Chapter 11. Jessica : Try again?
I jolted from my sleep. My neck felt stiff from the uncomfortable sleep on the armchair. I rose up groggily but managed to reach the hospital bed quickly.
“Hey, baby, it's okay. I'm here.” I lifted the small body up, hugging the whining boy tight as I swayed gently on my feet.
“I want mommyyyyyyy.” Jinki wailed, feet kicking while hands throwing weak punches on my chest.
My heart broke at his call for his mother. He was down with a high fever yesterday and my mother had decided to take him to the doctor. It ended up to be a severe in-ear infection and the poor little boy had to be hospitalized for a few days.
The worse thing was he couldn't even have his mom immediately. Krystal was on Prague, also sick after a long filming schedule there. Jinki's father was also there with her and they wouldn't be able to get here until Krystal was a little better herself.
“Your mommy will be here soon, baby. Sleep some more while we're waiting for her, okay?”
“Noooooo.” His wail was getting louder. I tried to stop him from moving too much because he was still connected to the IV fluid system but he wriggled his body hard. “Mommyyyyyyy.”
“Jinki-yah, please. You'll hurt yourself if you keep on moving like this.” I tried to rub his back, swaying him in my arms. “Stay still, okay?”
But he kept on wailing and tossing himself around in my hold, making me scared of ending up dropping him. No one could be asked for help because my parents had went home for a much needed rest an hour ago.
“Jinki, baby, come on. Stay still.” I started to sniff. I had no idea that taking care of a sick kid was as challenging as this.
“Hey. Jinki. Look!” Yuri came through the door and I never felt so relieved before. “Look what I've got for you.” He entered the room with a grin and two happy meal boxes in hands.
Jinki stopped wriggling immediately. Eyes rounded at the sight of his favorite meal.
“Yul! He can't have burgers yet.” I hissed at my husband who took Jinki from me after setting the boxes on the bed.
“Don't worry.” A smile adored Yuri's face as he helped Jinki sat on the bed. “Now who's my favorite nephew? Who's gonna get the happy meal?”
“Me.” Jinki wiped his tears with the back of his free hand, while the one that had IV needle on pointed at himself. “Jinki, uncle Yul.”
“Jinki? Hmmmmm.” Yuri scratched his head while taking one of the box and opened it slowly. “I don't know. Has Jinki been a good boy lately?”
“Yes.” The little boy nodded vigorously. “Jinki is a good boy.”
“Really?A good boy isn't supposed to cry this much.”Yuri wiped at remnant of tears from the boy's cheek.
“Jinki doesn't cway.” He wiped at his eyes again. “Jinki is a good boy.”
“Okay.” Yuri produced cups from the box. “Here's your happy meal.”
“Where's the buwgew?” My nephew looked disappointed at the cups of pudding.
“Burger? You need to get better first, baby.” Yul laughed. “As soon as the doctor allows, I'll buy you a truck of burgers.”
“I want buwgew.”
“Well... you don't want this Hulk pudding?” Yuri picked up one of the cups, showing Jinki the Hulk sticker on it. “And this, the Captain America one? I heard eating these puddings makes Hulk & Captain America strong. Don't you want to be as strong as them?”
As if trying to weight the truth of Yuri's words the innocence boy tilted his head to one side, fingers moving to touch the cup.
“Look.” Yuri opened the lid, showing green pudding in the cup to Jinki while leaning so close to the curious boy's face. “Hulk pudding. Raaaawr!”
Jinki giggled, touching Yuri's nose. “Huk pudding.”
“Yes. Want a bite? It will make you stronger so we can get out of here to get burgers sooner.”
“And cookies too?”
“And cookies too. Promise.” I sat on the bed, taking the Captain America cup and opened it. “Awww, look! This one is blue, Jinki. Come on, open up.” I took a spoonful of the pudding, happy to see Jinki ate it immediately.
“If you finish the whole cups. I'll give you this.” Yuri shook the other box. The rattling sound made Jinki's eyes widen again.
“What's in it, uncle?”
“Oh I don't know.” Yuri wriggled his eyebrows comically. “Happy meal toys maybe.”
“Toooooys?” The expression of utter excitement on Jinki's face made me smile. “Yaaaay!”
“Eat first.” Yuri set the box away, lying by Jinki's feet while watching the boy's mouth opened wide.
“Mow, Auntie. Mow!”
“More?” I laughed, spoon-fed him a big chunk of the pudding then kissed his rounded cheek. “That's my champ.”
“Aren't I your champ too?“ Yuri grinned teasingly at me from where he was lying.”
“You are now. Thank you for the brilliant idea.” I smiled at him while feeding Jinki who was busy scrutinizing each and every stickers on the cups. Feeding Jinki had been a struggle these days because all of the discomforts he felt, seeing my nephew ate the pudding so willingly made me happy.
“Minho's idea. But you're welcome.” Yuri sighed, focusing back on Jinki. “Look. I have more.” He took out a pack of stickers from his coat's pocket.
“Say thank you, Jinki-yah.” I opened the lid of the second cup.
“Thank you, uncle.” He grabbed the pack from Yuri's hand. “Put on my hands, Auntie. On Jinki's hands.”
“Later, baby. Finish your meal first. Do you want the soup too?”
“Iron man soup.” Yuri stuck an Iron-man sticker on the lid of the cup.
“I-won man soup!” Jinki beamed again, extending his hand. “Put spidewman on me, uncle.”
“Okay. Here. Jinki the Spiderman.”
I watched in awe as Yuri interacted with Jinki. The sight of them laughing together both warmed and broke my heart at the same time. When the time to open the box of toys arrived, Jinki even climbed onto Yuri's lap and played with him happily. I had to excuse myself to the bathroom, afraid I'd cry in front of them.
Almost two years since I had had a miscarriage, the pain of losing my own child still came to me from time to time.
I still waited for the good news to reach me. There were times when my period came late and my hope soared high only to be crashed back to the ground a few days after. There were even times when I thought I should give up. But then I looked at my husband, and I knew I had to stay optimist for him.
Yuri had said nothing though. The subject of having a child of our own was never brought up in front of me again; not by him, not by his family. We never talked about it anymore. As if he was the one who already gave up.
I had started to consider other means of child-rearing now. Even had browsed for so many articles on IVF and surrogate mother. To talk about it with Yuri was another case though. I still didn't have the courage.
“Baby.” Yuri knocked on the bathroom door. “Jinki is ready to sleep. He's looking for his favorite auntie.”
“In a minute.” I washed my face in the sink, sighing at the reflection I saw in the mirror. Very soon, age would catch up on me and the chance of getting pregnant naturally would also narrow significantly.
“You okay?” My husband poked his head in, smiling.
“Just a little tired.” I lied, getting out of the bathroom and gave him a peck on the cheek. “Thank you for being such a super uncle today.”
“Eyyy. I'm a super uncle everyday. Right, my man?” He bumped his fist with Jinki's.
“Supew Uncle.” Jinki giggled. “Buy me mow stikew, uncle.”
“I will. Be a good boy and sleep well, arasseo? I have a meeting but I'll come again with more stickers.” He rubbed Jinki's head as the boy lay sleepily on my lap. “Bye, little spiderman.”
“Bye to you too, super auntie.” He kissed my forehead. “Try get yourself some rest.”
“I will” I kissed his cheek. “Take care, I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Someone patted my cheek gently and despite the protest made by every fiber in my body, I opened my eyes. My mom was in front of me, with her trademark gentle smile and a pair of caring eyes looking worriedly into mine.
“Wake up, go sleep on the couch so you can straighten your legs.”
Jinki stirred a little as my mother moved him from my lap to the bed but fell asleep again almost immediately.
“Has the doctor came?” Mom asked me while handing me a blanket.
“Yes. He said the infection is healing fast. They gave him the medicines through the IV again.” I lay on the couch but sitting up again upon smelling something so good. “Dad, is that samgyetang?”
“Yep.” Dad set the lid of the container he had just opened on the coffee table. “Since Jinki is ill and my gastritis is acting up again, your mother pulled out her secret recipe.”
“Mom, you are an angel.” I threw the blanket away, ready for some good old samgyetang.
“Andwae.” Dad shifted the container away. “You can't have it. Sick people only.”
“Aigooo. I need energy boost too. You guys come so late your dear grandson has drained my battery to zero.” I reached for the chopstick, pouting accordingly at my father.
My mother just chuckled, setting a ttukbaegi that was filled to the brim with the healthy soup right in front of me. “I need time to prepare the dishes and we also visited Minjin's daughter down on the second floor.”
“ Sooji is in this hospital too? What's happened to her?”
“She just gave birth to her second child.” My mother answered. “A cute baby girl.”
“I see.” I couldn't remember if Sooji was eight or seven years younger than me. But the fact that she already had two children while I wasn't even pregnant yet saddened me a little.
“Hey.” My mother reached to tilt my chin up. “Your time will come too.”
“I know, mom.” I tried to sound optimistic while focusing back on the hot meal at the table. “I will eat well.” I tasted the chicken first , as expected it was tender , juicy and oh so tasty. “It's so delicious mom. You're awesome.”
“You need to eat a lot, Sooyeon-ah.” My father spoke between bites. “Gain strength so you'll get pregnant soon.”
I could see my mother nudged my father with her elbow, probably afraid that his words would hurt me. I just smiled, trying to formulate words in my mind.
“Mom. Dad.” I said after a while. “What do you think of me using surrogate mother to conceive my baby?”
“What do you mean?” Dad looked up from his soup.
“It's a procedure where couple put their child in other woman's womb. The woman will then carry the baby and give it to the couple once the baby is born.” My mom explained. The way she said the words were so grim I already know what she thought of the idea. The shocked expression on my Dad's face didn't help either.
“That's absurd.” Dad commented. “Just wait a little more. You'll have your own child too.”
“Isn't there another procedure where doctors put the baby inside you instead? In.... in Vitro right?”
“IVF. In Vitro Fertilization, mom. The one where they manually combine egg and in a lab then transfer it to the mother's womb. I think it will be useless if my body is too weak to carry the baby anyway.”
“That's why you should eat more.” Dad now looked annoyed. “These procedures that you talked about seem so tedious, so full of risk. I don't even know if it's legal here. I'd rather you try your best at conceiving naturally.”
“I'm getting older, Dad. Hitting 35 this years. My chance of healthy pregnancy is slimmer now.”
“Have you talked about it with Yul? Is he the one who want you to do this?” The annoyance in his face now slightly turned into anger. My father always extra protective when it came to my well-being.
“Not really. He doesn't even mention about us having a child anymore.”
“Then why rushing it, Sooyeonnie?” Mom rested her hand on top of my thigh. “Many women older than you have gotten pregnant before. Why don't you just try hormone therapy like you did before?”
I sighed. Truth was I had started taking fertility drugs again under doctor YoonA's prescription. Six months taking the meds with no sign of pregnancy was the reason why I had started exploring other options.
“I'll talk about it with Yuri.” I forced a smile.
“Keep trying and keep praying, sweetheart.” Dad sighed. “You and Yuri are both healthy, right? It's just a matter of time.”
I just nodded and continued eating, hoping that time wouldn't matter at all.
“Mommy misses you so much.” I placed a bouquet of white lilies on the marble tombstone. Two years ago I had found out that my mother-in-law had had held a funeral for my baby. She had a humble graveyard set in the backyard of the Kwons' residence just under the shade of the many cherry trees. Even had a name engraved on the tombstone. Eunsoo. Our Kwon Eunsoo.
I spent a few minutes praying for my baby, for my family, smiling at the thought that he or she was happy up there, watching us among the angels.
“See you later,baby.” I caressed the grey marble before walking toward Yuri who was sitting under one of the trees that had just started blossoming.
“I almost forgot how much I love spending time in this backyard.” He sighed as his hands tugged me down. I sat between his feet, leaning back against his torso. “When I was five-years old I fell head first into that pond with my bike. Father just laughed at me.”
“Poor baby Yuri and his bruised ego.” I turned my head to kiss his cheek.
“Many things happened in this garden you know? I think I kissed my first girl down there by the gazebo.”
“Eyyy.” My pinch landed on his thigh. “No need to share the details.”
He laughed, kissing my temple then rested his chin on my head. His arms wrapped around me like a comfortable blanket. We fell into a comfortable silence for a moment before I decided to voiced out the thoughts that had been bothered me for a while.
“Have you gave up on our plan of having baby?”
He tightened his hold around me. “No.”
“Why do we never talk about it again?”
“I don't want you to get hurt.”
“I want to try again before it's too late.”
I turned around, sitting with my legs crossed in front of him. “I want to try surrogacy.”
“I just can't imagine someone else but you carrying my child.”
His reaction, just like my parents' reaction, was to be expected. But it still disappointed me a little. “I have been taking fertility drugs since a few months ago, Yul. Also timing our love making with my ovulation. They don't seem to work. And even if we try IVF I'm afraid my body will fail me once more.”
“Jess.” He caressed my cheek with the back of his hand now. “Is this really what you want? For all I know the procedure for surrogacy can be tedious and taking a very long time. It's not a common practice in this country either.”
“I know, Yul. I just want to give it a try.”
“Have you consult anybody on this? YoonA?”
“Not really. I tossed the idea at our appointment last week but we didn't discuss it any further.”
He fell silent for a while, before standing up and offered his hand to me. I rose up and together we walked down the cobblestone path leading to the big house where he had grown up as The Kwons' only child.
“Let's wait for a few more weeks before we give it a serious try.” Yuri wrung his hand around my waist as I automatically leaned my head on his broad shoulder. “Let it sink in first. Maybe we can take another trip abroad or a short vacation before deciding on anything. Workload has been stressing me so much these days.”
“Agreed.” I turned to smile at him.
“Just pomise me, Jess. Whatever we do, whichever road we decide to take, we'll do it happily as one. That we'll avoid stress and excessive expectation.”
“Promise.” I tip-toed a little to give his cheek a kiss. “I love you.”
--- tbc –
Author's note : What do you think if the couple use the help of surrogate mother? Will it cause more trouble and heartbreak? Should I put Hara into the equation once more? I haven't finalized the next chapter so your ideas can still change it.