"Where the hell have you been?" Chelsie greeted him at the front door with her arms crossed over her chest and a scowl on her face.
"At work." Balki muttered. "Someone needs to work to pay for this palace."
Chelsie paid no attention to his slightly veiled insult. "What keeps you there so long? You didn't use to work such long hours."
"I have projects." Balki explained. "Things I can't pass around to other people. Things that need to get done."
"Well, you have a project here now. You finally got your way." Chelsie sat primly on the edge of the sofa in the living room and glared at Balki.
"What are you talking about?" Balki stared at his wife in confusion. "What project?"
"I'm pregnant!" Chelsie screeched.
"I…I…I…but that's…that's…wonderful!" Balki dropped to his knees and placed his hands on her stomach. "How long?"
"Two months. Why didn't you listen to me? I don't want a baby." Chelsie complained as she pushed Balki's hands away from her.
"But sweetheart, we'll finally be a real family." Balki tried to draw her into his arms again, but Chelsie squirmed away.
"I'll be all out of shape. I'll get fat and ugly. You won't want anything to do with me."
"Oh po po! I love you, Chels. You won't be ugly to me, not ever." Balki sat beside her and turned her face to his. "Why won't you believe me when I tell you how much I love you?"
"If you loved me you wouldn't have gotten me knocked up!"
"I don't even know that that means!" Balki wondered how, as they screamed insults at each other, such a happy event could turn into yet another fight.
"You probably put holes in all of them, or something. You've always wanted me to have a kid."
Balki stared at her in disbelief. "Because I want us to be a family."
"No. You want me out of the way, home with a baby, so you can sleep with your secretary!" Chelsie slapped his face and ran out of the room.
"Cousins?" Balki burst into Larry's apartment, excited to share his news with Larry and Jennifer. "Cousin Larry? Jennifer?"
"Out here on the balcony, Balki." Jennifer called. "Grab a drink and come on out."
Balki stopped to rummage through the refrigerator, grabbing a soda for himself and a few extra for his cousins.
"You seem pretty happy." Jennifer beamed at him as he stepped out on the balcony."
"I have big news, cousins!" Balki yelled, happily.
"Alone again, I see." Larry frowned at the sight of his cousin. "The big news not big enough for Chelsie to join you?"
Balki sat down across from Larry and put a hand on his shoulder. "Please don't Cousin Larry. Please be happy for me."
Larry caught the slip of Balki's tongue, but kept his mouth shut. He could easily be happy for his cousin, it was his cousins wife that he had a problem with.
"I'm sorry, Balki. I didn't mean to be rude." Larry clasped Balki's hand and forced a smile. "What's the big news?"
Balki tried to suppress his grin, tried to make them guess his secret, but he just couldn't do it. "I'm going to be a daddy!"
"Why, that's wonderful news, Balki." Jennifer got up and wrapped him in a huge hug. "I'm so happy for you!"
"A father?" Larry couldn't help the genuine smile that came to his lips. He couldn't think of anyone that would be a better father than his cousin. Maybe a child would bring back his once childlike character that was so joyful and free. So…Balki. "Congratulations, Balki! How is Chelsie doing?"
"Eh…" Balki shrugged and averted his gaze. "She's good, she's okay."
Larry frowned again. "Is she happy?"
Balki smiled, but Larry could see the unhappiness behind it. "Of course she is, don't be ridiculous."
Larry and Jennifer exchanged glances. "We're really happy for you, Balki. I can't wait to meet her or him!" Jennifer enthused.
"Jennifer's right." Larry leaned forward and hugged his cousin. "We're thrilled for you buddy. You will be a great father."
The months leading to their first child's birth seemed like the longest ones of Balki's life. Chelsie constantly complained about her weight gain (which wasn't a whole lot), Balki's lack of interest in her (which was a lie, he thought she looked more beautiful than ever), his long working hours (which were unavoidable). She also became even more demanding than she had been before, something that Balki didn't think was possible. He tried to cater to her every whim – running out in the middle of the night to buy her food cravings, buying her things to make her comfortable, traveling when he had time and while she still could, redecorating the entire house - including the nursery, even though Chelsie didn't want to bother with a special room for the baby.
In addition to her almost constant complaining and impossible demands, Chelsie tried to harm herself several times during the pregnancy. She went for a couple of weeks refusing to eat, claiming morning sickness that wouldn't allow her to keep anything down; and then made an attempt at slashing her wrists, landing her in the hospital for observation. Upon her release, Chelsie promptly swallowed a bottle of over the counter pills as soon as Balki left for work, only to be quickly discovered when he returned home to retrieve his forgotten briefcase. She ended up in the hospital, again being held for several weeks for observation and therapy. This time, once she got home she promised to behave, insisting that she was fine and that Balki should return to work. He did so reluctantly, hoping that she would settle into the fact that she was loved and needed, that she had to keep healthy and take care of herself for the baby. His heart sank when, two days later, he got the call that she had fallen down the basement stairs and was being rushed to the hospital.
"What happened?" Balki rushed into the hospital room, gently setting the bouquet of flowers he carried on the nearest table and joining Chelsie at the side of her bed.
"She fell, Balki." Her mother stated, simply. "Thank goodness I came to visit with her, who knows how long she might have lain there."
Balki sighed as he pulled a chair close to Chelsie's bedside, knowing that had been a not so subtle dig at his job and recent tendency to work overtime. He tenderly pushed a strand of hair from his wifes eye and kissed her cheek.
"Where's her doctor? Has he been to see her yet?"
"He'll be coming in shortly to talk to you. Let's go get a coffee and leave these two alone." Chelsie's father murmured, ushering his wife out the door.
"What did you do? Why were you going in the basement?"
"I don't want to be pregnant, Balki. I don't want this baby."
Balki stared at her in stunned silence. She couldn't possibly be willing to kill herself just to get rid of the baby. Surely there was more to all this. The doctor's entrance saved Balki from having to think of a reply to Chelsie's shocking statement. He listened carefully as the doctor assured him that his wife was fine, nothing was broken and she should be able to return home in just a few days.
"What about the baby?"
"The tests we've run so far show no damage to the baby. We do have to run a few more to be sure."
Balki looked at Chelsie and noticed the tears running down her cheeks. Her mouth twisted into a frustrated grimace and as she started to sob loudly, the doctor confused her anger for sadness.
"Everything should be just fine, Mrs. Bartokomous, we'll know for sure in a day or two."
As soon as the doctor left the room, Balki jumped to his feet. "You try to kill yourself? Again? You no fall down the stairs, did you?" His anger flared into an explosion of Myposian curse words as he paced.
"I don't want to die, Balki. Honest. But I'm not going to be a good mother. I want this thing out of me. I hate it!" Chelsie shrilled.
"Why can't you stop thinking of yourself for one minute and think about your family? Your child that you are carrying, your husband that loves you?"
"You don't love me." Chelsie sobbed.
"I do. Chelsie, I love you with all my heart. And you're carrying our baby, our precious child, so please, please, stop this craziness and let us be a family."
"I can't Balki. I hate feeling like this, feeling that thing inside me…"
Balki sat back down beside her and gently pressed his hand to her stomach. He could feel the small, but insistent, movements of their child, testing the limits of its surroundings.
"That's our child, Chels, our little baby." Balki felt tears spring to his eyes. He couldn't believe how amazing this felt. The first physical confirmation that he was going to be a father.
"You love this kid more than you love me." Chelsie snorted, swatting a hand at her stomach.
"I love you, what do I need to do to prove it to you? Tell me." Balki took her hand in his and kissed it. "Whatever it is, I will do it for you."
"Stay with me. Don't go back to work."
Balki stared at his sobbing wife in shocked silence. He needed to work to pay off all the extravagant things she had demanded during their marriage. They had a huge mortgage, the cars, and the trips; and soon, there would be the baby to cater to. There was no way he could afford to stay home. "Baby, I…"
"I knew it!" Chelsie exploded, roughly yanking her hand away from him. "If it's not the damn baby, it's your job! I'm never first with you!"
Balki jumped, startled by her outburst. "I'll think of something, I promise." He brushed his hand over her forehead, smoothing her hair down. "I'll stay home with you."
Balki talked with Chelsie's father and they both agreed that for the sake of her health, Balki needed to be home with her, at least for the duration of the pregnancy, if not longer. He set up a more elaborate office in a room off their bedroom and brought what work he could home. Whenever Chelsie was asleep or out with her mother he worked there, trying to keep on top of everything.
Chelsie began to relax with Balki home and she even seemed to be settling into the fact that she would soon be a mother. Balki was surprised one afternoon when she returned home anxious to show him the wardrobe of baby clothes she and her mother had purchased. She started to discuss baby names with him and even ventured into the nursery, commending Balki and Larry for their hard work on it.
The day of the birth came when Balki was, unfortunately, out of the house on a business call. He met Chelsie at the hospital as she was being taken into the delivery room. He tossed his suit jacket aside to don the scrubs the nurse handed him.
"Balki, it hurts so much, why weren't you there?" Chelsie screamed.
"I'm sorry baby, I had to make that meeting. I'm so sorry!" Balki leaned over to place a tender kiss on her forehead. "I'm here now, I'm not leaving. You can't get rid of Balki now."
Chelsie was in too much pain to argue anymore with him so she gratefully allowed Balki to cheer her through the long labour process, offering encouraging words and tending to her needs for ice chips or glasses of water. Finally, it was almost time for their baby to arrive.
"Push, Chels, you're doing so good!"
"This is all your fault!" Chelsie panted. "I didn't want this! It hurts too much!"
"One more push, hun, that's it! You can do it!"
Chelsie screamed as she almost fully sat up, pushing with all her might. Balki let out a delighted yell and hugged her tight as she tried to collapse back onto the bed.
"We have a baby. We're a family!"
"What is it?" Chelsie huffed, exhausted.
"It's a girl, honey, a beautiful baby girl."
Chelsie smiled weakly. "Let me see her." After she had come to terms with the fact that she would be a mother, she had secretly hoped she would have a little girl that she could spoil. A pretty little girl that she could dress in beautiful clothes and fancy shoes. Her daughter, with cascading blonde hair that she could brush into waves of endless curls. "I want to see our little girl."
Balki could barely wait for the nurse to wrap the baby in a blanket before he lifted his daughter into his arms for the first time. He gazed down his daughter, wonder shining in his eyes.
"Hello, my baby girl. Welcome to the world." he whispered as he nuzzled her tiny cheek with his.
"Let me see her!" Chelsie demanded again, louder this time.
Balki twisted and awkwardly held the infant closer to Chelsie. She folded the swaddling blankets back and tried to hide her disappointment as she took in the infant's mess of black hair and the almond shaped brown eyes of her father.
"Oh. She looks like you."