Jazz stared at the small test in her hand. She had been doing that for quite some time already, unable to bring herself to actually pee on that test stripe, afraid of the truth it would show her. What is she really was pregnant? There were a lot of symptoms hinting at it. She was constantly tired, gained weight, her period hadn’t shown for quite some time. But she was also taking the pill. Maybe she needed another one? She would have to see a doctor, that was for sure, but she’d rather know in advance than having the doctor tell her that she was pregnant.
With a sigh she read the instructions again. Did she have to pee in a cup and take the test like that? Or did she have to pee directly on it? And how should she do that without peeing on her hand? Who invented tests like that?! She knew she was just stalling and she also knew that she was a damned coward, so she took a deep breath, hovered over the toilet and just – let it flow. There. Done.
What followed were the longest 60 seconds of her life. One line meant she wasn’t pregnant, two that she was. And she had no idea what she was actually hoping for. A baby would change her life forever, there was no way back if she was pregnant. But she was sure that she had found the right man to start a family, Kunihiko would be a great father. They were married and she had always wanted children. Eventually. But right now? Well, she was over 30 already, there wasn’t much more time. She didn’t want to be an old mom, she wanted to crawl all over the playground with her kids, wanted to be active and running around with them.
She stared at the test in her hand again. How long could 60 seconds be? Her heart was pounding furiously, the nervous energy making her almost jump up. Instead she took another deep breath and put the test down at the edge of the sink and fixed her clothes. With all those conflicted emotions she didn’t know what to do, what to think. Anxiously she waited for her phone to chime and tell her that 60 seconds had passed.
She grabbed the test. The result was not what she had hoped for – or was it? She couldn’t even tell, she felt lightheaded and unsteady, like crying and laughing at the same time. She definitely needed a doctor’s appointment.
When Kunihiko came home Jazz was already calm again, smiled for her husband and kissed him deeply.
“I missed you,” she sighed at his surprise.
“I missed you, too. And I really like being greeted like this.” He smiled warmly at her, the love in his eyes bringing her to the brink of tears. Again.
Jazz pulled back and turned towards the kitchen. “Are you hungry? I cooked. I wanted to eat some of the food I know from back home, so I hope you feel adventurous.”
He chuckled and followed her into the kitchen were a pot was still simmering on the stove.
“Since I know you I’m much more adventurous anyway,” he said and curiously peeked into the pot. “What is it?”
“Soljanka. A soup, sweet and sour. Mostly a leftover food, you just throw in what’s in the fridge, some pickles, some tomatoes, et voilà – Soljanka. I hope you like it.” She handed him a bowl and a piece of bread before she took some for herself. They were eating in the kitchen, casually and in comfortable silence.
“It’s good,” he said after the first spoonful and Jazz smiled. It was a comfort food for her and she really needed this today. But it was something special that she could share her own comfort with the man she loved, especially since she couldn’t share her worries with him right now. Not before she had seen the doctor.
Jazz was stubborn. Stubborn and persistent. That was why she got an appointment three days later instead of having to wait for weeks. But it was so hard to hide it from Kunihiko. She had promised not to keep secrets from him, had demanded complete honesty and offered the same in return, and now she didn’t even mention this to him.
And Kunihiko acted strange. Maybe he knew that she was hiding something or he simply noticed that she was a bit off lately. He was pretty perceptive when it came to her, she had noticed this already. He seemed to be more at home the last couple of days. Sometimes they only met for breakfast or dinner, every now and then in the bar, but he was at home around 8 every night for some days in the row.
Jazz shifted in her chair in the waiting room and smiled at the thought of her husband. He would be a good father… patient and kind and full of love for his kid. Kids. Who knows? She put the magazine down that she had barely glanced at, too nervous and anxious to read at all. How could one single line on a test make such a difference? How could that test make such a difference? She still wondered what she would have done, thought, felt if it had been another result. Would she have been happy? Shocked? Disappointed? Would she have felt as numb as she did now? Confused and afraid of the future? So many thoughts, so many emotions were swirling around in her head and heart and for now she was glad that she didn’t have to decide anything right away, didn’t have to plan before she got certainty.
Jazz looked up and gave the doctor’s assistant a tight smile. “Yes.”
“Would please come with me?”
She closed the door. Leaned against it and exhaled. She felt as if she was suffocating, as if her collar was too tight, her chest constricted. Women must have felt like that when corsets where still high fashion. What should she do now?
She let her bag drop to the floor and kicked off her shoes, padded barefoot into the kitchen. A glass of wine… no. No wine for her anymore. For a while.
“Hey love, you’re here already?”
Jazz flinched at the sound of his voice but greeted him with a smile.
“Yeah, one of my clients cancelled for today. I just thought about making us dinner.”
Kunihiko hugged her and looked at her face, frowning slightly.
“What’s wrong? You seem – tired.”
She laughed briefly, not actually amused at all.
“I feel as if I’m constantly tired lately.” She sighed and leaned against him, trying to draw some energy from the contact. It helped at least to calm her down.
“Maybe we need a break. A weekend trip somewhere. No work, no stress. How does that sound?” He gently stroked her back and she inhaled his scent, the familiar, comforting scent she’d grown to love.
“Sounds like heaven,” she admitted. “But I just don’t have the time.”
He brought some space between them, looked at her, searching for something.
“You need a break. Some rest. There has been so much going on lately and all you ever do is working more. And more. That can’t be good for – you. Us. I love you, I just want you to take care of yourself.”
She could tell how serious he was so she didn’t argue any further.
“Okay. A trip, one weekend. But not the next weekend or the one after that. I’m booked solid for the next two weeks.” She smiled apologetically and placed a hand on his cheek. “Thank you. For taking care of me.”
There was so much she wanted to tell him and at the same time she felt so extremely guilty, she just couldn’t.
“Miho’s bachelorette party, huh?” He chuckled slightly and Jazz nodded.
“That, too. But also work. I’m not always partying,” she said with an exaggerated pout.
“I know, I know. Although I love to see you cheerful and relaxed, so I’m fine when you are celebrating whatever you like.” He peered into her face, searching her eyes. “Is there something you’d like to celebrate?”
“Mhm, as soon as Miho and Goto had their wedding I really want to celebrate ours. And our engagement, no matter how short that was.” She smiled genuinely now, for the first time since – well, since taking that test. Maybe even before that.
“Nothing else?” His hand caressed her cheek and she leaned into the touch. This moment felt so fragil, so precious, she didn’t want it to end. Funny how they went from mind blowing sex to being each other’s home. Not that the sex was any less spectacular now, but there was just so much more than that. And still she wasn’t completely honest with him.
“Nothing else. For now.”
He nodded and smiled slightly before he kissed her softly.
“How about we order some food and just cuddle a bit on the couch for now? I miss just being with you.”
Jazz looked at him, amazed how wonderful this man was.
“That’s a great idea, love. I miss you, too. Hey, how about sushi?” She twisted a bit in his embrace to open the drawer with the delivery leaflets.
“Sushi? Uhm… no, I don’t feel like sushi. How about… Italian?”
Jazz stared at him. “You don’t feel like sushi? Sushi handrolls are your absolute favorite food, why don’t you feel like it?”
“I had sushi yesterday.”
“Oh, okay. Italian sounds good, too. Carpaccio, proscutto… yeah, I could go with that.” It’s been some time since she had Italian food.
“Carpaccio – that’s the raw beef slices, right? Uh, how about French? Or Indian?” He almost looked a bit panicked and Jazz got suspicious now.
“Kuni, what is going on? Why can’t we just order already?”
“How about I order us something and surprise you with it?” he tried to distract her. “Any cravings?” He made a face as if he had said something incredibly stupid and now Jazz really was confused.
“No. Well, maybe something spicy. Lately my food is tasting bland, at least I have that impression.” She shrugged and stepped out of his arms.
“Do you want some coffee? Or wine?”
“No, don’t bother. I can take care of that. You go and sit down on the couch.” He grabbed a leaflet of an Indian place and browsed the menu.
“Okay, but I would like some coffee.” It wasn’t that late yet and she could really need something to perk her up.
“Wouldn’t you prefer some tea?”
Jazz shot him a glare. What was wrong with him that he was so picky about what she ate and drank?
“I bring you some coffee, okay,” he relented with a sigh.
Five minutes later Jazz sat on the couch, a cup of coffee in her hand, her feet resting in Kuni’s lap while he absentmindedly rubbed them.
“That feels like heaven,” she sighed and took a sip of her coffee. Kuni really made the best coffee. He was so sweet and thoughtful. But…
“Did you forget the sugar?” She peered into her cup, the bitterness of the coffee a bit too much.
“Oh, I just thought – well, sugar’s not really good for you, is it?”
Jazz pulled her feet back and sat up. “I swear, if you start telling me to watch my weight I WILL demand a divorce.”
“What? No! I love you, I love your body, I don’t care if you gain weight. I can’t wait for you to gain even more! The more the better!” he frantically explained.
Jazz put her cup down. “Kunihiko, you are acting strange. Care to tell my why?”
He frowned, gnawed at his bottom lip. Sighed.
“Okay. Okay, here’s the thing. I – I think I found something very – personal from you…” he began, obviously choosing his words carefully.
“Personal? And now you don’t know how to act naturally around me anymore?” She was amused by the thought he might have rummaged through her underwear drawer or something. Until the thought crossed her mind that he could have found a client report or two.
“I, ugh, it’s just that I don’t understand why you hide something like that,” he admitted, wiping the thought of client reports from her mind. If he seemed – what? Happy? – it couldn’t be that.
“A woman has to keep some secrets,” she said with a shrug.
“Sure, and you should have some small secrets, I don’t mind. But that?”
What did he find? Oh. OH!
“So it’s the – uhm the size of the ‘secret’ that bothers you?” She was blushing, actually blushing, but felt like laughing at least. Typical male.
“Yes. I mean, that’s not only about you after all. It affects me, too. Shouldn’t we – shouldn’t you at least tell me?” Oh. He looked hurt and Jazz immediately felt guilty. Again.
“Kuni, I love you, you know I do. I married you. I want to spend my whole life with you. But I’m also a grown woman, I have the right of some privacy. And privacy involves having sex toys. That doesn’t mean that you can’t satisfy me or that I don’t love our sex. It just means that I’m having some toys in case I need them.”
For a moment it was silent between them.
“What?” He shook his head slightly, as if to shake off his confusion.
“What do you mean, ‘what’? Isn’t this what it’s all about? You found my vibrator?” She had a bad feeling all of sudden.
“No. No, I’m not talking about a – a sex toy. I’m talking about the pregnancy test.” His frown deepened. “And I really think you should talk with me about that.”
Jazz drew a sharp breath. Exhaled again. “Okay. Okay, you are right, that is – well, personal enough. I didn’t mean for you to find it. But it doesn’t matter anyway, does it?” The sadness in her face was getting to him and he hugged her.
“Hey, it’s nothing bad. I mean, sure, we haven’t planned it and I thought you were taking the pill, but I’m happy. Genuinely, incredibly happy. I just thought – I don’t know, I thought you would tell me with a sweet gesture and I was really on edge the last few days. I didn’t know that you were worried about it.” He wiped the first tears away that welled up in her eyes. “Did you think I wouldn’t be happy? That I wouldn’t want a baby with you?”
She shook her head, so tired, so sad. So empty.
“I don’t know what you think you found, but I’m not pregnant. The test was negative.” Her voice was blank.
Kunihiko tensed for a second. “No… two lines, right? Two lines mean positive.”
“Kuni, there was only one line. I’m definitely NOT pregnant.”
Neither of them said anything for a short while.
“You know, it’s possible that after some time, an hour or so, the second line appears but it’s still a negative test. It’s just – I don’t know, eventually every test has two lines. Important is the result after the time written on the box. And after 60 seconds there was just one line. I’m sorry…” She gave him a brave smile. “I didn’t know that you found it. I didn’t want you to get your hopes up just in case…” She shrugged.
“So, you never were pregnant? Or did you…?” He couldn’t even finish the thought. One second he was convinced they would become a family and the next one everything was just – gone.
“I never was pregnant. I would have told you the second the test was positive…” Jazz sighed, the disappointment in his face breaking her heart. “I’m so sorry.”
“No, no it’s – it’s fine. I jumped to conclusions… well, it was nice thinking you and I would, would become a real family, but – that doesn’t mean we can keep trying, right?” He cupped her face, confused when she started crying again. “What? What’s wrong?”
“Kuni – I… I was…” She sobbed, cried, clung to him. Reality was finally catching up with her and ripped down every little lie she had built up as defense so far, it made her dizzy.
“Jazz? Baby, talk to me. What is it?” He had never seen her like this, not even when Mino had disappeared. Not even when they had the worst of fights. Never.
“I’ve been – I have seen the doctor today. I – I… something isn’t right… they will… they will have to – to remove one of my – my ovaries…” She could hardly breathe, speak, think. All she could was feeling a loss of something she had never had and still taken for granted. She had always thought she would have a family one day. A baby. Maybe two. A husband, a house, but first and foremost children. And now she wasn’t even sure if that was possible. If she could have children.
“I’m so… I’m so sorry…” she muttered over and over. Now that she knew that he was thrilled by the thought of being a father the pain was even sharper, deeper. It wasn’t only about her, it was about them. About him. What if he left her? What if he would want someone who could give him that? What if?
“Shhh… it’s okay, love, it’s okay… as long as you are here I don’t care…” He rocked her in his arms like a crying child, waited until the tension subsided, the tremors running through her had calmed down.
When she could finally breathe again, still sobbing a bit, she wiped her face, not caring for the running makeup, and sat back a bit.
“I will have surgery the day after Miho’s party. I don’t want anyone to know, we had enough drama lately.”
He nodded, understanding what she meant. Especially Miho had been through a lot but the others had suffered, too. That was why everyone was looking forward to the bachelor/bachelorette party, just to let off some steam, take their minds off things.
“You’re not going to tell Miho, then?”
She shrugged. “No, not now at least. Maybe afterwards. You know that she’s not keen on babies anyway, I’m not sure if this is something I want to share with her until it’s done.”
Kunihiko pondered her words silently before he changed the topic slightly.
“Okay, I think I need more information about all that. If that’s okay with you,” he added and looked at her. Crying had helped clearing her mind and although the pain was still there, sitting prominently in the forefront of her mind and heart, she nodded.
“What exactly do you have and what will they do? What does that mean for you in the future?”
Jazz sighed. “I’m not a medic, I can only explain it in my own words. Obviously one of my ovaries, the left one, is twisted in a way that makes it necessary to remove it. That would explain some of the very heavy cramps I had in the last years. It’s called ovarian torsion and they will make a laparoscopy to remove it. It’s good that we found out about it now. There’s the risk of something called an ovarian infarct and that would be really painful and dangerous.” Her shoulders slumped a bit but she went on. “Once it’s removed the other ovary should be enough to keep the hormonal balance, but getting pregnant might be a problem.”
“A problem or impossible?” he asked, holding her hands, his thumbs rubbing over the back of her hands reassuringly.
“It’s not impossible, just – not that likely anymore. We might have to see a specialist.”
The doorbell rang, signaling the arrival of their food. Suddenly Jazz realized why Kuni had been so picky about their food earlier and a fresh round of tears welled up in her eyes. She loved him so much, wanted him to have everything that would make him happy. Children included.
Kuni came back with bags and boxes of foods but simply put them down on the table, ignoring them for now. Their conversation was more important after all.
“Okay, one last question, maybe the most important one. Do you want to have a baby?”
She nodded, her lips trembling. The 60 seconds before the test showed a negative result she has actually hoped for a second line. Yes, it would have change their lives forever, but she was sure it would have been in a good way.
“Good.” He smiled warmly. “In that case we are at least on the same page. I actually was a bit excited, maybe a bit too much. I – I ordered something, online.” His smile wavered a bit.
“What did you order?” Jazz snuggled close to him, needed the contact, the reassurance it gave her.
“It’s a bit embarrassing… but I ordered a onesie. ‘Daddy’s sweetheart’.”
She choked up a bit but smiled. “I bet it’s cute.”
“Yeah. I will return it, though.”
Jazz sat up a bit and looked at him. “No. Keep it. When it arrives, give it to me. I will give it back to you when we will actually need it.”
“So you want to keep trying? Or better, start trying?” The love in his gaze was too much for her now but she nodded despite her tears. “Good. Of course only after you have recovered and all. Until then – what was that about a vibrator earlier?”
Jazz chuckled, wiped her cheeks and grinned. “Hey, what about a girl being allowed some secrets?”
“Too late, you already told me. And now I really want to see it in action…” He winked at her, actually winked, and she laughed even more.
“First dinner. After that we can see what you can do with the information of me owning sex toys. But I bet there’s something you’d enjoy in my collection.” She felt much lighter now, after having told him everything. After sorting out her feelings.
And for now they could just enjoy being a newlywed couple. Everything else would be okay. She looked at him and was truly convinced of that. Everything would be just fine.