Young Again Ch. 05byKarennaC©
Jerome came home from work to find Brenna cleaning the stove. "Aren't you supposed to be resting?" he asked.
"It's been two weeks since I was in the hospital," Brenna said. "I'm going stir crazy here. My doctor's appointment is tomorrow; I know they'll tell me I don't have to rest as much. I'm feeling fine."
"I'm glad to hear that, but are you sure you should be doing so much?"
"I'm not doing much, Jerome. I'm standing here trying to get this gunk off your burner. It isn't very strenuous." She sounded annoyed. "What am I supposed to do, sit on the couch all day and watch TV and get fat?"
"I didn't mean to tick you off, honey. I'm just concerned about you and the baby."
"I know you are." Brenna sighed. "I'm sorry, honey. I don't mean to snap. I'm just feeling crabby and tired."
"That's understandable. I know you haven't been sleeping well."
"I guess women don't when they're pregnant. But I'm almost four months along now; I hoped I'd be sleeping better by now. I nap all day long, though, and I still feel exhausted."
"Well, ask your doctor about it tomorrow if it worries you, but I'd say that's normal. And you can nap all day if you want to. I don't expect you to do the housework."
"I know. But I feel like I should do something. After all, this is my house now too, right?" She looked around. "Still feels strange to say that. I haven't gotten used to living here yet. The move was too sudden."
"I know. When you're feeling up to it, we can go back to your old apartment and you can make sure Emery and I didn't leave anything behind. The landlord said you were set through the end of the month, so we still have a week or so."
"Good." Brenna set down the piece of steel wool she'd been using and leaned against the stove. "Okay, I'm done. How did this stuff get on your burner anyway?"
"I got into an argument with a pot of spaghetti sauce, and the spaghetti sauce won. Don't worry about it, honey." Jerome put his arms around her waist and kissed her cheek. "Thank you for trying."
"I just wish I could have gotten it done, but I guess I'll just have to deal." She leaned against him. "I'm so tired, Jerome. I think I'm going to go lie down for a while, unless you want me to cook supper."
"No, I don't want you to cook supper. I want you to go rest, and I'll let you know when supper's ready. As long as I manage not to lose a fight with any food, I'll be fine."
Brenna laughed. Jerome was glad to hear the sound; between her tiredness and the concerns about her pregnancy, Brenna hadn't laughed often in the past couple of weeks. "I just wish you could come lie down with me," she said. "I hope the doctor tells me tomorrow that it's safe for us to make love again. I've missed feeling you inside me."
"I've missed it to, but it's worth missing to make sure you and our son are safe."
"Or daughter." Brenna yawned. "Okay, going to the bedroom." Her lips brushed against Jerome's. "I love you."
"I love you too."
Brenna went to the bedroom. Jerome started searching through the fridge for something healthy to make for supper. After months of living alone after his wife had left him for someone else, he was still getting the hang of cooking for two. He'd never had to do it before; except for a few times when Lena had been sick over the three decades of their marriage, she'd done all the cooking. She'd been the typical housewife, though she'd worked outside the home as well. There had been times since she'd left that Jerome had wondered how she'd juggled a job, a house, and their three now-grown children; when he'd first been alone, Jerome had had trouble just remembering to eat after a day at work.
He finally found some chicken breasts at the back of the fridge, and set them in the oven to bake. Just as he closed the oven door, the phone rang. He hurried into the living room to answer it. "Hello?"
"Dad, when's the wedding going to be?"
Jerome smiled at the sound of his younger daughter's voice. "Hello, Quinn. How are you?"
"I'm good. How are you? How are Brenna and the baby?"
"We're all fine, thanks. Brenna's taking a nap." Jerome sat down. "Did you have a reason to call?" Generally his twenty-year-old daughter only called when she needed money.
"To ask when you and Brenna are getting married. I want to help plan the wedding, if you'll let me. Gillian doesn't think you guys should be getting married, but she's just an idiot."
"Don't call your sister an idiot, please," Jerome said automatically.
"Sorry. But she's twenty-eight and she's acting like a little kid. I hung up on her last night because she kept putting Brenna down. I like Brenna; she's nice. And I think you deserve to be happy. I know you were happy with Mom, but then she left, and I think she was wrong to do that. Gillian still thinks you and Mom should get back together."
"I know she does. Gillian's made her opinion abundantly clear. She has to understand that it isn't going to happen." Lena had hurt Jerome far too badly for him to ever take her back, but he stopped himself from saying so to Quinn. His children might be adults now, but he still didn't think it was right to give them too many details about his marriage and divorce.
"Well, Emery and I understand that, and we agree with you," Quinn said. "Mom shouldn't have done what she did. But I'm sure you don't want to talk about that."
"Not really," Jerome agreed.
"Okay, so back to my question. When's the wedding, and can I help plan it?"
"We haven't decided yet when it will be, and I don't think there will be anything to plan. We'll probably just go to a justice of the peace and have a short ceremony. You and your brother can be there, of course, and your sister if she wants, but I don't think we need anything more than that. After all, it's a second marriage, and I hear weddings are expensive."
"You don't know when you're getting married? I hope you're planning to do it before Brenna has the baby!"
"Yes, child, we'll be married before the baby arrives."
"You know, Dad, after all the conversations you and Mom had with us about safe sex and abstinence and all that, it's rather amusing that you accidentally got Brenna pregnant."
"I'm glad you're entertained by it. Just count on being asked to babysit your new little brother or sister on occasion."
"I'd love to. Babies are so cute!"
"Don't get any ideas."
"Don't worry, Dad. I'm not thinking about having kids till I'm at least thirty. I want a life first. No offense to you and Mom, but you started having kids pretty much as soon as you were married. I don't want to do that."
"No offense taken. I think that's a wise choice for you."
"So are you going to let me help you plan a wedding?"
"Quinn, did I not just answer that?"
"You did, but I didn't like the answer. You and Brenna should have more than just standing up in front of a justice of the peace. You deserve something special."
"Well, thank you. I agree, but I just don't see the point in spending a lot of money on a wedding. The idea is for us to be married, not for us to spend every cent we have. And there aren't many people to invite. You, your brother, your sister, and maybe a few people from work. Brenna doesn't have a family."
"That's too bad. No parents or brothers or sisters?"
"That's generally what no family means. I haven't gotten the whole story about it yet, and she doesn't seem to like to talk about it. But because of it, there wouldn't be anyone for her to invite except some friends from work. I'll talk to Brenna about it, though. If she wants a small ceremony, I'm not against it."
"And will you let me help plan it?"
Jerome laughed. "Yes, daughter, I'll let you help plan it. I have to let you go; I'm getting supper ready. Talk to you soon."
"Okay. Love you, Dad."
Jerome hung up and went back to the kitchen to prepare potatoes and corn to go with the chicken. When everything was ready, he went to the bedroom. Brenna was sound asleep; he didn't want to wake her, but she needed to eat. He sat on the edge of the bed and softly said, "Brenna?"
Her eyes fluttered open. "Is supper done already?"
"It is, but if you'd rather get more sleep, I can warm yours up for you later."
"No, I'll eat now." Brenna sat up. "If I don't eat now, I might sleep through the night and forget to eat. The sleep would be nice, but not eating wouldn't be good for the baby."
"No, it wouldn't, nor for you."
He stood and helped Brenna up. She wasn't quite halfway through her pregnancy, but she was showing and was already having to get used to moving differently. They went to the dining room, where Jerome had set their plates. "That looks delicious, Jerome," Brenna said. "You're so good to me."
"It's just supper, honey." Jerome pulled out her chair. "Now I'm being good to you."
Brenna sat down. "Yes, you are. You've been wonderful about all of this. Some men, if they found out they knocked up a woman they'd only dated a few times, would have just left her to have the baby alone."
"Those aren't men, they're idiots." Jerome sat in his chair. "And I'm not only marrying you because of the baby. Sooner or later, the way I felt about you, I would have proposed anyway. The baby just made it happen a bit sooner, is all."
"You might not have married me. You might have changed your mind."
Brenna smiled. "All right. You wouldn't have. And neither would I." She ate some of her chicken. "This is delicious. Thank you for cooking."
"You don't have to thank me. It's just part of taking care of you, and that's what I want to do."
"Who was on the phone earlier?"
"Did it wake you?"
"Yes, but I went right back to sleep. Who was it?"
"Quinn. She wanted to talk about the wedding. She seems to think we're having something big and elaborate."
"We aren't, are we? That would cost too much."
"Cost isn't an issue, Brenna. We'll have whatever kind of ceremony you want. If you want big and elaborate, we'll make it happen."
"I had big and elaborate with my ex-husband, and look how that turned out. I don't need that again. And we need money for the baby. Now that I'm not working..."
"Now that you're not working, we'll still be perfectly fine," Jerome assured her. "Speaking of the baby, when the doctor clears you to walk around, we should do some shopping for him."
"Or her," Brenna said. "I'd like to wait on the shopping until we find out whether it's a boy or girl, actually. That will make it easier to pick things out. We should be able to find out in a few more weeks."
"All right. Baby stuff shopping can wait. We still haven't chosen our rings either, though. I'd like to do that soon."
"Maybe tomorrow after my appointment, if the doctor says it's okay."
"It's a date."
* * *
The next day, Jerome left work at lunchtime to take Brenna to her doctor's appointment. When he pulled up in front of the house, she was waiting on the porch. "It's a bit cold out," Jerome said when Brenna got into the car.
"It was too hot inside, and I was too nervous to sit still," Brenna replied. "I wanted to wait out here. I'm a big girl, Jerome. I can take care of myself."
"Of course you can. But I like to take care of you too."
"There's a difference between taking care of me and telling me what to do."
"You're right." Though Jerome didn't think he'd been telling her what to do. Commenting on the weather was just his way of expressing concern; he hadn't said she should or shouldn't do anything. But he'd learned when his ex-wife had their kids that arguing with a pregnant woman never ended well, and he didn't want to cause Brenna any stress by disagreeing with her.
Brenna was silent until they reached the doctor's office. When Jerome parked the car, she said, "I'm sorry."
"No need to be," Jerome said. "I understand. I didn't mean to seem pushy."
"You didn't. I'm just oversensitive."
Jerome kissed her cheek. "It's all right."
Inside, Jerome stayed in the waiting room while the obstetrician examined Brenna. After a while, a nurse came out and told him, "Mr. McClennon, if you'd like to come with me, you can see your baby. Miss Malone's having an ultrasound."
Jerome followed her back to a dimly lit room where Brenna lay on a table, her belly exposed. The technician ran the wand over Brenna's belly and an image appeared on the screen beside her. "Look, Jerome," Brenna said. "It's our baby!"
Jerome studied the image, but could make no sense out of it. "Yes, it is," he said to Brenna.
The technician used a computer cursor to indicate things on the screen. "This is the head. Here's the heart; looks like it's beating nice and strong. Everything else seems to be developing well, and I'd say you're about fourteen weeks along."
"How long until you can tell whether it's a boy or a girl?"
"Probably another five or six weeks." The technician moved the wand. "Here's the placenta. It looks like it's in better shape than last time you had it checked. The amniotic fluid looks good too."
"Does that mean I can be off all those restrictions?" Brenna asked.
"That's up to your doctor to decide."
"Brenna, I think the baby has your eyes," Jerome joked.
Brenna laughed. "Yes, and your nose."
The technician printed a couple still shots of the fetus for them, then took Brenna and Jerome back to the examining room, where they waited a few minutes for the doctor to come in. Finally, she entered and told them, "Everything looks good. There's still a potential for some problems, so you'll need to be easy on yourself, but you can resume most normal activity. Just rest often and don't overdo."
"What about sex?" Brenna asked.
"Everything's okay, including penetration, as long as it's gentle. Avoid any positions that put pressure on your abdomen, and again, nothing strenuous." She typed something on the computer. "I'm going to describe a prenatal vitamin and some iron pills for you; the prescriptions and a few instructions will be waiting for you at the checkout desk. Have them schedule another appointment for you in two weeks; I'll want to see you every other week."
Jerome and Brenna left the examining room hand in hand and went to the checkout window. When the receptionist asked whether Brenna had insurance, Brenna looked like she was going to cry. "I don't think so," she said. "I lost my job."
"How long ago?" the receptionist asked.
"Almost two weeks."
"You might still be covered. If you want to give me your information, I can put it through and see."
"Never mind," Jerome said. "Brenna, as soon as we're married, I can put you on my insurance. Meanwhile, we'll just pay for today's visit."
"All right." The receptionist quoted a price which made Brenna gasp. Jerome cringed, but took out his credit card and handed it over.
Once they had the receipt and Brenna's prescriptions, and had scheduled Brenna's next appointment, they left. As soon as they were in the car, Brenna burst into tears. "I never even thought about insurance. This is going to be so expensive, Jerome! Even once I'm on your insurance, there'll be deductibles and everything. How are we going to manage this?"
"We'll be fine," Jerome said. "I make enough to cover all of that. Please don't stress about it, honey."
"Maybe it would have been better if I hadn't told you about the baby. Then I could have just gotten rid of it or something."
"Don't ever say that!" Jerome was furious. "How could you even think such a thing? One of the first things you told me about yourself was how much you've always wanted a baby. Now you're having one with a man who's thrilled to death about becoming a father again, and you're talking about abortion?"
"Don't yell at me!" Brenna sobbed. "Can you blame me for thinking that way? Everything's all screwed up because of this baby! I don't have my apartment anymore, I don't have a job, and you're spending all your money on me. You're marrying me because you think you have to. How is this baby a good thing?"
"I'm marrying you because I love you. I've told you that over and over." Jerome took a deep breath to calm himself. "Brenna, honey, I'm sorry I yelled. And I'm sorry you're so worried about this. I wish you weren't. There's no reason to even think about money. I have plenty. Just let me take care of it, please." He wished he knew something more comforting to say, but nothing came to him.
He pulled into the driveway at home, but neither of them made any move to get out of the car. Jerome took Brenna's hand. "I love you," he said again. "I was brought up to take care of the woman I love. That's why I moved you in here while you were in the hospital. I'm sorry I did that without telling you, though, and I'm sorry about the apartment. Would you like to go over there now and see what else you want to bring here?"
"I want things to stop changing so fast," Brenna replied. "I love you, Jerome. I love that we found each other. But I didn't think so much would happen so soon."
"I know. Everything has been pretty sudden. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Just takes some getting used to is all." He leaned over and kissed her. "Come inside, honey, and let's talk about this."
They went into the house and sat on the couch. Jerome pulled Brenna's feet onto his lap and started massaging them. "That feels nice," she said.
"Good. You need to relax. Honey, I wish you'd told me sooner how much everything was bothering you."
"I've tried. But you're always so calm about it all. It's like nothing ever gets to you. You act like it's no problem."
"Things get to me, but I try not to let them get to me for long. And I try not to let it show when they do, because I want to help you stop worrying. So tell me everything that's bothering you, and I promise I won't act like it's no big deal."
"I've already told you. Everything's happening too fast. I knew you before we started seeing each other, but only from work. I didn't know you well. I had a great time the first time we went out, which is why I went home with you, but maybe I shouldn't have. Maybe we should have taken things slower. Maybe I should have made sure one of us was protected so I didn't get pregnant. I don't know. Four months ago, I was working at the office, living alone, and pretty much not dating at all; now I'm out of work, living with you, and having a baby. It's a lot to get used to, and sometimes I feel overwhelmed."
"I know what you mean," Jerome said. "You aren't the only one who feels like they're going ninety miles a second sometimes."
"But you never act like it."
"What would be the point? I'm overwhelmed sometimes, but I'm not afraid. I know things will work out for us. The way we found each other shows me that we're meant to be together."
"Well, I am afraid." She started crying again. "You've been a father before. I've never been a mother. What if I can't do it? What if I don't know how to take care of this baby? What if..."
"No more what ifs." Jerome caressed her shoulder. "Honey, every parent feels that way, I think. Every time one of my other children was born, my ex-wife and I felt that way. What if this is the one we can't handle? What if there's something wrong with this one? It's normal to be scared. But you told me you've wanted a baby for so long, I don't think there's any way you wouldn't be able to take care of him."
"Or her." Brenna managed a small smile. "I've wanted a baby for so long, but I said what I said in the car. You must hate me for that."
"I could never hate you, Brenna, no matter what you say. I understand you just said it because you're scared. I wish I hadn't yelled like I did."
"It's okay," Brenna said. She sat up, swinging her feet onto the floor, and leaned against Jerome. "I'm sorry I said that. I don't want to get rid of the baby. I'm just so scared." She started to cry again.