AJ knocked lightly on their bedroom door. "Baby? Are you almost ready?"
"Yeah, just give me a second," Kim said.
"Alright, J's downstairs waiting in the living room. I'll be with him if you need me."
AJ went downstairs to sit with Jordan until Kim came down a few minutes later. The three of them went to the car, but Jordan chose to sit on Kim's side instead, which struck AJ as odd.
"Don't you wanna sit behind me, J?"
He shook his head quickly and ran to the other side and got in. AJ exchanged a worried glance with Kim before getting in and beginning the drive downtown.
"Mommy? Where are we going?" Jordan asked a few minutes later as AJ was on his cell phone talking with Tony.
"To go see my doctor, Liz, remember? It's time for the baby's check-up."
"Babies need check-ups, too?"
"Yep, to make sure he or she is okay," Kim answered again.
"That's good?" he wondered.
"Yes, Mommy has to go every once in a while to make sure that the baby and I are healthy."
"That's great, Dad. We're actually on our way to see Kim's gynecologist for her monthly pre-natal appointment. Yeah, Jordan's with us. I am excited. I will. We'll stop by the hospital afterward. Good. I love you, too. Bye." AJ hung up the phone and continued to concentrate on the road in front of him.
"How's your mom today, Alex?" Kim asked.
"Yeah, how's Grandma, Daddy?" Jordan echoed.
"She's good, buddy. Everything's going fine, she's just anxious to get out of the hospital." Denise was moved out of the Surgical ICU on Tuesday morning and into a regular Recovery room. Any visitors could come and go as they pleased within the correct hours which AJ was grateful for, he got to spend a lot more time with Denise and visited every day just as he had been doing.
Kim nodded. "I would be, too. When do they think she'll be able to come home?"
"Dad said that she might get to go home by the end of the weekend at the earliest," AJ said with a smile.
"That's wonderful. Is she gonna stay with us or are she and Tony gonna go home?"
"I was hoping that the four of us could talk about it today."
"It's a plan, then."
The drive to Kim's doctor was otherwise uneventful as they pulled into the parking lot. The three of them went inside the building and sat in chairs as Kim signed in at the desk and waited for her name to be called. There were quite a few other pregnant women with their significant others in the waiting room as well.
A young woman walked in a few minutes later and sat a few chairs down from them. She gave Kim a smile after noticing that she was obviously pregnant. "Is he yours?" she asked.
"Yes, this is my husband, Alex, and our son, Jordan."
AJ waved while Jordan decided to be shy and hide as best he could.
She chuckled. "Aw, he's a cutie. He has your husband's eyes."
"Yes, he does. Are you one of Dr. Novotny's patients?" Kim wondered, trying to make polite conversation.
"Oh, no. I'm here to see Dr. Penoyer."
"Oh, right. It's either one of the two." Kim's doctor shared a private practice with another OB/GYN.
She gave a sort of nervous chuckle. "Yeah."
"...Are you okay?" Kim wondered with concern.
"Just a little anxious is all. I'm getting some test results back today."
"I'm sure they'll come out fine, don't get yourself all worked up now," she tried to reassure her.
Dr. Novotny opened the door separating the waiting room from the exam rooms. "Kim, you can come on back."
She stood along with AJ and Jordan. "What's your name?"
"Brittany." she answered.
"Good luck, okay, Brittany?"
"Thank you so much," she said.
They went back with Kim's doctor to an exam room where she shut the door and they sat in a few chairs.
"So, how are all of you? It's been awhile, Alex."
"Likewise, Liz. I'm good, yourself?"
She shrugged. "Eh, I can't complain. And Jordan, I can't believe how big you've gotten! What happened to your arm?"
"He and my mom were in a car accident on the twenty-eighth," AJ answered.
Dr. Novotny was slightly shocked. "Oh, wow, Kim never mentioned that when we last spoke on Monday."
"Yeah, Jordan got to come home on Sunday and my mom is still in the hospital at Cedars. She was moved to Recovery on Tuesday from the Surgical ICU and might be released on Sunday."
"I see. Well, give her my best and I hope that Jordan, here, recovers quickly."
AJ gave a small smile. "I will, thanks."
"Alright, Kim, let's get you weighed first."
Kim got on the scale and Dr. Novotny lightly pushed the marker to the correct number and read the result. "Good, you're right on target with your weight gain."
Kim groaned. "The one thing I hate about being pregnant: getting fat..."
"You're not fat, Mommy, you're beautiful," Jordan insisted with a shake of his head.
"Aw, thank you sweetie." She looked to her husband. "Did you tell him to say that?"
AJ smiled. "Honestly? No."
"You've gained four pounds, which is where you should be. Remember that a reasonable amount of weight gain for you is twenty-five to thirty-five pounds. Alright, hop up here on the table and let's get started."
She did so and Dr. Novotny began to take her blood pressure. "So you're feeling completely better? No more cold symptoms to speak of?"
"Nope, I'm all good. I started really feeling better around Tuesday." Kim answered.
"Great. As you know, you're more prone to infections because of your pregnancy so those symptoms will hang around longer than usual because of your lowered resistance."
"That means if Jordan or hubby gets sick you've gotta stay away and have as little contact with them as possible."
"Right," she said a bit sadly.
"I know it's hard, but you'll do what's right for yourself and the baby."
"Alright, your BP's normal. 110/80. Let's take your temperature now." Dr. Novotny placed a thermometer in Kim's ear.
"We have one of those, Daddy," Jordan observed quietly.
"Yeah, we do," AJ replied.
"Your temp's normal, 98.7. How are you feeling otherwise?"
"I feel pretty good, much better than when I was constantly puking my guts up. I've been feeling a little dizzy and have been getting heartburn more easily, though, which didn't really happen during my first pregnancy."
"That's typical now that you're twelve weeks along. Just make sure that you don't overexert yourself or stand up too fast. I know you like your spicy food but you know you've got to cut back on it."
"If you need to, take liquid antacid instead of Tums, it works more effectively. Make sure that you chew and swallow your food well. Don't eat before bed and prop your head up at night so stomach acid doesn't have a chance to travel up to your esophagus."
"Your suggestions are noted."
Dr. Novotny chuckled. "Are you getting all of this, Alex?" she smirked.
"Oh, yes, of course, Liz. Don't you know that I'm a great listener?" AJ smirked back.
"What's the last thing your wife said then, hm?"
"I won't even lie, I kinda zoned out for a minute there, something about suggestions?" he guessed.
She laughed. "I think you've been around too many screaming girls, McLean, they've had to have damaged your hearing."
"That's probably true," Kim said with a laugh of her own.
"Hey! Whose side are you on, anyway?" AJ wondered.
Dr. Novotny put her hands up and backed away from Kim. "I'm staying out of this, you two can duke it out later."
"The side of truth," she said with confidence.
AJ rolled his eyes. "Right."
"So, have you two decided to have any genetic testing done with this pregnancy?" she wondered.
"Well, I don't want to have any so there are no risks for the baby with having a procedure done—"
AJ cut Kim off mid-sentence. "And I want to have it done so we can check for anything that might be wrong—"
"You just want a 'perfect' baby—"
"Doesn't everyone?" AJ challenged her, his voice raising slightly.
Dr. Novotny could see that this was going to get out of hand. "Whoa, whoa, time out. I can see that this a clearly split issue amongst both of you. Kim, since you're now at twelve weeks and you can have chorionic villus sampling or CVS done, which offers earlier detection of chromosomal abnormalities like Down's Syndrome."
"How would we go about doing it?" Kim asked hypothetically.
"Chorionic villi are tiny finger-shaped growths found in the placenta. The genetic material in chorionic villus cells is the same as that in the baby's cells. The chorionic villus sample can be collected by putting a catheter through your vagina and cervix into the placenta. The sample can also be collected through a long, thin needle put through your belly into the placenta. Ultrasound is used to guide the catheter or needle into the correct spot for collecting the sample." she explained.
"Hm," was all Kim said.
"I can take Jordan out in the hallway if you two need to discuss this some more."
"I want to have it done," AJ stated plainly.
"And I don't, Alex. Why can't you respect that? It's my body—"
"But it's our baby, don't I get a say in this?"
Kim sighed. "Yes, of course you do. But let me ask you this: if anything did happen to be 'wrong' with the baby, would you love him or her any less than Jordan because he's 'normal?'"
"No," AJ said quietly, he knew she was right. "You're right, we don't need to have any procedures done. I'll love Gumby just the same for better or worse."
"Gumby?" Dr. Novotny questioned with a smirk.
"Don't ask," Kim said as she chuckled.
"Well, alrighty, then. Are you guys ready to hear the baby's heartbeat?"
Kim was just as surprised as AJ was. "Now? Really?"
"Sure you can. Let me go get a Doppler, I'll be right back." Dr. Novotny left the room and shut the door behind her.
AJ breathed a happy sigh and got up to kiss Kim's lips. "God, this is awesome! I wasn't expecting this until the next visit!"
"I know, me neither," she echoed.
He almost forgot their son was in the room as well. "Isn't this exciting, J? You get to hear your little brother or sister's heartbeat!"
"Wow, we do?"
"Yep." He turned back to face Kim. "I love you," he said and kissed her again.
"Oh, heck, I love you, too, buddy!" AJ went over to where Jordan was sitting and gave him a light hug, quickly remembering that his ribs were still healing from the car accident. He sat down again next to Jordan and waited for Kim's doctor to return.
She came back in with a Doppler fetal monitor and had Kim lay down on the table with her shirt pulled up to expose her abdomen. "You guys can come up here, don't be shy, now."
AJ stood and walked over to the table, taking Kim's hand and smiling down at her. He noticed that Jordan had not moved from his chair. "It's okay, buddy, you can come up here. Come on," he motioned gently with his other hand.
Jordan slowly and hesitantly got up and walked to AJ's side with AJ putting his free arm around him.
"Here we go, this will be cold, Kim." Dr. Novotny squeezed some gel onto her stomach and turned on the monitor. She moved the probe around on her abdomen to find the baby's heartbeat. "Hm...almost there...got it, there it is." A rhythmic whooshing sound could be heard. "Ah...now, that's music to my ears. It's nice and strong."
"It's beautiful," AJ said softly. He looked down at Kim who just nodded with tears in her eyes, which resulted in him tearing up as well. "That's our baby, Momma." He bent down to kiss her forehead. "I'm so proud of you."
"I'm so proud of us, you helped, too, Alex, or did you forget?" she teased.
"Of course not, but you're going to be doing all of the hard work. I just helped the process along," AJ shrugged and looked at Jordan. "What do you think about this, J?"
"Yeah, it is, but that's a good thing. It means that the baby is strong and healthy," Dr. Novotny said to him.
"How can it make so much noise if it's so little?" he wondered.
"No one can actually hear the baby's heartbeat on their own, Dr. Liz has to use that device in order to hear it because it's so quiet," AJ explained to him.
"Is there any way that we could get a recording of this, like an mp3 file for an iPod?" AJ asked out of curiousity.
Dr. Novotny smiled. "Actually, you can, I'm glad you asked. I was just about to mention this. We got some new Doppler monitors last year that record the baby's heartbeat, all I'll have to do is plug in this attachment right here," she pointed to it, "into a computer's USB port and upload it. Would you guys be interested in that?"
"Definitely," Kim said immediately.
"Great. We're just about done here, let's get you cleaned up and we'll all go into my office after that."
A few minutes later, the four of them followed Kim's doctor to her office down the hall which was next to her partner Dr. Penoyer's office. She waved as they passed by. Kim, AJ, and Jordan took seats in front of the desk that Dr. Novotny sat behind. She plugged the attachment from the Doppler monitor into her PC and began to upload the audio recording of their baby's heartbeat.
"While this is doing its thing, whose e-mail should I send it to?" she questioned.
"Alex's, I'm really bad about checking mine," Kim replied with a laugh.
AJ gave her his e-mail address and once it was done uploading to the computer, she sent the audio file in a message.
"I brought my iPod with me today so I could put it on one of yours if you want," Dr. Novotny suggested.
AJ took his out of his pocket, unplugged the headphones, and handed it to her. Once the audio was stored on the computer, she transferred it onto his iPod and gave it back to him.
"Thank you so much," he said with a grin.
"You're both very welcome. That's taken care of and we're done. You all are free to go—"
There was a light knock at the door. "Come in."
"Hey, Liz? Oh sorry, I forgot that you were with a patient," Dr. Penoyer said as she walked in.
"Hello, Doctor, how are you?" Kim asked her, trying to be polite.
"Kim, please, call me Andrea. And these two handsome gentlemen must be Alex and Jordan, right?"
"It's okay, Andrea, we've just finished up in here. What do you need?" She smiled at the three of them. "Take care, you two, bye, Jordan. As always, call if you need anything, okay, Kim?" They hugged and said their goodbyes before leaving the two doctors alone to talk.
They walked back down the hallway in the opposite direction to the waiting room. They bumped into the young woman from earlier named Brittany while heading that way.
"Hey! Brittany, right?"
"Yeah," she said with a light smile, slightly surprised that Kim remembered her name.
"How did your appointment with Dr. Penoyer go, all good news, I hope?"
"Yes! Everything was fine, I was being tested for cervical cancer and it was negative!"
"That's great!" Kim exclaimed. AJ agreed as they both exchanged hugs with Brittany.
"And yours went well, too?"
"Yeah, we got to hear our baby's heartbeat for the first time," Kim said with a grin.
"Wow, congratulations! That's so exciting!" Brittany replied.
"Thanks, it really is."
"And thank you so much again for earlier, you really helped a lot," she expressed with honesty.
"Oh, you're very welcome, sweetheart. Well, have a great day."
"You, too," Brittany echoed and they all left the building and went to their respective vehicles. Once they were all situated in AJ's Porsche, he pulled out of the parking lot and headed in the direction of their second stop of the day.
"Do you mind if I come in?" AJ asked as he poked his head out from the door frame.
"Alex, yes, of course! Get in here!" Denise said.
"I just thought I'd ask. You have more visitors by the way, come on in, guys," AJ added and looked to his left.
"Kim, Jordan...how are you?"
Kim came up to Denise and hugged her gently after AJ did. "I'm good."
"Jordan, come here, sweetheart. It's okay, give me a hug. I promise you won't hurt me." Denise said softly when she realized that he was hiding behind Kim as she went to greet Tony and Bill who were also present.
"It's okay, J, but be careful, please," Kim reassured him.
Jordan slowly walked up to Denise's bed and she put her left arm around him. "There. See? It's okay."
"I love you, Grandma," he said, muffled between sobs.
"Aw, buddy, Grandma's okay, I'm gonna be fine. Shhh, shhh...it's okay."
"But you're still hurt," he hiccuped.
"Yeah I am, but I'm gonna be getting out of here soon. I promise."
"I missed you so much..."
"Oh, I missed you, too, Jordan. I'm so sorry for doing this, it's my fault—"
"Hey," AJ interjected sternly. "I don't wanna hear that from you."
"But it's the truth, Alex," Denise sighed.
"It's not, it's the a-hole who caused the accident's fault. I won't let you blame yourself, I can't."
"No—just never mind. Forget it," AJ said.
"What is it?" Denise wondered.
"Never mind, Mom," he repeated, now irritated.
She could obviously sense that something was up with her son, she just didn't know what it was. "Could you all give us a minute alone?"
AJ looked around the room and saw everyone staring at the two of them. "Jordan, go with Mommy, please," he said quietly and everyone left the room.
Once the door was shut, Denise spoke. "Now, what's this all about, Alex? What are you trying to protect me from?"
"I just don't want you to blame yourself for what happened, Mom. It's not your fault, there's nothing you could have done to prevent it."
She shook her head. "I know that, but I feel there's something else you're not telling me..."
AJ sighed heavily. "I just don't want you to carry a bunch of unnecessary guilt like you did after the..." He let his voice trail off on purpose and Denise understood.
"Oh, Alex...I forgave myself a long time ago for that." In 1980, Denise was pregnant with twin girls and in the eighth month her water broke. They ended up being stillborn.
"Yeah, I know. But you know what I mean, right?" he asked while moving closer to her.
"I do. I'm okay, Alex, really. This all just has to get sorted with time, Rome wasn't built in a day," she assured him.
"And how is my baby boy doing? Are you sleeping better?"
"Mom, not now, please," AJ said, stressing the latter part of his statement.
"I just know when things aren't right with you, you haven't been looking well, sweetheart," Denise remarked with concern.
"Well, I'm dealing as best I can. I've been worried sick about you and Jordan." He changed the subject. "Look, I didn't come here to fight. Kim's appointment with Dr. Novotny was great, it went even better than I thought it would."
"Really? What happened?"
"Just listen to this," AJ said shortly and gave her his iPod that had a special 'song' playing.
Denise listened to it thoughtfully for a moment. "Is that—?"
"Yeah," he replied with a smile.
"Alex, this is so exciting! I love you, this is great!" she exclaimed before hugging him with a tear rolling down her cheek.
AJ carefully hugged her back. "I love you, too, Mom."
Everyone was called back into the room to hear what Denise had listened to just minutes before. Many hugs were exchanged and tears were shed as they celebrated the life that was to be born in about seven months' time.
"Kim?" AJ called while jogging down the stairs.
"Yeah, babe?" she returned from the living room couch.
"I'm gonna go pick up some beer, do you want anything?" he asked walking in.
"From the liquor store?" Kim wondered, puzzled.
"No, I mean in general, silly. I know that you can't drink. Well, you can but I wouldn't recommend it, of course—"
"You do realize that sometimes you're much better off by not speaking, right?" she teased.
He chuckled. "Yeah, I know. Sorry."
"All is forgiven," Kim assured him.
"Good, do you want anything? Anything at all?" he asked again.
She thought about it for a moment. "Um...some Ben & Jerry's maybe? Chocolate Fudge Brownie?"
AJ rolled his eyes, he figured that he would end up going on a Ben & Jerry's run. "One pint or two?" he asked with an over-dramatic sigh. "I'm just kidding."
"You better make it two, I've got a major craving happening right now."
"Alright, but you're not eating both tonight, you'll be sick as a dog later if you do."
"Yes, dear," Kim sighed with a laugh.
"Some cherry Twizzlers, too?" she asked with puppy dog eyes.
"Hey, that's my look! Of course."
"And make sure they're the PULL 'N PEEL kind, okay?"
"I'll do my best," he said and gave her a quick kiss. "I'll be back, I love you, baby."
"I love you, too, hurry back."
AJ left the house and drove about ten minutes down the road to the local liquor store and walked in. He went right for the beer in the back and picked out a six-pack of Budweiser and a bottle of Jack Daniel's whiskey for good measure. He went to the up to the register and paid for the alcohol before getting back in his car and driving about three miles to the BP. He went inside and grabbed two pints of Kim's requested ice cream flavor and walked over to the candy and looked over the section for her Twizzlers. Once he found them he placed the items on the counter to get scanned for purchasing. A skeptical expression crossed the cashier's face as he bagged AJ's items.
"My wife's pregnant," he informed him with a chuckle.
"Oh. That explains the ice cream, then."
Well, congrats. Have a good one," he said and handed him his plastic bag.
"Thanks, you, too." With a smile on his face, AJ drove back home and gave Kim a pint of her ice cream and her candy. Then he went to the kitchen to get her a spoon and to put his beer in the refrigerator. He took out two bottles and set them on the island before returning to the living room.
"Here's your spoon."
"Thanks." Kim took it and opened her ice cream container.
"I'm gonna go sit outside on the patio, it's a nice night."
"Suit yourself," she said with a shrug and took a bite of her 'dessert'. "Want some?" she asked with her mouth full.
AJ laughed and shook his head no. He gave her a peck on the cheek before going downstairs into his studio to get an acoustic guitar and to put his new bottle of whiskey away. He took that and his beer outside into the cool night air.
After twisting off the top, AJ took a swig of his drink and picked up his guitar. He strummed a few chords to a melody he had been working on recently and hummed along with it.
"Maybe it's all in my head...a kiss through the phone just won't do, no..." AJ murmured softly, pondering the words he had just spoken. "Hm, that's not bad," he reasoned with himself a bit louder and took another drink of beer. Another idea for a lyric came to him and he quickly went inside to write it down on something. As he walked back to the sliding glass door, he heard Kim call his name.
"Alex, if I go to bed before you do, make sure you brush your teeth before you come to bed, alright? I do not want to wake up to the smell of beer breath. I'm serious," she instructed him.
"Sure thing, babe," AJ promised her and went back outside to work on his latest masterpiece.
Yes, AJ's mom Denise actually gave birth to stillborn twin girls in real life in 1979 or 1980. :( Says so in her book Backstreet Mom that I happen to own.
Song Credit: "All In My Head" by the Backstreet Boys.
As always, don't forget to review to let me know what you all think of this chapter and the story so far! :D