Celia turned to Aimee and smiled “can you believe the kids are finally all in school?”
“It seems strange,” Aimee smiled a little sad that all her babies were growing up. “When are you and Ian going to have another?”
Shaking her head Celia frowned “I don’t know. We haven’t actually tried to not have children. It just hasn’t happened yet”
Putting a hand on her shoulder Aimee said “don’t worry about it dear. It’ll happen when it happens.”
“I know,” she said “it’s just the first two happened so easily. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
“Have you discussed your concerns with your doctor?” Aimee asked.
Staring at the floor Celia shook her head “no I…I hope it would go away on it’s own.”
“I’m sure it’s nothing,” Aimee said trying to reassure the younger woman “I’ll come with you if you want someone there.”
Celia’s lips quivered a little “thank you I’d like that.” Looking at the older woman she added “your the closest thing I have to a mother. I don’t think I’ve ever told you how much I appreciate everything you’ve done for me and Ian.” She wiped at her eyes “I don’t now what’s wrong with me. I’m usually not so emotional.”
Aimee didn’t say anything to the girl just went around and gave her a hug.
“Have you heard the news?” Ian asked Celia when he got home from work.
“What news?” she asked looking up from where she sat helping the girls with their homework. Who would have thought they’d have so much homework in the first grade and kindergarten?
“Matt and Payson are going to have a baby” Ian announced. The news felt like a ton bricks compressing against her heart. She wanted to scream. She wanted another baby. Why couldn’t that be her? “Honey are you ok?” Ian asked picking up on her mood.
“Yeah I’m fine. I’m sure they’re excited” she smiled up at him hoping it didn’t look as fake as it felt.
“Matt wasn’t thrilled about it at first. They hadn’t planned on having any kids for a few years yet. Now the baby is all he talks about.” Ian told her sitting at the table eating a snack.
Katrina looked up from her homework “are you and mama going to have a baby?”
“Yeah I want a baby sister,” Kara piped in.
“No a brother. We need a brother.” Katrina contradicted her sister “can we please?”
Trying not to laugh Ian took Celia’s hand and asked “how about it pretty lady? Should we have another baby?”
Before she could answer she bolted from the chair and ran from the room. Ian heard the bedroom door slam seconds later.
Both girls turned to look at their dad. “Did we say something we shouldn’t have?” Katrina asked nibbling on her eraser.
Reaching out Ian stroked her hair “no sweetie you didn’t.”
“They why is mama mad?” Kara asked her light eyes brimming with tears.
Getting up Ian kissed the top of her head “I don’t know but I’m going to find out.”
Grabbing his hand Katrina said “tell her we’re sorry.”.
“Yeah we’re real sorry,” Kara repeated.
“I’ll tell her but you two didn’t do anything,” Ian smiled at them trying to put their fears at rest.
Knocking softly on the door. Ian walked into the room to find Celia staring at the window. Arms crossed as it she was trying to hold herself together. “Honey are you ok?” he asked his voice gentle. He watched as her shoulders bounced in rhythm to her sobs “awe honey please tell me what’s wrong?”
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” she cried. She felt Ian put a hand on her shoulder as she started to cry “just hold me please.”
He simply wrapped his arms around her. He didn’t know what was wrong or why she was acting this way but if holding her helped he was willing to give it a shot. When she calmed down some he asked ” can you tell me what’s wrong? I’m really sorry if I or the girls said anything to upset you.”
The silence that greeted his question and apology left him wondering if she was ignoring him. “It’s not you it’s me,” she mumbled “I want another baby…”
“So what’s wrong with that,” Ian asked a little confused over why she was so upset. “I’d love to have another baby.”
“You don’t understand. I haven’t been on birth control since the honeymoon,” she cried pummeling her fists on his chest.
“But you…I…” he closed his mouth he wasn’t sure what was going on. The last time they discussed children and the possibility of another baby Celia and insisted on waiting. Why hadn’t she told him she had stopped taking birth control? That was almost two years ago now.
“I didn’t think it would take so long,” she wailed “I wanted to surprise you. I knew you wanted another baby. I wanted to give you a son. What if I can’t give you anymore children?” She looked up into his gentle violet eyes comforted to see love shining through the confusion she saw in them.
“Then I still have two beautiful little girls. I don’t need a son. It’s not like the Bennett name is going to die out anytime soon.” He lifted her chin and kissed her lips “we are talking about my family. We procreate like rabbits.”
Laughing despite the pain she felt she said “Ian I love you.”
“I love you too” he squeezed her tight. Come on babe we’ve got to concerned little girls who think you’re upset at them. Let’s go and show them you’re not.”
“I’m far from alright but I’m better than I was.” She smiled at him determined she was going to find out what was wrong with her.
Sitting in the waiting room gripping the arm rests. Celia had a million thoughts and ideas racing through her head and none of them good. The scariest of all was the fear that she would get what her mom had. What she died from. Ovarian cancer. The thought sent shivers through her. She sensed Aimee look over at her. Knew as she smiled at her that she was trying to reassure her. Celia knew she was getting to close the same age her mother was when she had gotten sick. She didn’t want her girls to go through that. The horror of watching their mom die a horrible lingering death. Cancer ran through families. Oh god that was it wasn’t it? She had cancer. She was going to die young.
“Celia?” Aimee called her name growing concerned as Celia remained unresponsive. “Celia” Aimee repeated a little louder not wanting to draw undue attention o them in the crowded waiting room. Celia’s eyes moved towards her large and saucer like.
“I’m sorry what?” she finally asked blinking. Celia felt like she had out for a moment.
“Are you alright? Do you need me to get a nurse?” Aimee asked concerned “you blacked out for a while. You really scared me.”
Celia wiped a hand over her forehead felt the perspiration along her hairline “I guess I was lost in thought.”
Aimee considered her words knowing the girl was holding something back. Something that terrified her. Taking her hand Aimee offered “please tell me what you’re so afraid of.” Aimee saw the instant withdrawal and fear shining back at her from Celia’s eyes.
“I…I” she licked her lips as she said the single most dreaded sentence in her vocabulary “what if it’s cancer?”
Aimee’s first instinct was to tell her no it couldn’t be. But what if it was? She knew Celia’s mother had died of cancer at a young age. Cancer did run in families What if? Oh no it couldn’t be. She gripped Celia’s hand as the girls hysteria infected her. Forcing herself to calm down Aimee said “if it is we’ll face it together as a family. You’re not alone Celia. You’ll never be alone.”
They both jumped when the nurse called Celia’s name. “Come with me,” Celia begged. Nodding Aimee followed her into the doctor’s office.
A week later Celia received the dreaded call from a nurse “we have your test results. Can you come in tomorrow morning?”
“Yes ok I’ll be there,” Celia accepted falling weakly to her knees. She knew the news was going to be bad. She had been feeling nauseous and tired a lot lately. How was she going to tell Ian? He knew something was wrong. There were times she wanted to tell him but why make him worry when there was nothing he could do.
“Celia” she looked when she heard Aimee call her name “I heard the phone. Was it the doctor?”
“Yes” she cried burying her head in her hands.
“Oh honey” Aimee said sitting next to her on the floor “was it bad news?”
“I don’t know,” she sniffed “the nurse didn’t tell me anything over the phone. They never tell you bad news over the phone. They make an appointment for you to come in. I have to go in tomorrow morning…”
“Do you want me to go with you?” Aimee asked. Celia nodded burying her head on the older woman’s shoulder. “Have you told Ian yet?”
“No I…I…” she wailed “I don’t know how…”
“Don’t you think he already know’s something is wrong?” Aimee asked. She could see the worry in her son’s eyes and her heart ached for him. She had discussed the matter with Gene. Gene was of the opinion that Celia needed to tell him herself in her own time. She just wanted to take the hurt away. She wanted to wrap her babies in a cocoon safe and sound.
Celia sniffed pulling away from her mother-in-law “I will tonight.” She took in a shaky breath “will you watch the girls for us? Keep them for the night?”
Pulling her close Aimee squeezed he tight “of course we’ll do that. I’ll have Gene get the sleeping bags ready.”
“Daddy” the girls greeted Ian as he walked into the house. “Guess what we get to do?” Kara asked giving her dad a hug.
“I don’t know what?” Ian asked smiling down at her.
“Daddy you have to guess” Katrina insisted.
“Let’s see,” he rubbed his chin “you’re both moving out.”
“No we’d never leave you,” Kara told him shaking her head .
“You get one more guess” Katrina informed.
“Let’s see,” Ian pretended to give it some serious thought before saying “you’re joining the circus.”
“Daddy we just told you we weren’t leaving,” Kara rolled her eyes at him.
“We’re having a slumber party with Grandpa” Katrina giggled running up to Gene and jumping into his arms “aren’t we Grandpa?”
“How did I get roped into this?” Gene asked giving his granddaughter a peck on the cheek. “The slumber party is with your Aunts and Uncle.”
Katrina gave her Grandpa her best puppy dog look “you’re sleeping out here with us too?”
“Please Grandpa”Kara pleaded looking up at him. Then the triplets joined in with “please daddy…”
Gene looked around giving Aimee a mock glare “what have you gotten me into woman? I’m too old to be sleeping on the floor.”
“Grandpa” Katrina grabbed his face “you don’t have to sleep on the floor. You can sleep on the couch.”
“Yeah dad” Ian gave him a cheeky grin as he moved towards the stairs “the couch is so much better than the floor.”
“You’re not helping,” Gene called after him as he climbed the stairs to his apartment.
Upon entering the apartment Ian lost his smile as he looked at Celia’s face. He could see the worry and fear in her eyes. He knew something was wrong but all his inquiries had gone unanswered. She had locked him out like she had after Katrina was born. Did that mean she was going to tell him she wanted a divorce? Please whatever it was please don’t let it be that. “Celia why won’t you talk to me?” he asked coming up behind her wrapping his arms around her.
“Oh Ian” she cried turning into him laying her head on his shoulder. “I should be happy. I have two beautiful little girls. A loving understanding husband but….”
“But what?” Ian asked as his heart was squeezed in a vise grip as he thought this was it. She’s going to leave him…”what can I do to make things better….”
“Nothing,” she clung to him “I’m just so scared.”
“Scared? I don’t understand” he kissed the top of her head “Celia please tell me what’s going on. Talk to me please. Let me help if I can.”
“I…I…” gulping she pulled away from Ian “I may have cancer like my mother had before she died.” Saying the words out loud was tons worse than only hearing them in her head. She dropped to the floor sobbing uncontrollably.
Ian knelt beside her pulling her close. As he held her he felt as if he was in some kind of nightmare. He squeezed her tight afraid if he let go he would lose her forever “do do you know for sure?” he croaked from a dry throat.
“The test results are in,” she mumbled “I have an appointment with the doctor for tomorrow morning.”
“So you don’t know, not for sure” Ian said grasping at the straw. For any reason for hope “it could be good news.” He looked into Celia’s tear streaked face adding “I’m coming with you. We’ll face this together. Whatever the results we’ll face it together.”
“You don’t have to sit with me. Your mom said she’d come with me” Celia told him.
“I’m coming,” he said firmly undeterred “I’ll hold you hand while mom holds the other. We’re family and we’ll do this together.” He kissed her forehead “why didn’t you tell me? Didn’t you think I’d support you?” He tried to keep the hurt he felt from coloring his voice but he knew it shone through when Celia looked up at him sharply.
“I’m sorry I…I didn’t want to worry you.”
“I worried anyway,” he told her “except I thought you were going to leave me.” He sighed when he saw the shock in her eyes. “You closed down. Shut me out. Like you did after Katrina was born. I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault. I should have told you instead of thinking I had to protect you. It’s just that I thought if I didn’t say it out loud it wouldn’t be real.” She reached her hand up stroking his much loved face “it had nothing to do with you. I only wanted to protect you as long as possible. I love you Ian. I don’t ever want to leave you. Not now or not ever.”
Pulling her close he held her tight against his chest. If he held her tight enough and long enough nothing could tear them apart. “Celia I love you.” Their mouths sought each other out seeking reassurance in their mutual need.
Sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for the door to open felt like waiting for the hatchet to fall. Celia cold feel Ian gripping her hand until it hurt as they waited in silence. As the door opened a crack Ian leaned over whispering in her ear “I love you babe.”
“So how are you feeling today young lady?” the doctor asked with a smile as sat behind his desk.
“Why don’t you tell me?” was the only response Celia could come up with.
Frowning the doctor looked at his notes “didn’t the nurse tell you the results?”
Shaking her head Celia said “she just said to come in today. That you would tell me the results.” Squeezing Ian’s hand she nearly screeched her next sentence “Is it cancer? How long do I have?”
Putting a hand up to stall her panic the doctor leaned forward “you don’t have cancer.” His was firm and comforting causing her to stop and look into his sincere eyes as he repeated “you don’t have cancer.”
She let out a breath she had been holding “then why have I been so tired? So nauseous? Light headed? It’s exactly how I remember my mom feeling when she got sick.”
“You’re pregnant” the doctor told her.
“I’m what? I can’t be I just had my…” stopping as the doctor nodded she smiled despite her uncertainty “you’re not joking? I really am pregnant?” Turning to Ian she pleaded “tell me I’m not dreaming.”
“I heard him the same as you darling,” he turned to the doctor “you’re positive she’s pregnant? It’s not something more serious?”
“Positive,” the doctor confirmed “all the test results confirm it. We’ll need to start you on prenatal vitamins and we’ll need to watch the baby’s development. It’s seems to be a little small. So no marathons young lady.”
“You don’t know how relieved and happy I am,” Celia said alternating from shock to bliss “I was thinking the worst when I came in here today.”
“Well you don’t have to worry. At least not today. We’ll want to set up annual examines from now on due to your family history.”
“So it’s possible I could…” Celia looked to Ian while he gripped her hand both turned pleading fear stricken faces to the doctor.
“I can’t lie and tell you it’s not a possibility. You’re chances of getting ovarian cancer is higher since your mother had it you don’t have to live in fear. Eat right. Exercise and regular examines are all preventative measures you can take. With a little luck you won’t meet the same end as your mother.” He got up and gave her a pamphlet “it’s a good idea for you to know the facts. It’s not intended to scare you but the more you know the better. You’re a healthy young woman and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to enjoy a long healthy life.”
They walked from the doctor’s office feeling like a weight had been lifted from their shoulders. Aimee walked over to them from where she sat waiting for them “so what’s the diagnosis?”
“We’re…I’m pregnant” Celia announced almost giddily.
“You’re pregnant?” Aimee looked from one beaming face to the other “congratulations” she credit pulling them in a group hug. “I’m so happy for you.”
“Let’s go out for lunch” Ian announced “I feel like celebrating.”