Chapter 4 – Stay With Me

“Well…” The doctor shines the light in my eyes, blinding me as he stares into them; what he’s looking for I have no idea. “…everything looks good.” He smiles at me. “Any dizziness, nausea, memory loss?” I smile at him and shake my head. He lifts my blanket and folds it back before poking and prodding at my stomach. The pressure is uncomfortable, but I don’t feel anything unusual. “Anything feel tender?”

“No.” Bette stops her pacing and looks to me with anguished eyes. I realize it’s going to take a long time for her to believe that I’m okay, but I feel fine. My heart still feels a little shaky, so I say as much. “Doctor House?” He looks up from his prodding and covers me again as he gives me his full attention. “My heart feels… a little… shaky, different. Not as fluttery as before the delivery, but…”

He smiles warmly. “That’s perfectly normal. You were a high risk pregnancy to begin with because of your age, but your body went through a lot of changes, more specifically the increased blood flow around the uterus during gestation and labor. That can give you a mild arrhythmia that should subside more and more as your circulatory system levels itself out.” Bette looks to me and I can tell she’s mildly relieved but still worried.

The doctor notices this and continues with a slight frown. “Also, when you gave birth, you had a uterine rupture that we barely caught in time. We got you to the OR and repaired it, but we found extensive scarring on your uterus. Have you had a child before?” I furrow my brows and close my eyes as I recall I had two abortions in my early twenties, and one of them was a very painful recovery. “I…” I look up to Bette. No one knows this. I meet her gaze as I come clean. I should have told her. “…I had two abortions in my early-to-mid-twenties. One of them was a difficult recovery.” Her eyes go wide with shock as she gazes at me for a long moment. Eventually her face softens and she takes my hand. I release a tense sigh. She doesn’t hate me.

I look back to the doctor and he smiles sadly as he continues. “That would explain it. It’s rare for this to happen with first time mothers, but the uterine wall was just too weak and we didn’t know it. We didn’t have to do a hysterectomy, but another pregnancy could be fatal.” I close my eyes against that pain and let a breath go. I have one and I have Bette. Expecting more would be selfish, but this is still devastating to me…

Bette squeezes my hand I look up to see a single tear escape her knowing eyes. She knows but she’s my tower, my champion, my strength. I look back to the doctor and nod my head as I try to let it go. He clears his throat and continues. “We had to do a transfusion while we got the bleeding under control. Your body has been absorbing a lot of blood, but nothing felt swollen and you said you weren’t tender during the examination. It was all the bodily stress and the surgery that caused you to go into arrest a couple days ago.” I look to Bette with wide eyes to see she is barely containing herself as thick tears roll down her bronze cheeks. She looks at me and nods her head. I close my eyes. I died… twice…

The doctor stands and smiles reassuringly at both of us. “But… you appear to be fine. In fact, we’ll move you to a recovery room for the night and if you are consistently stable, we’ll release you tomorrow.” He looks me right in the eyes as he says. “I believe you’re going to be fine. There will be some things to do when you get home, but I don’t foresee any further issues or permanent damage, and the tear was small. The sutures have already been removed.” No, I’m just barren. He looks to Bette and smiles again, squeezing her shoulder with his hand. “It would be good for you both to get up and move around.” He smiles at me. “Maybe go meet your daughter.” I raise hopeful eyebrows at Bette and she smiles brilliantly. “She’s coming along beautifully. She should be ready to come home soon, maybe another day or two. It’s not required, but I’d like to see her reach seven pounds.”

Bette turns to him with wide, no nonsense eyes. “Just make sure she’s safe.”

He smiles again and nods. “Anyway, just let the nurses know. If you feel any dizziness, nausea, cramps, or if your heart starts to flutter, get a nurse immediately; but you seem in good health and I think you’ll do just fine. Your body shut down and got the rest it needed.” He smiles again and walks to the door stopping once more. “I’ll let the nurses know and they’ll get a recovery room ready for the night. I’ll start work on your release papers and come back to see you before you leave to discuss aftercare.”

We both nod our heads at him and chorus, “Thank you.” He smiles again and leaves.

I look back to Bette who sits beside me with a heavy sigh. She’s still holding my hand so I squeeze it and she turns to me. “I should have told you Bette. I’m sorry.”

She smiles a sad smile but nods her head. “It’s okay that it happened, T. You just should have told me, that’s all.”

I nod and tears gather in my eyes. “I know. There’s a lot to make up for. I already told you about my sister. I don’t think there’s anything else in my past that’s important, but if anything comes to mind, I’ll tell you immediately.”

She smiles more authentically and squeezes my hand. “Thank you.”

I smile back at her. “Thank you for understanding.” I furrow my brows. “It’s not something that I’m exactly… proud of… and Doctor Wilson said that it’s rare for it to complicate planned pregnancies. I… I had no idea…”

She looks to our entwined fingers nodding her head in understanding, and I realize just how exhausted she is. Her eyes are sunken into dark circles and her face is gaunt. Her color is paler than usual and her hair lacks luster. I reach forward and stroke her arm until she meets my gaze. “How long have we been in here?”

She frowns and lowers her eyes again. “Today is seven days… but it felt like an eternity.” I smirk at this. I know exactly what she means. I’m tired too. Abraxas… I’m going to have a long talk with Dan…

I let go of her hand and she looks to me with furrowed brows as I scoot over to the edge of the bed near the heart monitor and tap the small mattress next to me. It’ll be a tight fit, but I don’t plan to leave much room between us anyway. She smiles and objects. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea, T…”

I smile brightly at her and raise an incredulous eyebrow. “Bette… fuck propriety and come lay down. I really just… don’t care.” She smiles. “I want… no, I need to hold you.” I gaze at her pleadingly and she raises her brows in that childlike look of emotional wonder that frames her incredulous grin, and I have to steady my heart at the familiar warmth of it. She’s so strong, but so gentle, and so fragile. I stroke her face and she complies, gently settling herself in next to me. We face each other on our sides and I tuck her head under my chin, resting my own against the thick springs of her hair as I close my eyes and sigh contentedly. “I love you Bette…”

She wraps her arm as tight as she dares around my waist and I feel her smile against my breast as she says, “I love you too, T…” She starts to cry again, and I tangle my hands in her hair as I pull her tight against me, kissing the crown of her head before I’m overcome with it all as well and we sob together. We grieved before, but it was individual, and as such, we healed separately. But this, I believe that this is our moment to grieve together, and as such, we will heal together. Even as I pour all of it out with her, as we empty our souls to one another, I can’t help but look forward with joy and gratitude, and securely engrained hope.

Continued in Chapter 5 – Every shadow, no matter how deep, is threatened by morning light.

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