Little Monsters

this monster lives;

The jelly was cold as it hit my bare stomach. I tensed and drew in a nervous breath, squeezing the hand that laid in mine with trembling fingers.

On the receiving end of that squeeze was James Hetfield, my other half and possibly the sole reason I was there that day. He smiled softly as he gazed down upon me, returning the squeeze reassuringly with a shimmer of adoration rippling across his cerulean eyes. He was already giving me that look - that "I love you so much" look; the one he'd been giving me since the day previous when I'd broke to him the news. But it wasn't certain yet; nothing was for certain. I think he just knew, though. I think we both knew.

I continued my steady pressure on James' hand as the midwife, dressed out for the occasion in her purple Garfield scrubs, retrieved a probe-like tool from her tray of medical goodies. She'd already set up her big computer and her fancy monitor; snapped her latex gloves into place like a pro. Another anticipating gasp swooshed through my lips as she placed the utensil on my stomach and started spreading the still-frigid petroleum across my midsection.

I slowly released my jittery sigh. I was nervous. I couldn't hide it; I was really, really nervous. When I'd caved in to my suspicions and taken the urine test the day before and saw the little pink plus sign at the end of the stick, I'd thought I was going insane. Surely that couldn't be right. It had to be wrong. I wouldn't believe it. So, I took another. When I got a negative on that one, that's when I knew it was time for the doctor's office.

But that hadn't gave us an answer, either. When I took the urine sample and it was sent for analyzing, it came back with the verdict "unverified" - something I hadn't even thought possible.

"We couldn't determine whether or not there was any HGC in your sample," the doctor had said, sitting on her little wheely stool with a stupid, sympathetic smile on her face. "There seemed to be some traces of it, but not nearly as much as what's found in the urine of most pregnant women. I'm afraid we're going to have to keep you here for an ultrasound."

So there we were: huddled close together in the doctor's office, him perched on the edge of a chair and me sprawled across a tall examining table, hands linked together tightly as we got our first ultrasound ever. James thought that the ultrasound was "purposeless;" he said he already knew it was true. He said I had a certain glow to me - the glow of a mother. But I didn't believe it. Three tests, and all of them with mixed results - that couldn't be a good sign, could it? What the hell kind of precursor was that? What if I was pregnant with an alien? Or a dog? Or a cow? Or what if I wasn't pregnant at all? How would James take it after he'd fully convinced himself already that I was? Or, worse yet, how would I take it?

I could feel my body shake as the probe continued to glide across my stomach, the jelly now slowly warming up to a bearable temperature now that it'd been spread around enough. The nurse was droning on monotonously - something about sonar and sound waves and tissues and echoes - but I could hardly hear her. My heart was pounding too loudly in my ears. I was so, so, so nervous. A first ultrasound was supposed to be an "exciting moment for a pregnant woman and her partner" according to the dozens upon dozens of pamphlets and brochures I'd tore through in the lobby, but I was anything but ecstatic at the moment. My palms were sweating, toes curling, knuckles clenching. I wasn't sure which was more scary at that point: being determined pregnant, or being determined not pregnant. Both seemed like such horrifying alternatives after what I'd been through the past two days.

But James seemed neither restless nor woeful. He wasn't jittering uncontrollably or desperately trying to get a peek at the nurse's monitor like I was. In fact, he seemed so calm that it was almost disturbing. He should've had sweat collecting over his brow, jumpy feet, something. Anything but that damn cool demeanor! I mean, he was about to find out whether or not he was going to be a father, for Christ's sake! This was going to affect him for the rest of his life! Shouldn't he have been at least a little freaked out?

No. He was all just cool eyes, warm smile, expectant disposition. A calm vibe. I don't think he could have been any more overjoyed about this situation, and it almost made me sick - more sick than I already was.

I heard the nurse absently make a small grunting noise, and my head immediately whipped around in her direction, fixing her with wide, demanding eyes. She thoughtlessly ignored me and continued to examine a specific spot on my lower abdomen, pressing insistently with the probe. I instinctively gripped James' hand tighter, heart hammering. The nurse's eyes studied her hidden screen intently.

She then pushed the particular spot with unnecessary force, and that's when I knew for absolute certain - thoughts of, What if she hurts the baby! rushing through my head, reassuring me that yes, it was real. This was real. It was all real, real, real. Really happening.

As my fingers mercilessly constricted James', and he constricted mine right back, and I felt my whole world do a three-sixty, the nurse's next words came as no surprise: "A-ha! There it is! Well, Miss White, it appears that you're pregnant after all."

James' grip on my hand tightened by tenfold, while mine simply went slack. It was true. She'd said it. She'd confirmed it. Life as I knew it was over. From here on out, everything changed.
I was pregnant.

And then, barely after I'd had three seconds to process it, the nurse piped up untimingly, "Would you like to see your baby, ma'am?"

Okay, hold on. Wait a second. This was going way too fast. She'd just told me that I was pregnant, that I had a whole other being growing in my belly, and she asks if I want to see it? Of course I didn't! I wanted to actually adjust to the fact that my everyday life was officially over before I was forced to start my new one!

But, of course, then there was James, sitting at my side with the most enthusiasm I'd seen him have in ages, and he obviously wanted to see pictures of our beloved spawn.

"Yes!" he cried, sounding as if he could hardly contain himself. "Yes, yes; we want to see!"

And despite the fact that I did not want to see the child, and that seeing it was actually the last thing I wanted to do at that moment, I couldn't say no. He looked much too proud and elated at that moment for me to even dare to take it away from him that way. His face - a mixture of the utmost honor, delight and adulation, so great that it was nearly heartbreaking - was enough to almost make me cry. An unbreakable smile plastered to his face, blue eyes glowing with such infatuation for this unborn child, he was a truly beautiful sight. He was simply so proud: of me, of the baby, of himself. It was nearly enough to make me take back the feelings of fear that had begun to well in me now and replace them with an ardor equal to his.

Except I don't think I could've stopped being scared if I'd tried. Hands shaking once more, I swallowed audibly and watched in silent horror as the nurse turned the dreaded ultrasound monitor in our direction to show us the child. She then put the probe on my stomach again, and I had to suppress the urge to slap her hand away. I didn't want her near me. I didn't want that evil device touching me. I didn't want to see the fucking monitor. I just wanted it all to be gone.

After several moments of agony with her prodding my stomach, she finally relocated the little guy. And there he was, on the screen before our very eyes: a blurry little black splotch, surrounded in a sea of fuzzy dots and lines. He moved, jiggled, twitched inside of me like a jumping bean, but I couldn't feel it. All I could feel was my heart pounding in my chest. And despite the fact that I desperately didn't want to see it, I was completely immersed in this living, breathing photograph of my baby. To think that that little glob could be a child - our child - was astounding. I couldn't take my eyes away from it.

The nurse spoke again: "Would you like a photo printed of your child?"

James answered for the both of us yet again, and this time, I couldn't have been more delighted with his answer: "Yes."

Drawing away much too soon, the nurse pressed a button, pulled the probe away, and just like that, the baby vanished again. Gone. Just as mysterious now as it was before.

But then the picture printed, and in the blink of an eye, the baby was back again, the photograph in my hands, my fingers so tight around it that I crinkled the edges.

"There she is," James whispered, his sweet voice so light compared to the rushing of blood in my ears. A featherweight hand came up to cover my trembling knuckles. "Our baby."

I didn't even notice as the nurse cleaned up my stomach, packed her torture gear away and left the room. I was too absorbed in looking at my baby, our baby, and realizing how frighteningly beautiful it was - and how terrifying it was that this small, insignificant blob rolling around inside me would soon become my life.

I didn't look up from the picture until several minutes later when I heard James chuckle almost inaudibly in my ear. I glanced away to see blue eyes glittering, smile still shining as he gazed down at his fourth child.

“Beautiful, isn't she?” he murmured softly, his voice saturated with wonder.

Sniffling softly, I could only nod. I hadn't even realized I'd begun to cry until that moment; tears trailed slowly from my eyes, wetting my cheeks and falling to my chin. Noticing this only made me sniffle again and wipe my sleeve across my cheeks, hand still shaking.

James chuckled again, his hand finally leaving mine so he could wrap his arms around me and hold me close to him.

"Aw, c'mere, baby." He tucked me protectively beneath his chin, such a familiar gesture that, given the circumstances, now felt so different. "It's gonna be alright."

Bodily shaking now, I feebly peeped, "I'm so scared."

Another chuckle, and a hand now softly stroking my hair. "What for, sweetheart? You're going to be a great, great mother. And I'm going to be with you every step of the way."

"But...we n-never talked about this. You didn't want another kid. And, we're stuck with one!"

"But I'm happy, babe," he assured me, giving my body a squeeze. "I'm so happy about this."

"But...but...we didn't plan this!"

James sighed softly. "Honestly, Ade, I don't care how many kids you have. You could have just this one, or another one, or another ten. Either way, I'll love each and every one of them with my whole being. That won't change the way I feel about you. I will always love you. Nothing can change that, Adrienne."

I felt my breath catch and hold for the umpteenth time that night. His words rang through my head, and my heartbeat began to steadily decrease to its normal rate once more. It was a long time before I exhaled again.

"I love you, too," I replied finally. I tried to calm my endlessly fidgeting fingers, tightening them around the photograph again. "But I'd like to keep this baby the one and only. For now, at least."

He laughed, that rumbling chest laugh that I adored. He then moved a hand down across my body and to my still-exposed stomach, rubbing it gently with a large, calloused palm. "How does it feel?"

"Shouldn't you know how it feels after having three with Francesca?" I replied evasively with an unstable exhale.

"Francesca expected children," he quipped. "You didn't."

He was right. It probably did feel different to Francesca when she got pregnant - she wanted those children. She had planned on having them at one time or another. She wasn't terrified of what was happening to her. But I was. And maybe that was why James had asked the question. Maybe that's why I felt as if Francesca would always be the better woman, the better mother.

Taking another stabilizing breath, I placed my hand on top of James' and stroked his fingers as I replied tentatively, "It feels...strange."


"Like I've got some kind of monster growing inside me."

He laughed deeply. "You'll get used to it. Soon enough, you won't even remember what it's like to not be pregnant."

I chuckled timidly. "That's what I'm afraid of," I admitted.

"Don't worry, love. You'll love motherhood," he told me quietly. He tightened his arms around me and kissed the top of my head. "It's the best feeling in the world, and you're going to look absolutely beautiful doing it."

He kissed the top of my head again, and with that, I knew I was safe. Be it a cow or an alien or a dog in my stomach, James would be there with me every step of the way, and that made it all alright. Maybe I didn't need to worry about having a child after all. Maybe everything would be okay. No matter how fucked up or strange this child turned out to be, James was already in love with it - and maybe I was, too.

“So, you ready to do this, Superwoman?” James proposed, giving my stomach and affectionate tap.

I smiled warmly to myself, feeling my heart throb happily as I twined my fingers in his. "I'm ready."

And despite all of the insecurities and the doubts, and the fears and the angst, I knew I was right. I truly was ready.
♠ ♠ ♠
I'm really proud of this! I hand wrote this in almost one sitting; it took me about three to four hours max, all in one night. It's the first thing I've been able to start and finish without having to stop in the middle of it, and it actually came pretty easily. It's kind of like my baby, and I'm extremely proud of what I've accomplished. I hope everyone likes it!

Feedback would be extremely, extremely appreciated.