“You said that if the results came back positive that you would give it a try.” I struggled to keep my voice low; to prevent everyone else in the waiting room from overhearing. “Why are you doing this to me now? Why are you trying to get out of it?”
“It’s my body, Brian!” Leighanne wrapped her cardigan around her chest and lowered her voice to match mine. “You can’t tell me what to do with it!”
“I’m not telling you to do anything! You said that this is something that you wanted!”
“Mr. and Mrs. Littrell?” A heavy-set nurse stepped into the waiting room. She scanned the sea of anxious couples before settling her eyes knowingly on me and Leighanne. “Ya’ll can come on back now.”
I stood up from the creaky vinyl chair and issued the nurse a small smile. I feigned interest in the medical posters that adorned the walls as I waited for Leighanne to collect her purse. I didn’t want to risk making eye contact with any of the other people in the waiting room. It was bad enough that the nurse had said my last name aloud for the entire room to hear. If someone were to recognize me, the news would be all over social media before I could blink.
The plump nurse led us down a short hallway to an examination room. She paused briefly to consult the medical chart that had been placed next to the door before ushering the two of us into the room.
“Mrs. Littrell, you’re going to need to be undressed from the waist down.” The nurse gestured towards the examination table. “Just cover yourself up with the blanket once you’re situated. The doctor will be with you in just a few minutes.”
“Do you not want to do this?” I waited until the nurse had closed the door firmly behind her before I opened my mouth. “We can just call it off and go home if you’ve changed your mind.”
I could taste the bitterness in the back of my throat as the words left my mouth. I knew that I sounded spiteful, but I couldn’t be bothered to disguise my emotions. Leighanne knew how much this meant to me. She knew how much I wanted this, and she had agreed to it. Less than a week ago, she had rested her head on my chest and told me that she was overjoyed about the fact that her test results had come back positive. She had told me that she was excited at the prospect of undergoing the procedure. Now, she was looking at me as if I were a venomous snake that was about to bite her.
“It’s just happening awfully fast.” Leighanne turned her back on me as she began to unbutton her jeans. “I thought that I would have some more time to process things, that’s all.”
For the second time in less than five minutes, I found myself staring blankly at the medical posters that were tacked to the walls. No matter how much I loved the sight of my wife’s body, I couldn’t bring myself to look at her as she stripped off her panties and settled herself onto the exam table. The warmth was creeping up my neck; the awkwardness in the room was palpable.
I waited until Leighanne had covered herself with the blanket before I stopped pretending to read the poster about the male reproductive system and turned to face her. This wasn’t turning out how I had imagined. I felt like I was forcing my wife to do something against her will.
Our relationship had been somewhat strained for the past three years, and a small part of me couldn’t help but wonder if Leighanne had said ‘yes’ to my request simply to convince me to stay with her. It was no secret that every single aspect of Leighanne’s life was dependent on mine; on my career, on my schedule, on my fans, on my financing. Our lack of a prenuptial agreement meant that I would lose millions of dollars if I walked away, but Leighanne would lose so much more than money if our marriage dissolved. Without me, she would have limited business prospects, a limited amount of followers, limited publicity, and a very limited sense of purpose. My wife may have been blonde, but she definitely wasn’t stupid. She knew how to play the game.
Still, the biggest part of me wanted this venture to be a success. I knew it was naive of me to believe that adding another source of stress to our relationship would make things better, but I was truly hopeful that it would. Realistically, I had wanted this for so long that I had made myself blind to the notion that anything could possibly go wrong.
“This isn’t how this is supposed to happen.” I gave voice to my thoughts. “Maybe we shouldn’t be doing this if we’re angry at each other.”
Leighanne let out a long, heavy sigh. “I’m not mad at you, Brian. I’m just – I just want some more time.”
“We don’t have more time.” I took a step closer to Leighanne. “We both read the report. We both know that this is likely our one and only shot. There are only two viable eggs ...”
“I understand all of that, Brian.” Leighanne snapped. “I’m not an idiot. I know that my insides are old, and dried up, and useless.”
“I never said any of that!” I shot back. “You’re trying to make me out to be the bad guy here, but I’m not. Your age has never been a factor, and you know that. Never, in my life, have I blamed you. I’ve never questioned you; even when you turned down my idea to have this procedure done earlier.”
“I guess I just don’t understand why this is such a big deal to you.” Leighanne let out another heavy sigh. “Why can’t you just be happy with Baylee? He’s a good kid ...”
“This has nothing to do with Baylee.” I clenched my teeth. “This is about you and me and the expansion of our family. This is about something that I want more than anything else in the world. This is about you supporting me for once!”
“You think that I don’t support you?!” Leighanne hissed; her face turning an angry shade of red. “I do nothing but support you, Brian! Our whole damn life revolves around you and your career.”
“Without me and my career, you wouldn’t have a life!” I could feel the venom bubbling up my throat. “You only support me when it benefits you. Now, I’m asking you to support me even if it means that you don’t get exactly what you want.”
“Mr. and Mrs. Littrell?” A tall blonde woman entered the room at the exact moment that Leighanne opened her mouth to spit fire back at me. “I’m Dr. Maci Bridgewater. I’ll be performing your implantation procedure.” She gave us both a wide toothy grin that appeared somewhat forced. “Are we all ready to get started?”
“You’ll have to ask my wife how she feels” I flashed my own forced smile at the doctor. “I’m more than ready to get started though.”
“And, how about you, Mrs. Littrell?” Dr. Bridgewater turned to Leighanne with her fake smile still firmly intact. “Are you excited?”
I took a few, what I hoped to be subtle, calming breaths as I waited for Leighanne to respond. It was painfully obvious that the doctor could sense the tension in the room, and that it was making her uncomfortable. Even though I didn’t necessarily want to, I shuffled up next to the side of the examination table and took Leighanne’s hand in my own. Her fingers felt slack in my grip; a perfect metaphor for our relationship – barely hanging on.
“I don’t know if ‘excited’ is the right word to describe my current feelings.” Leighanne plastered on her own manufactured smile. She lay down on the table and spread her legs so that her feet were resting in the stirrups; readjusting the blanket to keep herself covered as she got into position. “Let’s just get this done, shall we?”
“Okay then ...” Dr. Bridgewater cast me a fleeting glance as she sat down on a wheeled stool and positioned herself between Leighanne’s legs. “It’s okay if the two of you need to talk privately first. I can always step out for a minute ...”
“Dr. Bridgewater, my husband is very anxious for me to become fat and pregnant. So, if you wouldn’t mind hurrying this along so that I can make my mani-pedi appointment that would be just peachy.” Leighanne shot me a condescending smirk as she spoke. “Besides, Brian here doesn’t have time to talk because he’s flying out to Vegas in a couple of weeks, and he apparently has things to do before he takes off to spend time with a bunch of random women.”
I was clenching my teeth so tightly that my jaw was starting to ache. “I’m going to Vegas for work.” I directed my comment at the back of Dr. Bridgewater’s head as she hurried to organize her equipment. “Most of the people who come to see me perform are women. I’m not going to Vegas to spend time with a bunch of hookers or anything. Of course, from the way my lovely wife is speaking, I’m sure you thought that I was headed to a brothel.”
“I know who you are, Mr. Littrell.” Dr. Bridgewater issued me her first real smile of the appointment before leaning forward and angling a long tubular instrument between Leighanne’s legs. “You can let your cousin know that he’s aged exceptionally well.”
Leighanne let out a snort. I didn’t know if it was intended to be directed towards the doctor’s comment about Kevin, or if it was in response to the procedure. Either way, a few seconds later, Dr. Bridgewater pushed herself backwards on her stool and pulled the blanket back down to fully cover Leighanne’s legs.
“All finished!” Dr. Bridgewater practically chirped. She stood up and peeled off her gloves. “You will know in two weeks if the procedure is a success. Would you like me to remind you about what to watch out for; to discuss some early pregnancy symptoms?”
“That won’t be necessary.” Leighanne was already pushing herself up into a sitting position. “I remember everything all too well from the last time, thanks.”
I unclenched my teeth for the second time throughout the course of the appointment and breathed a sigh of relief. At least, Leighanne had gone through with it; at least we had a legitimate chance now.
“What are the chances that this will be successful?” I carefully avoided Leighanne’s heated stare as I asked the question. “Is there anything that she – that we can do to increase our chances?”
“There’s nothing that you can do now except wait.” Dr. Bridgewater reached out and gave my arm a reassuring squeeze. “In your wife’s case, the potential for a successful pregnancy is quite low; between 2% to 5%. However, if you have faith, anything is possible. So, all I can advise you to do is continue to pray.” The doctor smiled her second genuine smile of the appointment before releasing her grip on my arm. “If it makes you feel any better, Mr. Littrell, I will also be praying about the outcome of your wife’s procedure.”