I decided to move forward with the stories focusing on Lena’s friends and family. The missing character(s) will just have to be omitted from photo stories for now.
Today, Lena and Eleanor (Nora) have come to Monica’s house for a visit. The older kids are playing in the fenced yard while the moms chat. There’s a sliding glass door that provides a good view of the outdoor play area. As a reminder, Lena is married to Jamal, and he is associate pastor at the local church. Monica and her husband own and operate a child care center together. Nora teaches first grade, and her husband, Kirk, is an IT consultant. Lena, Monica, and Nora met in college and have been friends ever since.
I’d offer you some wine, but we don’t have any at the moment. We cleared it all out once Adam and I decided to start trying for another baby. I have some sodas in the fridge. (Monica)
It’s okay. I’m still nursing Brittany, and it’s such a pain when I have to pump and dump. (Eleanor)
Girl, you know alcohol just makes me sleepy. I need to drink more water anyway, so I’ll take a glass of ice water if you don’t mind. (Lena)
Me, too. (Eleanor)
Coming right up. And I’ll get us some chips to snack on, too. (Monica)
So, you’re really ready to have another baby? Raymond’s what…three, and Nicole just turned one, right? (Eleanor)
Yeah. I figure if it doesn’t happen right away, then they’ll be at least two years apart. Girls are supposed to be easier to potty train, so if I’m lucky I can get Nicole out of diapers just before or just after the baby comes. And this is going to be our last baby. (Monica)
Sounds like a good plan if the timing works out. But don’t be surprised if it happens sooner than you think. When I got pregnant with Zahara, I told JJ I wanted a baby girl, and I needed to be pregnant by the end of the month. I’ll be darned if it didn’t happen. (Lena)
I guess he works well under pressure! (laughs) We weren’t really trying with Raymond, but we weren’t trying not to either. It took almost a year to get pregnant with Nicole, though. (Monica)
I know what you mean. It seemed to take forever to get pregnant with Brittany. Kirk loved it in the beginning, but once I started scheduling everything around the ovulation calendar, I think it felt more like a job to him than anything else. (Eleanor)
Did you get pregnant with Faith just as easily? (Eleanor)
Faith was the surprise result of a weekend getaway JJ planned for us. I had stopped taking birth control after Zahara was born, because JJ promised to get a vasectomy. Since he kept postponing the procedure, I insisted we use condoms. At the hotel suite, Casanova put his only condom on wrong, and then had to throw it out. And the rest is history… (Lena)
They all laugh.
So, are y’all having any more? (Monica)
Girl, no. He finally got his vasectomy last year. (Lena)
What about you, Nora? I know Brittany is only six months old, but are y’all planning to have any more kids? (Monica)
Nora doesn’t answer, but her eyes fill up with tears.
Oh my goodness, what did I say? (Monica)
Nothing. I’m sorry for getting all weepy. It’s just that…It’s just that I don’t see how we can have more babies when…when we barely make love anymore. (Eleanor)
Oh, honey, don’t worry. It takes some couples longer than others to get back into a groove after having a baby. That’s not unusual. (Lena)
No, it’s not that. (Eleanor)
What, then? You know you can talk to us. (Monica)
We stopped making love when I was five months pregnant, because my doctor said it was too risky in my condition. That’s when it started, or maybe it was soon after that. Heck, for all I know it started long before that and the lack of intimacy just made it okay in his mind. I started seeing these websites in the search history, you see. (Eleanor)
Oh, no (Monica, whispering)
Then after Brittany was born and I got the go ahead at my postpartum checkup, I found myself hesitating. At first I thought I was just tired or maybe nervous that it would be uncomfortable, but I finally had to admit to myself that I didn’t feel like I turned him on anymore. I can’t compete with those women on those websites. I don’t look like them, especially now that I’ve had a baby. (Eleanor)
Honey, you don’t have to compete with those women. Almost nothing about them is real- from the way they look to the way they act. I’m sure Kirk is happy with you the way you are. Have you told him how you feel? (Lena)
I’ve tried talking to him a few times, but I just end up in tears. He apologizes for hurting me and promises to stop visiting the websites, but he doesn’t. And now, we’re caught in a vicious cycle. I resent him for turning to porn. The more he does it, the more I withdraw and the more I withdraw, the more he turns to those filthy websites. (Eleanor, beginning to cry again)
What a jerk. (Monica)
Jamal could counsel y’all- individually and then the two of you together if you wanted. Do you think Kirk would be willing to talk about it? (Lena)
Pfft…sit down with one of our pastors and discuss his addiction to pornography? I seriously doubt it. If he knew I’d mentioned it to you two, he’d probably stop speaking to me. I probably should have just kept it to myself. After all, doesn’t love cover a multitude of sins or something like that? (Eleanor)
Yeah, something like that. But what that verse means is that we should forgive small offenses, not that we should hide someone’s wrongdoing. What Kirk is doing is hurting both of you, and has the potential to hurt your daughter in the long run. You were right to speak up. (Lena)
Well, that’s a relief, because it feels good to get it off my chest. I don’t know what good it will do, though. (Eleanor)
We’re here for you. (Monica, grabbing Nora’s hand)
Just try to hang in there while I figure out what to do, okay. (Lena)
Thanks for reading!