Ginny’s first thought when she heard her child’s heartbeat was ‘Fuck’. It wasn’t the purple prose of most people. She knew it would be fast. She knew what it would look like, she knew. She just felt… nothing. Blank. Uncomfortable as fuck. This was something she hadn’t planned for. Something not on the docket and definitely not something that she thought she could do.
It was also a season gone, which was a messed up thing to think when she was looking at a life inside of herself.
The technician mistook her silence at first as something good, chattering away about first-time moms and how often they were shocked that it was so small when it was taking so much energy. It wasn’t until she caught eyes with Ginny that it clicked with her and she looked at her with a small frown.
“That isn’t what this is, is it?”
Ginny’s eyes widened. “I’m not married.”
Which, wasn’t even on her radar a moment before. In fact, she hadn’t thought about how the other fifty percent of the genetics would react until that moment. Her heart beat went up.
“Honey, it’s 2019 and you have a good job,” she said, exuding calm. “You won’t be living on the streets with a scarlet letter…”
But she might be in it on her own. She licked her lips and thought idly about breaking contracts and deals and running away. With the baby. That was inside of her. That would continue to be inside of her. Until it came out. Which she wasn’t going to think about.
The screen paused in its movements and the warm roller lifted off her belly. She looked back at the lady and saw her biting her lower lip. “You have been informed of your choices?”
She nodded one tight jerk of her head. She had talked to the doctor two weeks beforehand and in her head had been going through all of those ‘choices’ over and over again. Had she been asked three weeks prior her views on abortion she would have easily talked about the Woman’s right to choose. She was pro-choice. She might have spouted off a tirade about men making choices about her body.
Except, now it was her choice and she felt like she was completely under prepared for that. She supported every single person’s rights, but the reality of it for her was absolutely petrifying. She had agonized over it. But the moment she decided she was keeping the baby she didn’t feel the fear of not keeping it and that was about as close to a wake-up call as she thought it could be.
“Okay then,” the nurse said, putting the scanner back on her belly. “You know, I didn’t feel anything when I saw my son for the first time. I mean, I felt nauseated, but I was always nauseated. I felt exhausted. And annoyed. This was back when machines didn’t give you anything, too.
“My husband swore he saw something, but I saw nothing. I didn’t even know if I wanted to see anything. I just wanted to pee.”
Ginny couldn’t help but laugh at that and when she did the small blip on the screen moved back and forth and something moved outward.
“What the hell was that?” she said, looking at the little shape. “It moved.”
“Well, you laughed, it moved your belly,” the woman sounded slightly amused. “Ears aren’t really developed yet but your movement can produce a startle motion.”
She didn’t say anything but looked at the screen for a long moment. The little movement defining things a bit for her.
The technician gave her some papers and wiped off her belly. It was still completely flat, she marveled. She’d seen a few pregnant woman since she’d found out and she was constantly looking at their bellies with this half horrified half curious feeling. That was someday, soon, going to be her. She couldn’t actually ask them if they felt like they were carrying useless weight or if they hated it, but she kept thinking it.
The light turned on a moment later and she blinked at the sudden brightness of the room. The technician, ‘Tammy’ sewed on her scrubs, looked at her and offered her a hand. “Okay dear, you can go and relieve yourself. After that, you go back in the waiting room and the doctor should call you back real soon.”
Ginny tried for a smile and nodded. “Okay, thanks.”
She then ran towards the bathroom, cause damn.
It wasn’t till she sat down that she realized the papers were pictures. Of the little player to be named in her stomach.
A few hours later she parked outside of Mike’s house. He had given her a key and a parking place in his overly large garage but she was a little anxious about using either. She felt… like an intruder.
She got out of her car and clicked the button to lock it, which was weirdly loud and caused her to jump. In the back of her mind, she remembered seeing the little body jump at her laughter. She braced herself and slipped the key into the lock, knowing there was no better indicator to Mike that something was up than her ringing the bell.
“Gin?” he called as soon as she walked in. “Why are you coming in the front door? The garage being wonky.”
She didn’t say, ‘Easier escape.’ Instead, she made a noncommittal noise and followed his voice into the room he called his office. It was filled with memorabilia of his own career and others. A few medals and boxes and a crap ton of posters.
He was at his computer. Which could pretty much only mean he was working on the book deal he was offered when he announced his imminent retirement. She put a hand on her stomach without thinking about it, but thankfully she moved it just as he was turning around.
She didn’t have a response. She felt like the cat got her tongue, or possibly like she was 16 and meeting Mike for the first time. She had no words to give him. But she blinked and forced out a simple question. “You hungry?”
“Does it mean I don’t have to look at the damn blinking black line on my screen?” Mike said, rubbing at his eyes. “Cause I would do your freaky work out for the rest of the day rather than try writing right now.”
She smiled, still feeling the bubbles and weirdness surrounding her. It was like a crazy after school special. Not that she’d ever seen any, but she was sure Mike watched at least one. She doubted he was going to be as amused by the comparison as it was to her.
The kitchen was stocked. This had not always been the truth. For a really long time, Mike’s kitchen was thread bare, beer, those god awful hungry man meals, peanut butter and old take out. But that was before they’d begun dating. She’d snuck in some things and then, on a boring afternoon, she took him grocery shopping.
It leads to her feeling confident enough to go in his fridge and grab some basics. He had apples and pears, which sounded edible enough. She went to the way too large pantry and grabbed graham crackers and peanut butter. Meanwhile, he’d grabbed… beer. She looked at it and swallowed.
“Um, I’m not in the mood for beer, can you grab me some coconut water?”
“Come on, it’s the afternoon…”
She rolled her eyes. “You’re going to get a gut, Lawson. And I’m not even going to sugar coat it.”
He looked down at his stomach and then back up at her. “Fine, coconut water. Brat.”
Her hands shook a little as she used the apple corer (another of her purchases) and pushed down to cut the first of the two apples into eight perfect pieces. She did the same with the second, placing them on a plate that was one of the few things Mike had had in his house when she first came over. She cut the pear, put a huge dollop of it on the corner of the plate.
She was avoiding, taking her time putting peanut butter on the graham crackers and trying desperately to think of something to say that wasn’t, ‘You knocked me up’. She put the lid back on the jar and went to lick some stray peanut butter off of her finger. Instead, Mike leaned in out of nowhere and grabbed her thumb in his mouth.
“Hey, I was going to eat that,” she whined, he smiled and made a little pop as he pulled off her finger. “Go sit at the table, or I am not sharing.”
He kissed her cheek. “Aye aye, future Captain.”
Knowing that he didn’t know anything, it still felt like a stab to the gut. She wasn’t playing for … well. A while. And who knew how the team would handle this. She guessed, as always, she would have to blaze her own trail in the way as well. She swallowed the lump in her throat and picked up the plate and set it down in the middle of the table.
“So,” Mike said. “What was the mysterious reason you couldn’t stay this morning? Are you an Evelyn setting up some sort of thing for Blip’s birthday? Cause I can keep secrets, you know I can.”
He couldn’t, but that was so far beyond the point.
She took a big bite of the apple, chewing on it and looking at Mike. All the worst case scenarios popped into her mind again. She wondered if she should memorize his carefree happy face for a little longer. Tell him in the morning. Or in a week. Or two.
“Evelyn already has something going for that,” she said, swallowing the apple. “I… had a doctor’s appointment.”
Mike’s face went from carefree to worry in the blink of an eye. His eyebrows furrowed, lips tightened. “Are you… Is everything okay? Your arm hasn’t shown any wear when I watch you pitch. I mean, you’ve been focusing too much on your cutter but when does that…”
“Not my arm,” she snapped. “But thanks for freaking me out with the fact that I’m overusing my cutter. Jesus.”
His face had gone impossibly whiter, still pursued and confused. “Are you sick?”
“Not technically,” she said, and then ripped the band aid off as quick as possible, unable to look at him in the process. “I’m pregnant, apparently.”
There was dead silence in the kitchen. He was seated, frozen stock still like he was waiting to give her a sign but couldn’t think of one. She was watching him too, for a completely different type of sign. His face stayed furrowed and white and she didn’t realize she was holding her breath until she felt her chest tightened.
She breathed in and out and in. He just sat there.
She snapped her fingers in front of his face. “Can you react? Cause I think I might be sick on your freaking floor and that is not something I want to do today.”
“Pregnant,” he said, finally. He put his hand up through his hair, and she noted the slight graying at his temples. He’d been fighting it since he was thirty, apparently, but hadn’t recolored it in too long. She kept the fact to herself.
She shifted in her chair. “Yeah.”
He put his hands back on the table, his face going from tight to overly relaxed. She wondered what he was thinking about. If he needed time. If she should have done it in a different way. Her brain was going too fast.
She tilted up and grabbed the pictures from her back pocket. Mike looked scared at first, and maybe she shouldn’t have brought up puke, but instead, she threw down the pictures. He looked at her and then at the picture and then at her. She frowned.
“These are sonograms. I’m eight weeks,” she said. “They um, the baby… it’s right there.”
She found the white little dot and tried to focus on where she’d seen the heart beating. That was the easiest point of direction.
“It’s basically a curled up mouse right now. But it’s there.”
Mike stood up suddenly, his hands in his hair and his shirt riding up to show his fuzzy stomach. She would tease him about it, but she didn’t think it was the time or place.
“Baby,” he said, not a question. “Baby. Baby. A human. You have a human in your stomach.”
She bit her tongue on saying, ‘Trust me I am fucking aware of this fact.’ She had taken a full week to process and it was still something that popped up out of nowhere in her brain. She stared at the water in her hands and waited for him to come out of that haze.
He stuttered. “Wha-what what are you going to do?”
She inhaled and couldn’t help a weirdly calm smile. ‘You’. She should have seen that coming. Yes. What was she going to do? While heavily involved in the making of it, apparently the second part was all hers.
“I’m going to keep it,” she said, letting her eyes snap to his. A dark, almost, for him to say something about it. He looked at her like a lost puppy. It appeared he might actually cry and not in the way that you would want a guy to cry when you told him you were pregnant.
He licked his lips. “Are you sure?”
Her heart broke just a little, she could feel the tearing in the center of her chest. She nodded, not willing to speak about that.
“Ginny, your career is…”
“… Still going to be there when I get back.”
“It’s not easy coming back from injury,” he said and she gave up. INJURY? She looked at him and saw the version she had on her rookie card. Wide eyed a little bravado, a lot of fear.
Everything felt heavy in the room. She got to her feet.
“What are you doing?” he asked. She inhaled deeply and walked over to give him a kiss on the cheek. Fuck if he didn’t smell good.
She bit her lower lip and inhaled deeply. “Whatever I say right now won’t change things or make it easier. Whatever you say won’t change my mind it’ll just piss me off. I can’t help you. I… I love you. A lot. But I refuse to let my kid feel unwanted or unloved. I… I can do this on my own, Lawson. So it’s your choice whether or not I do.”
His face went smooth and blank. She feared she already knew the answer and she didn’t even have to wait for it. But he didn’t say anything and she turned on her heel, grabbing her keys and her phone before opening his door once again and heading down the stairs.
Once she got in the car she looked up at the familiar overly fancy aesthetic and exhaled shakily. She’d made it to her car, but she only let a few silent tears fall because, well. Fuck that. That was not who she was. She stared at the steering wheel and looked back up, turned the car on and drove off.
She had a prescription for prenatals, so she had to stop into the grocery store. While she was there she grabbed a few things that sounded good, she stared at the ice cream for twenty minutes but decided against it. She wasn’t going to let herself become the crazy overweight pregnant lady. She would have to get back into shape as fast as possible after the baby was born.
She got to her townhouse and put things on the counter. She walked over to her couch, just to take off her shoes. She ended up curling up and sobbing into the stupid blanket that Mike had gotten her the year before cause her feet were ‘actual blocks of ice that fit into shoes’.
A while later she was woken up by a noise. Her phone buzzed in her pocket and she wondered what the hell anyone had to call her. It was Evelyn. She’d been avoiding Evelyn. So that would be fun but as soon as the phone stopped ringing she got a text.
‘E: Either you answer me or I’m coming over. Your choice.’
She hit send. That girl did not go back on her threats.
“JESUS, the man-child can’t keep a secret long enough for me to get a nap.”
Evelyn let out a tut. “Don’t call him a man child, he’s the father of your kid.”
“YOU named him Man-Child, Evie.”
“That was before the whole … kid thing,” Evelyn said. “Come on. A baby, Ginny. I know it could be an ideal timing wise but let’s be real. There was never going to be an ideal time for you.”
She sat up a little, realizing she had to pee so badly she feared she might pee on her couch. She pushed herself up and walked towards the bathroom. By far, not the first time she was on the phone with Evelyn while she peed. “I’m glad you’re excited. Including me that makes a grand total of two.”
“What do you mean?” Evelyn asked slowly.
She recounted the afternoon. She spared a few details, like the crying on the couch.
“So I got to be the pregnant girl staring at ice cream and wondering what the fuck my life is anymore.”
“And you didn’t get the ice cream? Girl, this is the one time in your life you are encouraged to do so. By all means, enjoy the freaking ice cream, your body is making another human.”
She rolled her eyes and flushed. “Three hundred calories.”
“The human growing in me requires three to five hundred calories a day and I should use them effectively. Not waste them on Ben and Jerry’s.”
There was a silence. “I can’t believe he didn’t chase after your car.”
“He ran to Blip, freaking the hell out, mind you all dads are freaking the hell out when they find it out. I mean, Blip honest to goodness vomited when they said the words twins.”
She let that sink in just long enough before her brain caught up with the logistics of it. “On the phone?”
“No, literally ran to Blip. Like the car was an afterthought I am almost entirely sure,” she said. “He and Blip are going through the run down right now. Blip thinks he’s got the knowledge, bless his heart. It was during the season, he changed like four diapers and had his mom come to stay for a month like THAT was helpful. Should I go in and hurt him? ”
He was there. He was at the Sanders’ house. Maybe 10 minutes from where she was at the moment. She swallowed hard. “No. Don’t hurt him. Just. Don’t… don’t tell him we talked.”
She heard the familiar cluck of disapproval. Was that a thing she would just develop as soon as the baby was born or was it something you learned? “Gin. What the hell do you think you’ll get out of freaking out and being melancholy? Sadness and stress are not good for babies.”
“Evelyn, please,” she said, and tears started to threaten again. It was just… she had to save some shreds of her dignity here.
But he went to Blip, her treacherous brain teased. He wanted to talk about being a dad.
Or he wanted to talk about how terrible it was and how he wasn’t ready and the only person he felt close enough to happened to have kids. Or maybe he second guessed himself but then hearing the reality of it will cement it in his mind. Or … who knows.
“I will not say I talked to you,” Evelyn said. “Go rest. Eat a banana or something. It’ll keep the charlie horses at bay.”
Evelyn let out a soft laugh. “We’re doing lunch this week. I’ll let you into the pregnancy club. We have a secret handshake.”
She couldn’t help but smile at that. An anxiousness churned at her stomach, she felt tired and overwhelmed but… Baby. “Hey, Evie?”
“I’m having a baby,” she said, just to see if it felt more real out loud. (It didn’t.)
Evelyn squealed. “Yeah, you are. And I love you.”
She stayed on the phone for another ten minutes with Evelyn, talking back and forth about random baby things. Evelyn made no bones about the fact that this baby should be a girl and named Evelyn. Ginny said that she’d take it into consideration. Ginny already knew the godparents would be Evelyn and Blip, but that would be a question for another time.
By the time she got off the phone she felt… better. If not completely happy, she was feeling less alone and that was enough. She walked back into the kitchen and opened her door. Her fridge, weirdly, was pretty bare. She had thankfully put away the fruit she’d bought and the steak.
But nothing sounded good. In fact, most of it sounded disgusting. She grabbed a banana off the counter, Evelyn’s warning staying in her ears. She took a bite, didn’t realize how much bananas tasted. It was usually a bland taste. But this one tasted almost candy like in its banananess. She put her hand on her stomach.
“You’re going to mess with me, aren’t you PTBN?”
Unsurprisingly she got no response. She walked back to the couch and curled up with her head on the armrest, the blanket tucked up underneath her chin. The TV was playing ESPN on loop, but she changed it to Law and Order. She swore the channel never played anything other than it but that wasn’t a logical money making scheme. She just had good timing.
It was the middle of an episode but she’d seen it about twenty times so she knew who’d done it. The bad guy was on the screen, smiling innocently and being way too helpful to Jesse L. Martin. She might’ve dozed off again, between the warmth of the blanket and the lull of Jesse’s voice even in interrogation mode, because when she opened her eyes the bad guy was in cuffs.
She jerked up and wondered what exactly had woken her up.
A knock at the door.
Oh, fuck. The door. She blearily walked towards it, her shirt rucked up and her hair every where. She opened it and involuntarily jumped back.
“Holy fuck, Lawson.”
Mike was in the doorway, head up and chin out. He looked like he was there to be walked to the guillotine.
“Hey Gin,” he said, a sad little smile on his face.
“Hey,” she replied, almost automatically.
He took a tentative step in and she stepped back. He took another and she mimicked. He looked at the door and made the closing motion and she nodded her head, not really sure what she was doing. He closed it behind him.
“So, Evelyn said that I needed to make an offering,” he said and held up a bag from Ralphs, digging out of it not one, not two, but three different types of ice cream. All three were ones she liked, and the fact that he had even noticed made her feel weirdly happy.
She wanted to resist, but he had Americone Dream and there was simply so much a person can take. With one hand she grabbed it off the counter and went through the motions of picking off the plastic and taking off the top. Not quite the bowl type of moment, she grabbed a spoon and sat down at the tiny breakfast table she had in the corner.
She looked up at Mike, who was staring down at her almost awaiting instructions. She pointedly stared at the other chair and he smiled softly before sitting down across from her.
“Look,” he said, fidgeting over the table. “I was stupid. I get that. I shouldn’t have acted like it was your problem…”
She stopped mid bite and opened her mouth to speak, he cut her off.
“Not a problem, not a problem. Just … a huge fucking surprise. Either way, it wasn’t just you in the boat. We’re both in the boat. Together. Seated next to each other. If you’ll let me. You’re the Captain, I’m just the first mate…”
“Did Blip try and use fishing metaphors?” she tilted her head. She couldn’t picture this being a Mike thing. And Blip had tried to use the fishing thing when he was talking to her after Trevor. It was awful.
Mike made a face. “It was better than when he was just yelling at me. I mean. He has been pissed at me, but this was a whole new level. Evelyn was fine at first, but before I left I think she was going to physically assault me.”
“I think they think I’m the daughter they didn’t have,” she said. “Which is weird as hell but as I don’t really have strong parent game, I’ll take it.”
“I didn’t have much for parenting either,” Mike said softly. Ginny looked at him and saw the scared teen from the rookie card. “I never had a dad, Ginny.”
She knew that, intellectually. He had told her parts of the story, small chunks that she thought were played down for her sake. But in the end, it equaled him not really getting a good example of a dad. Say what she would about her parents (and she would, oh she would) but at least they always were there. They tried even when they failed horribly.
“And Rachel didn’t want them… so I just figured good,” he shrugged. “I thought the last thing that I would be as a dad. So you tell me you’re pregnant and I get the bad voice in my head telling me that I was there to fuck it all up. I was going to screw it up.”
Ginny tilted her head, sticking her spoon in the dead center of the melting ice cream. “Have you met my mom? Screw a college fund, I should just start a therapy fund. I mean. She’s doomed to hate me entirely.”
A weird look crossed his face. “She?”
Ginny blinked. “What?”
“You said ‘she’ is doomed to hate you…”
“Oh, no, they … I don’t think they can tell this early. The little player to be named is currently any and all genders, I guess.”
Mike huffed out a breath. “Player to be named.”
“Yeah,” Ginny said, feeling stupid as she blushed. “PTBN, or Pete? I guess. Not bean. Too many bad connotations for that one as a pitcher.”
“A baby,” he breathed. “Ginny. We’re having a baby.”
The way he said it was different than the last, somehow it had gone from him saying ‘a bomb’ to something so full of awe.
“Blip get you to drink the Kool-aid?” she chided.
He shook his head and smiled softly. “You did, actually.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“On the field, way back when I thought you were just some publicity stunt. You called me out on being a jackass, and then you smacked my ass. I’ve been drinking the Kool Aid ever since… I’m sorry, Ginny.”
She swallowed around an unexpected lump. “For what?”
“For not doing this when you told me,” he said and he got down on both knees. There was a distinct second of her thinking he was going to propose which she would punch him for. He would propose not because she was knocked up.
Instead, he shuffled (with a grunt) towards her and turned to her stomach, giving it a soft warm kiss, humming into it. “Hey, you. What do you think about shortstop? It’s an overrated position, but you aren’t playing catcher.”
“Ugh, no baseball,” Ginny laughed. “How about we have a normal studious kid who finds passion in accounting?”
Mike caught her lips in a kiss and let it linger for a long time before pulling back. “Okay. Deal. As long as they are happy.”
“Perfect,” she said, her heart beating hard against her chest. It didn’t feel… possible. For any of what they were talking about being true.
“And they are okay with their parents going to their math stuff and cheering as loud as we are allowed.”
She busted up laughing. “Oh hell yeah. You make the signs, I’ll do the face painting.”
He brushed his face against hers, the beard tickling in a familiar way. And for that moment it was, in fact, perfect.