Chapter 38 – I want to be where you are
Pam peeked into Sookie’s and when she saw Sookie reading, she informed her, “I’m running out for a few while, do you need anything?” She then quickly added, “From anywhere but Target that is.”
Sookie laughed, “No Pam, but thanks for offering.”
“Ok, well Mor is downstairs guiding the help for the party tonight.”
Sookie had stayed behind to rest while Maxwell, Eric and the girls were driving Bernie and Don to the airport. Lying in bed waking from her nap, she thought about the visit with Bernie and Don. The girls had really enjoyed them and Sookie was glad that there was no awkwardness. She recalled the discussion they had about Eric’s adoption of the girls a few weeks before the wedding. To her and Eric’s surprise, they stopped the hemming and hawing from Sookie as she tried to explain what they wanted to do. Bernie took her hand and informed Sookie that they had anticipated the adoption and had already talked it through. They both committed to staying close to the girls to ensure they kept their connection to Sam. She was beyond grateful.
She moved from the bedroom to the living room and spied the piano. She played a keyboard in the Barn for open mic night, but it had been a long time since she sat at an actual piano, so she decided to indulge herself while she waited. The playing allowed her thoughts to flow. ‘I cannot even image how much the Christmas Eve delivery cost in addition to the price of the piano. I just can’t get accustomed to some of these expenditures; like gutting the kitchen in the new house. Eric had figured out that the kitchen was my only hesitation on the new place: I hated the style and layout. He was actually kind of mad he had to pull the information out of me, but I really thought a complete renovation was wasteful. Sam and I weren’t poor, but wastefulness and extravagance bother me no matter my income. Basic construction work on the upstairs bedrooms, I have no problem with that, but a hugely expensive kitchen re-do when the kitchen was already pretty much new – YIKES. Once he knew that was my only issue with the house, he hired a kitchen designer and contractor and insisted on a rush construction project. At least I was able to convince the contractor to work with Habitat for Humanity to take the very lightly used cabinets, counters and appliances. Just a few more days and we’ll be moving in. The delayed move also gave the decorators and painters the opportunity to finish the whole house, so once we move; no further work will be needed. And that reminds me– painters and decorators – never in my life have I hired staff for those tasks! I must admit though, with all the other items I need to do with the move to LA, I wouldn’t have had the time to do any of that work myself. And Eric managed to convince me to add fulltime helper at the house instead of just a cleaning service. He got me in a moment of weakness on that one. Once Booger is a bit older I will work to change his mind. I LIKE housework.’
She sighed, and started playing another song. ‘At least the midwife appointments are going well. I really love this group and Eric is certainly happier with the fact that they are right next door to the entrance of the birthing wing at the hospital. That really turned out to be a win/win situation. The school choice was the same. Once Kennedy found out about their move from Eric, she called me right away and arranged for a meeting with the administrator at her kid’s school. Eric and I – and more importantly – the girls all love the school and Kennedy’s kids and ours have already become fast friends at school and through play dates and sleepovers. Thank god for that. … Could life really be this perfect? After the drama from the past year, I have my doubts it will stay this way.’
She stopped playing to looked down at her huge and still growing belly and rubbed it.Speaking out loud she asked her tummy,”Booger, are you planning on a dramatic entrance? I certainly hope not. Your Poppa will have a coronary he’s so uptight about the birth. You better arrive peacefully.”
Thinking about the baby had her spiraling a bit towards her concerns for after the birth. Something she had really been able to control for most of these months, but occasionally, the dark thoughts crept in. ‘What about the depression? It’s bound to appear shortly after Booger arrives. Will Eric understand as he says he does? What will he really think about some of the post partum depression behaviors and thoughts?
She’d started quietly crying at this point and did not realize Eric had entered the room. He arrived just about the time she started rubbing her belly and asking Booger to come peacefully. He almost chuckled until he saw her expression change – even though he could only see her profile, the tightness in her jaw gave her away. ‘I know that look. It goes hand in hand with post partum depression discussions. Time to snap her out of it.’
“My love, what has you so pensive over there? I heard you playing and was drawn to it. Will you play something for me?”
She turned to him and he noticed the tears. “Sookie, what is it?”
“Nothing, spending too much time in my thoughts.”
“Tell me, please?” He asked as he knelt next to the piano bench.
“I was just thinking about how wonderful everything is now. Well, actually I spent time fretting over money.” He tried to speak, but she stopped him. “I know, we’ve had the discussion and I am getting used to it, but I can still think about it. Anyway, I was comparing the peace now to the drama from last year and wondering if peace is the norm, or the anomaly.”
“That shouldn’t cause tears.”
“No. That got me talking to Booger, which got me to thinking about…”
“After Booger arrives. You know we’ll all be here to support you. We’ve hired a doula, lactation consultant and feeding expert to be here every day after the birth if needed, for as long as you need it. We are ALL going to see you through this.”
“What if you are appalled at my reactions? My tears? My fears?”
“I can only ask you to trust me that I won’t and I’ll prove it in a matter of weeks. OK?”
“I’m fine, it just hits me sometimes is all.”
“Good.” He stood and reached for her hand. “Come on. It’s New Years and Kennedy and her family will be here shortly for our party. Why don’t I help you dress for our company?”
“You just want to help with the undressing part.”
He waggled his eyebrows. “You know me well.”
“You love it.”
“You can do it.”
“Sookie, I’m right here with you. You can do this.”
“I’m not getting in the limo. I look like I swallowed a very large beach ball.”
Eric sighed. They needed to leave within the next 15 minutes to make the red carpet for the Golden Globes. He was a presenter, so he had to go regardless of whether Sookie attended or not. Waiting patiently, Klaus and Akita were already seated in the limo. He saw Pam headed for the foyer where they were standing at the open front door.
“WADDLES! I spent hours finding you that dress. Your hair and makeup stylists have done a superb job. The fans are always suckers for a beautiful pregnant woman. You get yourself and Booger into the limo right now.”
Sookie stood firm until Pam added more.
“Do you want Eric going out, dressed as he is, ALONE? He’s presenting an award with Selma Hayek for Goodness sake. Is that the image you want in everyone’s head – Eric and Selma? She’s stunning – and she breastfed someone else’s child in public – she has no issues with motherhood. Why do you?”
“WITCH, I’ll get you for this!” She yelled at Pam, grabbed her bag and stomp-waddled out the door.
Eric winked at Pam and followed.
They rode in silence to the awards until Eric heard Sookie groan.
“Eric, the limos stop in a very public area to drop off the attendees.”
“Yes, it’s the beginning of the red carpet. This is just like the Oscars.”
“Except you didn’t need a Hoyer lift to get me out of the car at the Oscars.”
“Sookie, you are very beautiful and very graceful – especially at 8 months pregnant. However, I already know how YOU perceive yourself and I have a plan. Trust me.”
She should have trusted him. When they stopped, Sookie and Akita were on the red carpet side of the limo. Eric told her to wait. The driver opened the other door for Klaus and Eric to exit and they walked around to Sookie and Akita’s side. Klaus extended his arm to Akita. Once she was out, Eric repeated the motion for Sookie. When she emerged, huge belly first, then the rest of her body, she realized that they had all formed a blockade preventing her exit from being seen: Eric, Klaus, Akita, the driver and Maxwell. The gesture was touching and caused Sookie to mist up.
Reaching for Eric, she grabbed onto him and quietly thanked him. The four attendees walked (and waddled) to the interviewers on the carpet. Instead of focusing on the dress designers, some of the interviewers focused on wishing Sookie and Eric well on their upcoming ‘bundle of joy’. Sookie had to admit, the experience was pretty pleasant.
What was not pleasant was seeing Freyda once they entered the room. Luckily, she was sitting at a different table. Sookie stiffened when she saw her rise with Ryan Kwanten and approach their table. Eric turned to see what caused the reaction and scowled. Freyda put her hands up defensively. ‘This is curious, Eric thought.’
“Sookie, Eric, how are you? Sookie, you look well.”
Unable to hide his shocked expression, Eric replied. “Hello Freyda, to what do we owe the pleasure of your visit?”
“An apology if you will.”
Sookie and Eric both stared at Freyda for a moment before she continued. “Sookie, you met Ryan briefly at the premier of Bored to Death.” Sookie nodded. “We’ve been together since then and that has caused me to think about many things. Ryan also knows Eric well and he has spoken to Eric and heard things. Well, I’m babbling so I’ll get to the point.”
Klaus and Akita decided to go visit another table for a moment, leaving their chairs open. Eric indicated that they should sit so they did.
“You see, in the past few months, Ryan and I fell in love and I finally grew up. I was jealous of you, of what you had.” She pointed between back and forth between Eric and Sookie. “I was angry at life for what I didn’t have. I realized, what I mean is, well, basically everything you said to me on the plane was right Sookie. I’m sorry for what I tried to do to your relationship. Can you ever forgive me?
“Of course I can Freyda. I’m happy for you actually.”
“Thank you Sookie. So tell me, when are you due?”
“Next month, and I can’t wait to stop waddling.”
“Yes, I suspect I will feel the same way in about 5 months.”
Sookie’s eyes grew wide while Freyda smiled. “Congratulations.” She paused for a moment placed her hand on Freyda’s then added, “I must ask for your forgiveness at my comments to you about motherhood.”
“Nothing to forgive Sookie, you were protecting your family. You must tell me where you purchased your gorgeous dress. I’ll need several maternity gowns in the next few months.”
“Sure, actually Pam did most of my maternity shopping, but I’ll get you the information.”
“Thank you Sookie. I see we must move to our seats now. Enjoy the show.”
“You do the same.”
Sookie and Eric sat stunned for a moment then turned towards the stage as the show began. They made only idle chit chat for the rest of the show and only spoke about what had transpired when they were driving home. Klaus actually started. “What happened after Mor and I left the table?”
“Far, you won’t believe it.”
He didn’t, but they were all happy at the outcome.
‘Why always at night? Why can’t the first contractions be at like 10AM?’ She leaned over to push on Eric’s arm. “Wake up sweetie.”
He sat up slowly and rubbed his face. “What’s going on?”
Sookie just looked at him with a smirk. “What do you think is going on, goof?”
With that, he bolted out of the bed. “What time is it? How long, how far apart?”
“It’s just after 4AM and I’ve felt just two, 5 minutes apart. We have to call the midwife.”
Since Eleanor’s last delivery went so fast, the plan was to head to the birth center as soon as the contractions started. Eric wanted NO PART of a possible in car delivery like Eleanor was. “I’ll wake Pam and Maxwell, then come back to get us dressed.”
Pam had surprised them with news at the beginning of February. She had been taking doula classes for Sookie; studying and serving as an apprentice in secret for weeks. Sookie had already planned to have her at the birth, and while the classes did not ‘certify’ her as a doula, Pam did have the added knowledge to really help Sookie. When Pam told her, she cried at the gesture. Well, she cried at everything most days, but she cried EXTRA at the gesture.
Within 30 minutes, they were on the road, leaving Maxwell at the house to tend to the girls until Klaus and Akita arrived. Then he would join Eric and Sookie at the birthing center as planned.
Riding in the car while in labor was unpleasant for Sookie. The contractions were coming quickly and she was struggling with sitting in a seat, but Pam sat with her helping her relax as much as possible. Having received a text update from Pam while they drove to the birthing center, the midwife was already at the birthing center and greeted them at the door about 45 minutes later. Pam took her last opportunities to tease Sookie. “Come on Waddles; let’s get you into a birthing room.”
Feeling some urgency to be in a position to push, Sookie only got as far as removing her pants before she got into bed. Her examination was as she expected, Booger was already descending in the birth canal so they all took their positions: Sookie was on her side, as she had done with both girls, with Eric behind her to hold her leg up and Pam was facing Sookie to help her focus. Tearing from overly forceful pushing had been an issue with the girls’ births, so they were planning on controlling the descent as much as possible. Working with the doula as an apprentice, Pam had learned some puff-type blowing that could help prevent the urge to push aggressively. Pam was holding Sookie’s gaze and breathing the light puffs with her. Sookie was grateful; the need to mimic Pam helped her focus on just those puffs and nothing else.
Sookie felt a gush as the water was broken by the midwife and she felt the urge to push. Having lost her concentration from the midwife’s actions, Pam refocused Sookie to push with less force and allow the contraction to do the work. They repeated this only a few times and soon, the head was out. Sookie paused while the midwife suctioned out the baby and they heard the crying. Eric’s face was streaked with tears, but he still focused on Sookie, as they still had a push or so to go. A few seconds later, a contraction and another controlled push and Booger was out. Over the wailing baby, the midwife spoke to Eric. “Poppa, you can let Sookie’s leg down and see your baby.”
He gently released Sookie’s shaking leg and leaned over from his stance behind her. Then he turned to her and announced with a grin that lit up his face, “Matteus Klaus Northman has been born Sookie, and he is beautiful.”
Sookie smiled and replied, “With those lungs, Eleanor is going to have competition for being the loudest in the house.”
Eric and Pam moved Sookie to her back and Eric placed Matteus on her chest while the midwife tended to Sookie. After a few minutes she announced “we have no tearing.”
Sookie turned to Pam. “Thank you, you really helped with that.”
Pam was so overcome with emotion, she could only nod.
The nurse had joined them in the birthing room and asked Dad to carry Matteus to the bathing area. Sookie corrected her. “We call him Poppa in our house.”
“Certainly. Poppa, would you like to assist me with the first bath?”
Eric found he could only nod while he bundled Matteus in a blanket and walked over.
Pam snapped dozens of pictures of Eric. He appeared pretty confident, likely since Lala and Jesus had welcomed their baby, Angelica, a few weeks ago and he had recent practice holding a newborn. The midwife was cleaning Sookie, changing the sheets and applying the ice pack to reduce swelling. Sookie paid her no attention, her focus stayed on Eric and Matteus. Eric cooed at his baby and spoke to him about meeting his sisters, while he washed him under the nurse’s guidance. Sookie watched, enthralled by Eric’s large hands caring for his tiny son. If was possible, Sookie fell in love with him even more at that moment.
Seeing Matteus was bathed and dressed in a diaper and blanket, she asked Pam, “Help me sit up more. I want to feed him.” Pam shuffled some pillows and moved Sookie with the midwife’s help. Eric leaned in with Matteus and handed him to Sookie. She raised her shirt and guided him to his first meal. Eric sat next to her, one arm over her shoulder, one touching his son’s head while he beamed. Pam sat in the rocking chair in the room, mesmerized by the sight before her. Sookie looked at them both and suggested someone call the farföräldrar (paternal grandparents).
“Pam, can you hand me my phone?”
Eric dialed and it was answered on the first ring with Klaus saying “Well?”
“It’s a boy, Matteus Klaus Northman. He and Sookie are both doing well.”
They all heard the squeals since Eric dialed and Klaus answered via speaker mode. They spoke for a few moments offering congratulations before Klaus informed them, “Maxwell is on the way.”
“We’ll be home just after lunch.” Eric reminded his Far.
“I still can’t get used to no hospital stay. Sookie, are you sure you’re up to being home?”
“Far, I want to be home. You’re calling the staff Eric hired, right?”
“Already did that; woke them all up as soon as we arrived here.”
“Then, I’ll be in good shape. We’ll see you shortly.”
Since Eric was working on accepting Jason in their lives, he offered to call Jason with the birth announcement. The call was short but Sookie was grateful he had made the effort. Not to be left out of the loop, Pam started making her own announcements via text, phone and twitter. Having added a communication plan to the birth plan, Pam was now in execution mode. Sookie just laughed. At least she and Eric had pre-approved the list and it did take some of the burden off of them to reach out to everyone themselves. This way, she could call folks personally when Matteus napped in the coming days.
Once Matteus had fed, she turned to Pam. “Would you like to hold him?”
Pam beamed and moved to sit on the bed next to Sookie. Sookie placed Matteus in her arms and again, the recent experience with Angelica paid off. Pam felt no awkwardness holding the newborn. She smiled down at Matteus and spoke softly through her tears. “Welcome to the family. I’m your Aunt Pam and we are going to be good friends. I will shop for you and dress you but I won’t change your poopy diapers, no matter what pleading face your Mama makes. Rest assured you’ll be the best dressed little man in the state. Most of all, I will love you Matteus.” She stopped to wipe the tears on her face; then continued. “I can’t wait to hit purchase on all the saved items I have for boys, so I will give you back to your Mama for now. Don’t worry my little man; I will pay for expedited delivery. You won’t be in yellow for too long if I have my say.”
Eric put the video camera down (he had captured Pam’s first discussion with her nephew) and said, “My turn.” He reached for Matteus over Sookie’s body and leaned back against the headboard, thankful Sookie had chosen the birthing center where they all fit in the same bed. After staring for a few minutes, he turned to Sookie and said, “Look what we made. He’s a perfect little you.”
“No Eric. Look again, if we hadn’t named him Matteus, he would be Eric Junior.”
“She has that right.” Pam added.
Eric started to shake his head, but Sookie cut him off. “Eric, he has your cleft chin, and wait, does it look like he is lifting just one brow, as if he is questioning our conversation?”
Chuckling, Eric replied, “Sookie, I’m not sure he is really raising that brow and even if he was, YOU raise one brow.”
“Sweetie, I only learned it to respond to yours. That’s a Northman move.”
They continued to stare and talk to Matteus until it was time for Sookie to feed him again. When he was done, Sookie showered while Pam and Eric packed to leave the birthing center.
As planned, they arrived home just after lunch. Klaus, Akita and the girls were waiting in the family room, all having called dibs on holding Matteus first. They conceded to Akita and she welcomed the baby with tears. She gazed down at the sleeping baby and spoke softly. “Welcome Matteus. We all love you very much and are so excited we can ALL hold you now; your Mama has been so selfish hogging you all this time.” She looked to see Sookie’s fake appalled face; then turned back to Matteus. “We thank you for arriving without drama and I ask you to be a nice sleepy baby for your Mama. Mostly though, I’m just so happy to be able to call you something other than Booger.”
They all laughed heartily at that comment.
“I baptize you Matteus Klaus Northman.” Father Devlin said as he poured the water on little Matty’s head. Matty replied with a large wail that elicited laughter from the attendees.
The group had gathered after Mass on a late spring day for the baptism. Many folks, including Father Devlin, had flown in from Pennsylvania and Louisiana for the occasion. Hoyt, also having been raised Catholic, was asked to be Matty’s Godfather. He was honored to accept. Since only one Godparent needed to be a full Catholic, Pam was able to serve as Godmother. A role she had planned to fill regardless of the church rules.
After the church service, the guests returned to the new Northman home in LA. Sookie observed her family and friends as they milled about her house.
She laughed at Pam. Once they returned to the house for the celebration, Pam hardly let anyone hold Matty. He was her little man and she let everyone know it. She did share him somewhat with the Godfather, explaining it was his day as well.
Speaking of the Godfather, Hoyt and Pam’s break-up was off and on. . Shortly after the wedding, they resumed talking daily again, even though that wasn’t their plan. They were trying to see other people, but Sookie knew from seeing Pam and her dates, the enthusiasm wasn’t there. She had heard from Jason that Hoyt was also trying, he had even asked the same girl out a few times, but they weren’t ‘clicking’ like Pam and Hoyt. Sookie remained optimistic that they could work something out. Actually, Sookie was more than optimistic, she was a meddler. She had enlisted Akita to spend time with Maxine, showing her around LA and introducing her to what the area had to offer. ‘If I can persuade Mrs. F., maybe they have a chance’.
Her bigger concern when she thought about Louisiana was Jason. Hoyt was his best friend, and if he really did leave, Jason would be lost. Jason called to talk on a regular basis, but she felt that wouldn’t be enough to ground him. True to his word, Eric had worked out a ‘relationship’ with Jason. They weren’t buddies, but they could hold a civil conversation. Jason felt comfortable enough to fly out and stay at the house for the baptism so even though the relationship was obviously strained, she was thankful they had worked something out.
She continued her thoughts, looking at Matty and thinking about her first weeks home with him. As they promised, Pam and Eric watched Sookie for signs of post partum depression and called in help when needed. When it struck, Eric paid for a daily in-house counselor and the difference for Sookie was remarkable. The depression did occur, there was no denying it. However, the depth of depression and the length of time it stayed were significantly reduced. Even now, only three months after the birth she only had occasional twinges. With Eleanor, at three months, she was still spiraling in depression and despair on a daily basis.
She looked to see Maxwell, now a full part of the family. She thought of all he had done for them and with them in the past year and memories of Bill Compton snuck in. The biggest shock Sookie received since the birth of Matty was Eric’s confession about Bill. Once Bill had testified at DeCastro’s trial, he had been found dead in his new ‘witness protection’ home, presumed killed by DeCastro’s men. Eric admitted to his part, through Kahn, in providing information on Bill’s last known location after the trial to a contact in DeCastro’s organization. Sookie knew she should have been appalled over the whole thing, but she wasn’t. Too much relief came from knowing Bill was dead. If he had been locked away, that would have been good enough for her. From her perspective, his death wasn’t about punishment; rather, it was about safety and knowing Bill could never find her again. Eric fretted for a day while Sookie worked through her thoughts on his confession. He knew he had to tell her once Bill died, but he feared her reaction. Just as she always did though, she surprised him with her revelation. She stopped her thoughts, refusing to spend time on Bill while celebrating her baby’s baptism.
Jesus and Lala smiled at her while they quickly took pictures of Matty and Angelica together. Pam had allowed her little man out of her arms for a few moments, “only to indulge Angelica” as she said. The two families had ‘betrothed’ their children to each other right after Matty was born. Sometimes she thought Eric took that as 100% serious, but she would cross that bridge later. Jesus had quit his job and he and Sookie spent time together with the babies almost every day. She still missed her Pennsylvania friends, but Jesus certainly filled that void for her most of the time.
She glanced out the patio doors to see the girls playing with both their old Pennsylvania friends and their new LA ones. They had adjusted well to the move and Matty. They often fought over Matty’s attentions and both proclaimed themselves as his favorite sister. On weekend mornings, Sookie and Eric frequently had both the girls and Matty in bed. Eric had wholeheartedly agreed to co-sleeping as Sookie had done with the girls, and Sookie enjoyed the closeness they shared by having everyone snuggling together with Saturday morning cartoons.
Her eyes met Eric’s and she both smiled and misted up at the same time. ‘Look at him. He truly loves everything about this life, even the dirty diapers.’ She thought to herself. ‘I can’t believe I thought he was a jerk when we first met. Thank God he was patient enough to keep trying.’
As if propelled to her, he moved across the room to take Sookie in his arms. “I’ve been watching you for a while. What are you thinking about my Love?”
She laughed, “At which second?”
He chuckled and kissed her nose. “That much stuff? At least you were smiling the whole time.”
“I can’t help but smile. Look at what your flight to Pennsylvania did just over a year ago.”
“I know my Love, I know. I thank God every day for that movie.”
“I thank God every day for you.” She reached up and gave him a kiss, the action causing her nipples to rub against his chest.
He growled and moved his mouth to her ear to whisper, “Nobody is paying attention to us and Pam has Matty, I think we should escape and thank each other with celebration sex.”