Thanks to Hubby for the edit.
Doctor Stone came to see me the morning after I’d been admitted to hospital. She did another blood pressure test, as well as an ultrasound and took a urine sample.
The night in hospital had done me good, as my blood pressure had gone down a considerable amount since the previous day. The scan showed Ella was fine, and the urine sample didn’t contain protein, which meant I was still clear of preeclampsia.
I was given a prescription for magnesium sulphate to lower my blood pressure, and one for corticosteroids, which would help Ella’s lungs develop in case I ended up being induced early.
“While it isn’t sever enough that you should be on bedrest, you should take it easy for the rest of the pregnancy. I can write you a medical note so you can begin your maternity leave early.”
Once Doctor Stone had gone, I text Stacey and let her know I was ready to be discharged. I knew I should have called my parents, but I didn’t want them fussing over me. Plus, due to crappy hospital reception, I hadn’t been able to talk to Stacey properly about what was going on with Kian.
Less than fifteen minutes after texting her, Stacey arrived at the hospital, carrying a small backpack containing some toiletries and a change of clothes. I quickly jumped in the shower, and then got dressed, before we headed to the nurse’s station so I could be discharged.
When I was free to go, Stacey insisted on driving me home.
“You’re meant to be resting,” she said.
“Fine, fine. But can we stop by Belly Busters? I’m starving and hospital food is awful.”
We made a quick detour to my favourite café, and grabbed breakfast rolls, drinks and cake, then headed back to mine.
Once we were settled on the sofa with our food, Stacey turned to me and said, “Okay, spill.”
“Haven’t you got to be at uni?”
“I told Mr Barnes I was collecting you from hospital, so he gave me the morning off.”
“Did he say anything about my display and what’s going to happen with it?”
“Yeah, he’s leaving it open with your business cards there should anyone want to contact you. He said to call him when you’re feeling up to it to discuss graduating.” Stacey took a sip of her coffee and added. “I can field any visitors you get at the display.”
“Stace you can’t do that, you need to focus on your own display.”
“I’ve already got a job when I graduate, making sure everyone knows how awesome your work is, is more important.”
“I love you.”
Stacey threw her arms around me. “The feeling is more than mutual.”
There was a brief pause as we both had a drink, then Stacey said, “So, Kian called you and Ella his girls in front of your dad!”
“Right? And oh my god, you should have seen him when we were alone. He kept holding me, and kissing my head.”
I sighed, remembering how it felt to be wrapped in his arms. I’d been so worried in the ambulance, scared I was going to lose Ella or that something else terrible would go wrong. Piled on top of the worry, I was also frustrated with how my parents were treating me. But as soon as Kian arrived, all that had melted away.
“You’re so going to get together soon.”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. I think he needs more time. He sort of freaked out again and left.”
I filled her in on what had happened when I said if Ella had a boyfriend like him when she grew up she could do a lot worse.
“Maybe he really was tired?”
“Yeah, maybe. I don’t want to read anything into what he says or does.” I picked up the cushion next to me, and hugged it to my chest. “The last time I did that, it didn’t end well. I’m just going to give him time and space.”
“Fair enough. The important thing is making sure you and Ella are okay, and the birth goes well.”
“Exactly. I was so scared I was going to lose her. I meant it when I said I don’t want to see the inside of hospital again until I go into labour. If that means going on bedrest for the next few months, I’ll do it.”
“Some things are more important. Doctor Stone gave me a medical note, so I’m going to talk to Mr Barnes about taking a leave of absence. I don’t care if it means I have to repeat some of the degree next year. Ella is my priority now.”
“Well, for what it’s worth, I think you’re doing the right thing, chick.”
“Okay, okay. Enough of my self-involved crap.” Stacey made a ‘pfft’ sound, but I waved her off. It felt good opening up to her, but after being cooped up in hospital, I needed something else to focus on. Something positive. “Did you get loads of visitors to your display yesterday? What’s going on with you and Josh? Tell me all the things.”
Stacey giggled. “Everything’s good. You’re out of hospital and it’s not long until I become an ‘uncle.’ We graduate soon, and then I start my awesome new job.” Her smile faltered a little. “But Josh has been kind of quiet lately. Because of uni and his training, we haven’t seen each other much, and when we have, he’s been distant.”
I remembered Kian telling me a few weeks ago Josh had a surprise for Stacey, but this sounded like he was going cold on her. I hoped not. They were good for each other, and I didn’t want my best friend’s happiness to end.
“Maybe things will be better once you’ve graduated?”
“Yeah, that’s what I’m hoping. If not, I’ll just ask if everything’s okay. I mean, there’s no point worrying before we’ve even spoken about it.”
I grinned. I loved her level-headed outlook, and the fact she wasn’t over analysing the situation. Maybe I should follow her example and do the same regarding Kian…
“Sounds like a plan.”
We finished our drinks and cake, then Stacey checked the time on her phone. “Do you think Barnes would believe me if I said I was stuck in traffic?”
“It’s only a few hours. Class will be a doss this close to graduation.”
“I guess. I’d rather be hanging out here though. Uni is no fun without you.”
“It kind of sucks we won’t get to spend our last few weeks together.”
“I know, but you’ve gotta take care of yourself and Ella.”
I grinned, and stretched out like a cat.
“Yeah. I guess lounging about watching movies is a sacrifice I have to make for my daughter.”
“Shut up. There’s gotta be an upside to this gestational hypertension bullshit.”
Stacey stood up. “Okay, I’m going before I become one with the sofa, and you have to get emergency services to rescue me. I’ll call you later, yeah?”
“Text me first please, in case I have an early night?”
“Sure. See you later.”
“Yeah, catch you soon.”
Once Stacey had left, I had a long, hot bubble bath, and then snuggled on the sofa in my PJs to watch a movie. When my phone went off a little later, I was expecting it to be her, but instead, it was Kian.
>>How are you and Ella? Still in hospital?<<
>>Nah, they discharged me this morning and Stace bought me home. Just watching a movie now.<<
>>Want some company?<<
My fingers hovered above the screen, as I debated what to type. Normally when Kian suggested coming round, I jumped at the chance to spend time with him, but after the previous day’s weirdness, I didn’t have the energy to deal with more drama. Now I was out of hospital, I had to rest, and getting caught up in … whatever the hell was going on between Kian and I was hardly calming.
Nothing had changed since before me getting sick. I still needed space.
>>Actually, I’m kind of tired. I think I’m going to make some dinner then go to bed early.<<
>>NW. Text me if you need anything. And take care of yourself. xx<<
I stared at the kisses on screen longer than was probably sane, then shook my head. I still didn’t have a clue what was going on in Kian’s head, but for the time being, I wasn’t going to think about it. I was going to focus on feeling better, and making sure the final few months of pregnancy went without problems.
I texted Stacey to let her know I was having an early night, and not to call, then cooked myself some cheese on toast for dinner, and headed to bed.
The first few days of relaxing were great. I watched rubbish on TV, read a few books, and played around with some designs that weren’t intended for uni, my portfolio or anything official. I even spent a day designing mansions on The Sims.
But soon the novelty of having ‘nothing’ to do started to wear off. There were only so many episodes of Cash in the Attic and failed attempts at beating my highest score on Candy Crush Saga that I could stomach.
I knew I had to rest and take care of myself, but bloody hell, I was bored.
Over the next week, I went into full-on nesting mode, and cleaned the whole flat from top to bottom; including sorting out my wardrobe and throwing out things I didn’t like any more, and rearranging Ella’s room.
Once the flat was sorted, and I was as prepared for Ella’s birth as I could be at this stage, I updated my resume, and did a few small freelance design jobs. Nothing complex, but it stopped me going stir-crazy.
After a couple of days the freelance jobs dried up, and I was back to being bored. I flicked through the TV channels, not finding anything even remotely interesting.
I imagined Stacey having loads of fun at uni now classes were complete.
I texted her: >>What you up to?<<
>>Barnes thought it’d be cool if we had a leaving party. Just organizing the details!<<
I sighed, wishing I was there with her.
Could I be?
I knew I had to look after myself and Ella, but all the hard work of classes and the end of degree presentation were now over. All I’d be doing would be sitting in a classroom with Stacey and the other students. Not that different to what I was doing here, only I wouldn’t be bored out of my brain.
I decided to ask Doctor Stone later that day at our weekly appointment.
After lunch, I headed into town to pick up a few things and then visit the hospital for my appointment.
As I was waiting at the pedestrian crossing, an old lady about the age of my grandma came up beside me.
“Do you know what you’re having, dear?” she asked, as we waited for the lights to change.
“Yeah, a little girl.”
“Oh, how lovely.”
Without invitation, she reached out and stroked my tummy.
What the hell?
“And by the feel of it, she’s going to be a big one.”
“Erm, yeah. Thanks.”
When the light turned green, I hurried across the street.
Being poked and prodded by doctors was one thing, but having random grannies coming up to me on the street was just mind-boggling!
I arrived at hospital to find a handful of patients sitting in the waiting room, and thanked God I hadn’t arrived too early.
After only ten minutes of sitting in the uncomfortable metal chair I was stiff and aching, and was relieved when Doctor Stone called me into her office.
“Is everything okay?” she asked as I sat down. “How are you feeling?”
“Yeah, I feel fine. Great actually. Which is why I wanted to ask if you think it would be okay if I went back to uni, so I can graduate with everyone else in a few weeks. All my work is done, so I’d just be filling out forms, and hanging out in the classroom. Nothing strenuous.”
“Let’s take your blood pressure, and listen to the baby’s heart rate, and then we’ll discuss it.”
My blood pressure was in the safe end of the spectrum now, and Ella’s heartbeat was strong and regular.
“Okay, are you still taking the magnesium sulphate and corticosteroids I prescribed for you?”
“Yeah, still taking ‘em.”
“Well in that case, I can’t see any reason that you can’t return to uni, as long as you’re still coming in for regular check-ups, and you let me know if anything starts to feel off, or the frequency of the baby’s movements changes.”
“I will do.”
I left Doctor Stone’s office excited about returning to uni, and texted Stacey to tell her I’d be back at the beginning of the next week.
>>SQUEE!<< she texted back.
I laughed, and called Mr Barnes to let him know I’d been given the okay from the doctor to return to class after the weekend.
When I got home, the busyness of the day started to catch up on me. My limbs ached and I let out a long yawn.
Deciding it was best to get in as many early nights as I could, I made some dinner, watched a movie and then headed for bed.
Hammering on my front door jerked me awake, and I stared at the clock with bleary eyes.
What the hell?
I tried to ignore it, figuring it was drunks. But when the banging continued I staggered out of bed, and crept to the kitchen. I grabbed a frying pan then sneaked down the hall. Whoever was making all the racket was going to regret it.
I peered through the spyhole in the door, frying pan pulled back and ready to swing, only to see Kian standing on the threshold. I flung open the door. His hair was a mess and he was dressed in old joggers and a worn t-shirt I assumed he wore in bed. His posture was stooped and his eyebrows were knitted together.
“Are you and Ella okay?” he asked, running his hands down my arms and then touching my belly.
“What the fuck, Kian? It’s the middle of the night. Couldn’t you have just called or something?”
I shuffled back to let him in, and we made our way to the kitchen.
“I did. You didn’t answer. And then I started to worry. I thought the flat had collapsed or something.”
“Again, what the fuck Kian?”
“There was an earthquake?” I flicked on the kettle. I knew I’d been tired, but tired enough to sleep through an earthquake?
“Yeah, about half an hour ago. My whole bloody flat shook. I can’t believe you slept through it.”
I poured us tea, and then mug in hand I headed back to my bedroom. I didn’t even think about the weird implications. I was cold, and wanted to snuggle down.
I put my mug on the bedside table, and climbed into bed, as Kian sat awkwardly at my desk.
I took a sip of tea, and gave myself a moment to think. After I was properly awake, I realised just what had happened.
Kian had come to my house in the middle of the night to see if we were okay.
I knew I’d told myself I wouldn’t analyse everything he said or did, but he’d just come rushing to my house at two o’clock in the morning, worried something had happened because of an earthquake.
“So, let me get this straight … there was a massive earthquake, and afterwards you called me. Only when I didn’t answer, you came rushing over here? That’s kind of, I dunno … ‘something.’”
Kian ran his hands through his hair and looked at the floor.
My chest tightened and my head span.
That was it…
“Kian, what the fuck is going on in your head? I know I keep going on about you giving me mixed signals, but that’s because you’re driving me bloody insane.
“I’m trying to be patient, and give you space to sort you head out, but you can’t tell me you don’t feel this?” I gestured between us.
In an instant Kian was at my side.
“Of course I feel it. You’re all I feel, Meg.”
His words startled me, and when I looked up, I realised he was shaking.
I took his hands in mine, my gaze never leaving his.
“What is it? Why are you holding back?”
He let out a heavy breath. “I’ve been asking myself that same question since you went to hospital.”
“So talk to me. Help me understand what’s going on in your head.”
“Of what? Being in a relationship?”
“Yes, of being in a relationship. I’m scared of this. Of you. Of us. I’ve never felt like this before, Meg. You ‘get’ me. I meant it when I said if I ever got into a relationship it’d be with someone like you. No, not someone like you. You. You’re the only woman who’s seen through my bullshit.”
Tears started building in my eyes, but I kept them fixed on him, not allowing myself to cry.
“And I can’t lose that. I can’t lose you and Ella.”
“You’re not going to lose us. I promise.”
“Meg you know me well enough to know sooner or later, I’m going to fuck up again. Even though I’m getting better, I have this built-in self-destruction button. And when I do, that’s it. You’ll end up hating me and stop me seeing Ella. I’ll be left with nothing, and forced to go back to who I used to be.”
“Firstly, I’ll never stop you seeing Ella. No matter what happens between us in the future, she is your daughter and you belong in her life. Secondly, how exactly are you going to hurt me? You keep saying you’ll fuck up again, but since you started therapy, all I’ve seen is positive changes.
“You’re not the reckless guy you used to be, and you can’t know for certain you’ll screw up again. Even if you do, we’ll work through it, like we’ve worked through every problem since I got pregnant. I don’t know what will happen if we get together, but I know I won’t be able to rest until we give it a chance.
“You say you’ve never felt like this before, well that goes for me, too.”
Kian’s eyes flickered, and a second later, tears started to creep down his cheeks. Now I was powerless to stop my own.
“I don’t deserve you,” he said, pressing his forehead against mine. “I’m not good enough for you.”
“Not good enough? Would someone who isn’t good enough come rushing over here in the middle of the night to check I’m okay? Would they offer to use their savings so I don’t have to put pressure on myself to find a job? Would they help me hunt for work? Or bring me random DVDs? Or cook for me? Would they be there whenever I’ve needed them?
“Kian, you need to stop seeing yourself as the guy who always screws up, and start seeing what I do. The guy who is passionate, caring, hardworking, funny and considerate.
“The guy I’ve fallen in love with.”
Kian let go of my hands, and stared at me wide-eyed for a moment. Then a second later, his lips crushed against mine.
Heat surged through my body and my pulse raced.
For a moment I wondered if this was just a dream.
Then Kian’s tongue slid into my mouth, and all other thoughts were lost. The world around me faded, and all that mattered was the sensation of his hands cupping my face, as his tongue swirled against mine.
The kiss was nothing like the first time. All those months ago we’d been driven by pure lust, but as Kian pulled me onto his lap, something deeper buzzed between us. The things we’d said and the words we hadn’t yet spoken poured into each other.
My hands crept under his t-shirt, desperate to touch him, as if I was trying to transfer my feelings for him from my fingertips to his skin, with the hope I could somehow let the love I had for him flow into his veins.
Though I didn’t want to, I pulled back a little so I could remove Kian’s t-shirt, but as I did, he took my hands and my gaze drifted up to his face. His eyes were clouded, and I couldn’t read the expression on his face.
“What does this mean?” I asked. My voice shook, scared of his answer. Scared that at any moment he was going to withdraw and say this was a mistake.
“It mean I want to give it a try. But we need to take it slow. It can’t just be about sex, like the first time.”
I bought his knuckles up to my lips and kissed them. “Okay.”
“I think what we both need now is more sleep. Can I stay?”
“Of course. Do you wanna … I mean … I know you said you wanted to take it slow, but the sofa is pretty uncomfortable, and my bed is a double.”
Warmth blazed across my cheeks, and I gazed away.
Kian laughed. “Come here.”
I turned to him and he wrapped his arms around me, then lowered us both back, so our heads were on the pillow. He nestled in behind me, his arm draped protectively over my stomach.
I held onto his hand, as I tucked my head under his chin.
Kian tilted his head to kiss me on the crown, and rubbed the pad of his finger across the back of my thumb.
The gentle rise and fall of Kian’s chest behind me lulled me into a relaxed state, and I peacefully drifted off to sleep.