THREE MONTHS PREGNANT
Knock, Knock, Knock
“May I help you?” I asked after opening the door. I had been expecting Momiji and instead I found what could only be a Lawyer. It was a balding man in a grey suit holding a briefcase.
“Dr. Sohma?” he asked and I nodded. “Your family has a league of quite amazing lawyers, I’ve only just now been able to get through them. Let’s just get down to it. I’m with the government and I am only here to see if your marriage is real or not.”
“Ah, I was wondering why no one had checked up on us yet. I can assure you that it was not my idea for them to stop you, my family is just very… private,” I said and stood aside to let him in. Before I could close the door a blond bundle of energy shot in after the man.
“Where’s Inora? I’ve got something to show her from school!” he cheered and giggled madly.
“In the bedroom reading. Don’t wake her if she fell asleep though.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t!” he skipped down the hall still giggling.
“Now, I assume there’s some questions you wish to ask?” I asked the man. I could hear myself reverting back to the way I used to talk before, as everyone puts it, Inora loosened me up.
“Actually the both of you. I’m sorry if she’s ill but we need to get this dealt with.”
“No, she’s just resting. I’ll go get her, make yourself comfortable,” I gestured to the living room before heading down the hallway to get her.
“Someone’s here?” She asked as I stepped in, she was holding some sort of flier for a school event.
“Government man, wants to make sure we are in love,” I laughed.
“I could tell him! You two are adorable!” Momiji said sounding excited for some reason.
“I’m sure we can convince him. And yes of course I’ll go to the festival,” she smiled and ruffled his hair.
“Are you sure you can? You won’t be too tired?” he looked concerned.
“Good lord, I’m pregnant not struck with the plague.” She got off the bed and beamed at me. “Let’s go make nice with the government dude.” We went back down the hallway to find the man going through his briefcase.
“Ah, good. Have a seat and let’s get started,” he said and barely glanced at us. “Inora, can I call you that? Give me a brief rundown on your ‘story’.”
“Uh, ok. I came here towards the end of October in 2010. Hatori and I started dating in December. We got married in January 2012 and I got pregnant in July,” she said simply. He finally looked up at her and his eyes settled on her stomach which was now starting to form a little mound.
“You’re pregnant? Well that’s… congratulations. Hatori, where did Inora live before coming to Japan and who did she live with?”
“Oregon City, Oregon. And she lived with her uncle Dan as her parents passed away when she was 17,” I replied.
“Hey mister. Ha’ri and Inora are really in love, you can ask anyone who knows them. I know I see it every day,” Momiji said from the doorway.
“I don’t doubt that son, this is just a formality. Though now that we know she’s pregnant my question list shortened considerably. I think we’re done here. Man, months of fighting your lawyers just for that. I need a new job.”
“Good lord. I want to punch something so bad,” I muttered as I came back from the bathroom. This was our third time pausing the movie so I could pee.
“Frequent urination is a natural part of pregnancy,” Hatori said in his ‘doctor’ voice.
“Doesn’t mean I have to like it,” I grumbled.
“Anyway it’s a good sign you’re getting enough water.”
“Maybe if I stop drinking water I won’t have to pee so much!”
“Don’t do that,” he sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Of course I’m not really going to do it. Geez do I look like an idiot?”
“No but’s mister. Just start the movie.”
Five seconds later
“Nope. No good. All that talk about water, now I have to pee again.” I left the room to Hatori laughing. He is so going to get it…later.
“I’m home,” I called into the house. No response. She must be at Hatsu’s place or something. I drug myself down the hallway, my only thought was a nap. It seemed as though half of the family had the flu this year. I, being the only family doctor, had just spent 15 hours straight at my little office or calling on people. I was exhausted. I was surprised that she didn’t call me or leave a note by the door. I knew it was probably silly but I couldn’t help but worry. It seems like she has been more tired than usual lately… I’ll just call Hatsu before I lay down.
I opened the bedroom door and the first thing I saw was the laundry basket tipped over on the ground and clothes everywhere. I took another step in and the bed came into view and with it Inora. She was slumped against the side like she had been trying to lay down but had collapsed before she got there.
“Inora?” I dashed over and knelt next to her. I gently shook her shoulder when she didn’t respond. My panic was starting to rise, I shook her again but all that did was make her head roll back in the most disconcerting way. I immediately checked for her pulse and sighed in relief when I found a weak but steady one. She was also breathing deeply. She must have fainted, but I’m not taking chances. I picked her up and laid her on the bed before calling an ambulance.
I couldn’t say how long it took for them to get there. Every second that she didn’t wake up dozens of worst case scenarios would run through my head. I kept my fingers at her wrist just so I could reassure myself with her pulse until the paramedics arrived. As soon as I let them in everything was a furry of movement and questions.
“Sir, have you noticed anything that might have led to this?” one of them asked.
“Um…” I was distracted by the other two moving her seemingly lifeless form from the bed to the gurney. The sight made my insides turn into one giant knot.
“Sir?” he prompted.
“She’s been tired lately, but it didn’t seem like it was excessive for someone in her condition,” I said while watching them roll her down the hallway.
“And how far along is she?”
“Five months,” I stated before rushing out the door after them. I simply climbed in after them without asking and I barely felt us starting to move. About halfway to the hospital, thank god, she woke up.
“Ha’ri,” she croaked out, desperately searching the area above her. I leaned over her so she could see me easily.
“I’m here.” I grabbed her hand and she griped it tightly.
“Sorry. I should have told you earlier… I don’t feel right,” she said so quietly that I had to strain to hear her over the engine. Of course, I should have known that she would try to hide it from me. I held off on the lecture that she would need to hear, that can wait until she feels better.
“It’s alright, you’ll be just fine,” I said for my benefit just as much as hers. The ambulance lurched to a halt and before I knew it I was being ushered to the desk while they wheeled her through some doors.
“I want to see her,” I told the nurse as soon as I handed her all the paperwork.
“Just a moment,” she sighed and picked up the phone. “Wait over there, the doctor will be right out.”
“Right,” I said sarcastically and almost laughed at the habit I picked up from Inora. I plopped down in a seat, placed my head in my hands, and waited. And waited… and waited some more. Please tell me it’s my mind saying it’s taking forever and not something seriously wrong with her health.
“Dr. Sohma,” someone said above me. I looked up to find Dr. Ootori standing there holding a file with my wife’s name on it.
“What are you…” I trailed off. Oh god, the baby.
“Relax, they are both just fine,” he said reading my face perfectly. “They thought it had something to do with her pregnancy so they called me in. They were correct, to put it simply, she is malnourished.”
“How is that possible? I’ve made sure she eats what she’s supposed to and taken all of the right vitamins.”
“I don’t doubt that, I know you are a fine doctor. It just appears as though her body isn’t absorbing the nutrients like it should. We’ll just have to increase the amount she takes and she should be back to perfect health in a week or so. For today, however, I have an injection I will give her to get her back on track faster.”
“Yes. Why?” he asked confused. My mind flashed back to Inora sitting on Shigure’s kitchen floor with a dislocated shoulder practically screaming at me to ‘just do it’ without numbing her.
“It’s just… maybe you should let me do it,” I said. He just looked at me for a moment before shrugging and motioning for me to follow him. As we walked through the halls I couldn’t help but notice all of the doctors and nurses darting around to help the patents. We happened to walk by a room where someone was crashing and I paused as I watched a doctor shout orders as he tried to save the man’s life. The doctor finally got a steady heartbeat out of the man and I watched as those around him gave him complements. The doctor simply nodded and went to the next person that needed help.
“Are you coming?” Ootori asked.
“Yes, sorry,” I muttered as I caught up to him again. He looked at me for another moment then gave a small smile.
“If you ever feel that you are done being a family doctor let me know. I can help you get your foot in the door here. My father owns the place after all,” he said and turned into a room. Work here? I would be saving lives instead of treating the flu and broken ankles. I can’t deny that that’s an interesting offer.
“Ha’ri,” Inora sounded relieved.
“How are you feeling?”
“How do you think?” she chuckled.
“What have they told you so far?” I asked and she gave me a slightly slurred rundown of everything they had told her, she knew everything… except for the injection.
“They said I’ll be fine… so why do you look like you have horrible news to tell me?” she asked.
“Well to minimize any risk to the baby Dr. Ootori has a supplement to give you to get you up to safer levels,” I started.
“It’s an injection,” I said and she groaned and plopped her head back on the pillow. I had been expecting more of a reaction. Maybe in her condition that’s all the strength she had… which is disconcerting.
“Isn’t there just a horse pill I can take?” she asked, her voice raising a few octaves.
“Pills would take a few hours to absorb into your bloodstream,” Ootori put in from behind me.
“Would you like me to do it?” I asked quietly. She thought for a moment before nodding slowly. She let a few tears escape which spoke volumes as to exactly how much she didn’t like needles. She will rarely cry in front of me let alone strangers.
“Exactly how bad is your fear of needles?” Ootori asked her.
“It’s a phobia,” I supplied. “Breathe Inora,” I reminded her and she drew in a shaky breath. I disinfected the spot and she stopped breathing again, I decided that if I was fast enough that was fine. He handed me the syringe and she squeezed her eyes shut and tensed all her muscles. I concentrated intently on being as efficient as possible, and thankfully even though the rest of her body jerked slightly as she let out a sob she kept that arm perfectly in place. I handed the empty syringe back to him and he tactfully left to give her a moment.
“There, that wasn’t so bad was it?” I said as I pulled her into my chest.
“Shut up,” was her muffled sob.
“This is the strangest outing I’ve ever been on,” I muttered.
“Shut up, I need it,” she said while tapping her fingers impatiently against the table.
“I think ‘need’ is a strong word for ice cream,” I laughed and she ignored me. We were sitting outside under an umbrella with Aya waiting for Ha’ri to come back with her ice cream. She had gotten tired so we decided to wait with her while Ha’ri searched for the ‘perfect flavor’.
“Shigure,” Aya said in an oddly serious tone. I glanced over and he was staring intently at something on the street. “Isn’t that Kana?” he whispered so Inora couldn’t hear. I followed his line of sight and found the person he was looking at. That was her alright. Inora curiously looked over to see what we were looking at.
“She…looks familiar,” she said quietly. Ah, she must have seen the picture. I knew that Hatori had taken it out of his office right after he and Inora went on their first date. Kana was still a big part of his past, however, so he would have held on to the picture. Inora must have come across it.
“That’s…” Aya started but then looked to me, I could tell he was wondering if we should tell her.
“Kana,” I finished. She looked at us for a moment before getting up and starting towards her. Aya and I shot each other a panicked look before dashing after her. For being six months pregnant Inora was fast, by the time we caught up to her she was only a few feet from Kana.
“Oh my, look at you! How far along are you?” Kana gushed.
“Six months,” Inora replied in an oddly sweet voice.
“Do you mind?” Kana asked gesturing to her stomach.
“Of course not!” Inora said excitedly and grabbed Kana’s hand to place it on her stomach. Aya and I exchanged looks, what is going on? “They just started kicking for real about a week ago.”
“Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” Kana asked.
“Nope! We decided to wait to know.”
“Well that will be exciting. And what’s your name?” Kana asked, taking her hand back.
“I’m Inora Sohma,” She said sounding… triumphant.
“What a small world. I’m a Sohma too, funny that we’ve never met. I’m Kana.”
“Kana…” Inora muttered while pretending to think about it. “Ah! I think you worked with my husband!”
“Hatori?” Kana instantly asked. Ok so now I see. Inora was rubbing it in this woman’s face that she was happy with Hatori. The only problem with that is that Kana only remembers the beginning of their relationship, not that they were in love.
“Yeah! In fact he’s around here somewhere…” Inora said and looked around once. I saw a look of satisfaction cross her face as she saw Kana look for him too.
“So Hatori’s going to be a dad huh?” Kana asked awkwardly.
“Yup! Ah, the look on his face when he found out. He was so happy,” Inora grinned.
“Inora? There you are, what are you…” Hatori said from behind us. “Kana?”
“Oh, Hatori! It’s nice to see you again. I was just talking to your wife,” Kana said in a slightly higher voice than normal. He shot Aya and me a look before responding.
“It’s nice to see you too,” he said and handed Inora her ice cream.
“Thanks Ha’ri,” Inora said and gave him a kiss before she seemed to shrink into the background to let them talk. Oh she was good. Hatori and Kana had a light, slightly awkward, conversation before she said goodbye and left. I noticed Kana’s eyes run over Hatori one last time before she left but he had already turned his attention back to Inora.
“So just two months left huh?” Shigure asked.
“Almost exactly,” I agreed.
“Are you worried at all?” he asked.
“I can’t deny I’ll be a little relieved once the two month point passes…” I said.
“Does she know?”
“I didn’t see the point in worrying her.”
“Maybe you’re right… I don’t see why the curse would ever come back,” he said and fell into silence. He had come over for dinner, which Inora had insisted on cooking as she was to be put on bed rest in a week or so. She would have to start this earlier then other women seeing as she was so…large. In fact several people, mostly Shigure and Ayame, have been teasing her that she looked like she was carrying twins. Then I would have to inform them that some women carry their children further forward then others, plus the ultrasound only showed one.
After dinner he stayed to play a card game Inora taught us that was played with colorful cards. For some reason you had to say the Spanish word for ‘one’ when you only had one card left, it seems to me like it would be more strategic for them to not know when you were about to go out. At one point Inora dropped her cards on the table and squeezed her eyes shut.
“Inora? Are you ok?” I asked. She nodded quickly and took a few deep breaths before picking her cards up again.
“Um… who’s turn is it?” she asked. We continued the game but I was more focused on her then my cards. After she had fainted around the five month mark I had reminded her that her health was also related to the health of the baby. I knew it went against her nature but she needed to tell me whenever she didn’t feel well. She had been doing better at that but I had learned to tell when she wasn’t telling me. This was one of those times. A while later it happened again.
“Tell me what wrong,” I said after walking around the table to her side.
“It hurts,” she panted.
“Does the pain come and go?” I asked and she nodded. I exchanged a worried glance with Shigure.
“This is how that book described contractions but… It’s way too early,” she muttered.
“Hospital. Shigure, there’s a bag on the floor in the right side of the closet, grab it and meet us in the car,” I said and started helping her to her feet.
“Hatori, I’m sure it’s nothing. It’s too early,” she said.
“I didn’t mention it before but… whenever a member of the Zodiac was born it was always two months early,” I said. She stared at me for a moment.
“Hospital,” she said and started towards the door.
“False labor?” I repeated. Ootori had rushed in, took one look under the sheet, and informed us that she was not really in labor.
“Felt real enough,” Inora muttered.
“This is quite common, and it could happen a few more times before the real thing. Here’s a list of the ways to tell them apart,” he explained and handed me a pamphlet. “You know most couples are too scared to admit that it might be early labor.”
“Let’s just say, his family had a history of early labor,” Inora said.
“Interesting… anyway you aren’t in any danger so you’re free to go home,” he said and bid us goodnight.
“Well that’s a relief,” I said.
“Yes… but I would have loved them anyway,” she said.
“I know you would have.” I gave her a hug and kissed the top of her head.
“I was hoping for the tiger,” she said causing me to laugh.
“God my back hurts. I’m gonna go take a bath,” Inora said and awkwardly got off of the couch. She was well past the point where she had to stand hips first with her hands behind her supporting herself on whatever she was getting off of.
“Do you need anything?” I asked, looking up from my book.
“No,” she sounded tired. She had told me on several occasions she wanted to ‘hurry and pop this kid out’ so she could go back to normal. About a half a minute later she came back out, stood in front of me, and bit her lip. I knew this look.
“Where is it?” I asked as I got up and led her to the bathroom.
“In the tub,” she said. I felt her grab the back of my shirt and bury her face in between my shoulder blades. “It’s huge and black.” I had to scan the tub a few times before I found the tiny spider she was referring to.
“This little thing?” I asked.
“It’s not little. Kill it!” she said.
“You are so weird,” I said as I grabbed some toilet paper and squished the tiny bug then flushed it.
“But don’t you just feel so manly now?” she grinned.
“Oh yeah. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go swing through some trees on a vine.”
NINE MONTHS (early lol)
“This is ridiculous,” I muttered to myself. I was looking at myself in the mirror, specifically my stomach that was poking out from under the biggest shirt I owned. I couldn’t wait until the end of the month so I could start working on looking normal again. Right now it looked like an alien was trying to come out of me.
“What is?” Hatori said coming up behind me.
“That now I’m as ugly from the front as I am from the back,” I said in a teasing tone. But I meant it, and he knew it. I saw him frown before he turned me to face him. He guided me over and he sat on the bed so he was eye level with my stomach and rested his hands on my hips. I put my hands on his arms as he looked up into my eyes.
“You are beautiful. You are carrying our child and to me that is one of the most beautiful things in this world. Don’t call yourself ugly. I won’t stand for anyone insulting you, including yourself,” he said quietly. My eyes stung but I let the tears fall freely. He slowly pulled up my shirt so it was gathered on top of my stomach and kissed right above the bellybutton. Then he slowly turned me around and fresh tears fell as I felt him place several kisses on my scars.
“Thank you,” I whispered to him.
“I love you,” he whispered back.