The 7th of December rolls around pretty quickly. We all pick dad up from the airport. He is absolutely delighted to see Jay there. He just hugs and hugs her. “Granddad, I can’t breathe.”
Jay agrees to spend a couple of days with us so that she can spend some time with dad. They talk and we talk. The pregnancy fills our house like this “thing”, this one big expectant “thing”.
The day of the clinic appointment arrives and Jay and I make our way there. Jay and I have been spending more and more time together, seeing each other almost three or four days a week in the preceding couple of weeks. I am concerned that she is not spending much time with her friends, all of whom seemed pretty excited at the prospect of being surrogate aunties.
In the car, I tackle Jay about this.
“They no longer want to be my friend, Mum.”
“Surely, that isn’t true, love. Are you being a bit oversensitive?”
“No, Mum, they unfriended me on Facebook. Apparently, they are sick of me talking about the baby.” I suspect it is more a case of Jay no longer being the fun loving party animal she once was and tell her so.
“Well, what do they expect, Mum? I have a little being inside of me.” My heart swells to bursting with pride. 19 and so very very mature.
“There may also be a case of jealousy too. You know, you getting all the attention?”
It isn’t much comfort. She is lonely and she is starting to get depressed. I make a mental note to look up any young mother’s groups that might be available in the area in which Jay lives.
We arrive at the hospital and meet Laura, a lovely red headed young woman. “You must be Jay?” Jay nods. “Well, I am Laura and I am one of the midwives at the YWC. During your pregnancy you will deal with me and perhaps one other midwife. We will be responsible for your care and will also be there to support you during the birth and for a few weeks after the baby is born.”
Laura asks Jay if is okay for me to be in the room because there are some quite personal questions she has to answer. I feel irritated, protective,but understand the necessity for confidentiality. Jay nods, thankfully :-). Laura runs through the questions with Jay and I am so very impressed at how Jay is handling herself. She has matured so much, just in the nearly three months of this pregnancy. I have very little input, except for some health issues that Jay did not remember – mumps, german measles.
“Okay, Jay, I am going to ask mum to leave the room now, because I do want to have a talk to you on your own, if that is okay.” Jay does not like the idea – she is still very needy of me – and I am not liking the idea too much either, but I nod at her and say it will be okay.
I wait in the waiting room. There are a lot of pregnant woman. Not many teenagers though. Jay emerges with Laura and they are smiling. All has gone well. “Okay, Jay, I have made an appointment for four weeks in the clinic for you. I will see you monthly until later in the pregnancy, then it will be once a week until the baby arrives.” She hands us her appointment card and we say goodbye.
“So, how did it go with Laura?” I can’t contain myself. I have to know EVERYTHING.
“It went well. She just wanted to know I felt and how Em was feeling about the whole thing. She said it’s important to have good support and she feels that I have that.” Laura was right, Jay was being extremely well supported.
We head off for our ritual drink and food. “Mum, I am having an issue at the moment.”
“What is that my love?”
“I’m struggling at work.” Jay was a bar tender and worked very long hours on her feet. Frankly, I am surprised that she has lasted this long. “I had really bad morning sickness at work and ended up vomiting outside by the bins because our loo was busy and I got sent home. It’s the second time it has happened. Plus I have had to miss some shifts because I just have been so tired.”
Jay is crying. I put my arm around her. I desperately want to tell her to give up the job that exploits its employees so much and that is paying less than minimum wage, but we are just not in the financial position to do this. “You could move back in with us, you know.” It’s a long shot.
“No, Mum, I can’t. Em and I are a couple now. We are having a baby, being a family. We are enjoying the new house, but it is more rent and we cannot really make ends meet. I have to work.” We had helped Em and Jay get into the new flat by paying for their bond and first month’s rent, but we couldn’t afford to pay their rent for them every month.
“Maybe Em needs to sell some of his toys.” Em is a mechanic and loves his boys toys. He had just bought a boat, just before Jay became pregnant.
“Mum, I’m not asking him to do that.” I don’t know what the solution is. We discuss going to Centrelink, but she has already tried that. Apparently, she needs to give them our income and since we are earning a good middle-class income, they won’t help her out. I don’t understand this since she is 19, living with someone and expecting a baby. How is that our responsibility? The government is screwed up sometimes, especially as I know a lot of people who could work but manage to claim benefits.
At home, I discuss this with dad. “Em just does not earn enough for her to give up work. They dock her when they send her home so she is trying to take on more shifts to cope. I think he should be selling his boat.” Dad loves boats, it is his passion.
“Terrible idea. They will not be in a position to own a boat like that for a long time. No, keep the boat. I will give her money.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Dad. You can’t afford it. You are running the B&B by yourself and trying to make ends meet yourself.”
“Ah, but that is where you are wrong. I have my pension and I am not using that.” I look at him confused. “You know my British pension? Well, I put it away as I don’t need it to live on, the B&B gives me enough. What about if I give that to Jay so she can give up work, relax and nurture that baby? Em will then not have to worry either and everybody is happy.” It is a remarkable gift. “Mom would have agreed, you know that.” I do know that. “It won’t be forever, as I will need it come August/September, but by then the baby bonus you told me about will have kicked in and Jay hopefully will have finished some kind of education.” I’m not hopeful on that last note, but I get his point.
Dad tells Jay the following morning. At first, it seems she does not understand what she is being given. Dad writes it down for her. Suddenly, she realises that she can actually hand in her resignation and start relaxing. “I have to tell Em.”
Em and Jay come round to the house. No-one says anything and I am sad because I know dad would have wanted some acknowledgement. I explain later to dad that Em is young and that perhaps he is embarrassed because he might feel he can’t provide for his family. Of course, this isn’t the case, he is no different to millions of families across the globe who have to have double incomes, but dad understands this thinking. He is a pre war old school kind of man.
“It is a remarkable gift dad. And I appreciate it very much. It certainly takes the pressure of Dee and I.”
Dad nods, that is what he needed to hear, and quite rightly so.