July 3, 1913
I had a feeling this would happen eventually. As … active … as Tom and I have been with each other, and with birth control the way it is nowadays, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner. We haven’t been able to keep our hands off each other. But that’s as it should be between a husband and wife. There was even this one time at the office … but I probably shouldn’t go into all that.
Tom doesn’t know, yet. All he knows is that I haven’t been feeling well for the past few weeks. I saw the doctor last week, and he confirmed it. I’m planning to tell Tom this evening, and I’m petrified. I never planned this. I’ve never had any experience with children. This situation would be difficult enough in my own time; having to go through it in this time, and in my particular situation, is especially daunting. I know Tom will be ecstatic, and I would be, too … if I weren’t so scared.
Brynne closed her journal and placed it between the covers of a portfolio. The work day was nearly over, and she had grown more nervous with every minute that brought 5 p.m. closer. Today was the day she would tell Tom about her condition. She dreaded doing it because saying it aloud to someone else would serve as another signal that this was really happening, as if morning sickness hadn’t already accomplished that. She was going to be somebody’s mother.
Andrews, donning his hat and coat, appeared in the open doorway of Brynne’s office. “Are you ready?” he asked.
Brynne sighed heavily, an attempt at a calming, cleansing breath. “I am now,” she said rising from her desk.
“Are you alright?” Andrews asked, eyeing her with concern as she gathered her things and placed her hat on her head. “Are you still feeling unwell?”
Brynne looked up at him and managed a smile, but the feeling that something was amiss remained with Andrews.
“I’m fine,” Brynne said. “I just have a lot to think about.”
Andrews nodded. He knew that something was wrong, but now he was sure he knew what it was. “We are going to have a remarkable holiday once we’re all done with this ship,” he said. “We’ll go wherever you want and stay as long as you want.” Holding a briefcase and a roll of deck plans on his left, he wrapped his free arm around Brynne’s waist. “And it will be a real holiday, not a working trip. There’ll be no deck plans, no meetings, no Ismay. It’ll be just the two of us, free to go off on whatever adventure we choose. How does that sound?”
“It sounds marvelous,” Brynne said, “but it’s still a long way off.”
“Well, if you want to take some time off sooner rather than later, you know it won’t be a problem. I can always make arrangements if you want to take a break.”
“No, I don’t think that’s necessary.”
“I can tell you’re exhausted. I’d much rather you take a break than burn-out. You’re too good of an architect for us to lose you permanently.”
“I’m just tired from the day’s activities. It’s been a long day. I’ll be rejuvenated by tomorrow.” She kissed him and added, “I promise,” before kissing him again. “Can we please go now? I’m starving, and I’m going to waste away to nothing if we stand here talking all night.”
“There’s something I want to talk to you about,” Brynne told Andrews as they reached the end of dinner that night. She knew that she had his undivided attention, which didn’t make what she had to do any easier.
“Is it something very serious?” Andrews asked, concern lining his words.
“Yes,” Brynne replied. She added, “but it isn’t bad … I don’t think it is, at least.” She’d gone over how she would begin this conversation a thousand times in her mind. Still, she didn’t feel at all prepared.
Brynne tried to get her thoughts together. How should she say this? What words would a proper lady use of this period use? Unfortunately, her COSI training had failed to cover this particular situation.
“Please don’t keep me in suspense, darling,” Andrews urged. “What is it?”
“I’m pregnant,” Brynne said. “We’re going to have a baby.”
Of course it caught Andrews completely by surprise, which Brynne had expected. But when he didn’t say anything for a long moment, she began to think that maybe she’d jumped the gun in assuming that he would be happy about the news.
“Brynne,” Andrews said, “are you sure?”
“I saw the doctor last week,” Brynne said. “The day I wasn’t feeling well and stayed home from the office, I called Doctor Callahan. He came to the house and confirmed what I’d been suspecting.”
“How long have you suspected it?” Andrews asked.
“A few weeks. But I had to make sure before I told you. Doctor Callahan says I’m about 6 weeks along.” Brynne viewed each of Andrews’s successive questions as evidence that her husband was significantly less than pleased with the developing situation. And why should it be otherwise? This had to be some of the worst timing ever to have a baby. TheBritannic was set to be launched in February, and there was still so much to do before then.
“This is amazing…” Andrews said. To Brynne’s surprise, he rose and walked from his seat to hers. He kneeled, and honed in on Brynne’s waist. “My God, Brynne – there’s a person in here, our child.”
“Are you upset?” Brynne asked, still unclear as to how he was receiving the news.
“Upset? No, I’m the farthest thing from it.” Beaming, he raised his eyes to Brynne’s. “It’s a shock, without a question, but it’s a good one, like you said. Good is an understatement – it’s fantastic!”
He stood. “There are so many preparations to make,” Andrews said, beginning to pace as his mind raced. “We have to set up a nursery, we need to hire a nurse. There’s so much to do.”
“You’re not disappointed in the least?” Brynne asked. “This is rotten timing, you know. If we remain on schedule, the Britannic’s fitting out should be due to begin around the same time that this baby arrives.”
Andrews stopped moving and turned to her. “We’re going to have a baby, and you’re worried about the Britannic? That should be the least of your concerns now.”
“I know, but we do have to consider it at least,” Brynne said. “We can’t just drop everything at the firm. There’s still so much to be done before the launch.”
“Don’t worry about the firm,” Andrews said. “I’ll take care of things there.”
“Do you think we’ll need someone to fill in for me for a little while after the baby gets here?” Brynne asked.
“We’ll need someone as soon as possible,” Andrews replied. “I’ll start making the arrangements tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?” Brynne stood. “I was thinking more along the lines of January, at the earliest. It isn’t as if this baby will be here anytime soon.”
Andrews gently caressed her arms and hands. “Brynne, I know you want to see the Britannic all the way through to the finish, but you’re in a delicate condition. You don’t need to risk your health, or the baby’s, by being stressed out over work.”
“I’m not stressed out over work,” Brynne insisted. “If I’ve been troubled about anything, it’s telling you this news. I see now that I had good reason to worry.” She gently pulled her hands from his grip.
“Now, what’s that supposed to mean?” Andrews asked.
“Look at what you’re saying.”
“What? What am I saying that’s so bad?”
“You want me to quit now? To just leave my career at the drop of a hat?”
“It happens all the time, Brynne. This is what working women do. They leave the working world when they have children. Truth be told, most leave when they marry.” As soon as that last sentence left his mouth, he immediately regretted saying it.
Shocked, angered, and a little hurt that he would throw a statement like that at her, Brynne turned and walked toward the dining room door. “Right after we got married, you told me that you didn’t have an issue with me working,” she said walking. “Did you mean what you said then?”
Andrews followed her. “Of course I did.”
Brynne stopped at the dining room entrance and turned to Andrews. “Then, you just felt the need to throw that little tidbit in about women leaving the workforce when they marry? Why? Some part of you must wish that I had done the same.”
“Brynne-” Andrews began.
She didn’t give him a chance to complete his thought. “So, I suppose you didn’t mean it when you said earlier that I was too good of an architect to lose.”
“I meant it,” Andrews said. “I meant every word.”
“Then why is it an issue that I want to continue working?” Brynne pressed.
“You know why it’s an issue. Can’t you see that things are different now?”
“How? I’m perfectly capable of working until the baby arrives,” she insisted sharply. “I was perfectly capable this morning, before you knew, and I’ll be perfectly capable tomorrow. Informing you of my condition does nothing to change it.”
“Brynne, the work is not important, you are. We can get someone else to do the work. What you need to focus on is staying healthy. Surely, you weren’t expecting to work right up to the delivery?”
“Maybe not right up to the day, but certainly for the next few months at least. I don’t see any reason why it should make a difference.”
“You’re in no condition to work,” Andrews countered.
“I’m not just going to give up my work, Tom. I’ve been working on Britannic for over a year. You can’t just expect me to abandon it.”
“That’s exactly what I expect,” he said, stepping past her into the foyer.
Brynne didn’t turn around to face Andrews, who was now behind her in the foyer. She didn’t move at all. She just said, quietly, “I’m not quitting.”
Andrews looked at Brynne, who still hadn’t turned to face him. She couldn’t see his utter bewilderment at why she would blatantly choose to put her career above the potential well being of their child. She also couldn’t see the pained anger he felt, but she could hear it in his voice.
“You’re going to be a mother, Brynne,” Andrews said. “You must start thinking and acting like one.” He left the foyer for his study, and Brynne didn’t follow him. He’d barely raised his voice above a conversational level, but Brynne knew he was angry. She understood his perspective, but she couldn’t let this go. His logic in this situation was uncharacteristically ridiculous. She had a good five or six additional months of work left in her.
Brynne finally turned around and faced the space where Andrews had stood only a few moments earlier. At last the huge generational differences between her and Andrews had come to light. She understood that he was a product of his time and she of hers, but that didn’t make accepting the mores of 1913 any easier. Unfortunately, if she wanted to keep the peace with her husband, and she did, it looked like she was going to have to go along with it, regardless of her own desires.