Jo's Biggest Challenge, Part VII by Vick
Summary:

Jo reaches the end of her pregnancy...


Categories: Ste Therese's House Characters: Daisy Venables, Jack Maynard, Jem Russell, Jo (Bettany) Maynard, Robin Humphries
School Period: Armishire
School Name: None
Genre: Alternate Universe, Angst, Domestic, Family, War
Challenges:
Series: Jo's Biggest Challenge
Chapters: 25 Completed: Yes Word count: 34472 Read: 62476 Published: 28 Jun 2012 Updated: 09 Dec 2012

1. Chapter 1 by Vick

2. Chapter 2 by Vick

3. Chapter 3 by Vick

4. Chapter 4 by Vick

5. Chapter 5 by Vick

6. Chapter 6 by Vick

7. Chapter 7 by Vick

8. Chapter 8 by Vick

9. Chapter 9 by Vick

10. Chapter 10 by Vick

11. Chapter 11 by Vick

12. Chapter 12 by Vick

13. Chapter 13 by Vick

14. Chapter 14 by Vick

15. Chapter 15 by Vick

16. Chapter 16 by Vick

17. Chapter 17 by Vick

18. Chapter 18 by Vick

19. Chapter 19 by Vick

20. Chapter 20 by Vick

21. Chapter 21 by Vick

22. Chapter 22 by Vick

23. Chapter 23 by Vick

24. Chapter 24 by Vick

25. Chapter 25 by Vick

Chapter 1 by Vick
Two weeks after Jack had returned home, he was beginning to feel more like himself again. The constant headache he’d had since recovering consciousness was almost gone, though he knew he would have to be careful he didn’t overdo things. Reading or listening to the radio for prolonged periods was still out, since his headache returned when he tried, but he was finding that as long as he took things slowly, he was managing. Since his conversation with Jo two days after he had arrived home, he had made sure that she spent most of her time keeping him company. He could see that she was still worrying about how she would manage once the baby was born and he wanted to be able to reassure her. As soon as he had felt able to, he had got himself out of bed and begun to spend time downstairs each day. He kept the same hours as Jo, knowing that he still needed to rest if he wanted to be able to return to work. He had been thankful to have been invalided out of the military, though it meant they had little income until he started back at the Sanatorium.

Jack had had a long conversation with Jem about returning to work and knew that he would be unwelcome until he was able to do his job properly. Jem had also spoken quite frankly to him about Jo and he was well aware that she was struggling with her pregnancy and her illness on top. Jem wanted him to make sure she rested as much as possible.

Jo was finding things more difficult now. Even walking through the house was making her breathless, though she tried to hide it from everyone. Jack wasn’t fooled, though. He knew the time had come to talk to her about the possibility of being re-admitted. Jem wasn’t going to be able to put it off any longer when she next went for X-rays. Her appointment was in a couple of days and he suspected that Jem would only allow her to stay at home until the girls had started school on Thursday.

Jack picked up the tea he had just made and took it into the lounge, where Jo was sitting on the sofa. The girls had gone over to the Round house for the day, so they were alone.

“Here, Jo.” He passed her a cup and sat down next to her with his own cup.

“Thanks.” Jo was silent again and Jack drank his tea as he decided how to broach the subject. As he sat there, Jo suddenly spoke.

“Jem’s going to re-admit me isn’t he?”

“It’s quite likely. You’re struggling to even walk across the room without getting breathless, now.”

“I don’t want to go back, Jack. I’d rather stay here with you. I’ve only just got you back and I don’t want to be separated from you again.”

“I know, but you need to be on complete bedrest so that you have some strength for the birth. If you stay here, you won’t have the energy to manage it.” Jack gently brushed a tear from Jo’s cheek with his thumb. “I don’t want us to be separated again, either, but I’m afraid it’s necessary. It won’t be like the first time you were admitted. You’ll be able to have visitors each day and I’ll make sure I come as often as I can.”

“Why can’t I just stay here?”

“It’s better to be where you can be looked after properly by trained nurses. It’s only for a couple of months as Jem will want to check your progress after the baby is born.” Tears slid down Jo’s cheeks as the reality sank in. Jack pulled her close, allowing her to cry for a short while. It hurt him to see her so upset, even when he knew it was the best thing for both her and the baby. When the tears threatened to get out of control, he pulled back to look at her.

“Please stop crying, Jo. I hoped you’d make it through without having to be re-admitted, but it’s looking very unlikely. I don’t think my being swept overboard helped you stay well, either.”

“It wasn’t your fault. You were just doing your job. I brought some of it on myself before that telegram arrived. I always do stupid things, even when I don’t mean to.”

“That’s not true. Yes, you’re impulsive but, your heart’s always in the right place. I wouldn’t change you, either. It’s what makes you so unique and why I knew I wanted to marry you before you were even aware of it.” He saw a faint smile cross Jo’s face, but it was soon gone. He wished he could bring back the old, impulsive Jo. This Jo was unhappy and finding things hard to deal with. He hoped that once the baby was born and they’d settled into a routine, he’d have chance to see more of the old Jo again.

“But I must have hurt you any number of times. Especially that summer when…” Jo paused, unable to express what she wanted to say. Jack understood her meaning.

“You did. I was confused. You pushed me away, built up barriers and refused to do anything with me, which was strange, especially as I thought you considered me a friend at the very least. Looking back, I can see why you did it, now. You were scared and trying to hide what was obviously the beginnings of your illness.”

“It wasn’t just you I pushed away that summer. I hid from pretty much everyone. Even Frieda, and she’s one of my closest friends. I discovered writing that book was a good excuse and used it to stay out of everyone’s way as much as possible.”

“I did wonder if there was a reason behind it. Everyone I spoke to said you were distant and you were busy with your book. You even managed to fool Jem and Madge.”

“I didn’t see much of Jem at all that summer. He was often out and it was easy to avoid him when he was home. I managed to avoid Madge quite often as well. She was busy with all the children and Robin and Daisy, so didn’t have much time to spend with me.”

“Jem was upset that you’d said nothing. He couldn’t understand how none of us had noticed anything. It was only as we pieced things together that we realised you had avoided everyone.”

“You must still have felt hurt that I’d done it.”

“I did, until I worked out why. Then I saw you in that bed and how upset you were. I knew I couldn’t be angry with you. You needed a friend and someone who would listen to your fears without judging you.”

“I was so scared. I thought I was going to die. I’m still scared. What if it’s back and it kills me this time?” Tears trickled down her cheeks as she finally confessed her deepest fear. Jack just pulled her close. He hadn’t appreciated that she was so afraid. Looking back, he realised that it had been the same each time she’d ended up in the Sanatorium. He silently berated himself for not picking up on her fear and reassuring her.

“Shhh, Jo. Jem’s been extra vigilant with you to try to stop it coming back. The main reason you’re so breathless is because the baby is pushing up into your chest. You have a reduced lung capacity because of the pneumothorax and the two combined are what’s causing the breathlessness at the moment.”

“Are you sure?”

“I am. It’s going to be all right, Jo. Bedrest is a precaution to stop you making yourself any worse. Other women get put on bedrest towards the end of their pregnancy to help them gain the strength they need for the birth.” Jo looked unconvinced and Jack saw that she was tired. Glancing at the clock, he saw that it was almost lunchtime. “Let’s have some lunch and then we’ll go upstairs.”

Jo ate very little of the sandwich Jack brought in for her and he was worried. He hoped she would sleep once they were back in the bedroom. She had dark circles under her eyes and seemed even paler than normal. He knew she was struggling to get comfortable in bed and that she wasn’t sleeping very well due to her pregnancy. There was little he could do to help until after the baby was born. He made sure she was as comfortable as possible before climbing in beside her. Jack was soon sleeping, his arm across Jo.
Chapter 2 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Many thanks for the lovely comments.  It's so nice to know that so many of you are glad to see this back and want to know more about Jo in this universe.

Jo was up early on Monday morning. She had her Sanatorium appointment and wasn’t looking forward to it after her conversation with Jack. She had managed to slip out of bed and dress without disturbing her husband and was now trying to regain her breath in the lounge. The fire was low in the hearth, so she went over to it, intending to throw on another log. Just as she bent and picked one up, the door opened to admit Jack in his dressing gown. He had woken to find the bedroom empty and had come in search of her. He crossed the room and took the log from her, throwing it onto the fire.

“You shouldn’t be lifting things, Jo. Come and sit down.” He drew her across to the sofa and sat her down in the corner, before seating himself so he could see her face. “Why are you up so early? I didn’t think you were being picked up until nine?”

“I’m not. I couldn’t sleep any longer and I didn’t want to disturb your sleep with my tossing and turning.” Her eyes were troubled and Jack could see that she was nervous. She was unable to keep her hands still. He covered them with his own.

“Jo, you know I don’t care if you disturb my sleep. This is about more than just waking me, isn’t it?” Jo just nodded, tears springing to her eyes. “Would you like me to come with you this morning?”

“It’s not going to change Jem’s mind.”

“No, but I can be there for support if you like. I’ll stay with you before and make sure I’m waiting when you come out.”

“You aren’t really well enough to spend a whole morning sitting around there just for me, Jack. You’ll have a headache again well before we come back home.”

“I’m sure I’ll manage. I mean it, Jo, if you want me to come with you, I will. We can use my office while you wait. It won’t be noisy in there.” Jo nodded, relieved that she wouldn’t have to be alone. “Wait here while I go and get dressed and then we’ll have a bite to eat. What are the girls doing today?”

“They said they were going to get Flora and Fiona’s trunks packed. What’s going to happen to Robin and Daisy when…” Jo couldn’t finish her question.

“They’ll carry on living here. Jem told me I can’t go back to work until Easter at the earliest, so they won’t be alone.”

“That’s good. I’d hate to think that they’d get sent back to the Round House again.”

“No. They’ll be busy sorting me out instead.” This brought a glimmer of a smile to Jo’s face and he stood back up. “I won’t be long.” He disappeared off to dress and returned ten minutes later to find that Jo had dozed off on the sofa. Covering her with a blanket, he left her to slumber on. He knew she hadn’t slept well, having been woken a number of times during the night as she tried to find a more comfortable position. He managed to catch the others as they came downstairs and warn them to be quiet, shooing them into the kitchen to make breakfast.

Jack went to wake Jo at half past eight. He made her eat some toast and drink a cup of tea, before helping her upstairs so she could tidy herself. Just as they reached the top of the stairs, a knock came on the door and Robin let Jem in. Jack told to Jo to be as quick as she could and went down to greet him. They disappeared into the study for a few moments, where Jack quickly explained the situation to him. Jem agreed that Jo could probably do with some moral support, and heartily approved that Jack should come along. Thus, when Jo came slowly back downstairs, the two of them were patiently waiting for her.

The journey there was quiet. Jo was beginning to feel nervous again and the baby was doing what felt like somersaults, which was making her uncomfortable. Jack put his arm around her and drew her into him. She leaned her head on his shoulder and wished it was all over.

Eventually, Jem pulled up outside the Sanatorium. He climbed out and, once Jo and Jack were both ready, he left them alone. Jack offered his arm to Jo and she took it as they set off towards the entrance together. Once inside, Jack suggested Jo should sit in a wheelchair to recover her breath whilst he pushed her down to the X-ray department.

Once Jo’s X-rays had been taken, they went to the canteen get a drink each and took them to Jack’s office where it was much quieter. Jack’s headache was already returning and he was relieved to sit down on the sofa in there with Jo leaning on him. They drew comfort from each other and they both dozed off in the quiet room.

Jack woke with a start an hour later. He glanced at his watch and saw that Jo’s appointment was in fifteen minutes. He shook her gently.

“Jo? Wake up, darling.” She shuffled against him and he shook her again, speaking louder this time. “Jo!”

“What?”

“There’s just over ten minutes until your appointment.”

“Oh. I ought to go and wait out in reception, then.”

“You can’t go looking like that. Have you got a brush in your bag?” Jo nodded. “Give it here and I’ll brush your hair. It’s a complete mess at the minute.” Once he’d done, he gave her a kiss and held her close for a moment. “I’ll be waiting for you when you come out, Jo.” He watched her walk slowly into the reception area before closing the door. His head was still aching and the noise outside his office was too much for him. Sitting back down, he closed his eyes once more to try and ward off the migraine he had a feeling was beginning.

Jo dropped into a seat not far from Jem’s office and pulled her book out from her bag. It didn’t hold her attention and she soon put it back. As she stared into space, her name was called and she had to collect her scattered thoughts and go into Jem’s office. Once inside, Jem sat her down on the comfortable chairs in one corner of the room. He could see she was struggling for breath.

“How are you feeling, Jo?”

“Tired.”

“Are you managing to sleep at night?”

“Not really. I keep waking to try and find a more comfortable position and don’t find one.”

“That’s common at this stage of pregnancy. How are you managing with walking about?”

“It’s getting harder to catch my breath.”

“Are you struggling just crossing the room?”

“Yes.”

“Hmm. I thought as much. I don’t think I can leave you at home any longer.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m afraid it means that you’re going to have to be admitted.”

“Why?”

“You aren’t able to cope with the baby pushing up into your chest. You should be having pneumothorax today, but I daren’t risk it. I’ve tried to keep you at home as long as I possibly could but, I think you’ll be better off here on bedrest until after the baby is born.”

“Can’t I do that at home?”

“No, Jo. You need to be here where the nurses can look after you. It’ll be complete bedrest, I’m afraid. No sitting up except for meals and no reading or writing, either.”

“No.”

“Jo, I know you don’t want to, but it’s necessary if you’re to be able to have this baby and survive the birth. You aren’t strong enough to make it through without. You’ve had a very traumatic few months. Even reducing you back down to eight hours’ time up hasn’t improved your X-rays. I can’t risk you staying at home any longer, even though Jack is back. He needs to be able to rest as well so his injury can heal properly. He can’t do that if he has to care for you and it’s not fair to ask Robin and Daisy since they’ll be busy with school.”

Jo was silent as she digested the news. Although she had expected it, it was still a shock and Jem watched her anxiously. From the very brief conversation he’d had with Jack that morning, he had expected her to argue more, but he was worried about her quietness. This wasn’t the Jo he knew. He noticed the silent tears sliding down her cheeks.

“Jo? What’s wrong? Tell me what’s bothering you. You’ve been on complete bedrest before, so you know you can do it.”

“I’m scared, Jem.” Jo’s voice was barely a whisper. “I’m scared I’m not going to survive any of it.”

“Of course you will, Jo. I’m not going to allow you to give up without a fight. I love you just as much as Madge and Dick and all the rest of the family do, not to mention Jack. I wouldn’t ask it of you if I didn’t think it was necessary. I’m not going to admit you until after the girls have started back at school on Thursday, so you won’t have to worry about them.”

“Are you sure I’ll be all right?”

“As sure as I can be, Jo. It’s just a precaution, that’s all. I’ll pick you up on Friday morning, so you’ll need to make sure you’ve packed everything you need, ready. Go and find Jack and I’ll be as quick as I can. I have another appointment first, and then I’ll take you home.” He helped her to her feet and escorted her to the door, where he gave her a brief hug before letting her out. She walked a few paces, then stopped and looked around. Jack wasn't waiting as he’d promised. Jem saw her hesitate and came to see what was wrong.

“Jack promised he’d be waiting for me and he’s not here.”

“Sit down, Jo. I’ll go and see if he’s in his office.”

“We waited in there earlier.”

“Then I’m sure he’s just been distracted. I’ll send him out in a minute, since he shouldn’t be doing any work.” He walked over to Jack’s office and, after a cursory knock, entered to find Jack, not at his desk as he expected, but prone on the sofa. He crossed the room softly and crouched at the side of the younger man.

“Jack?” Jem spoke softly, but saw Jack wince at the sound. “Migraine?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. Stay there for now. I’ve just finished with Jo, so I’ll send her to sit with you, along with some painkillers.”

“Thanks.” Jack never moved and his eyes remained firmly closed. Jem stood up and pulled the blinds down to darken the room, before going back to his office to retrieve the painkillers and handing them to Jo in the reception area.

“Give these to Jack, Jo.”

“Is he all right?” Jo couldn’t keep the panic out of her voice.

“He’s started with a migraine and won’t be moving any time soon. Go and sit with him for now and I’ll come as soon as I’ve finished with my next patient.” He watched her walk slowly towards Jack’s office and returned to his own to prepare for his next appointment.

Jo slipped into Jack’s office and crossed to where he lay. He had his arm over his eyes to block out the light and was rigidly still.

“Jack? Jem’s given me some painkillers for you.”

“Thanks, Jo.” He held out his hand and Jo dropped them into it. He swallowed them without water and lay still again. Jo managed to move a chair closer to him and dropped into it, breathing heavily. She took his hand and just held it, squeezing to show she understood he was in pain. She had never seen him look so ill before and was anxious. They stayed in the same position until Jem returned half an hour later.

Jo looked up in relief and he motioned to her to move out of the way. She retreated to the chair by the desk and Jem took her place.

“Jack? Any better?”

“No.”

“I can’t give you anything more, I’m afraid.”

“I know.”

“Do you think you can move?”

“No.”

“In that case, I’ll take Jo and give her some lunch.”

“Okay.” Jem stood up and escorted Jo out into reception. Once there, he insisted that she sit in a wheelchair and he wheeled her along to the canteen for something to eat. Jo would have refused to leave her husband, but she knew her brother-in-law well enough to know that he wasn’t taking no for an answer. Jem watched her as she picked at the meal in front of her. Realising she wasn’t going to eat any more, he moved the plate away.

“Jack will be all right, Jo. He had a bad head wound and unfortunately, migraines are one of the side effects he’s suffering from at the moment. They’ll lessen in time and he’ll be back to normal again.”

“I’ve never seen him look so ill, Jem.”

“I know. Hopefully, he’ll be feeling more like himself again in a couple of hours and we can go home. He can’t move until the pain lessens.”

“Why did it happen here?”

“I’m guessing it’s the brightness of the lights and the noise which have triggered it.”

“I did tell him he’d end up with a headache, but he insisted on coming.”

“He came to support you, Jo. He knows it’s not been easy for you to keep coming here alone and he wanted to be able to help you.”

“I know, and I’m grateful he did, though I didn’t think he’d end up being ill.”

“Nor did I but, it’s happened, so we just have to wait for it to subside before we can go home.”

“How’s he going to visit me in here if he gets one each time he comes?”

“He’ll find a way around it, I’m sure. In a way, today has been a good thing, as he’ll know what triggered it and can work out how to prevent them. He never had them before he was injured, so he has to learn how to control them and prevent them happening. You being here will help him to come up with a solution for that before he comes back to work.”

“Will it?”

“Yes. Now, it’s time you had a rest, since we won’t be going home for a while, yet. You can come and lie down on the sofa in my office. I have a few things I need to attend to, so I may as well do them while I’m here.” Jem stood up and pushed Jo back to his office where he made her lie on the sofa and covered her with a blanket.

“Get some sleep if you can, Jo. Jack will be fine, and I don’t want you worrying instead of resting. I’m sure once you’ve rested for a couple hours, he’ll be feeling a bit better and you can see him again. I’ll be back later.” He exited the room, turning the light off on his way.
Chapter 3 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Thank you for the lovely reviews.  Also extra thanks to Kathryn for reading this section and the last one through for me.

When Jo woke, she was confused for a few moments, until the room came into focus and she realised she was in Jem’s office. The events of the last few hours came flooding back and she kicked off the blanket before attempting to sit up. Jem saw the movement from where he was sitting at the desk and came across to her.

“Slowly, Jo.” He gave her a hand to sit up properly.

“Is Jack all right?”

“He was sleeping when I looked in about half an hour ago. Don’t worry. Sleep’s the best thing for him at the moment, so we’ll have a drink and then you can go and sit with him if you like.” Jo nodded. Jem crossed back to his desk to ring for some refreshments.

When the tray arrived, Jem poured and then handed a cup to Jo. He also pressed a biscuit on her, which she half-heartedly nibbled. Jem kept the conversation light, asking Jo about how the twins and Robin and Daisy were and what they’d been doing over the past few days. He knew he couldn’t keep her from going to her husband for long, though he made sure that she had finished the tea he gave her.

Finally, Jo was allowed to go to Jack’s office. She slid around the door quietly and went to sit next to him, taking his hand. She remained in the same position in the dimness of the room, listening to Jack’s gentle snores and wishing that she didn’t have to be admitted on Friday. She was going to be stuck back in the Sanatorium on complete bedrest and unable to do anything for herself again. A stray tear slid down her face and she impatiently brushed it away with her free hand. She knew she had to be strong and not show her fear, certainly not whilst Jack was unwell. She didn’t want to worry him. She wondered how she was going to manage without being allowed to read or write again and for how long they would keep her on complete bedrest. She shrewdly suspected that it would be for longer than until the baby was born.

Jo’s thoughts turned to the baby. She wondered how long she would have to wait until she would meet it and whether it would be a girl or a boy. She realised that she had no idea about a name. She made a mental note to discuss it with Jack. As she reached this point in her thoughts, she felt her hand being gently squeezed and looked up to see Jack watching her, though he had made no attempt to move.

“How are you, Jack?”

“Better. I still have a slight headache, though.”

“Shall I fetch Jem?”

“No need.” Jem himself spoke as he entered the room. “Back with us, Jack?”

“For now.”

“How are you?”

“I've been worse.”

“I’ll give you an hour to come round while I just finish up.”

“Thanks.” Jo and Jack watched Jem disappear back through the door.

“Pull the blinds up, Jo. Not too much, though, or I’ll be back at square one.” Jo did as she was told and pulled them up a few inches, so that there was just enough light in the room to see properly. Jack had closed his eyes again as she did so. Once he’d adjusted to the light, he opened them again at looked at Jo. He saw the worry etched on her face and hastened to reassure her.

“I’m all right, Jo. I didn’t expect to get caught while we were here.”

“You did, though. Why didn’t you tell me you’re still so unwell?”

“You have enough worrying about what’s happening to you, without worrying about me as well. I’m much better than I was. This is the first migraine I’ve had since I came home.”

“I’m still going to worry about you, Jack. You’re my husband.”

“I just want to protect you, that’s all. Especially at the moment.”

“You can’t protect me from everything.”

“I know. I’m sorry I wasn’t waiting when you came out.”

“You couldn’t help it.”

“What did Jem say?”

“He’s admitting me on Friday.” Jack carefully pushed himself upright and motioned to Jo to sit next to him. She moved onto the sofa beside him and he pulled her into a hug. She buried her head in his shoulder as the tears finally fell. They stayed in the same position until Jem came back. He took the situation in and merely told them that he was finished and, if they were ready, it was time to go.

The drive home was quiet. Jo was still upset and Jack was recovering from the after-effects of his migraine. Jem drove quickly and soon deposited them at the gate to their cottage. They thanked him and went inside to be greeted by Robin. Jack went straight upstairs to bed and Jo wasn’t long in following him once she’d spoken to the others. She found Jack already tucked up in bed and came to sit with him.

“You don’t need to stay, Jo. I just want to sleep and get rid of this lingering headache.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Go and make the most of the time you have left with the girls. Are you going to tell them today?”

“I don’t know. I might wait until tomorrow when you’re back up again. They’re going to ask questions and I don’t know if I’ll be able to answer them.”

“Of course. We’ll tell them tomorrow afternoon. They’re not going anywhere are they?”

“No. They planned to have a quiet day, since they’ll be going up to school on Wednesday to help out.”

“What time do they go on Thursday?”

“About eleven. Jem’s picking the twins up.”

“What about Robin and Daisy?”

“They’ll cycle both ways as usual.”

“Okay. Go and enjoy their company. Mine isn’t going to be worthwhile for a few hours.” Jo kissed him and he returned it. “Don’t worry, Jo.” He turned over and closed his eyes. Jo reluctantly made her way back downstairs to spend the last few hours of her time up with the others.
Chapter 4 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Many thanks for your reviews, Ivohenry, Kathryn & Pauline.  They're always much appreciated & encourage me to continue posting this saga.

On Friday morning, Jo was up early to wave Robin and Daisy off to school. She felt tearful, knowing that she wouldn’t be at home to greet them that afternoon. Jack came downstairs just as the girls were donning their coats and slipped his arm around Jo. She pulled away from him to kiss Robin and then Daisy. They both promised to come and visit her at the weekend, before going out into the cold January air to set off for school. Jack closed the door behind them and followed Jo back into the warmth of the lounge.

“Something’s bothering you, Jo.”

“I’m fine, Jack.”

“I can come with you, if you want. Stay with you while you settle in.”

“No.” Jo curled up in the corner of the sofa and laid her head on the arm. Jack recognised the signs as she began to try and withdraw from him, building barriers around herself. He came across the room to where he could see her properly and gently stroked her hair out of her eyes.

“Don’t, Jo. I don’t want you to hide away from me. I want to be able to help and support you as much as I can. I can’t do that when you put up barriers between us.”

“I have to, Jack. It’s the only way I can deal with this.”

“No, it isn’t. You have me to talk to. You don’t have to go through it alone.”

“Yes I do. You need to be concentrating on getting yourself well, not be worrying about me.”

“Don’t be silly. Of course I’m going to worry about you. I wish this didn’t have to happen, but I want you to be well enough to welcome our baby into the world next month. That’s why you’re being admitted. Not because you have tuberculosis, but because you need to gain what strength you can to have our baby. I want you to introduce him to me, not some nurse.”

“I’m so scared. What if I don’t make it?” Jo’s voice was barely audible, but Jack caught it. He kissed her, cupping her face in his hands and wiping the tears away with his thumbs.

“You’re allowed to be scared, Jo. It might seem like a step backwards, but it’s not. I promise I’ll come every day. I’m here for you, whatever happens. I love you, Joey and I’m not going to just sit back and watch you give up fighting. I never have done, not even when you were first diagnosed and we were living on the Sonnalpe. I gave you my rosary because I thought it would bring you some comfort. I thought having something solid would help you when your spirits were low. I know you still have it, even after all these years.”

“It did help, it still does. I don’t think I ever thanked you for that gesture that night.”

“I didn’t want thanking. You getting well again was enough thanks for me. You didn’t realise how much I cared for you, even then. I knew I couldn’t stand by and not try to help you. I can’t now, either. I know you don’t want me to come with you, but I’ll come this afternoon.”

A knock came at the door at this moment, followed by Jem’s voice calling out. He came into the room rubbing his hands together.

“It’s cold out there this morning. Are you ready, Jo?” Then he saw Jo curled up on the sofa and Jack knelt next to her. “Everything all right?”

“Just give us a couple of minutes,” Jack replied.

“I’ll go and put the bag in the car. Is that it in the hallway?”

“Yes. Thanks Jem.” Jack stood up and helped Jo to her to her feet before drawing her into his arms for a last hug. “Don’t be afraid, Joey. You’re going to survive this.” Together, they went to the hall and Jack helped Jo with her coat, before donning his own to walk her out to the car. Once he had settled her into the passenger seat he slammed the door to and spoke quickly to Jem.

“She’s rather fragile at the minute, Jem. Ring me once you’ve settled her, won’t you?”

“Of course.”

“Thanks.” He stood back and waved as Jem drove off down the lane, before going back inside to wait anxiously for that telephone call.

It was three hours later when Jem finally rang. Jack snatched the receiver up and was relieved to hear Jem’s voice on the other end.

“How is she, Jem?”

“Quite tearful and upset. She fell asleep about half an hour ago.”

“What happened?”

“She was very quiet on the way there and just stared out of the window. She was completely calm, as if she was afraid to cry, which was worrying to say the least. She eventually broke down and has been tearful up until she finally dropped off about half past eleven.”

“She petrified she’s not going to survive this time. I’ve tried to reassure her, but I don’t think she’s listening. She was putting up defences this morning, trying to withdraw into herself. She did it each time I went off to war. It’s as if she doesn’t trust that any of us are there for her and that she has to try and cope with it all alone.”

“Hmm. I just hope it doesn’t go against the reason why she’s here. She needs to rest properly, and I don’t want her to be doing anything at all. I just hope her imagination isn’t going to go into overdrive again. I was reluctant to allow her the hour I gave her for writing when we thought you were dead, but I had no choice in the end.”

“Nightmares?”

“Worse than when she first arrived here.”

“I’ll come over and sit with her this afternoon, if you could lend me Andreas. I’m not allowed to drive for another week.”

“Are you sure you’ll cope with the lights?”

“I’ll manage. I can turn them off in Jo’s room and use the lamp. She obviously needs some moral support.”

“I’ll get him to call round later. You can spend a few hours with her and I’ll give you a lift back when I finish.”

“Thanks.” Jack rang off and went to make himself some lunch. Jem went to check on his latest patient.
Chapter 5 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Many thanks for your lovely reviews.  I didn't quite expect so many of you to be annoyed with Jem.  I'm sure he has his reasons. 

An odd night for me to post but, I'm off on my jollies tomorrow so won't be able to post on Sunday.  Consider this my holiday treat to you all ;-)

 

When Andreas dropped Jack off at the Sanatorium later that afternoon, he hoped he would hear better news of Jo. Jem was crossing the reception area as he entered and greeted him with the news that Jo had barely touched her dinner. He led Jack up to Jo’s room as they talked.

“She’s obviously still upset. I haven’t told her you were coming over, but I warned her that if she doesn’t make an attempt to eat, she won’t be allowed visitors.”

“Let me have a word with her. I’ll see what I can do.”

“She was just dozing off again, last time I looked in.”

“I’ll leave her to sleep if that’s the case, but me being there might help.”

“Thanks, Jack. I’ll come and fetch you when I’m ready to go. I’m hoping to be finished about six.”

“Okay.” Jack turned the handle and entered Jo’s room, switching the light off as he entered. He went over to the bed and turned on the lamp above, angling it so it was turned towards the wall. Jo was sleeping, so he sat down in the chair quietly and just held her hand.

Jo slept for the next hour and Jack dozed as well. He kept a light hold on her hand, determined that she should know he wanted to be there with her, that he loved her regardless. When he woke, he saw Jo was watching him silently. He sat up properly and leaned over to kiss her.

“How are you, Jo?”

“You didn’t need to come, Jack.”

“Yes I did. I promised I’d come every day and I intend to keep that promise.”

“Thank you.”

“How have you settled in?”

“I don’t know. It’s just strange at the moment.”

“It’ll get better. You already know the routine. All you have to do is eat and sleep. No weighing and measuring and all the other stuff this time.”

“I suppose so. I’d still rather be at home with you, though.”

“I know you would, but you’ll be looked after much better in here. Robin and Daisy have enough on as it is, with important exams coming up in the summer.”

“I know. They’ll have to sort you out as it is.”

“That’s true.” Jack smiled to himself as he moved the conversation on to other things and Jo began to cheer up a little. He hoped that when the time came to go home, she wouldn’t fall back into the despair of earlier. When a nurse brought her meal in, she managed to eat most of it, much to Jack’s relief and was still talking when Jem arrived later on. He smiled to see her looking more cheerful than when he’d brought her in that morning.

“Ready to go, Jem?” Jack asked.

“Yes. I just need to drop this off, so I’ll just go and do it while you get ready. I won’t be long.” He departed to take the package he was holding to the laboratory. Jack saw Jo beginning to look a little tearful as she realised he was going home and she wasn’t.

“I’ll be here tomorrow, Jo. Robin and Daisy are both coming as well.”

“Are you sure you’ll come tomorrow?”

“Of course I will. I promised to come every day didn’t I?” Jack stood up to kiss her, and then remembered something. “I found this on your bedside cabinet, after you’d gone this morning.” He delved in his pocket and dropped the rosary he’d given her on the Sonnalpe into her hand. You must have forgotten to pick it up.”

“Thank you.” Jo’s eyes filled with tears and Jack bent down and kissed her.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Jo. Get some sleep, now. The more you rest, the stronger you’ll be when the time comes to meet our child.” He picked up his coat and walked to the door, opening it just as Jem was coming back down the corridor. Jack fell into step beside him and they went on out to the car.

“How was she?” Jem asked as he started the engine.

“She’s perked up a little. I think it’s just going to take time for her to adjust again, that’s all.”

“How much did she eat for dinner?”

“She ate most of it, though that might have been because I was there. You’ll have to check with the nurse tomorrow to see if she’s still eating.”

“I shall do. How did you manage with the lights?”

“I turned them off in Jo’s room and just used the lamp over the bed, so I’ve managed quite well, so far. I have a slight headache, but nothing more than a dull ache, luckily and that should go once I get some sleep.”

“Good. Let’s hope you keep on improving, since I could do with you back as soon as you’re able. Are you coming up tomorrow?”

“Yes. Robin and Daisy want to visit so I’ll come with them.”

“I finish about six tomorrow as well, if you want to stay longer. The girls will have to leave at half past four, though.”

“Thanks. At least Jo won’t feel quite so neglected if I stay a little longer. Is Madge planning to visit?”

“Yes. I’ve warned her that it might be next week before she can, though. I wanted to make sure Jo was settled properly first.”

“I should think she’ll be able to visit before the end of the week. Jo will want to see her.”

“Speak to Jo about it, as I think it would be better if Madge visits on her own. You can work out a day when Madge visits and when the girls visit so you get chance to have a rest. She needs to get used to only having visitors for that two hour block, so once you’re driving again, I don’t want you staying longer. It’s not fair to other patients to see you still there after their visitors have had to go home.”

“I understand. I’ll make sure Jo does, too.” Jem pulled up outside Jack’s cottage at this point. “Thanks for the lift home. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Bye.”

Jack climbed out and waved as Jem drove off to his own home. He then turned and went inside to be greeted by Daisy and the information that dinner was ready, so he needed to hurry up if he wanted it while it was hot. Jack did as he was told, sitting down at the kitchen table just as Robin had finished putting the meal out. They plied him with questions about Jo as they ate, and Jack answered most of them, warning them that they would only be able to stay for two hours when they visited Jo on the morrow. Once he’d finished, he thanked them for the meal and asked if they minded washing up as he had a headache and needed to go to sleep. They were amenable to this, telling him to go on up and that they could lock up quite easily. He wished them goodnight and sought his bed, where he speedily dropped off, never waking until the next morning.
Chapter 6 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Thanks for your reviews, Libby, Kathryn & Pauline. They're very much appreciated.

Just a short update today.

Just over a week later, Jo was finally settled in the Sanatorium once more. She had been quite tearful for the first few days, especially when Robin and Daisy came to visit her as they’d never visited on the other occasions she’d been in the Sanatorium. Jack had faithfully visited each day as he’d promised, staying until Jem had finished, but the previous day he had finally been allowed to drive once more. When the bell rang for the end of visiting, he reluctantly stood up and bent to kiss Jo.

“Are you going already?” Jo asked, sadly.

“I have to, Jo. Jem told me that I can only stay for visiting hours once I was allowed to drive again.”

“But you work here as well. Surely you can stay a bit longer?”

“No, Jo. It’s not fair to the other patients and their visitors if I stay as long as I like with you when they only get two hours with their loved ones. I’m not back at work, yet. If I was, I’d not be able to come and spend these two hours with you every day. I’d be having ten minutes here and there between shifts.”

“I suppose so. Will you be coming tomorrow?”

“No. Your sister’s coming tomorrow. I thought you’d like to have her to yourself for the whole time.”

“I’d like to see you as well.”

“Spend some time with Madge. She doesn’t get chance to see you every day and I’m sure she’d prefer to have you to herself. I have to go, Jo. I’ll see you on Thursday.” He kissed her and left her alone.

Jo watched the door close behind her husband and rolled over to face the wall. She felt tears sting her eyes as she realised that she wasn’t going to see him tomorrow. She made a poor meal when it came and brought Jem’s wrath down on her head when he found out. He gave her short shrift.

“Your sister wants to spend time with you as well, so she’s going to come each Wednesday and Robin and Daisy will visit on a Saturday to allow Jack time to rest. He’s still recovering from his injury, Jo.”

“I know.”

“Then don’t you think he needs to have some time to rest himself?”

“Yes. You’re right.”

“Just remember that others would like to see you occasionally, so he may not come every day. Now, the best thing you can do is to eat properly and keep resting. I want to hear that you’ve eaten everything on your plate before visiting tomorrow.” Having made his point Jem walked towards the door. Just as he was about to go through it, Jo spoke again.

“I’m sorry, Jem.”

“It’s all right, Jo. I know it’s not easy for you being back in here, but it’s for the best. You’ll realise that once the baby’s born. Get some sleep, now. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.” Jem left Jo to digest what he’d just said as she lay staring at the wall until sleep finally came.

When Jack came to visit on Thursday, he looked paler than normal. When Jo commented on it, he explained that he’d spent most of the previous day in bed with a migraine.

“I think it’s all the changes in lights that are triggering them. Do you remember if I turned them off in here when I came on Tuesday?”

“I don’t think you did.”

“That’s probably what caused it, then.”

“I’m sorry I’ve been so dependent on you when you’re still not well, yourself.”

“You don’t need to apologise, Jo. You needed support and I’m the best person to give it to you. I know it’s not been easy for you these last few months, what with me being swept overboard and everything else you’ve had to deal with. I wish I could have prevented some of it from happening. Hopefully, you’ve turned the corner and will begin improving again. I might not be in the best of health at the minute but, I’m getting better and once I’ve sorted out these migraines, I’ll be fine again.”

“I worry I’m asking everything of you.”

“I’d rather you did that than try to withdraw from everyone. I know it’s just your way of coping, but it just makes me worry about you even more. I understood your reasons when I had to go to war and I wasn’t here, but I’m not going back to war again. They invalided me out, so I’m always going to be here for you. If you’re worried or just want to talk, say so. We can try and sort it out together.”

“Thank you. I’d like that. I miss you when you aren’t here and I know I can’t do anything about it.”

“I miss you as well, but it’s not for much longer. You can’t have many more weeks left before the baby decides to make an appearance. Then it’s just a case of how you recover from the birth and when Jem thinks you’re fit enough to be allowed home again.” Jack moved the conversation on to other topics for the rest of his time with Jo.
Chapter 7 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Many thanks for your lovely reviews. 

*deposits update & scarpers before the storm...*

The days passed slowly for Jo as she lay in the Sanatorium. The highlights of her days were the visits from Jack. He always appeared just as visiting started and stayed for the whole two hours allowed. Three weeks after her admittance, she was waiting for Jack to arrive one afternoon when she felt a slight niggling pain. It passed fairly quickly and didn’t return, so she just put it down to the fact that she’d been laid in one position for too long. When Jack arrived, she smiled as normal and forgot all about it.

It happened again after she’d eaten her dinner, but that time she put it down to having eaten too quickly. She’d suffered with indigestion on and off throughout her pregnancy, so just assumed it to be more of the same. When she was woken in the night by the same thing, she began to wonder if it was something else. It woke her at intervals through the rest of the night and she mentioned them to the nurse when her breakfast was brought in. The nurse just dismissed her worries and Jo was left alone again. Jem hadn’t arrived for his shift, so Jo had been unable to talk to him and relieve her fears.

When Jack arrived that afternoon, he immediately saw how tired she was and that something was clearly bothering her. He was surprised by her tears as she saw him come into the room and came quickly across to her.

“What’s wrong, Jo?”

“It hurts, Jack. Please. Do something.”

“What hurts? Show me, Jo.” He was concerned, but he managed to keep the anxiety out of his voice. He knew he needed to reassure Jo and find out what was wrong.

“All over. It’s keeps coming and going.” Jo indicated her bump and her lower back.

“How long have you had them?”

“It started yesterday morning, but it was just a niggle, so I thought it was just that I’d been in the same position too long. It woke me in the night as well.”

“Did you tell anyone this morning?”

“Yes. I spoke to the nurse who brought my breakfast in, but she just said it was probably practice contractions.”

“Are they happening at regular intervals?”

“Every ten minutes or so, I think.”

“Hmmm. I don’t think they’re practice ones. I think you’ve gone into labour. I need to go and speak to someone and see if I can get you moved to the maternity department. I won’t be long, Jo. I promise.” He kissed her and disappeared back through the door before Jo could say anything more.

Jo lay in silence, relieved that Jack was doing something about it. As she lay there, the pain came again, stronger this time and she gripped the pillow hard. It was just subsiding when Jack came back in. He didn’t look happy, though he came to sit with Jo and held her hand.

“We have to wait for Jem, I’m afraid. I’ve just rung him and he’s on his way. It’s going to be all right, Jo. Once he gets here, we’ll get you down to maternity and they’ll be able to give you something for the pain.”

“Thank you.” Jo was tired now the pain had subsided again. Jack stroked her hair from her face.

“Have you just had another contraction?” Jo nodded. “Sleep if you can, darling. It’s the best thing you can do for now. You need what strength you can get for the next few hours. I’ll stay with you as long as I’m allowed.”

Jo closed her eyes and sleep washed over her for the next fifteen minutes. Jack stayed with her, his hand holding hers. Suddenly, he felt her grip tighten and he saw she was having another contraction. There was little he could do, though he could already hear her breathing becoming slightly less even. Luckily, just as the pain began to subside, Jem walked into the room.

“I won’t be a minute, Jo.” He managed to release her grip on him and went over to the door to explain the situation in an undertone. He added that her breathing was already changing in response to the pain. Jem disappeared and Jack came back to sit with Jo.

When Jem returned ten minutes, later, Jo was in the throes of another contraction. He had the maternity doctor with him and they both had to wait until the pain had passed before they could speak to Jo. Jem sent Jack out onto the balcony whilst they examined her. When they were satisfied the other doctor left to prepare a room in the maternity department and send a porter up to move Jo. Jem went out to where Jack was waiting impatiently.

“Well?” he asked as soon as Jem stepped outside.

“She’s definitely in labour.”

“I know that! What happens now?”

“She’s going to the maternity department as soon as a porter can get here to move her. Then it’s just a case of waiting for you, I’m afraid.”

“What about her breathing?”

“There’s not a lot I can do for her. She’ll get a dose of Pethidine to help with the contractions, but we can’t give her anything else. We just have to hope it’s a quick labour, for her sake.”

“I hope so. She was tired when I arrived. She told me she’d been woken in the night a few times with contractions.”

“Go and sit with her, Jack. She’ll need some reassurance and they won’t let you stay with her once she gets down to the maternity department.” Jack walked back into the room just as another contraction came on and he swiftly moved over to Jo. Jem heard her breathing alter slightly as he walked towards the door and didn’t wonder at Jack’s concern. He knew it was going to be a worrying time for them all.

As Jem opened the door, a porter came along the corridor with a trolley to move Jo. He motioned the porter inside and, once the contraction had subsided, they managed to move Jo across. The porter began to manoeuvre the trolley and Jack followed him. Jem stayed where he was to pack Jo’s things since she would have to stay in the maternity department once the baby was born. He was just putting the last few things into her bag, when he noticed something sticking out from beneath the pillows Jo had been propped upon. He pulled it and found the rosary Jo always kept with her. Dropping it into his pocket, he intended to hand it to Jack, knowing how precious it was to Jo. He gave a cursory look around before turning off the lights and taking the bag down to the maternity department.
Chapter 8 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Thanks for all your lovely reviews.... I think! :-D

Just a short update today.

*deposits update & skedaddles*

It was ten o’clock at night and Jack was pacing up and down in his office. He had heard no news since he had been made to leave Jo. He was anxious to know what was happening, but knew that he would be unwelcome until after the birth. Jem had sent him to his office to rest, but Jack was unable to do so. The lamp on the desk was the only light in the room and Jack could just make out enough of his office to pace up and down without falling over anything.

A cursory knock came at his door, followed by Jem’s head peering round it. As he saw Jack pacing, he entered and softly closed the door behind him.

“How have you managed not to fall over anything in this light?”

“I can see well enough. Can’t put the main light on.”

“Any news?”

“No. Nothing since I came back here.”

“She’ll be all right, Jack.”

“How can you be so sure? You know as well as I do that she was barely strong enough to be able to cope with a speedy labour. This is taking far too long and I dread to think what state she’s in.”

“We’ve done the best we can for her, Jack. She’s been resting for the past three weeks. I’d hoped for another week, but the baby has obviously decided to come a little earlier than expected. All you can do is wait and rest yourself, otherwise you’ll be in no state to see her when it’s all over. Why don’t you lie down and try and get some sleep? If Jo sees you in this state she’ll worry and you don’t want that for her.”

“I wish I could just do that. My head’s pounding and if I stop, the room spins.”

“You should have said something earlier. I’ll get you some painkillers.” Jem disappeared, returning with some tablets and water. Jack took them and the older man persuaded his friend to lie down on the sofa and rest. “Sleep if you can. You don’t want a migraine coming on now. If I hear anything, I’ll let you know immediately.”

“Thanks, Jem.” Jack finally allowed his eyes to close as the painkillers began to work and his splitting headache slowly returned to a dull ache once more.

Jem left him to see if he could find out any information about how Jo was doing. He was beginning to grow worried about the length of time it was taking, himself. He knew that Jo wasn’t strong enough to manage a long and difficult labour and she was more likely to cause further damage to her lung. When he finally got through to someone, he was given the information that she was still in labour and that someone would contact Jack as soon as there was any news. Jem went off to do his rounds unsatisfied.
Chapter 9 by Vick
Author's Notes:

*appears & reads reviews*

*giggles out loud*

*deposits new update & hopes it's to their satisfaction...*

 

At half past three in the morning the telephone on Jack’s desk suddenly trilled out, breaking the quiet and disturbing Jack from the uneasy sleep he had fallen into. He dived across the room, almost falling over the chair in front of the desk in his haste to answer the telephone.

“Dr Maynard speaking”

“This is Dr Robinson. I’m pleased to tell you that you have a son. He was born about an hour ago.”

“A son?” Jack dropped into the chair he’d tripped over a moment before. “How’s Jo?”

“Extremely weak. She’s asking for you.”

“I’ll be there in five minutes.” Jack dropped the receiver on its cradle and ran across his office. He wrenched open the door and dived through it, leaving it to bang behind him as he ran through the corridors to the maternity department. Jem heard the noise and came out of his office in time to see Jack disappear down the corridor. He hoped the news was good and gently closed Jack’s office door properly before retreating into his own office to wait for Jack’s return.

Jack reached the maternity ward in three minutes and had to stop to regain his breath before he could go any further. He entered the department to be met by Dr Robinson as he came from his office. He came to shake Jack’s hand and led him to the room Jo was in.

“She’s in a bad way and needs to rest.”

“I won’t stay long.”

Jack opened the door and slipped into the room. Jo was lying on the bed, propped up with pillows to help ease her breathing. She had her eyes closed and looked very pale in the lamplight. A nurse was sitting next to the cot in the corner but, when Jack appeared, she stood up and slipped out through the door. He nodded acknowledgement to her as she passed and she smiled briefly in return. Jack came over to the bedside and gently placed his hand on Jo’s. She didn’t move and for a brief moment he thought he was too late. Then her eyes flickered open and she looked up at him.

“How are you, Jo?” He spoke softly, acutely aware of the cot in the corner and how ill Jo was.

“Tired. I’m glad you came, Jack.”

“I couldn’t stay away. I’ve been so worried about you. How was it?”

“Hard. I’m glad it’s over.”

“Will you introduce me, then? I’m not allowed to stay.”

“He’s in the cot. Will you get him?” Jack obligingly went over to the cot and carefully picked out the little bundle in there. He passed it over to Jo and she pulled the wrapping back a little further to show Jack. He bent over to admire him and then kissed Jo.

“He’s gorgeous, Jo. I’m so proud of you. We’d better think of a name for him, but that can wait till later.” He took the baby back from her and placed him back in the cot. “You get some sleep, now, darling. I’ll come back as soon as I’m allowed.” He kissed Jo again and was just standing back up when the doctor and nurse entered.

“Mrs Maynard needs to rest, now.”

“Yes. Goodbye, Jo. I’ll come again tomorrow.”

“Visiting starts at two-thirty and lasts for three hours,” the doctor informed him.

“Thank you.” Jack departed, leaving the doctor to settle Jo for the night and the nurse to take the baby to the nursery. He walked slowly back through the maze of corridors towards his office. As he reached the reception area, he realised he was in no state to drive home. His headache had returned with a vengeance, thanks to his mad rush through the corridors. He saw the light on in Jem’s office and knocked on the door, before opening it and slipping in. He collapsed onto the comfortable chairs and closed his eyes. Jem looked up at him from the desk and immediately rang for some refreshments, before coming to sit opposite his friend.

Once they were both armed with a cup of tea each, and Jack had been supplied with more painkillers, Jem spoke.

“Well?”

“I have a son.”

“Congratulations, Jack! How is Jo?”

“Exhausted and very weak. You can hear her struggling to breathe properly as soon as you enter her room. They only let me have five minutes with her, but she had asked for me and was able to introduce the baby to me.”

“Good. She’s just going to need to rest, now. It’s been a traumatic time for her and it’ll take a while for her to recover. Probably longer than normal, considering her health and the length of her labour.”

“I know. I’m going to go and collapse onto the sofa in my office, now. I’m not capable of driving home and the girls will be asleep anyway.”

“Good plan. You look like you need it. I’ll wake you in the morning.”

“Thanks, Jem.” Jack stood up and Jem rose, too. Jem shook his hand and congratulated him once more. Jack made it to the safety of his own office where he dropped onto the sofa to fall asleep, never waking until Jem roused him late next morning.
Chapter 10 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Thanks for your lovely reviews people.

Jo was exhausted. After Jack had visited and she’d introduced him to their son, she’d fallen into a deep sleep from which it was difficult to rouse her when she needed to feed the baby. When the doctor on duty heard this early the next morning, he rang Jem to consult him. Jem told him he would come across as soon as he had finished his own shift and handed his patients over. An hour later, he appeared in the maternity ward to speak to Dr Robinson. Together they went to examine Jo, who was still sleeping.

Jem was immediately concerned by the sound of her breathing and he sincerely hoped that she hadn’t damaged herself any further. Between them, they managed to rouse her enough to allow Jem to examine her properly, though she fell back to sleep immediately afterwards. Once they’d finished, they departed to Dr Robinson’s office to discuss what would happen next.

“The baby came a week earlier than anticipated. It was a long and difficult birth for both of them. I thought we might lose one or both of them at one point, she was so exhausted,” Dr Robinson explained as they settled into chairs.

“Yes, she’s been on complete bedrest for the past three weeks, but she had so little reserve strength beforehand. I’m not surprised you’re struggling to rouse her. I’m going to have to do X-rays as soon as I can to see how much damage she’s done to her lung and she is also overdue pneumothorax. I didn’t dare risk it before the baby was born because of the strain on her heart.”

“I think it’ll be another week at least before she’s able to be moved. Until she rouses up properly from this exhaustion, we can’t tell how she’s going to react to the shock of the birth. The nurse is literally rousing her to feed the baby and she has to stay in attendance in case Mrs Maynard falls to sleep during the feed.”

“I agree. Let’s leave it for a week. Keep me informed of her progress and we’ll see if she’s fit enough to be moved for X-rays at least, next week.” Jem stood up and shook hands with his colleague before he departed to his own office to write up his notes in Jo’s file.

Once he’d finished, he noticed it was almost half past ten and he still hadn’t roused Jack. He rang for some tea for them and went over to Jack’s office to wake him. Slipping in, he intended to just open the blinds, but remembered that Jack had been suffering from a debilitating headache most of the night. He went for the next best thing and shook him awake.

“Jack? It’s half past ten. More than time you were awake.”

“What?” Jack opened his eyes to peer at Jem in confusion, until his memory returned. “What time is it?”

“Half past ten. I’ve ordered some tea and it’ll be here any minute.”

“Oh. Open the blinds a bit, so I can see what I’m doing.” Jem obliged and opened them halfway, letting the light stream into the room. Jack covered his eyes as he adjusted to the sudden brightness. He sat up looking rather dishevelled since he’d slept in his clothes.

“How’s your head this morning?”

“Better, thanks. Do you know how Jo is?”

“I’ve just been down there. She’s completely exhausted and is having to be woken to feed the baby.”

“I’m not surprised. She was struggling to stay awake when I saw her last night.”

“You ought to go home and change before visiting and let Robin and Daisy know that she’s had the baby. I’ll tell Madge if you like, since I’m going home myself, now.”

“Yes, thanks. I think it might be worth them all waiting until she’s sufficiently recovered to be able to stay awake before any of them visit her.”

“I agree. Give it a week at least. We need to see how she is before we allow the others to see her. I’m hoping that we’ll get to X-ray her next week if possible. I need to see what damage, if any, she’s done. Then I can see about getting her booked in for pneumothorax again.”

Jack drank the tea which had arrived during this conversation, thoughtfully. Jem watched him, knowing he was pondering something. He realised that he’d missed this type of conversation with Jack whilst he’d been away at war. The younger man always thought of things that Jem might have missed, and they worked well together because of that ability to be able to respect and listen to each other’s opinions.

“Don’t rush into it, Jem. My guess is that she’s going to be in here for at least a month while she recovers. If she’s so exhausted, she’s not going to be doing anything other than feeding the baby, which means she’ll be resting thoroughly. Hopefully we can get a routine established before she comes home which she can continue herself. I’m still off work, so I can help her out as well.”

“You might need to look into getting help in, now. When you come back to work, she’s going to be alone with the baby and that isn’t going to help her rest.”

“I know. That’s something I’ll have to discuss with Jo, though. I can’t do that till she’s much better, since she’ll worry about it otherwise and that’s the last thing we want for her.”

“That’s true. Have a think about it though.”

“I will.” Jack drained his tea. “Now, I’m going home to inform Robin and Daisy of the new arrival and to tidy myself up before visiting.”

“What time does it start?”

“At half past two.”

“Leave your car here and I’ll drop you off. I have to be back then for an appointment, myself. No point wasting two lots of petrol.”

“Thanks.” They rose and Jack donned his coat and hat, whilst Jem collected his own belongings from his office. Together, they walked out of the Sanatorium to Jem’s car and he drove them home.
Chapter 11 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Many thanks for the lovely reviews, Kathryn, Pauline & Libby, they're much appreciated.

 

When Jack returned to the Sanatorium for visiting that afternoon, he was surprised to be given a small teddy from one of the nurses. It was battered, but had obviously been loved by it’s previous owner. The nurse quietly explained that it had belonged to her young brother who had been killed in an air raid six months before.

“I want it to go to a good home where it will be loved. I hear your wife had a little boy in the early hours of this morning and I’d like him to have it.”

“Thank you. What was your brother’s name?”

“He was called Derek. He would have ten next month, if he’d survived.”

“I think Derek must have been very proud to own this bear. I hope my son will be too.” Jack smiled at the nurse and continued on his way towards the maternity department.

When he reached there, he slipped into Jo’s room just as she’d finished feeding the baby and was being shown how to wind him properly by the nurse. Jack could see the dark rings under her eyes and that she was taking in little of the information with which the nurse was bombarding her.

Once they’d finished, the nurse stood up and left as Jack crossed the room to kiss Jo, who returned it. He took the baby from her, and sat down next to her, handing her the teddy as he did so.

“Is this for the baby?”

“Yes. One of the nurses gave it to me on my way here. It belonged to her little brother, who’s dead now.”

“What happened to him?”

“He was killed in an air raid about six months ago.”

“How awful!” Tears came to Jo’s eyes, but Jack was quick to reassure her.

“Don’t cry, Jo. It’s the fortunes of war, unfortunately. The nurse wasn’t sad. She just wanted his bear to go to a home where he’ll be loved.”

“It was very kind of her to give it to our son.”

“Yes it was. How are you feeling, now?”

“Tired still. And aching all over.”

“That should lessen as you recover from the birth. The best thing you can do is just rest as much as possible between feeds. It was traumatic for you as well as for this little fellow.”

“I’m just glad it’s all over.”

“I know. You have to concentrate on getting well enough to come home, now. We also need to think of a name for him, too. Did you have any ideas?”

“What was the name of the little boy?”

“Derek.” Jo pondered this name for a while.

“I don’t think so. We could call the bear that, though.”

“Yes. I don’t think this little fellow looks like a Derek. I think he looks like a Stephen.”

“Stephen. I like that. We can give him John as a middle name.”

“Stephen John Maynard. That has a good ring to it.” Jack looked down at the baby in his arms. “Hello, Stephen. Welcome to the world.” Jo smiled as Jack spoke, before looking up as the door opened. They both saw Jem enter.

“Hello. I just wanted to have a quick peep at you and the baby, so I can pass on details to Madge.” He crossed the room to kiss Jo on the cheek. “Are you going to introduce me to my newest nephew?” Jack obligingly handed the baby back to Jo.

“Meet Stephen John Maynard. Stephen, this is your Uncle Jem.”

“May I?” Jem gently took the baby from Jo for a minute. “He’s lovely, Jo. Congratulations!” Jo just smiled weakly, in response. She was tiring, now and Jem noted this. He passed the baby back to her. “Try and rest as much as you can. Madge will want to visit soon, not to mention Robin and Daisy. We’ll wait until you’re a little stronger, though. Take care, Jo. I’ll see you soon.” Jem departed with the same speed with which he had entered and Jo and Jack were left alone once more. Jack sat back down in the chair once more, though he left Stephen with Jo.

Jo could feel her eyelids beginning to droop and realised that she wasn’t hearing whatever it was Jack was saying.

“Jack? Will you take Stephen, please?”

“Of course.” Jack took the baby from her. “Are you tired?”

“I’m sorry. I can barely keep my eyes open.”

“Don’t apologise. You need to rest as well as Stephen. Go to sleep if you want to. I’m all right holding him for now. If I’m not here when you wake, don’t worry. Visiting will be over and the doctors will have thrown me out.” Jo’s eyes closed and she slept.

Jack held the baby, enjoying the time he had alone with him. He was amazed that this tiny little being was his and Jo’s child. He knew that he had to protect and nurture him. He had to bring him up to know right from wrong. Jack hoped that Stephen would never know the horrors of war that were taking place right now. He hoped that his son would never have to see the things he’d seen when he’d been at the mercy of the Nazi regime before he’d had to flee for his life. He didn’t want that for this precious person in his arms. Stephen already meant as much to him as Jo did and he was thankful that they had both survived the birth. Jo might be exhausted, but she would recover in time. She was resilient enough with his support and now she had something to strive for. Stephen was that something. This baby in his arms was the bond between them that would unite them together, along with their love and their marriage vows.
Chapter 12 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Thanks for the lovely reviews form all of all of you.  Glad that you liked Jo & Jack calling the bear after it's previous owner.

A week after Stephen was born, Jo was finally beginning to recover from the birth. She had slept a lot of the time between feeds, the nurses bringing him in to her when he was hungry and when Jack came to visit her. She was still on complete bedrest until Jem was able to assess her properly.

When Jack appeared on Saturday afternoon, he had a surprise for Jo. Robin and Daisy followed him into the room and ran over to greet her. They had been warned that they needed to be quiet since Jo still tired easily.

“How are you, Jo?” Robin asked as she kissed her.

“I’m still tired, but much better than I was a week ago.”

“You do look washed out, still. Make sure you get plenty of rest before you come back home.”

“Don’t worry, Robin. She won’t be going anywhere for a couple more weeks, at least,” Jack replied.

“Auntie Jo! Are you going to introduce us?” Thus Daisy, who was struggling to control her excitement.

“Come here, Daisy,” Jo instructed and Daisy ran over to kiss her aunt. “Jack, will you do the honours?”

“I’ll pass him over and you can do them.” Stephen had been put into the cot in the corner of the room when Jo had finished feeding him, so Jack picked him out and handed him to Jo to introduce.

“Here you are, girls. This is Stephen.” The two girls gathered round Jo and the baby to admire him to their heart’s content, whilst Jack looked on. He knew bringing Robin and Daisy had been the right thing to do. He had seen Jo beginning to look restless and she needed some distraction if she was to continue to improve.

“Would you like to hold him, Daisy?” Jo asked.

“Yes, please.” Jack came over and helped Jo to hand the baby to her. Then he directed her to go and sit down in the corner of the room, which she did with much joy. Robin joined her, to continue admiring the small boy and patiently wait for her turn to hold him. Jack came to sit next to Jo.

“Happy, darling?”

“Yes. Thank you for bringing them over, Jack.”

“My pleasure. I’d noticed that impatient look in your eye and thought they’d be a nice distraction for you. Until Jem’s assessed you and you’ve had some more X-rays, we don’t know what will happen. The more you rest now, the better your chances are at being allowed back up, again.”

“I know.” Jo sighed.

“What’s wrong, Jo?”

“I just want to be able to look after Stephen without the nurses doing everything for me.”

“I know you do. You’ll have that chance soon enough. You have to rest to be able to do that. Looking after a baby isn’t all plain sailing, as you should know.”

“I know it isn’t, but I just hate this feeling of helplessness. I’d rather know how long I have to be in here, than this limbo I’m in at the moment.”

“I’ll speak to Jem for you, Jo. In the meantime, you’ll just have to be patient I’m afraid.” He kissed her and then looked over to where Robin and Daisy were sitting. “Daisy, time to let Robin have a turn.” Daisy reluctantly gave up both Stephen and her seat to Robin, who was equally delighted to be able to hold such a tiny being.

“Would you like Madge to visit one day next week?”

“Yes, please. What about some of the others? I’m sure they’d like to see him and if I’m stuck in here for ages, they won’t get chance.”

“I’ll see what I can do, Jo, but don’t expect it. The doctors might not like all the hordes coming to visit you, plus they’ll tire you as well. They may have to wait until you get home, though they aren’t coming all at once, even then. Robin and Daisy and Madge are different. Madge is your sister and Robin and Daisy both live with us.”

“I suppose so. What about Flora and Fiona? They live with us, too.”

“If they come, then Bride, Primula and Peggy will want to come as well. I think they can wait until you come back home.”

“That’s true. I hadn’t thought of that.”

“I’ll catch Jem if I can and have a word with him about bringing Madge to see you as well as coming to talk to you about how much longer you’ll be here for.”

“Thanks, Jack. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“You’d manage, I’m sure.”

“I don’t know. I certainly didn’t manage when I thought you were gone.” Jo brushed her hand across her eyes as a stray tear insisted on falling.

“Shh, Jo. It’s all in the past, now. I shouldn’t have said that, it was insensitive of me when it’s still so raw to you.”

“It’s not easy to forget, Jack. You’re also still not right either, even though you claim you are.”

“I’m improving, but you’re correct. Jem’s refused to have me back at work until after Easter and only then if I’ve found a way of sorting out these migraines. Coming here every day has helped that, but I still get them rather too frequently to be able to get through a full shift without risking one happening at the moment.”

“You can’t rush it. You of all people should know that.”

“I know. I’m not going to, either. It means I’ll get to spend some time with just you and Stephen, hopefully. I’ll leave you and the girls for a short while and go and see if I can locate Jem, now. I saw his car on the way in, so I know he’s somewhere about. Will you be all right?”

“Yes. We’ll manage between us.”

“I won’t be long. Girls, bring Stephen back over here and talk to Jo as well. I’m just going to see if I can find Jem.”

“Will you help me with the chair, Uncle Jack? It’s a bit heavy for me to lift on my own,” Daisy asked. Robin had already taken Stephen back over to Jo and was sitting in the chair by the bed. Jack obligingly moved the chair for Daisy and then departed to see if he could locate Jem in the building.

Left alone, the three of them chatted happily away, unaware of the time speeding by. They only realised that Jack hadn’t returned when the nurse appeared to send them off home. She took the baby from Daisy and shooed them outside to wait in the corridor for him, firmly telling them that Mrs Maynard needed her rest and visiting was more than over. They reluctantly kissed Jo goodbye and promised to visit again as soon as they could before they fled under the nurse’s steely gaze. Jo was instructed to get some rest and Stephen would be returned to her when he was hungry. Since she was tired, Jo didn’t object and her eyes soon closed as she lay in the quiet room. The nurse had drawn the blinds and turned the lamp down before she left, so the dimness of the room soon lulled Jo to sleep.

When Jack finally returned, it was to find Robin and Daisy waiting impatiently in the corridor.

“Has visiting finished?”

“Half an hour ago. We were made to leave by the nurse,” Daisy answered.

“I’m sorry, girls. I didn’t expect to be gone so long. I’ll just have a quick word with Jo and then we’ll get off. Here’s the car keys, Robin. You two set off and I’ll catch you up in a minute.” He checked the corridor for nurses before going into Jo’s room. As he crossed to the bed, he saw that she was sleeping, so just satisfied himself with a kiss on her cheek before slipping back out. He managed to get back into the corridor without being caught and hastily made his way towards the exit and the car.
Chapter 13 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Thanks for the reviews, lovely people.  They're always much appreciated.

Erm... not entirely sure what happened between Jem & Jack, I'm afraid, Karita & Joanne.  However, i'm sure it'll all turn out well in the end...  Honest!

When Jack arrived to see Jo, the next afternoon, He was surprised to find the room empty. He went to find one of the nurses in order to discover where she was, but was unsuccessful. All he could do was wait for her to return.

Jo was finally wheeled back into the room by a porter as Jack was impatiently pacing up and down. He waited as the porter helped her back into bed and she thanked him before he departed on his way to fetch someone else.

“Where’ve you been, Jo?”

“I’ve been down to X-ray. Jem appeared this morning and informed me that they were due and I was to be taken down as soon as I’d had some lunch and fed Stephen.”

“Did he say what he planned to do with you?”

“No. Jack, will you please sit down. You’re making me tired just watching you pace up and down. What’s wrong?”

“Sorry, Jo.” Jack dropped into the chair next to her. “I was just worried about what had happened to you, that’s all.”

“Are you sure?” Jo looked unconvinced.

“Yes. I spoke to Jem yesterday and he was being most maddening. That’s why I never returned. I didn’t realise how long I’d been gone until I found the girls patiently waiting in the corridor for me. Then, you were missing when I arrived today and I automatically feared the worst. I know it’s irrational, but I love you and I didn’t know what had happened.” Jo held her hand out to him and he took it in his own.

“You should know Jem by now, Jack. He’ll only tell you when he’s ready and not before. All I know is that I’ve had X-rays and he’s going to come and speak to me tomorrow morning. I suppose he’ll have some awful fate lined up for me when he comes.” Jo spoke in resignation and Jack squeezed her hand. He knew that pneumothorax would be next on the list and she hated having to go through it.

“I’m sure he hasn’t, Jo. Or rather, nothing worse than you’ve already been though. Like you say, he’ll tell us all in his own good time.” Jack fell to pondering what Jem would have to say to Jo on the morrow. He hoped it was good news and he wouldn’t arrive to find Jo upset. Jo watched him for a short while before closing her eyes. She was tired after the trip down to the X-ray department. When Jack next looked over at her, she was sleeping. He noted how tired she was and that she still had dark rings under her eyes through the broken sleep she was having at the moment. He wondered if allowing her to feed Stephen herself was a good idea, since she wasn’t able to rest for much more than two hours at a time. Then he realised that even if she didn’t feed him herself, she would have to bottle-feed him and that could take even longer to organise when she finally came home.

Jack rose when the nurse appeared, bearing Stephen. Taking him from her, he sat back down with him whilst Jo slept. The nurse explained that he was beginning to get hungry and would want to feed before long. Jack told her he would wake Jo and she disappeared to continue with her job.

As he sat there with Stephen in his arms, he was overwhelmed by the love he already felt for his child. He wanted to take him home to the New Forest to show him off to his own parents and he wished his twin sister wasn’t in New Zealand. He and Mollie had always been close, both of them ending up working in Austria for a time until Mollie’s marriage. He missed having her nearby to talk to, especially now, when he wanted to show off his new son. He hoped that his letter bearing the news reached her soon. Stephen decided that he was hungry at this point in Jack’s thoughts and began to whimper, quietly at first, then becoming louder.

“Sorry, Stephen. We need to wake your mother up first.” Jack stood up and shook Jo, whilst Stephen’s cries became even louder. “Jo! Wake up! You need to feed this little fellow.”

“What?” Jo was still groggy, and then she heard the cries coming from Stephen. “Oh. Pass him here, then,” and she held out her arms for him. Jack relinquished him, thankfully and watched as Jo manoeuvred him into position. Once he was feeding quietly, she smiled over at him and he returned it.

“You look tired, Jo. How much sleep are you getting?”

“Not a lot. Stephen wants feeding every three hours, so I’m lucky if I get more than two hours at a time.”

“Hmmm. That’s not good for you, particularly at the moment, when you need to be able to rest properly.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean you aren’t resting properly, Jo. Maybe if Stephen was bottle-fed, you’d at least get a good night’s sleep.”

“No. This is the only time I get to have him. I’m not giving it up.” Jo looked as if she was about to cry.

“I’m not saying you should do that. It was just that you’re not improving whilst you’re doing all the feeds. If you stopped the night ones, it might help you to recover more quickly. If you want to feed him yourself, I’m not going to stop you. It’s the best thing for him, but I’m worried about how much rest you’re getting, that’s all.” Jo still looked mutinous and Jack realised that she wasn’t going to be easily moved on this point.

Eventually, Stephen was satisfied and Jo handed him back to Jack. He sat there rubbing Stephen’s back as he talked to Jo. He saw her eyelids drooping as she struggled to stay awake.

“Sleep if you want to, Jo. Visiting’s almost over, anyway. I’ll make sure the nurse has him safely when I have to leave.” He leant over and kissed her as sleep overtook her again.
Chapter 14 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Thank you for the lovely reviews.

Jo was woken by Jem early the next morning. He stood by her bed and shook her in his attempts to rouse her.

“Jo! Wake up! I need to have a word with you.”

“Go away! I’ve only just gone to sleep. It can’t be breakfast time, surely?” Jo tried to roll away from him, but he placed a firm hand on her arm.

“Jo! I don’t have the time to be arguing with you. I’m a busy man and I need to talk to you about what’s going to happen to you next.” Jo reluctantly dragged her eyes open to look at her brother-in-law. She saw that he wasn’t looking impressed with her and she closed them again in order to try and straighten her sleep-deprived mind.

“Give me a minute, Jem.” Whilst he waited, Jem noticed how tired she actually was and realised that she hadn’t been joking when she’d complained about having only just gone to sleep. The dark circles under her eyes were startling against her pale skin and her eyes, when she finally opened them again, were still heavy.

“How often is Stephen feeding, Jo?”

“Every three hours. He had his last one not long since.”

“I don’t think you feeding him yourself is a good idea. You aren’t getting the sleep you need to be able to get yourself back on the road to recovery.”

“No. Feeding him is the only chance I get to spend time with him. I’m not giving it up, just because you think I should.”

“In that case, you’ll be stuck in bed for a good few months. I came to tell you that you’ll be on bedrest for at least another month anyway. Your X-rays show that there wasn’t any lasting damage after the birth, luckily, but you do need to rest properly. I’ve also booked you in for pneumothorax next week. We’ll see how that goes before I decide how your treatment will continue.”

“Next week?”

“Yes. Think about what I said about stopping feeding, Jo. Even if you just bottle-feed him at night, you’ll at least be getting some of the sleep you need as the nurses can do that for you.” Jo just shook her head and Jem subsided. He could see that she wasn't going to listen to him in her current mood. He just hoped that she didn’t make herself ill through lack of sleep.

Once he’d finished with Jo, Jem went back to his office to write up his notes. Then he decided to ring Jack and see if he could help with Jo. The telephone was answered on the third ring and after a few pleasantries, Jem came onto the reason why he had rung.

“I went to see Jo this morning, Jack. She still looks exhausted. She tells me Stephen is feeding every three hours, but almost bit my head off when I suggested she stopped. Do you think you could have a word with her? She might listen to you.”

“She won’t. I tried to suggest it yesterday when I saw how tired she was, but she was just as vigorous to me in her refusal. She told me that it was the only time she got to spend with Stephen.”

“Hmmm. The trouble is that she’s not getting the rest and sleep she needs to allow herself to recover. Knowing Jo, it’s going to go against her in the end.”

“I hope not. It might be that she’s struggling to adjust. Her instinct is to look after the baby and because she’s not able to do anything else for him, she’s grasping onto the little she can do. I think we need to leave her to it for now and just keep a close eye on her. She needs to come to the conclusion herself, not have us tell her how to look after him.”

“I suppose so. I just don’t want her to end up in here for longer than is necessary.”

“I know, but you know what Jo’s like. She’ll fight us if she can. Until she’s ready to accept that she needs to rest and allow Stephen to be bottle-fed at night, we’ll just keep getting rebuffed. It’s her way of managing the situation since she can’t control anything else at the moment.”

“Yes, you’re right there. I’ll leave her alone for now, but if I think it’s necessary, I’ll have to step in and stop it.”

“That’s fair enough. Just give her the time to try and adjust to it all, that’s all I ask.”

“I will. I have to go. I have an appointment in ten minutes. I’ll speak to you later.”

“Bye, Jem.” Jack put the phone down and went back to the lounge. He knew that Jem would be watching Jo carefully, now. All he could do was wait for Jo to come to the realisation that she needed to rest more than she was able to at the moment.
Chapter 15 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Poor Jem.  I don't think he was expecting that reaction from you all!  Thanks for all your lovely reviews though, they're much appreciated. 

A nice long update for you all today...

In her room in the Sanatorium, Jo was trying to organise her thoughts. She didn’t want to give up feeding Stephen herself. Jack had been right when he had told Jem it was her way of managing a situation over which she had no other control. She knew she needed to rest and the fact that Jem had told her she was to have another month of bedrest meant that she wouldn’t be able to have any more control for a good while longer. As she lay staring at the ceiling, she wondered if she would ever be allowed back up again. She knew it was an irrational thought but, somehow, it had crept into her mind and it nagged at her.

Jo slept poorly that night, waking up at the slightest noise. She fed Stephen each time the nurse brought him in, but then found it hard to fall back to sleep again. The result was that in the morning, she was tired and fractious. When Jack arrived to visit her that afternoon, she was ready to fight with her own shadow and he caught the brunt of her temper. Jo just snapped at everything he tried to say or do. In the end, he lost his patience.

“If you’re going to be like this all afternoon, I’m going home.”

“Fine! Go away, then!” Jo stared grumpily at the ceiling and Jack stalked to the door after laying Stephen in the cot. He glanced at her and then left her alone. He marched through the corridors to his own office, where he collapsed into one of the comfortable chairs and closed his eyes. Jo’s fit of temper had been unexpected and he was worried. Resolving to return before visiting was over, he walked over to the shelves and picked out a book, returning to the sofa to read. He knew he needed to refresh his medical knowledge, so he decided now was a good time to begin.

Back in the maternity department, Jo just stared at the door. Her thoughts were whizzing around too fast for her to be able to control them and she wasn’t sure what had just happened. She closed her eyes in the hopes that the thoughts would slow down enough to allow her to concentrate.

As she lay trying desperately to control her thoughts, a sound crept into her ears. It took a while for Jo to register that Stephen was crying in the cot. Opening her eyes, she realised that she was still alone and that she would have to go to him. She threw the covers back and carefully sat up. She tried to stand but, felt wobbly and grabbed onto the bed for support. Once she had steadied herself, she staggered across the room to the cot. Picking Stephen out, she found that she was unable to make it back to bed with him. She sank into the nearby chair and began to calm her son down enough to be able to feed him. As she concentrated her mind on her task, her bad mood ebbed and she began to weep. She was still in the same position when the door opened and Jack slipped back inside.

Spotting her out of bed, he was about to admonish her when he caught sight of Stephen in her arms. She hadn’t heard him enter and was absorbed in her task. As he watched her, he realised that she was crying. Crossing the room to where she was sitting, he crouched down and touched her lightly on the arm.

“Jo? Why are you crying?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think I know anything, anymore.”

“Of course you do. You knew that you had to come and deal with Stephen when he cried, despite the fact that you’re meant to be on complete bedrest. You knew that you couldn’t leave him to cry and came to his aid without worrying what the consequences were for you.” Jo winded Stephen and finally looked at her husband. Jack noted how exhausted she actually was, but said nothing.

“I-I’m sorry, Jack. I’m so tired, I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. I never thought it would be like this. I thought it’d be easy to look after a baby, but I didn’t realise how little sleep I’d get and how much effort it takes to care for a tiny baby. I don’t know if I can do it.”

“Of course you can, Jo.” Jack gently wiped her tears away. “You’re going to be a great mother, but you have to realise you aren’t invincible and that you need to rest just as much as Stephen does. Having a baby is a life-changing event and you have to adjust to it in your own time.”

“It’s not just that, though.”

“What else is bothering you?”

“Everything. I just feel as if… as if I’m never going to walk back out of here. That I’ll be here for the rest of my life. I won’t get to see Stephen grow and learn to walk and talk. That he’ll never know who I am…” Jo’s tears fell in earnest and Jack just held her close as she wept. He was stunned by her words and needed time to think about the best way to reassure her. Eventually, he pulled back to look at her properly.

“Your mind is blowing everything out of proportion because you need to sleep. You’ve been trying to manage on two hours at a time and it’s making your imagination play tricks on you.”

“But what about Stephen? I can’t just sleep and forget about him.”

“No, I know you can’t, but you could allow him to be fed by the nurses through the night. You’d get a good eight hours then, which would help your own recovery.”

“If I do that, I’m admitting defeat and giving up on him.”

“No, you aren’t. You’re enabling yourself to get back on the road to recovery and taking a step closer towards coming back home. You’d get the sleep you so obviously need and he gets the attention he deserves during the day. If you’ve had a good night’s sleep, you’ll not need to sleep as much during the day and will be able to have him with you for longer periods.”

“Do you think so?”

“I do. Look, let’s get you back to bed before someone comes and finds you here. Give me Stephen and I’ll put him in the cot.” Jo gave up her burden and Jack gently lay his son down to sleep. Then he turned to Jo and gave her a hand back across to the bed. Once he’d tucked her in, he sat down next to her, his hand keeping a firm hold on hers.

“I still don’t know if I can give it up, Jack.”

“I know it’s a hard decision, Jo. You have to think what’s best for Stephen, though. I don’t think he’d mind being given a bottle through the night, but he might mind not having a loving mother around as he grows up.”

“You think I’m being stupid by refusing to give in, don’t you?”

“No, of course I don’t. I know you’re suffering from lack of sleep and, because of it, your mind isn’t able to function properly. You don’t know which thoughts or instincts to trust any more. You’ve always fought both Jem and I on every occasion and this is no exception. The only difference this time is that you know you want to be the best mother possible and, because you’re so tired, your mind isn’t able to rationalise which is the best course of action to take for Stephen in the long term.”

“My instinct says that I should keep feeding him myself, but I don’t know if I can keep doing it.”

“Then let the nurses do it through the night. It’ll only be for a couple of feeds at most and you’ll have the benefit of a proper night’s sleep. I know you don’t like people making these decisions for you but, if you aren’t careful, Jem will take it out of your hands and you won’t be given a choice in the matter.” Jo remained silent and Jack anxiously watched her as she tried to struggle with her instinct and his information. The bell sounded for the end of visiting, but Jack just ignored it. He needed to make sure that Jo was in a better state of mind before he could leave her alone again.

When Jo finally looked at him once more, she managed a ghost of a smile. Jack returned it, squeezing her hand as he did so.

“I’ll allow the nurses to feed Stephen at night. Only the ones at one o’clock and four o’clock, though.”

“Well done, Jo. I know it’s a hard decision to make but, hopefully, you’ll begin to reap the benefits of that sacrifice and get yourself back on the way to recovery again.”

“I hope so. I don’t know what to think, anymore.”

“Get some sleep, darling. I’ll take Stephen and hand him to the nurses since visiting is over. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He leaned over and kissed her, before going to pick up his son and take him out of the room.

Once he’d left Stephen with the nurses and informed them of Jo’s decision, he went to seek Jem. His head was aching but, he needed to let Jem know what had happened. He was lucky and Jem happened to be in his office when he knocked. He entered and dropped into one of the comfortable chairs.

“Is there any tea going?” he asked as Jem looked up in surprise.

“I’ll ring for some. I didn’t expect you to still be here. I thought visiting finished an hour ago.”

“So it did. Order that tea and I’ll tell you about it once I’ve got a drink. Have you got some painkillers as well?” Jem obligingly did as he was asked and said nothing more until Jack was armed with tea and had taken the tablets he’d requested.

“Well?” Jem asked when Jack showed no signs of beginning his tale.

“Jo has finally agreed to give up feeding Stephen through the night. Well, the one o’clock and four o’clock feeds anyway.”

“Good. That’s a start. She should stop at least another one though.”

“It’s not that simple, Jem. Don’t push her for more at the moment. In fact, the best thing you could do is to go and sit with her and give her some reassurance yourself. You’re the only one who knows exactly how her health is and can explain everything to her properly. You’re also the only other person she’s willing to trust.” He went on to explain what had happened during the afternoon and Jem realised that Jo’s imagination was spiralling out of control and she needed him to assure her that she would be going home, eventually.

“I’ll go and see her tomorrow morning, once I’ve finished up over here. I can’t go while I’m on duty in case I’m needed and hopefully, she’ll be sleeping anyway. She’s so tired that she wouldn’t take in anything I might tell her tonight.”

“I know. It can wait till tomorrow, as long as you do it sooner rather than later.”

“I’m not happy about her having been out of bed, though. I shall make it clear to her that she’s not to do it again.”

“She didn’t have much choice. I’d put Stephen in the cot when I walked out. She just did what she had to do since there was no one there to bring him to her.”

“I see.” Jem fell silent as he thought. Jack closed his eyes and hoped for his headache to recede. Jem’s voice cut across his own thoughts.

“Go home, Jack. You look awful and I’m guessing that headache of yours is worsening.”

“I’m going in a minute. Just make sure you talk to Jo tomorrow.”

“I will. I’ll not be harsh with her either. She doesn’t need that at the minute, by the sounds of it.”

“No, she doesn’t.” Jack hauled himself upright, carefully, and headed for the door. “Goodnight, Jem.”

“Goodnight, Jack. Take care on your way home.”

“I will.” He disappeared through the door and set off towards his car and home, where he was soon between the sheets and fighting yet another migraine.
Chapter 16 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Thank you for your lovely reviews, Anne, Kathryn, JB & ivohenry.  They're much appreciated.

 

 

Jem walked down to the maternity department after he’d finished his shift. He had checked through his notes and wanted to look at Jo’s maternity notes before he went to see her. He preferred to know everything so he could explain what was happening to her properly. He spoke pleasantly to the nurse and she obligingly handed over the notes he requested, with the information that Mrs Maynard had slept through the night and had managed to eat most of her breakfast. Jem thanked her for the information and went to sit in a chair whilst he studied the notes in his hand. When he had finished he handed them back to the nurse.

“Is Mrs Maynard awake?”

“Yes. She’s just fed the baby and has asked to keep him for a little while.”

“In that case, I’ll go and have a word with her if I may?”

“Of course, Doctor. Would you like me to bring the baby away?”

“Yes, please. If she wants him afterwards, I’ll let you know.”

“That’s fine. I’ll come and take him, now.”

“Thank you.” The nurse led the way to Jo’s room and entered. Jem followed her in and crossed to the bed. Jo looked up at them in surprise and Jem smiled. “May I have a word?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Let the nurse have Stephen for now, then we can talk without any distractions.” Jo reluctantly handed the baby over and the nurse bore him off to the nursery. Jem pulled the chair up so he could see Jo properly. He saw that she was still looking tired, but the dark circles under her eyes were a little less pronounced than the last time her had seen her.

“How are you, Jo?”

“I’m all right, Jem.”

“Did you sleep well last night?”

“I think so. I don’t remember.”

“That’s probably because your exhaustion overtook you. Thank you for finally agreeing to stop feeding Stephen in the night. I know it was a hard decision for you to make, but it’s the right one. If you had continued on, I would have had to make you stop and you would have resented me taking the decision out of your hands.”

“I still feel as if I’m letting Stephen down, though. I should be able to cope with it all. Madge did.”

“You aren’t letting him down at all, Jo. Your own health problems are preventing you from being able to cope properly. You had a number of traumatic things to deal with before Christmas. Madge had none of that, which is why she was able to manage from the beginning. A lot of what happened couldn’t be prevented and you succeeded in coming through them relatively unscathed.”

“I still ended up in here a month before he was born.”

“That was to make sure you had the strength to be able to give birth to him. Do you remember that I told you the main risks you took in having a baby whilst you were still being treated for tuberculosis?”

“You said my heart could go funny.”

“Yes. I didn’t want to risk that happening. You were already struggling to breathe because the baby was pushing up into your chest. If you had stayed at home, you risked your heart failing. By putting you on complete bedrest for those last few weeks of your pregnancy, you weren’t straining your heart and you were able to cope better when you went into labour.”

“I don’t remember much about it. I know I was tired well before the end of it.”

“Yes, it was much longer than I’d hoped it would be, and we were all anxious for you to make it through safely. The trouble was, because you were exhausted from that, you needed to be able to rest properly again. That couldn’t happen while you insisted on feeding Stephen yourself each time. Instead of getting the rest you need to recover from the birth, you’ve just become even more fatigued. Hence what happened yesterday with Jack.”

“I don’t know what came over me, yesterday. I just couldn’t stop myself and I took it out on him.”

“Jack understands, Jo. You were so tired that you just snapped at the nearest person. I know you think you’ve failed at motherhood so far, but you haven’t. You have to understand that there are a lot more factors that have been taken out of your control because you need to rest properly. You simply aren’t fit enough to be able to do everything for Stephen alone, yet.”

“When will I be fit enough? It just feels like I’m going to be here forever.”

“You won’t be here forever, Jo. You’ll get to go back home, eventually. Now that you’ve agreed to stop feeding in the night, you’ll get the rest you need for yourself. You’ll begin to pick back up and then you’ll be allowed to do more things for Stephen. They may only be small things at first, especially since I don’t want you to be sitting up for any length of time or doing anything strenuous for a few more weeks, at least.”

“That’s not giving me much to hope for.”

“I know it isn’t, but I can’t make promises I might not be able to keep. You know I’ll always sit and explain things if you need them explaining. That’s why I came this morning. Jack told me you were in need of some reassurance and I want to be able help you understand the reasons behind my decisions and why I make them.”

“Thank you. It does help, Jem. I try to stop the thoughts happening, but sometimes they just appear and I can’t control them.”

“I know. If it happens again, just ask for me. I’ll happily come down to talk to you again. Hopefully, you’ll be back on the road to recovery, now and you’ll begin to improve again. You have pneumothorax soon and that will help you as well as you won’t be using that lung unnecessarily. You’ll be resting it more than you are at the moment.”

“I hate having to go through that rigmarole.”

“I know you do. You’ll have to put up with it for a good while longer, I’m afraid. We’ll see how you go on this time and then I’ll have a look at how often you need to have it after that.” Jem glanced at his watch. Is there anything else you want to ask me, while I’m here?”

“I’m not sure. I can’t think of anything at the moment.”

“In that case, I’ll leave you in peace. If you do think of anything, just ask. Jack and I will always be happy to listen and help you out. I’m off home to bed, now since I’m due back in a few hours.”

“Thanks, Jem. You’ve helped me a lot this morning.”

“I’m glad I could. Do you want me to ask the nurse to bring Stephen back in?”

“No. I need to think over what you’ve told me and sort myself out.”

“Of course. Take care of yourself, Jo. I’ll come and see you again, soon.”

“Bye, Jem.” Jo watched him depart and lay quietly revolving what he had told her in her mind. She felt under her pillow for Jack’s rosary and allowed the beads to slip through her fingers. The rhythmic motion helped sooth her and she dozed off.
Chapter 17 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Many thanks for your lovely reviews, Kathryn, Elder, Pauline & Alison.  It's very much appreciated.

A week after her conversation with Jem, Jo was taken for pneumothorax. When she returned she was tired and breathless but, Stephen was demanding her attention and she had to deal with him as soon as she’d been made comfortable. She was left alone with him and when he was satisfied, she realised that she would have to keep hold of him until Jack arrived. As hard as she tried, she was struggling to stay awake and she was relieved when her husband finally walked through the door. Jack came across to kiss her and immediately noted that she was breathless.

“Jo? Is something wrong?”

“Take Stephen.” The shortness of her reply gave him his answer. He immediately lifted the baby from her arms.

“Have you been for pneumothorax this morning?” Jo nodded as her eyes closed. “Are you tired?” Another nod. “Get some sleep, darling. I’ll look after Stephen for you. Does it hurt at all?” He got no answer and he saw that Jo was already asleep.

Jack settled himself in the comfortable chair near the cot and rocked the baby in his arms. He loved the moments he had alone with Stephen. He was talking quietly to the baby when the door opened to admit Jem. Seeing Jack at the opposite side of the room, he glanced over at Jo’s sleeping form, before going over to his friend.

“How is she?”

“Breathless. She fell asleep as soon as I arrived and took Stephen from her.”

“Did she say much?”

“No. She just told me to take Stephen, so I guessed she’d been down for pneumothorax this morning.”

“Did she complain of any pain?”

“She fell asleep before I could get an answer out of her. I don’t know how long she’d been holding Stephen but, she was struggling to stay awake. I think she was relieved when I walked in and she could hand him over.”

“I’ll not wake her, in that case. I can’t stay as I’m on duty, but I just wanted to check how she was. Tell Jo I’ll call in tomorrow.”

“I will do.” Jack watched Jem disappear and went back to his one-sided conversation with Stephen. The small baby just wriggled and then closed his eyes to sleep as well.

“Well, you are a pair! I come to see you both and you both go to sleep instead. I can see how much I’m wanted here.” He gently laid Stephen in the cot and made himself comfortable in the chair by Jo’s bed. He was quite content to enjoy the silence in the room and doze himself.

An hour or so later, he was rudely awakened from a rather thrilling dream by someone trying to shake him and a lot of noise.

“Jack! Jack!” He opened his eyes and looked around to see Jo struggling for breath and trying to reach far enough to shake him again.

“What? Jo! Stop it, before you make yourself worse!” He stood up and came over to the bed to make her comfortable again.

“Get Stephen.”

“I know. I’ll fetch him in a minute. You need to be comfortable first and I can’t help you if I’m holding him.” Jo subsided, allowing Jack to adjust her pillows and help her lay back comfortably again. He then crossed the room to pick his son out of the cot. Stephen was screaming lustily now and he cuddled the baby to him as he brought him over to Jo.

Once he’d handed Stephen over, Jack sat back down again and watched as Jo began to soothe him. She turned to Jack once she was satisfied that Stephen was feeding quietly.

“Jack?”

“Don’t talk for the sake of it, Jo. Save your breath. Do you want me to get something?”

“Drink of water.”

“Of course. I won’t be a minute.” He rose and filled a glass from the jug on the bedside cabinet for her. Leaning carefully over, he held it to her lips as she had her hands full with Stephen. She drank thirstily and Jack had to remove it when he saw she needed to stop and breathe.

“Slow down, Jo, there’s plenty more water. You don’t have to down it all at once.”

“Thirsty.”

“How often are you drinking?” Jo just shrugged her shoulders. “You need to make sure you drink plenty while you’re nursing Stephen, Jo.”

“Can’t reach.” Jack looked at where the water jug was and realised that Jo was correct. There was no way she could stretch far enough to refill her glass without getting out of bed.

“I’ll rearrange everything so you can reach the jug.” He stood up and began to remove things onto the chair. “How on earth have you managed to accumulate so much junk? You’ve only been in here for just over a month and you haven’t been allowed to read or write.” He arranged the jug so it was within easy reach and placed the cards she’d received to the back of the cabinet. The book was put underneath them and the teddy they’d been given next to them. When he turned back to Jo, she was attempting to wind Stephen. He noted that her eyes were still heavy and the exertion wasn’t helping her recover from the pneumothorax she’d had earlier.

“Let me, Jo. You rest some more.” He gently took the baby from her and sat rubbing Stephen’s back. Jo closed her eyes again. She hated having to be so dependent on everyone when she’d had pneumothorax, even though she knew it was only for one day. She dragged her eyes open to watch Jack and Stephen. She wished they could all be at home together, instead of her being stuck in the Sanatorium on indefinite bedrest. As she felt a tear roll down her cheek, she turned her head to face towards the wall, hoping that Jack hadn’t noticed. She knew he’d worry if he saw her crying.

Jack looked up as the slight movement from the bed caught his eye. He saw that Jo had turned her head away from him and he guessed that she was upset about something. He also realised that she didn’t want him to see, which just made him worry. He glanced down at Stephen and saw that he was asleep. Crossing the room, he managed to lay his son in the cot without waking him. When he returned to the bed, he pulled the chair closer and gently turned her head to face him. He wiped her tears away and spoke softly.

“What is it, Jo? What’s upset you?”

“Want to… go home. Be a family.”

“I know you do. I want it, too but, you aren’t well enough to come home, yet. You need to be back on your feet again before Jem will allow it. It’s only two and a half weeks since Stephen was born, and you have at least another two weeks of bedrest ahead of you.”

“I know.”

“You’re tired, Jo. Today has been stressful for you. Go to sleep if you want. I’m happy to just sit quietly with you.” Jo’s eyelids drooped as Jack gently smoothed her hair from her face. Jack watched her as she slept. When the bell rang for the end of visiting, he reluctantly stood up and kissed her gently on the cheek. Lifting Stephen from the cot, he went to find a nurse to hand his son over, before heading for his car and home.
Chapter 18 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Many thanks for the reviews, Kathryn, Alison, Pauline, Seven & Libby.  They're much appreciated as always.

It was two weeks later before Jo finally began to start feeling a little more like herself. Being able to sleep through and not having to wake to feed Stephen was giving her the majority of her rest. She was allowed to have him for longer periods during the day and was finally discovering a little routine in his sleeping and waking.

One lunchtime, a porter arrived with instructions to take her down to X-ray. Jo reluctantly handed Stephen over to one of the nurses who had accompanied him into the room while another helped her into her dressing gown and slippers before she was settled into the wheelchair. The porter set off, talking all the way.

When Jo returned to her room, it was to find Jack pacing up and down. He came across to help her back into bed and waited until the porter had left before speaking.

“Comfortable?”

“Yes, thanks.”

“Have you been for X-rays?”

“Yes. I went straight after lunch.”

“Let’s hope they’ve improved for you.”

“I hope so. I’m sick of lying here.”

“I know you are, Jo. I’m sure Jem will come and explain everything to you as soon as he can.”

“I can’t do much with Stephen when he’s awake, until I’m allowed to sit up.”

“Don’t try to rush everything. I’m sure Stephen is quite happy whatever you do with him. He’s too small to do much, yet.”

“I can’t even hold him properly, Jack.” Jo was frustrated with her situation and she was beginning to lose her patience, now. Jack saw the signs and hoped that Jem did have good news, since Jo would most certainly tell him what she thought if it wasn’t. He changed the subject, hoping to distract her from brooding on what Jem might have to say.

When Jack left Jo to go home at the end of visiting, Jem had not put in an appearance. Jo expected him to arrive the following morning, so she was considerably surprised when he came in shortly after she’d eaten her dinner.

“Hello, Jo. How are you?”

“I didn’t expect to see you tonight, Jem.”

“I’ve just finished and thought I’d come and see how you were before I went home.”

“Why?”

“Am I not allowed to come and visit my own sister-in-law?”

“You usually only come when you have something to tell me. What awful things are you planning to do to me, now?”

“I’m not planning to do anything awful to you, Jo. In fact, I came to give you some good news.”

“Good news?”

“Yes. I’ve had your X-rays back and I thought you might like to try sitting up for a couple hours in an afternoon.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really. The last month or so on bedrest has shown marked improvement, along with having pneumothorax again.”

“Thank you!”

“Don’t try to rush into sitting up, though. Take it slowly and increase your time sensibly. Your body is used to being practically flat and needs to adjust in it’s own time.”

“I’ll be careful. I’m so sick of lying here, I’ll be glad to look at more than the walls and ceiling.”

“You don’t have much of a view from here I’m afraid. This wing overlooks the woods around here.”

“Still, it’s better that what I can currently see.” Jo yawned. It was getting late, now.

“Tired, Jo? I’ll leave you in peace and let you get some sleep.”

“Stay a bit longer. Stephen will be due a feed soon, so I don’t want to fall asleep until I’ve done that.”

“I’ll stay till the nurse brings him in, then I need to get off home. I don’t want to be too late back, since Madge is expecting me.” He settled back in the chair and chatted about what had been happening at home until the nurse appeared with Stephen. She handed him over to Jo and told her she would return for him shortly. Jem bent over to admire his newest nephew.

“He really is lovely, Jo. I’m proud that you’ve come through everything that’s been thrown at you these last few years so well. Hopefully, once you’ve recovered from having this little man, you’ll keep on going forwards.”

“I hope so. It’s been hard to get through, sometimes.”

“I know it has. We all love you and are supporting you all the way through, whatever happens. Remember that, Jo. Whatever life may throw at you, we’ll always be there for you.”

“Thank you. I’ll try.” Stephen began to complain and Jo looked down at him. “Hungry? Let’s see what’s on offer tonight, shall we?” Jem smiled.

“I’ll leave you to it and get off home. Take care of yourself, Jo.”

“Bye, Jem. And thanks. For everything.”

“My pleasure.” He squeezed her arm and departed, glad that Jo was so much happier and finally beginning to look forwards once more.
Chapter 19 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Many thanks for all your lovely reviews.  I'm glad you're all still rooting for Jo.

It took Jo nearly two weeks before she felt well enough to be able to sit up most of the afternoon. She had begun by surprising Jack when he arrived the following afternoon. When he had entered the room, she was sitting up with Stephen in her arms. She had grinned widely at him and he had returned it with interest, before crossing the room to kiss her and congratulate her on her progress. She had managed to stay sensible about it and, after fifteen minutes, had reluctantly handed Stephen over and removed her pillows. Jack had said nothing, preferring to allow Jo to manage her own time up. He knew she would have been warned to take it slowly and he was pleased to see she was heeding that advice.

Jo continued to progress once she was sitting up most of the afternoon and Jack was pleased to see her looking much happier. He hoped she continued to do as well when she was finally allowed to get up properly. Knowing her temperament, he knew she was likely to try to do too much and he had no wish for her to risk setting herself back. He resolved to try and keep a firm eye on her and make her rest when he could.

When Jo’s next X-rays were taken, she was told that she was progressing well. Jem warned her about continuing to take her time, before adding that she might get up for an hour each morning as well.

“At this rate, you’ll be able to go home again soon.”

“Do you think so? Oh, Jem, I’d love to go home.”

“I know you would, Jo. You’ll have to wait a few more weeks for that but, if you keep progressing as well as you’re doing, I’d say it’s beginning to look likely.” Jo didn’t answer, but her smile was enough for Jem. He was pleased to see that she was much happier now she was sitting up and that she was already looking for her next challenge, without worrying about how she would manage. He knew that she would have to be careful for a good while longer but, he was happy with her progress, both mentally and physically.

*****

One evening, Jack called into Jem’s office for a chat after visiting had finished. He dropped into the comfortable chairs and Jem joined him there after ringing for some refreshments. Once they were both armed with a drink of tea, Jem changed the subject.

“Do you think Jo would manage if she were sent home?”

“I’m not sure. I think it depends on how much time up she’s allowed. Also, she’ll have to go back to having broken nights as Stephen isn’t sleeping through, yet.”

“Hmm, yes. That’s true. I know she’s desperate to go home, but I don’t want to risk her getting despondent again because she can’t cope.”

“I think she’ll be better if she stays here for a few more weeks. She only has four hours up at the moment, and I think she’ll need at least eight hours to be able to deal with Stephen at home. I know I can look after him and make her rest while I’m still there but, once I’m back at work, she won’t have me to fall back on.”

“I’d have liked to send her home in time for Easter, but I think that’s unlikely if you want her to have eight hours up.”

“I just think it’s more practical for her to be able to spread the time out when she’ll have to be getting up through the night as well as dealing with him during the day. If you want to send her home for Easter, I’m sure we’d manage with less as the girls will all be home and will want to help. The main problem will be once the girls are back at school.”

“What about getting some help in?”

“Where are we going to be finding help in the middle of a war?”

“I’m sure there must be someone who’ll be able to come in for a few hours so that Jo can get some rest.”

“I think I need to discuss that with Jo. I agree that, if we could find someone, it would be worth it but, I can’t just engage someone without talking to her. She’d think I’m making decisions for her.”

“Talk to Jo, then. I’d like to be able to send her home, now she’s doing so well, but I’m reluctant to increase her time up to eight hours, yet. Unless she has help, I don’t see how she’ll manage alone, even with eight hours. All her time up will be devoted to looking after Stephen and she’ll have no time for anything else.” Jack said nothing and Jem watched him as he slowly stirred his tea. He could see that the younger man was pondering something and he waited to see what it was.

“Just why do you want to send Jo home, Jem? We never normally send anyone home with less than eight hours’ time up and I’d say that Jo was most definitely the last person to send home so early, even if I’m still at home for a short while to keep an eye on her.”

“I know. The trouble is that the maternity department is desperate for the bed. She can’t come back up here with a small baby, even if we had the space. I’d far rather send her home and call round there on my way past than have both of them in a high risk area. I know it’s not an ideal situation, but I don’t see what else I can do.”

“She’s most definitely not bringing Stephen into this department. I’m not having him exposed any more than he already is through Jo. Isn’t there anywhere else in the building?”

“No. We have so many air raid casualties here, there’s nowhere to put her. We’re also short staffed, so there isn’t anyone who can help look after Stephen if she was to stay here.”

“In that case, send her home. You’ll have to increase her time up to six hours, though. There’s no way we’ll manage otherwise.”

“I’m intending to do that, anyway. She’s really progressing, now.”

“When do you want to send her home?”

“I thought next week. If I increase her time up tomorrow, I can see how she gets on before she’s sent home.”

“That should give me chance to talk to her and get organised at home, then.” Jack replaced his cup on the tray and stretched before rising. “I’d better be off, now. The girls will be wondering where I’ve got to.”

“Why don’t you send them over to the Round House tomorrow? I know Madge was complaining she hadn’t seen them for a while and they can come to visit Jo straight from there in the afternoon.”

“I might do. It’ll give me chance to start organising things without arousing their suspicions.”

“I’ll tell Madge to expect them for lunch, then?”

“Yes. Night, Jem.”

“Bye, Jack.” Jack left Jem alone and walked slowly towards his car. He had some serious thinking to do if Jo was to come home so soon.
Chapter 20 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Thanks for your comments everyone. They're always much appreciated an keep encouraging me to post more of this saga. 

Apologies if this isn't laid out very well, but I'm doing it on my iPod in Tallinn airport whilst waiting for my flight back home and it didn't want to play properly...

When Jack arrived on Sunday, he found Jo fast asleep on the bed and Stephen slumbering soundly in the cot.  He was loath to disturb her since he knew she needed to rest.  Making himself comfortable in the chair by the bed, he picked up her book to read.  He was soon fathoms deep in it and was surprised when Jo spoke to him.

 

“I didn’t think that would be your type of book.”

 

“Er, no.  Not really.  Considering you were both fast asleep when I came in, I didn’t have much choice since this is the only book lying around in here.”

 

“You could have woken me.”

 

“Don’t be silly, Jo.  You need to sleep as much as Stephen does.”

 

“I suppose so.”  Jo sat up and prepared to climb off the bed.

 

“You may as well stay where you are for a bit longer.  No point wasting your time up when he’s still sleeping.”  Jo did as she was told, though Jack sensed that she wasn’t happy with his interference.  He changed the subject.

 

“I’ve been thinking.  Maybe we ought to try and get someone to come in and help at home.”

 

“Why?”

 

“You’re going to be busy with Stephen and someone coming to help with the cooking and cleaning would mean that you won’t have to worry about them as well.”

 

“I suppose so.  I don’t know where we’d find anyone, though and I can’t do much while I’m still here.”  

 

“If you’ll agree, I’ll see if I can find someone.  They only need to come in for a few hours each day.”

 

“It seems a shame to have to get someone in when we’ve managed by ourselves until now.”

 

“I know, Jo, but there’s no way you’ll be able to manage it all.  Stephen is still reliant on you for everything and you can’t rush back into doing all the work needed to run a house.  At least if you have some help, you won’t be worrying about the housework.”

 

“I’m not sure.  I don’t like the idea of someone I don’t know interfering in how we work as a household.”

 

“Have a think about it.  We don’t have to rush into anything, but if you agree, I’ll start looking so we have someone who can start as soon as you come back home.”  Jack knew better than to pressure Jo into anything she was unsure about.  He moved the conversation onto other things until he heard a noise from the cot.  Rising, he crossed the room to pick his son up and cuddle him.  Jo climbed out of bed and went to the bathroom to wash before she took Stephen and dropped into the other chair to feed him.  

 

Whilst Jo concentrated on her task, Jack looked on from where he was sitting.  Jo was oblivious to his presence and he felt strangely alone.  He knew she wasn’t intentionally ignoring him, but it suddenly struck him that he wasn’t the main person in her life anymore.  He realised that she was putting all her energy into looking after their child and, as much as she loved him, he knew that he would have to wait a while before he would be a full part of her life again.  He wondered how it would be when she was back at home.  Would she notice him there?  Or would she be too busy trying to do everything?  Would she just think of him as her doctor and resent him being there at all?  He hoped not, but the thoughts had come unbidden and he suddenly had a realisation of how Jo must feel when she couldn’t stop her thoughts.  He mentally shook himself.  He needed to get back to work and keep his mind occupied.  He’d been off for too long and he needed the challenge again.  

 

“Jack?”  He looked up to see Jo standing in front of him, Stephen in her arms.  “You were miles away, then.”

 

“Sorry, Jo.  I was just thinking, that’s all.”  He smiled and she handed Stephen over to him before sitting down on the bed.

 

“What were you thinking about?”

 

“I was just wondering when Jem was going to let me come back to work, that's all.”

 

“Oh.  I hope it's not too soon.  You'd be in and out at all hours, then and I can't see them liking that down here.”

 

“I'm sure it won't be for another month.  I don't think I'd manage a full shift yet, despite needing something to keep me occupied.  Paperwork still gives me a headache if I spend too long on it and there's always plenty of that to do.”

 

“You'll have plenty to keep you occupied if we're ever allowed home.”

 

“You'll get to come back home soon, Jo.  You have six hours up now, so it won't be much longer.”

 

“I hope not.  I'm sick of being in here.  I just want us to be a proper family, which we aren't at the minute.”

 

“Of course we're a proper family.  Just because we’re in different places doesn't mean we aren't a family.”

 

“It's not the same, though.  You only get to spend three hours with us and I see Robin and Daisy once a week.  That's not being a real family.  I want to go home, Jack.”  Jack crossed the room and placed Stephen gently in the cot.  Sitting beside her on the bed, he pulled Jo into his arms.  He just held her close as her tears fell.  He wasn't surprised by her outburst since she’d been in the Sanatorium for just over three months, now.  He was unsure how she would manage when Jem did discharge her, but he knew she was reaching the end of her patience.  

 

“You won’t be in here for much longer, Jo.  I know it’s frustrating, but Jem wants you to be as well as possible before he’ll allow you to come home.  You’ll only have us to help you with Stephen when you get back and that means that you’ll be back to having broken nights again.  Plus, you only have six hours’ time up at the moment.  It's not going to be easy for you to deal with all of Stephen's needs even with us all to help you.”

 

 “How much longer do I have to be in here?  You’ve talked to Jem. You must have some idea.”

 

“I don’t know, Jo.  Jem doesn't tell me everything.  You know he'll send you home as soon as he thinks you'll be well enough to cope.”

 

“That doesn't help me, now.  I'm fed up of looking at these same four walls.  At least if I was at home, I could go out in the garden or take Stephen for a walk.  I can't do that here.  I’m just stuck in this room with only myself for company most of the day.”

 

“I know you are, but visiting hours are there so that you have the chance to rest properly without people coming in and disturbing you.”  The bell to indicate the end of visiting rang out.  Jack reluctantly rose and collected his hat and coat.  “Talk to Jem when he next comes in, Jo.  Also, have a think about what I said about getting help in.  At least when the girls are at school and I'm back at work you’ll have some company during the day, if you agree to it.”  He bent and kissed her before departing to go home.

 

Chapter 21 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Many thanks for your lovely reviews.  I'm glad it came across well since I wasn't sure whether to add in the bit about Jack feeling rather left out.  It is something that does happen & I know my own husband felt a little lost after C was born. 

Finally, Jo gets some good news....

A few days later, Jem appeared in Jo’s room, unexpectedly. She was feeding Stephen at the time and he had to patiently wait for her to finish before she noticed he was there. While she was winding him, Jem came across to her and brought the other chair with him. She smiled up at him as he sat down.

“Hello, Jem. I wasn’t expecting to see you.”

“I wanted to see how you were doing.”

“I’m fine. Just bored of my own company. When can I go home?”

“That depends on your X-rays when you have them later.”

“It’s not that time again, already, is it?”

“I’m afraid so. Do you think you could manage at home?”

“I don’t know till I get there.” Jo knew better than to just say she would be fine.

“I know that. I just don’t want you getting into another cycle of worry and frustration because you can’t cope and won’t ask for help. It’s going to be hard for you to adjust, since you’ll have to be responsible for him twenty-four hours a day and you’re only allowed six of those hours up at the moment. I’m not prepared to risk increasing your time up until I’m happy with your own progress.”

“Everyone will be at home to help, though.”

“They won’t be there all the time, Jo. Robin and Daisy will be at school during the day and the twins are boarders in any case. Jack won’t be there all the time, either, once he comes back to work.”

“I know. I just need to establish a routine for us. It’s hard to do that in here, when the nurses are still looking after him for a lot of the time.”

“It is, but I don’t want to end up with you being ill again. As much as you want to go home, I need to ensure that your health isn’t going to suffer. It would be beneficial to you if had some outside help at home during the day, at least. You wouldn’t have to worry about the housework as well as looking after Stephen, then.”

“I don’t know if I want an outsider coming in to my home and taking over things.”

“It wouldn’t be like that, Jo. They’d only be there to help you with things like cooking and cleaning, which you certainly won’t have the time to worry over when you do go home.”

“I’m still not sure.”

“Have a talk to Jack about it. I’d rather you be able to manage with help than set yourself back trying to do too much.” Jem stood back up and replaced the chair. “Someone will come to take you to X-ray after lunch and I’ll call in again to discuss everything with you when I’ve had a look at them. I’m not sure whether I’ll have time to come back today, so don’t expect it but, I’ll definitely come in the morning.”

“Okay.” Jo watched Jem depart and concentrated on Stephen who had become rather fed up of being in the same position. Jo rose and went over to the bed with him where she could lie him down and play with him more easily.

When Jack arrived at visiting, he found the room empty and guessed that she had been taken for X-rays. He made himself comfortable in one of the chairs and closed his eyes while he waited. He was startled when a hand gently touched him on the arm.

“Jack?” He opened his eyes to look into Jo’s anxious black ones. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine, Jo. I must have dozed off while I was waiting for you to return.” He hauled himself upright in the chair and smiled at her. “Have you been to X-ray?”

“Yes. I’ve just got back. It’s not like you to just doze off. Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I am. I’ve just been busy sorting a few things out at home and had a few late nights, that’s all. Did you have a think about getting help in?”

“Jem came down this morning and suggested the same thing.”

“I’m not going to pressure you into it if you really don’t want it, Jo. I just think it’ll help if you don’t have to worry about the housework and the cooking.”

“I know. I just feel as if I’m failing if I can’t manage everything.”

“You aren’t failing. Your sister has Marie and Andreas and she doesn’t have your health problems. It’s not an admission of defeat if we get some help in. If anything, it’s a good thing as you won’t be worrying about everything that needs to be done when you should be resting.”

“I suppose so. Who would we get, though? I doubt there’s anyone around who wants a job doing the housework and cooking.”

“I can ask around. Marie might know of someone as well since she’s the housekeeper at Madge’s.”

“Okay. I just hope it’s someone we can trust.”

“Don’t worry about it, Jo. I’ll make sure whoever we employ is trustworthy and reliable. I don’t want to have to go searching for someone else at short notice.” Jack moved the conversation on and Jo managed to suppress her worries for the time being.

Jem appeared just as Jack was preparing to leave. He greeted them both and pulled the spare chair over to the bed, on which Jo was sitting. Jack took Stephen and dropped into the other chair.

“I wasn’t expecting you till tomorrow, Jem,” Jo remarked.

“I know you weren’t but, I have a few minutes to spare, so I thought you’d like to hear today.”

“Well?”

“How would you like to go home tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow?” Jo looked incredulously at Jem.

“Yes. I don’t see why not. You’re improving all the time, now. Do you think you could all manage, Jack?”

“I’m sure we can. That’s wonderful news, Jem,” Jack replied. Jo remained silent, stunned to hear that she was to go home the next day. Although she was desperate to get home, she hadn’t been expecting to be allowed so soon. Therefore, Jem’s announcement had come as something of a shock to her. Jem watched her and realised what was going through her mind.

“I’ll still be calling in to check on you, Jo. I want to continue with monthly X-rays and pneumothorax every three months for a while. I'm not increasing your time up, yet, so you'll have to do some serious thinking about how you manage your six hours for now. Hopefully, if you continue as you are doing, we’ll be able to increase it next month.”

“I’m sure we’ll all manage between us. The girls break up for Easter in a few days, so there’ll be plenty of us to take care of Stephen.” It was Jack who spoke after a brief silence. Jo was still looking dazed and both Jem and Jack saw that she would need some time to adjust to the news. Jem rose and replaced the chair.

“I have to go or I’ll be missed. I’ll call in tomorrow morning. Jack, could you come to collect her just before lunchtime?”

“Of course. I’ll be here about eleven if that’s okay?”

“Perfect. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He glanced at Jo and an unspoken understanding passed between the two men. Jem gave Jo a brief kiss and she flung her arms around his neck. Understanding her need, he just returned the hug with interest before extricating himself and departing.

Jack had taken Stephen over to the cot and laid him gently in it, before he came to sit next to Jo on the bed as Jem left. He pulled her into his arms and felt her trembling as the reaction set in. He just held her close as she cried silently, relieved to be finally going home, but also apprehensive at how she would manage with only six hours’ time up. As she finally became calm once more, Jack pulled back to look at her.

“We'll manage, Jo. The girls have almost a month this holiday so they'll be at home to help us adjust to a new routine. We can settle in as a proper family and that's what you've been so desperate for over the past few weeks.”

“How am I going to manage with only six hours?”

“We'll think of something. Stephen will sleep in our room for now so you won't need to save too much time for night feeds. Hopefully, he'll stop one of those soon and then you'll only have to get up to him once. You already take some rest when he sleeps during the day, and I'm sure we can manage to look after him between us at other times as well. The girls will all want to spend some time with him.”

Jo just looked dubious and Jack saw that she wasn't really listening to him. The bell had rung for the end of visiting just as Jem had appeared, so Jack knew he was on borrowed time before he was told to leave. He was reluctant to go until he was sure she wouldn't be worrying but a nurse appeared to collect Stephen and he had no choice. He kissed Jo, collected his hat and coat and departed under the nurse's glare.

Jack walked along to Jem's office and knocked briefly before entering. It was empty, though the presence of Jem's coat and hat told him that he was still in the building. Crossing to the desk, he scribbled a hasty note requesting Jem to check on Jo if he had time. He then set off for home to break the news to Robin and Daisy.
Chapter 22 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Many thanks for all your lovely reviews.  Much appreciated as always.

It was half past ten the following morning and Jo was packing her case. She'd spent an uneasy night and was still tired. Jem had been unable to call down to check on her since he'd had a bad case to deal with which had occupied his shift completely. She was glad to be finally going home but she worried about having to do everything herself. She felt that she shouldn't burden the others with Stephen when she should be capable of looking after him herself. She already thought that Robin and Daisy had done far more than enough since they'd come to live with her. Dropping the final few things in her case she checked round the room to see if she'd left anything behind. She remembered the rosary and delved under the pillow for it before she curled up in the chair beside the bed. Stephen was slumbering quietly in the cot and she closed her eyes, allowing the beads to slip through her fingers. The rhythmic motion was relaxing and she felt herself beginning to drift.

When Jack entered the room at eleven, he saw Jo was fast asleep. He could tell she was tired from the dark circles under her eyes. Moving quietly, he made sure everything was in her case before he shut it and turned to Stephen.

“Time to go home, son,” he murmured as he picked him out of the cot. Stephen just stared at him through big blue eyes and grabbed the finger Jack held out. Jack smiled at his son and placed him on the bed where he could wrap him up in blankets. Once he was satisfied, he placed him in the basket he'd brought and turned to wake Jo. He noticed the rosary on the floor and bent to pick it up, dropping it into his pocket for safe keeping. He knew how much it meant to Jo, especially when she felt worried or alone. That she'd had it in her hands just before he'd arrived was just further proof that she was worrying about being unable to cope when she was home. Jack shook her.

“Jo? Time to go home.” Jo attempted to shake herself free.

“It's not time to wake up yet, surely?”

“It's quarter past eleven, Jo. More than time you were awake. You're going home today.” Jo reluctantly opened her eyes and looked up at Jack. “How much sleep did you get last night?”

“Not a lot.”

“I thought as much. Come on. Let's get you both home and then you can sleep as much as you like.” He hauled Jo to her feet and helped her into her coat before handing her Stephen and the basket. “Can you manage that? It’s not far to the car.”

“I think so.” Jack walked towards the door, just as it was opened by Jem. He came across and took the basket from Jo.

“I’ll carry Stephen for you.” Jack came back and offered his arm to her. She slipped her hand through, gratefully and they set off towards the car. Jack had parked as close as he could to the maternity department in order to save Jo too much walking. When they reached the entrance he was glad he had as the rain had begun to fall quite heavily. He bade Jo to wait at the entrance with Jem and Stephen and he ran over to the car. Quickly, stowing the case in the boot, he climbed in and drove up to the entrance so Jem could place Stephen’s basket on the back seat and help Jo in beside it without any of them getting too wet. Once they were comfortable, Jem kissed Jo and waved as Jack set off for home.

Jo leaned back in the seat, her hand holding the basket next to her and watched the landscape flashing by. She found it hard to keep her eyes open and soon she was dozing as Jack drove through the winding lanes back to Howells Village and home.

When Jack pulled up outside their cottage, he saw that Jo was sleeping again. Opening the door, he woke her and she climbed out, feeling rather groggy. He picked up the basket and took her arm as they walked up the path to the door. Just as they reached it, it was opened by Daisy who tried to take the basket from Jack.

“I’ve got him safely, Daisy. Why don’t you put the kettle on while we get ourselves sorted?”

“Robin is doing that already. Shall I make a few sandwiches? It’s practically lunch time.”

“Yes, please. We’ll eat in the lounge where it’s warm.” He watched Daisy disappear into the kitchen before turning to Jo. “Let’s get into the warmth.” He gave Jo a hand with her coat and then handed her the basket while he removed his own. Together they walked into the lounge and Jo sank onto the sofa, thankfully. Stephen was asleep, so they left him to slumber on in the basket, loosening the blankets, slightly once he was in the warmth. Jack dropped onto the sofa next to Jo and wrapped his arm around her, pulling her to him.

Jo snuggled in to him, glad to be home once more. Her worries faded a little as they sat watching the flames dancing. She knew it was going to be hard to adjust to looking after Stephen and only having six hours up, but she realised that everyone was eager to help her as much as possible. She finally began to realise that things weren’t quite as bad as she feared and that her imagination had been blowing everything out of proportion again.

When Robin and Daisy arrived in the lounge with lunch, she sat up and smiled at them both. They deposited their burdens on the table and Jo stood up to hug them both at the same time. Jack looked on, happy to see Jo back at home where she belonged. When the three of them finally pulled apart he spoke.

“How about a bit of lunch? I’m hungry if you aren’t.” Robin went and poured the tea whilst the others helped themselves to the sandwiches. Jo managed a reasonable meal, though Jack noted that she was trying to suppress her yawns. Stephen chose this time to begin whimpering, so he knew that Jo would need to attend to his needs first. He watched as she picked him out of the basket and cuddled him to her.

“I’ll go and sort Stephen out. He’s hungry, too.”

“I’ve lit the fire in your room, Jo, so it should be warm enough for you,” Robin said as she came over to admire Stephen.

“Thanks, Robin. Come on, young man. Let's go and see what's on offer today." Jo walked upstairs and into her bedroom, where she found the fire burning merrily in the grate and the chairs pulled up to it. Dropping into the nearest one, she quickly set about feeding Stephen.

Once he was satisfied she changed him and placed him in the cot Jack had positioned next to the bed. He looked drowsy, so Jo covered him up and undressed herself. Soon she was snuggled under the covers and slumbering as deeply as her son.

When Jack ran upstairs to check on her, he found Jo was sleeping, though Stephen was awake and was becoming impatient at being ignored. Jack picked him out and bore him back downstairs to where Robin and Daisy were both busy with knitting. At the sight of Jack with Stephen, they both dropped their needles anyhow and clamoured to be allowed to hold him. Jack handed him to Robin as she was nearest.

“Where's Jo?” she asked as she sat down in the armchair with Stephen.

“Sleeping. She had a poor night last night. Do you two think you can manage alone with Stephen for a short while? I have a few things I need to do in the study.”

“Of course we will. It'll be nice to look after him.” Daisy was enthusiastic in her response and Jack smiled.

“In that case I'll leave you both to it. Give me a shout when he gets hungry and I'll take him back up to Jo while you two sort out a drink for us all.”

“How long is she allowed to have up, now?” Robin enquired.

“Only six hours at the moment, so she's going to need plenty of help for the next few weeks. I'm sure you two and the twins, when they come home, will be more than willing to do that.”

“We'd love to help. With four of us here there'll be plenty of time for Auntie Jo to get some rest.”

“I'm sure she'll be glad to hear it. I'll leave you to it, girls.”

Jack retreated to the study to look over some paperwork in preparation for when he returned to work. He was expecting to be allowed back at least part time as soon as Easter was over and Jo had settled into some sort of a routine. His headaches had gone at last, though he still suffered from the occasional migraine. These were becoming less frequent, but he had to remain aware that one may occur at any time. Now, he felt ready to get back to work and had been bringing home paperwork for the past couple of weeks in order to bring himself up to speed with his job. He also knew that when they did get some outside help, they would need to be able to pay for it and finances were beginning to run low as they'd had no income since Jack had been discharged. Jo's medical fees weren't cheap, either and, though Jem waived his treatment fees, they still had to pay for her maternity stay. Jack needed to get back to work in order to afford them, his assets being tied up and unavailable.

Jack worked steadily for the next hour and a half, managing to wade his way through a good portion of the pile of papers on his desk before he had to admit defeat. He knew that he couldn't spend too long looking at small print without paying for it with a headache. As he capped his pen and stretched, Daisy poked her head around the door.

“I'm just going to make a pot of tea, Uncle Jack. Would you like some as well?”

“That'd be lovely, thank you, Daisy. I've just finished, so I'll come through to the lounge. How’s Stephen been?”

“Good as gold. I think he might be getting tired, though. He's beginning to get rather fractious.” Jack glanced at the clock on the desk.

“He's probably getting hungry. His next feed is due in half an hour. Go and put the kettle on and I'll wake Jo.”

“Shall I bring yours upstairs?”

“No, thank you. We’ll come down once Jo’s sorted Stephen out.” He stood up and Daisy ran off to the kitchen to turn the ring on underneath kettle. Jack went into the lounge, where he found Robin trying to soothe Stephen. She looked up in relief as he crossed the room.

“I think he’s hungry, or tired.”

“Probably both. It’s almost time for his next feed and he’s been awake for a good while. I’ll take him up to Jo.” Jack took his son and departed upstairs. Jo was just rousing as he perched on the bed.

“Hello. What time is it?”

“Almost four o’clock. This little fellow is hungry again.”

“Four o’clock? How long have I been asleep?”

“You’ve had a good couple of hours. You were fast asleep when I came and took Stephen back downstairs and that was about two o’clock. How do you feel, now?”

“Better than earlier. I couldn’t keep my eyes open, then.”

“Sit up and take Stephen before he starts to complain.” Jo did as he asked, Jack pushing some pillows behind her for support. “How long have you had up so far today?”

“Two hours, I think. Why?”

“You should get up when you’ve finished feeding him. Daisy was putting the kettle on just before I brought him up here. I said we’d go down to have a drink.”

“That’s sounds good. I’m thirsty.”

“You need to remember to drink, Jo. Try and remember to bring some water back upstairs with you later. Have you thought about how you’re going to manage your time up?”

“Not really. I suppose I need to save an hour for during the night, though.”

“Yes. It might be better to save two. That leaves you four hours. How about you stay in bed in a morning and come downstairs after lunch and Stephen’s feed? If you come down about two o’clock, we can eat dinner early and then you can come back upstairs straight after. Hopefully, Jem will increase your time up next month and you’ll be able to spend longer downstairs.”

“I don’t have much choice, really, do I?”

“I know it’s hard, Jo, but at least you’re home again and that’s what you wanted. Normally, you’d have had to wait until you had eight hours before you’d have been allowed home. The only reason you’ve been allowed home with six hours is because Jem knew that we’d all be here to help look after Stephen while you adjust to all the changes.”

“What if Jem doesn’t increase my time up? How will I manage once school starts again?”

“Let’s cross that bridge if it occurs. There’s no point worrying about what might happen. The best thing you can do is to make the most of the time you have now and concentrate on that. Hopefully, we’ll all have a routine established by the time your next appointment comes round and then we’ll only have to add the extra time up into it.”

“I hope so.” Jo sat Stephen up and winded him before passing him back to Jack. “What did you do with Stephen this afternoon?”

“Robin and Daisy looked after him. I had some paperwork to look at, so it worked out quite well all round, really.”

“I thought you couldn’t do much paperwork, yet”

“I can manage about an hour and a half at it, now. Any longer and I can feel a headache beginning. As long as I do it in short bursts, I’m fine. I need to work at it, so I can do my job properly when I start back in a few weeks.”

“A few weeks? That’s not long, Jack.”

“I need to go back to work, Jo. Jem is desperately short staffed and we need to pay the bills somehow. At least I’m not going back to war. If that had happened, I’d have gone already.”

“I don’t think I could have let you go back to war. Not after last time.”

“I know. It’s not going to happen again. This time, you know I’ll only be at the Sanatorium and will be coming back home each day.” Jack stood up, Stephen in his arms. “This little fellow is sleeping. I’ll put him in the cot while you get yourself up. Robin and Daisy will be wondering what’s happened to us.”

Jo climbed out of bed and went to the bathroom whilst Jack settled Stephen in the cot and covered him up. As he stood back up, Jo returned and quickly dressed. Jack offered her his arm and together they headed downstairs to the lounge.
Chapter 23 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Many thanks for all your lovely reviews, they're much appreciated as always.

A week after Jo had arrived home, she was finally beginning to settle into a routine with Stephen. As Jack had suggested, she spent the morning in bed and went downstairs in the afternoon. Robin and Daisy, reinforced with Flora and Fiona, were more than happy to play with Stephen whilst Jo rested and brought him up to her when he was hungry. Jack spent the mornings in the study, dealing with paperwork and getting as much as he could out of the way so he could spend the rest of the day with Jo.

One morning, Jem appeared on the doorstep. Daisy let him in and ushered him into the lounge where she and the twins were entertaining Stephen.

“Where is everyone?” Jem asked after he had greeted the twins.

“Uncle Jack is in the study and Auntie Jo is in bed. Did you want them?”

“I came to see Jo, actually.”

“She might be awake. Shall I go and see?”

“Not at the minute. I’ll have a word with Jack first.”

“Would you like a drink?”

“Thank you. That would be lovely.”

“I’ll go and put the kettle on, then.” Daisy led the way back into the hall and disappeared into the kitchen as Jem slipped into the study to speak to Jack. After their initial greetings, Jem enquired about Jo.

"How is Jo managing now she's home?"

"Not bad. She's sleeping a lot, but that’s to be expected now she has broken nights again. Did you come to see her?"

"I did, but I don't won't disturb her if she's asleep."

"She may be awake, now. She generally wakes around eleven since Stephen needs to feed, then."

"How is she managing her time up?"

"She comes down in an afternoon for four hours and saves the rest for the other feeds. It seems to be working so far but, time will tell. It's only been a week since she came home. The girls are a godsend as they love having Stephen to themselves in a morning."

"I'm glad. I was worried how she'd manage, but it sounds like you all have a little routine."

"Yes. Though I'm not sure what will happen once the girls are back at school and I'm working again."

"Did Jo agree to you getting some help in?"

"She did. I've just not had time to look for anyone, yet. "

"I was talking to Andreas the other day and he suggested that a cousin of Marie's was looking for work. She's just arrived in England after a rather fraught journey. She worked at the school until we had to leave Austria."

"She sounds ideal. If Jo already knows her, it might not be a bad thing. Where is she staying at the moment?"

"I have no idea. I'll have a word with Marie for you and find out."

"If she's the right person, she'll need accommodation and I don't think we have room to put her anywhere at the minute. I'd need to have a look at the spare attic room and see if there's any way we could convert it. It's only used for storage, so if we can partition it somehow we could make a small bedroom for her."

"I'll speak to Marie and find out when she can come. I was also wondering if you’d be willing to come back to work a few mornings before you do get someone. I know Jo still needs a lot of help at the minute, but the girls are all at home and should be able to manage for a morning. We're in desperate need of someone else on the rota."

"That sounds good to me. As long as I have chance to give Jo a hand at some point through the day, I don't see why not."

"It'll be mainly to cover me so I can get everything back in order. I've had no chance to do a lot of my own paperwork, lately, as I've had to deal with some of the more serious cases we've had. If you can take them over for a few hours each day, then I can get back on track."

"Of course. It gives me chance to get back into the swing of things as well. Once we get Jo some daily help and her time up is increased, I don't see why I shouldn't be able to come back on the rota full time." A tap at the door, followed by Daisy sliding round it interrupted them.

"There's tea in the lounge. Do you want yours in here or will you come through?"

"Thanks, Daisy. We'll come through. Where's Stephen?" Jack asked.

"Fiona's just taken him up to Auntie Jo."

"You may as well have a drink while Jo feeds him. Then you can speak to her properly once she's put him down for a sleep."

“I will do.” Jem stood up and walked over to where Daisy was standing. “Come on, Daisy-girl. Show me this tea you’ve made and you can tell me your news.” Smiling, Daisy led her uncle back to the lounge, where she made him sit down while she poured the tea.

Jack stayed where he was for a few more minutes, intent on completing what he had been doing before Jem arrived. Once he’d finished, he ran lightly upstairs to check on Jo and Stephen. Fiona was sitting with her and they were talking about school. He smiled at them both from the doorway.

“Thanks for bringing Stephen up, Fiona. Go on downstairs and get your tea while I have a quick word with Jo.”

“Thank you for keeping me company,” Jo added. Fiona stood up and went off quite happily to join the others in the lounge. Jack came across and sat in the chair the small girl had just vacated.

“Jem has come to visit you.”

“I thought he might appear soon. I’ve not seen him since I came home. Where is he?”

“He’s just having some tea and being entertained by Daisy and the twins. He says that a cousin of Marie Monier has just made it to England and is looking for work. Apparently she used to work at the school.”

“A lot of Marie’s relations worked at the school. It would be nice if we could get someone we know, though. We ought to offer her an interview.”

“Yes. I thought so, too. Jem said he’d have a word with Marie. The thing is, if we do offer her the position, she’ll probably need accommodation and we don’t have much room.”

“Can’t we squash her in the spare attic room opposite the twins?”

“It’s full of junk at the minute. I’ll have a look and see if it’s possible to partition the room, somehow. If we can do that, then I’m sure we could fit most of the stuff in there into a smaller space and make a room large enough to fit in a bed and a bit of furniture.”

“I hope it can be done. I’m sure if she’s a relation of Marie, she’ll be perfect for us. There! He’s done. Take him a minute, please, Jack.” Jack obligingly took Stephen from her and cuddled him to his chest. Rocking him gently, he saw that he was becoming drowsy.

“He won’t be long before he’s asleep. Shall I put him in his cot?”

“Yes, please. Be gentle, though or he might rouse back up. He has a knack for doing that if you aren’t careful.” Jack obligingly laid his son down as carefully as he could and covered him over, before coming back to sit with Jo. She had removed her pillows and was snuggling back under the covers where it was warm.

“Are you cold, Jo?”

“A little. I’ll warm back up soon, now I’ve lain down again. There’s no point building the fire back up.”

“Of course there is if you’re cold. There’s Stephen to think about as well.” Jack went across to the fire and threw on another log, stoking it well into the embers. “Do you want a cup of tea?”

“That’d be lovely. You’d better send Jem up as well, before he complains about having to wait around all this time.”

“I’ll send him up with your tea.” Jack leaned over to kiss Jo before he departed to tell Jem he could go up.

When Jem appeared five minutes later, the fire had flared back into life and Jo was considerably warmer than she had been. She was loath to use the fire in the bedroom since they needed the fuel for the lounge fire and, thanks to the war, it was in short supply. The weather was still cold, even though it was April and spring was on its way. Jem placed her tea on the bedside cabinet and sat down in the chair.

“How are you, Jo?”

"Fine, thank you. Glad to be back at home."

"That’s good to hear. How are you managing with Stephen?"

"I'm getting there. I'm just finding it awkward with so little time up. I have to rely on everyone to help."

"I know it's not easy but, at least you have plenty of people willing to give you a hand. The girls were just telling me how much they love looking after Stephen in a morning. Hopefully, when you come for your next appointment, you'll have improved enough to have more time up. I don't want to rush it and risk you being set back again. You can't afford that now you have Stephen to look after."

"I know. I should count my blessings, really. I do get the chance to catch up on lost sleep during the morning and lots of mothers don't get that luxury."

"That's true. If you get some daily help in as well, then you'll keep on progressing in leaps and bounds."

"Jack told me that you might have found someone for us."

"Yes. All I know is that it's a cousin of Marie's. She has so many relations, though, that I can't tell you any more details than that. I'll have a word with her when I get home and find out."

"There were rather a lot of Pfeiffens, so I’m not surprised you’re not sure which relation it is."

"That’s true. I ought to get off. I only called in to see how you were doing. It sounds as if you're managing all right for now. I'll call in again next week, but if you need me before, just ring and I'll call round."

I will. Thank you for coming." Jem stood up and walked to the door. "Do you want me to send anyone up on my way out?"

"No, thanks. Bye, Jem."

"Bye." Jem left and went back downstairs. He poked his head round the lounge door and to say goodbye to the girls and Jack. Daisy came to kiss him and see him out before re-joining the others in the lounge.
Chapter 24 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Many thanks for all your lovely comments as always. 

This is the penultimate part.

Jack was busy up in the spare attic room. He had just finished moving all the trunks and boxes to one side and was standing contemplating the best way to partition the room when Jo appeared, Stephen in her arms.

"What are you doing, Jack? You've been making so much noise up here that I can't get Stephen to settle."

"Sorry, Jo. I didn't realise it was his nap time. I was just seeing how much room there was up here for Anna." Jo came to stand beside him and surveyed the space he'd created. I should think there's plenty of space for a bed, a wardrobe, some drawers and a chair. I can't see her wanting much else."

"That's true. If I partition the space about here," he moved across the room and flung his arms out. "There's more than enough room for everything you mention."

"Will there be enough space for moving things about in the storage area?" Jack turned round and surveyed the remaining space before taking a large step backwards and turning round again.

"How about here, then? There's room for moving stuff in the storage area and still enough space to make a decent sized bedroom for Anna."

"That's perfect. Now, will you come back downstairs so I can get Stephen to sleep, please?"

"Of course. I'll just have a wash and get changed since I'm a bit dusty."

"I think that's an understatement. You should have put on some old clothes, rather than ruining a decent shirt and trousers." Jo led the way downstairs and took Stephen into the bedroom to try and settle him down for his nap. Jack came in a few minutes later and changed quietly.

Before long, they were both creeping out of the bedroom and downstairs. At the bottom, Jo turned towards the kitchen but, before she had gone more than a few paces, she heard a cry from upstairs. Heaving a sigh, she started back up them as fast as she could. Jack watched her go and went to make the tea himself. Once it was ready and he'd taken it into the lounge, he realised that Jo was still upstairs with Stephen. He sat down to wait for her for a short while, picking his book up to read. He was soon engrossed and when he looked up fifteen minutes later, he realised that Jo still hadn't re-appeared.

Setting off upstairs, he could hear Stephen's cries and entered the room to see Jo was becoming frustrated in her efforts to soothe him. He crossed to where she was sitting and took the baby from her.

"Let me try, Jo. You're just getting worked up which isn't helping either of you. There's some tea in the lounge, though you might need to make a fresh pot, now." He watched her leave before turning his attention to his son. "Now, young man. What's all this crying about?"

Jo set off downstairs, dejectedly. She felt as if she was a failure since Jack had had to come and take over when she should be able to deal with Stephen by herself. She automatically picked up the teapot and took it into the kitchen where she turned the ring on underneath the kettle. Sitting down at the kitchen table she put her head in her hands and tried not to cry.

Jo was still in the same position when Jack entered twenty minutes later. The kettle was whistling merrily but Jo was taking no notice. He'd finally managed to get Stephen off to sleep, but it had not been easy. Seeing Jo with her head in her hands, he turned the ring off underneath the kettle and came to sit next to her, pulling her into his arms. He could feel her trembling and was surprised.

"What's wrong, Jo?"

"I'm a failure at all this," was the muffled reply.

"No you aren't. It's just taken me twenty minutes to settle him and I was beginning to lose patience by the end. The only reason he's asleep now is because he was so tired he couldn't keep his eyes open."

"I shouldn't need you to help me with him. I should be able to do it myself."

"Jo, just because I came to help doesn't make you a failure. You're the perfect mother to him. Being a parent is a whole new experience to both of us and it doesn't come with a handbook. We just have to do the best we can by him and work together. I only came and took him from you because I could see how frustrated you were becoming. It doesn't mean you'd failed. Sometimes we need to try a different way and see if that works. I want to help with him when I'm at home. I don't want to be some distant figure that just does the disciplining when he's been naughty, like my father was. I want to be a part of his life.” Jack pulled back slightly and tilted Jo’s face to him. “Please don’t think you’re a failure because I helped out. You aren’t and you never will be. Just accept the help when it’s there and we’ll work it out together.”

“I’ll try.”

“That’s all I want. We’ll work out parenthood, eventually. It’ll just take us some time. What we need to do, now, is work out how we’re to get that attic room ready before Anna arrives.”

“When is she due?”

“She’ll be here on Monday. Luckily, Jem doesn’t need me over the weekend, so I’ll try and get the partition put up on Saturday between Stephen’s naps. I’m afraid I’m going to have disturb your sleep, though, if I’m to be able to get it done in time.”

“I’m sure I’ll manage for one day. Is someone going to help you?”

“Yes. Andreas is coming to give me a hand. He’s managed to acquire some boarding somehow and will bring it along with him.”

“Where are we getting the furniture from?”

“Jem told me that they have a bedstead in the outhouse we can have and there’s a chest drawers in the garage that we can clean up for her. I’m not sure where we’ll get a wardrobe from, but hopefully, one will turn up.”

“I’m glad we’ve given Anna the position. I don’t think I’d have been comfortable with someone I don’t know.”

“I thought as much. Hopefully, we’ve landed on our feet and she’ll do well.”

“I’m sure she will. She always worked hard at the school.”

“Do you have some bedding and towels for her?"

"Yes. They're in our bedroom in the blanket chest. I'll dig them out when Stephen wakes. I'm not risking going to do it now."

"I don't blame you. Leave him to sleep and we'll get them out to air later. For now, let's have some tea. This last lot will be stone cold by now." He gave Jo a final squeeze and she stood up to turn the ring back on under the kettle, feeling a little more reassured by Jack's words.
Chapter 25 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Well, this is it, the final chapter of this part.  I do have more written, but, probably won't be continuing the saga in quite so much detail as I have been doing thus far.  I've plenty of Moments which will move the story on through Jo's life in this universe, so I'm not stopping completely.

Many thanks to all of you who have taken the time to comment.  It's very much appreciated and encourages me to keep writing.

Anna had been with them for a week and already the house was spotless. Jo realised that she had nothing but Stephen to worry about as Anna busied herself with cooking, cleaning and washing clothes. She also offered to look after Stephen in spare half hours so Jo could rest.

Jack had insisted on giving her a thorough medical examination when she'd arrived on the Monday morning. To his mind, she didn’t look in the best of health after her journey to England. Her cousin, Marie Monier had come over to help her settle in, so Jack had had to dredge his German back up in order to keep up with the conversation and talk to Anna about everything so she understood. Eventually, he was satisfied and packed his things away.

"You'll be fine, Anna. I hope you'll happy here. If you have any questions, please ask. None of us bite and we know how difficult it is to adjust to somewhere new, especially after going through a journey like you have." He spoke in English and grinned as Anna looked confused for a moment, before he added in German, "You'll have to hurry up and remember your English. Flora and Fiona know no German and I'm not sure how much the others remember after four years over here. Mine's rather rusty as well."

"I will try to remember. Thank you for offering me this position and somewhere to live."

"You're very welcome. I'll leave you to settle in and sort yourself out. I'm sorry you don't have much in the way of furniture but, it's a little hard to locate at the moment. As soon as I can get hold of a proper wardrobe, you'll have one." Jack stood up and left them alone to sort out Anna's belongings, not that she had much to put away.

After the first week, Anna had found her feet and was happy in her work. The trauma of her journey was fading into the background and she found working for the Maynards to be enjoyable. Her English was improving and she was beginning to find that she could speak it with some fluency. She had a full day and a half day off each week, when she could do her own things. She also had most evenings free after she'd washed the dinner pots, Jo preferring everyone to make their own drinks in an evening and to tidy up after themselves.

Anna had spent her first half-day off at the Round House with Marie and Andreas, giving them what news she could of their family and telling them what had happened since they'd left. She couldn't provide any recent news as she'd taken a good few months to make it to England. Marie had suggested that she go and buy some material from Armiford on her full day off and make herself some more clothes. Her ration book had arrived and Marie offered to accompany her to help.

Thus, when Anna returned home after lunch, she had enough material to make a couple of new dresses. Jo happened to be in the kitchen when she entered, parcels in her hands.

"Hello, Anna. What have you been buying?"

"Material. I do not have enough dresses at the moment. I can make some more during my free time."

"There's a sewing machine in the corner of the dining room. Feel free to use that if you want. I'm afraid I have no idea how it works, but I'm sure Robin will be happy to show you how to use it."

"Thank you. That is most kind.” Jo just smiled and finished making the tea before leaving Anna to herself.

When Jack arrived home an hour later, he could hear the noise of the sewing machine and voices coming from the dining room. Poking his head in, he found Robin showing Anna how it worked. He smiled across at them and withdrew to find Jo in the lounge with Stephen and the twins.

“Hello. Where’s Daisy?”

“She’s gone up to Plas Howell to see Gwensi,” Jo replied. “Robin is showing Anna how to use the sewing machine.”

“I’ve just poked my head in the dining room. What are they making?”

“Anna came home with some material to make more dresses. I said she was welcome to use the sewing machine, but that Robin would have to show her since I don’t have a clue how to use it properly.”

“I’ve noticed that you tend to avoid sewing,” Jack teased. Jo waved one of his socks around, which she happened to be darning.

“And just who mends your socks, Jack Maynard?”

“I thought the sock fairy did them.” He dodged as she flung one at him, before picking it up and dropping it back into the basket, kissing her as he did so. “Is there any tea going?”

“I’ll make some,” Fiona said, jumping up.

“Thank you, Fiona. See if there are some biscuits as well.” She nodded and disappeared through the door. Jack dropped into the armchair and removed his tie.

“You’re late back today, Jack,” Jo remarked.

“I know. Jem had a meeting and it finished later than he expected. We have some bad cases at the minute, so I couldn’t leave them.”

“Oh.” Jo fell silent and concentrated on the sock she was darning. Jack looked keenly at her, but said nothing further. He could guess where her thoughts were taking her. He resolved to speak to her later, when they were alone. Luckily, Fiona came back into the room bearing a tray. She placed it on the coffee table and knelt down to pour. Robin came to join them as well, leaving Anna to her dress-making.

In the chatter, Jo’s silence went unnoticed. When Stephen began to whimper, she picked him up and went out with him. Jack stayed where he was for a short while longer before following her upstairs. He found her sitting in the chair in their bedroom, staring into the grate. Stephen was drowsing in her arms but she took no notice of him. Jack took him and placed him in his cot to sleep, before coming to sit next to her.

“Jo?”

“Please, leave me alone.”

“No. You’re brooding and it never ends well. Talk to me instead.”

“I can’t.”

“Yes, you can. I can guess that it’s what I said earlier that’s bothering you.”

“How have I survived, yet others don’t?”

“You were caught early. A lot of people come too late for us to be able to do anything other than keep them comfortable. They’ll never get to the stage you’ve reached.”

“But I seem to end up back at square one, regularly. Surely that doesn’t help me.”

“You aren’t back at square one, Jo. You haven’t been there since we were in Switzerland.”

“I don’t remember much about then. I know we made it to Gottfried’s aunts, but after that, it’s rather hazy.”

“You were really ill by the time we reached there. I thought I was going to lose you when you had to be taken to the hospital. You were unable to rest properly and having constant nightmares. They sedated you for three days and had to give you sleeping pills every night so you didn’t disturb the other patients with your screams. I couldn’t do anything to help you, either. All I could do was sit with you for a few hours each day and hope that Jem had made it out of Austria safely so he could come and collect you. Even then, you were lucky. Your tuberculosis was still only on one lung.”

“It still took me a long time to get better. Longer than the first time.”

“You were exhausted from the trek through the mountains as well. Your body had to recover from that ordeal before it could begin fighting the tuberculosis again. That’s why it took you longer the second time round.”

“What about when I came to England and just before I had Stephen?”

“They had nothing to do with tuberculosis. Jem wanted you to rest properly when you’d had that short illness after the crossing. This last time was so you had enough strength to survive the birth. Jem is just being cautious. He doesn’t want you to do anything too strenuous until you’re able.”

“That doesn’t explain why I survived and those others won’t.”

“They’re in the same position that Mrs Linton was in when she came to the Sonnalpe. She’d avoided going to the doctor until she had no choice and, by then, it was too late. It was too advanced for us to be able to do anything other than keep her comfortable. When you were admitted, you’d only had it for a couple of months at most, so we could do something for you. If it hadn’t been for that cold you’d caught which triggered the cough, you might not have been so lucky.”

“You mean I could have had it for a long time and not known about it?”

“It’s possible. Sometimes, the symptoms don’t present themselves until it’s too late.”

“Why did I get it and not the others in Die Rosen?"

"In a way, you were sensible because you went to great lengths to avoid everyone. You were contagious all that summer but, because you were busy with your book you didn't spend enough time with anyone to pass it on. Jem made sure that no one else had been infected as soon as he knew the diagnosis."

"Could I have prevented it?"

"I don't think so. You'd been in close contact with a lot of the patients on the Sonnalpe and you were probably more susceptible than most simply because of your medical history. You should think yourself lucky that, for once, that cold you caught was probably a blessing in disguise."

"Then what about those you mentioned today?"

"They're in the position of Mrs Linton. Don't fret about them, Jo. There's nothing you can do to help them. The best thing you can do is concentrate on yourself and get that extra time up when you go for X-rays next week. The girls start back at school soon and I'll be back at work full time as well, so you'll need that time to be able to deal with Stephen. I'll still help out when I'm at home but, you know that's going to be at all hours once I'm back on the rota properly."

"I’ll try. Thanks, Jack." He leaned over and kissed her.

"Glad I could help. Everything is much easier if you talk about it rather than brooding. I know you still think you can't tell me things but, I'm your husband. I'm too involved to be your doctor. That's why Jem deals with you for anything medical. I don't want it to come between us and make you feel as if I'm constantly watching you for the slightest sign of anything not right. I want you to feel able to tell me things so they won't get missed."

"I know. It's just not that simple for me, yet. You were my doctor for a lot of the time when I was in the Sanatorium. I found it hard to differentiate between you being my doctor and my fiancÚ when we were in Guernsey. We've not really spent a lot of time together since we were in Austria. We had that brief period when you were working at the Sanatorium but, you were so busy, I only saw you for brief periods. It’s not as if we’ve had the time to get to know each other properly.”

“This war hasn’t made it easy for us has it? When it’s over, we’ll go away somewhere, just us three, and spend some time alone together.”

“That sounds nice. We ought to go and visit your parents as well. I’m sure they’d like to meet Stephen.”

“When you have more time up, we will. It’s not a simple journey to get there and you’d be tired out with the travelling. I’d like to visit them soon, though.”

“It’ll be strange going there with you. I don’t think I’ve been since I was about fourteen when Robin and I spent Christmas there.”

“I remember that. It wasn’t exactly uneventful.” Jo grinned.

“I never claimed to be a quiet person.”

“No, that’s true. Hopefully, it’ll be much more peaceful next time.” A tap at the door, followed by Flora creeping round it, interrupted them.

“Dinner is almost ready.”

“Is it? What time is it?” Jo asked.

“It’s almost half past five, Jo,” Jack replied after he’d looked at his watch.

“I didn’t realise it was so late! My watch must have stopped, again. Thanks Flora, we’ll be down in a minute.”

Jack just chuckled at Jo’s exclamation. He was used to the fact that her watch was never right, since she frequently forgot to wind it. He stood up and hauled Jo to her feet, pulling her into a brief hug as he did so.

“Go and have a wash. I’ll wait here for you and we’ll go down together.”

Once they were both ready, they descended the stairs to find the others just sitting down at the table. They joined them and Jo glanced round as she ate, glad she had such a lovely family to support her through life. It hadn’t been easy so far, but she knew she’d get there one day.
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