Authors: Rachael Orman
Copyright 2014 by Rachael Orman
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Her Journey is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
My husband & baby girls - For always putting up with me.
Jennifer, Jacqui & Heather - the best bitches in the world.
Most women take a pregnancy test by themselves or with their significant other. Not me. I was sitting between a two people who were very likely praying to see two lines on the little test as much as, if not more than, I was. Ellis Crane sat on one side of me while Shannon Ryan sat on the other. If this test turned positive, I would be pregnant with their baby. This was our second attempt, as the first try hadn’t been successful. The second time I’d had to sit between them and pray that their wishes came true and that I could be the one to help them.
On the table before us sat the little test that I had peed on only moments before. Looking at the little piece of plastic that could signify a huge change in my life, I thought back to the first time we all met. I knew of her by name only because my mother talked about her every single time she got home from her chemo treatments. They had similar treatment schedules and had gotten to know each other as they sat there and the hopefully lifesaving poison was dripped into their veins. My mother always told me how young Ryan was and how in love she was with the wonderful man in her life, Ellis. Shannon was in the Marines and picked up going by her last name while there; that’s what I assumed since that’s what everyone, including my mother and Ellis called her.
The day I finally met Ryan, she was curled up under a stack of warm blankets supplied by the chemo nurses as she laughed softly with my mother. There was a thick hulk of a man sitting quietly next to her, holding her hand and listening to the two women converse.
Mother had waved me over and introduced us. From all the stories my mother told me of what a spunky personality and hard shell the woman had, I had certainly had not expected the frail little woman I was introduced to. However, when I reached my hand out to Ryan, her grip was firm and stronger than I would’ve thought possible from her appearance. A woven cap was pulled down over her bald head and her arms were small enough that it wouldn’t be a far stretch to compare them to toothpicks. Her cheeks were sunken in, but when she glanced at the man next to her, the love she had for him was clear by the twinkle in her eye and the soft smile that instantly came to her face.
Feeling like I was intruding on a private moment between the couple, I turned back to my mother. It wasn’t often I saw her when she was getting her treatments; it was hard enough for me to know she was battling breast cancer. Seeing it in person was an entirely different thing. The sterile environment, the other patients, the hushed murmurs of family members— it just all felt too close, too real. If I was honest, my life was so perfect I didn’t want to add in all the sadness that came with such an ugly disease, even for my mother. I didn’t want to face that ugly, dark cloud that hung over my mother’s life. I only came to support her when the guilt finally became too much to bear.
It’s not that I didn’t love my mother; I loved her more than I loved any other person in the world. I just didn’t want to see her in that environment, didn’t want to have those memories taint the mental images I had of her with her hair and makeup perfect. Call it selfish, call it naïve, call it whatever you want to call it, but I didn’t want the memories of the sick old woman that my mother had become. Every day was worse than the last; she had moved in with me a couple of months after she started her treatments and was too ill to take care of herself. I was too busy to care for her myself, so I hired a nurse to help her remember to eat and take her medications, although I did make sure we ate dinner together at least once a week and talk, which for my mother usually meant her treatments since that had become one of her only reasons to leave the house.
Not long after I met Ryan, my mother’s health took a swift downturn and we lost her. While I knew she wasn’t doing well, I hadn’t expected the loss and it was harder than I ever thought it would be to lose my last remaining relative. Oddly, Ryan and Ellis stepped up and were so supportive during the whole grieving process and did everything they could to help with the funeral. My mother had spent over twenty years in the Air Force, so her funeral was filled with service men and women who came to pay their respects even though they didn’t personally know her, which I appreciated because without them, the funeral would’ve been sadly quite empty. She was a lot like me— hard on the outside. It was tough to get under that rock-hard exterior she had, but once you did she treated you like family and would do anything for you.
However, before my mother died, she had expressed how bad she felt for Ryan and the fact that she would never be able to have children due to the fact that years earlier, her cancer had spread to her uterus and they’d had to remove it. That’d been the first time Ryan had been diagnosed; it was the second time that she was going through the process when she met my mother. After my mother had heard that, she started to hint that with a surrogate they would still be able to have children of their own since they’d only removed Ryan’s uterus and not her ovaries. I thought she was crazy and said as much to her. After she had passed, and with everything they did to help me not only taking care of the funeral but helping me— emotionally— I felt like I owed them. I wanted to give them something they couldn’t do on their own.
So I offered to carry a child for them.
I wasn’t in a relationship with anyone and I didn’t plan to be for quite some time. So why not help out a couple who more than deserved a child? That makes it sound so flippant, like it was an easy decision for me, but it wasn’t, not at all. It took me months after my mother’s death to make my decision and then to finally bring the idea up to them; just as I expected, both of them immediately refused the idea. They had both come to terms with never having children, but would adopt instead. I gave them a few weeks before bringing it up again and making sure they knew that I was as fully committed now as I had been weeks before. It was something I wanted to do for them. They’d been there for my mother during the times that I hadn’t, and then they’d been there for me. A couple that was so giving deserved to have someone give something to them.
By the time they agreed, they had moved back to Arizona, where they were from, and I was still in DC, where we had met. Thankfully, I was a freelance photographer so I was able to work wherever I wanted as long as I had an Internet connection and places I could go to shoot. Even though I had my perfect life in DC already, I was willing to do what I had to do to make this dream happen for them. Plus, after my mother had passed away in the house I had bought with the inheritance from my godmother when she passed, it became harder to live there with the memories of her and my failings as her daughter. So I moved down to Arizona and we started the process. It was nearly six months since I’d arrived. Apparently making babies wasn’t as simple when you had to involve doctors and tests. It had only been 3 months after Ryan had finished her treatments when we first started. She’d been cleared by all her doctors, but told to not push her body too hard since it was still recovering from her intense cancer treatments. Ryan would have to go through all the hormones and everything again to retrieve more eggs since the last of the retrieved eggs from the first attempt were used for the second attempt. She was much stronger than when we had first started, but the doctors still hesitant to have to do it again.
I looked over to the woman sitting near my side. She had gained some weight, but still didn’t look like the full-figured vibrant woman I’d seen pictures of. On my other side was her soul-mate, there was no other word for him. They weren’t married or even engaged as far as I knew, but the man was there for her any time she needed something. Truth be told I was a bit envious of their relationship. They looked at each other like the only reason they existed was because the other was there. Then there was me, twenty-nine years old and I had never found anything even remotely close to love. Before meeting them, I had given up hope that there were relationships like that out there. Seeing the soul-deep commitment they had to each other almost made me wish for someone. Almost. I wasn’t ready to give up my freedom, not yet.
“Oh my god,” Ryan gasped from beside me. I looked at her, ready to jump up for whatever she needed, but her eyes were on the table, a hand over her mouth as tears slowly tracked down her cheeks.
“It’s positive.” Ellis’s voice quivered from beside me. I flipped my head around to look at the test, and sure enough, two lines were there. The second one was pretty faint but it was without a doubt there.
“Looks like we’re having a baby.” I picked up the test and looked at the happy couple. They both jumped up from the couch and squished me between them. “Okay, okay, I need air,” I laughed.
“You are moving in with us immediately,” Ellis said.
I looked at him in surprise. “Uh. I think that’s something we’ll have to talk about.” I cleared my throat. I wanted to say “not a chance”, but it was a happy moment and I didn’t want to ruin it. “We need to get in to see the doctor before we start even going there. And I’m only a few minutes away from your house anyway. That’s why I rented this apartment in the first place— I like my own space.”
“Right. Right. Ellis, cool it.” Ryan placed a hand on his chest. She turned her head to smile at me. “You know, anything at all that you need, we are here.”
“Yes, I do. I’ll see you two at the doctor in two weeks.” I ushered them towards the door. It was all crashing down on me and I needed a few minutes, or hours, alone. They left with a few goodbyes, then I returned to the couch and the test that I had dropped on the table. Picking it up, I sat back on the couch, looking at it.
So, this was it. I was going to make a baby. It wouldn’t be mine, and I was sure I’d have to remind myself that more than once as the pregnancy progressed. Placing a hand over my flat stomach, I looked up at the ceiling wondering what the hell I’d signed up for. It was one thing in theory, in conversation even, but in reality, I was giving up my body for the next nine months and beyond for this couple whom I barely knew. Not that I was regretting it, not at all, but it was still a bit strange to realize how many changes I would be going through for this baby that wasn’t even part of me. It was Ryan and Ellis in every fiber of its being, except for the fact that I would be carrying and nourishing it for them.