Chapter 32 – Arms Wide Open

Song Reference – Creed: Arms Wide Open

Chapter 32 – Arms Wide Open

Downstairs, Pam paced. She got the details about the appointment from Thalia; then saw her out. She was frustrated that Thalia was keeping quiet, but she understood. She hoped that Eric kept his head out of his ass long enough to realize that this was not Sophie-Anne all over again. He needed to clear up what he had heard. He also needed to be honest with Sookie about the history with Sophie-Anne. ‘I have to stop thinking about the conversation upstairs. I think some online shopping is just what the doctor ordered.’ Going to the office to get online, she started with her favorite clothing sites but quickly drifted to Baby Dior, Armani Jr., Baby Lulu and several other designer sites. She had bookmarked several selections but refrained from hitting the purchase button. She would need Eric and Sookie to confirm the baby’s sex as quickly as possible so she could start planning. Speaking of planning, she moved to the websites that carried maternity wedding gowns and bookmarked those. Yes, she was quite confident that everything was going to work out – ‘if they would just get the hell out of the room and tell us the results of that test.’

Akita came over and asked Pam for an update. “Mor, we need to wait it out while they are talking.”

“But why would Eric storm out of here? Why did Thalia stay? How could any of this be the flu?”

“Mor, please don’t get me in trouble for sharing anything. Sookie is going to be fine and that’s all you’re getting from me. Today’s events are for Sookie and Eric to share.”

“But why does she need to see Thalia again tomorrow?”

“MOR! I know you’re worried but honestly she is going to be fine. Thalia is just running some tests.”

“Tests? What kind of…..oh my God” Akita started smiling.

“Not another word Mor.”

-oooo-

“I like Matteus for a boy. We can shorten it to Matt so it won’t stick out as a foreign name.” Eric said.

“Ok, so after your Farmor for a girl, Annalina, and Matteus for a boy. I like that – some of your other suggestions, not so much.”

“What’s wrong with Thorbiartl? A strong name, the name of the God Thor?”

“Uh, that would be why – bit pretentious for my sweet baby.”

“YOUR baby?”

“You know what I mean.”

“Yes, Love.”

“I do have one request.” He nodded for her to continue. “Can we wait until the birth to find out the sex? Please?”

“Anything you want, Love. I think Pam is probably pacing or has hit the maximum on my credit cards by now, we probably need to get downstairs.”

“Wait, are we telling them? Maybe it’s too early in the pregnancy?”

“I don’t think Pam will let us get away with keeping quiet. Do you want to figure out how far along you are first?” She nodded and he went to grab a laptop. A Google search lead them to and they calculated the due date. “You are 14 weeks pregnant. I’m at a loss here, what’s the general rule?”

“That’s the first trimester, we are good to go from that perspective. You need to be aware that we do have risk from the IUD. Thalia said her colleague would give us more information tomorrow, but the risk of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy is higher for us.”

“Then we’ll deal with anything together, and we’ll need the whole family.”

“You’re right.” She paused to think. “How ’bout you tell everyone. This is your first pregnancy; I want you to enjoy it as much as possible.”

He kissed her nose, “Thank you.”

They walked downstairs hand in hand and asked everyone, even the girls, to join them in the family room. Klaus and the girls walked in to hear about Sookie’s illness. Akita and Pam sat bright eyed and expectant. Eric took no time. He focused on the girls and squatted to their level. “Min Princessas, the doctor is pretty sure she knows why Mama has been sick.” They both stared at him and he continued. “Your Mama is going to have a baby.”

Akita gasped and reached for Klaus’ hand, but they both contained themselves while Eric focused on the girls and their reaction. Eleanor spoke first. “Yay, I won’t be the baby anymore.”

Maura frowned and asked, “Does that mean you won’t need us anymore?”

Eric took Maura in his arms and stood, bringing her close to Sookie so she could also touch her. “Maura, nothing could be further than the truth. We’re growing the family. Everybody has a place. You, your sister and Mama added Pam and I, and everyone was still needed. Then we added Farfar and Farmor, and everyone was still needed. The same will happen with the baby. We will love and need you forever little one.”

“You promise Poppa?”

“I promise.” He stated and he pulled her closer into a hug and started stroking her back. They stayed that way for a few moments and then Eric asked “You OK?”

“Yes Poppa.”

“Good, because I also think watching your Aunt Pam changing a poopy diaper is going to be extremely fun.”

Maura smiled, “Does Bergdorf Goodman carry designer diapers?” That got a chuckle from everyone.

He looked to Pam and his parents. Pam had pulled Eleanor to her lap, Eric figured she did that ‘just in case’ but it wasn’t necessary, Eleanor was all smiles. He knew his parents were respecting the girls’ needs but he also knew his Mor – she was ready to burst. “She’s OK now Mor, you can stop holding your breath.”

Mor leapt from the chair to put her arms around Eric, Maura and Sookie – well as far as her arms could go. “Oh Eric! This is more than I could have ever dreamed. Another barnbarn. We are truly blessed.”

Klaus stood to also offer hugs.

Pam stayed with Eleanor on the couch but asked, “Do you know when the baby is due?”

“We have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, so we’ll confirm all this and know more then, but it looks like February 13, at least according to .”

“What was that website again?”

Sookie laughed at Pam, she had her fingers poised over her iPhone so she could punch in the website. “Pam, are you going to monitor this baby like you do the girl’s schedules?”

“Of course Sookie. I already downloaded an app for tracking the pregnancy. I will also check out this website. When will we know the sex?”

“PAM! Back off a little.”

“Fine, fine. Sorry I’m showing interest in your little progeny there, I just have planning to do.”

“Pam, I appreciate your interest, but we are surprised by the news and would appreciate a little time to adjust.”

Eric tried to convey more meaning behind his statement with his facial expression and Pam simply nodded her head in understanding. He turned to his Mor, “Can we drop the girls with you tomorrow, or can you come here for our appointment?”

“Why don’t we pack them up for their first sleepover at our house? I’ve been waiting for the excuse.”

The girls jumped and squealed and Eric laughed, “I think you have your answer. Pam, can you help the girls pack?”

“Come along teacups; let’s get you ready for your sleepover.”

When they heard the girls ascend the stairs, Klaus asked. “What aren’t you telling us?”

Eric turned to Sookie, unsure of how to proceed. They hadn’t discussed getting into the particulars of the IUD and the risk of miscarriage. He finally started explaining, “Far, I really want to see the OB tomorrow before we get too far along here. We realized that everyone was waiting to hear about the doctor visit and honestly, I didn’t think I could keep a poker face all night so we told you about the pregnancy test. The reality is, well, just know there is a risk of miscarriage. Can we leave it there for tonight?”

“Certainly, but please realize that we are both here for both of you, well now it’s all of you. So if you need us to lean on, or talk to, or just take the girls like tonight, you only need to call.” The emotions of the day overtook Eric at his Far’s statements and he moved to embrace him in a hug.

“Stop being like that.” Sookie said, “With all my hormones I’m already having a difficult time keeping myself together. I’m telling you, it’s gonna be a long pregnancy for all of us since I am a crier even when I’m not cooking a baby.” The comment had the intended effect and everyone chuckled at Sookie.

The girls and Pam arrived, all packed to go. “Pam, you packed too?”

“Yes Eric, it’s been a long day, I figured you guys could use some alone time. I’ll be back early for the appointment.” Eric looked to say something and Pam stopped him. “Don’t. I’m going even if you keep me in the waiting room.”

“I was only going to say thank you for everything.” Then he hugged her.

Pam could only look back at them in silence before Klaus called her from the door to get moving.

-oooo-

“How long do we have to wait for the appointment? I’ve really got to pee!” Sookie said as she was pacing in the waiting room.

“I’ll check.” Pam said.

“Come, sit down Love.”

“I can’t, I have to go too bad.” Eric made the mistake of chuckling. Sookie spun around and glared at him; she opened her mouth to say something when Pam returned.

“We’re going back now.” Pam announced, saving Eric.

Once in the examination room, Sookie changed into her gown for the ultrasound; then waited for the doctor with Eric (They wanted to get through the initial ultrasound and the procedure before having Pam join them.) The ultrasound technician came in first, and had Sookie lie down. The doctor followed her. “Hi, I’m Doctor Rigby.”

They finished introductions just as Thalia walked in. “Thalia, you made it.” Sookie said slightly relieved.

“I told you I’d be here Sookie.”

Doctor Rigby got in position to view the screen and had the technician start. “We’re going to try to do this with a regular ultrasound, if that doesn’t work, we’ll move to the transvaginal. You’ve had two children, you are familiar with both types of ultrasounds?”

“Yes, go ahead.”

She moved the transducer over her lower abdomen and in a few seconds she was pointing at the screen. “There’s your baby, I’d say he or she is about 14 weeks along.”

Eric squeezed Sookie’s hand and leaned down to kiss her. “Thank you Soo..” was all he could get out before his voice broke.

She reached up to touch his face and smiled softly, noticing the unshed tears. “Look at those long legs; I’m probably giving birth to a giant which would be your doing, mister.” The comment had Eric laughing and he returned to staring at the screen. “I can’t believe how much I can see on this 3D ultrasound. It’s so different then the ultrasounds of the girls.” She turned to Thalia. “I changed my mind, can you get Pam. Is that OK Eric?”

“Yes, she will be thrilled.”

A moment later, Pam came running in and Eric proudly pointed to the screen then returned to his position at Sookie’s head. The iron maiden started crying almost immediately and Thalia moved to comfort her. Sookie spoke first. “I would never have guessed that reaction Pam. I mean, you – you’re leaking for God’s sake.” After a scoff from Pam and a snicker from Eric she continued cooing over the screen. “Look Eric, the ears and nose, we can see it all.”

He was unconsciously running his fingers through Sookie’s hair the whole time. “I know Love, our Booger is beautiful.”

“BOOGER! You will call that baby Booger over my dead body.”

“Well.” Sookie replied, “Booger it is then.”

Eric enjoyed the mood for a moment longer, before getting to the more serious topic. “What about the IUD, can it be removed safely?”

“Eric, there are no guarantees, but the position of the baby is ideal for this situation. The IUD never shifted, and your baby implanted above it. This is really the best we could hope for. Sookie, I want to get started right away, it’s going to be a bit uncomfortable, but over quickly.”

“I’m ready.”

The procedure was over and they were meeting with Doctor Rigby in her office. She had some aftercare instructions and wanted to review the risks. “You have an increased risk of miscarriage for about a week. I want you take it easy, no exercise, no lifting.”

“Ah, what about flying to Europe? We were supposed to leave this Friday?”

“I don’t recommend it. Can you wait until we have a follow-up next Wednesday to travel?”

Eric took Sookie’s hand and said, “Of course.”

“Eric, what about the Premier in London? You should go without…..”

Eric interrupted, “No, we go as a family, and as for you taking it easy? Prepare to be watched.”

“Oh God, you aren’t going to let me do anything are you?”

“Nope.”

In the car on the way home, Sookie mentioned the Premier again. “Eric, I will be fine, I am sure Pam will stay with me. You need to go to the Premier.”

Pam jumped in. “Eric, Sookie is right. I’ll keep her in on bedrest.”

“Pam! The doctor did not say I had to stay in bed!”

“That’s how I interpreted it, and if it gives Eric the security he needs to go the premier, you will agree to it.”

“Let’s talk about it with my parents when we get home.”

In the end, Eric agreed to fly out for the premier on Friday and return on Sunday. Klaus went with him leaving Akita, Pam and Maxwell to sit on Sookie to keep her resting in bed. Eric was asked about Sookie by some of the press but he quickly explained that they were planning a vacation and she was staying home to prepare.

When he returned on Sunday, he broached a subject that he’d been pondering for a few weeks. “Sookie, can we talk about something?”

“Eric, you don’t have to ask, what’s up?”

“The girls.”

“Is something wrong?”

“No, no, not at all. You know I love them, right?”

“Of course I know that. They love you too. You’re their Poppa.”

“Sookie, in a few months, you’ll be a Northman and so will Booger.” He took a breath. “Sookie, I was hoping Maura and Eleanor could be Northmans too.”

“Really?” Sookie began to cry. “Oh Eric. They’ll be thrilled.”

“You don’t think it takes away from Sam?”

“Sam will always be a part of their memory. I will ensure they know how much he loved them. I don’t see that having you as their Poppa on paper makes any difference now. You’re already their Poppa in their hearts. What do we need to do?”

“We can call Russell tomorrow and figure out next steps.”

“Sounds good to me. Let’s talk to him first in case there is any timing or other items that we need to know before we tell the girls?”

“Agreed.”

-oooo-

The next day they were all in the Doctor’s office for a follow-up ultrasound. The girls stated they felt too left out before, and once the girls were going, who could say no to Farfar and Farmor? “The ultrasound pictures were nice, Eric, but we want to see more.” Mor had pleaded when she asked the day before.

The technician squirted the cold gel on Sookie’s tummy and then moved the transducer in place. Soon enough, Booger made an appearance. Mor’s tears started when she saw the legs moving. “Look girls.” She said, as she pointed to the screen. “We can really see Booger.”

“Oh God, you’re really using that name?”

“Yes Pam, it just happened that way, and your suffering only makes us enjoy the name more.” Eric said with his trademark smirk.

Pam rolled her eyes and turned to the doctor, “Can you tell me the sex of the baby?”

At that, even the doctor raised her eyebrows, but it was Sookie who spoke. “What do you mean, tell ‘me’?”

“An unconscious slip, I assure you. I meant us.” Pam responded as she turned back to the doctor with her iPod in hand. “So, can you tell US?”

“Pam, when parents want to know, it’s usually around 20 weeks, but you need to adjust a reality now: Eric and I are waiting for the birth to find out the sex of the baby.” Sookie stated as matter of fact, but internally braced herself for the reaction. Pam didn’t disappoint.

Pam drew in her breath loudly and started a stream of whining. “How can I get the nurseries together without knowing? How do I purchase a wardrobe? How do I select birth announcements? This is a disaster.”

“PAM! Enough.” Eric bellowed while Sookie asked, “Nurseries, with an S?”

After everyone (except Pam) had calmed down, they printed a few pictures from the ultrasound and the family joined Maxwell in the waiting room while Eric and Sookie finished the appointment. In her office, Doctor Rigby met with Eric and Sookie and confirmed that everything looked good and they could head out to Sweden. Sookie had some questions about the risk. “What about, um, sex.” She asked with her head facing the floor and then blushed.

“Sookie,” Eric chuckled, “I’m pretty sure she knows we have sex.”

“Hush, I can blush if I want.”

“There is no risk from intercourse Sookie. At this point, even though you started the pregnancy with the IUD, the week after the removal is the only increased risk. Your pregnancy will progress normally from here out.”

“You will provide records to my midwife?”

“Yes, we already sent last information from last week’s visit, and today’s information will be sent in a day or two. Have you scheduled your first appointment with them?”

“Yes, the last week of August.”

“Well, I wish you good luck.”

“Thank you doctor. We are grateful you saw us so quickly.”

“Yes, thank you.” Eric added.

-oooo-

The flight from LA to Stockholm was a brutal two red-eye affair with a daytime layover in Newark NJ. To make the layover day tolerable, Sookie arranged for the local Pennsylvania friends to drive to Newark to spend the day. Amelia packed a picnic lunch and the gang met up at Weequahic Park, just two miles from the Newark airport. The kids could get in plenty of playtime and fresh air while waiting for their evening flight to Stockholm. Sookie and Eric shared the news of the baby during lunch. They bought ‘I’m the big sister’ shirts for both the girls and waited to see who figured it out first. It was Mena who actually noticed it and said, “Eleanor, your shirt is wrong.” Once she said that, all eyes were on her shirt and then the squealing began. Everyone was excited of course, except Amelia. She appeared pleasant enough, but she wasn’t hopping in her chair as the others were. Sookie put a hand over hers and said, “Let’s take a walk.”

Amelia simply nodded and got up to join Sookie. During the walk, Sookie told Amelia she understood why she was not as excited as the rest of the group. “You were with me when I was going through the post partum depression. I’m nervous, believe me I am. While I didn’t plan this, I am excited to be doing this with Eric – well most of the time. I do panic, but he is right there assuring me that he’s going to be with me every step of the way.”

“I will too Sookie.”

“Thanks Amelia, that means a lot to me.”

“I also wanted to talk to you about something else Sookie.”

“What’s that?”

“The B&B. I know Felicia is staying until school starts in the fall, and then after, she’ll commute to cover the weekends.”

“Yes, that’s right. We are still looking for a manager though.”

“How about me?”

“You? Really?” Sookie replied with a big grin. “Amelia that would be wonderful! I would never have to worry!”

“Just like that, you aren’t going to interview me or anything?”

“Well, we have the whole fall to train you – which you probably won’t even need. You have a degree in finance or accounting – I don’t recall which – but in any case, I’m sure that means you can take care of the books. We can set-up the phone line to follow-you if you want, so you don’t need to sit at the B&B to take calls. Felicia can handle the kitchen. The only stuff that we were adding this year is extra rentals with the Barn, weddings and parties and such. My only question is how soon do you want to start training once the girls start at school?”

“That’s it, that’s your only question?”

“That’s it. To me, this is a win – win situation. I know you have been getting a little stir crazy with Grace at school, this can be done part time so you can still handle Girl Scouts and other activities.”

Amelia grabbed Sookie in a hug. “Thanks Sookie!”

“You’re welcome. Let’s go share the news. I see them at the playground now.”

-oooo-

A few hours later, the travelers were getting settled for another red eye flight to Stockholm. Eric presented them with their plane charms, explaining it was to commemorate their first international flight. They placed the charms on their bracelets and then snuggled into the seats. Pam covered them with blankets and soon they were asleep. Before sleeping herself, Pam took the opportunity to chat with Sookie and Eric about the wedding. They had been toying with the plans already made due to the pregnancy, but had come to no decision. “Have you thought any more about the wedding date and location?”

“We have, Pam.” Sookie started. “While a wedding in Sweden at Christmas was what we had discussed, I just don’t want to be that huge walking down the aisle.”

“So, what’s the plan?”

“I spoke to Father Devlin during my class with him last week. We booked November 16th, the anniversary of the day we met, for the church and we’ll have a reception at the Barn. It’ll be a Friday evening.”

“Wow Eric, you’re actually doing stuff for the wedding?”

“Pam, you know I’m excited about this wedding; I want to participate.”

“Ok Eric, just don’t cut into my parts of the wedding planning.” Pam said then she turned to Sookie, “So dress shopping… I already made some inquiries and I have some shops in New York that carry maternity dresses. When can we go?”

“I don’t know – how much can we get done in one day? It took almost a whole day with travel time to get the Oscar dress, and this, this is my wedding dress.”

“I have an idea. Why don’t you and Pam go for a few days, book just one or two places a day, that way, you won’t get over tired.”

“And the girls?”

“Poppa is in the house!”

“Really, you’re ready for that?”

“Looking forward to it. I am sure Pam will set out the clothes for the days you’re gone, and I can cook.”

“Ok, that sounds like fun.”

“I’ll book it for the week before school starts, will that work?”

“Yes”, Sookie replied. “Now about the wedding party.” Pam sat up, expectantly. “The girls will be flower girls.”

“Yes, I already knew that Sookie. Who else?”

“Eric?”

“Well, we talked about Far’s role. I originally wanted to ask him to be my best man; however, while Sookie wants to invite Jason, she doesn’t want him to give her away….”

“Wait, Sookie, you’re having someone give you away? You’re following the American tradition for that?”

“Yes Pam, remember we’re blending American and Swedish traditions, and while I like the idea of walking in with Eric, I’m a sucker for the look the groom has at the end of the aisle when he first sees the bride.”

“OK, I can see that.”

Eric nudged in again about who was doing what. “Getting back to the wedding party, Sookie asked Far to give her away and he accepted.”

Klaus, turned in his seat to say, “I have never been so honored.” Sookie smiled and reached to touch the hand he had placed on the arm of his seat.”

“So that leaves me without a best man and Sookie needs a maid of honor.”

Pam, who for years was blasé about everything, was on the edge of her seat. Eric contained a chuckle, thinking about how Sookie and the girls had changed her so drastically. Wait, internal eye roll ‘they changed us both, but I can still chuckle at Pam’s anticipation.’

Eric continued talking. “Given all that Russell has done to help move Sookie and I along, and the fact that we both find him to be a dear friend, we have asked Russell to participate.”

“All that Russell did? How about all that I have done? I can’t….”

Sookie stepped in, deciding to end Pam’s pain. “Pam, will you be my maid of honor?”

Pam responded by bursting into tears and shrieking so loudly that the flight attendants came out to check on them. “Is that a yes?”

“Oh Sookie, yes, I am so honored. We can shop for the dresses while we are here!”

“I thought we just talked about going to New York?”

“That’s for your dress, silly. We can get the girls and I situated while we are here. Let’s talk color scheme.”

Eric spoke up. “Ladies, I think you should rest now, and talk color schemes tomorrow. You don’t need to do the shopping tomorrow…right?”

“Yes dear.” Sookie replied, and then snuggled into Eric’s side for the remainder of the night flight.

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