Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chapter Seven: From the Ashes

Rachel had never considered herself to be much of a romantic. Trying to come up with baby names during her pregnancy, her list consisted of sensible, practical names like "Christopher" or "Rebecca". But in the haze of pain, drugs and hormones, as the doctor placed her newborn son into her arms, she decided at the last moment to name him Phoenix, after the Academy where she had met his father.

Now, as she left the hospital with a healthy, 7.5 pound baby boy, the world suddenly seemed more overwhelming than she had remembered.

As she rode home in the taxi, the reality of her situation sank in like it never had during her pregnancy. None of her books had prepared her for this tiny, living and breathing, but completely helpless person blinking up at her. There was no one waiting for her at home, and no one she could turn to for help if she needed it. What if she couldn't do this?

Once home, seeing the photograph of Zhan smiling from the dresser as she carried Phoenix into the bedroom finally calmed her nerves.

"That's your daddy, Phoenix," Rachel told him; the baby seemed more more interested in trying to eat her necklace.

"He's far away right now," she continued as she distracted him with a bottle, "but if he were here he would sing you beautiful songs and say funny things to make you laugh."

"I hope you get to meet him some day," her confidence restored, Rachel laid him gently down for the night.

As she drifted off to sleep herself that evening, she could feel that everything was going to be alright. Tomorrow she would be returning to work and she and Phoenix were going to be just fine.

The next morning was Rachel's first chance to wear her traffic cop uniform. She thought she looked pretty snazzy.

"You be a good boy for Mr. Oglesby while Mommy's at work," Rachel instructed as she said goodbye.

There, that wasn't so hard, she thought to herself as she strode out to the carpool, trying to push aside the doubts that kept creeping into her mind about leaving her baby alone with a stranger all day.

After all, she knew she could trust the babysitter. At 64, Jarod Ogelsby was a nice old man who loved children, but had never had any of his own. After he had retired, he signed up with the babysitting agency in order to live vicariously through other sims' families. Even though Jarod was older, Rachel was glad for Phoenix to have a positive male presence in his life. Still, she couldn't help but feel slightly guilty as she left.

"I'm home! Did you miss me?" Rachel greeted Phoenix when she returned home that afternoon. She found that she was much more prompt about leaving work at 3pm sharp than she used to be.

Rachel quickly discovered that it was much more difficult to keep a baby on a schedule than she had anticipated, and yet somehow she was able to make it through the midnight feedings.

And the dirty diapers.

While still managing to keep up with both the housework and her career.

As the months passed, Rachel became more and more disappointed that she had not heard from Zhan. She knew her letter had been a long shot, but she had still hoped to hear something. Things were going well for them, though, so she tried not to dwell on it.

Of course, things couldn't stay good forever. Rachel was severely reminded of this one day as she attempted to fix a problem with the stereo.

By the time she recovered from the shock, an electrical spark that had leapt onto the wooden casing had become a flame and quickly grown out of control. Rachel frantically dialed the fire department as the fire spread closer to the bedroom where Pheonix lay in his crib.

The firefighter arrived to find her struggling to keep the flames back.

Together, they were able to extinguish the fire before it could reach the sleeping babe.

Soon after, it was time for Phoenix's first birthday. Having survived yet another near fatal disaster, Rachel felt as if the celebration was for both of their lives. She still didn't want a big party, but did invite Jarod over for cake. His exuberance helped to lighten the mood.

"Make a wish!" Rachel said, leaning over the cake. She hoped Phoenix wouldn't mind if she made one, too.

Although he had inhereted his mother's hair and eye color, Rachel was amazed by how much Phoenix was growing up to look like his father.

Cake was served, which the adults enjoyed while Phoenix feasted on his fingers.

And the celebration ended with dancing in front of the newly replaced stereo.


The unabridged journey home from the hospital:

I thought it was so hilarious that she had that look on her face the whole time. You can tell that she was having second thoughts about this whole baby thing. xD

Also, Jarod is a pervy old man:

I don't know who that is he's swooning over, but it's definitely not his (younger) girlfriend he's currently in a relationship with. He really is a family-oriented sim without a family, though, so I thought I'd focus on that part in the story since Rachel probably wouldn't know much about his love life anyway.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chapter Six: Why Not?

As wonderful as her trip had been, there was a part of Rachel that was glad to be back home.

All of the new experiences, the whirlwind romance, and two long plane trips just days apart had left her exhausted, and the return to familiar surroundings was comforting.

The vase she had picked up in the market was nothing special, but she set it out next to her chassignite rock as another reminder of an important experience in her life.

After the rest of her unpacking was done she tucked in for an early night so she could get plenty of rest before heading back to work.

Rachel realized that her exhaustion must be something other than jet lag when she woke up in the middle of the night feeling rather sick to her stomach.

The next morning she was forced to call in sick to work and make a trip to the hospital to see was sort of exotic flu she might have caught on her vacation.

When she left the hospital a few hours later, she was in shock. 

Pregnant. How could she be pregnant? Well, she knew how of course, but what was she going to do about it now? As soon as the doctor had broken the news, her mind had raced through all of the possible options. She struck abortion off the list pretty quickly; somehow it seemed wrong to end something that had come out of that amazing weekend. Adoption would be the next most logical option after that. She didn't know if she'd even be able to get in touch with Zhan, much less rely on him for support with his current financial problems, and being a single mother would just be impractical.

Either way, she was going to need some new clothes to grow into over the next nine months.

As she tried on maternity wear at the new shop in town, she thought of how much this was going to mess up all of her plans. She was supposed to be working on advancing in her career, not dealing with having a baby. Of course she would have to give it away, there was no way she would be able to keep up at work and raise a child at the same time. Or could she?

Rachel's ambitious streak suddenly flared up. Why shouldn't she? It's not like there had never been successful career women with children before. If they could do it, Rachel Keatts surely wasn't going to shy away from the task.

Once she made her decision, she took it seriously, investing time in reading several pregnancy and parenting books. If she was going to do this, she was going to do it properly.

Eventually she also decided that she should do her best to contact Zhan. It was a hard letter to write, as she wasn't even sure that she should tell him. She didn't think there was much he could do anyway and she felt like she would only be adding extra stress to his already difficult life. Still, he deserved to know that he was going to have a child out there in the world, and have the opportunity to decide what he could or could not do for himself. 

Since she didn't know his address, she sent the letter care of The Phoenix Academy, knowing that if he was still in Shang Simla he was sure to be visiting there frequently. After that she resigned herself to the idea that she would most likely never hear back and that she was on her own from here on out.

Not that she had a problem with that, of course. When she wasn't reading her baby books she was just fine with immersing herself in her work. Her boss had told her that maternity leave was manditory thanks to the unions (although he didn't sound very thankful at the time), but she convinced him to let her do some computer filing at home during her time off. Rachel's last promotion should have meant she was done with this sort of menial task, but she was determined not to let a little pregnancy get in the way of her goals, no matter what it took.

As the due date grew near, Rachel made sure everything was prepared, buying and orgnaizing the necessary supplies and setting up a crib in the bedroom. She would have to add on another room eventually, but she had always meant to expand on the house anyway. For now, as a finishing touch, she put out a picture she had taken of Zhan next to the crib. She wanted her child to know who their father was, even if Zhan never knew he was a father himself.

Rachel hadn't been able to keep up with her rigorous martial arts training during her pregnancy, but she was able to continue with her star gazing hobby. She had even discovered that the telecope worked quite well for amateur bird watching during the day. She was thus occupied when she felt it starting.

Maybe that was just--

Nope, definitely contractions.

She headed straight to the hospital.

As she walked through the doors, Rachel realized that this was it. No more books and planning, it was time for the real thing and there was no turning back now.


The clothing store Rachel visited is on the second story of the Cabinet of Curiosities Consignment Shop by calisims available at MTS2 here. I love those mirrors, I took at least a dozen pictures of Rachel primping and preening in front of them. xD

This was a pretty short update, especially compared to the last one, but it seemed like a good ending point and since this is that last time Rachel will be on her own, I figured I'd let her have the chapter to herself.