Fifty Shades of Post-Partum
To my readers: Thank you for all of your support and patience. This is a very difficult story for me to write. From the reviews and PMs that I have gotten, I can see that I have struck a chord with a number of women out there. I will be telling the story from several perspectives, so please continue to be patient as I wind my through the story. And continue to give feedback!
Chapter 3: Intervention
Once Christian and Flynn depart from the cubicle, I turn my attention back to Ana. Despite her previous annoyance, I can see tears in her eyes. And they aren't tears of anger. I reach over and pick up her small, cold hand.
"Don't fret, Ana," I say softly. "The children will be fine. Gail is with them right now and I am sure that Christian will go straight home to them."
"I hate to be such a bother," she whimpers.
But I look closely into her lovely blue eyes and realize that there is something more going on. I can read an emotion in there that indicates that she knows that there is something very wrong here. But I also know that she needs to express it herself. If I say it, she will simply deny it.
"You know that no one is bothered, dear," I sooth her. "These things happen."
"But why do they always happen to me?" she asks.
"Pardon me?" I respond, because I really don't know what she is talking about.
"You know," she says. "I am always getting myself in trouble. For example, the Jack Hyde thing . . ."
"Was nothing like this," I quickly interrupt. "He was an evil man who manipulated you into acting foolishly. And how many times do we have to tell you that it was not your fault. His vendetta was against Christian. You were just a side track."
"But if I hadn't . . . " she began again.
"If you hadn't what?" I ask. "He went after you because he knew that it would hurt Christian more than if he went after him. He used you because he knew how much Christian loved you. He's paying the price, and Carrick will make sure that he will never get out of prison."
"But what about when Teddy was born?" she tries again.
"Ana, Ana," I gently shake my head. "Your intentions were admirable. Every woman wants to push her own baby out. But he was too big and your bone structure was too small."
"But I was so stubborn," she frets. "Why am I always so stubborn?"
"Well, you're certainly well matched with my son," I answer wryly. "No one, even you, is more stubborn than he is. It's a part of both of your natures. But stubbornness as a personal quality is not an entirely bad thing. Both of you are very tenacious. That's how you are both so successful and it's how you have overcome so many challenges together. You really are too hard on yourself, sweetheart."
She looks at me doubtfully. I can see that she is thinking that she is not hard enough on herself. Just as she is blind to so many of her wonderful qualities, she seems to always manage to turn them into flaws. Anyone could say the same things about herself. But looking at her now, I can see that even though Ana has appeared so full of confidence the last couple of years, I can see that the underlying feelings of low self-esteem were still present.
Under the bright lights of the emergency room, I can see the girl who seemed so bewildered by the way that Christian loved her. She had clearly adored him, but always looked as though she couldn't believe that he returned her feelings, perhaps even tenfold. Then whenever we told her how happy we were that he had met her, she seemed embarrassed. It was as though she thought that we were flattering her.
Of course, twenty-twenty hindsight is always the clearest. Sitting here now, in this situation, I can see how the makings of this breakdown, there's really no other word for it, began years ago. Then, as if to confirm my hypothesis, she speaks again.
"What are you going to tell Kate?" she asks me.
"Whatever you want me to," I reply easily. "In fact, if you don't want to, you don't have to see her. You don't have to see anyone that you don't want to."
She looks away from me.
"Kate is going to be so mad at me," she whispers. "So is Ray. And my mother is going to cry. She always cries."
Well, that's true enough. If ever there was a weeping willow, it's certainly Carla Adams. But I am not sure about her comments regarding Kate and Ray.
"Why do you think they will be mad at you?" I ask carefully, ignoring the remark about Carla.
"Because they are always mad at me," she says, leaning back. "Whenever I mess up."
At this point, I feel incompetent to speak. I don't want to make things worse, but my immediate instinct is to tell her that she didn't mess up. This whole episode is a very obvious cry for help. But I do not think that she is ready to hear that yet. Luckily, I am saved from answering because she turns away and closes her eyes. The tears slip down her cheeks, but then I hear her even breathing as she drifts off and go out.
Christian is still with Flynn looking defeated.
"She's sleeping but she's scared and worried about the children," I state.
After Flynn offers to let me go up to her room with her, we get Christian to leave. He is completely spent and needs to away from this stress for a while. And he needs to spend some time with the children. After he walks out, Flynn turns to to me.
"Is she really scared?" he asks curiously.
"Not that she will admit," I reply. "She's very busy apologizing and worrying about being a bother. She is also afraid that Kate and Ray will be mad at her."
"Is she feeling out of control?" he asks.
"I think that she is, but it's hard to tell," I reply. "She keeps talking about messing up again."
"Considering her history, that makes sense," he replies. "You know when I first met Ana, she told me that she didn't understand what Christian saw in her. She was afraid that if he wasn't so 'broken' then he wouldn't love her."
"I always knew that something like that was in her mind," I answer. "I don't suppose that you ever followed up on that thought."
"Are you kidding?" he asked. "She has always studiously avoided any personal discussion after that with me. I had told her that the comment said more about her than Christian and that was it. She has always been very careful about anything that she has said around me since."
"Would that explain the antagonism?" I ask.
"Oh, yes," he replies. "She does not want anyone prying into her earlier life. I have tried to keep my distance so that if she ever needed me, she would trust me."
"But it hasn't worked."
"No," he agrees. "It hasn't. Once we settle her, I will find the name of the best female therapist in the Northwest to come and work with her, someone who specializes in post-Partum depression."
"Psychosis?" I ask tentatively.
"Not yet," he replies. "At least I don't think so. But she really should have an expert, preferably a woman. Aside from the fact that this is not my area of expertise, I have too much history with Christian. She needs a fresh start. She needs to be able to tell her story to someone from the very beginning who knows nothing about her. But most of all, she needs to trust her."
"But you'll stay involved?" I ask.
"I will let Christian think that I am," he replies. "At least until he trusts the new doctor."
"I will convince him that she needs a specialist," I say. "And that you should stay out if her treatment. I am afraid that he will have to suck it up."
"Well, right now I would like to get Ana up to her room," he replies. "Before I do, I'm going to make her feel like she has a bit of control."
"How are you going to do that?" I ask.
"Watch me," he answers with a grin and leads me back to Ana's bed.
As we approach, I can see that Ana is awake again. She looks reproachfully at me, I suppose because I left her side. But she frowns when she sees Flynn with me.
"Are you ready to go upstairs, Ana?" he asks.
"No," she replies petulantly. "But I know that you are going to make me anyway."
"Well," he says. "Yes, I am. I think that you need to sleep. Have you gotten any sleep at all tonight?"
"Does passing out count?" she asks sulkily.
"No," he replies firmly. "I will clarify. Have you spent any time at all sleeping in your bed tonight?"
"No," she replies and clams up.
"Okay," he says. "Then, I will be sending you up to your room with instructions to your nurse that you are to sleep."
"Are you coming with me?" she asks.
"Do you want me to?" he asks in return.
"No!" she says firmly.
"Then I won't," he says with a shrug.
"Are you going to give me a pill to help me sleep?" she asks.
"Do you want me to?" he asks once again in return.
"No!" she practically shouts at him.
"Okay," he shrugs again. "Then I won't give you anything to help you sleep."
"Then how will you make sure that I sleep?" she challenges him.
"I will ask the nurse if you slept," he replies easily.
"And what if I don't?" she asks sharply.
"Then you'll be tired and even more cranky than you are now, when I see you in the morning," he answers smoothly.
He looks like he is trying not to laugh. Part of his charm is that he is very ironic. it is his way of cutting through the crap in life. Ana looks even more annoyed at the mention that he will be back in the morning, but I can tell that she is somewhat relieved that she won't have to argue about him coming up or taking a sleeping pill.
"Shall I come up with you, Ana, dear?" I ask gently.
"Yes, please," she replies gratefully.
As I follow her out, Flynn draws me back, and whispers, "Good cop, bad cop."
I shake my head. I suppose that after five years of treating Christian, he is an expert at dealing with stubborn and difficult patients. Once again, I realize how much easier it is to treat the physical body than the emotional mind. In my job, many times all that I have to do is diagnose a disease, prescribe a treatment, and watch the patient heal. In this case, this is no medication, no surefire treatment.
Once up in the room, I ask her if she wants to talk. She shakes her head. The nurse comes in and introduces herself. Her name is Shonda and she is a large, comfortable looking woman. Ana seems to appreciate the fact that she is not trying to make mindless, cheerful conversation with her.
She tells her that if she likes, Christian can bring her clothes and nightgowns from home. Perhaps that would make her more comfortable. Ana is hardly comfortable and unlikely to become so any time. In fact, she looks almost apathetic and resigned to her fate.
Once Shonda has made her as comfortable as she can in the bed, she leaves us together. Because it is a private suite, in addition to the hospital bed there is a couch and a recliner, as well as a private bath. There is even a small table with two chairs so that she doesn't have to eat in be if she doesn't want to. In addition to the television, there is an Internet connection for her laptop. The room is actually more like a simple motel room than a hospital room.
Right now, she is too exhausted to notice, but it would be a comfortable place to stay if she was kept beyond the three days. The set up is such that I am sure that Christian would be able to convince the hospital to permit the children to visit. Once Shonda leaves, I settle myself comfortably into the recliner, angled so that Ana can see me. At first she has her eyes closed, but after a few minutes, she opens them and stares at me.
"If I fall asleep, will you be here when I wake up?" she asks timidly.
I walk over and kiss her forehead, a if she were a small child.
"I promise," I say tenderly.
With a sigh, she nods and closes her eyes. When I hear her even breathing, I return to my chair to keep my vigil. I remember the many nights that I have kept the vigil with sick children and parents. It is so different when it is one of your own. And I truly feel that Ana in a way that my other daughter-in-law Kate is not, is as much my daughter as Mia is. I begin to berate myself. How could I have missed this?
After all, I am considered one of the best pediatricians on the West Coast. People have even brought their children up from California for me to treat. When mothers bring their newborns in for their first visit, and then the subsequent ones, I always look out for the symptoms of "baby blues." But of course, I would never treat my own grandchild. I suppose that I see Ana so frequently that I simply didn't notice the subtle changes of the last month.
I am sure that Christian and Gail are also feeling guilty now. I will have to talk to them. Ana is so good at hiding her pain, years of practice I guess. I have always viewed her as so strong. In the beginning, she was so strong for Christian. If there was ever a wounded and broken soul, it was his.
Yet her simple and powerful love, her determination to discover his secrets, led him from the darkness that had defined his inner life out into the light. Now I realize that she was able to reach him because rather than simply responding on a sympathetic level, there was a genuine empathy with his pain. Through her resolution to bring him peace, she helped him to come to terms with the woman that his mother truly was as well as the father who only discovered him two years ago.
We suffer so much through our children. I am still trying to come to grips with the fact that I am in the hospital sitting at my daughter-in-law's bedside after she was brought in for attempting to drown herself, literally. I had been watching her for the past couple of weeks as she had been figuratively drowning in overwhelming emotions. But it was as if I were standing at the top of a building watching two cars coming towards one another. I could see the impending crash, but I couldn't stop it.
I still can't believe that it has come to this. All through the summer, Ana had managed her last trimester so well. She went to work three days a week and tele-commuted the other two. She had everything under control with the house. While Christian was out playing at his game of mergers and acquisitions, she and Grey Publishing were taking the literary world by storm. Nonetheless, it was still always family first. There was always time for Teddy and the three of them did lots of things together, swimming, sailing, even hiking.
When Phoebe was born, they were overjoyed. She was small, but absolutely healthy. And despite the fact that I was the proud grandmother, I could see that she was exceptionally pretty. My other granddaughter Ava was also very beautiful, but there was something in Phoebe's exquisite white skin and luminous blue eyes that gave her a doll-like quality, quite unmatched by any other infant that I had ever seen.
Of course, Ava had been born the usual way, so she came out red and wrinkly. Elliot, being his usual teasing self, told Kate that she looked like a little monkey. Then Kate wouldn't talk to him for two hours. Always the class clown, he told us, although certainly not Kate, that it was the quietest two hours of his marriage. Because she was born by C-section, Phoebe was white and pink, like a china doll, from her first moments of life outside the womb. But that was where I first began to see little hints of the trouble to come.
For whatever reason, Ana has always compared herself to Kate and found herself lacking. Personally, I would take Ana over Kate any day of the week. Yes, Kate is a stunning blonde with flashing green eyes and a tall, shapely figure. That's why she is perfect for Elliot. She has a fiery spirit and strong personality. She tends to come at you like a freight train. She has the perfect, aggressive personality for a journalist, and for taming my oldest son.
Ana's beauty is more subtle, dark hair, almost black, and deep, blue eyes with fair skin. There is nothing typical about Ana. She is slender as a reed and delicate. One look at Phoebe and you know that someday she will be the picture of her mother. Lucky girl! But her gentle kindness is a temperament more suitable to Christian and his overbearing ways. In her own way, she had tamed, or better put, mellowed him. Talking about her once, Christian said that she cut through all of his shit with her innocence and grace and led him out of the darkness and into the light.
But I am not sure that Ana ever really saw it that way. I used to love her humility, but looking back, I can't help but wonder if it wasn't low self-esteem. Of course, six weeks after Kate had Ava, she went back to work. She managed very well with a nanny at home and flexible working hours due to the nature of her journalistic endeavors. No doubt about it, Kate is a force of nature. Her strength and confidence are admirable.
After Phoebe was born, Ana decided that she didn't want to go back right away. She wanted more time at home with the two children. I couldn't fault her for that. And Christian was very helpful in finding good people to run Grey Publishing for her. The idea was that while she would not be involved in the day to day operations, she would be the creative head. But that idea never really picked up steam with her.
As the weeks went on, she became more and more focused on the children. I didn't think anything of it at the time. I figured that perhaps she had changed her mind about mixing career and family. There was no reason why she should not be a stay-at-home Mom if she was so inclined. Just because Kate was managing so well, didn't mean that she had to be like her.
But for some reason, Ana has always operated under the assumption that she is a disappointment to those around her. I have never understood how she could possibly think that. Teddy adores her and even little Phoebe's eyes shine with joy when she sees her. Christian has always said that his sun rises and sets with Ana. And that may be part of it. I wonder how it must feel to live of the expectations, or rather perceived expectations, of those around her.
I look at the clock and see that it is now 4:30 am. I have barely noticed the time passing. I have always been amazed at the clarity of one's vision in the early morning hours. I don't much notice that I haven't slept in nearly twenty-four hours. I have worked longer stints in my life, and at my age I don't sleep a deeply as I used to anyway. Lying as she is in the bed, Ana looks like a child herself, barely fifteen rather than twenty-five.
Yet even in her sleep, her face looks troubled, as if she cannot relax. Christian says that she often talks in her sleep, especially when she is worried, but she hasn't made a peep. She also has nightmares, but I see no sign at the moment. I sense a restlessness in her posture. She is still hiding from us, probably plotting her way out of here as quickly as possible. It is a pity, she still hasn't come to the realization that she needs help.
She followed a silver pathway to the moon, a pathway that led her into Puget Sound where she made no attempt to save herself when she submerged. She didn't even understand what she had done, how she had come to be dripping in a hospital bed in the emergency room. Whatever it is that is gripping her, it will not let go until she realized that she is in its grasp.
It occurs to me that I should call Chris and Melissa Price. I know that they will want to know. More than that, they are people of faith and have a belief much deeper than my own. Melissa has always asserted that the power of prayer can work wonders. At a loss for anything else at the moment, perhaps prayer is the answer.
And I will have to remember my promise to keep Kate and Ray away, and anyone else that Ana doesn't wish to see. Flynn is right. We have taken so much control over her life out of her hands. I will also tell Christian to cut out the controlling CEO demeanor. This is not a problem that he can solve by playing master of the universe. In fact, it is not his problem to solve at all. It is Ana's problem and she is the only one who can solve it. She deserves what little control we can allow her. Then, I hope, we can convince her to let us do what we must to keep her safe. Whatever we must do, we will keep her safe.