I rolled out of bed feeling utterly miserable. I was used to the general aches that came with age, but, for the fifth morning in a row, my stomach was rolling with nausea. Have I picked up another bug? I shuffled into the bathroom, trying to keep down last night’s dinner. As I showered, I looked down at myself. I’d been working out fairly regularly but I just couldn’t drop a pound.
I left the bathroom, frowning. I was only forty-two, but…could I be going through the change? Watcher, just thinking about it was enough to make me want to hurl, nevermind the nausea pervading my entire body. Logically, I knew that my life wasn’t over if I was going through menopause, but it felt like it. I sank down on the edge of my bed. I knew from watching my mother go through it that women changed when they went through it. That’s why they called it the change. Hormones went crazy. I could turn into a raving bitch. Come to think of it, I had been irritable lately.
“Oh, Watcher.” I hung my head in my hands and rubbed my face vigorously. Okay. I’d just deal if it was happening. There was, after all, nothing I could do about to stop it.
While trying to take deep, even breaths, I took out my phone and called Shirley. “Shirl, could you do me a favor?”
After I got off of the phone with her, I finished getting dressed and went downstairs, leaving a quick note on the fridge to say I’d gone to Shirley’s. Carter had made plans yesterday to take the kids and his sister, Alison, to the park. I doubted that they would get back first, but I figured I should be careful anyway.
I met Shirley at the hospital. Outside, she pulled me into a hug. “Just relax. I’m sure you’re just coming down with a bug. We’ll run a few tests and get you sorted out, okay?”
I smiled shakily and nodded. “Okay.”
We entered the hospital. I hadn’t been here since having Nora. Ever since Mom had gotten sick, hospitals had given me the willies. All I could think about was Mom looking more and more haggard every time she came home. Part of me had always thought she might’ve lived longer if she hadn’t been treated.
I blinked and looked up at Shirley. We were in an exam room now, but I hadn’t even noticed when we’d left the lobby. “Oh, sorry, what? My mind was a million miles away.”
She smiled kindly, the sort of smile she’d given her patients hundreds of times. “I said I’m going to draw some blood now and send it to the lab.” I nodded and she swabbed my arm. I bit my lip as she stuck me and watched as the vial filled with blood. What would that blood tell her? That I was sick? Or that I was just going out of my mind? Or that I was entering menopause? Which answer did I even want?
Shirley took me for a couple of tests, leaving me feeling poked, prodded, and a lot like a pin cushion. The whole time, I couldn’t stop thinking about why I was here. Had my mother felt this gnawing uncertainty the first time she came in? Would my news be better than hers?
Finally, she left me on my own in the exam room. I couldn’t bring myself to sit on the bed. Instead, I paced. My mind created horrible, awful diseases that I could potentially have. The wait was absolutely interminable, and, the longer it went on, the worse the diseases got.
Finally, after what felt like hours, Shirley came into the exam room. She had a funny look on her face. “Hads, I think maybe you should sit down.”
My stomach dropped into my feet. I swallowed hard, though my mouth had gone drier than Oasis Springs. “Just tell me, Shirley. What is it? How sick am I?”
“Hadley, you’re not sick. And you’re not in menopause.” Suddenly, she smiled from ear to ear. “You’re pregnant.”
A/N: Ahhhhhhhh! *rolls around on the floor* I have been so excited to get to this part! Now you can see why I’ve been churning out chapters like crazy this week.