“I want a baby.“
Unlike most times during her life Rachel Berry spoke those words spontaneously. It wasn't a well thought through doctrine she had written several pro and con lists or done intense research on. It also wasn't the clichéd situation of strolling through the park seeing parents with their newborns. In fact, watching her wife curse while she cleaned the shower drain was possibly the most disjointed image possible. Just a moment ago they had been talking about the for and against of chemical drain cleaner. Still she said it. It was the truth and now it was out there.
Looking completely calm, just as if Rachel's statement didn't have the enormity it did Quinn got up from her kneeling position and sat down on her heels. Rachel wanted to sigh at the neutral expression on her wife's face. Of course Quinn would put her walls up in a moment like this. Even after six years of being together and three years of marriage, when vital choices came up the blonde would initially draw back to ponder over it for herself before sharing her thoughts with Rachel.
Rachel decided to file the silence under taken by surprise in a positive way for now.
Quinn took off her rubber gloves and swiped her bangs out of her forehead. “You want a baby?” The tone of her voice made clear she hadn't quite assimilated the information yet.
Rachel nodded; she had her mind made up completely. “Yes.”
“Okay,” Quinn answered, her voice as neutral as her face previously was.
Rachel was perfectly aware that this wasn't approval in any way. It was more of a acknowledgment of reception. It meant that Quinn had gotten the message but would need a while to digest it. Rachel remained in her spot leaned against the door frame, her arms crossed, even when Quinn got up and brushed past her out of the en suite into their bedroom.
Expecting her wife to return any second, she stayed there. It was only when she heard the metallic noise of – supposedly – pots being moved around in the kitchen, did she realize Quinn wouldn't come back. Following the sound she came to behind her wife who apparently had decided that it was time to prepare dinner.
“For the sake of hygiene I really hope you washed your hands somewhere between what you were just doing and touching groceries.” Rachel had hopped onto the kitchen counter smiling softly when that remark earned her Quinn's famous raised eyebrow.
“For the sake of domestic peace I really hope you decide to help me out instead of continuing to stare at my ass, like you have done for the last thirty minutes while I was doing all the work.”
“It's not my fault you have such a marvelous rear,” the brunette clarified, pressing a kiss to her wife's cheek and turning all her attention to vegetables that needed to be chopped in front of her.
Quinn was pretty sure that God had some kind of alarm system for her that would trigger as soon as she was in a good place in her life. It had to be; because just the night before, around sixteen hours before Rachel dropped the bombshell in the form of those damn four words on her she had thought about how perfect everything was.
Rachel had been snoring softly where she rested her head on Quinn's chest then, pretty much exactly like she was now. The night before Quinn had studied the brunette's features silently and allowed herself the thought that it probably didn't get more perfect than this. Now the usually so comforting warmth of her wife's body made her feel restricted.
Quinn didn't want children. It was as simple as that.
Or not. Depending on the point of view. It wasn't a realization she had made just now, obviously; but at the same time it was. She herself had known for a while. It was simply that she wasn't forced to face any consequences of it until Rachel had put her to the question of yes or no.
Rachel hadn't even done that. She had just stated her own desire, evidently expecting that Quinn felt the same way. Granted, they had never really brought the subject up. For Rachel it was self-evident that her wife wanted kids. Just like it had been for Quinn, through a large part of her life. And through a large part of her relationship with Rachel.
Quinn was brought up under the impression that a baby is just something you want as a woman. There was no alternative. She didn't have any woman in her environment who thought differently.
But she was twenty-six years old now. A lot of things that she had wanted growing up have changed. She'd never thought she would end up married to Rachel Berry, yet here she was. Plans and dreams change. It wasn't a big deal, it was just life.
What was a big deal was that Rachel and Quinn's plans seemed to cross in completely adverse ways. As she pressed a kiss to her wife's head she hoped that their love was strong enough to see through this.
Rachel was growing impatient. That was an understatement really. She was by nature not very enduring. Suffice to say that she certainly wasn't when she wanted something with all her heart; and what she wanted with all her heart right now was a baby with Quinn. A family with Quinn.
She understood that her wife needed time. Rachel's demand had been a bit more extensive that time than the usual and it wasn't like she had expected Quinn to Goggle the closest sperm bank, but nine days had passed since she had shared her desire with her wife and nothing had happened. Nada. Quinn was acting like the conversation never took place.
Rachel's mind had been occupied with dreaming about their future as a little family since she had brought it up that day. Everything about it excited her endlessly.
So she was on a mission. Rachel was resolved to get an answer from Quinn this time. No excuses or quibbling. She didn't want to wait any longer. Every day since she decided that she wanted a baby she could hear her biological clock ticking. It was ridiculous of course, but Rachel just felt like they were wasting time that they could easily spend on looking through sperm donor files or mapping out her ovulation.
Just like the first time she approached the subject they were in the bathroom. They had just gotten home from dinner with Rachel's former castmates and Quinn was brushing her teeth while the brunette removed the last remains of her evening make up.
“Are we ever going to talk about it?” It was vague, but really defensive at the same time and she knew that Quinn immediately realized what she was talking about because she stilled all movement.
“I want a baby, Quinn.”
Rachel choose this moment deliberately. Due to the toothbrush and paste in her mouth Quinn couldn't answer right away and was forced to listen to what her wife had to say.
“I know that you – as the voice of reason in this relationship – probably think this is hasty and something life altering as that needs some major planning, but I'm sick of planning. I've planned everything for my whole life and reached everything I ever wanted. Even the things that I realized I didn't even want once I got them.”
They looked at each other in heavy silence and Rachel sighed.
“I don't want another Tony or finally win that stupid Emmy after the fourth nomination. I want to lie in bed with you a little girl or boy on my chest and just take in their adorableness. I want to fight with you if they should be raised in a vegan lifestyle or not. I want you to yell at me because I enrolled our daughter in voice lessons even though she's only two years old. I want to watch you show our little boy how to tie his shoes. I want to watch a little person grow into a mixture of me and you, not because they will be genetically both of ours but because we will give them both of our values along the way. I want... I want a family with you, Quinn.”
She was a little out of breath when she finally came to an end. The time in which Quinn hadn't mentioned her desire to have children even once has intensified all of those thoughts and images within her.
Quinn must have known that she's already anxious, but she took her time in that moment anyway. As the blonde cleansed her mouth Rachel briefly wondered why the two seconds that action took seemed even longer than the previous two weeks.
A soft smile was on Quinn's face when she finally looked up into her wife's face. And then she nodded her head. It was so brief, Rachel would have missed it if she blinked.
It wasn't a confirmation of reception this time. It was an agreement.
Rachel mouth spreads into a face splitting grin. “Yes?”
Her wife mirrors the expression pulling Rachel into a tight embrace. “When you talk about it, I can see how happy it will make you. What other answer could there be, besides yes?”
It was due to the extreme thrill about the fact that Quinn had finally given her the approval that she had craved so desperately that Rachel was able to see past the hint of a pained expression in Quinn's smile. It wasn't until a few days later that she would have to face the imbalance of her wife's agreement.
Their coffee table was completely covered in papers. Seventy four files to be exact on potential sperm donors. Rachel had picked them up that morning, idly studying each and every one for hours now. She was sitting on the couch, feet tucked beneath herself and sorting the papers into various stacks. That was how Quinn had left her wife in the morning when she had headed off to work and she wasn't really surprised to see the brunette in the very same position when she got home at night. That was how her wife was to be found those last couple of days.
When Quinn wanted to move a few files out of the way so she could sit down next to Rachel, the shorter woman protested with a shriek. “Don't mess up my system!”
Quinn sighed. Four days had passed ever since she had agreed to try and start a family with Rachel, and in those for days the initial enthusiasm Rachel had managed to infect her with had gotten less with every hour that passed. When she had said yes, it was because she had realized how deeply her wife longed for it and she had never really been able to deny the woman anything. She had thought that if having a baby would make Rachel happy, it would make her happy too, but the truth was with every file that Rachel put down on her 'considered' stack, she realized more that this wasn't what she wanted. Faced with Rachel's - those days constant - excitement and enthusiasm, she tried her best to suppress that realization and convince herself that she could do this, instead.
“I narrowed it down to those five,” Rachel informed her, effectively breaking her train of thought. In her hands the brunette held the papers out to Quinn expectantly.
The blonde started to browse through them briefly while her wife was talking. “They are all blonde, with eyes similar to yours, of above average IQ and of course all very musically and artistic talented.”
Quinn could feel Rachel's eyes watching her closely as she read through the files. It was like when they were watching a movie that Rachel loved and the diva watched her every reaction to see if she loved it just as much as she did.
“I also went over counting through my cycle one more time. If we can decide on a donor, we should be able to try this weekend.”
Quinn nodded silently. She didn't know she remained so calm on the outside. Her mind was going crazy. The weekend was four days away. She didn't think that everything would go this fast when she had given her okay. She had figured that there would be a month of picking out a donor, another one of Rachel mentally and physically preparing herself and then about another month of preparing the actual event of insemination. This was just a lot faster than she wanted. There was no time for her to adjust to the idea. Or possibly for Rachel to change her mind.
“Isn't that a bit rushed?” she finally spoke her thought out loud.
“What are we supposed to be waiting for? We are in a very good place financially, I'm healthy and each of this donor's is close to perfect,” she said, a dreamy expression crossed her face. “Imagine Quinn, if this should work out, we could be parents by Christmas this year!”
Christmas. Quinn swallowed, thinking about last year's holidays. They had rented a little cabin upstate New York where they wanted to hide out until all the holiday trouble was over. When that initially romantic plan turned into a disaster due to torrential rain and a broken radiator, they had sworn to go someplace really warm the following year. Quinn thought about the brochures about Canary Islands that were already in her night stand. No way they would do that hiking trip on Madeira with a newborn. Just like there were a million other things that they wouldn't be able to do if they went ahead with Rachel's plans.
“I don't want to do this,” the words left Quinn's mouth before she could think about it too much.
Rachel looked taken aback for the split of a second before she contained herself and shook her head with a smile. “You want some time to go pick out the sperm donor properly, don't you? You're probably right, I mean this isn't deciding on a new wallpaper for the study. We are trying to decide what DNA we are giving our child along. Where would I be without your voice of reason, Quinn?”
The brunette leaned in to plant a kiss on her wife's lips but Quinn ducked away from her awkwardly. “That isn't what I'm talking about.”
Remorseful Quinn watched as Rachel drew back and her lips formed a thin line. “I think I need you to be more specific.”
With a sigh the blonde let her head fall back against the couch cushion. “I don't want a baby. Not now and I don't think I ever will.”
Quinn had prepared herself for a lot after that statement. Fits of rage. Fits of tears. Questions. Pleads. But nothing ever comes, Rachel just remained sitting next to her in silence. A dejected look on her face that was breaking Quinn's heart; but at the same time Quinn couldn't help but feel incredibly relieved that the truth was finally out.
Once the initial feeling of being punched in the stomach passed, Rachel found herself starting to go through the classic five stages of coping over the next few weeks after Quinn's revelation.
Denial set in big time almost immediately. She convinced herself that this wasn't really how her wife felt. That Quinn was just getting cold feet because everything happened so fast. She tried her best to give the blonde space so she would be able to realize on her own that it was ridiculous. Of course Quinn wanted kids. She had a kid, for crying out loud! Granted, Beth wasn't what you would call a planned child or Quinn's kid in the proper meaning of the word; still in Rachel's eyes it was nearly impossible that someone could do a 180 on such an essential subject.
When she realized that simply giving the blonde time wasn't going to cut it, she tried her best to find out Quinn's clearly underlying fears were that made her change her mind.
“Why don't you want a baby, Quinn?”
The addressed blonde lowered her hand that had just been reaching for a pack of pasta. It was obvious that she hadn't expected Rachel to bring the subject up after two weeks of not mentioning it once, especially not during a moment so trivial as grocery shopping.
Quinn's answer was plain. “I wouldn't make a good mother.”
“That's ridiculous!” Rachel exclaimed passionately, foremost relieved that Quinn's refusal came from such a silly fear. “ Think about the last time we babysat Tommy!You are great with kids.”
“Yes sure. As long as they aren't mine and I can drop them off again.”
They remained walking through the shop's aisles quietly before Rachel was hit by an epiphany. “This is about your parents isn't it? You're afraid that you will be a bad mother because they were lousy parents.”
The blonde pursed her lips. “Do you really think we should have this discussion in an overcrowded super market?”
“If it were up to you, we wouldn't have this discussion at all,” Rachel stated defensively.
“Let's talk about this when we get home, Rachel.”
“No!” The diva was a second away from stomping her foot. “You're just trying to avoid the subject again and I'm sick of it! We will talk about this now! Tell me why in the world you don't want a baby.”
Quinn took a deep breath and shook her head slightly at her wife's stubborn antics; still unwilling to give Rachel an answer she pushed the cart further down the aisle.
The brunette caught Quinn by her right arm, bringing her to hold. “No more evading! I want an answer now!”
“Fine.” Looking somewhat defeated the blonde ran a hand through her hair and sighed. “No this has nothing do to with me thinking I'll be as shitty as my parents. It has everything to do with the fact that I'm too selfish to be a mother. I like to sleep in late, I like to jump on a plane and travel whenever I feel like it, I like to take you on the kitchen table in the middle of the day, but mostly I love my independence and it isn't just like all the things above are very compatible with a baby!”
With those words Quinn continued walking leaving her wife staring at her back completely stunned. As it appeared, Rachel wasn't the only one who had spend a lot of thought on the subject.
She was aware that her unwillingness to give Rachel what she wanted could easily be the death sentence to their marriage, but really Quinn didn't see why she was the one to make a compromise. Because having kids is what you're supposed to want? Because Rachel's dream of having a family was more important than her dreams?
Ever since they had gotten around to talking about their issues in the halls of a grocery store it was like their life together had turned into a constant argument. In the past when they lay in bed together shortly before they would go to sleep, they would talk about their days or random thoughts that had been on their minds. It was her favorite time of the day. Now it seemed that everything Rachel was capable of talking about was her damn baby plans and Quinn felt like they were having the same fight over and over again.
“I see your point, alright,” Rachel acknowledged softly. “You're not ready to start a family, you want to live your life before you make a big decision like that, I get it, but you can't tell me that you know for sure that this is never going to change.”
Quinn sighed as she turned onto her side so she could face her wife. They had this conversation for what felt like thirty times already. She felt exhausted. At the same time she was also incredibly scared. Rachel seemed dead-set on her plans and Quinn knew that she couldn't give in this time. This wasn't a decision you made compromises on. It wasn't like deciding on a color for the kitchen that could be repainted if they thought differently. You couldn't give a baby back.
The blonde reached over and intertwined their hands. “No, I don't know that is never going to change, but there is a very high chance that it won't. How could I do that to our hypothetical child? Bring it into this world and when I'm not one hundred percent sure I want it. I think you should be completely sure before you decide to have a baby. And I'm simply not. What if I would end up blaming that child for everything that I missed out on in my life?”
“What if it turns out to be the greatest thing that ever happened to you?” Rachel argued. “What if you fall in love with this little person as soon as you first hold him or her in your arms?”
“What if I don't? Loving a child isn't something you should take chances on, Rachel.”
The argument was airtight. Quinn knew that; and judging by the defeated look on Rachel's face she knew it too.
“Where is this even coming from?” the brunette wanted to know. “I thought you wanted kids. I thought that kids were always a part of your plan. Of our plan. You once told me that you would tug a pillow beneath you shirt when you were a little girl to see what being pregnant would look like. What changed?”
“Maybe it's because that pillow became reality a few years later. I don't know.”
“So this is about Beth?”
Quinn could nearly hear her wife's brain starting to psychoanalyze her.
“No. Me not wanting kids isn't about Beth. Or my parents. Or you, for that matter. It's me, just me.”
“Your decision might not be about me, but the consequences it entails most certainly are about us,” Rachel clarified in a sober way.
“I really wish that I could want this, Rachel.” Quinn pulled their joined hands to her lips and placed a tender kiss on the brunette's knuckles. “For your sake I really want to crave a baby just as much as you do.”
“But you don't.” Rachel's voice was hardly more than a whisper. She looked absolutely disappointed and Quinn hated herself for being the cause of that pain.
Still she confirmed her statement. “No I don't.”
“So where does that leave us?”
Quinn rolled onto her back looking up at the ceiling silently, her fingers were still tightly laced with Rachel's. She didn't want to say it out loud. It left them at a place where the ball was in Rachel's court now. It was up to her to decide what she wanted more. A baby or Quinn.
After passing through the stages of bargaining (“Maybe you will change your mind about kids in five years or so, Quinn.”) and anger (“I hate you for putting this decision on me, why can't you just want kids like any normal person in this world?”) briefly, Rachel found herself in a major depression. For once in her life she didn't know what to do.
She didn't want to lose Quinn. She loved her wife more than her own life, but at the same time she knew that all of this fighting and discussing was slowly killing them and Rachel was very aware that things wouldn't necessarily get better should she bring herself to make the choice that being a mother wasn't as important as being with Quinn.
It was Wednesday afternoon when she lay on her side in their bed, pondering over her options once again, when Quinn appeared in the doorway. She barely acknowledged her wife with more than a mumbled “hey”.
Without saying a word Quinn walked up to the bed, sitting down on the edge next to Rachel. The brunette closed her eyes as soft fingers started running through her hair tenderly.
“We can't go on like this,” Quinn stated quietly. “I can't stand to see you like this.”
For a second, Rachel allowed herself to hope that the blonde was going to tell her that she changed her mind. That she would be telling her that it really were just cold feet all along and that she wanted a baby just as much as Rachel did. The somber look on her wife's face let that hope vanish in an instant.
“I'm really scared,” Quinn admitted. “I'm scared that you will start to hate me because I can't make your dreams come true.”
“We will make it,” Rachel vowed. “It's us Quinn. Of course we will make it.”
“You say that now,” the blonde sighed. “I know how determined you can be when you really want something. Sooner or later I will be in the way.”
Rachel turned onto her back and reached up to pull her wife down for a kiss. “You will never be in my way. You're my life.”
Quinn once released from their kiss, blew out air and went back to softly running her hand through Rachel's hair. “You're still hoping that one day my dreams will be the same as yours aren't you?”
“Aren't you hoping for the same?” Rachel countered quietly. She didn't need an answer. She already knew it. They stayed silent for a while, enjoying each other's closeness for this moment.
“Maybe...” the blonde's voice was barely above a whisper as she spoke the words. “I think that I should look for a place of my own.”
Within a second Rachel had sat up and looked at her wife in disbelief. “Are you talking about leaving me? About divorce?”
Quinn reached for both of Rachel's hands, a serious expression on her face. “It's not what I want. Obviously.”
“Then why would you even suggest something like it!” Rachel was enraged. Also, the thought of Quinn leaving her was angst-inducing and devastating at the same time. A second later anger came over her as a new thought hit her. “Is this some kind of emotional blackmail? If I don't let go of my baby plans you'll leave me?”
“No. Of course not,” Quinn's face was sincere as she shook her head. “It's just that ...Neither of us is going to change our minds. I think we should just forestall the inevitable and split while we still love each other.”
"So you will just give up? Just leave me?” Rachel didn't know if she should start to cry or to yell.
A look in Quinn's eyes told her that she felt just as helpless. “I don't think there will be a happy ending for us.”
Quinn had packed a suitcase and moved to a hotel the next morning. They had talked through the whole night. In retrospect Rachel realized that the blonde had made up her mind way before she had even brought up a separation. Rightly as she had come to accept. They had discussed all of their options again and again, starting to talk in circles at some point, but weren't able to find common ground besides their love for each other.
When they got married Rachel had never thought that it would come to this one day, but Quinn's dream of their future had become to small for her. As most times she had wanted it all when Quinn had been happy with what they had.
The divorce papers had arrived a week later. Once the divorce had been finalized Rachel didn't leave her apartment for twenty two days. The lethargy she had felt had been paralyzing.
Yet here she was, sixty-two days after her divorce. She took her feet out of the stirrups and closed her legs. She got out of the examination chair, happy that she could finally go back to a less revealing position. As she moved behind the curtain to switch the hospital gown for her own clothes, Rachel she was in a turmoil of emotions. She was still completely dumbstruck that it had actually worked. That she was actually pregnant. When the first test she took at home had been positive she was skeptical - because what are the chances after only one try? - but now she had blood results and a ultrasound picture in her hands as proof. She had seen the dark little spot that supposedly was her baby on the screen a few seconds ago.
No one she had told had approved of her plan of getting pregnant. They all thought she was making a mistake. That she was just trying to compensate losing Quinn by having a baby.
She hadn't talked to Kurt since the day she had told him of her plans and he had told her she should consider therapy instead of a pregnancy.
Her fathers weren't very enthusiastic about her plan either. As much as the idea of becoming grandparents tempted them, they had made it clear that they would prefer different circumstances.
When Rachel hadn't gotten the expected excitement from them or her best friend she had decided to not tell anyone else about her plans before there was really anything to tell. It came as a real surprise that that barely took four weeks.
She placed the ultrasound picture carefully in the leather bound calendar that had been a Christmas gift from Quinn. For the first time since she had gone through with her plan of getting pregnant she allowed herself to think of her ex-wife. She sat down on the chair of the changing area and traced the lines of the pictures in her hands absently. She hadn't seen or heard from Quinn since the day she had left. The divorce had solely been handled by their respective lawyers, neither of them had made an effort to claim anything the other owned for themselves. Quinn had agreed to leave Rachel the apartment and all that belonged in it. All she had asked for were very few private items that had been picked up by Santana. When Quinn's spare key had been handed to her she had cried for two hours after.
From what their common friends had told her Quinn had jumped on the first chance to leave town. When the publishing house she worked at was looking for someone to supervise the opening of their new office in Chicago, she had applied and gotten the job within an hour.
Funnily enough Rachel was almost sure that her ex-wife would understand Rachel's decision to get pregnant as soon as possible. It was like if she didn't pursue her dreams right away the whole divorce and all the pain it had caused both of them would've been for nothing.
With a polite smile Rachel thanked the receptionist after making her next appointment. Inwardly she made her farewells with the way she had once imagined her first pregnancy examination to be. Quinn wouldn't come to appointments with her. She wouldn't hold her hand during. The fading image of Quinn squealing in excitement when they found out the sex had Rachel's heart aching. They wouldn't be a family.
In the six months Quinn had spent in Chicago she had imagined a reunion with Rachel several times. Her fantasies went from overly dramatic versions of running towards each other in the rain to overly X-rated versions of reuniting through passionate semi-public sex. So yes, you might say that Quinn had a bit of a hard time getting her ex-wife out of her mind.
It only became worse once she was back in New York. Ever since she had set a foot on the solid ground of JFK airport she found herself skipping a heartbeat every single time she spotted a woman that had something even remotely close to Rachel's height and hair color.
Meeting Rachel at Starbucks, while it was of course a lot more likely than anything else she had imagined, seemed truly trivial compared to all her previous fantasies.
She spotted Rachel sitting at a table leaned over the book almost exactly the same second that the pair of brown eyes landed on her. Quinn stood frozen for a moment before gathering all of her courage and walking up to where the brunette sat.
She was greeted with a genuine smile. “Hello Quinn.”
Quinn felt a silly smile spread across her face at the greeting that hadn't changed since high school. Once she had somewhat contained herself she offered Rachel a small wave. “Hey.”
They looked at each other in awkward silence for several seconds before Rachel seemed to regain control over her body and gestured to the empty chair across from her. “Would you like to join me?”
Quinn told herself that she should know better, but nodded and sat down anyway. She took a sip from her ginger bread latte in order to sort her thoughts out. All the blonde could do was nod stupidly, suddenly finding it very difficult to put her hands in a appropriate position. She ended up fidgeting with her fingers nervously.
Rachel was the first one to speak. “You look good.” For anyone else the smile on her face would have seem natural and happy, she was an A-list actress after all, but Quinn could see the unease and pain behind it. “New haircut?”
“Yeah,” Quinn replied with a nod, her expression most likely still somewhere between surprise and mental overload as she ran a hand through her pageboy hairstyle. “You look great as well.” Actually, she was taken aback by just how stunning Rachel looked. Hair shiny, eyes sparkling, her cheeks slightly blushed. She was basically glowing.
“Since when are you back?”
“About two weeks,” Quinn answered.
She nodded. “Yes. My job in Chicago is done and starting in January I got the position as chief editor here.”
Rachel offered her a sincere smile “Congratulations.”
“Thank you.” She took another long sip of her coffee, watching Rachel do the same. “How have you been?”
Quinn repressed a sigh. Whether it was the awkwardness of the whole situation or the fact that Rachel didn't really want to talk with her she didn't know but it was making her attempts at small talk pretty difficult.
“Any new projects coming up for you?” Quinn figured that asking Rachel about her career was a sure way to get an answer out of Rachel that was more extensive than five words. She knew she had failed when a strange expression she couldn't really classify crossed the brunette's face and she shook her head.
“Nothing exciting. We are still putting final touches to the synchronizing the Wicked animation movie.”
“Will you visit your dads for the holidays?” This wasn't necessarily comfortable territory but Quinn was desperate to keep the conversation moving. It had been roughly eight months since they talked for the last time and she had missed it. She had missed talking about whatever went through her head with Rachel and hearing her thoughts on it. Part of her had hoped that now that the initial pain of separation had passed that they could maybe start over with a friendship.
Rachel nodded. “Yes. You?”
“I've booked a hiking trip on-”
The diva cut her off. “The Canary islands.”
Quinn's gaze fell to the table. She had forgotten that they had planned this trip together not so long ago.
Literally saved by the bell from anymore uneasiness Rachel's cell phone started ringing. She gave Quinn a apologetic look before she answered it. What the blonde gathered from what she heard was that their reunion was about to come to an abrupt end because Rachel promised whoever was on the other line to be there in as quickly as possible.
The thought that Rachel might be talking to a new girlfriend or boyfriend sent a bolt of jealousy through Quinn's veins.
Once she had hung up, Rachel started to gather her things. “I have to go,” she told Quinn apologetic. “I forgot about an appointment.”
Quinn reached for her bag where it hung over the chair-back. “I should get going to. I still have some packing to do.”
“Try not to forget the sunscreen,” Rachel advised with a teasing sparkle in her eye as she slipped into her coat.
Quinn chuckled at the advice which was clearly hinting at their trip to Namibia from five years ago when Quinn's sunburn had been so bad she had spent a night standing in front of the air-conditioning fan naked to release at least some of her sunburn induced pain. Ever since then Rachel had never failed to advise her to put on sunscreen whenever they had gone to a area even 50 miles south from NYC.
Quinn slipped out of her seat and stood up. “I'll try to keep that in mind.”
Rachel came to stand as well. “It was good to see you.” The brunette leaned in to hug her ex-wife goodbye. After Quinn was over being taken aback for a moment at the intimate gesture, she found herself enjoying the familiarity of the embrace quickly. It was after about a second when she noticed that something felt off. It took her another one to identify what it was.
When Rachel released her she saw it. Previously hidden beneath the table's surface and now concealed by the dark winter coat it was still evident. Under Rachel's sweater loomed a distinct baby bump.
Dizziness took over her instantly. That definitely wasn't part of what she had imagined during their reunion.
Rachel must have noticed the way her eyes dipped down and the sudden shock displaying on her face, because she cautiously took a step back and one hand came to rest on her belly in a protective way.
Quinn for her part felt like the room became a little smaller with every second that she was staring at her ex-wife's stomach.
Rachel nodded seeming pretty uncomfortable. “Yes.”
Shocked by the news Quinn dropped back onto her chair. She hadn't expected this. It wasn't supposed to go like this. Rachel was supposed to realize her mistake and come back to her.
The brunette sat down with a sigh. “I honestly thought you knew. I only just realized when we were talking that you had no idea.”
“Who's the father?”
“There is no father. I used a donor.”
A weird sense of relief washed through Quinn. While the thought of Rachel being pregnant was devastating and conclusive enough on its own, she didn't think she would've been able to survive her ex-wife starting over with some guy.
“How far along are you?” Quinn didn't know why she asked that. Maybe she was just that much of a masochist.
“Twenty weeks. I'll be due in early May.”
Rachel seemed perfectly calm and collected. Quinn then realized that she had probably acted the whole conversation out in her head a few times already. Rachel Berry didn't have a talk like this unprepared.
Quinn forced herself to smile as she stood up. She was pretty sure that the expression on her face resembled a lot, but probably not a smile. “Congratulations, Rachel.”
Quinn fled the cafe in a hurry only allowing herself to breathe when she was outside on the streets and a block away. She hadn't been prepared for that. All the time when she had thought about Rachel in the past months there had always been a slight hope that she would change her mind and decide that being with her was more important than being a mother. The reality had been like a bucket of ice cold water that was emptied over her head.
She should have known. Expected it really. Rachel was no one to sit around and wait for her. She would have expected it, but until now she hadn't allowed herself the thought that their divorce was really final.
For her first two trimesters Rachel had a role model pregnancy. She had barely suffered from morning sickness and was virtually glowing with physical health and femininity. Her baby was developing perfectly.
Everything could have been fine; everything had been fine until she had ran into Quinn. Ever since then Rachel found herself in a melancholia that she couldn't get rid of. It was silly, but a part of her had expected that Quinn had used the time away to think everything over and come back to her.
For the first time since she was pregnant, she thought that she had acted too hasty when she had made the decision to have a baby by herself. Now it felt like the fact that she was pregnant had finalized the separation from Quinn irreversible.
The look on the blonde's face when she had discovered the baby bump nearly haunted her. Rachel tried her best not to let it affect her but her mood dropped to a new low.
At the same time the pregnancy evoked afflictions that came when nearing third trimester hit her full force. Suddenly she wasn't a with happiness glowing expectant mother anymore. She started gaining weight like crazy. She found that after a day where she had been busy her feet and hands would be bloated with water retentions by night. No compression stockings or draining food would bring real relief.
She also found herself longing for Quinn more than she had in quite some time.
When her feet were swollen to the point where it hurt, she wished that Quinn would be there to offer her a foot massage. When she felt fat and unattractive she wanted the blonde to tell her that she was the most beautiful woman in the world. When she was poring over name books she wished that she would have someone to fight with.
Rachel hated the pitying looks women in the waiting room would give her when she told them that there was no significant other and that was why she busied herself with reading What To Expect When You're Expecting for the millionth time when she sat there now.
She wasn't quite ready to fully admit it, but she started hating that she had to do all of this on her own and the thought that this whole pregnancy was a mistake had crossed her mind more than once.
It had taken her less than twelve minutes to arrive at Lenox Hill Hospital after she received the call. She might have dropped her suitcase in the middle of the hallway of her apartment building after she'd just got home from a nine hour flight. She might have yelled at the cab driver to hurry the fuck up about sixteen times. She might have been trembling like a leaf the whole time. But she was there.
They had told her barely anything on the phone. Just that Rachel had been rushed to the emergency room. Why they had called her, she didn't know. She'd assumed that Rachel had changed the emergency contact and power of attorney to somebody else after the divorce.
But once she was finally led to see her ex-wife, she didn't really care about those minor details anymore. Quinn was simply relieved to see the brunette awake and evidently unharmed where she lay in the hospital bed. It was only when the initial relief to find that Rachel was okay passed that she noticed that the pregnant woman didn't necessarily look healthy, but pale and exhausted.
“Hey,” she knocked on the door frame to get Rachel's attention, suddenly really insecure of herself. “How are you?”
Rachel offered her a weak smile. “I've been better, but you know me... I'm tough.”
Quinn held onto the foot-end of the bed now; anything that kept her from standing in the middle of the room like an idiot. “What happened?”
“I fainted,” Rachel rolled her eyes with a tiny smile. “I'm more embarrassed than anything else.”
“The baby is alright as well?”
“As far as they told me everything is alright,” the brunette confirmed, clearly noticing the way Quinn's knuckles turned white as she still gripped the bed.
Quinn couldn't help it. The baby was a complex topic for her. Her logical side was happy for Rachel because it was what she wanted and it would make her happy. To her selfish side the baby was a red rag. Something that made sure to divide her and her ex-wife even further.
Quinn nodded and an uneasy silence came over them.
“I'm sorry they called you,” Rachel said with a sigh. “They still had your number from when I was here because of that allergic reaction two years ago. They shouldn't have called you.”
Quinn realized just then that she was sort of glad they did. Again, good reason told her that it was best to stay away from Rachel. That she had to stay away if she wanted to get over her. But then again, she couldn't bear the thought of something happening to Rachel without her knowing about it.
“It's alright,” she told the brunette. “I have been-”
She was effectively cut off when the doctor came bursting through the doors. He came to stand beside Quinn on the foot of the bed.
“Alright, Ms Berry, all of your results are back and they confirmed my suspicious. You have a moderate case of preeclampsia.”
At the fearful look on Rachel's face, Quinn was at Rachel's side without thinking too much about it. She closed the remaining distance between them and reached for her hand. The brunette gave her fingers a thankful squeeze as the doctor went on.
“The extreme headache and dizziness you're suffering from came from the high blood pressure. As well as the edemas. For now, there's no need for a stationary treatment. I will however prescribe something for the high blood pressure and advise you to take it really easy, if not stay in bed completely until your due day. Preeclampsia can become a very serious condition leading to seizures, placental insufficiency which could lead to a lack of nourishment for your baby. There is also the risk of a premature birth or the HELLP syndrome.”
If Quinn thought Rachel looked fearful before she now looked seconds away from a panic attack and was plainly clutching her ex wife's hand.
The doctor cursed as his pager went off and with a serious look on his face he turned to Quinn. “I need to get to the OR. You're her wife right?” Not leaving the blonde a chance to answer he went on. “Take her home, get her into bed and make sure she stays there. I recommend getting a blood pressure meter so you can monitor her at home. A balanced diet is essential. Not too much common salt and definitely no draining teas or anything like it. I'll have the nurse give you all the information you need.”
With those words he was out of the room leaving the two women in awkward silence. Rachel seemed to realize only just now that how tightly she was holding on to Quinn's hand and let go in a clumsy way.
“Sorry. I didn't mean to cut off your finger's blood flow,” she apologized sheepishly.
“It's alright.” A soft smile appeared on Quinn's face and the urge to just take Rachel in her arms was almost overwhelming. “So, let me talk to the nurse about those pamphlets or whatever and then I'll take you home.”
“You really don't have to,” Rachel protested. “I'm perfectly capable of getting home myself.”
“You still look like you could faint any second and unless you have Kurt or someone else here within a few minutes I'm not leaving your side.”
Quinn knew that this had her headed for potential trouble. She knew that this couldn't possibly end well and at the same time she didn't give a damn because Rachel wasn't okay and would need someone to look after her. The blonde didn't really trust anyone but herself to do that properly.
Also, she had missed Rachel endlessly and was just glad to be close to her, at least for a little while.
Rachel couldn't remember the last time she had felt so perfectly cared for. It had barely taken Quinn five minutes after they arrived at her apartment to force Rachel into her PJ's, tuck her into bed and place a cup of steaming tea in her hands.
Rachel was very well aware that she should just send Quinn home instead of letting her pick up the prescribed medication but the apartment had seemed so empty in the past. Ever since Quinn had moved out it hadn't felt properly like home. It simply felt good to see the blonde busying from room to room.
She told herself that she had to act selfish right now, for the sake of her unborn child. The diagnosis and its possible results had scared the hell out of her. With Quinn there everything felt a little less scary. Screw all common sense. She was barely twenty five weeks pregnant, she was hormonal and terrified.
The sound of the key turning in the lock and the front door opening told her that Quinn was back. She kept watching the bedroom door closely until blonde hair appeared in it.
“Hey,” the tender tone of Quinn's voice gave her serious butterflies. “Everything okay? Are you alright?”
Rachel nodded her head against the pillow, not really willing to sit up and Quinn put a white paper bag down on her nightstand. “Something mild for the blood pressure as well as some low dosed Valium. The pharmacist said to only take the Valium in case of an emergency like when you're really upset.” The blonde had sat down next to Rachel. It was the same position they had been in many times before and by force of habit probably, Quinn reached out and started running a hand through Rachel's hair just like she had done all those times before.
Not even bothering to hide how much she was enjoying her ex-wife's touch Rachel closed her eyes. “I think the stuff they gave me at the hospital is starting to kick in. I'm so sleepy right now.”
“Take a nap then,” Quinn suggested. “I'll make you some veggie soup in the mean time.”
“That sounds great,” Rachel mumbled. She was halfway asleep already but she was pretty sure that shortly before the mattress dipped with loss of Quinn's weight, she had felt the lingering touch of soft lips against her cheek.
But maybe she was dreaming already.
It was the first time she hesitated before unlocking the door to her former home. For the first time she asked herself, what the actual fuck she was doing here?
Over the past five days she and Rachel had fallen into a rhythm before either of them had realized it. Quinn would come by before work, during her lunch-break and after work, always making sure that Rachel would have a well-balanced meal, stayed dehydrated, stuck to her bed rest and that her blood pressure was alright.
Boundary wise the only line she hadn't crossed yet was sleeping over and really that was just a matter of time because Rachel would give her puppy eyes whenever she said goodbye at night and it got harder for Quinn to leave every day.
Sighing she opened the door after all, deciding that she couldn't just ditch Rachel when she wasn't well just because it got to risky for her emotion-wise. With the intention to get the fresh groceries into the kitchen before she would check on Rachel she came to an abrupt stop when she noticed that the TV was running. Somewhat alarmed she made her way further into the apartment clearing her throat once she saw Rachel standing in front of the open fridge, devouring a cup of Ben & Jerry's.
The diva turned around promptly, a somewhat mortified face, probably because she had been caught during a snack attack. “Cravings,” she said with a foolish shrug.
“You shouldn't be up.” Quinn closed the fridge while her other hand was already on Rachel's lower back pushing her back towards the bedroom. “Come on. You can take your cravings with you.”
“I was watching TV!” Rachel whined as she was dragged in the other direction.
“You're supposed to be resting!” Quinn argued.
“I can rest on the couch.” The brunette folded her arms over her with every day more prominent belly unwilling to take another step.
“Fine. Do whatever you want. I'll get to dinner.” With those words she left her pregnant ex-wife standing in the hallway alone. She couldn't handle this tonight, not when she was questioning her reasons for being here anyway.
As Quinn began to unpack the grocery bags she had previously dropped on the counter she noticed Rachel appearing in the door frame out of the corner of her eye. Unwilling to look at her she pulled a pot out of a cabinet and filled it with water, turning her back to Rachel in the process.
“Why are you acting like I can't make my own decisions?” The pout in the brunette's voice was apparent.
“I'm just trying to look out for you.”
“No, you're treating me like I'm invalid.”
Quinn turned on the stove and pinched the bridge of her nose as she turned around. “You know what? Do whatever you want. It's your baby. Not mine.” The second she had said it Quinn wished to take it back. Not because it wasn't true, but because she knew it would hurt Rachel and that was the last thing she wanted. “Rachel, I--”
Rachel looked like a kicked puppy as she raised her hands to stop Quinn from whatever apology she wanted to say. “It's okay. It's true.” She slowly retracted from the room with a forced smile. “I-- I really have to pee. My bladder is used as a bouncing ball again.”
“Fuck!” Frustrated with herself Quinn slammed both of her hands flat down against the counter.
She knew that she shouldn't have said that. Of course it was a fact, but it was obvious that Rachel wished it was different. She wished that Quinn would change her mind, just like Quinn had wished for Rachel to change her mind. The only difference was that due to the pregnancy Quinn had to put that hope to rest.
However that may be. What she had said had clearly upset Rachel and she was here to take care of her ex-wife. Make sure she was alright. Not to increase her blood pressure even further.
Quinn decided to give the brunette some time to collect herself before going after. There was also a good possibility that Rachel really had to use the toilet. No need to increase the awkwardness by walking in on that.
Fifteen minutes later when the vegan lasagne was starting to cook in the oven and Quinn was starting to get a little nervous because she still hadn't heard a sign respectively sound of life out of the bedroom.
“Rachel?” she called out, cautiously stepping into their former joint room. Finding the bed empty didn't do anything to ease he worries. She knocked against the bathroom door. “Rachel?”
Mentally preparing herself for anything between crying fits and premature contractions, Quinn pushed the door open slowly. The sight that was presented to her she hadn't expected. Rachel stood in front of the mirror, shirt pushed up so that her belly was complete on display.
The blonde raised a skeptical eyebrow. “Okay, what are you doing?”
“Inspecting my stretch marks,” Rachel replied with a sigh. “The coca butter my doctor recommended doesn't help at all.”
Quinn didn't know whether to be irritated or relieved that Rachel seemed to have completely forgotten about what had just taken place in the kitchen. She pinned Rachel's behavior on mood swings and settled on feeling sympathetic for her. She remembered vividly all the creams, salves and body butter she had used to prevent stretch marks during her own pregnancy. In the end nothing had helped. She considered sharing her wisdom with Rachel but thought of it better than to tell the quite hormonal diva that she would have to live with thin lines on her abdomen for the rest of her life when she was just back in her good graces.
“You hungry?” Quinn asked instead.
“Constantly,” Rachel nodded, releasing a pained moan and cradling her belly only a moment later.
The blonde went into cautious mode immediately, hooking her arms beneath Rachel's for support. “What is it? Everything okay? Should I get you to a hospital?”
Rachel shook her head and blew a dark lock out of her face. “Just kicking pretty strongly.” She looked down and talked right to her expanded midsection. “It's no wonder my whole abdominal skin is sprinkled with stretch marks if you keep kicking me like that!”
It was only after the adrenaline slowly lowered itself when Quinn realized the position she was in. Her front was tightly pressed against the diva's back, and the former supporting placement of her arms now borderlined into pulling Rachel even further against her.
The blonde dropped her limbs more than a little ungracefully just as Rachel's eyes found hers through the mirror. It would have been so easy to rest her chin on the brunette's shoulder, maybe brush her hair to the side and let her lips explore the incredibly soft skin of the neck. Quinn could see a blush rising to her cheeks that matched Rachel's.
Gathering all of the self control she had left, Quinn took a step back. “Dinner is almost ready. Why don't you get to the living room, I'll bring you a plate there.”
Quinn didn't wait for an answer, but turned on her heel and marched back to the kitchen. She leaned against the closed door and pressed the back of her hand against her forehead. She was fucked. Utterly and completely fucked.
Rachel needed to call her fathers. Not only because she finally had to tell them about the complications that had arisen, but she also realized the previous night that the arrangement with Quinn had to end and clearly her dads would willingly to take over.
Spending the previous week with Quinn might have been a nice break from feeling alone, but fantasizing that they weren't divorced and doing the whole pregnancy together wasn't healthy. Nothing had changed. They still wanted different things and that wasn't going to change no matter how much she wished for it.
It was two in the afternoon and she wanted to inform Quinn about her conclusion first thing in the evening. It came self explanatory that she wasn't really looking forward to the conversation. In fact, ever since she had made the decision there was an uneasy feeling in her stomach that she couldn't seem to get rid of.
By the time Quinn arrived, hands full of take out bags, that evening the uneasy feeling had grown into full blown abdominal pain, that was only mildly bearable when she laid on her side.
“Hey,” Quinn greeted her, surprised to see her in bed on her free will. “What's going on? Are you okay?”
Rachel couldn't help the tear that rolled down her cheek as she shook her head, partly because it hurt really bad and partly because she was terrified. It was obvious that this was more than an uneasy feeling or an upset stomach.
Quinn had dropped the bags and was kneeling next to the bed immediately. “What's wrong?”
At the first attempt to answer all that left her lips was a choked sob. Only when Quinn cupped her cheeks an forced her to focus was when she could form understandable sentences. “I have this really bad stomach pain. I'm afraid that it's contractions. What do contractions feel like? What if it is contractions, Quinn? It's too early.”
The blonde thumbed the tears which were running down Rachel's cheeks away soothingly. “I need you to calm down, Rachel. Take a breath.”
She just shook her head and more tears poured from her eyes. She was nearly hysterical by now. “I can't,” she exclaimed between sobs. “This isn't how this is supposed to go. I haven't been to any Lamaze classes yet... I don't have a birth plan and the baby still hasn't turned. She's in transverse and supposed to turn and now they'll probably do a c-section and that--”
Rachel was very sudden cut off by a pair of lips pressing against her own. She needed a moment to grasp what was happening and when she did her hands instantly pushed at Quinn's shoulders. “Have you lost your mind? I'm going into labor and you kiss me?”
“This has always been the only way to shut you up,” the blonde gave her a loopy smile.
Even through her pain and anxiety she had to chuckle at that. “And you would never miss a chance feel me up.”
“True.” Affectionate Quinn brushed her hand over her forehead, then a serious expression returned. “Is the pain constant or coming and going?”
Taking a deep breath the she tried to recall how exactly the pain had started earlier that day. “Pretty much constant, I'd say.”
“Okay, that makes contractions unlikely. We still have to get you to the hospital. Do you think you can sit?”
It was heavy-going but with her ex-wife's help Rachel managed to get into a sitting position on the edge of the bed. Eyes wide, Quinn's gaze fell to her legs. “Since when have your legs been swollen like that?”
Rachel was shocked herself, the these days constant slight swelling of her legs had expanded to the point where her legs were almost double as big as normal. She knew that this was anything but good.
After that, Quinn's plan to get her to the hospital herself had been dismissed and she had called an ambulance instead. Rachel was back to her former position of lying on her side and the blonde was by her side, in a familiar pattern running her hand through her hair.
“Do you know if it's a girl or a boy?”
Rachel looked at her in surprise. Talking about the baby had been a absolute no-go so far. They both had avoided talking about it like crazy, even though it was all their interaction was about at the same time.
“I'm having a girl,” Rachel's voice felt raspy after all the crying.
“Have you thought about names?”
Rachel shook her head and let out a humorless laugh. “I thought there was still plenty of time.” She placed a hand on her belly at a particular strong kick. “Maybe I'll name her after a famous step dancer or something.”
“Maybe she will be a dancer,” the blonde suggested. “You could perform as an artistic duo.”
“It's possible,” Rachel reflected. “Her father used to be a professional dancer.”
“Her father? I... I thought you--” Quinn looked taken aback and the hand in her hair stilled briskly.
Rachel was quick to clarify her statement. “Yes, I used a donor, but saying 'her donor' just feels unsuitable. It's like... while I know now that Shelby will never be my real mom, I'd never refer to her as 'my surrogate'.”
“Do you sometimes wish she would be around?” she asked. “I'm asking because there were times when I was pregnant with Beth where I wanted my mom around really badly.”
“Sometimes,” Rachel reflected after a moment. She had thought about contacting her birth-mother a while ago, but then the fear that she would push her away once again was to big.
Rachel cupped Quinn's hand that had came to rest on her cheek then. “Thank you.” She had now realized why the blonde had brought up pregnancy related topics all of the sudden. It had been an attempt to distract and calm her. And it had worked.
From the street they could hear the sound of a nearing ambulance, as Quinn smiled softly. “You're welcome.”
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Once they had arrived at the hospital Rachel had been admitted to the intensive care unit directly. Her stomach pain had in fact not been contractions but a rapidly progressing HELLP syndrome that caused liver dysfunction.
No one needed to tell them; it was apparent that Rachel's condition was very serious. The brochures they had received when the preeclampsia had been discovered in the first place were pretty clear on the possible consequences. Kidney failure, multi-organ-failure, brain bleeding... and those were just the risks concerning Rachel. Compared to the baby her chances were actually pretty good.
Treatment wise the therapy's attention was focused on the baby as soon as Rachel was stabilized. Considering she wasn't far along yet the odds were against the child. A Caesarean was inevitable, but they tried to prolong it. Apparently an undeveloped lung was the major problem with preemies. They had given Rachel a shot with some steroids that was supposed to help the baby's lung development, but that needed time to take full effect.
But when Rachel's condition took a turn for the worse it turned out that they didn't have that time. Her symptoms were increasing with every minute that passed, so she was on the operating table only hours after she had been admitted to the hospital.
Tears streamed openly out of Rachel's eyes. No sedative in the world was able to calm her down. It killed Quinn to see her like that. The blonde stood beside her in a pair of scrubs and face mask holding the hand that didn't have any tubes in it tightly.
She was pretty sure that being here didn't fall into her duty as ex-wife and still she hadn't hesitated a second when they had asked her if she wanted to come along. There was no alternative. She wasn't going to let Rachel go alone and neither her fathers nor Kurt had made it to the city yet.
“I'm scared,” Rachel whispered, the stream of tears never stopping.
“Everything will be okay,” Quinn assured her quietly, wishing she could offer her more support than what were really just empty words. The fact was however that she was just as scared. It was obviously still way to early and the chances for the baby to be okay were very slim.
Five minutes later the premature unit's team was ready and Rachel was rolled out of the preparatory room into the actual OR. Quinn didn't leave her side or let go of her hand for even a second. Just like she hadn't for the whole time since they had been at the hospital. If she wasn't pretty preoccupied with obvious matters she would have wondered if the blonde had even had chance to use the bathroom in all that time.
With – what Quinn told her was - an ice cube a nurse tested if the spinal anesthesia was effective by running it over her the side of her belly. When she didn't feel a thing, she could see a surgeon's head appearing over the green cloth that blocked her side to anything that was happening below her chest.
“We're getting started now,” he told her.
She gave him a brave nod and squeezed Quinn's hand tighter than she ever had. She was entirely thankful that the blonde was by her side. She was pretty sure that she would have lost it a while ago if it weren't for Quinn's calming vibes.
Quinn wasn't allowed to look behind the green curtain either, but it was obvious when the doctor had started the surgery. The atmosphere was loaded with tension, so the two women only spoke in whispers from that moment on.
“Are you okay?” Quinn wanted to know. “You're not in pain are you?”
Rachel shook her head only briefly and a fresh tear rolled across her cheek. Out of the corner of her eye she could see an incubator and a whole lot of other medical equipment waiting. “I can feel that they are doing something, but it doesn't hurt.”
In the same moment everyone in the room seemed to come to action and Rachel felt all pressure leave her abdomen abruptly. No one had to tell her - her daughter was born.
Another moment that was completely different from what she had imagined it.
There was no relief that the pain of the contractions had stopped. There was no exhausted happiness. No healthy scream of a newborn. That scream never came. All that could be heard was the noise of the suction device.
Everything went pretty fast from there. If it weren't for the fact that she was strapped to the operating table and unable to feel anything below her chest anyway, nothing would have held Rachel on the table anymore. Not even the fact that her stomach was literally sliced open. She just wanted to get to her baby.
Rachel's plead was desperate. “I want to see her! Can I see her?”
One of the nurses took pity of her and lowered the cloth that blocked her sight. Rachel's breath stopped in her throat. In front of her a nurse was holding up the tinniest baby she had ever seen. For a moment the girl opened her eyes and looked right at her. Not even the applause in front of a sold-out crowd in the Radio Music City Hall compared to that moment. It's unbelievable that two small lines on a pregnancy test and the dark blob on the first ultrasound picture were now a real human being. It was a miracle.
As quickly as the moment came it has passed, the cord was cut and strangers took her daughter away. On her right she could see that they took her to the resuscitation area and a tube was placed in her small wind-pipe.
Now a machine had to do what she herself couldn't do anymore. Supplying her little girl with oxygen.
Rachel couldn't hold back a sob anymore. She barely noticed Quinn pressing their cheeks together and whispering soothing words in her ear.
Rachel didn't have to say a word for Quinn to know that she wanted her to go after the doctors as they took the baby away to the premature unit. She didn't necessarily like leaving her on the operating table when the surgery wasn't over yet, but she knew that Rachel needed someone to look after her daughter while she wasn't yet able to. So Quinn lowered her face mask before pressing a kiss to Rachel's cheek and went after the team of hospital staff.
The only premature born babies Quinn had seen had been on TV and that had, as she now realized, nothing to do with the reality. The little girl that lay in the incubator before her was tiny. Her body wasn't much larger than Quinn's hand and the arms and legs seemed fragile. But then again, she wasn't supposed to be born for another three months and didn't even weigh two pounds.
Wondering if the small face held any resemblance to Rachel she studied it carefully. It was hard to tell because of all the medical equipment attached to the girl and because she was just so very tiny, but Quinn thought she did spot some similarities to baby photos of the brunette.
As she looked at the baby in front of her, Quinn couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. A part of her had hoped to fall in love with her as soon as she laid eyes on her. It would have made everything in the complicated situation between her and Rachel so much more easier. Unfortunately what she felt didn't come close to motherly feelings. Maybe it was too much to expect. It wasn't like she had spent the entire pregnancy at her side and had dreamed of being a family as much as Rachel did. No. She was back in Rachel's life for what wasn't even a week yet. And actually allowing herself to acknowledge that there was a tiny human being growing inside Rachel wasn't more than fourteen hours ago. The tiny human being who was struggling for her life in front of her.
“You don't have to keep a safety distance,” a nurse said to her.
The blonde flinched a little bit out of surprise. She had believed that she was the only one in the room, but before she knew it the middle aged woman had come to her side and led her up closer to the incubator.
“You can touch her if you want to.”
Quinn should her head abruptly. “No. I couldn't.”
“Sure you can.” The older woman had a kind of feisty attitude that Quinn happened to find very likeable. “Did you sanitize your hands before coming in here?”
The blonde nodded.
“Then I don't see anything stopping you.” With expert hands the nurse undid the bulls-eye-like openings clasp, gesturing for Quinn to go ahead.
Uneasy Quinn reached her right hand inside, momentarily unsure where to place it. It seemed like there was a whole lot of easily damageable medical equipment surrounding the even more delicate body. The decision was taken from her when a tiny hand was reaching out and came in contact with her pointer finger, holding it steadily.
A smile spread across Quinn's face. If the girl's will to survive was half as strong as her grip, her chances were excellent.
The first few days after the birth were especially hard on Rachel. She was physically and mentally drained. The sudden loss of carrying her daughter in her abdomen made her feel weirdly gutted. Like a part of her was missing.
Additional to that she could not seem to shake of the sense of guilt pressing down on her chest. She kept on thinking that it was her fault that her daughter was struggling for her life. Women gave birth to healthy babies all over the world. So obviously there was something wrong with her or something she must have done.
All kind of what if scenarios kept running through her head. What if she had stuck to her bed rest more consequently? What if she hadn't waited so long to go to a hospital when the stomach pain had started? What if she were just a bit stronger and had been able to carry the baby for a few weeks more?
Rachel didn't share those thoughts with anyone. She couldn't, because those were only the tip of the iceberg of guilt she felt.
It took two whole days before she was physical strong enough to go see her daughter. Her two previous attempts to leave the bed twelve and sixteen hours after the c-section had been foiled by her unstable circulatory. The first time she had made it to the edge of the bed, the second time into a wheel chair before fainting.
The third time she was mobilized into the wheel chair she willed the white spots that appeared before her eyes to go away. This time she was actually successful.
Even though her own room was filled with visitors most of the time, there was no real question who was going to bring her to the premature unit. Like most times they understood each other without any words and Quinn hands were on the handles of the wheelchair as soon as Rachel was sitting in it.
They were quiet through the halls of the hospital. Quinn wheeled her closely up to the incubator and unclasped the small round opening. A mix of jealousy and affection overcame Rachel as she watched how naturally the blonde moved around the incubator and the staff so naturally.
She was jealous because she – as the mother – was supposed to do all that, and know how that damn incubator opened and what part of the girl was safe to touch without messing up any wire or tube connections.
At the same time she felt her heart grow and allowed herself to hope that Quinn might come around after all.
With hesitant hands she reached through the opening to her baby. She placed a hand on the baby's belly and another one on top of her head. It felt unbelievable that this was really her daughter. That she was someone's mother now. That she was the one responsible for that little girl now.
“Have you thought about a name yet?” Quinn asked standing only a few feet behind her.
She hadn't. Two days had passed and she couldn't bring herself to look at any of the baby name books Quinn had brought her.
The fear that her baby could die was all too evident. According to the doctor the first two weeks were the most critical. The steroid shot had helped the baby's lungs along but there was still such a long way to go.
Rachel was officially released from the hospital six days after her daughter had been born, but after that she still spent most of her day in the premature unit. Whenever she did dare to make a short trip to her apartment for a few hours of sleep and a daily shower, she would make sure that either one of her fathers or Quinn would take her spot on the baby's side.
Quinn too found herself unable to just go back to daily business. She managed two days at work right after the birth before she decided to take an unpaid leave. It wasn't like she could properly concentrate on her duties anyway.
She stayed at Rachel's side as much as possible and since Rachel wouldn't leave her daughter's side, she found herself in the premature unit for most of her days.
She was also right next to Rachel when she was allowed to care for her daughter by herself for the first time.
The brunette was washing the girl with a waterlogged cotton ball. For the first time since her daughter had been born there was the hint of a smile on Rachel's face. As she cleansed the mouth with a piece of foam the smile got wider.
“Look at her,” she said to Quinn. “I think she really likes that.”
Experimentally she brought the foam to her baby's lips again watching as the girl sucked on it.
The blonde smiled as well. “I think you're right.”
Rachel sighed and leaned into Quinn. Her head was resting on the blonde's shoulder. “She's getting better isn't she?”
Quinn put her arm around Rachel's waist and pulled her body closer into her side. “I think so, yes.”
They stood that way in silence for a moment enjoying the others closeness. Rachel was the one to break their embrace and settled her attention on her baby, a look of maternal pride crossing her face when the girl got a hold of her finger.
“She is still so tiny. The doctor said that even for a preemie she is extraordinary tiny.”
Quinn bit her lip. “You are extraordinary tiny for a grown up woman, maybe she just takes after you.”
It irritated Quinn when there was no reprimand about the height joke, and instead Rachel just turned to her with a serious face. “Can I ask you something?”
“Of course,” she answered immediately, sensing that the brunette was about to approach a serious topic.
“What are we doing here?”
Quinn remained silent because even though she knew exactly what her ex-wife was talking about, she had no idea what to answer.
Caressing her daughters belly Rachel went on hesitantly. “When we split, it was because you said you didn't want children. You said that you were to selfish for it and couldn't see yourself as a mother, yet, you're here now. After me you are the one person who spends the most time in this room.”
Rachel raised her free hand and silenced the blonde actively. “I know that I shouldn't get my hopes up, okay? I'm really trying my best not to get my hopes up... It's just that... you are the only person besides me who knows every little detail concerning my daughter. You know the meaning of every single tube going in and out of her body. You know every single treatment she had. You spent hours researching the kind of respiration used on her. You...” she sighed. “Just tell me if there is the possibility that you did change your mind after all, Quinn.”
Quinn had no idea what to answer to that. All that Rachel had stated were facts, but a fact was also that she didn't know if she had changed her mind. She had developed a deep felt affection for the little girl. A wave of happiness would wash over her whenever the baby would make some kind of progress. She loved to sit by and watch how her heart rate would steady immediately when Rachel sang softly to her. So yes, she had developed a heartfelt connection without really intending it, but the real question was now, was that because of the girl or because she was Rachel's daughter.
She ran a hand through her hair as she looked at Rachel helplessly. “I don't know Rachel. I really just don't know. I'm sorry that this is all I can offer you for now, but I--”
“It's okay,” Rachel cut her off with a shake of her head. “I shouldn't have brought it up. Let's just pretend I never said anything.”
“Okay.” Quinn was taken aback by Rachel caving in so easily but nodded anyway. They both kept their eyes on the infant in front of them avoiding looking at each other at all costs. “Have you come up with a name yet?”
“No.” The brunette shook her head. “I've tried. I have studied those name books back and front but nothing feels right. I want her to have a meaningful name.”
It hit Quinn that moment, just how much Rachel wasn't herself right now. The Rachel Berry she knew would have had a list with names written down, selecting one by one out until she had the right one. She also wouldn't have just withdrawn her question about where they stood at the moment but demanded from Quinn to answer her or not come back until she had made up her mind.
But Rachel wasn't herself right now, she was really just barely surviving even if she put on a strong front. She was a hormonal woman who had just given birth, while it was anything but sure that her daughter would get out of all this healthy or even survive.
Quinn being here didn't really help her, but only made the situation even more complicated. And complicated was the last thing that Rachel needed right now.
She had been egotistical by wanting to stay close to Rachel and ignoring the consequences. And Rachel who was holding on by a thread anyway was just happy to have her around and carry on with the illusion that this was them being a family. Quinn recognized, as much as she hated it, that she would have to make up her mind, because this situation, whatever it may be, was anything but healthy.
By the time she was fourteen days old, her daughter was finally stable enough to be taken out of the incubator. Rachel was beaming with happiness from where she sat in a comfortable chair as they put the tiny girl down onto her chest and she held her for the very first time.
For the first time since the c-section she felt unconditionally happy again. For a limited time sure, but right now it was baby steps for her as well for her daughter.
One of her hands supported her baby by her head, the other one by on her butt.
“You are the most beautiful baby in the world,” she cooed, as little hands moved against the skin of her collarbone. Eyes opened and looked and it seemed like the girl was studying her mother curiously. Rachel pressed a kiss to her baby's forehead. “I promise you to be the best mother for you... you just have to keep on fighting, okay?”
As if the girl understood perfectly, little feet were kicking against Rachel's stomach. She was grimacing for a second and then Rachel felt a movement against her right hand that was holding the baby's butt.
Quinn stood next to her mouth agape. “Did she just..?”
Rachel looked just as taken aback, but nodded. Ever since she was receiving a minimal amount of milk through a feeding tube the nurses had tried to achieve a bowel movement. It looked like being in her mother's arms for the first time had achieved what countless stomach massages and fomentations hadn't.
Everything really seemed to get better from that moment on. One month after she was born the baby could be taken from the respiration machine for the first time for a few hours. Rachel remained at her side through the entire time, watching in agony as her daughter fought. When the machines were connected by the end of the day Rachel felt just as exhausted as her daughter looked.
Quinn who – after almost four weeks of absence - had returned to work that day joined her by her baby's side at night. “How is she?” she wanted to know.
“She's still battling through,” Rachel tried her best not to be brought down by her daughter's struggle but it was hard. She told herself that she had hoped for too much too soon, but getting one's hopes up was just so much easier than staying realistic.
“Battling through is a good thing, Rachel,” the blonde told her. “It's what you asked her to do, remember?”
Rachel nodded. “Doesn't mean watching her do it is easy.”
Over the next weeks Quinn tried to detach herself from the whole situation slowly. She didn't have it in her to just leave Rachel alone and tell her that she had to figure things out for herself while Rachel's daughter was still struggling for her life, but as the girl got visibly better, Quinn subtly drew back. She started by going back to work. She knew at the same time that it was all just a foul compromise, but just leaving wasn't an option anymore.
To her surprise bringing the subject up happened a lot more spontaneously than she had intended. They were in the hospital's cafeteria, sharing a fruit salad and Rachel was telling her excitedly about the progress her daughter was making and that they would be able to disconnect her from the respiratory machine completely by the end of the week should everything go according to plan.
“Can you imagine that she weights almost twice of what was her birth weight?”
It was nice to see Rachel beaming with happiness, but at the same time Quinn felt like it was her cue that her – what was supposed to be a guest appearance from day one – time here had to come to an end. Rachel was fine. And Rachel not being okay and needing her around had been her only way to justify why she was still around.
“I can't wait for you to see her Quinn. After her last blood transfusion yesterday she positively blossomed,” Rachel was in frontal proud mother mood.
“I can't stick around, Rachel.”
Those five words were enough to silence the diva altogether and stare at her opposite. “Oh.”
Quinn couldn't believe she was doing that again. It felt like getting a divorce all over. “I can't do this anymore,” she explained. “Especially now when I see you with your baby girl. She deserves... both of you deserve someone who is sure that they want this with all their heart. Not somebody who might or might not come around one day...”
Anger displayed on Rachel's face. “So that's it? Once again you're calling all the shots?”
“I'm doing this so I won't end up hurting you.”
“That is so generous of you,” Rachel said in a mocking tone.
Quinn felt like shit, but she knew she had to get this over with now. If she would have drawn this out longer, Rachel would have only been more hurt. Both of them would have been. She had to make up her mind and she did. Even if her choice wasn't what Rachel wanted to hear from her.
She looked down at the table, not having it within her to look her ex-wife in the eye. “I'm really sorry.”
The collected look appearing on Rachel's face left Quinn completely bewildered. She was basically leaving her for the second time and Rachel sat across from her perfectly calm.
Rachel inhaled deeply before she started speaking, looking at her ex-wife directly. “You were everything I wanted once upon a time, Quinn. But now I have the most beautiful and perfect baby girl, who I love more than I could ever imagined and honestly, if that's something you decide you don't want in your life? I'm the one who is sorry for you.”
With those words she rose from her seat and left the blonde staring at her retreating back.
Exactly three weeks before she was originally supposed to be due, Rachel stood in front of her apartment door, her daughter safely tucked away in the baby carrier. It felt untrue that after almost three months at the hospital she was finally allowed to take her home.
“Welcome home, baby” she told her daughter as she unlocked and opened the door.
Her smile got even wider than before when she saw a banner across her living room that stated exactly what she had just said. Her friends were the most amazing people in the world.
Putting the carrier down on the couch she leaned down and cradled the baby in her arms. “You're getting heavy,” she smiled as she softly rocked her. After she had barely felt the weight the first time she had held her daughter this felt like a confirmation that she had finally had made it.
Kurt had once again proved that he could still make an excellent interior designer should he ever get sick of performing. Her daughter's room was a dream come true. It was amazing what he had made out of the chaotic cubbyhole that this room had been when she had left for the hospital.
She sat down in the rocking chair by the window, putting her baby on her chest.
“I think it's really time I think of a name for you. As much as I love 'Dirty Dancing' I don't think Baby is a suitable name past the age of two.”
As if she understood her perfectly, the girl burbled quietly rubbing her cheek on her mother's shoulder.
Tears filled Rachel's eyes as the plainness of the moment hit her. Everything really had actually turned out okay. She was holding her healthy baby girl and they were at home. No hospital, nurses or doctors. Never again.
For the first time since her daughter was born Rachel allowed herself to cry. For the past three months she had been under a constant strain and now as all of the tension was leaving her body all at once it felt like it was too much to handle. So she cried silently while dandling her baby carefully. It wasn't until she noticed that she actually drenched her daughters onesie that she managed to pull herself together again.
She put her down on the changing unit and kissed her forehead softly. “Thanks for fighting.”
To say Rachel was surprised to see her didn't even come close to being an understatement. Pure bafflement was displayed on her face as she opened the door. Quinn had tucked her hands into the back pockets of her jeans as she looked at Rachel almost shyly.
She regretted momentarily that she didn't choose a more decent hour than two o'clock in the morning as she took in Rachel's exhausted appearance, but then she was sure that she would have just chickened out if she had waited even an hour more.
Raising her shoulders uncomfortably she finally found the courage to look her ex-wife in the eye. “Hey.”
Rachel – sniffling baby on her shoulder – still looked completely baffled as she ran a hand over her with spit up stained shirt. Her hair was in a messy bun and judging by the dark circles under her eyes she was probably exhausted.
Shaking her head to pull herself out of her momentary shock Rachel took a step to the side and allowed Quinn to enter. “Come in. Sorry about the mess. I wasn't exactly expecting company at this time.”
Rachel wasn't exaggerating about the mess Quinn noticed quickly. Baby related utensils were spread all over the living room. Empty baby bottles on the coffee table, different globules bottles next to them. Next to the window there was now a crib and a rocker. Two completely full drying racks stood next to the dining table and an ironing board with a big pile of what looked like baby laundry next to the couch. Weirdly enough, Quinn didn't mind at all. The opposite actually. When it had been just the two of them living there, everything had been so tidy it was close to sterile. Now the room looked like people actually lived there.
“I'm sorry to just drop in on you like this. I saw the lights on from the street,” Quinn explained.
“So you were just casually walking by this building in the middle of the night?” Rachel asked as she tried her best to dandle her uneasy growing baby. “What do you want Quinn?”
“Is she okay?” Quinn tried to get a better look at the infant in Rachel's arms. During the time at the hospital, Quinn had never experienced the girl to be so upset. The nurses used to joke how she was the most well-behaved baby in the whole unit.
“She is a baby. Babies cry.” The tone of Rachel's voice was unusually sharp and an apologetic look appeared on her face a moment later. “Sorry. She's been having those colics for a week now and I haven't slept in just about that long.”
“You look exhausted.” The words had left Quinn's lips before she could think too much about them.
Rachel snorted while she continued to walk up and down in the living room, still rocking the baby on her shoulder. “Why thank you. Always the charmer.”
Quinn face palmed internally. She was doing an awesome job trying to get back into Rachel's good graces. “It's not what I-”
“What do you want Quinn?” Rachel cut her off. “As you can tell I have bigger things on my hands right now than worrying about my looks. I know that I look like crap, it's what not sleeping does to you.”
The blonde stepped closer to Rachel, forcing her stop her pacing thereby. “I thought a lot in these past two weeks and I... I came to the conclusion that not having children simply isn't worth not being with you. I want to be with you Rachel. And I know that you come in a package deal as of now and that's perfectly fine.”
Rachel captured her bottom lip between her teeth before speaking. “How come the sudden change of heart?”
Quinn took a deep breathe she didn't have a big speech prepared to sweep Rachel off her feet. All she really had was the unbelievable and somewhat unexplainable urge to be a part of Rachel's and her daughter's life.
“I couldn't stop thinking about you,” she started explaining herself. “Ever since I watched you walk away from me that day at the hospital you have been on my mind constantly. I have been missing you constantly.”
“I'm not sure I can do this.” Rachel squeezed her eyes shut. “You make it sound like my daughter is a compromise you have to make in order to be with me.”
“No! That isn't--” Quinn sighed. “I was an idiot okay? You were right with what you said to me the other day at the hospital. I was just afraid. I want to us to be a family.”
“You say that now... but what about that whole independence speech you gave me once?” Rachel switched her daughter's position from holding her against her shoulder to cradling her in her arms as the girls wails became louder again. “This is my life now, Quinn. I haven't slept more than three hours a night for the past week, but I don't care because her screaming after all the weeks she wasn't able to because of the tube stuck in her throat and it's just about the most amazing sound I can imagine.”
Any answer that Quinn wanted to form was prevented by the baby's cries becoming almost earsplitting. She watched Rachel rubbing the girls belly tenderly as she pulled her even tighter against her chest.
“My poor sweetie, it's okay, I'm here,” she cooed sounding entirely helpless and then looked back at Quinn briefly. “I don't think this is a good moment to have this conversation. Maybe you should go.”
Quinn approached her ex-wife carefully completely ignoring what she had just asked of her and held her arms out. “Can I try something?”
Rachel eyed her warily with a face that was very doubtful that Quinn would be able to do anything she herself hadn't tried yet, still she seemed to be about ready to do anything to rid her baby of her pains.
Hesitantly she placed the infant in Quinn's arms, only letting go when she had tripled checked that the blonde was supporting the head right. With curious and worried eyes she watched as the blonde carefully turned the baby in her arms, until the girl rested on her stomach on the blondes lower arm and the little head rested at the crook of her arm.
She started walking around in the room aimlessly, smiling in triumph when the baby in her arms started to calm down after a while and the crying was replaced by soft hiccups until finally she was curiously glancing around.
“Flying baby position,” Quinn explained at Rachel's astound expression. “The pressure of my arm against her belly helps to release the gas from her stomach.”
“How do you know about that?” Rachel walked to the woman holding her daughter, softly running her fingers over the baby's back.
“I saw a nurse doing it at the hospital,” Quinn shrugged.
“Thank you,” Rachel told her sincerely.
“I don't just mean now,” Rachel never took her eyes of her baby as she continued to caress her back, only stopping when her hand came in contact with Quinn's where she held the girl. “The past three months were the worst in my life. I don't think I would've made it without you there and I never really thanked you.”
Quinn took the opportunity of the intimate moment to finish what she had come here for in the first place. “I meant it earlier,” she said. “I want to be part of your life. Part of both of your lives.” To put emphasis behind her words she put her free hand on top of Rachel's where it rested on top of her daughter's back.
“Both of ours?” Rachel asked hesitantly. When Rachel finally looked at her, Quinn could see the tears shimmering in her eyes.
Quinn looked at the little girl in her arms as she drooled all over her shirt. “She has been on my mind just as much as you. I wanted to hold her. I wanted to know how she was doing, if the rash she had got better with the new cream, if she would need another blood transfusion, if she was adjusting well to being bottle fed, if she drank enough, if she gained weight appropriately... which apparently she has, because she feels quite heavy on my arm right now...”
Rachel chuckled through a tear that rolled down her cheek. “I can't lose you again. I've said goodbye to you two twice and it broke my heart both times.”
“You want to know why I was outside your apartment in the middle of the night?”
“You just stepped out of a bar where you gave yourself liquid courage for this speech?”
Quinn laughed lightly and shook her head. “I wanted to know what you named her. Before I got here I had been turning from side to side in bed for three hours thinking about what you could've have possibly named her.”
Rachel's hand was now tightly laced with her own on top of her daughter and she released a shaky breath in attempt to calm herself.
Quinn was ready to beg for a second chance when Rachel just remained silent, but all pleads that she was starting to put together in her head were abruptly erased when Rachel's hand cupped the back of her neck and pulled her down for a kiss. It was brief. Really just lips brushing against each other, both of them careful not to crush the girl between them, but at the same time it was everything Quinn had hoped for when she had rang the doorbell that night.
As they parted, she knew that she was wearing a face splitting grin that matched Rachel's.
Thank you for reading!
Epilogue will follow eventually. No idea when.