It was a relief to be able to sit up after days of laying down. I still felt horribly dizzy if I sat up for too long without leaning against my pillow. I got a lot colder than usual during that first week, too. Ben explained that it was all part of the natural process of my new body figuring everything out. It would take a while for my voice, my core temperature, and my head to adjust.
I think the worst thing about my recovery period was the headaches. It wasn't until a full week after surgery that I finally woke up without some sort of pain or pounding in my head. Even now, I still find myself cringing as I wake up, waiting for the throbbing to begin. :}
Emilie was very attentive throughout my convalescence. She made me cards, brought me drinks of water, and would even read to me from her storybooks. I had "doctor's orders" not to lift her for two weeks after the swap. It was the hardest two weeks of my life. And you can bet that when that two week point came, I didn't let her go for a long time. ;)
Rapunzel was a huge source of comfort and encouragement for me during this time. As someone who had been through the same thing before, she could relate to me like no one else could.
"I can't believe you went through all of this and never complained," I told her one day.
She smiled in her gentle way. "I just tried to take one day at a time." Then she laughed. "And thankfully, at the time I only had two kids to worry about instead of four."
I shook my head, then winced as it fought back. "I can't even imagine how hard that would have been. I'm having trouble just worrying about one little one."
"Speaking of which," Rapunzel said coyly, "I hear that Emilie wants a sister for Christmas."
"She told you?" I groaned.
My friend nodded. "I think it's a natural wish."
"That's just what Robby said. I'm just not sure I'm ready."
"Well, trust me," Rapunzel said, squeezing my hand, "now is the worst time to try and make any decisions. If and when you're ready, you'll know."
I looked down at our hands and realized that they matched again now. Tears sprung to my eyes without warning.
"What is it?" Rapunzel asked.
"Is it weird that I'm mourning the loss of my old hands?" I asked her sheepishly.
She laughed. "I did the same thing. These hands are a bit less elegant than our others were, aren't they? Once you get used to them, though, they're much more functional."
I wiped my eyes and laughed at my own stupidity. Here I was, crying over my 'inelegant' hands when I should be rejoicing in the fact that I had a body at all!
Rapunzel understood, though. That's what made her such a great friend.
Later that same day, I had another visitor. "Doctor Ben", as we'd fondly started calling him, came around for my daily check up. He was determined to track my progress with "complete precision", as he'd stated. It made me feel like an automobile. :}
We went through the routine. Ben checked my neck and had me carefully demonstrate how well I could move it around. He asked me about my appetite, my headaches, my dizzy spells, and everything else related to my recovery. He was thrilled to discover that I'd finally lost all numbness in my limbs.
When he was done, instead of heading off to his next obligation for the day, he just sat there, looking incredibly stiff and uncomfortable.
"Was there something you needed to talk to me about?" I asked him when I couldn't handle his discomfort any longer.
He looked startled. "Oh." He rubbed the back of his neck. "Was it that apparent?"
I giggled. "Yes."
My laughter seemed to reassure him, and he let out a little laugh of his own. "Forgive me. I keep forgetting how straightforward you can be about such things."
"What is it, Ben?"
He cleared his throat. "I wanted to...that is...it was my intention to have this discussion shortly after my visit with Paige, but your injury and subsequent surgery prevented it."
I nodded, still waiting for whatever it was he needed to get off his chest.
"In truth, Belle, I was a bit concerned that my...relationship with Paige might seem...might make you feel...that is...I had told you my heart belonged to another...and then when I did realize what a wonderful creature you were, it was too late...but you might think it was merely an act since I've now obviously moved on...and..."
"Ben," I interrupted gently.
"Yes?" His face was flushed. I'd never seen him more flustered before...except perhaps when he'd introduced Paige to us.
"I have absolutely no problem with you and Paige."
Relief spread across his features. "Really?"
I nodded. "In fact, I'm thrilled you've finally found someone so perfect for you. I've been hoping you would."
For the first time I could remember, a huge grin graced his proud features. "She is perfect, is she not? I never dreamed I would find such a heavenly angel to call my own, especially after my dear Marguerite."
"She seems just as smitten with you," I confided.
His smile grew even wider. "Her affection never ceases to amaze me." Then he grew serious. "Belle, I cannot tell you how relieved I am that you hold no malice toward me. I would never dream of hurting you."
Once again, I found myself wondering if Ben had escaped from the pages of one of Beast'sbelle's Jane Austen novels. "I have no business being upset with you, Ben. I made my choice and I haven't regretted it since."
He nodded, looking humbled. "Of course. I would not dream to presume that you would hold any affection for me after marrying Robby. How uncharitable of me."
I laughed again. "Ben, calm down! Everything's so dramatic with you!" I carefully reached over and took his hand. "I'm not offended by your concern. I'm happy in my marriage. And while I don't have any romantic feelings for you, I do consider you a dear friend and I'm thrilled that you're finally happy. Does that just about cover everything?"
He blushed. "I believe it does, thank you."
I pulled my hand away gently. "I hope you and Paige feel comfortable enough to stop by anytime. We'd love to have you."
"We would be honored to do so," he said, his pleasure shining through his eyes. Then his face became stoic again. "I should be on my way. The patient needs her rest." His wink broke through his solemn facade.
"Goodbye, Ben. See you tomorrow."
As I watched him go, I realized for the millionth time how wonderful it was that I'd ended up with Robby instead of Ben. While my doctor friend was handsome and brooding and dreamy, he was so overly dramatic about everything! With my own dramatic personality, I needed someone calm and even-keeled like Robby to keep me steady. Having a husband with just as many ups and downs as I had (if not more) would have led to a trying, unstable relationship.
And sure, Robby didn't sound like Mr. Darcy and perhaps wasn't as conventionally handsome. But he knew me inside and out. He loved me enough to put my needs first (I hoped I was as good at doing the same for him). And to me, he was the most handsome doll in the world.
As my recovery week came to a close, I had another visitor: Beast'sbelle. It wasn't often that she set aside time for me alone, so I was rather flattered by her effort.
We talked about the swap and my recovery. I managed to exercise self control and not bring up the boil dunk issue. I figured if Robby was gentlemanly enough to keep from discussing it, then I could too. ;) Beast'sbelle mentioned how stressful her month had been with the terrible colds that were circulating through her family. She'd just gotten over one herself and was was still sounding a little froggy.
As we continued chatting about nothing in particular, I suddenly remembered Hans and Rosemary. Beast'sbelle seemed to be in a good enough mood. I didn't know if I could influence her at all, but I figured it was worth a shot.
"I met your Frozen dolls back before my surgery," I mentioned casually.
Beast'sbelle nodded. "I'm glad you had the chance to introduce yourself. I'm so excited for the movie...I knew I had to have the dolls!"
I hid my amusement at her silly way of holding her dolls synonymous with the movies they represented. You'd think by now she would have learned.
"I noticed that Hans was still in his box," I continued. "Any particular reason?"
Her brow furrowed. "Yeah, I'm not sure if I'm going to keep him."
I shot her a startled look, then glanced down towards the dresser. I hoped he couldn't hear her. Really, sometimes she could be so clueless!
"Why ever not?" I asked indignantly.
"Because he's...not who I thought he was. I just don't know if I want him around."
"Whoa, wait a minute," I stopped her. "He's his own doll, remember? No matter who he is in the movie, you have to give him a chance! He may be completely different! Besides, it's obvious he and Rosemary are fond of each other. You can't just separate them like that!"
"Rosemary?" Beast'sbelle asked, giving me a funny look. "I don't have a doll named Rosemary."
"Yes, you do!" I said. "You know, long, blonde hair, green eyes, purple dress, looks like the other Rapunzel dolls you collect?"
"One of my Rapunzels is named Rosemary?"
She was genuinely surprised. So apparently she didn't choose all of the doll names around here. "You named all of us different names...didn't you think to do the same for your extra Belle and Rapunzel dolls?"
Beast'sbelle looked sheepish. "I started renaming them, but I kind of forgot to name my 2013 Disney Store dolls. I guess they got tired of waiting!"
"Wouldn't you?" I asked her.
She lowered her eyes. "I guess so." Then she shook her giant head. "But back to this Hans and Rosemary business. One of my Rapunzel dolls...likes a doll from Frozen? How does that work?"
"There's not really a rule about who dolls are supposed to be paired with, is there?"
"I suppose not...I just hadn't thought about it."
Why am I not surprised? "Can you see them down there now? Rosemary has been sneaking over there every day since Hans came."
Beast'sbelle looked over at the dresser. "Wow, they do seem pretty into each other."
"And it's not the first time it's happened, just so you know," I continued. I figured I might as well try to do a little more good while I was at it.
"What do you mean?" Beast'sbelle asked.
"Ike and Rowena have been completely miserable since you rearranged the shelves and separated the Rapunzel dolls from the Beauty and the Beast ones."
"Wait a minute...Ike is...oh, you mean my Royal Style Beast doll?"
"He's not really a Beast anymore since you took off his Beast head. But yes, I think we're talking about the same one. Just look for the miserable doll crammed in there behind a Belle doll that is sooo not right for him."
"And Rowena is one of your Rapunzel dolls...the one with the glittery skirt. You might notice she's been looking a little glum herself."
Beast'sbelle went over to her Tangled shelf to investigate. She came back with a thoughtful expression on her face. "I had no idea..."
"You could make four dolls really happy if you wanted to," I said, trying to keep my voice light. I thought of her love for matchmaking. "Just think, they'd be reunited with their true loves."
"I'll think about it," Beast'sbelle promised. "It's just going to take me a while to get used to the idea of dolls from different movies as couples."
As she started to go, she stopped and turned to me. "I'm so sorry, Belle. I guess I really make a mess of things, don't I?"
Her sudden apology caught me off guard. We'd pretty much talked through everything that had happened with Emilie, but I still tended to get testy with Beast'sbelle when she tried to meddle. As I took in the misery in her eyes, I found myself seeing things from her perspective. All she wanted was to make us happy. She just didn't always have the same ideas of happiness that we had. And I had to admit, as Paige had pointed out earlier, Beast'sbelle did tend to have a pretty good eye for doll couples.
"It's okay," I told her, and was surprised to find that I really meant it. "We know you have our best interests at heart. Just...maybe you could check with us sometimes and make sure we have the same ideas about our future that you do."
She nodded and smiled. "It's a deal." With that, she left the room.
I wasn't sure if I'd helped or not, but I hoped our conversation had done some good...for Beast'sbelle and for the star-crossed doll couples.
Thankfully, I didn't have to wait long to find out. Just last week, Rapunzel (the original Rapunzel, my friend) came by with wonderful news...Beast'sbelle had decided to open Hans!!
Rapunzel and I moved to the edge of the my house on top of the curio so we could get a closer look. The look on Rosemary's face was priceless as she was able to hold Hans' hand for the first time. I'm assuming Hans had a similar expression on his face, but we couldn't really see it from where we were.
So, as you can see, not everyone in Beast'sbelle's house takes their relationships as slowly as Robby and I did. Still, at least these two have had a month or so to visit and get to know each other through Hans' plastic. They seem completely happy together. :)
It didn't take Hans long to decide to lose his tight, uncomfortable jacket. The blues on his shirt and vest are beautiful colors, aren't they? Aww...I can't get over how cute these two are. :)
Only hours after Hans was released from his box, Beast'sbelle made another couple extremely happy. She removed Ike from the curio and then brought Rowena over to meet him, giving me a wink as she went by.
After spending months apart, the couple was overjoyed to be together again. Rowena couldn't stop crying and hugging Ike. He has a rather hard time hugging because of his straight arms, but he was doing his best.
The couples spent the rest of the evening together on the dresser, talking and laughing and hugging and overflowing with happiness. Rapunzel and I got all weepy as we watched them from above. Not that we watched them the whole night...that would have been kind of rude. And believe it or not, we're actually not that nosy. ;)
As usual, Beast'sbelle decided that such a "momentous occasion" needed to be captured on film. So here are the latest couples from Beast'sbelle's dolls. I'm so thankful she was able to get past the fact that they were from different films. That really doesn't matter with dolls anyway. We're not the characters we're fashioned after. But goodness, if you don't know that by now as a reader of my blog, then you certainly haven't been paying attention! ;) I find it a very useful thing to remind you humans about it, though. You keep forgetting!
And with that, my dearest readers, you are completely caught up! Aside from the fact that my recovery was successful (although I'm still getting used to my new body). :}
I would love to do my answer post tonight as well, but I fear there just isn't quite enough time to finish it. My goal is to have it up by sometime tomorrow. In the meantime, you can read my catch up posts and look forward to having all of your questions answered tomorrow. :)
Talk to you again soon! :)