Brooklyn and Barry are back. After two years of marriage, they’re about to welcome their first child into the family. Even with a bundle of joy on the way, all isn’t going so well in the Carter household.
Brooklyn seems to be suffering from antepartum depression and no matter how happy Barry and others try to make her, she’s sinking deeper and deeper into a pit of darkness.
Barry’s been hanging around with a new potential client – Diamond Richardson, an Olympic swimmer – who doesn’t seem to care that Barry’s married.
Brooklyn’s mother was released from prison a year ago on good behavior – now, she wants to move in with Brooklyn and Barry doesn’t seem to think it’s an issue, which causes another rift in their marriage. But when the police show up at their door causing Brooklyn to go into labor early, will Barry still think she’s worthy of another chance?
Can Brooklyn handle the new set of demons that have emerged along with the joys of motherhood? Or will she succumb to the pressure that’s trying to take her out?
Barry had ten minutes to get his behind home or I was going to snap. He’d been gone for the last three hours. I didn’t mind that he’d took a business meeting on the weekend. We didn’t have “traditional schedules”, but I was five months pregnant and I wanted him home with me. As I stared at the crib with yellow and gray trimmings around the beautiful baby room, I felt tears spring to my eyes. This was my problem. Every five minutes, I felt like I was about to break down. Some people said it was normal – hormones; but my spirit was telling me it was deeper than that. I had the normal rages that went along with pregnancy – crying at stupid dog commercials, snapping on people if they stared at me too long at the gas station or pushing Barry away no matter how loving he was – yeah, I had those moments.
But then there were the other moments. The ones where darkness seemed to welcome me in, and I entered without question; the ones where keeping the curtains closed on a beautiful sunny day in April made more sense than letting the sun shine in, putting a smile on my face like it had years prior; the ones where Barry saying ‘I love you’ every ten minutes made me wish he’d go away rather than making me melt like it did two years ago, when we first got married; and finally, the ones where not speaking to my parents for days on end made more sense than talking to the people who were the very reason I was alive and even able to get pregnant. Hell, they’d nurtured me back to life.
I walked over to the crib and picked up the beautiful yellow and white blanket Laila had made. Since her subscription box service had failed, she realized she had another hidden gift – crocheting; and she was beyond good at it. She’d opened up a nice online shop and had turned it into a business. My phone vibrated in my pocket just as I went to place the blanket back down. It was Tessa, checking in on me. We’d grown closer since she stepped down from being my manager and I’d even agreed to having her in the room with me when I gave birth. One, she was now Nurse Tessa Cordoza. She’d gone back to school to get her BSN after completing the prerequisites required to enter the program. She had only been a nurse for a few months now, but she was loving it. She had also added a midwifery certificate to her credentials while in school, so she was about the only call I answered outside of Barry’s.
“Hey, sis,” I said, forcing joy in my voice. “What’s up?”
“Hey, Brookie,” she said. “How are you feeling?”
I sighed. “Pretty good. Just walking around the baby room now, trying to take in all that’s about to happen.”
I heard a machine beeping in the background, which meant, she was still at the hospital.
“How’s your shift going?”
“It’s good. I have six more hours before I call it quits, but I just wanted to check on you. How’s Barry holding up with all your fussing?”
I chuckled. “He’s not here, which should answer your question.”
As she continued on about how her day was going, my smile slowly started to fade. It was cute at first, to think that he wasn’t here because I was being so mean to him, but it also hit me that that could very well be the reason why he wasn’t home yet. Had the meeting been a lie to get away from my crazy self? I bit my bottom lip to stop it from quivering. Just when I was about to speak, my phone beeped, signaling another call. Hoping it was Barry, I rushed to click over without saying anything to Tessa.
“Hey, honey,” I said.
“Well, I’m guessing you thought I was Barry, but it’s not, baby girl,” a deep, voice said. “It’s just your old man, checking on you.”
I wasn’t all the way disappointed. Since meeting my biological father, Jeremy Givens, a few years ago, I was pleased to say that we were in a good space. We talked via text every day and had lunch or dinner once a week. I’d even met my brother Lincoln, who was the same age as me and had gotten pieces of him that I hadn’t.
“Sorry, Jeremy,” I said, slowly walking over to the rocking chair. I could feel my ankles swelling in my slippers and my back was beginning to feel like I was carrying a mac truck in my stomach. “I’m good. Just – tired.”
At this point, I could no longer control the tears and as they rolled down my face, I sniffled.
“Baby girl, you don’t have to front with your old man,” he said. “I know we’re still getting to know each other, but I’m a good listener.”
I smiled. “I just feel like something else is off. I know crying and being emotional is normal, but I feel almost depressed. Like, something is off.”
“Have you heard of antepartum depression? It’s basically the same as postpartum depression but it happens during pregnancy. I’m not trying to diagnose you, but you may want to talk to a doctor to see what can be done. Leslie had it when she was pregnant with Lincoln and our youngest baby, but with Hannah, she had it to the max.”
“Really? What were her symptoms?”
“Besides cursing me out every second and throwing things around whenever she got upset, she withdrew form everyone. Wouldn’t talk to her sister and you know they’re twins, so Lauren was really hurt since they’re so close. She snapped on her mother for the smallest things, cried if I looked at her, even when I looked at her in a loving way – I mean, it was tough. If I was a grimy cat, I would’ve messed around on her again, but I knew that I had to be strong. Our middle daughter was counting on me because she had even withdrawn from her, so I became mom and dad for months.”
I was listening intently. What Leslie had gone through sounded a lot like what I was currently going through. I sat back in the chair and rocked slowly.
“What did she do?”
I heard his car door opened and wondered if he was home. Leslie and I had been able to be cordial and respectful toward each other, but I could tell she still had issues with our relationship. They had three children, Lincoln, Brandi and Hannah. Hannah was now sixteen and even her and I were pretty close. Barry thought that Leslie just felt threatened because I was another woman, granted I was grown, who had entered his life that he now was making time for. Women were territorial and it didn’t matter if it was family or foe, they wanted undivided attention when it came to their mates. My phone beeped again. I pulled it away from my ear and saw that it was Tessa calling me back.
“Hey, Jeremy, hold on a sec,” I said, clicking over. “Sorry, sis. It was Jeremy.”
“I thought it was Barry. I’m about to head back from my break, but I wanted to know if you told your mother you were having a girl.”
Barry and I had learned the sex of the baby just a week ago and I was ecstatic to learn we were having a girl. We’d decided on a name, Ryann Dior, but hadn’t told anyone yet. We didn’t have a gender reveal party, we simply went to the doctor and found out. That was another side effect of my pregnancy, I wasn’t up for being around people or celebrating much.
“No. I haven’t heard from her in months. I’m not sure I want to,” I said, shaking my head.
My mother had been released on good behavior a year ago. She came looking for me right away and I thought she wanted to build a relationship. Truth is – she wanted money. I realized that she would always be a user, but she wasn’t about to use me.
“Hey girl, call me when you get off. Let me finish talking to him.”
There was a time I would’ve never thought I’d rush Tessa off the phone to talk to a man that had abandoned me. But he was telling me something that I knew would help me.
“Sorry. It was Tessa.”
“No worries. Let me give you the number to the doctor that she spoke with. I know you have someone who handles all your care, but this doctor specifically deals with patients having a hard time with their pregnancies. I think you’ll like her.”
I grabbed a pen and jotted down the information.
“She’s holistic too,” he continued. “But has all her credentials. Leslie ended up having to be on medication after Hannah was born, so she was upset that she couldn’t nurse her, but it was necessary. The medicine helped her a lot. A complete turnaround.”
“I appreciate you for giving me this info,” I said, using the chair to push myself back up on my feet. “I will call her first thing in the morning.”
I waddled over to the window. As I stared at the empty driveway, I felt fresh tears coming to my eyes again. I quickly brushed them away. I knew Barry was probably feeling unloved and unappreciated, but that wasn’t the case. Hopefully, now that we had answers we could get the help we needed.
“Alright, baby girl. Call me if you need anything else. It doesn’t matter what it is,” he said. “And Brooklyn?”
“Cut Barry some slack. If there is one thing I wished Leslie would’ve done it’s cut me some slack. I did everything in my power to make her happy even before we knew what was going on, but it was never enough. It broke me. Almost pushed me out the door. I know you don’t mean it, but he doesn’t know that.”
“Thank you, da – Jeremy. I really appreciate that, and I promise, I’ll try from here on out,” I said.
After we ended the call, I thought about how close I’d come to calling him dad. It was something that I still didn’t feel comfortable with yet and wasn’t sure when I would. I opened up FaceTime to call Barry. After five rings, I hung up. After texting him what Jeremy had shared with me, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and prayed that I hadn’t completely push my husband away.