I’m posting the next installment of Joshua and Katie’s story on Monday this week instead of Tuesday because I have a homeschool curriculum review posting tomorrow. I hope you enjoy it.
Also, don’t forget that my other story, Check Yes or No, is available in its entirety here on the blog.
~December 17, 2001~
“Thanks for coming with me, Kayla.” It’s the day of my first doctor’s appointment since finding out about the pregnancy, and I couldn’t bear the thought of going alone. If Joshua couldn’t come, his sister Kayla is about as good a substitute as there is.
“It’s no problem, Katie,” she assures me. “I know that no one can ever take the place of Joshua in your life, but I’m honored that you picked me to help you.” She lets go of the steering wheel with one hand and reaches over to pat my shoulder.
Kayla has been a lifesaver the past month. When all I wanted to do was lay in bed and cry, she came over and cooked me breakfast—and then made sure I ate it. When I threw up said breakfast ten minutes later thanks to an intense bout of morning sickness, she was there holding my hair back for me. And when day after day went by with no letter from Joshua like he’d promised, Kayla was there with a sympathetic shoulder.
At the doctor’s office, I fill out all the obligatory paperwork; it’s not long after that when my name is called. The medical assistant seems nice as she takes my vitals, and then tells me that the doctor will be in shortly. I sit silently on the paper-covered table, picking at the hem of my shirt. Kayla watches me worriedly from her perch in the support person’s chair. A moment later, there’s a light knock on the door, and a large, friendly looking man enters. “Hi there, Mrs. Bennett,” he greets me. “I’m Dr. Ian Waters. You can call me Dr. Ian. I prefer keeping things casual.” His smile lights up his eyes, and as I accept his proffered handshake, I notice that he has dimples in both cheeks.
“It’s nice to meet you,” I say, trying hard to focus on the doctor instead of on my heartache.
He turns to Kayla. “Dr. Ian,” he says, shaking her hand, too.
“Kayla James. Sister-in-law,” she explains.
“Nice to meet you, Kayla.”
“So, Mrs. Bennett,” he says, turning back to me, “a little birdie tells me that you’re expecting a baby.”
I want to tell him to call me by my given name, but I don’t. I like the reassurance of being addressed by the surname I share with Joshua. “According to the little white stick I peed on,” I reply, trying not to let my anxiety seep too much further into my tone.
“Well, the first thing I have to say is congratulations.” He grins at me, and I get the feeling that Dr. Ian is the kind of doctor that truly cares about his patients. I can tell from his expression that he loves new babies, too. He looks truly excited for me.
“Thank you.” I do my best to return his smile. It would be a lot easier if I’d heard from Joshua since he left.
“I’m glad you’ve chosen me to be your care provider in this important step in your life. Now, when was the date of your last menstrual cycle? I’ll use that and some measurements from the ultrasound we’ll do today and try to get you a due date for your little peanut.”
I can’t stop from smiling this time. I couldn’t have chosen a better doctor if I’d tried. He seems to be going out of his way to make me feel welcome, and I do. I really do. I can’t wait to get home and write to Joshua about this guy. He’ll be glad to know that I’m being taken care of—as well as our ‘little peanut.’
“Thank you,” I say to the doctor, then give him the date he asked for.
“Oh, so you’re really early along then,” he mutters, looking at what appears to be a color wheel, but without the colors. When he starts rotating the wheel, I realize that it’s actually two pieces of round cardstock stacked up and held together in the center. He stops turning them and looks back at me. “Okay, let’s go on down to the sonogram room.” He offers me a hand, helping me down from the tall table and leads Kayla and me down the hall to a dark room.
Half an hour later, I leave with a due date (August 24th), a video of my little peanut’s heart pulsing (Dr. Ian said it was too early to hear the heartbeat, but that I’d be able to at my next appointment), some still photos to send to Joshua, and a good feeling about my doctor. When Kayla and I get back to my house, I check the mail anxiously, just as I’ve done every single day for the past month. Underneath the electric bill and bank statement is a letter from Joshua. My heart leaps in my chest. I clutch the envelope to my body as I open the door. Kayla follows me inside.
I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write to you. I’ve wanted to since the day I left, but there’s literally been no time. Things are crazy around here. I know I’ve had a pretty charmed Army existence so far, but I still never thought actually being on the front lines would be so… I don’t even know how to describe it.
How are you? I want to hear everything. Do you go to the doctor soon? I wish I could be there.
I love you… more than my own life.
His letter is short, but I don’t care. At least I know that he’s there and, more importantly, safe. I swallow a lump that’s inexplicably formed in my throat as I read the letter over and over again.
“Everything okay?” Kayla asks after several minutes.
I look up at her, blinking the tears away. I’m not even completely sure whether the tears are happy because I’ve finally heard from Joshua or sad because he’s not here. “Yeah,” I reply, swallowing. “He’s safe.”
Kayla smiles at me. “I’m glad that letter came today. The timing is perfect.”
“Yes, it is.” My mouth stretches into a smile despite the tears still rolling down my cheeks.
“Do you want to stay here tonight? Because you’re welcome to stay with Jeff and me and the boys if you want to.”
She’s made the offer every day, and I’ve never taken it. With Joshua’s letter, I know that I can’t spend the next year wallowing, though. I have to take charge of my life, take care of myself and our baby, and not allow things here to fall apart in Joshua’s absence. “Thank you, Kayla. I’d love to come over tonight.”
“Really?” She looks surprised.
“Yeah. I’ve been depressed long enough. Today was a good day; why not share it with my beautiful sister-in-law and her family?” I smile at her.
“Great! Let’s go then.”
“It’s okay. You go. I’ve got a few things around here to do, so I’ll drive myself over later.”
“Are you sure? That’s not just some excuse to back out again, is it?”
A pang of guilt tugs at my heart. Kayla really has been fabulous to me, and I’ve been really… not fabulous to her. “No, it’s not an excuse. I promise I’ll be there. By driving myself, you don’t have to worry about bringing me home tomorrow.”
“Okay,” she agrees, though she still looks skeptical.
“If I’m not there by dinnertime, I give you permission to come back and take me by force.”
She laughs. “Fair enough. Dinner’s at six.”
“I’ll be there.”
I wave at her from the porch as she drives away, and when I’m alone, I find a piece of stationery from the desk in Joshua’s office. It’s not as pretty as something I’d pick, but it’s nicer than a sheet of notebook paper. Making a mental note to pick up some paper that’s more my personality, I sit in his chair and begin my letter.
I miss you. So much. I’m glad I got your letter today; I went to the doctor earlier, and not having you there was really hard. To know that you’re okay and thinking of me—us—was a bright spot in the day.
My doctor is so nice. His name is Ian Waters, and he likes to be called ‘Dr. Ian.’ He seemed really excited about the promise of a new life.
Kayla came with me, which was good. Not as good as you, but a close second.
Dr. Ian made me an ultrasound video, which is pretty cool. It’s a little hard to tell what’s what, but he made sure I knew so that I could show you when you got home. Because I went to the military clinic, he was exceptionally understanding about our situation. He also printed out some stills from the ultrasound, which I’ll include with this letter for you. He called the baby our ‘little peanut.’ I thought that was pretty cute—and once I saw the ultrasound, very apt. It really does look like a peanut on the screen and in the pictures.
I’m going over to Kayla and Jeff’s tonight. She’s been inviting me often, but I haven’t been yet. I’m actually rather looking forward to seeing Brandon and Brady. They don’t know that they’re going to have a little cousin yet, but I think I’m going to wait until after my next appointment before I tell anyone besides Kayla. I’ve done a bit of reading, and apparently the risk of miscarriage goes down after the twelfth week, which is next month according to Dr. Ian. Oh, he gave me a due date, too—August 24th. Which means our little peanut will be about two months old by the time you get home. I can’t wait for you to see him or her.
As much as I’d love to write to you all night long, I have to go. I promised Kayla I’d be there in time for dinner, and that if I wasn’t, she could come pick me up herself. I don’t want it to come to that!
I love you, too.
I seal the letter with the sonogram printouts in an envelope that matches the paper and carefully print Joshua’s unit’s address on it, then make my way out to the car and over to Kayla and Jeff’s house.