One week had passed since Jessica’s surgery and the Clinton-Rodham-Ewing household had been settling into their new normal while Jessica was recuperating. Hillary had reluctantly traveled to Washington DC for a few days to attend to some urgent business in the Senate and Jeff had also returned to work at his job with UPS. While Jeff was at work and Jessica was resting, the rest of the family had had a nice, relaxing, family day outside by the pool.
They had just finished dinner and everyone had retreated to their separate corners of the house while Bill and Chelsea were cleaning the kitchen. It was Chelsea, Marc, and Charlotte’s last night in Chappaqua before they would be returning to their New York City apartment the following morning.
“Did you talk to your sister about the baby yet, Chels?” Bill asked in a hushed tone, while he loaded the dishwasher.
Chelsea sheepishly shook her head and nervously bit her lip as she carried the last couple of dirty dishes over to the sink. It was a conversation she had put off having all week, but she knew she needed to tell Jessica about her pregnancy sooner rather than later. Especially because she would be returning to the city the next day and it wasn’t a conversation she wanted to have on the phone or over a video chat.
“Why don’t you go on up and talk to her now?” Bill suggested, since Chelsea and Marc had already put Charlotte to bed for the night. “I think she’s watching TV in her room with your sisters. I can finish up here.” He gave his daughter a nod of encouragement.
“You sure?” Chelsea asked, with a small sigh, knowing she needed to get this over with.
“Of course.” Bill smiled supportively at his daughter. “Go.”
Chelsea nodded, knowing that her dad was right and that there was no time like the present to have this difficult conversation.
* * * * *
“Jess?” Chelsea lightly knocked on Jessica’s bedroom door, not wanting to wake her if she was asleep. “It’s me. Chelsea.”
“Come in,” Jessica weakly called out.
When Chelsea opened the door a crack and poked her head inside the room, she couldn’t help but smile at the sight in front of her. Hayley and Cassandra were cuddled up in bed on either side of their older sister while the three of them were watching The Bachelorette together. Shiloh was sound asleep, curled up on top of her mother’s chest while Jessica’s two tortoise shell cats, Lily and Shadow, were also curled up at the edge of the bed, snoozing.
While Chelsea was sure that their mother would not approve of Hayley and Cassandra watching The Bachelorette , it sure was one of the sweetest sights she had ever seen and she hated that she had to disturb the four of them.
“Hey,” Chelsea chirped, entering the room. “I brought you a hot chocolate.”
“Oh, thank you, Chels,” Jessica said, softly smiling at the younger woman while she accepted the steaming mug of hot cocoa from her sister.
Even though it was the middle of summer, and a hundred degrees outside, Chelsea thought that Jessica deserved a treat.
“No problem,” Chelsea replied, smiling at her big sister in return. “Um, can I talk to Jessie for a few minutes?” She asked her younger sisters.
Hayley nodded and paused the show. “Sure.”
Cassandra nodded in return and unfurled herself from Jess’s side.
“We can finish watching later,” Jessica told the younger girls, placing the mug of hot cocoa on the nightstand beside her. “Can one of you please bring Shiloh to her bed?”
“Of course,” Cassandra said, scooping her niece up, being careful not to wake the girl.
“See you in a bit, Jess,” Hayley said before the three girls exited the room.
Suddenly waking up from their naps, Lily pounced off the bed and chased the three girls out of the bedroom while Shadow crawled up the bed and made herself comfortable in Jessica’s lap.
“What’s up, Chels?” Jessica asked, patting the empty space on the bed next to her before she started gently stroking her cat’s fur. “Is Jeff home from work yet?”
“No.” Chelsea shook her head. “Not yet.”
Jessica sighed and nodded. Since he had been promoted to being a delivery driver for UPS, he had been working even longer hours than usual. He was usually out of the house before Jessica woke up and he got home around ten or eleven at night. The few days he had been off work to care for Jessica had been really nice but she understood that he needed to return to work in order to provide for their family. Especially with Jessica taking a medical leave of absence from work.
“How are you feeling?” Chelsea asked as she crawled into bed, next to her sister. She pulled the duvet up around herself.
Jessica shrugged slightly. “I’m okay, I guess. Just really tired still. I’ll probably go to sleep in a few minutes.”
She had been surprised that the pain after her hysterectomy hadn’t been as bad as she had expected. She had even managed to take a shower a few days prior, which had made her feel more like her normal self. But she had had terrible fatigue for the past week and couldn’t muster up the energy to do anything besides watch television for the past couple of days. So she had just been vegging out, taking it easy, alternating between watching trashy reality TV shows, and napping, for the past week. “So, what’s up, Chels?” She asked again, wondering what could be so important that Chelsea couldn’t say it in front of their younger siblings.
Chelsea decided that the best way to deliver the news would just be to come right out with it and say it. Similar to how she had broken the news to her parents. “Well, Jess. Since Marc and I are heading back to the city tomorrow, I feel like I owe it to you to tell you this news now. Before you hear it from somebody else.”
Jessica’s brows furrowed as she stared at her younger sister, curiously, wondering what the news was.
“I’m…pregnant.” Chelsea gave Jessica a nervous but excited smile, wondering what her older sister’s reaction to the news would be.
“What?” Jessica stared at Chelsea in shock for a few moments until her face broke out into a wide grin. “Oh my God! Seriously?”
Chelsea’s own smile widened, as she felt relief that her sister seemed to be taking the news well, and she nodded excitedly. “Yup! I’m nine weeks along today.”
“Oh my God! Chelsea, that’s amazing! Congrats, sis. I’m so excited for you, guys,” Jessica replied, feeling genuine happiness and excitement for the younger woman. She leaned over and lightly pecked Chelsea’s cheek.
“So, you’re okay with this?” Chelsea asked, wanting to make sure that her older sister wasn’t upset or disappointed by the news. “Considering…” She couldn’t bring herself to say it so she gestured vaguely towards Jessica’s stomach area and Jessica knew what she meant, causing the older sister to let out a bitter, shaky sigh.
“Well, of course this news is bittersweet, yes,” Jessica admitted, finally letting her guard down, slightly. “But I really am so happy for you, Marc, and Charlotte. And I can’t wait to become an auntie again.” She weakly smiled at her sister and quietly sighed again. “Jeff and I did discuss having children before we got engaged. And we decided that if it was meant to happen for us to have a child together, it would happen. But if not, that we were happy and content with the children we already have. So I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for us.” Jessica looked down, sadly, not being able to meet her sister’s eye as Chelsea had started tearing up.
“Don’t cry, Chels,” Jessica said, trying not to tear up herself. She forced a smile. “This is a good thing. I'm so happy for you. Yes, this horrible, unexpected thing happened to me. And even though it took away my ability to bear more children, I already have three beautiful children, and the most amazing and beautiful stepdaughter. I’ll be fine.” She stared at Chelsea reassuringly and squeezed her younger sister’s hand. “I don’t want you to feel like you can’t celebrate your pregnancy because of me. This is amazing and joyous news. I’m so glad that you and Marc are expanding your family. Really.”
Chelsea nodded, knowing that her sister was right, that she had every right to celebrate her pregnancy, despite her older sister’s current situation. She was relieved that Jessica had taken the news well and that her older sister was excited for her, just as their parents had assured her would happen.
She looked over and noticed that Jessica was struggling to keep her eyes open.
Ever since the hysterectomy, waves of extreme fatigue would overcome Jessica completely out of the blue and one of these waves was starting to hit her now.
“I’ll let you get your rest,” Chelsea said, as she noticed her sister’s eyes drifting shut. She squeezed Jessica’s hand and lightly kissed her forehead.
“Thanks, Chels. Congrats again,” Jessica mumbled sleepily as she started to drift off to sleep. “Love you.”
“I love you, too, sis.”
* * * * *
Later that night, Jeff was finally home from work and Jessica had woken up from her nap. She was sitting at the kitchen table keeping her fiance company while he made a sandwich for himself. It was too late for him to be having a full dinner but he had worked a long shift and wanted something in his stomach before going to bed, so he had settled on having a sandwich.
He looked up from spreading mayonnaise on a piece of bread, when he heard his fiancee let out a sad and shaky sigh to herself. As soon as he had arrived home and greeted her, he had realized that she wasn’t in the greatest of moods. Right now she looked lost in thought as she stared into space.
“I switched shifts with someone so I have tomorrow off work,” Jeff announced. “Should we try to get some wedding planning done?”
Jessica just shrugged nonchalantly, not really paying attention to what her fiance was saying as her mind was racing uncontrollably.
Jeff frowned and bit his lip, wishing that his fiancee would open up to him. He knew that she had the tendency to shut down sometimes, and she had been shutting down more and more ever since her cancer diagnosis. He wanted her to have her space to process everything that was going on, but he also knew that she would feel a lot better if she talked to him about what she was feeling.
“I found a possible wedding venue that’s not too far from here that the owner said we can look at tomorrow, if you want?” Jeff suggested, wanting to get Jessica’s mind off of whatever was bothering her. “If you’re up to it, that is.”
“I don’t want to do any wedding planning!” Jessica suddenly said, a little more bitterly than she intended to.
“Oh.” Jeff was taken aback, not expecting her to have that kind of a reaction. “Okay, then. Well we’ll just relax here then and watch some movies. That’s fine with me.” He finished preparing his turkey sandwich and carried it over to the kitchen table, sitting across from his fiancee.
“I’m sorry, honey.” Jessica sighed, feeling guilty for the way she had reacted. “I didn’t mean it like that. But…what’s the point in planning a wedding? Who knows what’s going to happen with my health or with the pandemic in a month, two months? A year? Let’s just get married in the backyard here and have a big wedding celebration later.” Jessica had already had her dream, fairytale wedding when she married James. She didn’t need another one. She was perfectly content with a small backyard ceremony, if it would mean making Jeff her husband.That's all that mattered to her.
“We’re going to have the wedding of our dreams because you’re going to kick cancer’s ass and this pandemic will hopefully be over some day. Don’t you want to celebrate our love, and celebrate the fact that we’re healthy and alive, in front of all of our friends and family?” Jeff gave Jessica an encouraging smile, always the optimistic one.
Jessica just shrugged and sighed. “Can we talk about it tomorrow? I’m really tired.”
Jeff sighed in return and nodded, respecting his fiancee’s wishes. He knew she had been battling terrible fatigue ever since the hysterectomy.
* * * * *
“What’s really bothering you, sweetheart?” he asked a few minutes later, after he had finished eating his sandwich. Judging from his fiancee’s demeanor, he knew something else was bothering Jessica, besides worrying about her health and the pandemic.
Jessica let out another shaky sigh, not sure if she should say anything since it wasn't her news to share but she had to remember that this was her future husband that she was talking to. She could tell him anything.
Jessica watched Jeff’s face as he took in this news. His forehead crinkled in concern and his brows furrowed, as he stared at his fiancee softly, worried about her and how she was taking the news.
“Are you okay?”
“She’s my sister and I love being an auntie, so of course I’m over the moon for her, don’t get me wrong,” Jessica started. She tried to force a smile but she still found herself tearing up. “But…it’s hard.” She sniffled and started crying quietly until her cries eventually turned into full on sobs.
“Come here.” Jeff patted his lap, as his heart broke, watching his fiancee fall apart like this.
Jessica nodded before she got up from the table and came around to Jeff’s side. She quickly scurried into his lap and buried her face in his shoulder, as he wrapped his big, strong arms around Jessica’s tiny waist.
“Hey, it’s okay. It’s okay,” Jeff soothed as Jessica sobbed into his shoulder.
“I love my children and Mariah so much and we’re very blessed to have them in our lives already but I guess I wanted to have a baby with you more than I ever realized,” Jessica admitted quietly as tears continued rolling down her cheeks.
“I know, baby. I wanted that, too,” Jeff finally admitted out loud in a sad, weary tone of voice. It had been weighing heavily on his mind for the last few weeks and even though he loved Jessica’s kids like they were his own flesh and blood, and he knew Jessica felt the same way about Mariah, he would always regret that he and Jessica hadn’t been able to have a child of their own.
He soothingly rubbed his fiancee’s back as her sobs started subsiding and her breathing started to even out. Tiredly, Jessica lay her head against Jeff’s shoulder.
“I feel like less of a woman,” Jessica admitted quietly. It was the first time she had admitted it out loud since her surgery. “I can’t even do the one thing that wives are supposed to do.” She let out a frustrated sigh, hating once again that this horrible thing had to have happened to her.
“Hey,” Jeff started. “Shhh. You are not less of a woman just because you don’t have a uterus anymore, okay? You are still the same strong, beautiful, brilliant, kind, witty, and amazing woman that I fell in love with. Your reproductive organs have nothing to do with that. Okay? Second of all, we’ve always said, if it’s meant to be. It’s meant to be. Maybe we weren’t meant to have a biological child together and God has other plans for us.”
Jessica nodded, knowing that Jeff was absolutely right. She smiled weakly to herself, feeling a little bit better after their talk.
“You’re right, honey,” she murmured. “Thank you. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”
Neither of them knew what the future had in store.
Jeff just nodded before he planted a kiss on the crown of Jessica’s head. He heard her yawning.
“Come on, let’s go upstairs. It’s very late,” Jeff whispered. “You need your rest.”
Jessica nodded, not wanting to argue with that. She was exhausted, as usual and she was starting to feel some pain coming on. She winced slightly from the discomfort.
“I love you, Jeff,” She said a moment later, staring softly up at her fiance with her big brown eyes. She weakly smiled again. “You always know how to make me feel better.”
“I love you, too, Jessica Dorothy Rodham,” Jeff replied quietly, smiling down at her in return. Before he carefully picked her up and carried his fiancee up to bed.
To Be Continued…