In case you missed it, Part 1 starts here.
The next morning, Katy shuffled into the kitchen and looked at the feast her mother had made. Fresh baked muffins, french toast, hard boiled eggs, and fresh fruit. The smell of eggs still made her feel sick. She needed to get out of here, fast.
“This looks amazing, Mom, but my eyes are bigger than my stomach these days. And I gotta run to work.” She grabbed a muffin and scooped some fruit into a tupperware container. “I’ll eat this when I get to work.”
“Honey, are you sure? You need your energy!” Her mom stood in the middle of the kitchen with a spatula in her hand looking baffled. Julia and her Dad were sitting in the breakfast nook cradling cups of coffee. Her Dad was reading the newspaper and Julia had a laptop in front of her, probably also scanning the news.
“Only five more hours!” she called as she stepped out the door. Hopefully, if all went well, she’d be able to leave early and get in an hour of shopping before coming home to nap.
“Call me about lunch if you don’t have plans!” her Mom called from the kitchen.
The morning dragged by. Katy kept checking her watch, then the clock on the wall. Tara, her replacement, was finally catching on and Katy was just there to answer any questions she might have. It was incredibly boring to sit beside someone else and do nothing. If she hadn’t been nine months pregnant, she would have gone to do some filing but there was no way she wanted to be on her feet, leaning over a stack of papers.
Just before noon, her boss called her into his office. She welcomed the break. Her boss was an older man, just a little younger than her Dad. He had been very understanding when she had been so sick in June and July, giving her time off and letting her come in late whenever she had a doctor’s appointment. He smiled warmly at her and motioned to the comfortable chair across from his desk.
“Katy, we’re sure going to be sad to see you go for a whole year. You’re planning on coming back like we talked about, right?”
“Yes, of course I’m coming back. I’ll need to support my baby.” She smiled at her boss. “That is, if you don’t like Tara’s work more than mine.”
He chuckled. “Well, you trained her so I doubt we we’ll have any problems getting along. If it all works out with her, we’ll just find another position for her. But you. You go home and rest up until that baby is ready to come out. How many more days or weeks?”
Katy sighed. “The doctor wasn’t too hopeful that she’d come anytime soon when I saw her yesterday. This little one is nice and cozy in my belly.” She rubbed her belly as the baby inside of her squirmed.
“Well, some of us here at the office wanted to do something special for you. So we have a little going away party planned for you. It’s all set up in the conference room.”
Katy gasped and covered her mouth. “How did you get that past me?”
He laughed. “It really wasn’t that hard. You’re either in the bathroom or trying not to fall asleep at your desk these days.”
Katy wanted to defend herself but she knew he was right. Her boss stood up then and walked to the door. “But before you go, I just wanted to give you a hug and wish you all the best.”
Katy stood up using the sturdy arms of the chair to help push herself up. She waddled over to her boss and awkwardly hugged him. She appreciated him as a boss but she wasn’t much of a hugger. Plus her baby was jumping on her bladder by now and her stomach was rumbling. She quickly pulled away and walked out the door he held open for her.
“Let’s go eat lunch!”
Almost the entire staff was packed into the conference room. Everyone stood up and clapped as she entered the room and she couldn’t help but blush. Her boss held up his arm to quiet them down and motioned for her to say something.
“Thank you, everyone. You are so kind. I didn’t expect this at all. After I have the baby, I’ll make sure I send a picture to Tara and she’ll pass it around to everyone. I just emptied my bladder so I gotta eat before it fills up again!” Laughter floated around the room and the majority of the people stood up and followed her towards the food.
There was a table on the far side of the room stocked with trays of finger sandwiches, fruit and veggie platters, and two huge dessert platters. Bottles of water and sugar-free carbonated drinks stood on either side of a huge teddy bear wearing a Santa hat in the middle of the table. Her boss had really gone to a lot of trouble for her going away party. Then she spotted two huge wrapped boxes and several smaller gift bags under the table.
“What is this?” she turned to ask her boss.
“Merry Christmas and Happy Baby!” he shouted over the buzz in the room and smiled at her. “It’s from all of us.”
“All of this? For me?!”
“That’s right. Enjoy!”
Katy grabbed some food and ate with several of the other ladies she had worked with over the past three years. They were all excitedly talking about their plans for Christmas and they didn’t seem to notice Katy’s lack of interest in their conversation. Her eyes were studying the large boxes under the table and she wondered what was in them and how she would get them home in her little car.
“Are you going to see what you got?” one of her co-workers nudged her out of her trance.
“Sure. Wanna help?” She set down her empty plate and water bottle as the other ladies hauled the first box over to where she was sitting. She delicately pulled back the wrapping to find a wagon. Perfect!
“Wow, this is great! I didn’t even think of getting a wagon.” Katy was truly surprised. She had thought so little about the future after the baby was born that the image of her pulling a child in it was difficult for her to conjure in her mind.
“Here, open the next one!” Several ladies pulled the wagon box out of the way and pushed the second big box in front of her.
“This is like Christmas,” Katy muttered under her breath.
“I know, right? Are you going to have a Christmas baby?” the lady on her right asked excitedly.
“I kinda hope not.” Katy pulled at the paper and found a swing with a fancy mobile. Another item she had never thought of needing.
“Wow, thanks, you guys!”
The ladies pulled the swing out of the way and brought her bag after bag of receiving blankets, sleepers ranging in size from newborn to 24 months, bibs, diapers, washcloths, towels, little stuffed animals, and in the last one, a handmade quilt with a note attached. Her bosses wife had made it herself.
Katy couldn’t help but tear up. She hadn’t expected this at all. Sure, her co-workers and boss had been nothing but supportive and kind after she had officially announced her pregnancy, but she had never expected to receive all these gifts or be the guest of a going away party.
The ladies next to her patted her knee and shoulder and one of them whispered in her ear. “We know this hasn’t been easy for you but you’ve done it beautifully. We think what you’re doing is something pretty amazing.” Katy nodded and blinked back tears. She hadn’t felt or acted beautifully or amazing in the last eight months. She wondered if they had her mixed up with another pregnant woman in the office but she was the only one.
People had begun to trickle out of the conference room by this time. Katy wanted to stand up and let them know how much the party and gifts meant to her, but she knew she would end up crying in front of them.
Her boss came and sat down in the vacated seat next to her. “Tara will help you bring the bags down to your car and I’ll store the other big boxes in my office until someone can come pick them up with a van or something. Sound good?”
Katy nodded again. “Thank you. So much. Tell your wife that the quilt is…perfect. I love it.” She felt her eyes tear up again. It’s a good thing her boss was sending her home. She would probably cry all afternoon if she stayed here with these generous people. Although on a day like this, she wished that life was normal. She wished that she wasn’t pregnant and this was just another regular Christmas party at work.
“I’ll let her know. I’m glad you like it. Well, this is it. Have a wonderful Christmas!” He patted her on the knee, stood up, and left the room.
Here is Part 6.