As I walked back from the loo, I could see Megan with her head bent, whispering to Stacey. I had a feeling it was about me. I’d caught Megan looking at me a handful of times, and I knew the others had picked up on the tension between us.
I reached the table, the music stopped and everyone went silent just as Stacey said, “But wait ... didn’t you say the baby’s father had acted like a jerk and wanted nothing to do with you?”
“I ... erm ... well...” Megan turned bright red and jumped up from the table.
I was about to chase after her when I felt Davi’s firm grip on my arm.
“Don’t follow her.”
“Come off it. You heard what she said. I can’t not go after her.”
“You go after her now, and you’re going to cause an argument.”
“I’d rather an argument than have her cut me out of the baby’s life, and tell her friends I’m a ‘jerk.’” With Davi’s mouth set in a thin line, I knew he wasn’t going to give up, and I had to convince him to my way of thinking. “What would you do if there was a chance you’d lose contact with your girls.”
The hardness in his eyes faded, and he let go of my arm. “Okay, just don’t do anything to upset her. Remember, she is carrying your baby.”
I still wasn’t convinced it really was mine, and after what she’d said to Stacey my doubts doubled.
Giving Davi a sharp nod, I stalked to the toilets.
As I paced outside the women’s loos, I clenched my jaw and cracked my knuckles to stop myself from smashing a hole in the wall.
I couldn’t believe she’d actually tried to make out like I was the bad guy, even after I’d said I’d support her.
When Megan pushed open the door she looked surprised to see me, like she hadn’t assumed I’d be out here waiting for her.
“So, this is your game, is it? Showing up when I’m hanging out with my friends and telling them the father of your baby is an ass.”
“How dare you?” Megan’s voice was an angry whisper. “It isn’t like that and you know it.”
I wanted to scream. I wanted to punch something. I could not believe she was still trying to make out like this was my fault. Knowing neither option would get me anywhere, I shoved my fists in my pocket.
“Do I? You call me up randomly, claiming you’re pregnant with my baby, but with no proof it’s mine. Then, when I ask you for a paternity test, so I can know for sure, you tell me to get screwed. And now you have the cheek to make out like I’m the bad guy in all of this?”
“How the hell did you expect me to react? Every time I’ve spoken to you about the pregnancy, your reaction changes. First you wouldn’t believe me until I’d had it confirmed by a doctor, then you’re calling up to apologize for acting like a dick and offering to support me, only for you to backtrack a couple of days later and say you want a paternity test. From where I’m standing, it seems like you were just looking for an easy way out.” Megan looked away from me, her voice turning cold and distant. “Well, you’ve got it now. If you can’t take me at my word and believe the baby really is yours, then you can get screwed. I’ll raise this baby without you. We don’t need you. In fact, we’re better off without you anyway.”
‘We don’t need you.’
The words hit me like a kick to the gut, worse than anything I’d ever felt inside the cage. Until that moment, I hadn’t realized how desperately I wanted this baby to be mine. Hearing I wasn’t needed made my heart stop.
Everyone was always so quick to assume I’d fuck up, and now Megan was doing it without even giving me a chance to prove myself.
Fuck her, a little voice in the back of my head told me. I listened to that one, and disregarded the other. Ignoring the part of me that was broken inside.
“Fine, forget it. It’s not like I wanted to be a part of the baby’s life anyway. You raise the damn child alone. I don’t give a fuck.”
I was done. I didn’t care what other bullshit she wanted to throw at me. I was out of here. Without a backwards glance, I stormed out of the restaurant.
I got to my car and found Davi waiting for me.
“Come on, let’s get a drink,” he said casually. You look like you could do with one.”
I followed him mutely to the bar area of the restaurant, where he ordered us a scotch.
“What happened?” he asked, sliding a drink over to me.
Megan’s words were still ringing in my head, and they were the first things out of my mouth.
“She said they don’t need me.”
He clapped me on the shoulder. “I’m sorry, Kian. No father wants to hear that, but I’m sure it’s just the anger talking.”
I shook my head and swallowed down a mouthful of scotch, savoring the burn as it hit the back of my throat. “She doesn’t get it. She just doesn’t get it. I knew she was pissed off with me asking for a paternity test, but it’s like she thinks all this is my fault. She accused me of wanting an easy way out.”
“Well, you have been pretty erratic, and her hormones must be playing havoc with her emotions. She needs reassurance, and to know you’re in this for the long haul.”
My body tensed, and I blew out a long breath. “I promised I’d support her. What more does she want?”
“For you not to accuse her of being a gold-digging whore?”
“I didn’t mean it like that. You know I didn’t mean it like that.”
“I know you didn’t meant it like that, but I’ve known you for five years. She hasn’t, and you’re not known for being subtle. You say you know nothing about her, and that makes it hard for you to trust her, but she could say the same about you. All she has to go on is what she’s read in the papers and online, and if we’re being honest, you haven’t exactly got a stellar reputation.”
Damn it. Damn her and damn him. I needed another drink.
I ordered a second scotch for me and Davi.
“Tell me how to fix this.”
“I think the best thing to do now is give her space. If you keep confronting her about this, she’ll feel backed into a corner. Give it a few days, then call and apologize.”
“Apologize? Again? But I’ve done nothing wrong this time.”
“You’ve both acted like idiots, and said things you don’t mean.”
I wasn’t convinced I had anything to be sorry about, but if it got Megan to talk to me again, I’d do it.
“Fine, I’ll apologize.”
Davi’s phone beeped in his pocket, and he pulled it out to check who the message was from. After sliding it back into his trousers, he downed the rest of his drink and said, “She’s headed home.”
“How do you know?”
“Emelia was just with her.”
“Oh great, that’s all I need. Your wife hates me.”
Davi chuckled. “She does not.”
“You forget that she threw me out of your house on Catarina’s birthday.”
“Because you got drunk and puked on our brand new leather sofa. I’d have thrown you out if she hadn’t.”
I finished my drink, and was about to order another when Davi asked, “Are you coming back to the table?”
“Nah, I need to clear my head. I’ll catch you when I’m back at training.”
“Okay. You know where I am if you need anything.”
“Cheers man. Say ‘bye’ to the others, will ya?”
“Sure.” Davi got to his feet and headed in the direction of Emilia and the others. I was about to order another drink when I thought better of it. If Josh or Davi saw me, they wouldn’t leave me alone, and any more than two drinks would put me over the limit. A DUI was the last thing I needed.
Instead, I stopped by the Chinese take-out on the way home, and grabbed some dinner, making a brief detour to the off-license while my meal was being cooked.
After opening the container of chow mein and spare ribs, I popped the top off a beer and flicked on the TV. Some football game was on the sports channel, so I left it playing while I ate. My attention wasn’t on the match though, and my thoughts kept drifting back to Megan, and what Davi had said about me needing to show her I was in it for the long haul. I meant it when I promised to be there for the baby, I just need to be sure it was mine. Why couldn’t she see that? Megan’s earlier words made me wonder if it wasn’t that she couldn’t see it, maybe she didn’t want to see it? Was she having second thoughts about me being involved in the baby’s life? Had she changed her mind and didn’t want to keep it?
As I continued to try and figure out what was going on with her, and what I should say to her next, I opened another beer. Then a third. Old habits were easy to fall back into, and the comforting haze of alcohol made everything easier to cope with, although it didn’t block Davi’s words out entirely.
‘All she has to go on is what she’s read in the papers and online, and if we’re being honest, you haven’t exactly got a stellar reputation.’
I’d been so wrapped up in my own shit I hadn’t realized the implications of what he said. If all Megan’s assumptions about me where based on what she’d read in the media, no wonder she thought I was looking for an easy way out. I’d carefully cultivated the reputation of The Kian Murphy. To an outsider that, coupled with my recent actions, could easily be seen as me not wanting the baby. No wonder Megan was confused. I had to do more to convince her I wanted to be a part of my child’s life before it was too late.
The sound of my phone ringing jolted me awake, and I squinted in the semi-darkness, wondering if I could ignore it. It was my day off, and I was hangover. No way was I answering my phone. Voicemail could deal with it. When it started ringing a second time, I knew I couldn’t ignore it, and was about to switch the bloody thing off when Megan’s name flashed on the screen.
After our argument, I didn’t expect to her from her again so soon, and despite my pounding head, I knew if I didn’t answer, that’d be it. My last chance with her would be fucked.
I tapped the answer button, and put the phone to my ear, as I tried to wake myself up. “Hey.”
“Hey. Can you talk?” she asked, her voice croaky, causing her to cough.
“Sure.” I walked into the kitchen and put the coffee machine on, then grabbed some painkillers.
“About last night … I’m sorry. I’ve had time to think, and I’ve realized I haven’t been very fair to you since I told you I was pregnant.”
I remembered Davi’s advice, and knew it wasn’t time to play the blame game.
“I’m sorry too. I didn’t mean it when I said I didn’t want to be a part of the baby’s life. It’s just this whole paternity thing is driving me crazy.”
“Me too. That’s why I called. I think we should talk about it properly. Are you free today?”
Her question was like a bucket of ice water being tipped over my head, and I felt more alert than if I’d drunk five mugs of coffee.
“Yeah, what time do you want to meet?”
“About twelve okay?”
I looked at the digital clock on my cooker: ten-thirty.
“Not a problem.”
“Do you know Belly Buster Café in town?”
The coffee machine beeped to tell me my expresso was ready, and I gulped it down, ignoring it as it burnt my throat. “The one on Bell Street?”
“Yeah, that’s the one. I’ll see you there at twelve, okay?”
“Sure, see you soon.”
When Megan hung up, I made another drink, and while I waited for it to cool, I jumped in the shower. Once I was dressed, I cleared up the mess from the night before, and checked my mobile to make sure I wasn’t forgetting about any important appointments. Certain I had the day to myself, I zapped some leftover chow mein in the microwave, and had that for breakfast, before heading out to meet her.
When I arrived at the small café I didn’t know what to expect once I came face to face with Megan. The night before had been tense and we’d both said things we hadn’t meant. Even though we’d apologized, I still had an uneasy feeling as I scanned the room for her. I braced myself for a good rollicking, and probably a slap around the face too. Not that I didn’t deserve either of those things. Even by my standards, how I’d treated her recently was pretty appalling.
As I made my way towards the table where Megan was sitting, I was surprised when she looked up at me and smiled. For the first time since she’d told me she was pregnant, the light sparkled in her green eyes and her cheeks flushed. It remaindered me of the night we met. Her figure had started to plump from the weight of being pregnant, and it made her tits looks bigger. Looking at Megan, with her dark hair falling around her face, I decided being pregnant really suited her.
“Alright,” I said, shrugging off my jacket and allowing it to fall on the chair opposite her, before sitting down.
“Hey,” she replied with another smile and a nod of her head. “Do you want any lunch before we start talking?”
Looking across at her, I noticed Megan already had a half empty glass of orange juice and an empty bowl besides her. Obviously, she’d been here for a while before I’d arrived.
“No, I’ll have a juice too,” I replied, motioning for the waitress to come over to our table. “Do you want anything else?”
“No, if I drink anymore, this baby will have me peeing for an hour,” she said with a nervous laugh.
Sexy, I thought sarcastically, then shook the idea from my head. The baby that was ‘making her pee for an hour’ was probably my baby, and I could forgive it for a few uncomfortable moments here and there. As the image seeped into my head, I realized this was probably only the first of many changes the pregnancy would cause. Then there’d be night feeds and nappy changes to come after that. I’d have to get used to being a little grossed out at times, I told myself, so why not start now?
“That’s a good sign though, right? It means the baby is healthy and moving around?”
“Yeah, the baby’s fine. It’s growing as it should and the midwife doesn’t have any concerns.”
“Good to hear. So, when will you get to see it? Like, in an ultrasound scan, I mean.”
“Actually, I have one scheduled for later today,” she said, playing down the fact she’d just thrown into conversation she was seeing the baby for the first time. “That’s one of the reasons I asked you to meet me today. I’d like you to come, if you want?”
My mind reeled as the implications of her words hit me. It was like the moment I stepped into the cage.
“You want me to come with you?”
Megan’s brows knitted together in a frown. “That’s okay, isn’t it? If you’ve got to get back for training or something, I can always reschedule the appointment so we can go together. I just thought you’d like the see the baby too.”
“I would … I do … ” I stammered, still having a hard time getting my head around the fact that not only did Megan want me involved in this important moment in the baby’s development, but that in just a few hours, I would see the child ... my child ... for myself.
The thought of seeing my unborn child made me even surer I had to find out for certain if this baby was actually mine. I’d already grown to accept, and even like the thought of becoming a father, and I knew these feelings would intensify if I saw a scan of the baby. The idea this baby might not actually be mine made my head spin and my heart hurt.
“The other thing I wanted to clear up with you is the matter of the paternity test,” Megan said, as if reading my thoughts. “I overreacted when you first asked me. I’m sorry. I was only seeing it from my point of view, and took what you said as an insult. I didn’t realize by asking for a paternity test you were just protecting yourself. No one wants to be taken for a ride, and as I’m pretty much a stranger to you, how can I expect you just to take me at my word?”
Surprised at how well Megan had guessed my feelings, I took a deep gulp of my drink and nodded.
“I’m sorry too. The thing is, I’m really shit at this. But it isn’t because I don’t want the baby, I do, it’s just hard to know what to say and do when we don’t really know each other. You know?”
“Exactly my thoughts, which made me release you’re right, we should have a paternity test,” Megan said. “You and the baby need to know the truth. The only rule I have is that we wait until after it’s born. I know that’s a lot to ask, and you’ll be putting yourself on the line by waiting for six months to know the truth, but it’s too much of a risk while I’m still pregnant. I did some research online, and read that it poses a slight risk of miscarriage, so unless there’s additional reasons to perform the test, it’s usually advised to wait until after birth.”
“Christ, I thought they just took blood or something. I guess, yeah, if there’s some kind of risk involved I’ll gladly wait it out,” I replied without really thinking about it. Even if I didn’t know for sure this baby was mine, I knew for certain I didn’t want to be the reason any harm came to it. If waiting a few month would ensure the baby was born safely, then I’d wait.
“Thank you for understanding, it means a lot. I promise, as soon as it’s safe, we’ll take the paternity test.”
“Thanks for agreeing to the test. I know it can’t be easy for you, and I understand why you thought me asking for it was me looking for an easy way out. I think we both need to spend the next few months getting to know each other, so we can build up that trust.”
We continued chatting and discussed other aspects of the pregnancy. Megan and I both agreed I should go with her to as many midwife and hospital appointments as I could. That way, I would have the same first-hand information she did regarding the baby’s development. Meaning if there was any problems with the pregnancy, I’d know straight away, rather than having to wait for Megan to get hold of me. Plus me being more involved with the pregnancy would give us the time we needed to work on our relationship, so we could stop these horrible misunderstandings from happening.
Megan also insisted that until we took the paternity test, she didn’t want any money from me. If I wanted to buy things for the baby, she wasn’t going to stop me, but until the baby was born and the test taken, she didn’t want me to feel obliged to support her. I appreciated the gesture, and it helped me believe she wasn’t just doing this to make some quick cash.
“We’ve still got a little while before we’re due at the hospital,” Megan said after checking the time on her phone. “Wanna look round town or something.”
“Sure. Have you brought anything for the baby yet? Or are you waiting until after the scan today?” I asked, remembering once hearing about not buying anything for a baby before the twelfth week, in fear of jinxing the pregnancy.
Megan sighed then shook her head. “You would not believe the amount of stuff a baby needs … not that I’m asking you for money. I meant what I said.”
“It’s cool. I don’t mind helping out, and I’m sure once I tell Mum about today, she’ll get out her knitting patterns and begin planning all the outfits she wants to make for the baby.”
“Aww, that’s precious. Tell her I said thanks.”
“I’m sure she’d tell you herself that it’s not a problem. She’s very much looking forwards to having her first grand-baby. How about you? Will the little one have a brood of cousins to play with?”
“Nah, I’m an only child,” Megan said with a shrug. “And none of my friends have kids.”
“I suppose being an only child makes the pregnancy all the more special for your parents though.”
“Yeah, now they’ve gotten used to the idea, they’re really pleased.”
“That’s great. I bet having people who care about you around makes it a lot easier to deal with.” I thought of my own parents’ reaction. I realized now Dad was just trying to have my back when he suggested a paternity test. I planned to call and apologize to them when I got home. I wanted them involved in the baby’s life.
“Oh yeah, especially Dad. I’d have been lost these last couple of weeks without him; he’s been invaluable since I began looking for a new place to live.”
“You’re moving? But there’s nothing wrong with the place you’re at now. It’s a damn nice flat from what I can remember.”
“It is, it just won’t be big enough for me, all my things, and a baby. I don’t want to move far though. I still want to be close to my parents.”
“Yeah, you don’t want to be miles away from everyone who could help you.”
“Exactly, and I don’t wanna move too far away from the city, so that I can still get a job after the baby is born.”
I paused for a moment. “You’re going back to work after you’ve had the baby?”
“Well, I’ll have to eventually. It won’t be for a while though. I don’t want to miss out on all those important little moments. But a girl’s gotta make a living, right?”
I remembered being a kid, and how mum was always at home with me and Marie, while dad was at the gym. I figured Megan would be the same. “Well, yeah, I guess. I just assumed when the baby’s born you’d stay home with it.”
“Yeah, and let the magical money pixies take care of the bills. I should be so lucky. Besides, I think I’d go crazy if I gave up working entirely.”
I laughed. “I know what you mean. I can’t imagine my life away from MMA.”
As we continued chatting and walking, we passed a baby shop, and I stopped outside. Until recently what a baby wore or slept in hadn’t even crossed my mind, but thinking of the baby and how it was probably mine made me want to buy everything it would ever need.
“Wanna take a look around?” I said.
Megan hesitated for a moment. “Until we’ve taken the paternity test...”
“Like I said, it’s cool. I’m not going to spend the next six months acting like this baby isn’t mine. You wouldn’t have agreed to the test if you weren’t sure, and I want to provide for my kid.”
“Okay, but you don’t have buy anything if you don’t want to.”
We stepped into the shop, and I was overwhelmed by all the stuff available. I’d always assumed all a baby would need was clean clothes, somewhere to sleep, some nappies and a few bottles. On display were things I’d never even seen before, let alone thought about; changing tables, countless little outfits, toys, stuffed animals, blankets, pushchairs and prams, and cots of various sizes. No wonder Megan needed to move to a bigger place. I had to wonder whether she’d be able to afford all this, and move house. I wanted to help.
I wanted my child to have something I’d provided for them. As Megan browsed through the rows of clothes, I headed over to the toys. I knew it was way too early to be thinking of something so big, but I just couldn’t resist the wooden rocking horse I saw. I’d had one when I was a kid, and remembered many fun hours pretending I was a knight chasing a dragon (who always had Marie’s voice in my games). Bending down, I single handedly scooped up a medium sized horse, made of wood and a softer material for the seat and mane. Then, as I was carrying it to the cash-desk, I noticed an electric steam bottle sterilizer, and thought it would be a good way to save Megan some time when she was feeding the baby.
As I neared the counter, Megan caught up with me, and her eyebrows shot to her hairline, her green eyes going wide.
“Oh, Kian, you don’t have to go buying all this stuff.”
“I know I don’t, but I want to.” I threw her a grin.
“But the baby won’t even need a rocking horse when it’s first born.”
“I know, but I had one as a kid, and well…” It felt stupid saying it out loud.
Megan beamed at me in reply, and I thought again how being pregnant suited her. It made her cheeks all rosy, and that was kind of cute.
“That’s really sweet, but honestly, your money is better spent on something you need while you’ve still got the chance.”
She had that same look of determination Davi got when he wasn’t going to let me get away with something, and I knew I was fighting a losing battle. “Okay, but the sterilizer stays.”
“Sure. It’ll be so useful. Thank you.”
With another smile, I put down my purchase on the cash-desk, and then reached into my back pocket for my wallet. It felt really good to be spending my money on someone else for once, and not just blowing it on random junk I didn’t really need.
When we left the shop, we quickly nipped back to Megan’s car, so she could put away the sterilizer, then we made our way to the hospital for our appointment.
As soon as I set foot inside the maternity unit, I felt a lightness in my chest, and got the same rush I had before a fight. This was really happening. I was really here, and soon I’d see my baby for the first time. Looking sideways at Megan, I knew she was thinking the same thing. Her cheeks were flushed, and a few small beads of sweat had broken out along her brow-line. This was a first for both of us, and we were equally as excited, and unsure of what to expect. In a strange way it was reassuring to know I wasn’t alone in my feelings. It was good to know that everything I was thinking, Megan was too, and that we could be there for each other through all of this.
After signing in at the reception desk, we were directed to the waiting area, and told that the doctor would call for us shortly. Taking a seat next to Megan on the stiff metal bench, I looked around at the other patients waiting to be seen. Many were couples, some with other young children already, though there were a few women on their own. Watching one girl who looked barely eighteen, I wondered if the father of the baby was just unavailable, or if he’d run out on his child. I then realized that Megan could have been alone here too, if she hadn’t have called and we hadn’t sorted things out. The thought caused my chest to tighten and my stomach burbled. I vowed never to miss an appointment under any circumstances.
The minutes ticked by, as Megan flicked through a glossy magazine, and I continued gazing around the waiting room. Seeing an expectant father lay his hands on his pregnant partner’s growing bump, it amused me to think in a few months’ time I’d be able to do that too, and possibly feel the baby moving.
I was about to ask Megan if she knew when the baby would start kicking, when the receptionist rose from the desk. “Megan Green, you can go through to the obstetrician’s office now.”
Looking at me hesitantly, Megan stood up from the bench and scooped up her medical notes, then waited for me to stand too. Walking a little behind her, I followed down the short corridor, until we reached a closed door, with a plaque on it that read: “Doctor Melissa Stone; Obstetrician.”
Megan swallowed hard, then briskly wrapped on the door, before a woman’s voice told us to enter. With one last tentative gaze in my direction, Megan pushed it open, and entered the office, with me trailing closely behind her.
Doctor Stone looked younger than I imagined, with blonde hair framing her face. If I’d have met her under different circumstances, I probably would have been tempted to ask for her number. Shaking the inappropriate thought from my head, I sat down next to Megan and waited for the doctor to speak.
“A pleasure to meet you, Miss Green,” Doctor Stone said, before turning to me and extending her hand. “And I assume you’re the baby’s father?”
“Yeah, Kian Murphy, good to meet you.” I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans, and shook her hand quickly.
As I said my name, Doctor Stone’s eyes flickered briefly, and then a small smirk covered her face.
“Kian Murphy as in Ferrum MMA Championship’s Welterweight champion?”
“The one and only,” I said with a grin.
“My husband is going to be so jealous when I tell him I’ve met you. He’s a big fan.”
“Then your husband has very good taste in fighters.”
With the small talk out of the way, Doctor Stone got right down to business, asking Megan how she was been feeling and if she had any worries.
“No, I’m feeling pretty good now the morning sickness has stopped. I do wish I didn’t have to pee constantly.”
Doctor Stone chuckled. “Yeah, I was exactly the same with my first. It’s a good sign though, it means the baby is growing as it should. How is the tiredness now? Are you feeling like you’ve got more energy now that the first trimester is almost over?”
“Not really. To be honest I still have to take a nap every afternoon just to make it through the day.”
“That’s okay, just go with what your body tells you to. Although a lot of women say they feel more alert during the middle of their pregnancy, that isn’t always the case. I’ll take some blood to test for anemia just in case, and you let me know if you think it’s anything more serious, okay?”
“Sure,” Megan said.
Doctor Stone turned her attention to me. “How are you adjusting to the thought of becoming a father? Is there anything you wanted to ask me?”
“No, I don’t think so. As long as I know Megan and the baby are okay, then I’m happy.”
I didn’t have time to dwell on my thoughts, as Doctor Stone got a syringe and made her away around the desk to Megan.
“Okay, I’m just going to take a blood sample to send off to the lab, then you can go back to the waiting room until you’re called for your ultrasound scan.”
Megan nodded, took off her jacket and then rolled up the left sleeve of her sweatshirt. After dabbing the inside of Megan’s forearm with some anesthetic, Doctor Stone inserted the needle into the thickest vein she could find, and drew back the syringe to take a sample.
Even though guys got banged up and cut open during fights, whenever I saw blood outside of the cage it always made me feel a little squeamish. Hell, my stomach turned over every time I got so much as a paper-cut! Seeing the doctor taking so much blood from Megan made me a little woozy. Bracing my hands against the table to steady myself, I closed my eyes and waited for it to be over.
A few moments later, I felt a light touch on my forearm, and Megan said softly, “Come on, tough guy. Doctor Stone is all done taking the sample. We can go back to the waiting room.”
Opening my eyes hesitantly, I found Megan offering me a lop-sided grin, and I managed to force a small smile back at her.
“Sorry,” I mumbled, feeling like a complete coward for freaking out at the site of a little blood.
“It’s okay, I was wasn’t much good around blood and needles either until I got pregnant. Now, with all the blood tests I need to have, I feel like a human pin cushion.”
“Let’s hope I get used to it too, otherwise I’ll be useless when you’re giving birth.”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” Megan reassured me with another grin, as she took my hand and we both stood up. With a smile, I nodded my head as Megan put her jacket back on, and then we turned to leave.
“Thanks for everything,” I said as we reached the door.
“You’re welcome,” Doctor Stone replied. “And remember, if either of you have any questions, just give the midwife a call.”
“Thanks,” Megan said. “When should I make another appointment?”
“Unless the blood work comes back with any problems, I won’t need to see you again until your twenty week scan, and your midwife will arrange the appointment.”
“Great. Thanks again.” With another nod of her head, Megan and I left the doctor’s office, and returned to the waiting room to be called for the scan.
“Well, that was a lot simpler than I expected,” I said, sitting down on the same bench as earlier, and letting out a deep breath.
“Yeah, that was the easy part. Hopefully the ultrasound won’t show up any problems.”
Megan’s knee jerked up and down, and she chewed on her bottom lip.
“I’m sure it’ll be just fine,” I said. The back of my throat ached at the thought of bad news.
We both feel into tense silence, and Megan’s foot drummed on the floor as we waited for our ultrasound appointment. The sound of her shoe tapping the glossy linoleum tiles made me restless, and I rubbed the back of my neck.
Until Megan had mentioned it, I hadn’t even considered there could be anything wrong with the baby, but now the thought had taken root, I couldn’t stop myself imagining all the horrible scenarios we could be faced with when we had the ultrasound. What if the baby wasn’t growing properly, or had a deformity? What would happen if it was something so bad Megan had to end the pregnancy? My mouth became unnaturally dry, and the room seemed to get smaller, as my gaze flittered around, jumping from one person to the next.
After ten agonizingly long minutes, a door along the corridor opposite Doctor Stone’s office opened, and a portly woman with graying hair stepped out.
“Megan Green,” she said.
A jolt of adrenaline shot through my body, and me and Megan jumped to our feet in unison. We exchanged nervous glances, and then started along the hallway to examination room. As we reached the doorway, the portly woman stepped back and offered us both a reassuring smile.
“You've got a full bladder, I take it?” she asked.
“Yeah, and if we're here any longer, I might pee on your floor,” Megan said with a nervous laugh.
“I'll try to be quick then,” the ultrasound technician said with a chuckle. “I'm Allison Fellows, and I'll be preforming your scan today.”
“Nice to meet you,” Megan said, as she shuffled into the room.
“Yeah, good to meet you.” I followed behind Megan and entered the room, before the nurse turned and closed the door.
“Okay, if you'd like to hop up onto the examination table, and roll up your shirt please,” Allison said, before turning to me. “And Dad, you can take a seat just left of the table, okay?”
Both Megan and I nodded, and I sat down in the seat I'd been directed to. Megan took off her jacket and handed it to me, along with her handbag.
“Will you look after these, please?”
“Sure,” I said, tucking the items beside me.
“Thanks.” She climbed up onto the examination table and rolled her shirt up to expose her stomach.
The nurse washed her hands and put on a pair of Latex gloves, before making her way over to the station where the ultrasound equipment was set up. There was a monitor which showed the baby, a little machine that kind of looked like a checkout scanner, and a keyboard, which I assumed was for the nurse to enter information. After all the equipment was set up, and the nurse had checked it was working properly, she covered the scanner and Megan's exposed stomach in some gel to, and then placed the checkout scanner on Megan’s lower abdomen; moving it around in small circles.
I stared up at the monitor, waiting to see anything that resembled a baby. When I couldn’t see anything, my heartrate hitched. Was it normal to take this long? Why hadn’t the nurse said anything yet? Then after another minute, when the nurse had keyed in some information, a distinct image of a head became clear on the screen.
“There we go,” she said. “A nice strong heartbeat, and little one seems to be growing well. From its size, you’re thirteen weeks along, which is what your notes say.”
Megan turned her head to stare at the screen and a lump formed in my throat. There it was, in black and white, physical proof that she was carrying a baby. My baby.
I looked again, and could clearly make out the head now, with a definable nose, and a little arm and leg sticking out from the body.
Gazing across at Megan, I saw she had tears in her eyes, and realized that my own were welling up too. I never thought I'd feel so strongly about another person in all my life; let alone something that hadn't even been born yet. But, as I stared at the image on the monitor, it looked perfect. Better than perfect. It was the most wonderful thing I'd ever seen. Better than winning the Welterweight Championship.
I knew that no matter what happened I loved the baby and wanted to protect it with every power I had.