So, let's see...we left off just after I had met Beast'sbelle's new Frozen dolls...so that brings us up to the beginning of November.
We had a definite change in the weather here at Beast'sbelle's house as November hit. As always, the weather affected Robby's knee and hip. He was pretty miserable for a few days. I massaged his joints with baby oil, helped him elevate his leg, and just tried to be there for him. I hate it when he has his bad days. I always wish there was more I could do to help him. :(
Interestingly enough, this time I had a slight neck ache when the weather turned. At the time, I didn't think much about it, but it would all make sense later. I didn't say anything to Robby...it wasn't all that debilitating, and I didn't want him worrying about me.
I sang for Robby several times. You'd all be so proud of me. ;) Robby had the same positive attitude as usual, and kept telling me how much he appreciated me, but I still felt so helpless to make a difference.
It was in the middle of all this that Emilie popped in with a thoughtful expression on her face.
"Did you need something, Sweetie?" I asked her.
She twisted her hands together. "I was just thinking..." she began.
I held my arms out to her, and she climbed in my lap. "I was just thinking about...what I wanted for Christmas."
Robby and I exchanged an amused glance. "Oh?" I asked. "Is there something you really want this year?"
She nodded, her little face all seriousness. "I want a sister."
I almost dropped her. "A...a sister?"
"Yes, that's what I want more than anything."
How on earth was I supposed to answer her? I glanced over at Robby, hoping for a little help. He gave me a mischievous grin and shrugged his shoulders. "Thanks a lot," I whispered.
I turned back to Emilie. "Wow, Sweetie, that's a pretty big request. Is that the only thing you want?"
She scrunched up her face, thinking hard. "I guess I wouldn't mind a new doll or something, but I'd rather have a sister."
I smiled and ran my fingers through her hair. "Well, I can't make any promises, but we'll see, okay? We'll have a wonderful Christmas together no matter what."
Robby finally decided to jump in. "Sisters can be kind of hard to find, you know. You want to make sure you get just the right one."
Emilie brightened. "I could write down what I'd like my sister to be like," she offered. "Maybe that would help!"
Robby smiled. "That sounds like a wonderful idea. Like Mommy said, though, it might not work out for Christmas. We'll just have to see."
Emilie sighed. "Okay." She slipped off of my lap and headed back to her room. I couldn't help noticing the dejected slump of her little shoulders.
We sat in silence for a while after Emilie was back in her room.
"Did you have any idea?" I finally asked Robby.
He shook his head. "She never said anything to me."
I rubbed my neck. The ache there was suddenly stronger. "I didn't even think...I mean...she seemed so happy with the way things are."
Robby took my free hand. "She is," he assured me. "But think about it. She's had playdates with Sara and Beth and has seen how much fun they have, and she's seen how many kids Rapunzel and Eugene have. It's only natural for her to want the same thing."
"I just don't know that I'm ready to add another child," I admitted. "I know that's horribly selfish of me, but it's such a huge commitment! What if I bite off more than I can chew? What if I'm a terrible mother when I have to parent more than one child? What if I play favorites?"
"Babe, calm down," Robby chuckled. "Just because Emilie wants a sister doesn't mean that she has to get one right away."
"But it's what you want, too," I whispered.
Robby took my other hand. I looked reluctantly into his face. "Belle, I want what's best for all of us, okay? I'd love to have more kids someday, but only when you're ready."
I looked away from his honest gaze. He was too good for me. And if this was something he and Emilie both wanted, maybe I needed to rethink my own opinion on the subject.
"Um, Babe," Robby's voice suddenly came from behind me, "has your neck been bothering you at all?"
"A little," I admitted, turning back and seeing his worried expression. "Why?"
He attempted to keep his face calm. "I think you might have a bit of a crack in your neck plastic. Nothing major, but we might want to have Ben check it out."
A chill ran up my back. A crack in my plastic? What would that mean? My mind instantly jumped to body swap. I shuddered. Please, anything but that!
Robby put a reassuring hand on my shoulder. "I'm sure it's fine, Belle. It's barely noticeable. I just want to make sure you're okay." Still, I couldn't help but notice how quickly he got to his feet, wincing as he did so, and headed over to the white shelf to flag Ben down.
Within the hour, I found myself laying on my side in our bedding, with Ben leaning over me and Robby and Emilie sitting in the background. Emilie clung to Robby's arm. I tried not to shiver as Ben used careful fingers to press against my neck.
"I've finished my assessment," Ben told me after what seemed like hours of prodding and pressing. "You may sit up, but let me prop this pillow behind you."
"So, how do things look?" I asked nervously.
Ben waited for a moment. "There is a very slight fracture..."
Emilie's sudden wail cut him off mid-sentence.
He turned around sharply. Emilie was clinging to Robby, sobbing on his shoulder. "Forgive me," Ben said, a horrified expression on his face. "I'd forgotten the child was here. Robby, if I might be so bold, I'm sure Paige would be willing to keep an eye on Emilie for a moment. Or perhaps Rapunzel might be free..."
Robby nodded. "If you could get Paige, that would be great."
Ben hurried over to the white shelf to get Paige's attention, while Robby slowly carried Emilie to her room.
Once Emilie was settled in her room with Paige and Robby was back in his seat, Ben continued with his diagnosis. "Forgive me for upsetting her," he began, tugging on the edge of his vest.
"It's all right," Robby assured him, his steady voice betrayed by his tense face. "We know you didn't mean to. But please tell us what's going on. You said something about a fracture?"
"A slight fracture," Ben corrected immediately. "A hairline fracture, to be precise. It's not serious in and of itself, but left unattended, it will only grow."
My mouth went dry. "So, what are our options?" I asked, surprised at how calm I sounded. I was shaking like a leaf.
Ben gave me a compassionate look. "I could prescribe bed rest, but that would not solve the problem; it would simply delay it. There is, of course, the option of correcting the fracture with super glue." He clasped his hands together. "Using super glue can be an unsatisfactory option, as it can only be a temporary solution. There is also a high risk of it limiting your mobility."
I was glazing over at all of this information, but one thing was clear. No matter what we chose, my life was about to change in a huge way.
Ben cleared his throat. "My suggestion would be a body swap."
And there it was. I thought I might pass out.
Robby gave Ben an incredulous look. "Isn't that even more risky than the other things you suggested?"
Ben stiffened. "It is true that a body swap can be a dangerous procedure. However, with Beast'sbelle's help I am confident that I could perform another successful swap. It would also be preferable to take action now before the fracture becomes a bigger threat."
He looked straight at me, and behind that seemingly cold expression, I could see his sympathy shining through. "A body swap is the superior choice for a long term solution. Anything else I could suggest would merely be temporary, and in the end, a body swap would be necessary anyway."
I closed my eyes and tried not to cry as his voice continued. "Of course, the choice ultimately lies with you two. I'll leave you alone to discuss what you would like to do. Paige can stay as long as you need her to help with Emilie. You know where to reach me when you have made your decision."
I heard his boots clip across the floor and heard him grunt as he pulled himself up on the white shelf.
Within moments, my husband was beside me. "Are you asleep?" he whispered.
I opened my eyes. "Of course not. I probably won't sleep for a week after that visit."
He carefully took a seat next to me, and I leaned my head on his shoulder. "I'm scared," I admitted, finally letting my tears flow. "The thought of a body swap terrifies me...but what else can we do?"
Robby gently leaned his head against mine. "I don't know," he said slowly. "It seems like such a drastic move..."
"But it seems like the only option that will keep life as normal as possible for me and you and Emilie," I said, more to myself than to him.
"I'm as scared as you are, Sweetheart," Robby said. "But whatever you decide, I'll support you."
I nodded and found that my neck was aching from my sideways position. I lay my head back on the pillow. "I don't want to lose myself. The thought that my head will be the only original part of me...I mean...I can't even..."
"Shhh," Robby hushed me, running his hand through my hair. "I think you should rest for now. We shouldn't make such an important decision in a rush."
I nodded again, wiping my eyes and sniffing.
"I'm going to go check on Emilie," Robby said. "I'll be back in a bit. Rest now."
I watched his retreating back, then looked up at the ceiling. My tears ran down my cheeks and puddled in my ears. What was I going to do?