Chapter 8 – Changes in the Family

Mei thought about her fight with Seth, and she felt guilty. She knew she wasn’t the best Mom, and she did love Naomi. She just didn’t want to disappoint Naomi the way she disappointed her parents. She wasn’t ready for a child, or soon to be, children. The responsiblity was really getting to her, but she decided to make a nice breakfast for her and her daughter. Naomi was just waking up when Mei approached her. “Hey, would you like to eat breakfast with me?” She asked.

“Yeah.” Naomi replied, a huge smile beaming on her face. She couldn’t believe her Mom actually wanted to spend time with her. Suddenly though, she felt nervous. What would they talk about? She hadn’t talked to her Mom much, so she didn’t really know how to connect with her.

Mei asked her the traditional and expected questions. Her first question was, “How is school going?”

When her Dad asked, Naomi would nod and not say much. However, she discussed every detail with her Mom. She could hardly believe her Mom was actually sitting across from her and listening attentively.

Even though Mei enjoyed spending time with her daughter, she had to work still. She and Seth could barely afford the bills, so she had to make sure her family was provided for. However, when Naomi went to play with her toys this afternoon, she smiled the entire time. The sense of lonlieness in her heart had been replaced with happiness even if it was only temporary. Naomi didn’t know Mei too well, but she wanted to know her better, and she wanted to be able to talk to her more often. “Don’t get your hopes up.” Naomi warned herself. She was scared that this was just a temporary thing with her Mom, and she didn’t want to expect too much from her. It would hurt even worse if Mei started returning to her old ways.

That afternoon, Mei and Seth ate lunch together, a heavy tension hanging in the air. Mei knew that Seth wouldn’t forgive her as easily as Naomi, if he even forgave her at all. “I talked to Naomi today.” Mei said suddenly, desperate to talk to Seth.

Seth spit out the bite of cereal he was eating. “What?” He asked, shock written on his face.

“I made her breakfast, and we talked about school.” Mei explained further.

“Oh.” Seth responded, attemping to collect himself. “That’s nice.” If Mei hadn’t been watching so closely, she would’ve missed the slight smile that appeared on his face.

“I thought so.” Mei commented. The rest of the lunch was spent in silence, but the tension seemed to have been alleviated a little.

Mei had been on her way to work when she felt sharp pains. “Oh.” She whimpered, knowing exactly what was going on. “I need to get to the hospital.” She managed to waddle out the door and into a cab. Seth was at work, and Naomi was at school. Knowing that the due date was getting closer, Seth had offered to stay home that morning, but Mei turned him down gently, telling him to go to work. They needed the money.

As she sat in the cab however, she almost regretted the decision. “I’ll be okay. It’ll be okay.” She reassured herself and the baby inside her. “I can’t wait to meet you.” She said softly, looking down at her large stomach.

Seth received the call that Mei was in the hospital while he was at work. They had a plan worked out, and he needed to grab a few things for her before he went to the hospital. Frantic he searched desperately through the house before he found the bag with the polka dot print. “Here.” He said as he dashed out of the house, making his way to the hospital.

On his way, he dwelled on his concerns about Mei being a good Mom even though he couldn’t wait to meet his new bundle of joy, and he figured he’d figure out the rest later. He still loved Mei, but he couldn’t stand to see her hurt his daughter. He vowed that he wouldn’t allow her to do the same to their new child, no matter the cost. He was a little relieved that she seemed to be acting better, but he couldn’t count on her acting this way permanently.

When Naomi came home from school, she ran to the nursery to greet her new sibling. She now had a little sister, Audrina. “Hi, Audri.” Naomi cooed, already nicknaming her. “I can’t wait until we can play together.” Naomi talked and played with her sister until dinner time.

Mei came into the nursery, “Alright, Naomi. You do need to do your homework.” She told her firmly.

“Yeah, I know.” Naomi said, sadness in her voice as she said bye to little Audri and left the nursery.

Mei remained for a few moments, and she cuddled her new daughter. Even though she felt like she couldn’t be a good Mom, she wanted to try. Raelynn had been the best Mom, and she wanted to make her Mom proud even if she wasn’t around still.

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Chapter 7 – A Lonely Childhood

Soon, it was Naomi’s birthday. Both Mei and Seth had forgotten that it was the day she would become a child, so they were both working hard when Naomi finally aged up. Not knowing quite what to do, Naomi sat on the couch to watch some TV and take her mind off of things. “Is this how my birthday is supposed to be?” She wondered as she stared uncomprehending at the TV screen. “I thought I was supposed to get a party with cake…” She said, disappointed.

Sure Naomi had all the toys she could want and numerous luxuries at her disposal, but all she wanted was her Mom and Dad. They forgot about me, she thought, heartbroken.

Seth felt terrible that he missed his little girl’s birthday. He had been so caught up in his painting he hadn’t realized what day or time it was. Plus, his thoughts were also centered on a wedding between him and Mei. “I’m so sorry.” He apologized profusely to Naomi. “How about I make us something to eat, so we can celebrate?” He suggested.

Naomi’s face lit up at the idea. “Yeah!” She replied, excited. Her heart still felt empty because her Mom wasn’t there, but she appreciated spending the time with her Dad. She also felt a little less forgotten by the time they finished their meal. When they were done, they played tag out in the yard.

They had just finished playing tag, and Seth was about to start dinner when Mei came home. “We need to talk.” She said, grabbing him by the arm and dragging him into the dining room. He sat down at the tabe, confused. He couldn’t help but think that something was wrong. Mei seemed so panicked.

“I’m pregnant.” Mei told him, waiting for his reaction.

“That’s wonderful!” Seth told her. He had thought she was going to call off the wedding, but he was so happy to hear that he would have another child. He was about to stand up and hug her, but she held her hands up.

“Wonderful?!” She nearly screamed. “I don’t even want Naomi, and now I’m going to have another child.” Mei hissed.

Seth was taken aback. Since when didn’t she want Naomi? She was so happy that she was pregnant. It took her a while to come around, but once she did…He thought. “Excuse me?” Was all he could think to say.

“I don’t think it’s right for us to get married right now. We’re going to have a lot on our hands with two kids to feed, let alone having to plan and pay for a wedding.” She continued.

Seth could feel his heart breaking piece by piece. It was terrible she didn’t want the baby that was now growing inside her, but she didn’t want to get married? “I don’t get what brought this on.” He said, completely confused.

“Nothing brought it on. I was never excited that I was pregnant with Naomi. I only put a smile on my face for my Mom and you, but now my Mom’s not here. I don’t want to be a Mom.” She confessed.

“Well, I’m sorry to tell you Mei, but you are.” Seth snapped. “You were never there for Naomi as a baby and all she did was want to celebrate her birthday with you today. But now you don’t even want her? How dare you!” He yelled.

Naomi was in the study playing some games to pass the time when she heard her parents start to raise their voices. “Oh no, they’re arguing.” She thought sadly. Even though the door to the study was closed, she managed to catch tidbits of what they were arguing about. She heard Mei say, “I don’t want to be a Mom.” Naomi hung her head in despair. She felt like such a burden on her parents, and she felt so unwanted.

“They don’t want me.” She said to herself as she felt the tears starting to form in her eyes. “It’s all my fault that they’re arguing.” She was about to go out there and apologize, but she heard a door slammed and decided against the idea.

A minute later, she heard footsteps heading toward the study, and the door opened to reveal her Dad. “Oh, Naomi.” Was all he managed to say. He stareda at the heartbroken look on his daughter’s face and ran over to hug her. “I’m so sorry.” He told her, smoothing her hair as she cried.

The household was tense after the incident the previous day. Unfortunately for the couple, they both had to work in the same room. Seth felt resentment toward Mei ever since they had their conversation. He wanted to fix things with her, but he was also furious with her for hurting their daughter. Mei sat at the computer working away. She had always been a worker-bee, but since the situation at home became worse, she found herself working harder and even longer hours.

This concerned Seth as well. He wanted Mei to stop and take care of herself while she was pregnant. He knew she didn’t want to be a Mom, but he wanted to make sure his child was okay. Once she had the child, he planned on talking to her about their current situation. He decided that he would tell her he would take on the kids so that she wouldn’t have to worry about it. He wanted to make sure they had a stable environment and as long as Mei was there, he knew it wouldn’t happen.

With all the stress in the household, Mei’s pregnancy was having some complications. The hours she was working were wearing her down as well as Seth refusing to sleep in the same bed as her anymore. She had the sinking feeling that as soon as she had this child, they would no longer be together. She was okay with that though, if it meant she didn’t have to care for the kids. She knew she could never be a good Mom, and she didn’t want to pretend like she could. She couldn’t even make her own parents proud, how was she supposed to make her children proud?

Chapter 6 – Bittersweet

Mei had managed to clamber downstairs when she heard her Mom yelling for her. She couldn’t ignore the desperation in Raelynn’s voice, and she had to go. However, she was astounded by what she found at the end of the stairs: her Mom laying crumpled on the ground. “Mom!” Mei screeched as she ran down the stairs to her Mom’s side. It was at about that time the Grim Reaper showed along with Seth. “No, please let her live!” Mei begged the Grim Reaper.

He laughed maniacally and swiped Raelynn off his list. “Sorry.” He grumbled as he continued laughing and then vanished.

“Oh, Seth.” Mei said as she fell into his arms. He held her close, rubbing her hair in an attempt to soothe her. She sobbed onto his shoulder until she was finally able to pull away a while later. “I’m going to miss her so much.” Mei told him, starting to cry again.

“Shhh, I know. We’ll both miss her.” Seth replied. Their embrace was interrupted by little Naomi’s cries.

“I’ll go get her.” Mei said, pulling away from him but pausing to look into his eyes for a few moments with their hands interlocked.

“Shhh.” Mei soothed Noami cuddling her to her shoulder. “It’ll be okay.” Mei told her daughter, saddened by the thought that she’d never really get to meet her Grandma. Naomi seemed to sense that something terrible had just happened because she wouldn’t stop crying. Mei tried feeding her, changing her, and cuddling her, but she wouldn’t stop.

It wasn’t until Seth came into the room and combined his efforts with Mei’s that they finally got her to fall asleep and stop crying. “It’s like she knows.” Mei observed.

The next night after work, Mei came home distraught. Seth took her over to the couch for a moment to help cheer her up. He hated seeing her so depressed, but he knew that there wasn’t much he could do under the given circumstances. Mei poured her heart out to Seth, telling him about all the good times she had with her Mom, but she stopped short of the fight they had before she passed. Mei hated that she couldn’t tell her Mom she loved her or that she understood her concerns. She felt terrible, disappointing both of her parents before they left the world.

For the next couple days, Seth tended to Naomi. Mei didn’t seem to want anything to do with her, and Seth was starting to become worried. Was Mei ready to become a Mom or had Raelynn’s passing taken that much of a toll on her? Mei would just sit there and let Naomi cry and cry until Seth finally gave in and went to care for his daughter. He was hoping that if he waited long enough, Mei’s maternal instincts would kick in, but they never did. He figured he would wait a while before he would bring this up to her. Seth rocked little Naomi hoping that Mei would come around and be the Mom that he knew Naomi deserved.

Even though Mei was acting differently than she had before, Seth still loved her. He knew he wanted to spend forever with her and marry her. Plus, he thought it would be a piece of good news when Raelynn’s death seemed to weigh so heavily on Mei. “I know we’re not really dressed for this,” Seth started, “but I can’t wait any longer. Mei Wynngarden, I love you. Will you marry me?”

For the first time in a few days, Mei managed to smile. “Of course!” She said, almost giddy. I can’t believe he just asked me to marry him, she gushed to herself. Mom would be so happy. 

Chapter 4 – The Winds of Change

With the news of their new baby, Mei and Seth quickly set to work on creating a nursery. Mei loved the color purple, and Seth loved the color green, so they brought the two together. Mei wanted a special little nook for her little one to read just as Belle had when she was younger. She also made sure her child would have the biggest dollhouse possible and a toychest.

When they were mostly done decorating, Seth helped Mei bring in a second crib. “Why are we getting two again?” He asked her.

“Just in case.” She told him, thinking about the surprise she had been to her parents. Mei knew twins could possibly run in the family, so she wanted to be prepared.

Seth had been living with Mei and Raelynn for a while now, and Raelynn was becoming irritated that she still didn’t know him too well. After finishing the nursery, Seth retired to the study to work on his art and bring in some extra funds for his growing family. Raelynn was becoming lonely in her old age, so she had been on the computer chatting with old friends. She saw an opportunity before her and decided to try to talk to Seth. After all, he was the father of her future grandchild.

“So Seth, do you like it here?” She asked him politely.

“Yeah, it was really nice of you and Mei to let me stay here.” He said warmly. Raelynn grumbled under her breath a little. I didn’t know about it until you had your stuff packed to move in! She thought, but kept quiet. He seems nice enough though, I suppose.

As they talked, Raelynn realized she wanted Mei and Seth to be married. She had a great relationship with Rey, and she wanted that for her little girl too even if she wasn’t so little anymore. Raelynn could see that Seth wasn’t a bad guy, they were just all under some plummy circumstances. She made a note to discuss the topic with Mei later on.

Before Raelynn could get much further in her conversation, she heard Mei scream. “Mom! Seth! The baby’s coming!” She rushed from the computer immediately to her daughter who was already in the nursery. “Ow.” Mei groaned in obvious pain. Raelynn helped her daughter through the labor process as best she could.

Soon, Mei gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. As Raelynn cleaned her granddaughter off and handed her to Mei, she asked “What would you like to call our sweet little one?”

“Naomi.” Mei said. “Yeah, I want to call her Naomi.”

“That’s a beautiful name.” Seth told Mei, wrapping one arm around her and gazing at his new baby girl. “Hi sweetie.”

Mei was exhausted though, so Naomi was handed off to Grandma Raelynn. “Shhh, little one.” Raelynn soothed her granddaughter. “Grandma loves you so much.” She told her, holding Naomi’s tiny head. Raelynn felt her heart swell with love as she rocked her granddaughter back and forth. She loved her just as much as she loved Belle and Mei. Raelynn couldn’t wait to see her grow and do well in school just as she had with her own two daughters.

Once Naomi had fallen asleep and Mei had woken up from a nap, Raelynn met with her downstairs. “Mei, we really need to discuss your relationship with Seth.”

Mei was instantly defensive. “It’s none of your business, Mom.”

“It wasn’t before you brought him into this house with us and Naomi.” Raelynn said cooly. “But now you have a daughter to think about. I think it’s time you and Seth got a little more serious. I mean you like him, and he likes you. I just want Naomi to have what you and Belle had with Rey.” Raelynn explained.

“What? So Naomi can grow up and disappoint her Dad like I did?” Mei snapped.

“What do you mean? You didn’t disappoint Dad.” Raelynn replied taken aback.

Mei was already done with their conversation though, tears forming at the corners of her eyes. She stomped her way back up to her room to hopefully calm herself down. It’s my relationship not hers. Mei thought as she laid down and closed her eyes. She was no where near tired enough to fall asleep again, but she hoped that laying down would be enough to calm her.

After waiting a little bit, Raelynn decided it was best to follow Mei and try to resolve the situation with her daughter. But as she slowly made her way to the stairs she felt a pain in her chest. Her eyes widened in shock as she fell to the ground knowing that the Grim Reaper was knocking on her door. “Mei!” Raelynn screamed as she scrambled to get up. She had to make things right with Mei. “Mei!” Raelynn screamed again.

Chapter 3 – A Good Feeling

Sure enough, Mei started having morning sickness soon after woohooing with Seth. “Oh no.” She said, thinking about how she would tell him. She was scared it would mess up the relationship they had started with each other. “I like him so much though.” She whined, her stomach twisting from worries rather than morning sickness this time. She knew they hadn’t used protection, but she still held hope that nothing would come of it, and she had swore to herself they would use protection in the future so that she wouldn’t have to worry like this again. Mei wasn’t terribly excited about being pregnant.

Mei invited Seth over to hangout, not informing him that she had something important to share with him. It was only when he arrived at the house that she let him in and said, “We need to talk.” The two sat down at the dining table, Mei with her hands in her lap. Looking down nervously, her eyes fluttered up to Seth. “I’m pregnant.”

She saw the range of emotions flicker across Seth’s face, but the predominant one was shock. “What?!” He screamed. “How did this happen?!”

Mei’s heart sank as she witnessed her worst fear coming true: Seth not taking the news well. As Mei waited, Seth stood up and started to walk away. “I need time to think about this.” He called over his shoulder.

Mei understood he needed some time to process the news, but she couldn’t keep herself from following him. “Seth! Wait!” She called, stopping him in his tracks. “I want you to move in with me.”

Seth gazed into her eyes, feeling his heart starting to melt. Mei continued, “Move in with me. We don’t have to be together if you don’t want, but we can see how things work out.” She pleaded.

Seth continued to stare at her. He did like Mei an awful lot, and they would soon be bringing a baby into the world. After a little more hesitation, Seth finally said, “Alright.” Mei jumped up and down a little at the news, pulling him in for a hug.

That night when Raelynn came home from work, Mei sat her Mom down on the couch. “Mom, I have something to tell you.” She told her.

Raelynn smiled at her daughter sensing that the news was good. “Okay.” She replied waiting for Mei to go on.

“I’m pregnant.” Mei told her, watching carefully to see how Raelynn would react.

“That’s fantastic!” Raelynn squealed, tears forming in her eyes. “I’m so happy for you, sweetie.” She pulled Mei into a tight hug.

“And I’ve asked the father to move in with us.” Mei added.

Raelynn quieted a little at that news. “Oh, okay. I don’t know Seth that well, but I know you’ve mentioned him. It’s good that you two will be doing this together.” Raelynn squared her shoulders. She thought that Mei should be in a committed relationship at least, but she was satisfied for the moment that the pair were moving in together to raise the baby.

The next day, Mei called Belle to invite her over.

Frowning, Mei listened in disappointment to Belle’s news. “I’m sorry, twin. I’m in France right now. What do you need to tell me?”

Mei sighed a little, but she couldn’t wait to tell her sister anyway. “I’m pregnant!” She said, growing more excited about her new baby now that Seth and her Mom had taken the news well.

“Oh my gosh! Awesome!” Belle said happily. “Congrats, sis!”

The twins talked to each other for a while longer, finally having a moment to catch up with each other. Mei missed having her twin at her side, but she was happy living with her Mom and now, Seth.

While Mei was in the kitchen telling Belle her good news, Seth started painting. He didn’t have a career in painting, instead he wanted to be a freelance artist. Over the recent years, he had developed a decent amount of skill, and he wanted to start saving up for his new baby. After all, the house couldn’t be cheap, and baby supplies couldn’t be too cheap either.

Seth enjoyed the atmosphere of the study. It was cozy and the most uniquely shaped room in the house, perfect for getting his creative energy to flow. Plus, Mei’s computer was on the other side, close enough for them to talk to each other while they worked. Seth smiled at the thought of them teasing each other and laughing as they worked side by side. “I think I’ll like it here.” He told himself quietly.

Seth had finished a painting around the time that Mei got off the phone with Belle. The couple retired to the couch together. “So how did it go with Belle?” Seth asked, expecting a great reaction.

“She’s so happy.” Mei told him, a smile on her face. “I am too.” She added.

“Yeah?” Seth replied, a smile growing on his face as well. “Me too.” He pulled her close and the two cuddled on the couch for a while, both lost in their own thoughts before heading to bed for the night.

Chapter 2 – Exhausted

The next morning, Mei ran to work because she was so excited to start her first day. Her stomach was in knots, but she felt a little calmer knowing she had already gotten off to a good start with her boss. As she opened the door to the carpool, her mind drifted to thoughts of Seth. I wonder what he’s doing right now, she wondered. Various scenarios flashed behind her eyes during the short trip to the business where she worked. When the car pulled up, Mei squared her shoulders. Alright, I need to focus now, she told herself.

As Mei left for work, Raelynn greeted Dayna at the door. She invited her sister in. “Long time no see!” She teased Dayna. The two sisters walked over to sit on the couch together. “What’s been new?” Raelynn asked with the biggest smile on her face. She hadn’t realized how much she had msised Dayna until now.

“Well, Ian and Oma just started school. You should’ve seen them, they were so cute!” Dayna gushed, pulling out a few pictures to show Raelynn.

As Raelynn looked at the pictures, she cooed: “Awh, how adorable!”

The two sisters became caught up in their stories of their children, and before Dayna realized it, she was already an hour late for work. “I’m sorry, Raelynn, but I’ve gotta go. Call you soon!” Dayna promised, pulling her sister in for a hug.

“Bye, Dayna!” Raelynn walked her out the door, sad to see her sister go.

After Dayna left, Raelynn finally had time to get to her list of household chores. First, the toilet needed to be repaired. Luckily, the numerous times Wynngarden household appliances break helped Raelynn fix it. She had a good amount of mechanical skill up her sleeve. She even upgraded the toilet for good measure. “There, that should do it.” She said, satisfied, as she tightened the last bolt.

Later that afternoon, Mei came home from work. Raelynn already had a meal prepared for her: garden salad. The girls ate and talked about their days. “My day was pretty good. It was a little hectic trying to find everything, but I’m sure once I’m accustomed to the place, it won’t be so hard.” Mei told her Mom.

“I’m glad you had a good first day.” Raelynn smiled at Mei.

The girls moved to the couch to watch some TV together, but soon after, the show was interrupted by a doorbell. “I’ll get it.” Mei told Raelynn as she saw her Mom start to get up.

To her surprise, Seth was standing on the other side of the door. “Oh, Seth!” Mei said, shocked.

“Hi.” He said a little shyly. “I was wondering if you wanted to hang out for a bit?”

Mei felt like she could fly to the clouds she was so happy. “Of course!” I never thought he’d ask me to hang out, Mei thought happily to herself.

Mei and Seth both wanted to find out everything about the other. They didn’t stop asking each other questions and telling funny stories about their childhoods. Mei finally asked, “Can we take a picture?” Seth nodded, so Mei pulled out her phone and snapped, the flash almost blinding her.

However, the picture taking didn’t stop there. “Let’s make funny faces now.” Seth suggested, so Mei snapped away until she had about one hundred more photos in her phone.

When Seth saw how many there were, he frowned slightly, “Sorry about that.”

“It’s no problem!” Mei reassured him, excited to have so many pictures of them together in her phone.

It was dark out when Seth told Mei he had to leave. Shocking her, he leaned in and kissed her before she had time to react. Mei stared into his eyes when he pulled away, and then she wrapped her arms around him. “Don’t go.” She pleaded, not wanting him to leave especially after he kissed her.

“What’s in it for me if I stay?” He asked, winking at her. Mei smiled a little, feeling flirtatious herself.

“I don’t know, you’ll have to find out.” She told him coyly.

She took him by the hand and led him back into the house.

Mei and Seth had a little fun in the bedroom. Mei didn’t care that they weren’t officially together, she was enjoying the moment with him. However, when they were done, Mei felt a wave of horror wash over her. She realized they hadn’t used any sort of protection in the heat of the moment. Instead of saying anything, she decided to just relax and only think about the present.

Finally, Seth stood up. “I’m sorry, Mei, but I do really have to go. I’ll call you soon though.” He promised, kissing her.

“Alright.” She said, and stood up. Mei had planned on walking him to the door, but she trudged slowly behind him. She barely made it from the bed before she collapsed in exhaustion.