50 Shades Freed chapter 20 recap, or “This is definitely not an abusive relationship.”Posted: July 20, 2013
Ana has just found out she’s pregnant. And it’s unexpected:
A baby. I don’t want a baby… not yet. Fuck. And I know deep down that Christian is going to freak.
Okay, so, unplanned pregnancies are the worst. Believe me on this one. I know. I got pregnant with my son three months into my relationship with my husband. So… wait… just a hair under the length of time Ana has been with Chedward. And when I found out I was pregnant, I really did think, Joe is going to freak. But I never thought half the things Ana is going to think in this chapter.
I nod mutely at the good doctor as she hands me a glass of water from her conveniently placed water cooler.
It matches all the conveniently placed plot elements.
“We could do an ultrasound to see how advanced the pregnancy is. Judging by your reaction, I suspect you’re just a couple of weeks or so from conception – four or five weeks pregnant. [...]“
Okay, first of all, is a patient’s shocked reaction really a reliable indicator of gestational age? I’d hate to be the lady having a baby on the toilet because I didn’t know I was pregnant, only to show up at the hospital and have Dr. Greene say, “Well, judging from your reaction, you’re very newly pregnant!” Second, I know that pregnancy “weeks” are determined from the first date of your last menstrual period, ergo you could have conceived two weeks ago and be five weeks pregnant, but then Dr. Greene asks Ana if she’s been having her period, and she says no… so how does the doctor come up with this estimate?
I nod, bewildered, and Dr. Greene directs me toward a black leather exam table behind a screen.
This isn’t how doctors’ offices in America are set up. Most of the time, exam rooms are separate from where the doctor’s desk is. But since Dr. Greene was cool with just sticking a cup of pee on her desk in the last chapter, I guess she’s into open floor plan medicine or something.
“This is a transvaginal ultrasound. If you’re only just pregnant, we should be able to find the baby with this.” She holds up a long white probe.
Oh, you have got to be kidding!
Then Doctor Greene tells Ana to relax and…
Slowly and gently she inserts the probe.
Leaving aside the fact that this scene reads like lesbian gynecological fetish porn, I’m dying at the idea of this probe being so scary and big and awful. This is a transvaginal ultrasound probe:
I love that I had to click “Insert into post” to put this picture here.
Only about four inches of the probe is insertable, and it’s about as big around as a super absorbent tampon. So, you know. Let’s make an unkind correlation here between Chedward’s dick size the giant, terrifying 4″ probe as big around as a thumb.
So, Ana sees the “little blip” on the ultrasound screen and she’s immediately like, “It’s a baby!” just like in every Anti-Choice midwestern grandmother’s fantasy of how forced ultrasounds prevent abortion, and Dr. Greene says:
“It’s too early to see the heartbeat, but yes, you’re definitely pregnant. Four or five weeks, I would say.” She frowns. “Looks like the shot ran out early. Oh well, that happens sometimes.”
What in the actual fuck, lady?! Did they teach you that at med school? Pro-tip: if you’re doing a transvaginal ultrasound on a woman who isn’t happy about her unplanned pregnancy, “Oh well” should not be in your fucking vocabulary. “Oh well, that happens sometimes,” is what you tell a kid who’s favorite tv program is preempted by breaking news. It’s not what you say to someone who is pregnant with an unwanted baby.
Dr. People Skills prints out a photo for Ana, then tells her to come back in four weeks so they can figure out the age of the fetus and assign a due date. Okay… so what was the ultrasound for, if not to do all of that? You can set a due date right now. She’s either four or five weeks pregnant. You can give her a ballpark, and besides, even when you give her the due date, it will probably change when Chedward demands that she not go into labor until his security team has finished moving room to room through the hospital, neutralizing perceived threats.
Ana is freaking out about having a baby before thirty, and as she leaves the office she thinks:
Christian is going to freak, I know, but how much and how far, I have no idea. His words haunt me. “I’m not ready to share you yet.” I pull my jacket tighter around me, trying to shake off the cold.
Hey, remember that whole “Let’s look at a checklist of abusive relationship symptoms” game we all played during the first book? Wasn’t that fun? Let’s do it again. In this one tiny excerpt, we have:
- Do you feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
- Does your partner have a bad and unpredictable temper?
- Does your partner act excessively jealous and possessive?
- Does your partner see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
That’s in three sentences. Ana is afraid because she doesn’t know “how far” Christian is going to go when she tells him she’s pregnant. When she tells her husband, who has stated on numerous occasions that he wants to someday have a family, that she’s pregnant, he might go “too far.” WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH WOMEN WHO FEEL THIS IS ROMANTIC?
Just in case you were worried this was going to go unpredictably feminist or anything, E.L. throws in some anti-choice bullshit:
Perhaps I shouldn’t tell Christian. Perhaps I… perhaps I should end this. I halt my thoughts on that dark path, alarmed at the direction they’re taking. Instinctively my hand sweeps down to rest protectively over my belly. No. My little Blip. Tears spring to my eyes. What am I going to do?
I’m trying hard to be sympathetic to Ana as a woman getting hit with the bombshell of unintended pregnancy while she’s in an abusive relationship. But it’s difficult when her internal monologue has certain adjectives and adverbs in it. Like “dark.” And “instinctively,” and “protectively.” E.L. James is trying to show the reader than Ana is already a mother – a protective mother with good motherly instincts – and therefore she can’t even think of abortion as an option. She can’t even say “abortion” in her head. That word is the end of a “dark path” a good mother wouldn’t go down. This doesn’t even make me angry. It makes me really sad. Because sometimes, the best way to protect the child is to have an abortion.
Ana has a very cliche daydream about a little boy who looks just like Christian cavorting in a meadow while she and Christian hold hands. And then she thinks about this happening:
My vision morphs into Christian turning away from me in disgust. I’m fat and awkward, heavy with child. He paces the long hall of mirrors, away from me, the sound of his footsteps echoing off the silvered glass, walls, and floor. Christian…
I. Cannot. Wait. To see this sequence on film. I want to fly to L.A. to attend the goddamned premier just to see this scene. It is literally all I have ever wanted, without knowing it. It’s going to be worse than the wedding nightmare Bella had in Breaking Dawn pt. 1. I’m actually crying a little imagining the joy I’m going to have watching those words transform into visuals.
Ana goes back to the office, where she accepts her responsibility in her birth control screw up:
“Ana, great to see you. How’s your dad?” Hannah asks as soon as I reach my office. I regard her coolly.
“He’s better, thank you. Can I see you in my office?”
“Sure.” She looks surprised as she follows me in. “Is everything okay?”
“I need to know if you’ve moved or canceled any appointments with Dr. Greene.”
“Dr. Greene? Yes, I have. About two or three of them. Mostly because you were in other meetings or running late. Why?”
Because now I’m fucking pregnant! I scream at her in my head. I take a deep, steadying breath. “If you move any appointments, will you make sure I know? I don’t always check my calendar.”
“Sure,” Hannah says quietly. “I’m sorry. Have I done something wrong?”
I shake my head and sigh loudly.
Everyone has had that boss that tells you to do something and later yells at you for doing it. Ana is that boss. She has told Hannah to move appointments. Hannah has tried to tell Ana about appointments she’s moved. And now Ana is blaming her pregnancy on her assistant, because Ana is too stubborn to just look at her damned calendar like a grown-up.
“You see that woman?” I talk quietly to the blip. “She might be the reason you’re here.”
No. You switched birth control methods three times in four months, from condoms to the pill to Depo, without using a backup, because your spoiled man-child husband doesn’t like using condoms. This is why you’re pregnant.
I shake my head, exasperated at myself and Hannah… though deep down I know I can’t really blame Hannah.
And knowing that makes everything you just scolded her about go magically away, right? No need at all to apologize. Oh, and spoiler alert, she doesn’t apologize for the way she just treated Hannah. She gets on her computer and emails Christian with one-word replies so he’ll sense something is wrong, but she doesn’t tell him what.
Hey, ready for the domestic violence warning sign funtimes again?
When will I tell him? Tonight? Maybe after sex? Maybe during sex. No, that might be dangerous for both of us. When he’s asleep? I put my head in my hands. What the hell am I going to do?
- Does your partner hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
Ana believes it will be dangerous to tell her husband she’s pregnant, because in the past he’s admitted that he enjoys hurting her.
Let’s really sit and meditate on that thought a minute. I read a forum thread yesterday that a tweep passed on to me. Women were specifically discussing this chapter, and Christian’s reaction to the pregnancy. Many of them said that when Ana found out she was pregnant, they cried because they knew Christian was going to freak out and possibly hurt her. But the running theme through most of the discussion was that Ana is a strong woman, and she can handle Christian, and they so admired her for this. So, this whole time I’ve been thinking that women who love these books have been brainwashed by society into not recognizing abuse. I was wrong. They recognize that Christian is abusive. They just apparently think a “strong woman” can change an abuser.
If you were waiting for a good reason to drink yourself to death, well. Merry fucking Christmas in July.
Christian picks up Ana after work – hey, what happened to the R8 he just bought her?
- Does your partner limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
So, she’s still getting picked up by Christian like this is preschool. Christian knows stuff is wrong, and Ana thinks:
Maybe now? I could tell him now when we’re in a contained space and Taylor is with us.
She wants to tell him when Taylor, the armed bodyguard, is there to protect her. BUT THIS IS ALL OKAY AND TOTALLY ROMANTIC.
“Ana, what’s wrong?” His tone is a little more forceful, and I chicken out.
- Do you avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
Plus, Chedward, you’re on the way to visit her dad in the hospital. Like, less than a week ago he experienced cardiac arrest due to massive internal bleeding caused by a traumatic and violent car crash. You should definitely yell at Ana until she tells you what’s wrong, because there’s no possible way you could figure it out on your own.
Christian notices that Ana’s hand is cold, and he asks her if she’s eaten:
Well, I haven’t eaten because I know you’re going to go bat-shit crazy when I tell you I’m pregnant.
Several smarty-pants commenters have pointed out ways that Ana seems like she could have an eating disorder. You can add this one to your list. She’s afraid of his reaction, so she exerts control over her life the only way she can.
“Do you want me to add ‘feed my wife’ to the security detail’s list of duties?”
“I’m sorry. I’ll eat. It’s just been a weird day. You know, moving Dad and all.”
His lips press into a hard line, but he says nothing.
Your dad nearly dying, then being airlifted unnecessarily to a different city for my convenience is no excuse for you to buck my total, authoritarian control, Ana. And this is all boding super well for my parenting skills later, for I am the great Chedward, and all I do is just and true.
Christian interrupts my reverie. “I may have to go to Taiwan.”
“Later this week. Maybe next week.”
“I want you to come with me.”
I swallow. “Christian, please. I have my job. Let’s not rehash this argument again.”
He sighs and pouts like a sulky teenager. “Thought I’d ask,” he mutters petulantly.
That’s not asking. That’s telling her, “I want you to come with me.”
- Does your partner control where you go or what you do?
- Does your partner ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
Oh, Ana. You and your “job” I so graciously let you keep. Chedward doesn’t want a wife. He wants a fucking pet he can dope up for the flight to Taiwan.
Ray is much brighter and a lot less grumpy when we see him. I’m touched by his quiet gratitude to Christian, and for a moment I forget about my impending news as I sit and listen to them talk fishing and the Mariners. But he tires easily.
If I had to talk about the same two subjects every time I got a moment of page time, I’d tire easily, too. Doesn’t Ray have any interests besides fishing and sports? Oh, of course not! He’s a man! And more importantly, he’s a man who isn’t Christian Grey, so he doesn’t need layers.
When they leave, Ana has this stomach-turning goodbye with her father:
“I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” I kiss him. My subconscious purses her lips. That’s provided Christian hasn’t locked you away… or worse. My spirits take a nosedive.
“Come.” Christian holds out his hand, frowning at me. I take it and we leave the hospital.
You know, I’ve had my differences with that stuck-up b-word in the past, but now I’m Team Subconscious. She’s straight up telling Ana she’s going to get murdered and never see her dad again, because Christian is just that fucking scary.
This is how I’m imagining Ana’s subconscious right now:
So, at home, over dinner, Ana tells Christian she’s pregnant. And it goes… not great. He asks her how, and bypassing the obvious answer, he jumps to:
“Your shot?” he snarls.
“Did you forget your shot?”
Did she forget it? Or was she too busy dealing with all the drama and bullshit that goes along with be Mrs. Grey that she got too fucking busy to go get her shot? I mean, would she have even been allowed out of the house, or is it too dangerous?
“Christ, Ana!” He bangs his fist on the table, making me jump, and stands so abruptly he almost knocks the dining chair over. “You have one thing, one thing to remember. Shit! I don’t fucking believe it. How could you be so stupid?”
Apart from the fact that Ana being stupid isn’t a new development here,
Stupid! I gasp. Shit. I want to tell him that the shot was ineffective, but words fail me.
Okay, but the shot wasn’t ineffective, Ana. You never got the follow up shot.
“I know the timing’s not very good.”
“Not very good!” he shouts. “We’ve known each other five fucking minutes! I wanted to show you the fucking world and now… Fuck. Diapers and vomit and shit!”
Five fucking minutes is long enough to get married, though? And what’s this about wanting to show her the world, but now he has to deal with vomit and shit? Do people not vomit and shit in the parts of the world he’s going to show her?
“Did you forget? Tell me. Or did you do this on purpose?” His eyes blaze and anger emanates off him like a force field.
“No,” I whisper. I can’t tell him about Hannah – he’d fire her.
HANNAH DIDN’T DO ANYTHING! THIS IS YOUR FAULT, BOTH OF YOU, YOU FUCKING CHILDREN! TAKE RESPONSIBILITY! IF YOU HAVE SEX, SOMETIMES PREGNANCY HAPPENS! YOU KNOW THIS! TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS!
“This is why. This is why I like control. So shit like this doesn’t come along and fuck everything up.”
Guys who really like control and don’t want this to happen? Use condoms.
No… Little Blip. “Christian, please don’t shout at me.” Tears start to slip down my face.
“Don’t start with waterworks now,” he snaps. “Fuck.”
- Does your partner humiliate or yell at you?
- Does your partner criticize you and put you down?
He runs a hand through his hair, pulling at it as he does. “You think I’m ready to be a father?” His voice catches, and it’s a mixture of rage and panic.
And it all becomes clear, the fear and loathing writ large in his eyes – his rage is that of a powerless adolescent. Oh, Fifty, I am so sorry. It’s a shock for me, too.
So, as long as we can blame his shitty behavior on past abuse, that totally justifies it. Good. Glad we cleared that up.
Christian gets pissed off and storms out of the apartment, and Mrs. Jones comes in to comfort Ana:
“I heard. I’m sorry,” she says gently. “Would you like an herbal tea or something?”
My abusive husband just walked out on me after throwing a temper tantrum about the fact that I’m pregnant. Yeah, bitch, get me a Snapple, that should fix everything.
“I’d like a glass of white wine.”
Mrs. Jones pauses for a fraction of a second, and I remember Blip. Now I can’t drink alcohol. Can I? I must study the dos and don’ts Dr. Greene gave me.
I thought “no alcohol” was a pretty obvious one in this day and age, but a less obvious one? No herbal teas, unless they’re mommy safe. I was going through a tea phase when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I learned to my horror that many herbal tea bags you can buy in the grocery store contain herbs that are known abortificants.
Holy crap. Double Jeez. No alcohol? For Ana? She’s never going to make it.
Mrs. Jones tries to get Ana to eat something, but she won’t. She goes to the library and reads the pamphlets Dr. Greene gave her while justifying and rationalizing staying with a man who is clearly abusive and unstable:
I can’t concentrate. Christian’s never walked out on me before. He’s been so thoughtful and kind over the last few days, so loving and now… Suppose he never comes back? Shit! Perhaps I should call Flynn. I don’t know what to do. I’m at a loss. He’s so fragile in so many ways, and I knew he’d react badly to the news.
- Do you feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
Also, apparently Dr. Flynn is so fragile in so many ways. Pronoun agreement, yo.
He was so sweet this weekend. All those circumstances way beyond his control, yet he managed fine. But this news was too much.
Ever since I met him, my life has been complicated. Is it him? Is it the two of us together? Suppose he doesn’t get past this? Suppose he wants a divorce?
That would be the best thing that ever happened to you, Ana.
He’ll be back. I know he will. I know, regardless of the shouting and his harsh words, that he loves me… yes. And he’ll love you, too, Little Blip.
Yeah, the best fix for an abusive man is to make him a father. That fixes everything, in 100% of all cases.
Ana falls asleep in her chair, and when she wakes up, Christian still isn’t back, so she texts him to see where he is.
I head into the bathroom and run myself a bath. I am so cold.
- Do you feel emotionally numb or helpless?
In fairness, she could be cold from not eating, as that was Christian’s tip-off in the car that she hadn’t eaten anything. Which means that Ana is so close to the verge of starvation that she can’t maintain her body temperature if she misses a couple meals. This pregnancy thing might just sort itself out, and then we can all go home.
After her bath, Christian still isn’t back, so Ana puts on a nightgown and wanders the apartment.
On my way, I pop into the spare bedroom. Perhaps this could be Little Blip’s room. I am started by the thought and stand in the doorway, contemplating this reality.
The reality in which you forget about the whole “we’re building a house with a sexually aggressive architect” subplot? Or the reality in which your bundle of joy will sleep in a room one used by your husband’s contracted conquests?
Ana is asleep in the great room when Christian stumbles in:
Shit, Christian drunk? I know how much he hates drunks.
Unless he’s coercing them into sex.
So, he’s home, he’s sloppy drunk and trying to get Ana to fuck him, and a thought occurs to me… where was Taylor? I thought Christian and Ana led such an exotic and dangerous life that to even step a single foot out the door of their apartment without a fully armed staff of trained killers was to invite death at the hands of the many nefarious villains all twiddling their mustaches and trying to murder them. If Ana goes out for a drink with friends while accompanied by two bodyguards, the narrative threatens her with rape and kidnapping. If the author were making both characters play by the rules, Christian should be dead now. Since he isn’t, we must then assume that Ana isn’t in any danger from these supposed threats at all.
“Christian, I think you need some sleep.”
“And so it begins. I’ve heard about this.”
I frown. “Heard about what?”
“Babies mean no sex.”
Yup. It’s the baby’s fault. Not the fact that you had a violent outburst, terrified your wife, then left and came home crazy drunk. It’s the baby.
Christian has another one of those haunted expressions that remind Ana that he was abused as a child, so it must be a day ending in Y. Ana gets him undressed while he talks in an exaggerated drunk dialect not unlike Otis on Mayberry RFD:
“I like the feel of this fabric on you, Anastay-shia,” he says, slurring his words. “You should always be in satin or silk.”
“And we have an invader in here.”
I stop breathing. Holy cow. He’s talking to Little Blip.
“You’re going to keep me awake, aren’t you?” he says to my belly.
Oh my. Christian looks up at me through his long dark lashes, gray eyes blurred and cloudy. My heart constricts.
“You’ll choose him over me,” he says sadly.
So, Chedward is already jealous of the baby. That’s a good sign.
“Christian, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Don’t be ridiculous – I am not choosing anyone over anyone. And he might be a she.”
I hope she is, for her sake. Because if she’s a he, and his penis touches the inside of Ana’s vagina during delivery, Christian will have to murder him. And Ana, of course, since she cheated on him.
I have managed to loosen his tie.
I have managed to
loosen strangle him with his tie. There, I fixed it for you, Ana.
Ana looks at Christian and realizes that he’s handsome, so obviously, that goes a long way toward excusing his behavior. Also, he has a happy trail and she kisses it, because gosh, it’s so sexy when a guy treats you like a fucking dog who should wait at home until he gets back.
While Ana picks up his clothes, she finds his BlackBerry, and a text that reads:
It was good to see you. I understand now.
Don’t fret, you’ll make a wonderful father.
It’s from her. Mrs. Elena Bitch Troll Robinson.
Shit. That’s where he went. He’s been to see her.
Phew, I’m so glad Ana has someone to shift the focus of her anger onto. For a second, I thought she might have to be upset with Chedward. Thank god for Bitch Trolls.