Falling for the Pregnant GP - Page 38

CJ grinned at that. ‘I admire people like that but that’s probably because I’m so disorganised… Or, as my father used to term it, “creatively chaotic”.’

Ethan walked over and pulled out a chair, sitting down and sighing. ‘And that was my major mistake with Abby. I let her organise, I was happy to be organised. I thought that if she had worries or concerns, especially about the pregnancy, that she would tell me but she didn’t. When she was getting angry with me for always being in the garage when I wasn’t at the hospital, that was her cry for help. She didn’t come out and say directly, I’m scared, I’m worried, I don’t feel well. Instead, she just read book after book, scouring the internet, looking up different symptoms and trying to figure things out herself.’

‘She wasn’t a doctor?’

Ethan shook his head. ‘No. Abigail did one year of nursing at university and changed majors to accounting.’

‘That’s a big change.’

‘She was an academic at heart. Did her honours, her master’s degree and finished her doctorate during the pregnancy. I was so proud of her. Order. Structure. Purpose.’

‘You clearly loved her very much.’

‘I did. I do. I always will.’ Ethan tilted his head back and closed his eyes. ‘But she’s not here. She had swelling at the ankles, her blood pressure was up. She didn’t want to worry me. That’s what she said to me when we were in the ambulance, heading to the hospital. “I didn’t want to worry you as I know you’ve been hectic at work.” I felt so guilty. I still do.’ He dragged in a deep breath, then opened his eyes and looked at CJ. ‘Why didn’t she tell me? I could have helped her. Why was she so scared that she couldn’t tell me?’

‘Ethan, you can’t blame yourself. Even in today’s world, with all the medical advancements we’ve made, things still go wrong.’ CJ reached out her hand to him but he didn’t take it. Couldn’t. There was still something he had to tell her, something he hadn’t told anyone, something only he and the staff in the room at the hospital where his baby girl had been born knew. He clenched his jaw and sniffed as he felt tears begin to threaten. Not only were they tears of grief but also tears of anger.

‘Babies sometimes don’t make it through childbirth, especially with something like eclampsia,’ CJ continued.

‘And birth defects.’ The words were out before he could stop them and he sniffed once more.

‘What?’ The word was barely audible and she sat back up, her hand sliding from the table to rest protectively on her own child.

‘My little girl…’ No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the tears started to trickle down his cheeks. ‘Ellie—my little Ellie—she was…she had…’ He pursed his lips and accepted the clean tissue CJ fished from the pocket of her dressing gown. He dabbed at his eyes, then blew his nose.

‘Abigail had been drinking. I’d had no idea. None whatsoever. She’d been so stressed from her studies, with the pregnancy, with me not being there, and she couldn’t tell me any of that. She hid it all from me and then, when it was too late, when the eclampsia had taken hold, there was nothing to do but try and save the baby, but even then it was too late.’ Another tear ran down his cheek and before he knew it, CJ had somehow shifted her chair around so she was closer to him. She put her arms around him and he let her. She held him close and he let her.

‘Ellie lived for almost twenty-two hours. I changed her nappy, I held her, I told her… I… I loved her.’ The grief, the pain, the despair of losing his daughter came to the fore and he cried like he’d never cried before. CJ did nothing but hold him, support him. She didn’t ask questions. Instead, she cried along with him, sharing in his loss.

Eventually, he was able to ease back, looking around for more tissues. He spied the box on the kitchen bench and eased himself from CJ’s arms, before bringing the box back to the table and sitting down again. His legs weren’t strong enough to support him; every muscle in his body ached yet the relief at having finally told someone else about Abigail’s deception and the resulting consequences was overwhelming.

‘I gave Ellie a bottle and she wrapped her tiny fingers around one of mine.’ He blew his nose again and exhaled a calming breath. ‘I took photos of her but I’ve never shown them to anyone, I’ve never looked at them again.’

‘I’m so glad you took some pictures of her. She deserves that, she deserves to be remembered and loved by you for ever.’ As CJ spoke, a fresh bout of tears flowed down her own cheeks. ‘You’re an amazing man, Ethan, and you would have made an amazing dad.’

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