A/N – Well, here is the final chapter. Thanks to Diane for sorting out my punctuation, and thanks to those who have reviewed. Thanks also to Gill for her encouragement and for a certain sentence that she'll be familiar with!
"Please go away, Martin. Just leave me alone," sobbed Louisa, clearly defeated.
Martin stood there staring at her back, not quite knowing how best to handle the situation. He had never been comfortable with emotional patients and did have to finally conclude that he certainly was not a people person. But this was Louisa, the mother of his child, the woman that he adored. Why couldn't he get over his social ineptness, even with her?
Louisa had been correct all those years ago when she'd quizzed him on the interview panel. She had a sound intuition and had been so very right about his social skills. This made him wonder how she could be getting the whole motherhood thing so completely wrong and how she could possibly think that he and his aunt had been talking about her.
"Louisa, I know that there's something wrong and I won't leave you like this. I just can't," Martin whispered softly.
Louisa's shoulders continued to shake uncontrollably as she sat with her face buried in her hands.
Carefully, Martin sat down on the side of the bed behind her, still looking towards her back. He placed his hand on her right shoulder, but she shrugged him off, shying away from any physical contact with him.
"You don't want to be here anymore than I want you here," Louisa spat with some venom. "So why don't you just bugger off back down to your precious Aunty Joan… or better still, go and shack up with Edith in London. That's where you really want to be."
Martin could feel the anger rising in his chest, and finally he could restrain himself no longer.
"For God's sake, Louisa, when are you going to stop harping on about Edith? I have NO WISH to shack up with her, as you put it, just as I would have had no wish to have anything more to do with her, had I actually moved to London."
Louisa stood now and turned to face Martin. "You actually expect me to believe that? There you were all cosy, cosy with her when I came back to Portwenn. You couldn't wait to get rid of me the night I came to tell you that I was pregnant. All you could think about is that I'd left it too late to have an abortion. Well, I'll tell you this, Martin Ellingham, I wish I'd had an abortion now; that way I wouldn't have to put up with you or your annoying brat."
As the words poured from her lips, she gasped in horror and brought her hands up to her mouth in shock at the terrible things she had just said. Louisa broke down and sobbed hysterically.
In a single movement, Martin had risen from the bed and was directly in front of her. He took her in his arms as if trying to take away some of the pain and anguish she was so obviously struggling with, but she pushed him away and began to pound on his chest with her fists.
"This is all your fault. I wouldn't be feeling like this if it wasn't for you. Why couldn't you just have accepted the fact that we weren't right for each other and left me alone?"
Slowly the fight left her and she sank exhausted into Martin's embrace, burying her head in his chest. She gripped his arms tightly, holding onto his jacket within her fists. He held her to him firmly now, his arms enveloping her as he started to sway gently. Gradually her sobbing subsided and she clung on to Martin with all her might.
"I'm so sorry, Martin. I… I really didn't mean any of that. What's the matter with me? I shouldn't be feeling like this; it should be the most exciting time of my life. I have a new baby and you… well, you're here with me. I know you would never have left with Edith. I just don't know where all those words came from,. I'm so stupid…"
"Sshhh… you don't need to apologise," said Martin, softly. He guided Louisa back over to the bed and gently encouraged her to sit back down.
"Erm…I know that I'm not your doctor anymore, and I also know that you aren't going to be happy with what I am about to suggest…"
"I sense a but coming on," said Louisa, a little tetchily.
"Well, yes, actually… the thing is…"
"Do get on with it, Martin," said Louisa as she reached across to the bedside table to get herself a tissue.
"I'd like you to make an appointment with your GP. If it's as I suspect, then I think you will need some treatment in order for you to begin feeling… well - more like yourself - shall we say."
"I don't understand, Martin. I'm just a really crap mum. That's what it all boils down to at the end of the day, isn't it?" asked Louisa, a little shocked.
"Never, don't ever say that, Louisa. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your mothering instincts. What you have to remember is that you have gone through a traumatic time just recently. Not only was the birth of your… I mean our son, unconventional, to say the least, but then you suffered post-partum complications. Those things alone are enough to make any woman struggle with her emotions. Add to that the fact that I'm a stupid oaf and should have been supporting you these past few months…"
Louisa placed her finger on Martin's mouth to stop him from continuing. "Are you saying that there's a medical reason for how I feel?" She didn't dare hope that there was perhaps some explanation why she had been feeling so desperately alone and useless.
"Yes, I believe that you may be suffering from postnatal depression, but I would like your doctor at Wadebridge to take a look at you. If you don't feel comfortable contacting him, then perhaps you should mention it to the Health Visitor next time she comes round," suggested Martin.
There was silence now as Louisa slowly processed the information that Martin had given her. It made sense to her. Of course, she had heard of postnatal depression, but rather ignorantly-she now realised- she'd never been able to understand how a woman could possibly be depressed after the birth of a baby. Oh, how the mighty had fallen, she thought.
"Louisa, I don't want you to worry too much about this. It's a fairly common condition and one that is completely treatable. Actually, in some cases all you need is a good support network and that will be enough to get you through the crisis. In more
severe cases a course of anti-depressants may be required," Martin said, as he tried to encourage her that her situation wasn't as extreme as she might think.
"I'm not sure I like the idea of anti-depressants. I'm sure there are side-effects, and the last thing I want is to be labelled incompetent just because I need to take medication for depression." Louisa was well aware of the social stigma relating to depressive illnesses and knew of several people in the village who would have a field day if they ever found out she was taking medication.
"Anti-depressants are just a course of treatment, just as insulin is to a diabetic. It's a means to an end, and in your case it's your way back to normality," Martin explained as best he could, trying to ensure that Louisa wouldn't just reject the idea without considering its merits.
"I can make you an appointment at Wadebridge if you like and I'll come with you, just to be sure that you get treated satisfactorily."
Appreciating his, for once, kind and supportive words, Louisa put her hand on Martin's thigh and nodded. He covered her hand with his and squeezed it gently.
"You are doing such a good job with the baby, Martin. It makes me quite jealous to see how close you are to him when I'm finding it so hard to even…" Louisa's eyes filled with tears once again as she knew that she was about to make the most awful admission that a mother could ever make.
He squeezed her hand again to reassure her and so she continued, "I don't think I love him, Martin. How can I not love my own baby?"
He could see the complete and utter desperation in her eyes and it took him all of his time to prevent his own tears from flowing.
"Louisa, you have to understand that it's all part of the condition. When you're through this, you'll look back and realise that the way you've been feeling has been beyond your control because you aren't well."
"Yes, yes, I know you're right and I do appreciate everything that you and Joan are doing for us," Louisa said quietly.
"There is one thing we need to do rather urgently, Louisa," said Martin, unsure whether now was the right time to broach the subject with her.
Louisa looked at him, a little apprehensively and unsure of just what it was that he was about to say.
"We need to register our son's birth within the next few days or we are going to miss the deadline. In order to do this, we need to think of a name for him," stated Martin rather matter-of-factly.
"Oh, yes. It hadn't even crossed my mind. See how rubbish I am," Louisa said distractedly, as all the names that she'd thought of before she'd had the baby started flying around in her head.
"Did you have anything in mind, Martin?"
"Oh, um, I don't think so – I'm not very good with that sort of thing," he said rather bashfully.
"Well, I had come up with some names before he was born. I hoped that I'd be able to discuss them with you when I came back but then of course you weren't interested and you were with… Miss Frigid!" Louisa's voice became rather harsh once again.
"Please, Louisa," was all Martin needed to say.
"Yes… sorry. Well, I'll just list the names that I'd thought of and then maybe you can see which ones you hate the least. How's that for a plan?" Louisa enquired, looking at Martin for some recognition that he wanted to be involved in the process.
"Alright, well, I'll do my best," he said, trying to sound enthusiastic.
"Right, here goes; Matthew, Thomas, Joseph, Sam, Edward, Luke, Connor, Francis, Charlie, Louis, Ben; that's about all that I had seriously considered. After further thought, Thomas, Sam and Joseph are out, however, for obvious reasons." Louisa rolled her eyes.
"Err, why? I quite like the name Joseph," Martin said, a little disappointed as he had actually found the name rather acceptable.
"Just think about it," Louisa replied.
"Then I thought it would be nice to have Philip as the baby's middle name. There's no way I want my father's name to play any part and I assume you're the same about yours. But Joan has been such a great support for both of us; I think it would be nice for her. Don't you think?"
Martin brought his hand up to Louisa's cheek and stroked it softly, before caressing her again with the back of his fingers.
"Yes, that's very thoughtful and I'm sure Joan will appreciate the gesture."
"Good. Then I wondered about a Cornish name, perhaps Denzil or Diggory?" Louisa raised her eyebrows as she said it with a slight smile on her lips. The expressions were completely lost on Martin.
His initial instinct was to react in his usual exasperated manner, but he managed to hold back the urge and, instead, between clenched teeth he answered, "Well, I suppose if that's what you really want. Seems a little extreme, though, perhaps."
Louisa managed a slight laugh, pleased that she was actually finding something amusing instead of constantly worrying about her unpredictable feelings. "Martin, I'm only joking."
"Oh, um, good… so what are we going to agree upon then?"
"So, we have Philip for a middle name and I'd also like to include Martin in there too. Are you happy with that?"
"More than happy. I never for one minute expected you'd want to include my name, especially after all the problems we've been having. I wasn't sure that you wanted me to be a part of your lives in the long term."
Louisa now felt guilty and realised that she wasn't the only one to have been feeling insecure in the few weeks since their child had been born. She moved a little closer to Martin and whispered softly,
"I'm sorry, Martin. I've been so preoccupied with how lousy I've been feeling that I never once stopped to think about how you were coping with all of this. I do want you in our lives; I've never stopped wanting you to be a part of my life. I can't promise that it's going to be a smooth ride, but I'll take your advice and I'll do my best to get over this, for all of our sakes." She pulled his head down towards her and kissed him soundly on the lips in order that he would finally realise that he was very much needed.
Downstairs the kitchen door opened and Aunty Joan manoeuvred the pram back into the farmhouse. The baby was fast asleep and she decided to leave him be, where he was, so she moved the pram out of the way and then went to put on the kettle for a well earned cup of tea. She wondered how Martin had got on with Louisa and couldn't help but be more than a little concerned that he may actually have managed to make the situation worse.
Just as the kettle began to boil, Joan heard Martin and Louisa making their way down the stairs. Joan noticed that he gave Louisa a gentle pat on the arm as they entered the kitchen, so she hoped that relations between them were back on track.
"How's the baby?" asked Louisa, still a little ashamed of how she had spoken to both Martin and Joan earlier in the day.
"He's a real poppet, went out like a light as soon as we started our walk," replied Joan warmly.
"Joan… I'm so sorry for earlier. There's no way I could have coped without you or Martin the last few weeks." Louisa stepped forward and Joan pulled her into a big motherly hug. "Martin's made me realise that I'm not well and I need to get some help. We're going to make an appointment for me to see a doctor about it."
"I'm so pleased, Louisa, and don't you worry yourself; it's been a pleasure, a real pleasure. This little lamb is the closest thing I'll ever get to a grandson and I love him just as much." Joan's voice just started to crack as she continued, "Right, who's for a cup of tea then?"
"Oh, if you don't mind, I thought it'd be nice for Martin and me to go for a short walk, just since the baby's still asleep?" asked Louisa.
"Of course you can, take as long as you like," replied Joan, happy to be instrumental in their healing process.
Louisa nodded in thanks and then took Martin by the hand to lead him out of the farmhouse door. Martin turned to his aunt. "Oh, and we have another appointment tomorrow,. We'll be going into Truro to see the registrar;we need to go and register the birth of our son, Louis Martin Philip Ellingham."
With a contented look he turned and walked outside. Joan smiled to herself, happy that they seemed to have reached an understanding. She walked over to the sleeping child and folded down his blanket slightly so she could see his beautiful angelic face.
"Don't worry, little one. One day your parents will finally realise that they'd be lost without each other and then my work will be done."