In Modern Glasgow, Jamie and Claire go see Joe about their troubles conceiving a child. Could we see a few moments that led up to that decision and how they supported each other since they both want children so badly?
“Claire! There you are!”
Claire Fraser looked up from her medical journal, perched at one corner of the crusty table in the ER’s dimly lit break room. “Dr. Abernathy?”
The kindly American doctor allowed the door to creakily swing shut, wiping his sweaty forehead on the back of his scrubs sleeve. “It’s a madhouse out there. I know you’re on a break, but would you mind pitching in?”
But Claire had already risen. “Of course – lead the way.”
It was spring – the first truly nice evening since the previous autumn – and, seemingly, an occasion for people to do whatever they did that landed them in the emergency room. Claire was just finishing up her second year of medical school, and had been lucky to land an internship in the emergency room at one of Glasgow’s leading hospitals. Learning the art of triage.
Dr. Joe Abernathy was on a long-term exchange from Boston – his specialty being OB/GYN – but on a night like tonight, everyone and anyone with advanced medical training seemed to be needed.
“What have you done tonight? I thought it was your anniversary?”
Joe quietly laughed and shook his head as they walked down the hall together – quickly darting around the nurses and orderlies. “Well it was – still is, I guess. But I somehow had a gut feeling that things would be crazy around here tonight – it’s the first full moon of the spring, after all. And it’s fun to be doing sutures and setting broken bones – God knows I haven’t done that for a while!”
By now they’d reached the nexus of the ER – overflowing with half-drunk men bleeding from various places on their bodies, mothers clutching wailing children, and a smattering of elderly people.
Nurse Murdina Bug – who reminded her so much of Mrs. Fitz – appeared at her elbow, clutching a stack of clipboards. Deftly she handed one to Claire and nudged her and Joe toward a small area to the side of the waiting room, where patients waited amid partitions separated by thin curtains.
“Here ye are – I thought this woman would be perfect for ye, Claire. She’s seven months pregnant – complaining of cramps and bleeding. Dr. Abernathy – ye can lead, but I’d like Claire to observe?”
“Of course,” he smiled at the red-cheeked nurse who always had a kind word and smile. “Lead on.”
Claire glanced down at the chart, and Murdina pulled back the curtain, and then she and Joe met Amy Higgins.
“Good evening, Mrs. Higgins – Mr. Higgins,” Joe greeted the nervous-looking couple. Amy sat up straight against the headboard of the bed, tracing the large curve of her belly – her husband stood right next to her, face ashen with worry.
“Hello,” they said softly.
“I’m Dr. Abernathy and this is Claire – she’s a second year medical student and one of the finest I’ve ever seen, if I may say so. You’ll be in good hands with us. Now tell me – what seems to be the problem?”
Claire thanked God yet another time that she had found an internship so close to her and Jamie’s flat – just a fifteen minute walk and she could be home. And after pulling a double shift, full of blood and broken bones and screaming children and just a little bit of heartbreak – she wanted to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine, drink a restorative cup of tea, shower, and go to bed with Jamie – in that order.
*Be home soon,* she texted him as she turned onto the main avenue about five minutes from home.
*Waiting for u mnd,* he replied immediately, followed by ten heart emojis.
How he always brought a smile to her face. A smile which he kissed with such sweetness when she finally strode through their front door, and he swept her into his arms, and time stood still.
“Have you been drinking?” she whispered against his lips a bit later, after he had set her down on the edge of their kitchen table.
“Aye,” he breathed, kissing the tip of her nose. “We got word a bit after noon – Scarlett went into labor this morning. The bairn came around two – so Rupert’s got three now, in less than three years. Can ye believe it?”
And then a most profound feeling of fear and regret – and shame – surged through her heart.
Of course Jamie felt the change in her. He reached down to take her clammy, trembling hands in his.
Her pulse picked up – rapid breaths in and out. Vision blurring.
“Claire?” he whispered. “*Mo graidh* - ye’re scaring me. Did something happen today?”
“I’m having a panic attack,” she observed – voice absolutely detached. She closed her eyes as the room began to spin.
Her senses sharpened – and she heard Jamie swallow.
“Claire? Claire – what can I do?”
Slowly she looked down at their joint hands – distractedly admiring how the J tattooed just inside her right thumb perfectly lined up with the C tattooed just inside his left thumb.
“It’s what *I* can do – or, rather, *can’t* do,” she said, so quiet. Lost.
Jamie gently cupped her flushed cheek with one of his hands, tilting her chin so that his eyes met hers. Waiting.
“How come I can’t get pregnant, Jamie?”
He physically reeled back. Shocked.
“What?” he croaked. “What – what do ye mean? These things take time – ”
“We’ve been married almost two years. We’ve *never* used protection. And I’m still not pregnant.”
Now he stepped a bit closer – eyes still locked on hers. “Aye. So?”
Where was this fear and pain and sorrow coming from?
“We’ve made love a thousand times, Jamie – but never conceived. Statistically that’s – that’s terrible. Beyond terrible.”
He pursed his lips, and swallowed. “What are ye saying?”
“I’m saying that I don’t think I can get pregnant. If I haven’t already – I’m not going to.”
Now his eyes narrowed – and color flared on his own cheeks.
“How *dare* ye say that?” His voice rose – not in anger, but in emphasis. “Are ye giving up, then? Giving up on our dream of a family – of a house full of children?”
“I’m surrounded by women who get pregnant as easily as sneezing – I treated a woman today who has been married for three years and is pregnant for the second time. Rupert and Scarlett met not too long before we did, and she’s been pregnant non-stop since they married.” She closed her eyes, chest heaving with feeling. “Why can’t that be me? How come I can’t do that?”
Jamie leaned and wrapped his arms around her so tight. She buried her face in his shoulder, and all of a sudden let out a sob that shuddered through her entire body.
“Sshh,” he soothed. “Sshh. My love – my heart. Let me comfort ye.”
And she clung to him, mourning the life she didn’t have – and feared she would never have with him, this incredible man who deserved so much more than she felt she could give him.
Sometime later he carried her to their bedroom and helped her shed her sweaty scrubs. They burrowed under their plaid quilt, naked, but not wanting to make love – just craving skin-on-skin intimacy. Oneness.
“I want so, so badly to give you children,” she whispered after a while. “And I’m so afraid that I won’t be able to.”
“We can always adopt,” he replied softly, thumb tracing the contour of her hip, dipping into the hollow of her navel. “There are so many needy children in this world – we could give one a proper home.”
“Yes,” she breathed. “Of course. But – but it is selfish to say that I want a child that’s part you and part me? That I want our lovemaking to create a product of our love? That I want to grow and shelter a child inside me? That – that I want to make love when I’m pregnant? And – and that I want to feed you, so close to my heart?”
His thumb skimmed up her side to swirl around one areola, watching in fascination as her nipple puckered.
“Those arena selfish things,” he said after a while. “Lord knows I want to see you pregnant – show it to the world. Have a daughter that looks like ye, or a son that looks like me.”
He shifted his hips a bit closer toward hers, tracing his hand down her side and then cupping her lovely round arse, anchoring her to him.
“Are ye telling me ye’ve given up on that dream?”
She jerked her hips against his, seeking friction.
“I want you inside me,” she pleaded.
He stilled her against him. “No, *mo nighean donn* - no. Not now. We need to talk about this.”
She closed her eyes. He watched her – would keep watching her for as long as it took.
“No – no. I haven’t given up. But I don’t think we can do it on our own.”
He pressed his thumbnail into the sensitive flesh of her lower back. “All right – so what do we do?”
“I’ll ask Joe. We should both meet with him – he’d give us an honest answer. And then we’ll know.”
He leaned in for a long kiss. Full of strength, and promise.
“I love you,” he breathed against her lips. “I will love you until the day I die. No matter if we have no bairns or adopt fifteen or you carry a few of our own. I have *you,* Claire. That’s the most important.
“I so, so want a family with you,” she whispered. “I want what I didn’t have.”
“So we shall make one together.” Gently he eased onto his back, letting her straddle him. “Full of so much love that we won’t know what to do with it all.”
She leaned over to kiss him. “I love you, Jamie. I – it just keeps growing. I can’t believe how much I love you. How lucky I am to have you.”
He nudged up a bit. “God blessed me with you – and God will bless us with children. He may just need a bit of help from your friend.”
She reached down between them, stroked her thumb back and forth to prepare him, and took him inside. They both gasped. Yet she held still.
“You astound me,” she whispered. “In everything. Always.”
“It’s because I love you. How could it not be so?”
Impatient, he rolled his hips. Helped her take power in that moment – so that she could take power in the days and weeks to come.
And prayed that their firstborn would have her eyes.