I threw the shirt on my bed and sighed. It was the third outfit I’d tried on, and nothing I’d pulled out of my wardrobe was right. I looked fat, and ugly, and stupid. The tears prickling behind my eyes only made it worse.
Damn pregnancy hormones …
I didn’t know why I was worked up, anyway. It wasn’t like I was meeting Kian for a date. We were going to the doctors to discuss our baby. The time for impressing him had passed. Only it hadn’t. I never expected to see him again, let alone be doing this, and I wanted to make a good first impression. Not because I wanted him to think I was hot or anything. Starting a relationship with Kian was the last thing on my mind. I barely knew the guy. I barely knew myself at the moment.
Looking at my watch, I realized I had ten minutes before I was due to meet him. Unless I wanted to be late, the shirt would have to do. Grabbing it off my bed, I pulled it over my head, brushed my hair, grabbed my bag and was out the door.
I pulled into the surgery carpark to see a red Audi convertible waiting there. A car like that would draw a lot of attention. I knew it had to be Kian’s.
As I approached, he caught sight of me, smiled, and opened the door. I stepped forward and smelt the scent of aftershave so familiar to me it made my stomach flip. Every feeling I'd had on the night we’d spent together came rushing to the forefront. This time, each emotion was coupled with something else.
On that night, he'd just been some attractive stranger I fancied, who’d offered me a ride home, and then left me breathless and my heart racing. Now, he was the father of the child inside me. He was someone who could be involved in my life for the next twenty-one years at least, and I had to find a way to deal with that thought. Trying to push the conflicting voices out of my head, I sat down in the passenger seat.
“Hey,” I said, anything else would have felt both ridiculous and inadequate at the same time.
“Hey,” Kian replied, the swagger he’d had on the night we’d met replaced by a cautious uncertainty. “How are things? You feeling okay? No morning sickness or anything?”
I laughed thinking about my earlier hormonal outburst and shook my head. “I’m good thanks. No sickness this morning, thank God.”
“That’s good. Isn’t it? What time’s your appointment?”
“Twelve. I thought we could talk about what we’re going to do first?”
“Sure. I meant what I said on the phone yesterday. I’m sorry for being such a dick, and whatever you want to do, I’ll support you.”
“Thanks. That means a lot. The next few months are going to be tough, let alone when the baby comes.”
“You’re keeping it then? I mean, that wasn’t meant to come out so blunt. Shit, I’m sorry. It’s just, you never really said either way on the phone.”
“It’s okay. I … wow. I don’t know. I hadn’t even considered anything else until you asked. What do you think?”
My mind whirled with the possibilities. Since the second I’d found out I was pregnant, there’d only been one choice. It didn’t matter that I was only twenty-two, hadn’t finished uni, and that Kian and I weren’t even together. I knew I couldn’t carry a child for nine months, and then just give it up without knowing if I’d ever see it again. And the other option hadn’t even crossed my mind. I had nothing against women who choose to end their pregnancies for whatever reason. Other people’s lives were none of my business. It just hadn’t occurred to me. Somewhere between taking the pregnancy test, calling Kian to let him know, and booking my doctor’s appointment, I’d accepted the fact I was going to be a mother.
“I know it’s your choice, and I said I’d support you not matter what, but I don’t think I could if you wanted a termination. I’m sorry if that’s not what you want to hear,” Kian said, the intensity in his eyes like a fire kindling to life.
Without even thinking, I threw my arms around his neck. “That’s exactly what I want to hear. I want to keep the baby, and if you’re sure, I want you to be a part of its life.”
Realising I was still hugging him, I let go, and shuffled back in my seat. “Great. That’s great. Let’s go and see what the doctor has to say then.”
We climbed out of the car and entered the surgery in silence. I gazed around the waiting room at the few other people in here, and noticed a couple cooing over a small baby in a carrier. The infant looked absolutely fine to me, but as its mother kept dabbing its nose, I assumed it had a cold or something. As I watched the family interacting together, I wondered if that would be Kian and me in several months’ time. He’d been able to make this appointment, but would he come with me to future appointments and ultra-sound scans? Would he be here when our child was sick and needed medical attention? Honestly, I didn't know for sure. I hoped he'd be a good father, but I also knew his career meant he'd be training or travelling a lot of the time.
After sitting in an uncomfortable waiting room plastic chair for thirty minutes, the door to the doctor's office opened, and he called me into the room. I got up from my seat, and took one final look at the couple tending to their child before making my way over to the consultation room.
Doctor Adams confirmed that receiving a positive result on a pregnancy test meant I was pregnant. He gave me some advice on what I should and shouldn't be doing during the first few months of pregnancy, and then wrote a letter referring me to a midwife.
“Do either of you have any questions?” he asked.
For now, I didn’t, but I looked to Kian, making sure not to exclude him. He shook his head.
“Thanks doc, but I think I’ve got enough to take in for now.”
We left Doctor Adams' office, with a few pamphlets on early pre-natal care, a prescription for folic acid to reduce the risk of some serious birth defects, and his best wishes for mine and the baby's future.
We were making our way back to the car park when I realised just how hungry I was. For the last month, I'd lost my appetite, and usually felt quite nauseous in the mornings. Today, I was positively ravenous.
“I’m starving. Fancy grabbing some food?”
Kian looked up from the pamphlet Doctor Adams had given us and smiled. “Okay, but no mould-ripened soft cheese, pate or raw shellfish.”
I laughed, touched by how seriously he was taking this. “Damn, and that’s exactly what I was craving too.”
Leaving our cars in the carpark, we crossed the street and headed to a nearby café. Once through the glass doors, my stomach growled loudly, and I felt certain I could probably eat everything on the menu, and everyone who walked past me. Although, to avoid looking like a complete pig, I settled for a large portion of lasagne and a pint of orange juice. Kian ordered an all-day breakfast, leaving out the black pudding in case it somehow affected the baby, and didn’t even complain when I stole one of his hash browns.
“Do you think you’ll come with me to midwife appointments and ultrasound scans?” I asked as we finished our meals. “I mean, if you want to, and you can get time off work.”
“Well, Davi, that’s my trainer by the way, he knows about the baby, so he shouldn’t mind me taking a few hours out here and there. If you want me there, I’ll do what I can to make it.”
“You told your trainer?” I said, ignoring his offer of support for the moment.
“Yeah. I kind of had to after I broke some prick’s arm.”
I looked up from my glass of juice. “You did what?”
Kian explained to me what happened with this Bagley guy. When he’d finished I let out a long breath. “Is he okay?”
“He’ll live. Broken bones heal.”
I couldn’t believe how blasé he was being about breaking another man’s arm. Was this normal? Was he so desensitized to violence that sending someone to hospital meant nothing to him?
That wasn’t the only thing about Kian’s confession that bothered me. If he’d told his trainer, did that mean everyone else knew I was pregnant too? I wasn’t ashamed or trying to hide anything, but I hadn’t even told my parents yet. I didn’t want news getting out before I’d had a chance to speak to them.
I had dinner plans with Mum and Dad that evening, and had decided now Kian and I had seen the doctor, there was no point putting off telling them. I desperately wanted another woman to talk to about being pregnant. I’d noticed a few small changes in the last few weeks I wanted to ask Mum about. No amount of researching online would convince me waking up in the middle of the night craving ice cubes was normal. Besides, I’d shared all my important milestones with her. It’d be wrong not to tell her about her first grandchild as soon as possible.
I just wondered how they’d take the news given the circumstances. Knowing how Dad reacted to change, I guessed it'd probably be best to break the news gently. I remembered when I'd announced I was getting my own place – it'd taken him a full week to get used to the fact his 'baby girl' was moving out.
Then there'd be Mum’s reaction. I was a lot closer to Mum, I guess because we'd bonded over the fact we were both artists at heart, we understood each other in a way I didn't with Dad. Even though I was always his little princess, he was a lot more standoffish, and I didn't have a tight friendship with him like I did with Mum. Actually, I had a feeling, on this occasion she might be the one to calm him down and make him realize he couldn't keep me wrapped up in cotton wool forever. I just hoped neither of them would be disappointed in me, or worse, disown me for getting pregnant in the first place.
It had been a while since Kian and I said anything to each other, and I didn’t want things to get awkward. I still didn’t know what to make of him breaking this guy’s arm, but for now, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. The world of MMA was one I knew very little about, but would fast have to learn if Kian was going to be part of the baby’s life.
Trying to fill the void of silence, I gulped down the last of my orange juice, and asked, “So, how do you think your parents will react to the news they’re going to be grandparents?” I didn’t know if Kian had any siblings, but even if he did and they already had kids of their own, a new addition to the family was still a big deal.
Kian put down his can of coke, and looked at me wide-eyed, like I’d just told him I was visiting the Queen for dinner, or something.
“Shit. I haven’t even thought about it. I’m still getting used to the idea myself. I only told Davi because I had to.”
“But you are going to tell them, right? I mean, are you close? Will they want to know their grandbaby?”
Kian laughed. “Once my mum gets over the shock there’ll be no keeping her away. She’s always bugging my sister, Marie, about when she’s going to pop a kid out.”
“So you think they’ll be pleased?”
“I think they’ll be happy to have a grandkid, I don’t know about the circumstances though. They’re pretty traditional.”
“Right, so they’ll be expecting you to pop the question?” I’d only meant it as a joke, but as soon as the words left my mouth, I wanted to take them back.
What the hell are you thinking?
“I didn’t mean that. It was a joke. I don’t want to get married. Not that you aren’t lovely, but …” The more I spoke the deeper I dug myself in. “Oh for God’s sake. Can we just pretend none of that just happened?”
Kian stared at me for a moment, a stunned look on his face, and then burst out laughing. I mean proper, raucous, from the belly howling laughter.
“I get it, it’s cool. You’ve gotten what you wanted from me. I’ll just take the diamond solitaire I bought back to the jewellers.”
“Shut up. I was worried for a minute.”
“You should have seen your face. And you kept going, too, trying to make everything okay. It was hilarious.”
Both laughing, we left the café and headed back to the car park.
I was glad Kian had come with me to the doctors. Even after he’d called me back the day before, I was still unsure if he’d meant what he’d said about supporting me, but talking with him, and joking around made him seems like a real person, rather than a one-night stand or violent MMA fighter. Even with a matter as serious as telling our parents we were having a baby, he’d still managed to make me laugh. I was still trying to figure out what the future held for both of us, now we were bonded together by this life we’d created, but if every day was like this, I was sure we’d be okay.
“I think you’re right,” Kian said when we reached his car.
“I should tell my parents when I see them. They’ve got a right to know, and it seems weird, you know, keeping it from them? Dad’s been on my side my whole life. He’s my biggest supporter, but he’s never been afraid to kick my arse into line. I want to tell him he’s going to be a pops.”
Hearing Kian talk about his dad with such obvious love made my heart do a little somersault.
“Will you call me and let me know how it went?”
I stood awkwardly for a moment, unsure what I should do next. Simply saying ‘bye’ and getting in my car didn’t seem right, somehow.
“Thanks for coming today,” I said eventually, stepping into Kian’s personal space, and opening my arms to him.
He wrapped his arms around me, and pulled me to him, our chests pressed together and his chin rested on top of my head. “I know neither of us planned this, but now that it’s happening, I’m going to do everything in my power to be a good dad.”
His hand snaked around from where it was resting on my back, to gently caress my stomach.
“You take care, okay, Meg?”
“You too, Kian.” I held onto him for a moment longer, then stepped away.
Without another word, I walked to my car, climbed in and started the ignition. With a little beep of my horn, I was on my way.
Later that afternoon, I arrived at my parents’ house, and as expected, found Mum preparing dinner in the kitchen, as Dad watched some old episode of Red Dwarf on TV
As the sound of Craig Charles' voice as the character Dave Lister caught my ear, and I couldn't help chuckling to myself. Red Dwarf was a show Dad and I had watched together when I was a teenager, and was one of the things he and I shared that I didn't have with Mum.
“This one again, Dad? I think series six is better.” I teased as I sat down on the sofa next to him.
“Ah, but nothing can beat the 'tension sheet',” he said, referring to the invention in the episode he was watching, with a smile of his own.
We fell into a comfortable silence, as we continued watching the episode, and waited for Mum to serve dinner.
When the meal was finally dished up, I was delighted to find it was spaghetti with meatballs, and despite the fact I'd already eaten pasta once that day, I tucked right in. Mum always served my favourite when she knew I was coming round for dinner. With the meal over, and Mum finally satisfied that her kitchen was once again immaculate, I prepared to tell my parents the news that I was pregnant. Dinner had given me a positive feeling that the announcement would go over well – both Mum and Dad had seemed in good moods as we chatted and caught up on each other’s lives.
When Mum re-entered the living room, I looked to Dad who was reclining in his chair, and then took a deep breath.
“Dad, Mum, there's something I've got to tell you,” I said, my voice trembling.
Dad looked directly at me, smiled and then asked, “You've gotten your first paying design gig, haven’t you?”
I shook my head, then gazed at Mum, hoping she somehow had the ability to read minds and knew what I was about to confess, so that she could make it easier for me.
“No, it isn't uni-related, it's something else.”
This time I noticed the crease in Dad's forehead, as he tried to work out what I saw going to say. The look of confusion in his face worried me, and I actually contemplated backing out of telling them the truth, and making up something else instead.
But I knew I'd have to have this conversation with them eventually, so why prolong it?
“Okay, the thing I'm about to say, well, it's kind of a big deal, so I don't want you freaking out or anything, all right? Just let me tell you, and then take a few days to digest the news.”
Mum and Dad nodded mutely, utterly bewildered at what was going on.
I let out a long breath and the sentence tumbled from my mouth all at once. “I'm-pregnant-and-I'm-keeping-the-baby.”
Dad's eyes grew as wide as saucers, then he gave a deep sigh.
“You're pregnant?” Mum said.
“Yeah, I saw my doctor today, and he confirmed it. I'm about eight weeks along.”
“And what about the father? Who is he? Because I didn't even know you were dating anyone,” Dad said.
“That's because I'm not. I met him when I was out with Stacey one night. He offered me a ride home, and well, you know ...”
“Oh, Meg, what were you thinking? Didn't it cross your mind that you could end up with a STD?”
I looked to the floor, the disappointment in Mum’s voice making it impossible for me to keep eye contact with either of them.
“I'm not stupid, but everyone makes mistakes. I admit what I did that night was stupid, but I'm dealing with the consequence now, aren't I?”
“You're dealing with the consequence by having a child out of wedlock and forgoing the career you've worked so hard for? You know, there are other options.”
“Elizabeth! Our daughter is not getting rid of or giving up our first grandchild for adoption,” Dad said, sitting bolt upright in his recliner and slamming his fist down on the end table. His reaction was a shock. I thought he was going to agree with Mum. “If Megan thinks that keeping this baby is the right thing to do, then we'll support her, just like we've always done. Now, Love, tell us more about what’s going on. Who’s the father? Does he know you're pregnant? Is he going to support you and the baby?”
“Thanks, Dad,” I said, genuinely touched by what he'd just said. “And yes, I've told him I'm pregnant. He said he wants to be involved in the baby's life, and that he will support me as much as his career will allow.”
“As much as his career will allow?” Mum asked incredulously, piercing me with a glare that made me feel like a naughty school child. “So it's all right for you to give up university, and everything you've worked for since you left college, but he can still go gallivanting around? What does this guy even do that’s so important he can’t be there for his baby?”
“Mum, it's not like that. I'm not going to force Kian into anything he doesn't want to. I just thought he had a right to know he's going to become a father. If he wants to support me, that's great. If not, I'll deal with it. But nothing is going to stop me from having this baby.”
“That's my girl,” Dad said proudly, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips.
A few minutes of tense silence passed as Mum and Dad gazed steadily at each other. Finally, Dad made a motion with his head that I assumed was part of the secret language every couple had, and then Mum sighed.
“Okay, maybe I overreacted a little,” she said with a sigh, before allowing herself a half-smile. “I'm just trying to be realistic here. Raising a baby is never easy, especially when you're doing it alone.”
“But she won't be doing it alone. We'll both be here to help.”
“Yeah, and there's every chance Kian will be true to his word, and make a wonderful father.”
Mum clicked her tongue in that disapproving way she did. “We’ll see.”
Before I could reply, and say anything in Kian's defence, Dad stared her down, and then changed the subject. “So, Megan. What else did the doctor say? Do you have a due date yet or any other appointments booked?”
“No, nothing yet. My doctor just confirmed the pregnancy, and wrote a letter referring me to a midwife. I suppose I'll hear more in a few days’ time.”
“It usually takes them about a week to get the ball rolling,” Mum said, now seemingly calmer after her outburst. Although I wasn't sure if she was just holding her tongue for Dad's sake. “All you can do for now is make sure you're eating right and getting plenty of rest.”
At this point, I couldn't help but roll my eyes. “Don't worry, Mum, I'm eating just fine and taking it easy.”
With my parents’ growing acceptance and their offer to support me, I truly felt as though everything was coming together. The only thing that had truly surprised me was the fact Dad was the first one to offer his unconditional support, whereas Mum had tried to be more rational and make sure I'd thought this through properly. I had honestly assumed it would have been the other way around, and Dad would be the one to kick up a fuss, leaving Mum to talk reason to him. But then, Mum always was the more level headed one, when me and Dad were led more by our feelings and emotions. Not that it mattered in the long run, as Mum had eventually calmed down, and offered me her support too.
How well my parents had taken the news, coupled with the fact Kian had been so supportive earlier made me hopeful everything should be plain sailing from here on out, and I couldn’t help but wonder how Kian was getting on telling his parents.
Thank you to all who read ALL IT TAKES while it was a web-serial. The support and motivation helped me see this story through to the end.
Since completion, ALL IT TAKES has been re-edited, and will now be released in ebook and paperback format on February 14, 2017.
If you'd like to purchase a copy please go to Amazon and search for the ASIN: B01N4LXGMV