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I Want You to Know

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“The Outsider”

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Early November

Sonny and Amanda’s Apartment - Saturday Afternoon

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“So what do you think?” Sonny asked, biting his lip.

Amanda contemplated for a while before deciding she wanted to hear his opinion first. “What are your thoughts on it?”

Sonny furrowed his eyebrows. “It’s not somethin’ that had ever crossed my mind. But now that it’s been presented to us I kinda feel like having Gina as our surrogate makes the most sense. I know you don’t have the same relationship with her that I do, but I really trust her. More than I could ever trust some random person we pick. No matter how good their portfolio looks. I know the idea sounds a little a hick when ya say it out loud without understanding the context, but I feel as though if we can’t have you carry our child, Gina is the next best option.”

He paused for a moment before continuing. “She brought up some other good points too. Like the cost. We would obviously pay for all her medical expenses, but not having to drop thousands of dollars to hire a surrogate, on top of the thousands we spent on IVF, would help us out considerably. We wouldn’t have to borrow from my parents, which I know you weren’t crazy about, nor would we need to go into debt.”

Sonny took in a deep breath and ran a hand through his hair. “How do you feel about it all?”

Amanda pressed her lips together as she carefully thought over her words before finally responding. “Out of all your sisters, Gina’s probably the one I know least. But from the little time I have spent with her, I do think she has a really good head on her shoulders and would take this whole thing very seriously. Having someone in the family as our surrogate does feel like the best way to go about this. For all the reasons you said. But…”

“But?” Sonny pressed, wanting to know what was on her mind.

“What if us and Gina don’t see eye to eye on certain aspects? Like doctors or procedures? What if something went wrong and we lost the baby? What if something bad happened to your sister during labor? I guess what I’m saying is while this could be a great thing, there’s also a chance, depending on how things go down, for the surrogacy to cause a rift between you and her. I would feel terrible if we got a baby out of this, but the journey to him or her resulted in you not having a relationship with your sister.”

Sonny sighed as he thought over his wife’s words and realized this did have the potential to cause issues. “I hadn’t really considered everythin’ you mentioned. Maybe because I’ve been tryin’ to stay optimistic about it all. But you’re right. If we aren’t on the same page with her about things or something goes wrong and blame is bein’ thrown around, we could have real problems.”

Seeing the disappointment in his face, Amanda pressed on with the rest of her thoughts. “Sonny, I’m not trying to be a Debbie downer. I definitely think there are more positives than negatives using your sister as a surrogate over a stranger. It’s just the three of us will need to sit down and lay out expectations. We should also keep Langan as our lawyer and make sure Gina gets one too. If we are all on the same page regarding the big things, then I’d like to go forward with this.”

Sonny rested his hand on her thigh. “You’re not bein’ a Debbie downer. I understand and agree with everything your saying and it’s what we’ll do.”

Amanda laid her head down on his shoulder. “It’s crazy to think a year from this very moment they’re could be a baby here with us. One last baby to complete our family.”

“It’s gonna happen.” He said as he stroked her hair gently. “I feel good about lookin’ into having Gina be our surrogate, but even if it doesn’t work out, we’ll figure out something else, OK?”

Amanda looked up at him, nodded, and then rested her head back down on his shoulder. The two then stayed cuddled up together as they each quietly thought the situation over in their heads.

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Christmas Eve

Sonny’s Parents House - Saturday Evening

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In the following weeks after Sonny and Amanda’s initial conversation with Gina, the three of them got together again to talk everything out more.

Once they realized they were largely on the same page about the big things and, after Gina went through testing and it was determined she’d be a good candidate, physically, to be a surrogate, the couple decided to take the plunge and go for it.

They told their families, minus the girls, about what was going on, though kept a lot of the procedural details about it all to themselves. However, they were hopeful there would be some sort of news to share with their families and close friends soon and on Christmas Eve they got it.

During the Carisi’s annual holiday party, Gina pulled the couple to the side and brought them into one of her parent’s spare bedrooms.

“I know we try to keep the focus on the kids and don’t usually give each other presents anymore,” Gina told her brother and Amanda. “But I do have somethin’ for you both.”

Gina removed her hands from behind her back and revealed a small, rectangular shaped gift box and handed it to Amanda.

The blonde locked eyes with her husband and then slowly opened up the box.

“Oh my God,” Amanda said as she looked down at the box’s contents, a positive pregnancy test, and started to grow teary eyed. “You’re pregnant?!”

Gina nodded. “The doctor told me to take a test on Christmas Eve so I did it this mornin’ and it came up positive.”

Amanda turned to Sonny and smiled. “We’re gonna have a baby.”

The two excitedly embraced each other tightly for a long while before turning their attention back to Gina.

“Thank you.” Sonny said as he hugged his sister. “You don’t know how much this means to us. What you’re givin’ us.”

Gina, who was beginning to grow a bit emotional herself, gave them a small smile and told them, “I promise I won’t say anything or talk about it with anyone, not even mom, until you’re ready to share.”

Amanda gave her sister-in-law’s hand a light squeeze. “We appreciate that.”

Gina nodded. “Alright I’m gonna go back out there.” She then slowly exited the room.

“I’m really excited.” Amanda told Sonny, adding. “But I’m still nervous. I know Gina isn’t prone to miscarriages like I was but it’s still a possibility.”

“I know.” Sonny said as he rubbed her shoulders. “That’s why we’ll keep it quiet for now. And if somethin’ goes wrong, we can try again. We still have four other embryos.”

Amanda nodded and the two hugged each other again before eventually exiting the room themselves and heading back to the party.

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Early April

Sonny and Amanda’s Apartment - Sunday Afternoon

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Once Gina had gotten through her first trimester, both Amanda and Sonny finally felt comfortable about sharing the baby news and when they did it was very warmly received by everyone.

About a month after the news was out amongst the adults in their life, the couple decided to tell the girls about the baby, though they were a bit worried how they’d take it and if they would understand it all.

Amanda and Sonny brought Jesse and Billie into the living room and handed them each a sparkly purple and gold gift bag.

“What’s this for?!” Jesse asked excitedly. “It’s not either of our birthdays.”

“We know.” Sonny said as him and Amanda plopped down on the carpet beside them.

“What is it?” Billie asked curiously.

“Why don’t you open yours first and see.” Amanda told her youngest daughter.

Billie quickly pulled out the tissue paper and lifted up a pink t-shirt, with silver lettering. She easily recognized some of the letters, but couldn’t read what it said.

“Jesse, what’s this say?” Billie asked as she handed her the shirt.

Jesse looked at it and raised an eyebrow. “Big Sister.” She then looked at Amanda and Sonny. “But Billie’s not a big…”

She let her voice trail off as she handed Billie her shirt back, dug into her bag and pulled out her own t-shirt.

“Big Big Sister.” Jesse read aloud. She then grinned as she started to put two and two together. “You’re gonna have a baby?!” She asked giddily.

Amanda and Sonny both smiled and nodded their heads and Jesse immediately went to hug them both.

“Where’s the baby?” A smiley Billie asked.

Before either Amanda or Sonny could respond Jesse said very matter of factly, “It’s in mommy’s belly.”

The couple exchanged glances at one another and then redirected their attention back to the girls.

“There actually isn’t a baby in my belly.” Amanda told them.

Jesse eyed her curiously. “Are you adopting?”

“No. We’re doing somethin’ called surrogacy.” Sonny said to the girls. “Do you know what that means?”

Both Jesse and Billie looked at each other and shook their heads no.

He looked over at Amanda to see if she wanted to answer, but she motioned for him to continue on.

“Surrogacy means that someone else is going to carry the baby in their stomach.”

The couple could tell Billie was lost, but that Jesse was trying to process it.

“How did the baby get into someone else’s stomach?” She asked.

Amanda decided to answer this one. “It happened in a doctor’s office. To make a baby you need something called sperm from the dad and an egg from the mom. Doctors took that from me and Sonny and created a baby. And then they put the baby into another woman, a surrogate, who will carry him or her for us.”

“But why?” Jesse asked. “Didn’t Billie and I grow in your belly? Why can’t your stomach grow the new baby?”

Amanda knew Jesse was just trying to understand everything and was in no way trying to upset her. Still, feelings of inadequacy she thought she had long come to terms with were once again starting to creep up inside of her.

Sonny could sense it and he tried his best to answer Jesse’s question in a way that would also make Amanda feel better.

“Jess, sometimes women who’ve had babies before have difficulties when they go to try again and their bodies won’t let them. It’s nothing they did to cause it. Sometimes it just happens. So because mom was having trouble and we really wanted to have a baby, we decided to use a surrogate.”

Jesse nodded, but Sonny was still unsure she completely grasped it all so he decided to use an analogy. One he thought might work with Billie too.

“Think of it this way.” He told the girls. “Jesse, you have all the stuff you need to make a pizza. The crust, sauce, cheese and pepperoni. You put them all together and then when you go to put it in your oven, you realize it isn’t workin.’ But Billie offers to let you use her oven and you’re able to cook it in there. So you wouldn’t have been able to make the pizza without Billie’s oven, but the pizza is still yours because all the ingredients were yours.”

Jesse nodded. “So the new baby is still going to be our brother or sister, it just needs to grow in someone else’s stomach because mommy was having trouble.”

“That’s right.” Sonny said to her.

“Who’s belly is the baby growing in?” Billie asked innocently.

“Aunt Gina’s.” Amanda said as she tried to regroup and reenter the conversation. “She offered to help us.”

“That’s very nice of her.” Jesse told them.

Sonny smiled softly. “It is. And you know what? Her and Joey are comin’ over for dinner in a little while so you’ll get to see her today.”

Both girls’ eyes lit up.

“Really?!” Jesse asked excitedly. “Do you think she’ll let us touch her belly?”

Sonny nodded. “I’m sure she will.”

“I can’t wait to see her!” Jesse screeched. “Come on Billie, let’s go put our shirts on!”

The two girls quickly grabbed their t-shirts and ran off together toward their bedroom.

Amanda quietly stood up herself and headed off to the kitchen to prepare Jesse and Billie’s lunch.

Sonny noticed she was a bit upset. He stood up and followed her into the kitchen.

“You know Jesse was just curious and wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings, right?” He asked as he handed her the bread.

Amanda removed a few slices and started to spread peanut butter and jelly onto them. “I know.” She said quietly and sadly.

Sonny gently took the butter knife from her, set it down on the counter and then engulfed her in a big hug.

“You’re perfect, ya hear me.” He whispered into her. “I don’t want you feelin’ like your less than just because we’re having a baby through surrogacy. You aren’t.”

Logically she knew all of this, but in that very moment, she still couldn’t help but feel exactly that: less than.

XXXXXXXXXXXX

By dinner time, Amanda was in better spirits and her and Sonny were excited to see Gina who, due to busy work schedules, they hadn’t seen in a few weeks. The girls were also very excited and anxiously ran to the door when they heard a knock.

“Can I open the door?” An excited Jesse shouted down the hall to Sonny, who was emerging from the bathroom, and Amanda, who was still in the master bedroom getting herself ready.

“Go ahead.” Sonny shouted out to her as he made his way toward the entryway.

Amanda tried to hastily finish up her hair and then headed toward the living room a few minutes later, where she saw her nephew sitting in a chair, engrossed in some game on his Nintendo Switch, and the girls, as well as Sonny, clamoring near Gina by the couch.

She noticed both Jesse and Billie had big smiles on their faces as Gina gently held each of their little hands on top of her stomach, which had expanded quite a bit since Amanda had last seen her.

“What’s it like?” Jesse asked her.

“To have a baby inside of me?”

Jesse nodded. “Yeah. Can you feel it moving?”

“A little.” Gina told her. “You know that feelin’ you get in your belly when your nervous? That’s kinda what it feels like to have the baby in there. Like I got butterflies in my stomach.”

“Can the baby hear us?” Billie asked her hopefully.

Gina nodded. “I think so.”

“Hi baby!” Billie yelled out excitedly to Gina’s stomach. “It’s me, Billie.”

“And Jesse!” The older Rollins girl quickly added. “We’re your big sisters!”

“I wish we could talk to the baby all the time.” Billie said to Gina.

“Well you girls can come see me and talk to your little brother or sister whenever you want, OK?”

Both Jesse and Billie happily nodded, removed their hands from her stomach and then headed over to where Joey was sitting and started watching him play his video game.

It was at that moment Gina and Sonny noticed a solemn looking Amanda had quietly entered into the living room.

“Hi Amanda.” Gina said to her sister-in-law, grinning.

Amanda tried her best to give her a small smile back. “Hey Gina.”

She then headed into the kitchen, grabbed some silverware and started setting the table. Sonny sighed and followed her, took out some plates and began helping her.

“Amanda, are you OK?” He asked quietly. “I—“

“I’m fine.” She said, cutting him off. “And I’ve got this. You can go back into the living room.”

Sonny stood staring at her for a bit before finally doing as she asked and heading back to the living room.

Amanda continued to quietly set the table and as she did she couldn’t help but let her mind wander to what she just saw. While she was extremely grateful for the selflessness of her sister-in-law, Amanda also found herself jealous and feeling left out of the experience. This was her child. She wanted to be the one to feel the butterflies in her stomach. She wanted her voice to be the one her baby heard everyday. She wanted Sonny and the girls to talk to and put their hands on her belly. But none of this was going to happen. Instead Amanda felt like an outsider, looking in, and she hated it.