Summary: Helga's reaction to being pregnant, and her journey through pregnancy.
Based on the song Sophia by Nerina Pallot (An AMAZING song, you should listen to it)
Warnings: Pregnancy, mature subjects, some language.
Disclaimer: I don't own Hey Arnold!, honestly!
Hope you enjoy!
- I O I - I O I - I O I- I O I – I O I - I O I - I O I - I O I- I O I - I O I- I O I -
The clock chimed the hours, and she glanced up in surprise. Already 5 o'clock. She put her pen down and massaged her temples with her fingertips. Standing she placed her hands along her lower back and tilted backwards letting her eyes take in the weird pegboard ceiling tiles. Walking out of the door, she turned back to lock it before pulling her jacket closer to her chin to block out the chill wind. Trotting down the steps of the stoop, she walked down the street, listening to the clang of fire escapes, children chattering as they hurried toward the park, buses rattling along the street, the scrape of leaves across the pavement. It was a symphony of sound, the sounds of a city. She glanced at the leaden sky, wondering if he missed these sounds in that lush jungle he was in.
Looking around at all the familiar sites of her neighborhood, she felt lost. So disconnected, a stranger. She didn't belong here…not without him. She avoided the puddles left by the afternoon showers, walking briskly towards home. She walked in the door, calling hello to the other occupants as she made her way to the kitchen. Grabbing a glass she turned the faucet and let a stream run cold before shoving the cup under the flow of the water. As it filled she rested a hand on her gently rounded belly, barely showing through the tailored blouse she wore. So many hours, so many lonely hours to fill without him. Gulping down the water she left the glass in the sink and headed up to her room.
Opening the door she immediately kicked off the heels she had worn to work. Shucking the shirt and skirt she had worn to work, she lovingly pulled out a worn t-shirt. Holding it to her face she breathed deeply, desperate to find any lingering trace of his scent. Her cheeks heated as she pulled his scent around her. Brought back so many memories, playing with the fabric between her fingers she was brought back to a night not so long ago. When she had felt fire with him, been burning up she felt she couldn't stay in her skin. Her eyes popped open and she shook her head bitterly, she knew better than to get caught up in memories.
She could live without so many things, but she knew she wouldn't be able to last without him for much longer. Glancing at the calendar, she eyed the red marks and the giant blue circle. She pulled the shirt over her head before walking over to the calendar to mark off one more day. One day closer to his return. Then she looked at the light pink circle, just a few days sooner, before the blue circle. She felt tears creep into her eyes. She didn't know what had happened. She felt her knees shake and she walked over to the bed, collapsing on it. She pulled the pillow off the head of the bed, and curled her body around it. She let herself cry, hating herself for it. for letting the emotions get to her. She felt a tiny bump in between her hips and she nearly jumped. The first, the first time. a kick. Sophia Olivia Shortman. Making herself known. Smiling through the tears she stood up. No more moping, that's what Sophia was saying. Stopping at the dresser she grabbed a pair of blue flannel pajama pants and stepped into them.
Heading downstairs, she nearly bumped into Phil. It took her a moment to realize what he was saying. It took even longer for her to remember how to speak. She had been so focused on the momentous occasion that had just occurred. Almost as if the memory had conjured it, she felt the movement again. Smiling, she grabbed Phil's hands smiling as his eyes widened as she brought his hand to her gently rounded belly. She knew it had taken time for him to get used to her, she was prickly and capricious, with frequent mood swings, and pregnancy had not made it any easier. But they had developed a rapport, and Helga's longing for Arnold, and her adjustment to pregnancy had made her softer around the edges, for the most part.
"I'm getting along, but here, feel" She watched as his eyes softened and he felt his great grandchild kick against his fingers. He and Gertie had slowed down over the years, and he was fast approaching the dreaded 91st. Yet he swore he would look into his great granddaughter's eyes if it was the last thing he did. She smiled as Phil dashed off to tell his Pookie what had just happened.
I – O – V – TIME – V – O – I
She leaned away from her desk, groaning as her back protested. She winced as her muscles screamed as she stood up. Her feet were swollen, her legs felt like lead, and her back had long since entered agony. Glaring down at her bulging stomach she pursed her lips in disgust. Glancing down at her hands, she studied the rings. A simple white gold band next to the delicate band with the bezel set diamond. Sitting back down, she pulled up her email and sent a few replies and played a game before getting bored. Restless, she stood and stretched her back gently again, desperate to get some relief. Using the intercom she told her assistant, Kristen, that she was heading home early. Kristen replied that it was totally fine, that she had everything under control. Helga scowled at the girl's chipper response, but thanked her and gathered up her stuff. Shrugging into her coat, glaring when it didn't come around to button in the front of her stomach, she buttoned the three buttons at the top before heading out the door.
She trudged down the few blocks to the boarding house. It was so quiet at this time of day, with most of the boarders still at work. Gertie was taking her "afternoon constitutional" as she liked to call it, or nap as everyone else thought of it. Helga wandered into the kitchen but wasn't hungry so she shrugged and trudged back to the stairs. Walking upstairs, she was struck by the sudden realization that Arnold had walked up and down these exact stairs millions of times before. In some ways, she was his ghost. Following after, a pale imitation of what he was. Caring, optimistic, loving. She trailed her hand along the wall as she made her way up to their room. Desperate for some connection to him, she closed her eyes and tried to soak him in.
Walking directly to the calendar she crossed off the date, pressing harder than was strictly necessary. 6 weeks, 3 days, 17 hours, and 12 minutes until he got back. Then she counted. 5 weeks and 1 day until the doctors had predicted Sophia's arrival. Sophia Olivia Shortman. Her very own S.O.S. Everyday she prayed that Arnold would contact her so that she could tell him, tell him what had happened of that desperate moment of passion. What had happened in the silence of that night. She had practiced every word. What she would say to him. How she would tell him. That their love, measure by measure, had given birth to the girl that she would soon be giving birth to.
Placing her hand on her stomach she glanced in the mirror that hung on the back of the door. She cringed at her reflection, contrary to popular belief she was not "glowing." Far from it, her hair hung in sweaty hanks, pulled away from her face and held back with a simple clip, her eyes had dark smudges under them, and she was washed out. Her stomach stood out starkly as her tall frame had not adjusted well to the added weight in the center of her body, and her shoulders hunched roundly. Her critical eye did not miss a single flaw, but she had no way of knowing that to everyone else, she was glowing, that even through the sadness, there was a glow of happiness. That her love of Arnold had produced a physical result. She turned away from the
Walking towards the bed her eyes caught on the bookcase. It held all the books he had left behind. It contained so much that was him, drawn to them she ran her finger along the spines. Her breath caught as she came across one that didn't seem to fit, a light pink book, smaller and thinner than the others. Her eyes grew soft as she ran her finger along that particular spine. So many memories, so much passion. She slowly pulled the book free from its confines among the larger, more serious books. Setting it on the bed, she turned to get into more comfortable clothes. Returning to the bed, she climbed in and settled back before opening to the first page. Reading the words she had written more than a decade ago filled her with such longing. She looked over the top of the book to where her belly protruded, and she glared at it. This was all that football-headed dork's fault. Knocking her up before heading off to the jungle. It didn't matter that he didn't know, it didn't matter that the condoms were only 97% effective. And she just happened to be one of the 3% LUCKY enough to get knocked up by his stupid super-sperm. All that mattered is that he wasn't here. He wasn't here to hold her hand when she got scared, he wasn't here to throw things at when she got upset, he wasn't here to go get her pretzels and guacamole with bonbons at 3am. He wasn't here. Closing her eyes she let her head fall back in exhaustion as the tears seeped into the neckline of his shirt. She would give anything to be able to reach him, but in the isolated village in San Lorenzo it was impossible to get cell service or an internet connection. And Miles refused to let Arnold use the satellite phone for anything less than an absolute emergency, since it was so expensive and junk. Helga didn't even notice as her fingers grew slack on the little pink book and she slipped into slumber.
I – O – V – TIME – V – O – I
Helga glared at the calendar that Phoebe had carried down to her, in the spare room. Helga glanced around her, cocooned in the recliner, so much stuff. Carried down specifically so she wouldn't have to climb all those stairs to their room. A little plastic set of drawers had been set up, containing underclothes and pajamas. As of her doctor's recommendation of bed rest, Helga glared at the calendar again, FOUR DAYS AGO, she had been living in this room. Phoebe had come twice to keep her company, dragging her fiancé along with her the first time. She hadn't made that mistake a second time. Helga's mood swings had not been easy for him to endure, but Phoebe was Helga's best friend, there was nowhere else she could be.
Helga stared desperately at the calendar. One day. One more day, if the doctor's were right. If Sophia decided to show up on time. Helga scowled at the calendar even more darkly, as she desperately wished she could go back 7 months. To when she had first suspected. When she had first noticed that it had been just a bit too long. Late. That's what they said. She was late. The whole first month Arnold had been gone she didn't notice much of anything, not when she forgot her coat at the office and walked home in the rain, not the time she put the ice cream in the oven instead of the freezer, and definitely not the time when she should have gotten out the monthly bag of chocolate and box of tampons.
No amount of wishing could take her back, to a time when a letter sent would reach him in enough time to make it home. But she desperately wished she hadn't wanted to tell him in person. To hear his voice when she said those words "I'm pregnant" because now she'd never be able to tell him. All she'd be able to say is, "Here's our baby." or "I had a baby." It wasn't fair. She was scared. She couldn't say it out loud, but she didn't want to have their baby alone. She wanted him. No one but him.
Desperately she looked around at the room. If she had to see these walls for one more minute she was going to scream. Glancing at the clock she sighed in relief. Phoebe would be over any minute. Thank god. She couldn't stand it any more. She stood up and started to head to the kitchen when she was stopped by a blazing pain centered in her uterus and spreading outward. She let out a shocked yelp. Staring down at her belly she just started murmuring "No, no" over and over again. The second flash of pain nearly brought her to her knees, and she screamed in shock as the floor beneath her was wet. The front door swung open as she heard pounding on the stairs. She clutched her belly as the third wave of pain drove her to her knees.
Phoebe immediately took charge. "Get the packard, grab her clothes, get her bag, grab some towels." These orders were rattled off to Phil and Gertie, Suzie, and the rest of the boarders. Helga whimpered as the pain started again. Phoebe knelt down and grabbed Helga's hand.
"Its gonna be ok, the hospital isn't that far." Phoebe pushed helgas hair off her face and winced as Helga gripped her hand and wheezed a bit.
"I'M GONNA KILL HIM! THAT STUPID FOOTBALL HEAD! THIS IS ALL HIS FAUUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALT!" The last syllable was lost on a scream.
Helga lay on the gurney, watching at the fluorescent lights passed above her. She heard Phoebe's voice, then Olga's voice. Comforting, soothing, or at least trying to be. She was wheeled into the room, and cringed as they moved her around trying to get her in position, she had been in excruciating pain for the last 3 hours. Finally the epidural had been administered, and the burning that had been ever present had faded.
The doctor came in, half of his face covered by the mask as he explained what was to happen. Helga glanced from Phoebe to Olga, desperate, worried. Scared. They patted her shoulders, gripped her hands and told her it would be ok. The doctor told her to push, as another contraction wracked her body, she pushed, and screamed. She let off and took a few desperate gasps. That was when she heard it.
"WHERE IS SHE? WHERE IS MY WIFE?" She jolted up further, ignoring the renewed pain that shot through her back. Her eyes desperately flew to Olga's. Olga let go of her hand and went sprinting out of the room. Helga's eyes filled with tears as she heard more shouting. That voice. He was here. Her prayers had been answered. She heard pounding footsteps and then those white double doors swung open and there he was. She couldn't see the nurses following after him, she couldn't see Olga, panting, a few steps behind, she couldn't see the doctor and nurses reacting, she couldn't see the tears in Phoebe's eyes. All she could see was him. Glorious him. His blonde hair mussed, matted against his head. His green eyes, bloodshot, rimmed with dark circles. His mussed flannel shirt and dirty jeans. Her hands reached for him even as her body spasmed with pain again.
"I'm pregnant" The words were low, and desperate as he clung to her hand. He let out a weak chuckle and they ignored the hesitant laughs of those around them.
"I can see that" His words were soft and she nearly screamed when the doctor interrupted them and demand that Arnold go out, clean up and get in scrubs. It wasn't right, or safe, for him to be there like he was. She glared at the doctor and let out a string of expletives, but Arnold just squeezed her hand and rushed out. In the few moments that he was gone, Olga and Phoebe hugged her, and reassured her. When he walked back in they both took their leave. He took Phoebe's spot on her right side and leaned his hip against her bed.
"Why didn't you tell me?" His words were soft and his face and voice were full of hurt.
"I didn't know… before you left. And… then… after you… left… I didn't know how to" Her words were stilted, unsure, desperate.
"I'm so sorry," His words were soft as his lips pressed against her temple. As his arms came around her. This. This is what she couldn't live without. Take everything away and leave him, and she'd be fine. It was like her favorite writer said, "If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger; I should not seem a part of it."
"I'm sorry," Her voice cracked and she cursed herself for not telling him sooner, to let him experience all this with her. But she had promised herself when they got together, that she would never make him choose between his parents and their work, and her. Maybe she had taken that promise a little too far. But he would forgive her, he would always forgive her. Because that's what love is. Not always understanding, not always liking it, but always being there. Together.
A few minutes later the doctor handed her the small wriggling bundle, and Helga fell in love with something else. A tiny, small thing. With great aquamarine eyes, and tufts of soft blonde hair that stuck out all over. Looking into those eyes she wondered, will you ever be lucky enough to love a man like your father, and be able to be loved. Cause it hurt, and it burned, but it meant you were alive. Fully and irrevocably alive.
"Sophia Olivia Shortman" As she said the name she blushed. She hadn't talked about it with him. Hadn't shared that discussion, hadn't asked his approval.
"Sophia" His voice was warm and loving. And she watched as he reached out and looked for her approval. Smiling, relieved, she lifted Sophia gently into her father's arms. And sighed. Love was a fire, it burned, and sometimes it hurt, and sometimes it wasn't enough. But she knew she could never be without him again. Her love. Arnold.
- I O I - I O I - I O I- I O I – I O I - I O I - I O I - I O I- I O I - I O I- I O I -
I hope you enjoyed it. This little plot bunny came to me one day at work while driving to get lunch… I heard the song, and had just watched the episode MARRIED, and this is what resulted. Please R&R