Chapter 35 – Blessed
“This is where Booger will be born? This tiny little building?”
“You should have seen it before they rebuilt. It was only a two story house like the ones to the left. Maura and Eleanor were born in the older building; so this is my first time seeing the new birthing rooms.”
“Sookie, you’ve got to be kidding me. I was already ready to say no when you told me you don’t actually stay here after giving birth, that we would be home within hours. But now, it just doesn’t seem safe to me. What happens if we have an emergency?”
“Eric, look across the street.” He turned to follow her pointing hand. “See that? It’s the hospital. We can be there in a minute if we needed, but I don’t plan on it. I can’t stand hospitals. I’m having the baby at The Birth Center.”
“NO? Last time I checked, you weren’t the one who was going to push the baby out. Don’t you dare go in there with this attitude. I arranged for a new expectant parent meeting and tour for us. Please, keep an open mind.”
Eric just huffed and then nodded yes. Pam stayed quiet through their discussion.
They walked to the second floor and Sookie checked in and was given her exam room number. The receptionist informed her that the midwife appointment would be first; then they would go downstairs for a tour of the birthing rooms and an information session. Sookie went to the restroom and when she came out, she called to Eric and Pam to follow her down the hall to an exam room. Shortly after changing into her glorious exam gown, the midwife, Nancy, knocked then entered. She apologized that they were starting with the exam, but the timing was necessary since one of the birthing rooms was being cleaned at the moment, a family had just left.
Sookie gave her the results from her time in the restroom. Eric was confused, “Sookie, you run these tests on your own? Isn’t that what the staff here is for?”
“Eric, it’s a simple PH test and ma weight. That’s how they do it here. I’d rather Nancy spend more time with me talkin’ about the pregnancy than holdin’ a stick for me to pee on, Dang!”
Now Sookie was just getting testy. ‘Southern Sookie is not good. I better back off and hold my comments for the final argument after we have this information meeting downstairs. No way in hell is Booger going to be born here.’
“Ok, up on the table. I have all the details from your appointments in LA, so we only need to do a quick check-up.”
The midwife got the measuring tape out and Sookie mumbled. “I hate this part.”
Eric chuckled, was given a dirty look immediately and for his own safety he bit his cheek to stop.
The check-up was over quickly and Sookie was left to dress so they could head down for the tour. Nancy led them to the first floor. “I want to show you all of the birthing rooms, since they are not in use right now, then we can meet at the dining room table to cover more information.
They toured each room. Sookie was excited to see that the rooms were larger than the former building had. “Wow, a Jacuzzi in each room? I had to use the one across the hall for Maura’s birth.”
Eric’s eyebrows both rose and he gasped, “Sookie, you gave birth in the tub?”
“No Eric. I relaxed in the tub after I got here and before I needed to push.”
Eric raced to the dining room table, sat at the head of the table and stated, “I think I need more information. Now.”
Sookie moved to sit to the right side of Eric and took his hand. It was strange for her to be so relaxed and exited about this visit and Eric seemed to be near panic. ‘The actual birth is going to be a challenge if this is how he is for a visit.’
Nancy started. “Mr. Northman, I can provide you any information you want. What would you like to know?”
Eric challenged Nancy with question after question, but Nancy kept her cool and answered them factually. He couldn’t argue with the statistics – thousands of safe births, with only a small percentage moved to the hospital across the street. He also could see that Sookie was very comfortable; excited actually at the improved rooms from when the girls were born. The woman answering his questions had attended at Eleanor’s birth – she and Sookie even laughed about some of the circumstances. Not that Eric found the fact that they barely made it to the Birth Center in time funny. NOT. AT. ALL.
Nancy turned to Sookie, “Why don’t you tell Eric some of your reasons for choosing The Birth Center for your girls?”
“When I was pregnant with Maura, we started at a traditional OB/GYN practice and a hospital birth. The more I leaned about the giving birth, natural methods and the unnecessary medical interventions frequently used, the less comfortable I became with my original choice. Two things really tipped the scale for me: First, I nearly fainted during the hospital tour of the birthing room and Second, I realized I didn’t want my baby away from me for a minute, at least if no medical issue necessitated it.
Like with the girls, I want to be home right away. I plan to hire a doula again and I want to recuperate at home. If anything, your notoriety only makes me want to be at The Birth Center even more. Please, I don’t want to argue about this.”
‘She’s right. She is the one who actually gives birth, not me. I have no recourse. I would prefer a hospital, one within minutes of the house, but I can see that’s not going to happen. The privacy of The Birth Center option is a definite plus. Ok, I have to agree.’
Sookie continued to look at Eric expectantly. He took a deep breath and said, “It’s not my personal choice, but you were right before. You are birthing Booger, you have to be comfortable. I can’t help but agree that keeping Booger with us at all times is optimal; I don’t want our baby in a hospital nursery if we can help it. I support your decision to give birth here.”
Sookie pushed out off her chair and moved to hug Eric saying thank you over and over again.
Nancy laughed at Sookie’s reaction and started pulling out information on the classes. “Here are the upcoming classes. You can do a refresher or the full class, since this is all new to Eric. You also need to attend one of the hospital tours just in case; those dates are listed as well.” She handed the information to Sookie, and Pam immediately put her hand out for it. Sookie complied knowing resistance was futile. Nancy continued. “So you have your next few visits scheduled, correct?”
“Then we are all set for today.”
“Thanks for taking the time, Nancy.”
They had one more stop in the area, The Postpartum Stress Center. Eric had been serious when he said he would ensure she had all the resources she needed and Sookie was grateful. Today was just a quick meet and greet and review of the symptoms of postpartum depression for both Pam and Eric. The meeting was over quickly, and Sookie relaxed knowing that Pam and Eric would be watchful and ready to help after Booger’s birth. As they walked out of the office, she felt like she was letting out a breath she had been holding. Somehow the fear of postpartum depression had been with her, even if she was not consciously thinking about it and now she felt like she could let go and have Pam and Eric worry about it. She felt great and she told everyone about the epiphany she just had. The reaction was smiles, all around.
“We still have a few hours before the girls are home. Can we stop and do some baby shopping? I just feel like taking advantage of this feeling, RIGHT NOW.”
“I don’t know Sookie; we’ll have to see if Pam agrees to go shopping.”
They both turned to Pam and she said, “Just get in the car.”
They filled the back of the car with baby items: clothing, accessories, and toys. Eric was happy seeing Sookie so excited about Booger, he denied her nothing, even though he thought the bouncy seat pattern was lame. The sea creature pattern was way cooler than the monkeys. ‘I’ll get the sea creatures for the house in LA.’ He thought to himself. Then he added, ‘God, I’m becoming a pansy – who the fuck cares what the pattern is?’
They arrived at the same time Mor was pulling in with the girls. She was quite interested in how the appointment went. She knew Eric; he probably wasn’t happy with The Birth Center, so she was surprised when Sookie confirmed it as their choice. ‘I’m glad that’s no longer a potential issue. We can just sit back and enjoy the anticipation of the baby now.’
Sookie turned to Eric, “Can we go check out the progress on our barn conversion? I want to see how the rooms are coming, especially the nursery.”
“Come on love.”
The weeks passed and soon, the barn was ready for final painting and then decorating. Pam was having a blast with the shopping, with Sookie’s guidance on colors and themes. They were planning to be moved in when returning from their honeymoon, only a few weeks away. It was mid-October, and Maxwell was planning a vacation sometime before the end of the year. A temporary guard would stay with Sookie and the girls while he was away. Planning for Maxwell’s vacation prompted Sookie to ask Eric about his plans for continuing with a guard. His answer was, “we’re keeping a guard forever.”
Sookie gasped and yelled. “HOW DO YOU JUSTIFY THAT!?”
“Sookie, even just for paparazzi, a guard can help. Soon we will have a baby being carried around. I just won’t feel right without Maxwell, and he has already agreed to permanent employment.”
“Eric, I know we don’t really get into finances that much, but don’t you think that paying a full time salary like that will eventually become a problem? I honestly don’t know what money you make, and soon the B&B income will be paying for Amelia and expenses, the profit will be minimal.”
“Sookie, I don’t know if you really understand something, well, I guess we never discussed it.” He paused then continued. “Sookie, my family was wealthy before we started working in the movie industry. Mor’s parents were, well, filthy rich. That’s why they never liked min Far, he was from ‘the wrong side of the tracks’ even though the Northman’s were well-to-do, just not as well-to-do as Mor’s parents. Love, we could truly never work again and we would want for nothing.”
Sookie’s eyes went wide for a moment; then she closed them as if thinking hard. Finally she said, “Well, then we need a prenuptial agreement for your protection.”
Infuriated, Eric spat back, “NEVER mention ANYTHING like that AGAIN!”
Sookie shrank back at his words and her eyes started tearing. “Eric, I…I’m sorry, I was just thinking that you and your family would want or need that, and I wanted to offer it so you wouldn’t have to worry about bringing it up. Please don’t be mad.” She turned to leave the office, where they had been talking and he stopped her by gently grasping her arm.
“Love, I’m sorry I yelled at you. Please sit down.”
Sookie sat next to Eric and waited for him to gather his thoughts. “Sookie, our family lawyer actually approached Mor, Far and I about a prenup when we were in Sweden. We all shot down the idea immediately, and quite aggressively. I believe the man was actually scared.” He stopped for a moment. “Sookie, please understand, you are family. I never want us to be apart and if something ever happens between us, not that I wish it, but you and the girls will be taken care of, forever. So please, can we never discuss this again?”
“Yes, but please understand this is very overwhelming to me. I grew up with only having the basics, money was always tight and folks WILL always look at us and wonder if I am with you for money.”
“I know that’s not true. Isn’t that enough for you?”
She nodded to him.
“Good, now can we have make-up sex?”
“ERIC!” She snickered and started walking to shut and lock the door. “Of course we can. Now strip!”
They both stripped and, as he usually did when he saw Sookie’s bare tummy, he checked-out Booger. Kneeling down in front of Sookie, he kissed the expanding baby bump. “Hi Booger, it’s Poppa. I can’t wait to see you again this week at the ultrasound.”
“Talk again, Booger just moved.”
“Did you kick at me? Are you trying to tell me something?”
“Booger is trying to tell you to pay attention to Mama.”
He rose to his feet and promptly paid attention to Mama, just as Booger asked.
“We’re going to be late if we don’t leave now!”
“Pam, relax, we’re coming down the stairs now.” Sookie replied.
They all piled into the SUV and Maxwell drove to the ultrasound appointment.
Akita asked, “Girls are you excited about seeing Booger?”
Maura answered, “You bet!” She whispered the rest, “and I want to get pictures from the ultrasound for that album I am making Mama and Poppa.”
Akita whispered back, “I’ll be sure you get them.”
Sookie hopped up on the table and started to move her shirt up and her pants to below her bulge. She grimaced when the technician put the sticky gel on and everyone stared at the screen waiting for Booger to appear.
Eleanor squealed when Booger appeared. “Look Mama! Booger is waving!”
“Yes, Booger is saying HI to you.”
They all stared at the screen as the technician took images and measurements. Akita couldn’t stop commenting on the image quality of the 3D ultrasound.
Pam kept looking carefully for the ability to identify Booger’s gender. She was slowly creeping closer and closer to the screen until Eric caught on. “Back away Pam or I’ll remove you from this room.” He turned to the technician and reminder her, “We don’t want to even accidentally discover Booger’s sex, please.”
“Yes, I was told. I have to take some measurements that may divulge that, so I’ll turn your monitor off for that.”
“Thank you.” He returned his attention to Pam and ordered “stop pouting.”
They left the visit with pictures and video and decided to stop at the big mall on the way home. Sookie requested it “Let’s pick the nursery theme.”
“Themes.” Pam corrected.
“Yes Pam, themes.”
Hearing them speak about outfitting several nurseries perked up the ears of the Pottery Barn store manager. She started following them around with another associate and Pam had them grabbing or ordering what they wanted for 3 nurseries. “Pam, I thought you wanted to put a nursery in the house in Sweden.”
“I do, but I plan to order that from a store in Sweden and have it shipped to Elsi.”
They completed the shopping with a jungle theme for LA, beige bunny theme for Akita and Klaus’ LA house, and circus friends theme for Pennsylvania. Pam ordered EVERY item for each of the themes and planned to hire specialty painters to recreate the themes on the walls (and for the circus the ceiling to mimic a big top tent). Sookie just rolled her eyes at the excess, but she kept her verbal thoughts to herself.
Since Sookie thought she was done with babies, she needed furniture for all the rooms as well. The store manager was positively giddy while she kept adding purchases to their visit. She couldn’t be more helpful to Pam, and Sookie did admit to herself it was nice to pick what she wanted for her and the baby. She and Sam weren’t poor, but they did use some hand-me-down furniture that didn’t match the theme. She knew logically that you didn’t need all this matching stuff to have the baby, but it was fun to coordinate everything.
They ended the day with dinner out before heading home.
Eric realized they were out too long when Sookie struggled to get out of the car. “Wait there, Love.”
He moved to her at the car door and picked her up. “Eric, I’m way too heavy for this.”
“Nonsense. I’m fine. I’ll take you to bed and you can relax. I want to carry you.”
“Ok, bed sounds nice.”
The girls followed Sookie and Eric upstairs. Once in the room, Eric asked if she wanted anything.
“I just want my pajamas. I’m exhausted.”
“Ok girls; come give your Momma goodnight hugs. I’ll join you downstairs after you Mama’s ready for bed and then we can play a game.”
“What’s so funny?”
“Poppa, you are putting Mama to bed and it’s earlier than we need to go to bed.”
“This is probably going to happen more often. Mama is working hard to grow Booger.”
Not wanting to leave just yet, he laid with Sookie for a few minutes facing her to feel Booger on his front while he rubbed her back. ‘I’ll never tire of feeling Sookie and Booger like this. I’m going to enjoy every moment.’ He was thinking to himself and he was interrupted by a voice from downstairs “Poppa, we are ready.”
He gave Sookie one last kiss and headed downstairs to play with his daughters, a grin covering his face.
The first week in November, Eric spent a week rehearsing in LA for Meanwhile. It ripped Sookie apart when he was gone. She put on a brave face when they spoke to each other, she didn’t want him to feel any guilt. Pam tried to keep her occupied with the wedding details but at night, she would just lay in bed with herself and her hormones crying.
Early in the week Sookie had a midwife appointment and going without Eric had been especially hard. Even though she had Akita and Pam with her, she started crying in the office. “I’m sorry Mor, Pam. It’s nothing against you, I just miss him. What am I going to be like when he leaves even closer to the birth?”
Mor stepped over and enveloped Sookie in a hug. “You’ll cry, and that’s fine. It’ll help with the water retention anyway, and besides, you’ll have us. What can we do after this appointment for fun? Farfar is home to greet the girls from the bus. We have the entire afternoon.”
Pam suggested, “Shopping?”
“Pam, I have enjoyed our last few trips, but I think I am shopped out.”
Pam gasped, “That’s impossible Sookie.”
Sookie raised her eyebrows but otherwise ignored Pam’s comment. She checked her iPhone then looked up with a mischievous smirk. “There is a movie theater on the way home that also has food service – I mean, you literally order from your seat in the movie and get lunch, or drinks or whatever. They happen to be playing Bachelorette at 1PM today. Ladies, how about lunch and a movie?”
“That sounds like a plan. I’ll call Klaus and let him know we’ll be a while.”
Pam laughed, “I hope Maxwell feels like a chick flick. You tell him Sookie, he won’t get mad at you.”
They walked out of the theater a few hours later and Sookie hugged them both. “Thanks for helping me get through today.”
“Our pleasure, Sookie.”
That night, Jesus called to check in with Sookie. The two had remained close even though they lived so far apart. Their babies were due only a few weeks apart and they spent a great deal of time baby planning. She decided to confide in Jesus. “I’m thinking we need to alter our living and travel plans, Jesus.”
“What do you mean Sookie?”
“Well, I want to keep this house, but I’m toying with Pennsylvania being the holiday and vacation location and LA being our main residence. This week without Eric has been hard, and while he’ll still need to travel for work, our time apart will be lessened if we are living in LA. Plus, the extended family can remain close. Our living in Pennsylvania is also hard on Pam, Klaus and Akita. God, I can’t believe I’m actually thinking about this.”
“What if I told you there was a house for sale in our neighborhood?”
“I’ll send you the realtor information if you want.”
“Jesus, you know I don’t want to live in LA, but being in the same neighborhood when we have our babies would help me adjust. We’ll find baby and me classes or something. Can you look into birthing centers and midwife practices out there?”
“Will do. I’m being completely selfish here; I would love you to live in LA.”
Eric returned from his LA trip and now it was the weekend before the wedding. Jason had flown in with Hoyt, Hoyt’s mother, Tara, JB and Robert. Pam met them at the airport and now they were arriving at the B&B.
The family came out to greet them and the girls were jumping over Uncle Jas and Robert. “Come see our new tree house.”
“Yeah, Poppa had one built for us just like the tree house at Longwood Gardens. It’s in the woods, so you really feel like you are up in the trees.”
“Well, this I gotta see.”
Hoyt grabbed Jason’s bag for him and told him to go ahead with the girls. Klaus ran out to help with the extra bags when he saw there were more bags than Hoyt could carry, and he didn’t want Sookie to touch them at all.
Sookie guided everyone to the B&B wing and assigned them their rooms.
“Sookie, this place sure is perty, your gran would be proud a’ you. You don’ need to give Hoyt and I separate rooms though, dus she baby?”
Sookie gave a silly look in Hoyt’s direction and decided to ask him later why his mother had no idea he was staying with Pam. “Mrs. Fortenberry, the B&B is for couples.”
Mrs. Fortenberry looked at Sookie with no understanding showing.
“That means I only have one bed in each room.”
“Hoyt, you should rest up, Russell is taking all the men out tonight for the bachelor party. The limo will be here at 8PM. Dinner will be at 6, so you have a few hours.”
“Mrs. Fortenberry, the ladies are also going out tonight and you are welcome to join us.”
Mrs. Fortenberry got an excited look on her face. “Sookie, are we goin to a strip place fer ladies?”
“Um, no. We are going out dancing though.”
“Darn, I was hopin for some man action.”
“Hush Hoyt, I ain’t dead. Sookie, I’ll still go wit ya. Been a long time since I cut a rug.”
Sookie chuckled and left to continue prepping for dinner with Akita.
The limos were at the B&B and party goers were loading themselves in. Sookie and Eric stayed back for a moment. “Mr. Northman, you go have fun, but not TOO much fun.”
“You do the same Love. You look delicious in your outfit with Booger finally showing properly.”
“You just like the dress Pam picked because you think my baby bulge will deter any other men from dancing with me.”
Eric winked, helped Sookie into the ladies’ limo and then got into the men’s limo. Sookie waved once more to the front door where the girls and Robert were standing with Jason. He offered to stay home and babysit and took a world of weight off Sookie’s shoulders. All of Sookie’s babysitters were either in the men’s or woman’s limo, so that was an issue. Eric only tolerated Jason’s presence, so that was another issue. Jason solved both with his offer and Sookie gladly accepted.
Russell had quite a time picking an appropriate venue for the bachelor party. Sure, Reading, the closest city to Morgantown had several ‘gentlemen’s clubs’ but honestly he simply couldn’t risk any publicity with having Eric strolling into one of those clubs. Instead, he booked a private room at a downtown restaurant, made arrangements to sneak the group in without going through the main entrance to the restaurant and hired a stripper. Covering all his bases, he also coordinated with Pam. They both knew that Sookie wouldn’t enjoy and evening of dancing without Eric, so the plan was to join them at the dance club after about an hour or so. Through careful planning, the restaurant was attached to the dance club.
At the bachelor party, Eric entered the room and was surprised to see Lala, Jesus, Alcide and Police Chief John Stoltfus in attendance. Russell explained, “They’re all coming to the wedding, and Sookie wanted you to enjoy some close friends for this party as well. She arranged for them to all arrive early.”
“That’s just great, thanks for this Russell.”
“Hey, I’m the best man, this is my job.”
After the second round of drinks was delivered, Russell nodded to their party host and the stripper joined the party. Eric was amused by the stripper tradition, but he had no real interest in interacting with her. When she approached him, he shook his head and offered up Lala as the target, then provided her with a large tip to seal the deal. Lala, having no inhibitions was able to morph the bachelor party obligatory stripper dance into something funny and entertaining for the whole room. Eric patted himself on the back for thinking of sending her Lala’s way.
Russell leaned over and asked, “OK, what are you going to do with the second stripper?”
Eric opened his eyes wide and asked “You’re joking?”
“Yeah man, but your face was priceless. I was thinking of hiring a man since half of your guests are gay.”
“That would have been funny. We could have invited the girls over for him.”
Russell’s face froze to prevent giving anything away and he asked. “Invited the girls?”
“Yes, they’re next door, right?”
“Can’t get anything by you, can we?”
“Sookie gave it away, she has been texting me that she danced a few dances, but is ready to be done. She mentioned their location. Unfortunately for her, Amelia, Pam, Tara and Mrs. Fortenberry are ‘tearing up the dance floor’. When can we give in and go join them.”
“For someone who had such a wild reputation, you’re a bummer for a bachelor party guest of honor.”
“Don’t even. You know you’re thrilled with how I’ve changed.”
“I AM! I just thought you could loosen up a little.”
“I did, I laughed at the stripper, I drank; I’ll even drink more while we dance – I promise. You have your husband here, I miss my Sookie.”
“Fine, stop pouting.”
Russell requested the check and announced that the party was moving. Since Eric had not given away that they boys were in the same building when he texted Sookie, he moved in first and snuck up on her.
“Hey there, care to dance with me pretty lady.”
At first Sookie jumped when two hands landed on her shoulder from behind, but before he finished his sentence, she recognized the voice. “ERIC! Don’t scare a pregnant woman. In about two months, that could be a huge risk.” She whispered the rest, “For now, you could literally scare the pee outta me.”
He chuckled. “How about that dance?”
“You got it.”
Sookie started to tire about 2 hours later and now she had a huge, drunk fiancé to attend to as well. ‘I’m going to kill Russell for ordering all those shots.’ She asked the crowd “Who wants to go home in the first limo with Eric and me?”
“Oh baby, I don wanna go yet.” Eric slurred out.
“You may not wanna, but I do and you’re too drunk to argue.”
Chief Stoltfus stood to help Sookie out to the Limo that was parked by the back doors. Several others from the group decided to leave early as well. “Russell, is this limo returning to transport folks back to the B&B? Since you had the surprise guests, you have more people here than the two limos drove.”
“Yes Sookie, the driver knows to return.”
“Thanks Russell. Pam, thank you for a wonderful bachelorette party.”
Once home, Chief Stoltfus helped Sookie get Eric up to bed. Jason snickered from the family room, but didn’t help. He was keeping his distance from Eric during this visit. The Chief dropped Eric onto the bed and Sookie said she could take it from there. She started with his shoes, and except to try and paw Sookie, Eric was no help; but he was funny. “Oooo baby, I love it when you undress me.”
“Don’t get yourself excited, I don’t think you’ll be awake enough to do anything with your naked self.”
“But Sooookie, I wanna do things to your nekked body.” She moved to try and get his coat off.
“I bet you do, but we need to finish getting you undressed. Roll over and help me get your arms out of this coat.” That accomplished, she then worked on his shirt.
“Sooookie, take off YOUR top. I wanna play.”
She ignored him and worked on his silk tee. After struggling for a moment, she was able to push it up far on his chest, but he still needed to help. “OK, lift your arms Gumby.”
“Yeah, you’re soft, bendy like Gumby would be.”
“Soft and bendy?”
“Yes, not hard, not rigid.” She continued to work on his clothes, now taking off his pants.
“Oh Sookie, take off your top and I bet we can make something hard and rigid.”
“But you like when I’m a perv. Your mouth creeps up just on one side in a smile when you yell at me like that. You do that other times you are yelling at me. I know you’re not mad.”
“Oh really? Got any other secrets you want to share about me that you’ve been keeping?”
“You mean, like your wedding present?”
“ERIC! We agreed to no presents.”
“Oops. Sorry.” He paused and looked like he was thinking really hard. “Oh, I know, take off your top. I can distract you by playing with your nipples; then you’ll forget I told you about the gift.”
“You have a one track mind. Lift up your butt.” Instead of yielding to his wishes, she pulled his pants off then guided him under the sheet and blanket to tuck him in. “I’ll be right back; I’m going to check on the girls.”
She returned, changed into a nightshirt and got into bed. She thought Eric had fallen asleep until she felt him move around to spoon her, followed by a tweak to her nipple through the nightshirt. “Mmmm love you.”
“Goodnight Eric, I love you too.”
For a few minutes it was quiet and Sookie thought Eric had fallen asleep. He broke the silence. “Soookieee.”
“Take off your top.”
“Go to sleep Eric.”