Fifty Shades of Post-Partum
Chapter 16: Intervention
Kate, Elliot, and Ava are coming over for dinner tonight. I only hope that it will not turn into a disaster. Mia is going out with Ethan, so I won't have to worry about her throwing in her two cents. Carrick had recommended a "cooling off period" before we saw Kate again.
He didn't want me to say or do anything that I might regret later. After all, in addition to being Elliot's wife, she is the mother of one of our grandchildren and hopefully more, later on. In our rush to protect Ana, we do not want to alienate Kate in the process. Elliot was able to convince her to stay away from Ana prior to this recent episode, so it was unnecessary to make this intervention before now.
However, the situation is causing stress within the family. It will never do for us to allow things to fester in this manner where some members of the family aren't speaking with others. Mia has decided to take Ana's side, virtuously citing her own ability to maintain her distance. But Ethan is hardly able to talk to his sister without a barrage of questions and Elliot is just plain stuck in the middle. While I wait fir them to arrive, I contemplate the last few days.
I spoke to Christian earlier today and Ana's positive mood continues. I continuously remind him that he shouldn't count his chickens before they are hatched. When Ana backslides, his disappointment will add one more justification to her self-loathing. But it is hard when her rebound is so strong.
Ros and Gwen came over for dinner last night and it was very successful. Ana has always liked the both of them and was very amenable to their visit when Christian suggested it. Gwen got rather dewy-eyed over Phoebe to which Ros responded with a very definite "No."
Then Gwen batted her eyelashes at Christian.
"Sure you wouldn't be interested in being the donor?"
"No!" Christian and Ros said as one voice.
Even Ana found the exchange amusing. Later, however, she told Christian that such a thing was not even up for debate. If Teddy and Phoebe were going to have any more siblings, she would be their mother. She was so emphatic about it that he grabbed her and kissed her soundly. To his surprise, she responded with something like ardor. It was the first time in a long time.
But that wasn't the only humorous moment of the evening. Teddy asked Auntie Ros to please buy him a real railroad to run when she sat watching his trains racing around the track. Christian said that it was a very funny exchange.
"What makes you think that I can buy you a real railroad?" she asked.
"You buy Daddy stuff for wunning," he says.
"I use your Daddy's money," she said. "He's my boss."
"Use Daddy money," he replied sanguinely. "Daddy got lots."
"That's up to Daddy," she said. "He tells me what to buy."
Teddy thought about that for a minute.
"Daddy," he said with absolute sincerity. "Tell Auntie Wos buy me wailwoad."
He was very puzzled when everyone laughed, but then he started to laugh himself. Of course he had no idea of what was so funny. Apparently, the whole evening was like that, little light-hearted moments that Ana responded to well.
Then I think back to my own afternoon with Jose and Maritza at Ana's. I had to switch shifts with someone, but I was glad that I did. Maritza wanted to talk to me. She was feeling very guilty because she thought that she was the cause of the recent uproar with Kate.
"Dr. Trevelyan," she said anxiously. "I am so sorry for all the trouble I caused. I had no idea that Kate wasn't allowed to see Ana, or that it would cause her to react the way that she did when I mentioned that we had been there."
"Don't worry about it, honey," I said. "This situation can be very confusing at times. We all know that you didn't do it on purpose. I'm just happy that Ana is comfortable with having you come to visit. She needs to see more people."
"I don't know why she likes seeing me," she answered furrowing her brow. "It's not like we're best friends or anything."
"Actually, I think that's why she does like seeing you," I replied. "You don't try to have those kind of deep, intense conversations that a best friend would. I know that she is also grateful to you for making Jose so very happy. Right now, the nature of her illness is such that she feels guilty for a lot of the ways that she thinks that she has made others unhappy in the past. Seeing Jose head over heels in love with you gives her one less thing to feel guilty about."
"So then maybe I am helping her?" she asked hopefully.
"I am sure that you are helping her," I replied smiling. "Now why don't we both go and help cheer her up?"
Maritza smiled as if a weight had been lifted off of her shoulders. Poor girl. It's not surprising that she would feel responsible for Kate's tantrum. Then I saw her return to where Ana and Jose were talking and immediately reach her hands out for the baby.
I could tell by the look on her face that she was looking forward to having babies of her own. And the look on Jose's face showed that he was looking forward to the same thing. Ana seemed to be looking on at the two of them with a degree of satisfaction. Yes, seeing Jose so happy was doing her a world of good.
After lunch, Jose took the pictures that Ana wanted. Phoebe went down for her nap and Jose and Maritza filled us in on the wedding plans. Although Maritza's family is far from wealthy, they still plan to have a large, Mexican tradition style wedding, including a mariachi band circulating through the guests.
Ana listened to them with a bittersweet look on her face. I was sure that she was wondering if she would be well enough to go. The afternoon passed quickly and before we knew it, Christian and Teddy returned home. Whatever they had been dong must have tired out Ted, because Christian had to carry him in. He put him down to finish his nap and returned to us with Phoebe. The minute that she saw Ana, she reached out.
"I believe that someone is hungry," commented Christian.
"Was she crying and I didn't hear her?" asked Ana, worriedly. "Maybe the baby monitor is working properly."
"No," he said. "I heard her prattling to herself. I think that she had just woken up. And she certainly is hungry."
The baby was nursing eagerly. I knew that she would probably not be nursing much longer. She had taken to solid food and was even drinking a little juice.
"Where did you go?" Ana asked Christian.
"I took him over to the local skating rink and put him in his first pair of ice skates," he said. "They have these plastic boxes, kind of like milk crates, that toddlers can push around to glide. The toddler skates have double blades and he had excellent balance so he isn't fall once."
Ana shivered at the thought.
"You could put me on triple blades and give me a walker to push around and I would probably still break something," she stated. "You know what a klutz I am."
"I don't think that I am really a klutz," commented Maritza. "But I don't like skating. When you fall the ice it's very cold. Brrr!"
"I would never let you fall, baby," said Jose.
"Neither would I, Ana," said Christian. "If you wanted to try."
Ana had just shaken her head doubtfully. Clearly there was no way that anyone was going to convince her to put on a pair of ice skates.
When the bell rings, my reverie is broken as I return to here and now. Carrick answers it. I go back in the kitchen to help Gretchen put the finishing touches on the meal. I hear the voices in the hall and then moving into the living room. Suddenly, I am caught up in a huge bear hug.
"Mom!" says Elliot. "Long time, no see!"
It feels that way, but it's actually been about two weeks. He grabs a piece of shrimp off the platter of hors d'oeurves, as I slap his hand.
"Why don't you make yourself useful and bring these into the living room?" I say.
"Sure," he says affably. "But first I want to talk to you alone."
"What is it now?" I ask with a sigh.
"Kate feels really bad about all the trouble that she caused," he says. "I don't think that she realized how very sick Ana really is. She just thought that Christian was playing his old control freak games."
"Well, didn't Shonda and Charlotte convince her?" I ask, feeling very annoyed all over again. "She didn't have to heap abuse on Sawyer all the way down the driveway. The poor man was just doing his job. He's been through hell since that night with Ana. Even though he saved her, he still blames himself that she managed to get herself into the water in the first place."
"She realizes that now . . . I think" he says. "Ana's doctor came over the other day to explain it all to her. She finally made her realize that what is happening with Ana now has nothing to do with her relationship with Christian, or probably her friendship with her.
"Ana's fear of her revolves around the fact that Kate has been scolding her ever since Phoebe was born about not picking up her career. Kate really thought that Ana's problem was that Christian was forcing her to become a stay-at-home mom. But nothing could be farther from the truth."
"I believe that Ana told her that on any number of occasions," I reply. "Why wouldn't she believe her?"
"She thought that Ana was still afraid of Christian," he says uncomfortably.
"Oh?" I say. "What does she think now?"
"Well," he finally says. "I think that she finally realizes that Christian isn't calling the shots on this. But you know how stubborn she is. She refuses to accept that Ana's problems can't be solved by getting her out of the house and back to work."
"Is your wife really an investigative journalist?" I ask him sarcastically. "There's a ton of information out there about postpartum depression on the Internet alone."
"And I think that she's read it all," he says defensively. "She just wants to help her best friend. She may be a little misguided, but she really thinks that she can help her."
"Well, if you want to help her," I say. "Then we better get into the living room before your father gives her a piece of his mind."
When we reach the living room, Carrick is bouncing a delighted Ava on is knee. Kate is studiously ignoring him by pretending to read a magazine. I know that she is pretending, because it is one of my medical equipment catalogues. I suppress a laugh and greet her pleasantly. She rises to the occasion by politely answering me. This could be a long evening.
The conversation both before and during dinner is awkward. With Ava present and very alert, no one wants to have any disagreements. Luckily, Elliot fills the uncomfortable silence, first by giving us a blow-by-blow description of Ava's latest progress and then, a detailed account of his latest building project. His good-natured rambling keeps the tone light and Carrick and I ask lots of questions to keep him going. Kate appears to be sulking, but it is hard to tell.
I try to draw her out with questions about the baby, but her answers are monosyllabic. After a while, I am starting to get annoyed. Before we can go into the living room for coffee and dessert, Ava falls asleep in her booster seat and Kate takes her upstairs to lay her down in the crib that we have placed in one of the guest rooms for that purpose. She is a long time in coming down, but finally she rejoins us.
"Okay," she says as she sits down heavily beside Elliot. "Time for the inquisition."
Carrick and I exchange a look. We do not want this to be a contentious conversation, but Kate seems determined to make it so.
"Kate," he says. "We know that you view Ana as your best friend and feel that this gives you some proprietary rights, but the fact is that you and Ana are both family members now. That changes the dynamic somewhat."
She rolls her eyes.
"Just because we are sisters-in-law doesn't mean that we can't be best friends too," she says sulkily.
"No one is saying that," he replies. "But Ana has a serious illness. An expert doctor is treating her. And a highly professional nurse is caring for her. This nurse was handpicked by Flynn and Grace has attested to her excellent qualities as a psychiatric nurse. In fact, we are lucky that she was willing to take time off from her duties at the hospital to take this job. It's not an easy one and we need to give the respect that she deserves."
"I'm sure that Christian is making it worth her while," she says sarcastically. "And the expert doctor's too. Did it ever occur to you that they have a stake in keeping Ana sick?"
"For everyone's sake I will pretend that you didn't just say that," I reply, doing my best to control my temper. "I'm sure that you have researched Charlotte Tyler and know that she is not only an expert in the field, her integrity is beyond reproach. And Shonda has given up working shifts where she can go home and sleep after ten hours on duty, for what is essentially an around the clock nursing job. Both of these women have sacrificed their personal lives to care for Ana. I refuse to let you insult them any further in my home."
"Then why won't they let me see her?" she asks. "I don't believe that Ana really doesn't want to see me. Have they convinced her that this is all my fault?"
"They haven't assigned blame to anyone or anything as far as I know," says Carrick. "Ana has this, perhaps not so misguided, idea that you will scold her for becoming ill. This may be completely irrational, but that kind of thinking is a symptom of her illness. And you can't say that you haven't scolded her before when her behavior didn't come up to your standards."
She turns and looks at Elliot.
"Well, aren't you going to say anything in my defense?" she asks him petulantly.
He opens his mouth and then closes it. He has tried to smooth the waters already, but Kate has not lived up to his assurances so far. Carrick decides to try again.
"Kate, this isn't about you," he says. "This is about family and all of us pulling together to try and help Christian, Ana, and the children through this. They are all going through hell right now. Why can't you see this? She won't see Mia or Elliot either, or even her own parents."
She narrows her eyes at him.
"Family, hmm," she replies. "This is about the fact that I kept my family name when Elliot and I got married, isn't it?"
Now Carrick rolls his eyes. Kate looks furiously at her husband.
"Aren't you going to say anything in my defense, you big lug?" she asks Elliot, as she smacks his arm.
"I think that you're doing very well for yourself, dear," he says wryly.
With a "humph," Kate crosses her arms defensively and moves slightly away from him on the couch.
"Kate," says Carrick reasonably. "I have never thought any less of you for keeping your name. Grace kept her own name pretty much for the same reasons that you did. She had already established a reputation for herself under the name Trevelyan, which is a fairly unique and memorable name. We honored that choice by giving all three children Trevelyan as a second name, not that any of them use it.
"You come from a family well-established in the media business. We respect the fact that you would want to trade on that name in your career. It makes perfect sense and we don't think any less of you than Ana, who took Christian's name."
"Not that he would have let her keep her own name even if it was Simon or Shuster," she says sarcastically.
Ignoring her remark, Carrick continues.
"Ana had no name to trade on," he continues. "Professionally, it has been somewhat helpful for her to use the name Grey for her company. Having said that, the success of Grey Publishing in this age of constantly changing norms in publishing, is mainly due to her own hard work and creativity."
"And I suppose that I am just getting by on the name Kavanagh?" she asks.
"Hardly," he replies. "It may have opened the door for you a few times, but if you weren't a talented journalist in your own right, you would not have come so far so fast. But that also leads into my point about Ana taking some time off to raise her children."
"Oh really?" she asks so impertinently that I want to smack her myself.
"Ana is in a position where she can step back from her company and it won't lose ground," he explains. "Christian set things up that way to give her that option while she was still pregnant with Phoebe. Considering how things have worked, I would say that it's a good thing that he was so farsighted. But Ana's depression was not caused by her staying at home for so long. And it wasn't caused by any one person. In fact, Dr. Tyler is still working on the cause or, most likely, causes."
Suddenly, Kate looks deflated. It is as if she has not been able to accept this up to this point.
"With regards to your career, well I would imagine that you have to keep working in order to maintain it," he says. "You need to keep those bylines coming out and that is not something that you can delegate or outsource. It's a "publish or perish" world out there and we know that you are making sacrifices to keep your career moving forward. We all admire you for your determination and tenacity, but not when it comes to family."
Kate is silent for a moment.
"I just want to help," she says. "I feel so helpless."
"So do we all," I reply. "And no one more so than Christian. This is one of those times when all the money in the world cannot solve her problems. It can buy her the best medical treatment, but even that is of limited value."
"But if she won't see me, then what can I do?" she asks sadly.
"I have actually thought about that," I reply. "When Ana and I were talking the other day, I drew some parallels between her battle with depression and the battle of say, a cancer patient. And she's right about one thing. No one views it as the same thing. That's because there is a certain amount of shame that patients feel. The public seems to view cancer patients as somehow noble. Mentally ill patients are viewed negatively, usually without respect.
"If you want to do Ana and others like her a real service, you will use your journalistic talent to create public awareness of the true nature of depression. One of the greatest fears of the security staff is that word will get out that Ana is a victim of postpartum. The media frenzy that will follow could easily put Ana over the edge.
"This is what we are trying to protect her from and why it appears that she is hidden away. Fortunately, the press has been satisfied that she has stepped back to raise her children and that she and Christian are determined to shield the children from the paparazzi. So far they have respected this."
"Yes," she says thoughtfully. "The Obamas really set the standard for the privacy of children of high profile people by strictly controlling media access. I can see that this is a very good strategy for keeping Ana safe as well."
"So, Kate," I finally ask. "Do we have you on board? Can you put aside your personal feelings and help us to get Ana well again? She needs all the support that she can get. I guarantee that even if she won't see you right now, she thinks of you as her closest friend. Are you strong enough to do this for her?"
She looks around at all of us and swallows hard. I can see that she is close to tears.
"Yes, I can," she says quietly. "Do you think that Ana will ever forgive me?"
"I'm sure that she will," I say with feeling. "When she is finally her old self again, she will be grateful that you were willing to give her the space that she needed to get well."
She nods and Elliot moves closer and puts his arm around her.
"I'm proud of you, baby," he says. "I know how hard this is for you. Why don't you go get Ava so that we can go home? I have an early morning tomorrow."
"And Kate," I conclude. "Please don't think that we invited you to dinner tonight for a 'let's beat up on Kate night.' We love you every bit as much as we love Ana. We wanted to have this open and honest discussion with you as way of bringing you closer to the family, not to isolate you."
When she goes upstairs, Elliot breathes a deep sigh of relief.
"Thanks, Mom," he says. "Thanks, Dad. Life has been kind of hellish at home for the last four weeks. I'm glad that this is resolved before Christmas."
"So are we," replies Carrick. "I just wish that things could be resolved for Ana and Christian."
"No chance of that?" he asks bleakly.
"It's not likely," I answer. "She has made a little progress this week but she still has a long way to go."
"I'm sorry," he says.
"So are we, son," says Carrick. "So are we."
After they leave, I look at my husband. It was just a hell of an evening, but at least our intervention worked. Convincing Kate to let up will eliminate one external stressor at least. The hardest thing right now is that we are all waiting for the next show to drop. Sooner or later, the blues are going to hit poor Ana again with a vengeance. It is only a matter of time.