk, and a little scared of Wade’s warning glares.
“I started a new tray of pills last week but I realised when I checked my app that I haven’t had a period this month. Before you ask, no, I didn’t forget to tap my app and now I’m freaking out that I might be… you know.”
“Ok, you know that skipping a period can happen, even if you are taking your pill like you’re supposed to. But if you want, and as much as saying this is freaking me out, because I’m your mother and you’re only sixteen, we can do a test, so you know for sure.” Putting her midwife hat on and forgetting she was the mother in this particular case was proving harder Celia had imagined it might be.
“I’m too scared. I don’t know if I can.”
“Honey, you pee in a cup then we dunk the dipstick in it and two minutes later we have an answer. It’s not that difficult.” When she noticed the look of sheer terror on her daughter’s face Celia relented. “Fine. How about we both do one then? I’ll do one, you do one. They’ll both be negative and we can go home and have chocolate ice cream while we laugh about how it sucks being a woman.”
“Deal.” Abi held her hand and Celia shook it before getting off her chair and going to the cupboard behind the desk where they stored the cups and the pregnancy tests. She picked up two of each, leaving the tests on desk before leading Abi to the toilets across the hallway.
She turned to her daughter, handing her a cup. “Right, you pee in this and I’ll see you back in the exam room in two minutes.” She took her own cup and went into the toilet.
Two minutes later mother and daughter were back in the exam room and Celia made sure to keep the specimens separated so there was no mix up. She took the dipstick out of the packet and dipped it briefly in her sample before laying it back on the packet. She moved it over to the side and looked at Abi.
“See? That simple. Do you want to do it yourself?” Abi shook her head no so Celia did it for her and they waited with bated breath as the test did its thing.
Celia felt close to tears as a pink line appeared alongside the one already in the control window. She wasn’t sure if they’d be happy tears or “oh-my-god-my-baby-is-pregnant-and-my-heart-is-breaking” tears and she looked over at Abi who looked about to fall off her chair.
“It’s positive, isn’t it, Mum? Two lines means yes. I remember you telling me that when you got pregnant with Jack,” Abi said and Celia put her arm around her.
“Yes, honey. Two lines means it’s positive. Does Nico know you were coming to see me about this?”
“No, but he knows my period’s late and we talked about what we would do if I am pregnant.” She seemed over the shock now and was smiling, a protective hand over her still flat belly.
“I think I can guess…” Celia said with a knowing look at her daughter’s hand. “Honey, you—”
“I know what you’re gonna say,” Abi interrupted her mother before she could say anymore. “It’s a bad idea, we’re too young, blah, blah, blah.”
“No, actually, Abigail Marie, if you’d let me finish. What I was going to say was, you will still need a blood test to confirm that you are pregnant and probably an ultrasound to check how far along you are since you’re not sure when your last period was.”
“Sorry, Mum,” the teenager said, chastised.
“It’s okay, honey. But I want you to be aware of the hard road ahead of you, should you decide to have this baby. I will support you, no matter what. And I know Nico’s parents will too. And your dad, eventually… But it can be a nasty world out there and I want you to be prepared for all the judgy bullshit that get thrown at you when you’re a teen mum.”
“Speaking from experience, ay?”
“You know it! Now, do you want me to give you a script for the blood test and you can go with Nico or do you want me to take you up now?” Celia asked her, switching to action mode. The tears and emotions would have to wait because right now she had a very possibly pregnant teenager on her hands who needed her guidance.
“Um, I’ll talk to Nico first, he’ll probably want to be there.”
“Okay. I’ll do you one for the ultrasound now so you have it for when we get the result from the blood test. Don’t lose it.” She got the paperwork sorted and handed it to Abi, musing that her daughter suddenly looked older, more assured of herself.
Celia wondered if she’d looked like that when she’d told her parents that she would be with Wade whether they liked it or not. She’d been about the same age Abigail was now, facing the wrath of her parents for her relationship with a man three years her senior whom she had been madly in love with and still was to this day.
They’d run away and a few months later she’d got pregnant with Abigail. Life had been hard at times but they’d always had each other. Over the years she’d repaired her relationship with her parents and they now loved Wade like the son they’d never had.
Now he was working as a lawyer for a very reputable firm, about to make partner while she worked as a midwife at the hospital. Her mother looked after the two boys, Christopher, 10, and Jack, 6, after school and whenever Celia had a late shift if Wade was at work.
“Thanks Mum. I’ll go see Nico now and I’ll see you at home later. Please don’t tell Dad.”
Celia laughed at the thought of breaking the news to Wade that their sixteen-year-old was pregnant. “Oh no, that’s your job!”
Abi groaned, putting the scripts for the blood test and ultrasound in her bag before hugging her mother goodbye.
Celia cleaned up her desk after Abi had left and she was about to discard the test she’d taken when she noticed a pink line in the test window.
“What the fuck?” Celia walked over to the window and had a proper look. The two pink lines seemed to be glaring at her. If anything the test line seemed darker than the control line.
She looked over at the desk. The cup containing her urine was still there, off to the side where she’d left it. Abi’s one was in the middle of the desk. She moved to the desk, leaving the testing strip on the paper towel she’d placed there earlier.
Surely this has to be some kind of mistake. She’d mixed up the samples. There was no way she could be pregnant.
“I wouldn’t be so sure!” said a little voice in her head.
To shut it up, she got another test from the cupboard, a mid-stream one this time, and headed back to the toilets where she discarded both earlier samples before sitting on the toilet.
With a heavy heart and mentally crossing fingers and toes, Celia peed on the stick even though she knew deep in her heart it would show the same result.
Sure enough it did.
Once back in the exam room she got rid of all the evidence, picked up her phone and headed down the hallway to the radiology department. As she made her way there she texted her friend Rosie, hoping she was the technician on duty that afternoon, and by a stroke of luck, she was.
You got 10 mins to sneak in an old friend?
Now-ish? Break room?
Yes. C U soon.
Celia walked past the Radiology Department reception desk with a nod to Leslie at the desk before walking into the staff break room to wait for Rosie.
She and Rosie had become friends back when Celia had fallen pregnant again when Christopher was 6 months old. It was very much a planned baby, because she and Wade wanted two kids close together in age then that was it.
She had gone for a scan at six weeks and found out it was twins. Sadly a couple of weeks later she’d lost one of them, then a month later she’d found out that the other twin had died as well. Rosie, who’d been the one to deliver the bad news both times, had told her there and then that when she was ready to try again, Celia should feel free to come and see her for a scan, anytime she needed to.
So when she’d got pregnant with Jack eighteen months later she’d done just as Rosie had suggested and gone for frequent scans to check her little boy was ok. Peace of mind had won over fear mongering about too many scans and she’d delivered a perfectly healthy little boy.
“What’s the emergency, lady?” Rosie asked as she walked in the break room to find Celia pacing the length of the room.
“I need you to check something for me,” Celia told her friend, hoping she’d keep her questions to herself.
“Okay. Come on,” Rosie said before turning around and leading the way out of the break room to the ultrasound room she was working from that day.
Celia followed her in and got onto the table while Rosie closed the door and set up the machine. She closed her eyes for a minute, trying not to cry.
She couldn’t be pregnant, she couldn’t. She was done with that baby thing, work was going great, her marriage was going great, the kids were growing up – a bit too fast in Abi’s case, and she didn’t want another baby!
Oh God, Wade is gonna be so pissed…
“Talk to me, sweetie,” Rosie said, talking Celia’s hand in hers. “You look like you might burst into tears at any moment.”
Celia managed a smile. “That’d be because I am. Long story short, I did a test and got two lines. I need you to tell me the test is wrong.”
“And what the test isn’t wrong?”
“Then I need to get the ball rolling asap because I am not having a baby. Not when Abi’s…” She stopped herself before she said too much but she’d said enough.
Rosie gave her a knowing look. “Abi’s coming to see me this week then? I bet that was a surprise…”
“You don’t know the half of it…”
“And right now I don’t need to know. How far along do you think you might be?”
“I have no idea. I changed from an IUD to the injection a couple of months ago but we used condoms the whole time I wasn’t covered.” Celia lifted her shirt to give Rosie access to her belly and watched as her friend pushed down the waistband of her pants before squirting gel on the area she needed to examine.
Celia closed her eyes again. “You just do your thing and tell me. I am not gonna look.”
“Okay, sweetie,” Rosie said as she started moving the probe over Celia’s belly.
Celia tried not to remember all the times she’d been in a dark room while Rosie took a peek inside her belly.
“Sweetie,” Rosie announced what felt like an hour later and something in her tone put Celia on edge.
Now was not the time to think about the twins. She did not need to add guilt to the emotions she was feeling about this baby she wasn’t even sure was there, but that she knew she didn’t want.
The feeling of deja vu only got worse when she opened her eyes and looked at Rosie. She realised the extreme irony of being scared to hear that the baby she was planning to get rid of was already dead.
“Umm, I’m not sure how to tell you this… there is a baby but based on the quick measurements I took…” Rosie glanced at the screen then back at Celia. “I’d say you’re measuring around nineteen weeks.”
“Look for yourself.” Rosie turned the screen and Celia found herself looking at was definitely a baby. She’d seen enough of them to know that Rosie was right.
“Fuck. I am so screwed.” She sighed and let fall the tears that had been threatening since she’d seen Abi in the doorway.
Rosie squeezed her hand gently before wiping Celia’s belly clean. “I’m sorry, sweetie. But I’m sure Wade will understand.”
“How do you suggest I break it to him he’s going to be a dad and a granddad in the same six month period?”
“Yeah.” Celia sighed and readjusted her clothes before hopping off the table. “Thanks Rosie. I owe you.”
“Stop it. You don’t owe me jack. Just promise me you’re gonna go easy on yourself,” Rosie said, standing in front of the door. “Are you really gonna be a grandma?”
“Uh huh. I sent her for bloods then she can come see you. She’s freaking out but she said they want to keep it. I think they’re too young but I wasn’t that much older when I had her so really, I haven’t got a leg to stand on. Thanks again.” Celia gave Rosie a quick hug then left, only stopping by her exam room to put away the last of the paperwork and get her handbag before she walked out of the hospital.
She needed to get out. Needed fresh air.
She found herself parked by the ocean without any clear memories of driving to the beach or how long she’d been there. She got out of her car and found a bench to sit on, trying to make sense of the jumbled chaos in her head.
She was thirty-five and pregnant. Her daughter was sixteen and pregnant. It sounded like one of those reality TV shows. Surely the universe was having a laugh.
Her phone started to ring and she answered when she saw it was Rosie.
“Yeah? Please don’t tell me you forgot to mention I’m carrying twins because I might just jump off the pier if you do.”
“Aww sweetie… Not twins, I promise. Just wondering if you wanted to know the sex of your baby,” Rosie said and Celia started laughing hysterically.
At least it’s not twins. That was the thought running through her head over and over. She wasn’t sure how much more she could take that day, the thought of the evening ahead and having to act normal in front of the boys and Wade while she was crumbling inside was bringing her closer to the edge.
“Yes, of course. Tell me.” Might as well find out, couldn’t get any worse at this point.
“It’s a girl. Please look after yourself. I’m here for you, anytime, and I don’t mean just for a scan.”
“I know. Thanks Rosie. You’re a gem.”
“Love you too.” Celia had barely hung up that the phone rang again.
She didn’t want to talk to anyone anymore but it was Abi so she answered, trying her best to sound normal so her daughter wouldn’t suspect her mother was close to a mental breakdown.
“Hey honey. How are you feeling? Have you talked to Nico?”
“Not really. I mean I did but he’s hanging out with Bryson so we decided to catch up tonight. I’m gonna go over to Kim’s and me and Nico can talk about all that stuff properly.”
“Sounds like a good plan. Where are you now?” Celia realised she had no idea what the time actually was.
“Uh, I’m home. Gran just dropped off the boys and Dad is wondering where you are. He said he texted you a bunch of times but you didn’t reply. Are you still at work?”
Crap. If Wade was already home, it was a lot later than she thought it was. Just how long had she been staring into space?
“Mum? Can you come home please? Dad is getting worried and I am too.”
“Yes, honey. I’ll be home soon. Can’t remember what we’d planned for dinner.”
“Don’t worry about it, Dad is making spaghetti and meatballs with the boys’ help.”
“Oh God…” Celia closed her eyes. It appeared the day could get worse!
“Yes. Can I please go over to Kim’s now? I’m not sure how much longer I can hide stuff from Dad and I really need to see Nico.”
“Of course, baby girl. Text me later, okay? I love you.”
“Thanks, Mum. I love you too.”
The call ended and Celia walked back to her car, heading home while trying to compose herself during the drive. There was no way she could say anything to Wade until after the boys went to bed and since it was only around 6pm, the next two and a bit hours promised to be trying.