Time in Willow Creek: 1 year, 5 months
Hillary couldn’t contain her excitement about her week 38 appointment. Jase accompanied her for the first time. Although they weren’t together, having him there made her little family feel complete; it felt right. He had been so nervous around her and treated her like a porcelain doll as most first-time dads did. She was serious about being patient with him and doing whatever it took to regain his trust. But, sometimes she couldn’t help how she felt about him. It was especially hard while she enjoyed his supportive hand in the small of her back as they walked into the hospital. But, she had to concentrate and not read more into it.
She was also excited about Dr. Garrison meeting Jase. She had come to hold great respect for her and enjoyed the check-ups. Dr. Garrison always had a way of throwing little tidbits of advice her way, and sometimes Hillary would ask her opinion on things–namely what to do about Jase. Talking to Dr. Garrison was like having a mature friend which was an experience she never had and needed.
“Knock, knock!” Dr. Garrison opened the door and stepped in. “Hey there Miss–oh! Who do we have here? Is this our daddy?”
Hillary smiled awkwardly. “This is Jase. Jase, this is Dr. Garrison.”
She grinned and extended her hand to him. “It sure is good to meet you, young man!” She quickly glanced at Hillary and gave her an approving nod.
He looked confused but went with it. “Nice meeting you too.”
Her infectious smile permeated the room, and Hillary couldn’t stop grinning. Dr. Garrison was proud of her, and that was all the reason she needed to be overjoyed.
The doctor wheeled the stool over to the bed, opened Hillary’s chart and clicked open her pen. “Ok, pretty girl…how are you feeling?”
“I’m…good,” she attempted to say. “But….Well….My mama died.”
Dr. Garrison’s face fell. “Oh, honey…I’m so sorry! Come here.” She leaned over and embraced her. “I liked her a lot.”
“Thanks.” She anticipated shedding some tears at some point and thought about skipping the mascara, but she never left home without it.
“Ok,” she said as she went back into doctor mode. “So, have you been blue? Like…more than you think you should be? Lost your appetite? Want to hurt yourself?”
“No. I’ve been fine.”
“Good. Have you been having any contractions?”
“Every now and then.”
“Really?” Jase shouted.
Dr. Garrison laughed and notated Hillary’s answers in the chart. “It’s normal. Nothing to worry about. How about this…let’s save the questions for last and show off the princess to daddy, huh?”
Hillary looked at Jase and watched a large smile transform his face. Dr. Garrison spread the cold jelly on her womb and fished around with the probe to find the baby. As big as she was, she didn’t have to search long. She turned the speaker on so Jase could hear the heart.
“Hey there, lollipop! We have both your parents here today!”
Hillary’s eyes were still fixed on Jase. She always enjoyed gazing at her child and wondering about her future. But, soon enough she would be in her arms and would learn about her first hand. That appointment, she wanted to see the happiness–or maybe terror–on Jase’s face. His mouth was open similarly to the night she changed his life forever.
A tear slid down his cheek, and he grabbed her hand. “This is so amazing,” he said.
She also cried and felt relieved. Ever since she announced he was the father, she couldn’t stop thinking about whether or not he would be excited. Of course, she would understand if he wasn’t. After all, she waited until the last minute and spewed the news on him like vomit. Seeing his face light up gave her real hope for their future. Perhaps the baby would help bring them together.
“Are you really happy, Jase?”
“Y-yeah! I think so. I just can’t believe this is happening!”
“Believe it, pops,” Dr. Garrison said and winked at him.
Hillary wanted to discuss a delicate matter with Dr. Garrison, but she didn’t know when to bring it up. She didn’t want to ruin the happy moment, but she had been thinking about it all week and wanted it to be over.
“Ummm…can we…” She glanced at Jase and then back at the doctor. “Can we do a paternity test?”
Her face burned with embarrassment. Knowing it needed to be done was one thing. But, to admit aloud such a thing was needed was a harsh reminder of her transgressions. Jase let go of her hand.
“Of course we can! You have two options right now because it’s too late to do an amniocentesis. The latest we like to do that is the second trimester. But, you’re due in a week, so you could wait until she’s here and get samples from her and Mr. Handsome. Or, if you want to know sooner, we could do the new method.”
“A new method?” Jase said.
“Yeah. We’ve learned the baby’s DNA can be found in the mother’s blood! So, we can harvest the baby’s DNA and analyze it compared to yours. It’s the most non-invasive method for the baby, and so far it’s proven to be 99% accurate!”
“So, all you need is blood from both of us? And that’s it?” Hillary asked.
“That’s it, honey!”
“Wow….It sounds so simple,” Jase said.
“Well, it’s simple on your side. The lab rats are not gonna have a good time fishing for little miss lady’s DNA, but they can do it.”
Her eyes flitted between the two of them and reflected something that resembled pity. She opened Hillary’s chart again and wrote something. “I feel like this information might be very important for you, so I’ll put a rush on it. We’ll call you in 48 hours.”
She went on with the rest of the appointment. The phlebotomist came and took vials of their blood, and then they were free to go.
As they rode in the car, disconcerting thoughts swirled around Hillary’s head. The paternity issue brought back memories of the scathing voicemail Don left her two weeks ago. She rejected the call when she saw it was him. To her surprise, the voicemail indicator appeared minutes later. She regretted listening to it as soon as she pressed play. The venom spewing from his mouth was so tangible despite it only being digital bits being translated as sound bites into her ear. He called her every foul name he could muster and accused her of trying to trap him. With his harsh words, he denied any and all possibilities of the baby being his and warned her against coming after him for support. If there was any chance the doctors miscalculated the date of conception, and she would be stuck with a piece of Don for the rest of her life….The thought was suffocating, and the car seemed too small; she couldn’t breathe.
Her quick, shallow breaths alarmed him. Even the driver looked at her through the rearview mirror.
“Hillary! What’s the matter?”
“I need to get out!”
Jase asked the driver to stop the car. Hillary exited swiftly and inhaled and deep as she could.
She looked at him, still panting like she was trying to memorize his face. She could lose him. That couldn’t happen. Not this time. Sometimes she felt like she didn’t deserve him still, but she wanted him anyway. After dodging him, worrying about rejection, and finally dredging up the courage to confront him, losing him was out of the question. She had come so far, and she still had a ways to go. But, what if this was truly it? What if he couldn’t handle it?
“Hill! What is it? Do we need to go back to the hospital?”
“What if she isn’t yours?” she blurted.
Jase was taken aback.
“Oh God!” She covered her mouth in horror. “What if she isn’t yours? Will that ruin our chance to be together? Will we be done? Would you help me raise another man’s baby? Can we still be friends? Oh God! What if she isn’t yours? What if she isn’t yours??”
She was hysterical. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly…in silence.