Rated M, AU-H, OOC. WARNING: Miscarriage and Post-Partum-Depression themes represented.
A/N: Sorry, this isn't a new update. I'm just doing a bit of ff housekeeping, fixing the formatting glitches I should've fixed months ago when ff went wonky.
Well Readers, this story has been a long time coming. I've been a Twific reader for almost a year and now it's my turn to give back to the fandom. This story was written from the heart. Thank you to my awesome beta, Irritable Grizzzly, for her fastidious editing and helping me become a better writer. IG also named this fic! Special thanks to farkle for her encouragement and honest critiques. You ladies rock!
Disclaimer : All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
The Trimline phone rang and Bella picked it up after the third ring. She ran a hand through stringy brown hair and looked around her kitchen.
Ugh. She'd really let the place go to hell. Mail and three weeks' worth of daily newspapers littered the kitchen table and countertops. Empty Paper City Brewery bottles lined the edge of the sink.
"Today," she told herself, she'd clean it up.
"Hello, may I speak with Isabella Black please?", spoke an unfamiliar female voice.
"This is she. May I ask who's calling?" Bella asked with trepidation. She began to feel edgy and had no idea why.
"Yes, Mrs. Black. This is Rosalie with the Yale Pink and Blue Study. I'm calling to check in and ask you some more questions about the progression of your pregnancy."
Bella inhaled sharply and let herself fall into the closest kitchen chair. What she was about to say agonized her. Aside from her mother, Bella hadn't needed to tell anyone else personally. Jacob had seen to it.
"Um, excuse me, but I need to interrupt you before you go any further-" she said with a nervous laugh, and glanced at the microwave clock.
Four PM - just enough time to take a quick shower and iron her work clothes.
These were brand new work clothes and the slacks didn't have a tummy panel.
She continued, "I'm not pregnant and I haven't been since the beginning of November."
Several moments of silence passed in which neither woman spoke. Finally, the voice asked blandly, "Mrs. Black, what caused your pregnancy to terminate?"
Bella stopped to wonder what kind of dispassionate droids Yale University handpicked for their research team.
Perhaps they were all Vulcans.
She tugged the wedding band strung from a delicate gold chain around her neck and exhaled before letting go of the words that made her so angry and devastated. She could not contain the contempt in her voice.
"Well Rosalie, before you ask, no, it wasn't an abortion. I was hospitalized at thirty-two weeks with preeclampsia; my daughter was stillborn eight days later," she said tersely.
"Oh Isabella! I'm so sorry for your loss. I..." Rosalie's voice broke, "I'm sorry that my line of questioning came across so, so clinical," she sounded contrite.
Bella blinked back the tears that threatened to fall. With her ear and chin cradling the receiver, she flattened her palms against the edge of the littered maple table and pushed off of it to return to an upright position.
"Thank you, really, for your concern. I'm afraid that I'm a little defensive lately and…tired."
"I'll let you get your rest, then. Look, would you mind if I called you in a couple of weeks to ask some follow-up questions?" Rosalie's voice had noticeably picked up the pace and she sounded nervous, a far cry from the android she'd been at the beginning of the conversation.
Bella looked at the microwave clock again. Damn! She'd lost valuable ironing time. Now she'd have to hang her work clothes in the bathroom while she showered and the steam treatment would have to suffice.
She wasn't eager to answer any more pregnancy-related questions. She had been poked, prodded and quizzed about her physical health ever since the hospital stay. No longer confined to bed, she preferred not to dwell on the days that led up to Sarah's death. She found comfort in the framed snapshot of her beloved angel baby, but not consolation. She answered hastily and would worry about it later if Rosalie called back.
"Sure, but I'm afraid you'll have to call me earlier in the day. Going forward, I'll be working evenings."
"Will do, Mrs. Black! Thank you for participating in our study, and again, I'm terribly sorry for your loss," Rosalie said, quickly and ended the uncomfortable call.
Bella moved to put the receiver back onto the cradle. She looked at the twisted cord before untangling it. Her thoughts moved to her husband, since he hated twisted phone cords and often told her so.
She reached her arm to the ceiling until she grasped the pull-chain on the kitchen light. With a gentle tug, she turned it off and padded upstairs to get ready for work. The day she had dreaded for the last week and a half had finally arrived. People would whisper, point and stare. Those who heard what happened would coddle and pity her, she thought disgustedly.
Still, she hoped that her return to work would be a distraction. On that note, she hung her polo shirt and black slacks on the bathroom hook and turned on the faucets for a steamy shower.
End Notes: First of all, I want to emphasize that I am not a health care professional elliciting medical advice. If you think that you, or someone whom you care about might have PPD, seek the advice of a physician. There are some great websites too: postpartum (dot) net with resources for moms, dads, friends, military parents, you name it. You should never feel intimidated to speak up about PPD. There are online and anonymous support groups for people who need to talk or want answers. Thank you for reading! Let me know what's on your mind. It's nice to know one's story has been read. I appreciate reader response and I make every effort to answer back.