Entry for - A Love Like Fire 2011

Title: A Life in Shambles

Author: MCGT

Beta: BlackJackLily & Graffiti4

Pairing: Bella / Jasper

Rating: M / NC-17

Prompt: The Cave – Mumford & Sons

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or anything related to the franchise. I just enjoy using the characters for my own non-profitable purposes. No infringement intended.

Summary: First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a home Jasper and Bella hope to fill with the pitter-patter of little feet. Can they overcome Bella's obsession or will it turn their dreams into rubble?

Warning: Get some tissues, this will be a bumpy ride.

Thanks to everyone who voted for my story. In the end, this won the judges award for Best Angst.


A Life in Shambles

For Sale

The gleaming white sign stood proud in our gorgeously landscaped yard, mocking me from the window I stood looking out of.

How had my life come down to this? The sale of my dream house, which I bought with the man of my dreams so we could raise our happy little family in the suburbs of Seattle. My ideal life came crumbling down around me not so long ago. All because of the one dream I just couldn't let go of. My obsession cost me not only my life, but the happiness of the one man who actually cared enough to try and give it to me no matter the cost. If I had known what I would ultimately be paying for the chance at my little corner of paradise I think I'd still, after everything we'd been though, be willing to relinquish a little more of my soul for one more chance. Just one more try.

The sign swung in the breeze, and even with the window closed, I could still hear the squeak of the chain as it rubbed against the hook it was attached to. Not able to stand looking at the sight of it any longer, I tugged on the string, sending the custom-made blinds slamming down, dipping the room into darkness and turned back into my bedroom to finish packing what was left of the life I'd turned into shambles.

~~ALIS~~

The summer day had turned out more pleasant than I'd anticipated, allowing the house to appear majestic on the rolling hilltop it was perched upon instead of behind a cloud of grey misty rain.

The pale blue color of the siding was almost an exact reflection of the cool water that lapped the edge of the property. Once the realtor showed it to us, we both knew without a doubt it was our house; the home we had both been working and slaving for the better part of five years to be able to afford.

The large, bright kitchen, with its gleaming appliances and dark marbled granite counter tops, was a chef's wet dream. It opened into a large family room where I could envision playing board games on the coffee table and drinking cocoa by the fireplace as the kids opened their presents on Christmas. Thoughts of a play set in the backyard and an old wooden swing added to the wraparound porch were imagined as soon as we walked the hilly acre of lush yard that backed up to Puget Sound.

Jasper's own contented grin equaled mine in its brilliance as we sauntered back out to the car to meet with our realtor, Gianna. After a couple of hours of back and forth counter offers it was finally accepted, and it only took a moment for Jasper's strong arms to sweep me up into his chest, whirling me around in circles of glee. Our elation was overwhelming as tears streaked down my face, knowing the time had come. We'd waited, some days not very patiently, searching and searching for our perfect home. Neither of us wanted to raise kids in the city, both enjoying childhoods in wide open spaces. At last the final link in my imaginary chain would be complete, hopefully not too long from now.

Tucked protectively into Jasper's side, we made our way down to our favorite little bistro to commemorate the next step of our lives.

"To finding our dream house, my love."

"To your patience with me," I replied, clinking our crystal wine glasses together in celebration.

"You know I would wait forever if it meant making you happy." His words were always overflowing with romantic undertones making me swoon from the moment I laid eyes on my sandy haired husband. He was everything I could have ever wanted in a man, before I even knew what I wanted from one.

Our introduction was still fresh in my mind, even almost six years later. Our friends had thought we would be perfect for one another and secretly invited us both over to a dinner party they were having. Our conversation was never dull, filled with our mutual love of travel to exotic places and our opposing thoughts on the spirited topics of politics, religion, and love at first sight. Jasper believed you could find your soul mate in a matter of a moment in time while I begged to differ. Looking back now I should have believed him, because our attraction was instantaneous, and while Jasper spoke the words first, I didn't follow far behind.

"So should we pull the goalie?" he asked, rousing me from my inner monologue. His boyish grin made him look much younger than he was.

"Pull the goalie?"

"Yes, it's a euphemism for stopping birth control." He chuckled, leaning down and whispering in my ear, "I want to make babies with you. Lots and lots of them. This is what we've been waiting all these years for, right?" We had agreed so many years ago that we wanted to be in a good financial place before we started trying, and it appeared first comes playing house, next comes babies and rocking chairs.

"Okay."

"Okay? Really?" He looked so nervous and excited, his knee bouncing a mile a minute. My hand dropped, squeezing his thigh to silence the tremor. I wasn't really sure why I was being so coy and nervous about trying. I'd wanted children from the moment I could remember playing with Barbie and having her and Ken parent just about every species of toy I had laying around.

"Well then, what do you say we have dessert at home?" Wagging his eyebrows at me suggestively, I burst into laughter at the ridiculous look on his face and nodded in approval of his idea.

Walking back to the apartment in the dusky light of twilight, I gently reminded him it could take a while, even with me stopping my pills that day. His enthusiasm didn't diminish at all by my words. Instead he just smiled and reminded me about all the fun we would have while trying.

The door to our apartment hadn't even closed before Jasper had his hands on my hips, pushing me forcefully into the wall. It seemed the chance at procreation had turned on his inner caveman.

"I want to fuck you six ways till Sunday." My shirt flew over my head as his skilled hands chucked it aside, making their way quickly to my full breasts that were being held captive by a thin slip of lacy fabric. Tugging my bra down, my nipples popped out above and his mouth suckled on it like it was his last meal. His fervor didn't wane as our clothing was shed in rapid fire. My legs trembled in anticipation of this new side of my usually slow and steady husband. He was crude and forceful, so unlike anything I'd ever experienced from him, and I liked it. Really, really liked it.

My panties didn't even make it off. He just shoved them aside, sliding his stiff cock right into my slick center. We'd never tried it standing up, thinking it wouldn't allow for the intimacy I knew Jasper preferred. His thrusts were urgent and erratic, I'm sure partly because holding me up against the wall took some of his stability away.

"God I love you. You feel so fucking good," he growled, biting down on my tit, sending shockwaves deep into my core. My hands found purchase in his hair as I moaned like a whore at the feelings he was invoking in me. Our passion was never this raw, this open, or this honest before. Our coupling had always been enjoyable but reserved. Consistently in the bedroom when we had adequate time to fulfill the lengthy foreplay and cuddling routine we had always subscribed to. Not today. No, the chance at possibly knocking me up had evoked an entirely different and utterly sexy side out of him.

"Fuck, turn around." He pulled out and spun me around, bending me slightly at the waist before ramming into me from behind. I wasn't quite ready, my head banging against the wall slightly as I pushed my arm out to brace for his continued assault. His brutal thrusting tempo was pushing me precariously close to the edge. I'd never felt so exposed, bent over in the middle of our hallway with the bright overhead light exposing every intimate part of me. Our moans and grunts echoed across the room, sounding like we were making a porno. I could feel the coil inside me begin to tighten, my fingers feverishly flying against my clit trying to hit my peak before Jasper came.

"God I'm fucking close, come on, baby. Meet me there." My orgasm crept up on me when his hand slapped my ass twice in quick succession, followed soon after by a string of profanity filled grunts and his cum spilling deep into me. With my head resting on the wall and his on my shoulder, we stood back to front, panting after the best sex I'd ever experienced with him.

"I love you. So, so much. I can't wait to see you carrying our baby. You're going to be so beautiful." I felt the warmth of his hands rubbing me lovingly across my flat stomach, his thoughts whispering into my ear. I smiled, knowing this amazing man meant every single word of it.

~~ALIS~~

It seemed time from that moment on moved in months. Each one was more and more disappointing than the previous as I put a box of tampons and ovulation predictor tests into my shopping cart for the fifth month in a row. I knew at thirty I wasn't in my prime baby making years, but still didn't think it would take this long. At least Jasper's eagerness didn't wane over the course of our trying. He just continued to encourage me that it would happen when it was meant to happen.

Stupid Zen like husband of mine.

"I don't know, Ang. I guess I just figured if those dumb ass kids on Sixteen and Pregnant could do it, Jasper and I could since we've been fucking like bunnies for the last five months."

"Bella, five months isn't that long. Give it a little bit more. Try and relax. Besides, I think you have to have been trying for at least a year for your doctor to really start becoming concerned," she replied, trying to ease my mind like my best friend always did.

"I know. Patience isn't exactly my best skill. Thanks, sweetie. I'm at the checkout. I'll see you tomorrow for happy hour, right?" Hanging up I headed home with my bags to make Jasper a nice meal. I knew from the test strip I took earlier in the day I was going to be ovulating soon and wanted to get him in the mood to hopefully make this month the one that made our dream come true.

My quick conversation with Angela buoyed my mood considerably. I just needed to relax, right? I was putting way too much pressure on myself and Jasper. We just had to give it some more time. Taking a deep cleansing breathe, I vowed to myself to try and wait another few months before allowing the panic to once again set in. I knew I should probably quit stalking the how to get pregnant blogs and chat rooms too. I found their advice and reassurance helpful, even though they were virtual strangers to me.

"Bella, I'm home." I heard Jasper shout from the front door while I continued to stir the Alfredo sauce simmering on the stove.

"In here, Babe!" The sound of his shoes as they clacked along the hardwood floors of our expansive house made me feel serene knowing he was headed towards me. Jasper's personality was always smooth and steady. Always the rock to my roll. I was constantly unsettled while he was usually unwavering and composed.

"Whatever you're cooking smells fantastic." Strong arms encircled me as he pressed a gentle kiss to my neck, exposed by the high ponytail I was wearing. "Alfredo, what's the occasion?" he asked, chuckling lightly. The man knew me too well.

"Just thought we could have a nice romantic dinner."

"Mm hmm. So you're ovulating and want some of this?" He accentuated his statement in a Vanna White style hand wave over his crotch. I loved my playful silly husband so much during times like these. I had to slap his hands away as he tried to undo the apron wrapped around me.

"Unless you want to eat burned Alfredo, you better let me finish."

"Alright, I'm going to change into something more… comfortable," he teased, loosening his tie and strolling off towards the stairs.

Just as I plated up our food I felt warm lips nuzzle my neck. His hands started undoing the buttons of my shirt while his teeth tugged on my earlobe, and as much as I wanted to push him away and eat the pasta I just spent the last hour preparing, his fingers pinching my nipples through my bra made me forget all about it. When I spun around I realized when he said slip into something more comfortable, he meant nothing at all. Grinning salaciously down at me, he pushed the plates off to the side and laid me back along our sturdy butcher-block table. He hadn't been this spontaneous in a month or two and it warmed my heart to know he was so willing to try something new. Sliding into me easily, he immediately began playing with my clit in a Morse code like rhythm. As much as I wanted to, my mind wasn't on his beautiful face, scrunched in concentration in his attempt at making me cum around him. No, instead I was worried about if I didn't ovulate today or tomorrow, would his sperm count be effective enough to do the job two days from now. My mind whirled and tumbled over all the technical elements it took to make a baby. No, it wasn't in the here and now as my husband was fucking the shit out of me at the dinner table I had just set not ten minutes ago. He's trying so hard, I don't want to disappoint his efforts, so I do what I wish I didn't have to do. I faked it. I moaned wantonly and did a few kegel type clenches, hoping he would buy it. Thankfully it didn't take him long to cum once he thought I did. As he made one hard final thrust into me, he leaned down, peppering feather light kisses all over my chest that would've tickled if I had been in a playful mood. Instead, as he stood up and offered me his hand, I grabbed my knees and pulled them to my chest. His eyebrows furrowed in confusion and before he opened his mouth I let him in on my actions.

"I need to lie here for the next thirty minutes. We need to make sure all the sperm makes it through my cervix. If I stand up, gravity works against them. Can you grab a towel so I can prop my hips up?"

"You're not serious, are you?" His tone was clipped with anger, matching the protruding vein on his forehead I hadn't seen in a while.

"Honey, you want this baby as much as I do."

"For fuck's sake, Bella, yes I want a baby, but look what it's turned you into? You're going to lie here while not only our dinner gets cold, but while my cum seeps out onto the very table we were going to eat at." One of our Fiesta ware plates went crashing against the back of the island to emphasize his point. I'd never seen Jasper so upset that he resorted to throwing dinnerware around the room.

"If we're meant to get pregnant, we will. People get pregnant every day just by having sex. You do realize this, yes? God! What's happened to you? You're like obsessed or something." He didn't wait for my response before he charged out of the kitchen. I could hear his heavy footfalls above me and I wondered what he was doing in our bedroom. Continuing to lay on the table, I watched as the light bounced off the crystals of the chandelier, throwing prisms of light onto the wall. My mind continued to wander, thinking about baby names when I heard the front door slam shut.

I slowly made my way off of the table and put on the clothing which was unceremoniously disposed of in the kitchen. Once I was dressed, I debated about which to do first, bleach down the table or text Jasper to see if he had calmed down enough to come home. A brief flitter of a thought passed through my mind and I wondered if I should apologize, even though I wasn't actually sorry for my actions.

Pulling out a handful of Clorox wipes, I scoured down the table repeatedly until my hands started tingling from the burn of the chemicals. I wished I could make Jasper see how I was not just doing all of this for me, but for us. For our chance at holding the little, itty bitty baby that was a combination of the two of us. I wondered what it would look like. Would it have deep blue eyes and flaxen hair like Jasper, or would my dominant brown eye and hair genes lord over all. Amid these musings was the fear that it might not happen at all. What if I wasn't meant to have a child? What if my promiscuous youth had led me to be cursed barren? All of this rolled around in my head on a never-ending loop until I heard the door open softly, Jaspers shoes once again clacking against the floors. Only instead of serene, I felt uneasy about what was headed my way.

"Bella," he whispered, entering the family room where I had been settled on the loveseat overlooking the water for a few hours. Turning towards him, I could see the pain and regret etched into his face and it multiplied all the worry I had been bottling up.

"I'm sorry to have stormed off like that, but I needed to cool off. I…I just don't know what's come over you to think that you need to do all of this. These stupid gimmicks. I wish you understood that I love you. No matter what. Baby or no baby. Thick, thin, fat, skinny, happy, sad, up, down, or anywhere in-between. I love you. You're all I need. Do you get that yet?" Tears sprung to my eyes at his heartfelt monologue. He settled onto his knees in front of me, and brushed the tears from my cheeks. The love I felt for this man overwhelmed my senses. I didn't even realize I'm cradled in his arms while my body shuddered in deep wracking sobs, filled with every emotion I had been keeping to myself; guilt, regret, panic, sadness, embarrassment, anxiety, loss, and most of all worthlessness. Jasper soothed me for the rest of the night and we made love slow and sweetly like we used to, before my brain went baby crazy.

~~ALIS~~

Our life continued on in the same repeating pattern each month. Sexy times followed by the crushing weight of despair my period would bring. My relaxation methods didn't work, instead I was tense and anxious all the time. When the time came for my annual exam, I brought up our predicament to my gynecologist.

"So, Bella, what seems to be the problem? Terri said that you were concerned about your ability to conceive?"

"Dr. Cope, we've been trying for over eight months and nothing. I'm worried that maybe I'm infertile."

"Isabella, at your age, these things can take time. But I don't want to discount your thoughts either. I'm going to recommend you have an HSG to first see if your tubes are blocked. If that's the case, it's a pretty easy fix. In fact, sometimes by just having one you clear away any residue in your tubes and many couples are impregnated the following cycle." She patted my shoulder reassuringly before writing a note on her prescription pad and handing it to me.

"You'll need to call on the first day of your next period. The procedure needs to be done between the tenth and twelfth day of your cycle. You'll have an iodine based dye pushed through your cervix and the x-ray machine will show the progression of the dye through your uterus and fallopian tubes. If it doesn't flow through and out, then your tube is likely blocked. When we get the results back from the radiologist then we can discuss the next step, either a repeat HSG, a laparoscopy to clear away the blockage, or possibly giving you a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist.

"Either way, by next month you should at least have a few more answers than you have now. In the mean time, try not to worry. You're still quite young and with the advances in reproductive technology, you should be pregnant in no time."

Taking the note, I set it aside and stood to get dressed as soon as she closed the door. Glad to finally have a plan, I felt lighter than I had in months. Even if there was a problem, with my love by my side, we could accomplish this. We would get pregnant.

Jasper was waiting for me when I got home, having already filled him in on my appointment on the drive back. We agreed this step would at least put my mind at ease, which at the moment could only help. My dissatisfaction with my body's ability to do what it was built for was slowly eating away at not only my self esteem but my interest in sex, ironic since we needed to have sex to make a baby, but the only time I seemed to initiate it was when I knew there was a possibility of me ovulating. Jasper was beginning to know my cycle based on whenever I was miraculously in the mood. He tried to be as gentle as possible when he reminded me we didn't need to only have sex during that week, but I was so focused on my objective, I couldn't see through the blinders I had on. I never realized that this was having an effect on him either until I got home that night.

He was sitting out on the back deck overlooking the foggy Sound and looked deep in thought. Opening the sliding door, I stepped out, but didn't get a word in before he turned, looking pensive and spoke.

"Baby, we can't keep doing this." His normal calm demeanor was laced with tense undertones. His eyes look tired and dull, which made me unsettled, knowing that I was causing him so much stress.

"I know you're upset and this isn't where you thought we'd be right now, but if you continue to expect me to perform on demand like a circus animal, I don't know what will happen. I love you, but what happened to us? Us being fun and spontaneous. Sex shouldn't be a chore. You used to want it as much as I do. Now you're a card board cutout of yourself. Going through the motions in hopes I'll be able to give you what you want. What happens if things don't go well? If we're never able to have kids? You've been so intent on the end result that you forgot about the journey."

His words caused me to pause mid-step. This wasn't what I had thought he was going to say. I was expecting him to share my excitement over having a plan, a next step. Instead, he's asking me about things I wasn't sure I was ready to face.

"Baby, look at me. I'm happy you talked to your doctor and you're looking forward to figuring out what might be wrong, but understand that our life shouldn't revolve around this. Hell, once we have a baby, our life will no doubt center around it. But for now? Now it should just be focused on us, our love, and our jobs, not about taking your temperature or whether you need me to fuck you within a twelve hour window. Okay? Can you do that? If the doctor finds something wrong, then we'll do what we need to do to make it happen. Hell, we can adopt, whatever you need. But for now, until that happens, just let us be us."

"Okay, I'll try," I whispered, knowing even as I spoke the words they were a lie. I was in too deep now; the claws of obsession were firmly rooted into my very being and I was more determined than ever to get what I want. I would try to keep Jasper in the dark about my fixation, appeasing him in any way I could and vowing to myself I would initiate sex at least a couple times a month when it wasn't directly in our window of opportunity. As I thought about it, this would be doing us a favor anyway by keeping his sperm fresh and viable. After making a slew of promises to myself, it never occurred to me each and every one confirmed my selfishness and how completely infatuated I was with all of this. During this time I should be trying to mend the small fissure which has just started to crack our marriage apart.

~~ALIS~~

Negative. The HSG showed I was healthy and normal. They couldn't find anything physiologically wrong with me. Ultimately it revealed nothing other than the fact that it hurt like a bitch to have someone shove a catheter through your cervix and squirt some kind of shit up into your womanly parts. If nothing is wrong then why isn't it right? I thought forlornly.

I was now forced to go to a reproductive endocrinologist in order to get some answers since my OBGYN was out of her expertise level. Sitting in the brightly lit and expensively furnished offices of the Seattle Center for Reproductive Medicine, I couldn't help but think about all the possible reasons for my infertility. Jasper tucked me into his side and began rubbing his thumb along the back of my hand, trying to calm my frayed nerves.

It wasn't long before we were called back by a tiny sprite of a woman with shiny, alert eyes and dark, spiky hair.

"Bella Whitlock?" her tinkling voice called from the heavy looking oak door that led back to a maze of offices and exam rooms.

Jasper clutched my hand and tugged me gently out of my seat, following behind the tiny nurse. It had been three months since the HSG told me absolutely nothing, two months just to get the appointment with Dr. Gerandy, one of the nation's top reproductive Endocrinologists, and two weeks since I'd initially come for the Clomid challenge blood work. Today. Today I was finally going to get some answers.

"Have a seat, please." She waved us into a small office with a desk that was filled with manila folders, holding what I was sure to be so many other people's charts, filled with their hopes and dreams of having children.

"I'm Alice and I've been assigned as your case nurse. You're going to be meeting with the Doctor in a few minutes, but afterwards I'll be back so we can discuss the next steps in the process, okay?" Her smile was warm and inviting, and I see Jasper return her greeting with a polite smile of his own. I was unable to greet her in the same fashion because of my nervousness. My anxiety level was skyrocketing and the grimace on my face just refused to relent, no matter how lovely the woman standing before me appeared.

"Thanks, Alice. We're just a little nervous to find out what's going on. Hopefully we'll be a little more talkative when we speak later." My husband continued to astound me with his ability to handle the multitudes of things that I could not, like appropriate small talk. Nodding, she told us the Doctor would be with us soon and shut the door behind her.

"Hey, you okay? You're looking a little green." Swallowing thickly I could only nod and gripped on to his hand firmly, willing myself to not throw up before any results had even been delivered. The knots in my stomach were rebelling against that, but I breathed deeply through my nose in an attempt to quell the nausea. "It'll be fine," he whispered just as a portly man who I could only assume to be Dr. Garandy walked in and shook Jasper's hand firmly, introducing himself to us.

"Now, Isabella, let's see here." My chart was thin compared to the stacks of those surrounding his desk. He peered inside, eyebrows furrowed and began to tell me a tale of a body's rebellion against conceiving a child.

"You have premature ovarian failure. In essence, your ovaries and eggs are acting like they are about ten years older than they actually are. While you do have eggs, they are not good quality. I'm sorry to say this, but your chances of conceiving using your own eggs are about ten percent. I would recommend using our donor program. We have about a seventy percent success rate…" He continued to talk, but my mind tuned him out, knowing that there was such a slim chance I would ever carry my own child. Jasper clutched my hand tightly, handing me a tissue while bobbing his head in time with whatever the doctor was telling him.

The doctor's words were like a cold, wet, stinging slap across the face. He was so nonchalant about everything, so calm, so cool, so fucking collected that it made me want to strangle him. I was angry now, disbelieving of the validity of his words. I became lost in my own thoughts, not even realizing that Alice has come back and asked what we would like to do to proceed. Jasper, knowing me the way he did, realized quickly that I wasn't listening past the diagnosis and filled me in on the three options we had. Alice told us of the steps for Inter-Uterine Insemination, IVF, and the clinic's egg donor process. The words barely sank in and I asked if we could take a few days to talk and think about how we would like to proceed. My mind was once again curling back into itself and I watched detachedly as Jasper and Alice discussed our options and his questions further without my input.

My silence spoke volumes as we left the office to head back to the home that I was beginning to feel would never be filled with the giddy laughter of our children. Jasper allowed me to wallow, only offering me a tentative squeeze of the hand every now and then to reassure me of his presence. We got out of the car and before I made it to the front door he called out to me.

"We can do this, honey. There's more than one way to skin a cat."

Grimacing at his southern idiom, I turned and headed back inside without a word, too numb to reply coherently. My body felt weighed down with the heavy black emotions, which were eclipsing every other sense in my body. Making my way upstairs, I undressed and slide into bed, burying myself into their fluffy softness, trying to forget my life had spiraled into a dense tornado of all things baby.

Hours later, I pretended to be asleep when I heard Jasper enter our room, not wanting to discuss the details that had consumed my thoughts since I had left the doctor's office.

Why me?

I don't want to adopt. I want to feel a baby inside me, kicking and rolling around. Not just any baby, but my baby. Not some donor and Jasper's baby.

Why me? Why me?

I want to just be pregnant. Why is it so hard? Thirty isn't that old. People get pregnant into their forties now. What have I done to deserve this betrayal by my body?

Why me? Why me? Why me?

Why was Jasper so calm, while I'm so worried I can't provide him with a child? Why doesn't he care if we get pregnant or not? Why can't Jasper just listen and be here for me? Why does he try to fix every fucking thing? What if I'm not fixable?

Why me? Why me? Why me? Why fucking me?

Does he even find me attractive anymore? Maybe he doesn't want a baby with me. Will he leave me if I can't give him any? When will he finally just give up on me?

These questions pervaded every moment from the time I laid down to the moment I woke up. Hours and hours of exaggerated questions brought me no closer to peace than the moment before.

"Honey, are you going to talk to me or just hide under those covers forever?" Soft hands slid around my waist and drew me to him. I allowed myself to grow limp and move in the direction he wanted me to go. Pressed against his heated body, back to front, I could feel his morning greeting slide perfectly between my legs, reminding me I still aroused him, at least in the morning when he had little control over those things my cynical mind added as an afterthought.

"So, what do you want to do?" His question startled me. All I knew was what I didn't want to do. I was so confused by everything the doctor said. Even though he suggested we give up on my eggs, I just couldn't let go of my dream in one day.

"I want to try the IUI. It's covered by our insurance, so we can try it a couple of times relatively cheaply. I know the chance is slim, but I just… just can't." The sentence stalled in my throat. I couldn't even get the words out, afraid that by saying them it would make the reality of them all the more true.

"Shhh," he whispered, stroking my hair soothingly and just holding me tightly to him, making me feel like the most precious thing in the world. I allowed the tears to finally fall; big fat ones filled with every last shed of hope I had. "We'll try that first then. Who knows, maybe we'll be the exception." He sounded so optimistic and confident in his delivery that I almost believed him. Almost.

~~ALIS~~

"Jasper, I need you to give me the fucking shot!" I shouted down to him from our bathroom. By now he was an old pro at these, rarely hurting me much above the initial pinch of the needle piercing my ass. It was our third and last IVF cycle and my anxiety level was off the charts. The timing for the trigger shot was the key to our success and Jasper was downstairs being his pokey southern self.

After three failed IUIs we had moved on to IVF. The first time was cancelled because I didn't respond to the medication correctly and the second time I only had three embryos, but none of them were sticky enough to get me pregnant. Between the medications and the procedures themselves, we had spent a small fortune. We now had zero savings and two credit cards filled to the brink. This would be our last attempt, at least until we could pay down some of our debt.

"Jasper!"

"Bella, if I give you the shot one minute late, it will not ruin anything. Please, calm down." He's leaned up against the door frame smirking at me, because I know he's right but I'm so worried we're going to come away from this cycle with empty hands, wombs and bank accounts.

"Can you just stick me already? I have an early meeting and need to get to bed." I knew my delivery was completely bitchy, but with the overload of hormones raging though my body, I had little control over my emotions or my mouth these days.

As I lay in bed trying to quiet my mind, I attempted to think back to when our lives were simple and easy. To when we both just enjoyed being with each other. Now we argued all the time. If it wasn't about money than it was about work or some other nitpicky stupid shit that before we would have been able to simply overlook. It just felt like everything set us off. I stared at the ceiling and couldn't remember when I had last smiled or laughed with Jasper. The chasm between us felt like the Grand Canyon and I didn't know what to do. Saying a silent prayer, I begged God to deliver me our baby and help bridge the unbearable gap that had fallen between us.

Ten days after our doctor transplanted three average rated embryos into my uterus, I sat glancing down at the phone every two minutes, willing it to ring with news of either unbridled joy or heart crushing defeat. Today we would find out if our dream would come true.

After waiting all day for the call, I still managed to become startled when it rang, causing me to jump and fumble with the receiver as if I hadn't basically been sitting on top of it. At that moment I wished Jasper didn't have to be in a meeting across town. I needed his comfort and solace should this not deliver the news I so desperately wanted to hear. For a brief second I thought about letting the call go to voicemail so I could listen to it with him, but my compulsive self didn't have that much restraint and instead I picked up on the second ring.

"Hello?"

"Bella?"

"Yes, this is she…"

"Hi, Bella, it's Alice. I have the results from your test this morning. Your numbers look good. Congratulations, you're officially pregnant. The HCG levels are at thirty nine right now. Anything over twenty five we consider pregnant. We'll want you to come in for a repeat test to check that the number is doubling. Please come into the office Thursday before nine for same day results." Alice's voice was pitchy and I could tell after working with us for so many months, she too was relieved that this time was different. I couldn't help the sob that escaped from my throat, realizing we were going to have a baby.

"Thank you, Alice. So much. I have to call Jasper. I'll talk to you soon." My elated mood was slightly dampened when Jasper's phone went right to voicemail, but I left him the good news anyways and figured he'd call me back when he could.

I knew from all the infertility forums I was a member of that this was just the first step. My numbers needed to increase and we needed to see a heartbeat before I could really allow the joyfulness of this reality to settle in. As much as I wanted to run out and buy onesies and blankets, I needed to calm myself and try to remember to take it one step at a time. I'd seen many of my online friends come back two days after their initial call to find out the numbers didn't match a healthy growth pattern for an embryo. I didn't want to be too negative about this either, as we'd never even made it this far before. I had to try to rein in both the feeling of adulation and my pessimistic tendencies to find a happy medium if I was going to make it through these first few weeks without driving myself or Jasper insane.

My cell vibrated in my hand with Jasper's smiling face adorning the screen, letting me know he was on the other end.

"Jasper, can you believe it?" His laughter and words of encouragement and joy were all I needed. We decided to go out to celebrate, a rarity these days with our strapped budget, but figured this may be our only time to get that phone call letting us know our home would be filled with the laughter of a child.

"I'm nervous," I confessed as we sat in the waiting room two weeks later for our initial ultrasound would tell us how many embryos we had nestled all warm inside me. My results from the second and third blood test both showed doubling, barely, but Alice told me not to be concerned. Doubling is doubling.

"What if we have two or three in there? Are you going to be okay with that?" he asked, nudging me in the knee and grinning boyishly. Jasper had already told me it didn't matter how many babies I was carrying. We'd make it work. He had so much faith and love in me. I was often astounded by the sheer trust he always had that things would work out. He was the eternal optimist; the yin to my yang.

"At this point I just want one. But I'll take however many I've been blessed with." Turning towards him, I ran my fingers along his arm, which was resting beside me. "I love you." Tears welled into my eyes because no matter what the result was today, that was a fact I couldn't deny. "Thank you for being there and dealing with everything: my crazy ass mood swings, my fatalistic thoughts, and for allowing me to try. I know you would have been okay with adopting or using a donor, but I needed to try, so thank you for not taking that dream away from me." His hand had crept between us and grasped my own. Squeezing it twice, he moved in and kissed me chastely and almost so gently I barely felt it. It was his own way of apologizing for his own mistakes over the course of our long battle to get here.

"Jasper, Bella, come on back," Esme called to us from the door, knowing us by how frequently we had been in the office when they were tracking my egg's growth through the last three cycles. She hugged me gently before leading us back to the familiar ultrasound room.

"Get yourself settled, I'll be back in a minute when you're undressed."

As I lay on the uncomfortable table wringing my hands, my mind wandered to what theme I wanted in the baby's room and what names would be good for a boy and a girl. I was so distracted that I didn't see Alice appear at my side to wish Jasper and I luck. I noticed Jasper's face light up when she entered, but didn't think much of it. She had been so warm and encouraging through this entire process that I knew if I was paying attention, I too probably would have lit up at her entrance.

"Ready or not, right?" she asked before squeezing my hand once and departing as quickly as she came, saying she just wanted to pop in since she heard we were here.

"Alight, Bella, let's see what we have here, okay?" Esme's voice wrapped my anxiety in a warm embrace as she pressed the ultrasound wand into me.

The sound of her heavy sigh should have been my first warning that something wasn't right. She kept moving the image and pressing on my abdomen but not saying a word. When she did open her mouth, I wished she would have stayed silent.

"Um…Guys, that right there?" she pointed out on the blurry screen. "That's the yolk sac. Unfortunately, I'm not seeing a heartbeat or any signs that the embryo has matured in the last week." Her voice was sad and consoling as she pulled the wand out and patted my hand, trying to be of comfort. The news had stunned me into silence and what surprised me was that Jasper was sitting as still as stone, also not saying a word.

"Jasper?" I called through the tears trailing down my cheeks. I needed him now more than ever, but was shocked when he stood abruptly and walked out of the room, not saying a word to me.

Esme tried to ease the sting with words of encouragement, but I could only nod in response before I asked her if I could go. Hugging me more gently this time, she stood and walked out, telling me that I would want to meet with Alice to discuss what we'd be doing now. My mind, heart, and soul were all numb. I felt as if my head wasn't actually attached to my body as I made my way out of the room in search of Jasper. I was on my way to Alice's office when I heard shouting. Not just anyone shouting, but Jasper yelling at someone, and he never yelled.

"I thought you said everything would be alright? You said not to worry…" I rounded the corner and saw his red, tear stained face only a few feet away from Alice who looked remorseful on the other side of the desk. She didn't say anything for a moment, just allowing Jasper to finally, after all these months of calm cool and collected, shatter his façade of indifference and let his anguish out. When she saw me standing behind him slack jawed, she waved me in and pointed to the chair opposite the one Jasper was clutching so hard his knuckles were white.

"Jasper, I know this is not the news you expected today. Please, have a seat and we can discuss your options…"

"We don't have any more fucking options, Alice! This was it. Our last chance and you and your crack team of fucking doctors failed us," he ranted, interrupting Alice's train of thought.

"When you're done blaming me, have a seat." Her eyebrow rose in challenge and he sat down shortly after, mumbling an apology and looking extremely repentant.

"Guys, is this really it? I know it's an expensive process, but donor eggs have been your best option all along. I cannot look you both in the eye and tell you that one or a hundred more IVF cycles will magically make you pregnant. I can't promise using someone with younger and healthier eggs will make you pregnant either, but it would raise your chances from ten to about seventy percent based on your age and the health of your uterus." Her words reminded me of the ones Dr. Gerandy said so many months ago, yet I had no desire to care for another woman and Jasper's child.

None.

"No. I can't…," I mumbled, barely able to lift the fog of depression enough for me to murmur the words.

The drive home was filled with tense silence. Jasper didn't try to console me, and I didn't have the energy to try to comfort him. We entered the house and wander around like ghosts. We both know that we're there, but we stay out of each other's way. We're unable to be there for one another, and unable to meet with the demand of the blinking red light on our answering machine. Everyone was going to want to know how many babies we were going to have, and I don't have the strength in me to tell them none. Crawling onto the couch by the fire, I pulled the cashmere blanket up over my shoulders and stared unblinkingly out at the Sound. The sliding door was cracked and the silence in the house was so extreme that I could hear the waves lapping gently on the shore. I didn't know where Jasper had gone and his absence during my time of need was palpable. He had always been there for me. Through every step of this process he had held my hand, stroked my hair, and told me everything was going to be alright. Not tonight though. He was distant, so distant I haven't have a clue if he was even still in the house.

Night turned to day and I didn't leave the couch, nor did I see or hear Jasper. For four days the routine was the same. I hadn't eaten and I had barely slept. I moved from the couch to my bed and back a few times, but if Jasper was there, he had been hiding in the guest room on the other side of the house.

The phone rang incessantly until I finally became so annoyed I turned the machine and ringer off, hoping our friends and family would get the message. My cell phone sat on the counter uncharged and unused as well. Our laptop was still in my bag I brought home from work and I couldn't bring myself to see how many people on Facebook had commented on my 'ultrasound to see how many babies I'm cooking' post that I hadn't deleted or yet corrected.

Knowing I had to go in to work today, I drug myself into the shower and saw a note sitting on Jasper's side of the bed. Opening it quickly, I saw it was dated from three days ago.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bella,

I need to get away for a while. I'm sorry I'm not able to be there for you right now, but I also know you're in no position to comfort me in the state you're in either. Please forgive my disappearance, but I just need to think and reflect. I'll be home soon.

All my love,

Jasper

The moment I read his words, guilt consumed me. I had been so selfish through all of this that it never occurred to me he would be hurting as well. I never stopped to think this loss could be as painful to him as it was to me. As much as I wanted to right this wrong, the fog still pressed thickly on my heart and head, and while the guilt still lingered, I couldn't force myself to pick up the phone and give him what he needed right now. He was correct in his assumption. I couldn't help him.

Days turned into a week when Jasper finally reemerged from wherever he had disappeared to.

We sat on the sofa in silence, neither knowing where to start or how to begin. I felt his fingers entwine with mine as he tugged, trying to get me to face him.

His face looked drawn and tired. I knew my reflection didn't appear any more flattering to him. Deep, dark circles made his eyes look bruised while his new shorter hair showed more of the grey that had peeked through over the years. He looked weighed down with the weight of the world and I heard him sigh resignedly before speaking the words I never thought he would utter.

"I can't do this anymore, Bella. I'm so, so sorry to hurt you like this, but I want a divorce."

I was stunned. I had never realized the chasm had swallowed our marriage whole.

"I thought I could do this. The positive pregnancy test made me think maybe if this worked we could get back all we've lost this last year, but I now see that wasn't the case. I love you and probably will until the day I die, but with every insult, every time you pushed me away, or used me just for my sperm, I lost a little bit of love for you. Now I just don't think I have enough in my heart to stay married to you. I'm sorry. So fucking sorry."

I sat in teary silence as he told me about how my obsession with getting pregnant pushed him away, and while he still loved me, the all-encompassing love he had for me somehow got lost in my need to conceive a baby.

We talked into the night and I learned so much more about him over the course of a few hours that I realize I had basically ignored him and our marriage for the last two years in my quest for a child. Little did I know that my happiness had been sitting right in front of me, begging for some attention. I knew his decision to leave me wasn't easy for him to arrive to, but I also knew when he made up his mind, that was it. There wasn't anything I could do to resolve it now. I waited too long to finally listen, and I had no one to blame but myself.

~~ALIS~~

My mind was mulling over the Sunday New York Times Crossword when I looked up and saw Jasper across the street. He looked the same and yet different from the last time I had saw him over a year and a half ago during our divorce signing. I gazed at the man who I had spent so many years loving, unabashedly staring from my outdoor table. His face suddenly lit up with a huge grin and I glanced down the street to see what has captured his attention. A tiny woman with a hugely pregnant belly and a yoga mat tucked firmly under her arm appeared from around the corner. I watched as he sped up, greeting her with a warm embrace and nuzzled her neck, his hand rubbing her oversized belly appreciatively. She turned her head slightly and I saw that it was none other than Alice, our nurse from the clinic. For some reason it took my brain an extra few seconds to realize this was Jasper's new wife and who it appeared was now having his child. I remembered a mutual friend of ours offhandedly telling me that he had gotten engaged a while back to a nurse. It hadn't occurred to me the nurse was the same one who ironically couldn't help get me pregnant. The tears falling down my cheeks came rapidly and I was doing everything within my power to not let out the wailing sob that was sitting deep in my throat.

He had moved on and was living our dream with someone else. My heart felt like it had been freshly broken, gaping open and raw, as if he had left me only yesterday. It had taken me months to finally see a psychiatrist to help me deal with everything that infertility had stripped from my life. While I was still taking a low dose anti-depressant, I saw my life with fresh eyes. And while I didn't have a husband or a child, I did have my health and a job and was almost back on even footing financially. The selling of our house helped monumentally with our debt, but I still had some debts to pay that were all my own.

The tears stung my eyes and I could taste their saltiness on my tongue when I licked my lips, trying to take even calculated breaths in order to calm down. I was in public balling my fucking eyes out like a deranged lunatic. Shutting my eyes, I pressed the heels of my palm against them, thinking that would effectively shut the valve of tears off.

Feeling a tug at my sleeve, I turned to see a tiny, blonde haired girl looking at me inquisitively.

"Why are you sad?" Her unassuming question only made me sob more violently than before.

"My daddy says that crying is good sometimes. It lets all the hurt out so your heart has room for the good stuff."

"Your daddy's a smart man." I hiccupped, trying my best to pull myself together.

"I was real sad when Mommy went to heaven. Daddy says she watches over me now. She's my own personal guardian angel to keep me safe. Do you have one?" Her wide eyes waited expectantly for me to reply, and as much as I wanted to affirm her belief in someone watching over me, I felt like the last three years I had been alone, walking blindly through life with no God or otherworldly being taking care of me.

"No, I don't think I do."

"Well, I'll ask my mommy to watch over you too then. I'm sure she can watch us both." Her response catapulted my emotions again, only now I was crying because this type of interaction is what I had always dreamed of. The pure innocent kindness of a child couldn't be replicated anywhere, and I wished for a moment that I could take her home and make cookies for her. The maternal side of me kicked in and I hugged her gently, not knowing where she came from, but feeling as if someone sent her to remind me there was still good in my life.

A man came running out of the coffee shop, looking around frantically when he spotted the cute girl beside me.

"Hailey! You were supposed to find a table. What are you doing out here?" he scolded, before turning to apologize to me. "I'm sorry if she was bothering you."

"She was cheering me up actually." I smiled the first genuine smile I had given since I could remember. The father glanced around briefly before asking me if they could join me for a few minutes since all the tables inside were full.

"Sure. Hailey, can you help me with this crossword? It's giving me some trouble," I asked, pulling out the chair for her as her dad sat down across from me.

"I'm Edward and you've already met Hailey." He stuck out his hand, chuckling at his precocious child saddled up next to me, glaring at the newspaper seriously.

"I'm Bella. It's a pleasure to meet you." From the look in his eyes, I thought perhaps Hailey's mom just might be watching over me after all.


A/N

Thanks for reading. Please review and let me know what you thought. This was an immensely personal story having gone through infertility myself. I'd love to hear what you think.

There have been a couple of reviews about whether or not Jasper cheated on Bella. This is BPOV, so you don't really know from the story, however in my mind he did NOT cheat on her. He ended up meeting Alice sometime after he and Bella split and things progressed from there. Just wanted to clarify that - I love me some Jasper, so don't want everyone to completely hate him. Thanks & please go vote for my story if you liked it.