A week after the wedding, I told the rest of my family. They were all really excited and happy, wantin’ to know as much information that I could give them. Most of them were wondering about the ghost thing, and I explained it as best I could though admitted I had no idea yet. I asked Mal if he could help but he didn’t really have free access to the proper machinery unless I made an appointment which would have to be all official.
“My problem is I don’t know if there will be a noticeable different in the womb or not, the doctor I went to, Doctor Hart, says things are normal but what if it just looks normal and then I pop out a ghost?”
Mal, River and I were out eating together since I really needed advice and they were the two I knew that would be able to help the most, Mal with his schooling and River with her two pregnancies. I laid out for them my fears and now the two of them were considerin’ everything I said.
“I really have no clue what this sort of thing does,” Mal said, stirrin’ his drink. “I mean, ghost babies and all. It’s really unprecedented. Unfortunately it can’t really be documented or anything cause yeah, I agree with you that it’d be bad. E.T.” My lovely pre-MD brother began blowing bubbles into his milkshake. “I’ve only just finished undergraduate school, I still have a long way to go before I can do much of anything. But I’ll do anything I can to help.”
River leaned forward in her seat. “Hey, does Henri have a heartbeat? Because we were able to hear Kelsey and Charlie’s heart when I was a little less in than you,” she said. “If ghosts don’t, then maybe you could use that to go off on.”
I looked upwards, wonderin’ if it could be that simple. “The thing is, I have no idea what I should and should not be hearing or seeing. What if there is a heartbeat and then we get an ultrasound and the doctor sees something extremely weird? What if there’s no heartbeat–” I gulped at that, feelin’ shaky at the idea my own baby wouldn’t. “–and the doctor starts suspecting something? How–“
“You’re fourteen?” River cut me off and I nodded. “Did the doctor let you listen in? Because most likely you should have heard it by now.”
I shook my head. “I was told the baby wasn’t in the right position or something and I haven’t done much with checkups since I’m scared of what’s going to happen. Dr. Hart didn’t do much we talked mostly. I told her I wanted to talk to my family before we did much else.” I reached down and rubbed my belly. I was beginnin’ to show, slightly. Most my pants were too tight already so I was wearing sweatpants until I did some real shoppin’ which I promised to do with Kaylee and River. “I guess I’m just scared of what will happen if anyone finds out about the ghost thing.”
“Completely understandable,” Mal said, still blowin’ bubbles. “But what can you do except go to a doctor and take the risks of them finding out, if the baby is a ghost. You said the guy who was involved had two normal kids?”
“Yeah, but that won’t mean we will have–non-ghost kids.” I shuddered, not wantin’ to say living or dead. I wanted to throw up at that thought. Ghost and non-ghost would work fine with me. “I keep thinking that maybe I should keep going to Dr. Hart and hope for the best but then I get so scared at the thought of some sort of… government group waiting for me when I gave birth and taking away my child, and Henri.”
“Serenity, you’re three and a half months pregnant,” Mal said, finally pushin’ his drink away. “I don’t want to sound mean but you need to make a decision. Whatever happens, we’ll back you. And if anyone tries to take my niece or nephew to experiment on, I am going to go jail for blowing a hole through their head.”
“What if it wasn’t the position of the baby that was the reason you couldn’t hear the heartbeat, but that it’s a ghost?” River asked, eyes going wide. I just stared back, that thought never havin’ crossed my mind. “It’s just a thought, Serenity, it could very well be the way the baby is laying,” she put in quickly.
“No, you’re right, it is a possibility.” I rubbed my head and sighed. Gettin’ answers the soonest possible was the right thing to do. I could wait and hope that my baby’s heartbeat would be heard next time I go, but fearful of what might happen if that didn’t occur. I was a third of the way through my pregnancy and Mal was right, I needed to make a decision. So that night I called the number for the Reddings.
It was strange going back to the lab after only a couple months, and especially only for an overnight trip. It was for the best, though. Henri sort of agreed with me. He wasn’t pleased at the thought of going to the Reddings but relented when I said it would be Professor Redding helpin’ me and not his sister. He was the one that answered when I called and said he would help. He originally was going to try to come to us but couldn’t get the equipment to bring, so we were goin’ at a time his sister wouldn’t be around.
“Better him than her,” Henri kept muttering on the drive. “Maybe you could talk to him about your abilities, with his sister not being around. Maybe he won’t be wearing that helmet and you can find out what’s going on.”
He was wearing the helmet when he greeted us for the helicopter ride, and was considerably more cheerful than usual. It drove home the theory it was his sister that had been making him so uncomfortable the times we had seen him before. I tried bringin’ up the subject of my abilities but the first two times he changed the subject and the third time just didn’t even say anything in response, so I realized it was futile. I just thanked him for his help and he assured me it was no problem. It’s only not a problem since she’s not here, I thought, but kept my mouth shut.
I wanted to get the examination done right away but Professor Redding insisted on dinner. We ate in a small lunchroom I had never been in before, and then Henri and I were taken to what looked like a mix of a library and a hospital room. I lay on the bed, clutchin’ Henri’s hand and feeling weird as Professor Redding began working. “Now, we will n-n-need to do more than this ultras-s-sound,” he said as he spread some goop on my stomach. “For b-b-best result I would like to d-d-do a quick look of wh-what Henri looks like under th-this machine, so I c-c-can tell the difference if the b-baby is a gh-ghost.” Then he placed something against my stomach and slowly a picture formed on the screen.
“What can you tell so far?” I asked, Henri’s fingers linkin’ into mine tightly. I was holding my breath but I didn’t dare breathe yet.
“S-s-so far it’s hard t-to tell,” he said, peerin’ closely at the screen. “It’s b-been a l-long time since I’ve d-dealt with this s-s-sort of medical examination. But… f-f-from what I see…” He moved the wand thing on my belly and then straightened up. “There is a b-baby in there,” he said with a smile. “I w-would say it is a f-flesh baby but I w-would like to check Henri, j-just to make sure. If th-that’s okay.”
“What, you want me to stick my hand in her belly or something?” Henri asked and Professor Redding paled a bit and said, “N-no, just g-g-going to do this ultrasound on y-y-y-you. Oh,” he said after I got up off the bed and started wipin’ my stomach clean. “D-d-d-did you want to know th-the s-s-s-s…. se… x?”
My head jerked to look at Henri who was gaping. “Isn’t it a bit early?” he finally asked, gettin’ onto the bed so he could be examined.
Professor Redding shook his head as he cleaned the wand off and then spread the goop on Henri’s stomach, which made me giggle. “Make sure he’s not pregnant too.” I sat down and began chewin’ at my bottom lip. The sex of the baby. Already? I knew I was real close to being when I could find out–but did we want to know? “What do you think, love? Should we know the sex?”
“If you want to know,” he answered, gazing lovingly at me from the bed. “I don’t mind waiting and being surprised. What do you think?”
“W-w-w-well it is a f-f-flesh baby,” Professor Redding said before I could answer. “The m-m-matter that makes up a ghost is v-v-very obviously d-different. I can s-s-say unless a gh-ghost baby is d-d-different from a r-r-regular ghost, you are having a flesh and b-b-bones baby. C-congratulations.” He gave us both a big smile and looked a bit proud himself. He’s related, I reminded myself. This would be his… what? Great-great-great grandbaby? This always-young thing was creepy. “So… d-do you want to know th-the s… you know?”
I looked at Henri who shrugged at me. “I think–I think I want to wait,” I said, takin’ Henri’s hand. “If that’s okay with you.”
“I think that’s fine, it would be fun to be surprised,” he said, kissing the top of my head. “Especially since our nursery isn’t for either sex really, though we will need to think of names? But we can just pick a boy name and a girl name.”
“Thank you, Professor Redding,” I said, standing up and grinning. “I really appreciate all your help. Um, will Doctor Redding…?”
Professor Redding whimpered slightly. “I th-think it’s b-best if I don’t tell her you were here, if th-that’s okay.” Which of course was just perfect.
Now that we knew, I was able to schedule appointments with Dr. Hart. Since Henri couldn’t go with me I often went with a family member. Kaylee the most, occasionally someone else. Kaylee was really excited about being an aunt for the fourth time and it seemed like once a week she was bringin’ in something new for me. A nursing pillow, a pack of bibs, a stuffed toy, and finally I told her if she kept bringing me stuff I’d cancel the baby shower. That got her to stop.
We got loads of help gettin’ the nursery put up, the furniture put together, the carpet laid down, the wallpaper up.It went a lot quicker than we anticipated which was good since we had plenty more to focus on. We went ahead and bought some stuff to baby-proof the house since we had the money. I didn’t get everything we needed, though, since I knew my family wanted to chip in and sure enough I got a few really nice things at my baby shower. A stroller, a car seat, and a baby bath–plus a baby monitor, and other smaller things.
During this time I kept up some of my cases though I could tell some of my clients felt odd hiring a pregnant detective, despite my popularity. So when I hit the six month mark I wrapped up all my cases and stopped taking in new ones. I put up a voicemail on my work phone saying that my pregnancy was interruptin’ my aura-reading, which gave me an excuse to back out of helping the police with the assurance I would come back. The odd thing was I sometimes did feel real weird with this pregnancy and my abilities.
It first happened when Henri was talking to my belly. I wasn’t sure what it was at first but realized it was the baby. I was feelin’ my baby’s emotions, at least a little bit of it. I had always had trouble sensin’ the emotions of a baby in someone else since it was often blended in with the mother’s emotions so it felt super strange to git this sort of floaty feelin’ coming from inside me. “Henri, do that again,” I said.
“Do what?” he asked, glancing up at me.
“Talk to the baby,” I said, pulling my shirt up a bit. “I think–I think the baby is responding to it. Not physically,” I said as he put a hand against my bump. “Emotionally. I think I can feel the baby. Baby felt happy when you were talking. Do it again!”
Henri started talkin’ to my stomach again, making soothing sounds and rubbing my belly. I felt the little wisp of happiness and I just tried not to squeal with joy. I wrapped my arms around Henri and he hugged back. “I wish I could feel the baby like that,” he said, rubbing his hands all over my stomach. “Is it a strong feeling, like you have with Sebastian and Grandma?”
“No,” I admitted. “It’s nothing like that, it’s not even like with regular people. That might change when Baby is born, we’ll just have to wait and see.” I tilted my head and kissed him, feelin’ even more excited at the fact soon we’d have a child. I wondered what he or she would look like. I knew my dad’s eyes were really strong, as was the blondness. I really hoped the baby would get plenty of Henri genes. His beautiful grey eyes that I missed, or his amazing hair. Or even his nose which he hated, but I loved.
When Dr. Hart asked for my symptoms, when I was about 25 weeks in, I told her my concerns about my psychic ability drainin’ me. Dr. Hart stared at me and she felt very amused at the thought, assuring me that it wasn’t doing anything to the baby. I was a bit angry and wanted to prove I had psychic abilities, but remembered bein’ pregnant was supposed to interfere with it so I kept silent. I fumed about it to Henri later who reminded me that most people didn’t believe in the psychic world, or ghosts.
Every day he asked me how the baby was feeling. Sometimes I couldn’t answer him, often I could. ‘Happy’ was the most common answer. Safe, content, tired, and active were the others. I didn’t get the feelin’ of ‘active’ emotionally but I was able to tell now that Baby was getting bigger and moving around inside me which whoa was such a weird feeling and making it difficult. Baby liked to kick a lot and I kept tellin’ Kaylee it was like Baby was trying to run a marathon or something.
Kaylee put her hands on her own stomach. “Sounds crazy, I can’t even imagine being pregnant though I want a baby one day. Maybe adoption.”
That was a great opportunity to ask her what Henri and I had decided on. We asked her to be the godmother and she began shriekin’, part of her expecting this but part of her surprised. She hugged us both tightly and danced around, and I couldn’t imagine anyone else being my baby’s godparent.
Henri helped me through my sleepless nights, constantly fetching me things or givin’ me massages, and watching over me while I did manage to sleep. As I passed into my eighth, and then ninth month I felt ready to explode. I was in bed rest since my pregnancy was more drainin’ than most, according to Dr. Hart. I tried explaining to her several times it was because of my abilities but she insisted it had another cause. No point in trying to convince her, so I finally gave up. I didn’t like bed rest at all and it didn’t take long before I missed takin’ care of the horses. I did go into the barn sometimes which Henri didn’t like (if he had his way, I would be in a wheelchair) but I had to see my equine babies.
Our nursery was completely finished. The only finishing touch we needed was a baby in the crib. Everyone was waitin’ and I got about twenty texts a day from my family. Most of them from Kaylee and my maternal dad. I had to avoid spendin’ time with my family, though, since them being on pins and needles put me on even more pins and needles. It was unfortunate but there was nothin’ we could do. I wondered if the Reddings would give me some of those helmets, though knew that was out of the question. Shame, since it would be a great help.
Baby was gettin’ more and more active. I felt Baby’s emotions more often. They were always simple and clear, but never constant. I’d only get snatches here and there. I loved it when Henri would interact with Baby and I could feel how happy he or she was at hearin’ his voice. Since I had a lot of trouble sleeping at night, I’d often sit in the nursery and sing. Something I knew I’d be doing a lot after the baby was born. On occasion I’d fall asleep in the nursery and wake up to find Henri had put a blanket over me. It was early spring, just after my thirtieth birthday, and very chilly–especially living right near a waterfall.
My due date came closer and closer. I grew anxious, worried I’d go into labor at any moment. My maternal dad was on a cot in the computer room, since Henri would be unable to drive me to the hospital. He was the most obvious choice since it wouldn’t matter how near or far he was, I’d feel all his feelings anyway. This way I wouldn’t have anyone extra around, and I’d be able to go to the hospital as soon as I went into labor. Not that I wanted to go to the hospital. I hated hospitals. And a maternity ward was goin’ to be hell with all the crazy feelings everywhere, though there was nothin’ I could do short of having a home birth which I was a bit scared of doing. Maybe if we ever had another baby.
I knew due dates weren’t exact but for me it was. The morning I was supposed to give birth, I went into labor. I had had a few false pains over the past week but this time it was for real. Henri totally freaked out and Mom got real freaked out too but he stayed a lot calmer than my husband. We packed up my truck, I kissed Henri goodbye and started crying since he wouldn’t be able to be with me.
“I’m sorry, love, I’m sorry,” he said, clutchin’ my hands. “You’ll have your dads and brothers and sisters. I’m sorry I can’t be there. Call me as soon as the baby is born. Be careful. Be safe. Oh Sen.” He kissed me hard and then had to let go since my pains were getting worse. “I love you!”
“I love you too,” I said, heftin’ myself into the truck.
“I’ll call when it starts and be on the phone with you every moment,” Mom promised, starting up the truck. We drove off and I clutched my stomach, panting for air as I stared in the mirror, watching my husband get smaller and smaller. Mom reached over, takin’ one of my hands. “It will be okay, sweetie.”
“I wish he could come with me,” I said, tears running down my face. I’d have my family but not my husband. It wasn’t fair. “Was Dad there with you? When you gave birth?”
“Not with you, he wasn’t allowed in since we didn’t get permission,” Mom said, tryin’ hard to stay calm but inside he was spazzing out. “Of course, I was unconscious each time since all of them were C-sections.”
I stared out the window, sucking in air and tryin’ not to let myself give into hysterics. Henri had called everyone so Kaylee and Dad were at the hospital when we got there, and I knew when everyone else showed up. It was insane having to deal with labor and then giving birth while feelin’ everyone around me, my family, the doctors, nurses, other patients, and even Baby who wanted out now. Once the process stated I was dimly aware of screamin’ to be knocked out and digging my nails so hard into Mom and Kaylee’s hands that Kaylee started bleeding a bit. But she never let go, she kept telling me to breathe and push, and Mom did, and the doctors and nurses, and the pain was about to sweep me into nothing and then–
An explosion of happiness from everyone around me, topplin’ me into the abyss of unconsciousness.