Ava brought her a glass of water and a wet washcloth. "Are you sure you're not knocked up?" she asked. "Because both times I got pregnant I started barfing almost immediately."
"No," she moaned. "I took another test just three days ago. And I started last night. I'm not pregnant...I'm just sick."
Ava made a face as Vanessa retched into the bowl again. "I can't believe Bobby left you like this today. Hasn't he heard of for better or for worse?"
"I told him to go," she groaned. "He got called in at four this morning. Being a detective isn't like being an interior designer, Ava." She took the wet washcloth and pressed it on her own forehead, then squinted at Ava. Tristan was watching her from his kangaroo pouch.
Ava sat on the toilet seat. "Are you gonna lay in here all day? Is there still anything in your stomach?"
"Ahh...God...no, I don't think so." She pulled herself up slowly. "I need to get into bed."
Ava followed Vanessa to the bed and watched her climb in. "Are you hot? Are you running a fever? Maybe you should go to the doctor. If you're really sick, I'm not sure I should be here...Tristan could get sick."
Vanessa rolled over, pressing her hot face against the cold pillow. "True," she moaned. "You can go...I'll be fine."
"Have you been barfing for more than a day or so?"
"No...just today...but I was nauseous yesterday."
"Does it get better after you puke? Have you tried crackers to settle your stomach?"
"Yeah, it's better...I'll call you later. I'm sorry I'm no good today."
Ava sighed heavily. "I still think you're knocked up. You should go see your doctor. You know, you can be pregnant and still test negative. You can even get your period--"
"Thanks, Dr. Winters...I appreciate the diagnosis."
"Yeah, whatever. Call me if you need anything and your husband doesn't show up."
"Mmph." Vanessa listened for Ava's departure, then closed her eyes and let sleep overtake her.
"Hey." Bobby was shaking her. She lifted her head quickly. God, she was tired. And nauseous. "Ava called me. She said you're really sick."
"No...I'm not really sick...I just threw up. And I'm tired...I'll be fine." She waved him away. "Go back to work."
"Nope. Here, I made you some soup...some crackers. See if you can keep it down." He waited patiently for her to sit up and take the soup from him. She did so and dutifully took several spoonfuls before munching on a few crackers. He watched her eat. "So...maybe the test is wrong."
She shook her head. "You forget...I've got my period at this very moment. As we speak."
"I still think it might be good to go to the doctor."
"You talked to Ava."
"Yeah, maybe. Maybe I just think we should be sure."
She put the bowl on the nightstand and finished her cracker. "I'll keep it in mind."
"I would consider it a personal favor."
"Maybe I'm just hopeful."
She snorted. "I think most people would call that delusion, not hope."
"Well, whatever." He brushed some cracker crumbs off the bed. "Look at it this way. If you're not pregnant, the doctor can probably give you something to help with the nausea of whatever you have...and I'm sure that would make you feel a lot better."
"I said I'll keep it in mind. I'm just tired now...I'm going to take a nap, if it's all right with you."
He nodded. "I'll call your doctor and wake you up when it's time."
She sighed. "You do that."
"So when exactly did the nausea start?"
"Yesterday morning." Vanessa knew she sounded like a robot but she didn't care.
Bobby chimed in, "Her nausea...it started yesterday morning after breakfast...she ate a little through the day but began vomiting sometime in the night. She was able to keep a small bowl of soup and a few crackers down this afternoon. She's mainly been sleeping, but doesn't seem to have a fever."
Vanessa rolled her head to look at his. She felt like a child, unable to answer for herself.
Dr. Ramirez looked up from her notes. "And how long have you been trying to conceive, now?"
Vanessa sighed heavily, but Bobby answered, "Four months...the home tests have all come back negative."
The doctor nodded, then turned to Vanessa again. "Any other symptoms? Headache, diarrhea, constipation, achiness?"
Vanessa shook her head. "My poop is fine, thanks for asking."
"She's just trying to help, honey." Bobby reached over and patted her knee. She really did feel like telling him to shove it, or at the very least, to stop touching her. The patting was just over the top.
Dr. Ramirez smiled wryly. "Have I mentioned how happy I am to see you today, Vanessa? I'm going to do a brief physical exam. It's possible you have a mild stomach virus. But I'll go ahead and run the blood test to see if everything is normal. It will also tell us if your white blood cells are normal."
"Great...so what do I need to do?"
Now Ramirez grinned. "I'll get Brenda in here to take your blood, then I'll be back to check you out."
Brenda was quick and friendly, taking the couple vials of blood and leaving with a smile. A minute later, Dr. Ramirez entered the room again. "Just sit up and relax...I'm going to listen to you."
Bobby sat patiently, watching Dr. Ramirez check his wife thoroughly. This was his first time meeting Dr. Ramirez, and he liked her. He knew Vanessa had been seeing her for quite awhile and trusted her.
When she finished, Dr. Ramirez turned to Vanessa and said, "Everything looks good from all other angles...your breathing sounds good...I don't see any signs of infection anywhere. Your stomach is...well, grumbly...but that's all I've heard, and that could be due to a lack of food, or to a mild GI illness. I'll go check with Brenda to see if your blood tests are finished...or at least the one we're waiting for." With a smile, she left the room.
A silence settled between them. Vanessa was still tired and wished she were in bed. When Bobby had woken her up for this appointment, her first instinct had been to tell him he was nuts and to leave her the fuck alone. She took a deep breath and exhaled, trying to lessen the stress she was feeling and the undeserved irritation.
To his credit, Bobby didn't speak, but sat quietly in the extra chair next to the examination table. She knew he really did have her best interest in mind. Any other guy she had ever dated would have dropped her off outside the office if he bothered to do that at all. It's why she gave up dating once she got clean. No men she ever seemed to attract were worthwhile. Bobby was a different breed, she reminded herself, as she watched him interlacing his fingers and bouncing his knee up and down.
Finally she said, "I just don't want you to get your hopes up...like we've talked about, it can take a long time...and you know me. I throw up at the drop of a dime."
He looked at her thoughtfully. "Well," he responded, "I-I think it's good to be sure." She could see him swallow under his collar and tie. "Don't you?"
"Sure." Her eyes hurt. They were so tired. And she could feel her stomach rolling around in total discomfort.
Finally Dr. Ramirez entered the room again. "Well," she said, looking first at Bobby and then to Vanessa, "I have the results back of your initial blood tests." She pulled her stool up and sat across from both of them. "Your white cell count doesn't look elevated at this time. That's good news...it generally means you don't have an infection. It doesn't rule out a mild GI virus, but it does rule out anything more significant." She paused, before looking at Vanessa. "We did run the blood test for pregnancy, and it came back positive."
The first thing she heard, after the blood rushing through her ears, was Bobby exhaling heavily. "You're sure...I've had my period..."
"It's been light...and that sometimes happens." Dr Ramirez handed her several pamphlets. "This is just some reading material I've gathered for you. I'm assuming you have an obstetrician you'll want to see?"
"Yes," she replied, "Dr. Anushki--"
Dr. Ramirez nodded. "He's terrific. You need to make an appointment as soon as possible." She glanced at Bobby. "I know you guys have been trying for several months, and while it's unlikely that you're too far along, there's always the possibility."
Bobby started laughing. "Hey, you could be on that show...you know, 'I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant' or whatever."
She shook her head. "I think I'm gonna puke."
Dr. Ramirez handed her a pail, and said, "Dr. Anushki will be able to tell you exactly how far along you are. He'll run some tests." She turned to Bobby again. "It's possible that she does have a mild stomach bug as well. Nausea and fatigue are typical of early pregnancy, but can also be part of illness. Just let her rest as much as possible for right now. Hopefully she'll get in to see Dr. Anushki next week."
He nodded, looking serious. Vanessa knew he was trying to memorize everything she was saying to him. The nausea was subsiding but, given the opportunity, she would lay down on the damn examination table and take a nap.
Dr. Ramirez patted her knee gently. "I'll see you soon, Vanessa...you guys take care." And then she was gone.
Bobby guided her off the table and out of the room. After taking care of the bill, they walked outside to hail a cab. He held the door and she climbed in, still silent.
As he sat next to her, being careful to give her room, trying to be the caring, compassionate man she loved, she leaned over and rested her cheek against his shoulder. She didn't say anything, but she didn't need to.
He caught her hand in his, and they rode silently back to the condo.
She was sleeping soundly in their bed. He figured she deserved it, after spending most of the night before with her head in the toilet.
He was excited. He was going to be a dad. Not only a dad, but the dad of her baby. He remembered when he had first fantasized about that. It had been a few months before they got married. They had been jogging in the park, and a family had caught his eye. A dad, a mom, and a baby--all in love with one another. He saw it in their eyes, and it had made him wonder if his own parents had ever looked at him with that same love and adoration. When he had turned his attention back to her, she was jogging place and smiling at him. And it had been clear, in that moment, that he could have that life. The one he had always thought wasn't possible for him. A life that included the woman he loved more than anything and a baby that they conceived together.
He hadn't told her how much he thought about it, but he had laid awake at night, imagining what their baby would look like. What it would be like to hold their baby, rock it, fall in love with someone they created together. Created out of love and passion. He would lay awake imagining looking at their child with the same expression he had seen that day in the park, the expression of a father who was clearly smitten with his own child.
He knew that for him, Vanessa would always be the one. Like his other half. She was smart and lovely and creative and funny. She was better than him, perfectly matched. That God had intervened and connected them was nothing short of miraculous. And she was pregnant now. His baby. Growing inside of his wife. It took his breath away.
He ran through a mental list of people to contact. His friends, most of whom were single, quirky, or maybe not as close as before his marriage; their friends, which he didn't want to tell without her; coworkers, which seemed to be strange people to call at eight o-clock at night to share such news. A year ago he would have called Eames, but not now. She had only been back to work for a couple of months and something about her still felt shaky. He hated having secrets from her. He'd never had them before.
That left family, and there was no way in hell he was going to call Ava and tell her she was right. That was Vanessa's job. So his family was left, and that quickly narrowed the list of calls down to one. His mother.
He hadn't spoken to her that day. Usually they spoke in the evening, or if he had a few minutes at work while he was on a case. A quick check-in, they called it, and most days it went fine. He wondered if his mother would share his enthusiasm. She had often said, not so tactfully, that she was waiting for a grandchild to visit. Maybe she would be excited by the news, he convinced himself. Maybe it would be exciting for her. He dialed the number, and waited for the nurse to put him through.
She answered the phone in her typical tone. It never got past him that she was a New Yorker through and through.
"Hey Ma," he said, "Sorry I'm a little late calling...it's been a busy day."
"I can imagine..." she replied. "How many cases are they making you work today?"
He was picking at his nails nervously. Forty-five years old and his mom still made him nervous. "I had to work a case this morning...then Vanessa wasn't feeling well, so we went to the doctor. That's really why I'm calling."
"What, is she contagious?" God bless her, he loved her dearly, but she had absolutely no tact whatsoever.
He coughed. "Um, no. I was calling to let you know you're going to be a grandmother. Vanessa's pregnant."
He could hear his mother catch her breath. "Oh my God, Bobby! That's wonderful! How far along is she? Is she okay? You know, we always have boys on your dad's side of the family...so it's likely you'll have a boy. Is she able to come to the phone?"
"She's fine, Ma. She's resting...she's been pretty tired...the doctor thinks she might have a mild stomach bug too. She goes to the obstetrician on Tuesday. That's when we'll know more."
"I can't believe it," she gushed. "I'm going to be a grandmother. I always figured it would be your brother instead of you, but I'll take it however it comes. That baby will be beautiful with a mother like that. You remember to treat her well. You treat her like a goddamned princess, Robert, you hear me?"
"Yes...yes, Ma...I will. I have to go now and check on her, but I wanted you to know."
"You're made my night, Bobby...I'm so thrilled. You tell that beautiful wife of yours to call me soon."
"I will, I will. I love you, Ma...I'll see you Sunday."
He hung up the phone gently. That had gone better than he had thought. It was so difficult for her to give him anything he needed. Maybe this baby would bridge some gaps.
He made his way to the bedroom and stripped his clothes down to his boxers, then through on a tee and flannel bottoms. It was chilly in the bedroom. He glanced at Vanessa, who was curled up in one of his oversized t-shirts and sleeping soundly. He couldn't help but smile. She was even beautiful when she slept.
Carefully he climbed into the bed with her and adjusted the sheets and blankets. A minute later he felt her head snuggle closely to his chest. He wrapped an arm around her and smiled, thinking of the fact that there were three of them now sleeping in this bed.