It had been pretty much smooth sailing for Natalie’s pregnancy. They had their routine down to a science. She and Steffy would go to Lamaze class and prenatal fitness classes.
Natalie had been so excited she wanted to do everything right and experience as much happiness as she could. It was obviously not the experience that she thought she was going to have because she wasn’t getting to share it with her husband but even though it was different, she couldn't say that she was unhappy. Every day she was looking forward to what could be.
It helps so much that Steffy decided it was best for her to work from home. She wanted to be as present as she could for Natalie. Even though this pregnancy experience was different for Natalie, Steffy knew just how important having ready support was. Having Jay by her side and having her mom ready meant everything for her. She had constant support just waiting for her at her fingertips and it meant was paramount.
She even had Natalie and Catherine at the end of it with her. She knew that pregnancy could be scary and nerve wracking, and she didn’t even go through it alone. It was a no brainer for her to try and be there for her sister-in-law. It made her happy in a way. They got so close that it felt like they had been friends for years.
They were having fun and going out with Luisa. It was kind of funny to have girls nights out with a pregnant woman and one that was breastfeeding. Lu was the only one who could drink with no problems because her daughter was 5 years old.
Natalie was so proud of herself that she made it to 40 weeks. She had practiced medicine for so long and her specialty being obstetrics, it was pretty rare for her patients to actually make it to 40 weeks. She was usually getting calls when they were 36 to 38 weeks. Natalie envied those women because being 40 weeks pregnant was annoying.
She knows from a medical standpoint that it’s a good thing, but she was ready to have this baby out of her. Even though she loved her pregnancy experience she wanted the finale to start. She wanted to meet her daughter. She couldn’t even narrow down any names because she thought all of the names that she wanted were amazing. She didn’t know how to choose one when she had 15 on her short list.
She laughed every time Stephanie called her crazy. This was crazy, it was a pretty surreal experience. If someone had told her that she would be having her husband's child at this point in time and living in a completely different place, she would have had them committed and sent on a 5150 because it was a ludicrous notion.
Every time she felt her daughter kick, she could only think about Will, he was a good soccer player. He played it all the way up into college. She was so anxious to meet her kid because she wanted to know what they would look like. Would she take more after her father’s side or would she look more like Natalie? Would their daughter be a mix of them?
Every time she caught up with Hank and Catherine about her progress, Hank would always say that the baby needed to take after her because it would be a sad day to be cursed with Halstead genes. It would send Natalie into fits, but she didn't think that at all.
To her, her husband was so cute. The thing she loved most about him was when he didn't expect a compliment, he would have a shy smile… which would showcase a dimple and his head tilted down. It always reminded Natalie of a puppy.
“Are you daydreaming again?” Steffy was making lunch and she asked Natalie a question from the kitchen, but she didn’t get an answer.
Natalie was in their breakfast nook which wasn’t even far, but it was clear that Natalie was spaced out. Steffy remembered being like that. Sometimes she would daydream, sometimes she would be making lists in her head. Sometimes she would think of nothing and it just felt so nice.
Her pregnancy risk was higher than that of Natalie so Steffy had nothing, but free time and it got so boring, so quickly.
“I’m sorry were you asking for me? I was honestly just thinking about how my daughter is going to look. I was wondering if she was going to look like Will, me or a combo of us both.”
“I think it’ll be a combo, hopefully. Could be the best of both worlds. I do think that their genes are pretty strong. Like I know brothers are supposed to usually look like each other but I mean Jay and Will, no one who ever saw them would ever believe anything otherwise than them being brothers so I think some of those genes will pass through. But she’s going to be gorgeous just like you. I can already tell.” Steffy was being completely serious.
The jury was still out on her daughter because her mother's side was very dominant in features. It was evident on her face and Douglas too. Her daughter’s eyes had settled into being completely blue, but it was a blue that was different than Steffy’s eyes. It was more of an aquamarine than cobalt. It was like Catherine’s eyes, so there was definitely some of Jay's side of the family and her child. There was a selfish part of her that hoped that her daughter ended up looking just like her.
Taylor and Sônia said that it was going to be highly probable That little Phoebe was going to look like them. Steffy knew that was going to make them completely happy of course. They liked Jay but they wanted her daughter to look like them.
“Thanks. You always know the right things to say and when to say them. Ah –” Natalie felt a sharp pain and even though it was the first time she’s ever felt it this intensely she knew that it was a contraction.
“Are you okay?” As soon as Steffy heard that sign of distress, she was in birth coach mode.
“I’m definitely having a contraction but it’s the first time that I felt one. I’m okay. Could you get me a glass of water please?” Natalie could smell that lunch was almost done but she really had no appetite now, but she felt thirsty.
Maybe that really wasn’t the right wording to use she needed water because it helped her be able to focus herself.
“Of course I’ll be right back.” Steffy got up and went straight towards the dish rack and got one of the clean cups that she just washed and got some water for Natalie.
“Thank you.” Natalie drank the water slowly.
Anytime she did anything suddenly ever since she got pregnant, it always made her stomach upset and sometimes she would throw up. The last thing she wanted to do was throw up while having a contraction.
“Does the contraction hurt?”
“No, it doesn’t hurt because I know what to expect. It feels like a nuisance but it’s not this overwhelming pain. A lot of times the pain is exacerbated by fear. Because this is my specialty, I know everything that goes into it and I know not to be afraid. So it might be a sharp pain once it hits but it's not like I’m being stabbed right now. I’ve had worse PMS than this first contraction, but I definitely reserve the right to change my mind later because it’s probably going to get more intense.” Natalie was honestly excited to have the contraction because it meant that she was going to be giving birth most likely soon.
She felt confident that she would because she was already at 40 weeks.
Natalie had asked Steffy if she could cut her up some fruit. She had been looking forward to lunch, but she didn’t want anything too rich or heavy because she didn't think that she could handle that right now. She didn’t want to take a wrong chew and then get hit with a contraction and it trigger heartburn or making her throw up.
Another contraction ended up hitting as soon as Natalie finished her apple. She had looked at her watch and saw that it had been 15 minutes since her last contraction.
“Stephanie, I think it would be best if we go to the hospital. My contraction was 15 minutes apart and Even though my water didn’t break, it doesn’t mean anything.” If it had been 30 minutes apart or even 20 minutes apart, Natalie would have not paid any mind, but since she was 15 minutes she didn't know when the next contraction would hit.
She knew that it didn’t necessarily mean that the contractions would start decreasing in time, but she wanted to take all the precaution because she was at her due date.
Steffy was on it, she got the go bag and her keys. She already had Phoebe in her arms ready to go.
Natalie was able to walk on her own, so it made the both of them feel good. As Steffy was driving, she had used the Bluetooth to call him and let him know that Natalie would be going into the hospital.
As he was driving, he got another call, but it was one of the adoption agencies that he and his wife had been looking at. They had decided to holdoff, but they did let the agencies know if there was a woman in crisis who needed to put up her child for adoption and no one was matched that they would consider it.
He had answered the phone.
“Hello?” Jay was wondering what was going on.
“Hi, this is Florence Fulton. I saw in your file that you and your wife Stephanie had made mention if there was a child that wasn't able to be matched with any of our clients that you would be interested.”
This was possibly the worst timing in the history of timing because Natalie was going to have her baby and they would have two babies in the house.
“I understand but the circumstances have changed.”
Flo felt her stomach drop. She had to dig deep and get this guy on board.
“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. Is just that we have this unwed mother who is from an abusive background and she is trying to escape that, she doesn't have the means to take care of the child because her abuser was also her financial security.” Flo was hoping that she could get this guy to feel guilty and help. Reese was counting on that and she wanted to help him as much as she could. He also promised her a cut if she was able to reel in a whale.
Jay actually felt bad because his mom did a lot of pro bono work for domestic abuse survivors. He was thinking about it, it might be a little hard, but he could talk to Stephanie about it, and they could figure it out.
“I’m sorry to hear that, listen I don’t have my wife with me. This would be something that we would have to discuss but just so I would know what next steps would be… what would that look like?”
“Well officially if you do take the responsibility of this child, the agency would have to be reimbursed for all of the medical costs, the private security we paid for her, her housing and the stipend that we gave her. Then there would be the actual adoption costs and that would amount to about 250,000.” Flo knew that this couple were rich out the ass. The both of them were CEOs, this money would be no big deal for them.
It was about 100K more than what they usually would charge a client, but every case was different so she would be able to figure out a way to bill it.
As soon as Jay heard the price tag, he wanted to laugh in her face because that was ridiculous. Even if there was a child on the line, he couldn't justify spending that much money especially when every agency they went to including the one he was talking to now had given them a breakdown on costs. He knew that these companies had insurance anyways so it could have been billed to them. It probably was and they were probably going to take someone’s money as well.
He felt like a scam was afoot, so he started recording the conversation. Even though it would be inadmissible in court, he was going to take this to the FBI. At the very least they could do an investigation into this agency’s practices. It was fraud to overvalue the cost of services. If they would do this so casually over the phone, then who knows what they were doing when someone was in person.
“So you’re telling me if I were to agree to this that it would only be 250K?”
Flo got happy when it seemed like he was receptive to this. She knew that this would be miniscule for someone like him. It was like $25,000 for him instead of a quarter million.
“Yeah, the baby will be born soon. If you and your wife are not able to take her the day she is born, the agency will have no problem with taking care of her until you and your wife can make plans for the child, but it would add to the cost. But it would be all state of the art, we would have a doctor on hand and a nurse. She’ll be well taken care of.” Flo knew that this wasn’t a part of the plan but if she could get even more money out of them the better. She didn’t even have to tell Reese.
He was only giving her 50K anyways so if she can make more money on it than the better.
Jay couldn’t believe what he was hearing, this woman would actually try to scam him even more on a per diem basis. He had to give it to her that she had gusto, it was only going to make it even better for him when he went to the FBI with this.
“OK, I think my wife might be interested in this, but I have to talk it over with her. We have been looking to expand on our family so how about I give you a call in a couple of hours. But this sounds like a route that I know she wants to take.” Jay was lying through his teeth.
He knew that as soon as he told Stephanie that she would be through the roof. She would want blood.
If they were promising the child, then most likely a child did exist, but it just made him upset to know that there was somebody ready to make a profit on top of a profit.
He was going to make it his mission to get this agency decertified and dismantle it piece by piece. He had a buddy that had transferred to the LA office a couple of years before he moved from Chicago. Even though this wouldn’t be his area, Jay knew that it would get routed to the right place and an investigation could take place.
But right now he had other things on his mind. His niece was coming into the world so all he could do was send a text with the recording for now and deal with it after Natalie gives birth.