Oddly enough, it’s looking at Cosima, sick and frail in her hospital bed at DYAD, that makes the choice for her. Delphine observes from a distance. Cosima recovering, gradually getting stronger before medical samples are taken. Losing Cosima altogether would be torture, unsurvivable.
Scott has pushed this experimental gene therapy that he and Cosima herself have constructed and planned. Delphine throws her weight behind them, whatever resources they need, whatever personnel they need.
At night she sneaks into Cosima’s hospital room, holds her hand as she sleeps.
“Je t’aime plus que le monde. Plus que mon travail...” Delphine promises a sleeping Cosima, “I want forever, I wanted to keep you forever. I’ve only ever loved you.”
Cosima doesn’t stir, doesn’t wake, but continues sleeping, slight beeps of the heart monitor disturbing the silence. Delphine lets her fingers stroke Cosima’s hand, Cosima’s face. She’s still greedy for her, as cold as she’s had to be, as distant as she’s needed to become.
She returns to her office, her private lab to observe her samples herself.
Cosima’s bone marrow is a mixture of diseased and perfectly healthy, it’s staring at it through the microscope that she remembers mice with two mothers. Bone marrow babies.
“Of course.” Delphine breathes, the image burned into her mind now, a child of hers and Cosima’s combined. Their baby, she feels a rush of excitement at the thought. She’s never wanted children, never thought about children for herself... but now... maybe. A part of Cosima to keep, something to survive her, survive both of them. Born of love and science, Delphine reasons. It would be beautiful. Their baby would be beautiful, and so very loved.
She’s arranged things carefully, compartmentalized staff. A doctor who will not ask why he is hyper-stimulating her ovaries or harvesting ova from the head of DYAD. She arranges her meetings around it, and things proceed perfectly until she has a scientist in front of her manipulating bone marrow cells into sperm-like ones.
“But... who will carry?” He asks probingly, “I mean, making these embryos, awesome. The ova? Very healthy... but...”
“I will.” Delphine brushes off his gaping, his disbelief that Dr. Cormier will carry the subject herself. Carry Cosima’s baby herself... if it works.
“But Dr. Cormier...it’s very experimental...”
“Are you questioning me?” She challenges him, stepping closer, heels allowing her to tower over him, “5 day blastocysts will need genetic testing, freeze the genetically normal ones.”
She leaves the room, knowing she will not be overruled. Nothing will come between her and this. She heads for the med-lab, needing to just see Cosima, even if only for a few minutes.
When she finds Cosima she’s sitting up in bed, a small blonde woman sitting next to her, making her laugh.
Delphine bites back tears at the sight of their fingers interlaced, at the soft look on Cosima’s face. She turns around and heads back to her office. To keep her promises, to protect the clones, to love them all. But... love Cosima the most.
She’s paranoid the day of the transfer, only one of her blasts was suitable for implantation, only one was perfectly healthy, the others... Delphine tries not to worry, legs in stirrups, the procedure will be brief, she’s done the research. She longs for Cosima’s hand to hold, for anything to hold onto. Does she even know how to be a mother? Will she be a terrible one? As cold as people accuse her of being?
It certainly feels cold, and lonely, even as they withdraw the catheter from her and leave her for several moments before releasing her for the day.
She returns to work, and begins to research everything she can. Babies. Childbirth. Pregnancy. Psychological development. If this embryo implants, if it grows, if it becomes her baby, she wants to be ready for it.
The day she tests positive for pregnancy, Cosima is released from their med-lab, permitted to continue treatment as an outpatient. Will she live? Delphine wonders, is there anything more she can do for her? As an immunologist? As her... as someone who loves her?
“Can I get a look at your treatment plan? A detailed one? The one you send the office is so high level.” Delphine tries to engage with Cosima in her lab, without success. Should she tell her? All she can anticipate is Cosima’s outrage at being used as a ...donor? No, that wasn’t the right word.
“You don’t work with Scott and I anymore.” Cosima brushes her off, “You’re getting my medical samples. I let them harvest fucking bone marrow from me... I mean really, go back to your office, Delphine.”
“But I...” She starts reaching a hand out for Cosima before pulling back. It’s still there, she can see it in Cosima’s face too, even as she knows that that woman she saw is Cosima’s new lover. Taken her place in Cosima’s bed... Cosima’s heart? Delphine wonders. Can Cosima fall in love that easily? Is it that simple for her?
“I know.” Cosima squeezes her hand, “But, we’ve both got work to do. You’ve made your choice.” She’s kind, at least, if distant.
Delphine hovers outside the door for several minutes, unsure of what to say, what would make a difference. If anything could bring them back together. If she should even tell Cosima, when things are still so new. When at any moment she could learn, in a rush of bright red blood, that there would be no child at all.
To offset the medicalized conception, Delphine determines that the pregnancy and birth should be as natural as possible. She’s sick of feeling cold, of acting cold. And perinatal outcomes in Canada are not nearly as good as France, with obstetricians. Appalled by the lack of evidence-based practice, she begins reading everything on the subject of natural pregnancy and birth, becomes a patient at the closest midwifery clinic, researches constantly. Would Cosima do this? Read with her? Debate on whether they should have their baby at home or in the hospital? Whether delayed cord clamping is worth pushing for, or if a natural third stage is beneficial.
Mara, her midwife, laughs at her, “You sound like you’ve been reading a midwifery textbook.”
“Well... I have.” Delphine admits, “I want to be prepared...I don’t know how to be a mother.”
“No one does, hon,” Mara assures her with a pat to the hand, “We all just do the best we can, reading a lot helps.”
“Being alone...I’m just so worried.” Delphine admits.
“Yes, I know. But, you have options for support. Doulas for labour and postpartum. Do you have a friend or maybe your mother you want to come with you to appointments?”
The only person she wants is Cosima, Cosima holding her hand, Cosima as nervous and excited as herself.
Instead, Delphine shakes her head, “I don’t think so.”
She’s normal, Delphine finally gets the results back from the ultrasound. They’d barely let her see the screen, but to her eyes the fetus looks normal. Female, of course, there hadn’t been a surprise there with only x-chromosomes to work with. Her daughter. Cosima’s daughter.
She cries a few days later in her midwife’s office, tears of relief. Normal fetal development, typical of a fetus at 21 weeks gestation.
“Your baby is fine Delphine, everything looks perfect...” Mara pats her upper arm, “No soft or hard markers. No reason to worry.”
“Are you sure?” She manages out between terrified tears, of course this woman knows nothing of the experiment, not of her fears for the last twenty weeks.
“Yes. You’ve been researching all the things that could go wrong, haven’t you? Just like doctors... And academics.” Mara has been a midwife for the last two decades, she must have lumped Delphine’s concerns safely with something more pedestrian.
Delphine lies and nods her head, “I get so nervous.”
“I know, there’s no need to be. You’re healthy and so is baby. Do you want to know the sex?” Mara reassures her gently again.
“It’s a girl.” Delphine smiles looking back at her, “I know it’s a girl.”
“Looks like Mama’s got good intuition. Yes she is.” The midwife nods in response, “Now, let’s get you measured!”
Delphine lays back with a smile, “She’s perfect.” She’s in disbelief, she’d kept expecting for something to go wrong. For this experiment to fail in the worst way. For her body to reject the fetus, to cramp and bleed out her hopes.
She wants to call Cosima, pester her during the night when she finally gets home after work and appointments and blood draws. She lays on her couch, missing the warmth Cosima brought to her apartment, to her life. But she’s not alone... she’s never truly alone anymore.
Instead she lets herself caress her belly, admiring the new roundness to it. Feeling that at last they have a good chance of this working, that baby is normal, that baby is perfect.
“Allô bébé.” She croons to her belly during the night, “Je t’aime.” She runs her fingers delicately along the swell of it, the small movements she can now feel reassuring her.
The next time she runs into Cosima at DYAD, she wants to tell her, to spin her around excitedly in her arms. The baby is growing and fine. Their baby is fine.
But Shay is with her, and Felix. Waiting for some new test result. She’d managed to avoid face-to-face communication with the clones since she’s been showing - but she knew they’d figure it out sooner or later.
Cosima always sets a whirr of emotions running in her; they immediately become harder to keep controlled, under the surface. She looks at Cosima’s face, and the same rush runs through her. Love, yes, there’s love there, so much of it. But also… desire. She never thought pregnancy would make her feel so...sexual. Never imagined she’d wake nearly daily from yet another sex dream, aching for Cosima early in the morning. Always Cosima, always.
Cosima blinks at her, can she tell? She should be able to now - it’s been a month since they’d seen each other.
Felix looks her up and down with a smirk, “That was fast. Forget how to use a condom?”
Cosima glares at him before repeating the same motion, “Delphine...” Cosima eyes her in disbelief, “Are you pregnant?”
“Yes.” She nods with a cautious smile.
“Holy shit... I...wow. Umm congrats?” Cosima bumbles awkwardly, unsure of what to do or say. Her arms reach forward as if to embrace her, before folding back across her chest.
“Great... can you leave now?” Felix crosses his arms and stares her down.
“You should get some pure extra virgin coconut oil,” Shay advises simply, “Way better than any creams, slather it on everywhere after your showers. Help that skin stretch.”
“Coconut oil…” Cosima nods and grins, looking at Shay, “Is there anything it can’t do?”
“Thank you.” Delphine nods, unsure of what else to say to this... bizarre woman Cosima seems intent on keeping the company of.
“Oh, I hope you’re not using regular deodorant, you need to limit your exposure to toxins-” Shay begins before Cosima grabs her by the arm and begins shaking her head, pulling her away.
Cosima seems intrigued by the suggestion of her girlfriend, so Delphine makes a mental note. Coconut oil, adding it to her to-do list. Toxins, she makes a note to research that as well. Everything she exposed herself to, exposed their baby as well. And weren’t babies always supposed to be always putting things in their mouths? That would be a disaster, her hard worked for baby, Cosima’s baby, being slowly poisoned by environmental toxins.
What else would Cosima want for their child? What else could she do? Delphine wonders as she returns to work, attempting to be as imposing as possible, as cold as possible to make up for her changing body.
She wants a French name, nothing too modern or trendy, pronounceable by anglophones. Some connection to Cosima. What would Cosima want? Something ‘hippie’ her mind suggests. Like Océane, but she doesn’t like it. Or something English. Something her own family may not be able to pronounce.
Delphine thinks of possibilities. Cosima makes her think of the cosmos, the universe. Something like Estelle? She shakes her head, she prefers Stella. Pronounceable surely, but not French.
Céleste? She ponders, stroking her growing belly. Inside her, their daughter moves again. Céleste, Delphine thinks again more dreamily. Céleste Cormier. She doesn’t like it as much as Céleste Niehaus. Or Niehaus-Cormier... But... Delphine sighs. Could she even tell Cosima? Would she listen? Assume she’s been unfaithful?
Would she feel betrayed? She’d used Cosima’s bone marrow without her consent, created their child without her consent. But... she hadn’t hurt anyone. Hadn’t jeopardized their experiment. The only person whose life she has changed is her own, Delphine reasons. Her baby. Delphine repeats it aloud, “Mon bébé.” Does she have to be anything else? No one will know, Delphine knows, she’s destroyed all the files on her child. Another vanished experiment.
But would Cosima ever need to know? Would it break her? Delphine wonders, would she be in awe of their baby? Horrified?
She can feel her from the outside easily now, a tiny foot, or hand or knee, making its presence known. Though, she’s yet to be able to distinguish what is what. The movements reassure her that their baby is normal, their baby is fine, despite her unconventional conception.
Alone in her office, she lies on the couch between meetings. Between all the craziness her life has become heading up Dyad. Trying to navigate safety for Cosima and her sisters, while maintaining her own career, her own status, at Dyad to permit that. She’s tired, more tired than she’s felt since the first trimester… it’s catching up to her.
She’s let her shirt ride up, her own hand underneath, probing gently at her own belly - trying to solicit movement from within. She moves a lot, Delphine muses, she wonders if Cosima was the same in utero… if she herself moved this much.
“Allô bébé…Allô Céleste...” Delphine croons to her daughter when she feels her move in response, at 26 weeks she should be able to hear her now.
“J’éspère d’être prête pour toi,” Delphine wonders what else she should say, what gentle words would make up for all the more aggressive and cruel ones her baby overhears from her throughout the day, “Je t’aime déjà.”
“Hey… can you approve this?” Cosima stands behind her looking grumpy holding out a stack of forms.
She guiltily removes her hand from her shirt, tugging it back down, “What is it?”
“Just sign it.” Cosima lets the papers fall on her.
“What’s wrong?” Delphine sits up, slightly awkwardly, before readjusting her clothing and turning to face Cosima, she’s been avoiding her for weeks and now this?
Cosima crosses her arms and stares her down, “Why?”
“Why what?” Delphine tries to be cold, tries to be professional, but it’s hard with Cosima. Harder than with anyone else.
“Don’t you get it? What you’ve done?!” Cosima growls at her, “You’ve ruined everything. It’ll… it will never be you and me again now.” Cosima’s voice breaks and she can’t resist reaching out for her, grabbing her hand.
“Cosima.” She breathes, the cooler façade gone for now. It’s not true, she wants to tell Cosima, they could be together now… it’s safer. Much safer… even if it will never truly be safe.
“Don’t.” Cosima shakes off her hand, “I can’t believe any of this is real. Do you have time for this shit, really? What happens to my sisters and I when you’re off-”
Delphine bites her lip, “I won’t be off that long. You’re safe for now, I promise, I...I won’t let anything compromise your safety.” She will need to take some time off, she knows that much. Part of her wants the full year, another part doubts the ability of the sisters to survive in her extended absence.
Cosima scoffs, “Like you didn’t let anything compromise Rachel’s.”
She lies, there’s nothing else to do, “I had nothing to do with that.”
“Bullshit Delphine.” Cosima shakes her head, “What, we’re suppose to believe Rachel just died? Conveniently?”
“Yes.” Delphine responds, “It’s easier if you do.”
“Fuck that.” Cosima walks out, slamming the door behind her.
She strokes her belly when she’s sure Cosima is gone. “N’inquiètes pas, ma belle,” she speaks to their daughter, “I want you…It doesn’t matter if anyone else does.” If Cosima does, she thinks to herself, but the child has no way of knowing what Cosima is to her, at least in a biological sense.
Inside, their baby squirms again, tiny feet kicking.
It happens by chance a few weeks later. She sees them, but they don’t see her. Cosima and Shay, eating lunch in the café near her midwifery clinic. It’s that sort of area, Delphine realizes, acupuncture and the sort of thing that seems to be Shay’s area of expertise. They look lovely together, she realizes, similar height and leaning together. She’s made no efforts to hide her pregnancy, in fact, her clothes currently display it proudly.
All the delight from her appointment, of her very typical pregnancy, of her plans for the baby fade quickly. She watches Cosima brush back a strand of blonde hair tenderly from Shay’s face. She’d intended to get a decaf coffee, but now… Delphine finds herself backing away from the door before she is seen.
Cosima was mine, Delphine thinks sadly, seeing a grin light up her face as she laughs at something. It cuts into her deeply, she looks away. Her hand drops down to her belly, stroking at her child in what she intends to be a reassuring fashion. You are loved, she reassures her daughter in her head, we will be fine.
Mara had talked about the bliss of having a baby, of holding your child in your arms. She’s not sure she can imagine it yet, even with her baby growing ever larger, ever closer to birth. How could this feel okay alone?
Bliss, Delphine remembers, was being in Cosima’s arms, inside of Cosima, as she clung to her. Cosima breathing her name, asking for more fingers, her own desire fixed on Cosima’s pleasure. The joy of Cosima’s arms around her, of Cosima’s breath against her lips, or her neck. The unbelievable release of Cosima’s climax, or how their bodies fit together, or how she’d wipe the tears from her eyes if she cried during sex. Cosima’s tenderness, Cosima’s love for her… She can lose herself in Cosima for hours, Delphine knows this well.
She misses that, more than she’s willing to say. Is it like that for Cosima with everyone? So passionate? So all-encompassing?
She doesn’t deserve Cosima anymore, maybe that’s it, Delphine muses. Too many power plays, too many deceptions. Still, she’s kept her alive, and safe. Sarah and Alison as well… She’s done her job.
Walking away, she realizes she’s crying. It’s the hormones, Delphine tries to reassure herself, that make this so hard to hold in. It’s the love that led to this in the first place, a smaller part of her reminds her. Love for Cosima. Love for this child.