|For the next week, Jack continued to watch Jo, discreetly. He was dismayed to see her appetite diminishing. Careful questioning of Robin and Daisy gave him the information that she had been skipping breakfast as well. He was off-duty for a couple of days after his next shift and he resolved to speak to her. He could sit back and watch no longer.|
The next morning, blissfully unaware of what was to happen, Jo was up early to make sure Robin and Daisy were ready for school. She managed to drink a cup of tea and see them off, then felt suddenly sick. She made it to the bathroom just in time. Jack was in the bedroom when he heard the running footsteps and the bathroom door slam violently. He quickly finished dressing and went along to see what was wrong. Tentatively, he knocked on the door, before poking his head around. Jo was sitting on the floor next to the toilet, her head in her hands and trying not to give in to the tears threatening to overwhelm her. He came in and crouched down in front of her.
“Jo? What’s wrong?” No answer. He sat beside her and pulled her into his arms, kissing the top of her head as he did so. The gentleness of his gesture was too much for her, and she finally let herself go, crying into his shirt. Jack just held her close, recognising that she needed his comfort more than anything. When she finally stopped, he tried again.
“Is that the first time you’ve been sick?” Jo just shook her head. “When?”
“Every morning for the past week.” Jack gently asked her a few more questions until he had all the details he needed. He wondered if she had worked out what was happening.
“Well, at least I can stop worrying quite so much.” Jo pulled back to look at him, quizzically.
“What do you mean?”
“I’ve worked out what’s wrong with you.” He smiled.
“What?” He saw she was losing her patience and relented.
“I’m what?” She looked at him, incredulously.
“You’re pregnant. We’re going to have a baby.”
“Oh!” Jo lapsed into silence as she digested this piece of information. “Are you sure?”
“From what you’ve told me and your symptoms, I’m pretty sure.”
“What happens, now?”
“I think you’re probably quite early on in the pregnancy, but you should see a specialist. They’ll know more than I do. I’ll make you an appointment when I’m next in work.” Jack felt Jo shaking and remembered that they were still sitting on the bathroom floor. He stood up and gently helped Jo back to her feet. With his arm around her, he took her to the bedroom and made her lay down on the bed.
“Have you eaten, yet?” Jo shuddered at the mention of food and Jack suppressed a smile. Now he knew what the problem was, he realised that morning sickness was the reason for her lack of appetite. “You need to try and eat something.” He left the room and soon returned with a couple of biscuits for her to try. She managed the first one, but shook her head at the second. He didn’t push her.
Jack lay down on the bed next to Jo and she rolled over to him, resting her head on his chest. He wrapped his arm around her, holding her close. He could tell she was a little dazed by the news and he wanted to be able to reassure her. He was worried for her, too. They hadn’t expected to have a family of their own and had been content to count Robin and Daisy as theirs. Now, Jo was expecting and Jack realised that she would need a lot of support. Her moods would be erratic as her body adjusted to the changes and she would need constant watching to ensure she didn’t overdo anything. He recognised that Jem would have to be told before they were ready to tell anyone, simply because of her medical history. He needed to talk to her about it properly but, when he looked down at Jo, he saw she had dozed off. Now wasn’t the time.
It was an hour later when Jo woke, again. She was feeling a lot better and actually felt hungry. She made a slight movement and Jack moved his arm, allowing her to roll over. He smiled at her as she sat up.
“How are you feeling?”
“Hungry.” Jack smiled at this comment.
“In that case, let’s go and see what we can find in the kitchen.” He stood up and headed for the door, leaving Jo to follow in her own time.
When Jo arrived in the kitchen, she found Jack cooking an omelette. He smiled at her and she sat down at the table in response to his gesture. She leaned her elbows on the table and rested her head in her hands. She was still feeling a little dazed, but not surprised by the news that she was going to have a baby. Jack placed the omelette in front of her and sat down opposite her.
“It’s not the greatest, I’m afraid, but it’s better than nothing”
“It’s fine.” Jo ate slowly and Jack was rewarded with seeing her clear her plate.
“What do you want to do for the rest of the day?” he asked as he removed the plate.
“I don’t know. I could do with some fresh air, though. I need to clear my head and straighten my mind out.”
“Do you want me to come with you?”
“I think I’d rather go alone.”
“Just take your time and don’t do anything mad.”
“I won’t.” Jo stood up and went to find out her coat and shoes. Jack waved her off from the door, understanding her need for solitude. He went back into the lounge and tried to read his book, but he couldn’t settle. He found himself pacing the length of the room as he waited for her to return. Realising this, he went outside and began digging the garden in the hope that some physical activity would stop him from worrying. When she still hadn’t returned an hour later, he wondered if he should go looking for her. He went and cleaned himself up, before setting off after her. He had a fair idea of where she might be and decided to check there first.
As he approached the sheltered corner at the edge of a wheat field, he spotted a flash of her skirt. She was lying down on her coat, with her eyes closed. He wondered if she had fallen asleep, but as he watched he realised she wasn’t. He stood still, unsure about whether he should go over, or turn back. He didn’t want to intrude on her thoughts, but he also didn’t want to leave her alone.
Jo had the feeling that she was being watched and opened her eyes. She saw Jack standing, hesitantly, nearby. She glanced at her watch and discovered that she had been gone far longer than she had intended. She knew he had come searching for her, but was unsure if she was ready for his company, yet. She struggled on, trying to order her thoughts and realised that he was the person she should be discussing them with. She was going round in circles by herself and that never ended well, as she knew from experience. She sat up and waved to him.
Jack saw her wave, and came across, relieved that he hadn’t intruded on her. He dropped onto the grass beside her and lay down to examine the clouds. Jo did the same. They lay in silence for a while, Jack content to let Jo continue with her thoughts.
“What happens, now?”
“How do you mean?”
“I mean me. Being pregnant and my illness.” Jack was silent as he thought how to answer this question.
“Not a lot will change with regards to your treatment for tuberculosis. You’ll still have to continue with pneumothorax, though that is only every six months now, anyway. The radiologist can use a lead covering to protect the baby from exposure when you have your X-rays.”
“You’re going to have to rest a lot more, especially as the baby grows and starts to push on your chest. You’ll have to stop doing anything strenuous, including walking when you get further through the pregnancy.”
“I need to walk, though. How am I going to clear my head if I can’t go walking?”
“We’ll have to find another way for you to deal with it. You’ll not feel like walking anyway once you’re six months plus.”
“Do we have to tell anyone, yet?”
“We’ll have to tell Jem. As the doctor in charge of your treatment, he needs to be told, I’m afraid.”
“I don’t know if I can go through with this. I don’t know if I’m ready.”
“No one is ready for it, Jo. Just ask your sister. I’m sure she felt the same with each of her pregnancies. You’re allowed to be worried about it all. It’s a new experience and one that is different each time it happens. I’m here as well and I want to help you get through it.”
“When do we have to tell Jem?”
“As soon as possible. He needs to be aware of it so he can ensure it’s on your notes before your next X-rays and you have them in the next couple of weeks.”
“I don’t think I can tell him.”
“I’ll tell him, if you like. Do you want Madge to know as well? He’s bound to ask if he can tell her.” Jo nodded. She felt relieved that Jack was with her to share the burden and that he had come looking for her. She fell silent again, re-formulating her thoughts and the information Jack had given her. Jack just waited patiently. When she still hadn’t spoken fifteen minutes later, he rolled over to look at her, propping himself up on one elbow. Jo was sleeping. He sighed. Though this corner of the field was sheltered, it was still none too warm and Jo had been here a long time. He was reluctant to disturb her, when she so obviously needed to sleep, but he knew she really ought to be somewhere warmer. He shook her, gently.
“Jo? Come on, let’s get you home.” Jo reluctantly opened her eyes and Jack saw confusion reflected in them. “You fell asleep here in the field and it’s none too warm.” Jo sighed and dragged herself back to full consciousness. Jack stood up and pulled Jo to her feet, before picking her coat up off the ground and brushing it down for her. He then held out his arm to Jo who took it and they strolled back towards home.
Many thanks for all your lovely reviews and speculation. I'm happy so many of you are glad to see this back since I was worried it might get rather boring and repetitive. As for speculation, well, I obviously need to take myself off for a few more lessons in the art of cliff building...