A/N: Hey everyone! No, your eyes aren't deceiving you this is really an update. My apologies to everyone who has been patiently waiting for this epilogue. I had a severe case of writer's block and found myself needing to take a step back from not only writing FF but also reading it. I started writing again last week after coming back from a mini vacation. Who knew a weekend trip to see family would cure writer's block :)
Mucho thanks to my lovely beta kyla713 for reading this and being a constant support. I love you *mwah*
I don't own Twilight.
Here it is...the epilogue:
~ August 2016~
I wouldn't say I was a lucky woman. Sure, I was content with the life I lived- I had great friends, a family who loved me, and a job I enjoyed going to every morning, but deep down I knew there was always something missing. I didn't know what it was until nearly eight years ago when a man walked into my life and turned it upside down; a man who would end up making me his wife and the mother of his children.
Edward and I had been married for five years during which we loved, laughed, made babies, played, argued and made up. Our marriage wasn't perfect, but our relationship while we dated wasn't either.
I continued to work at A New Moon Rising, taking on a promotion as manager of the place when Leah opened up another center on the other side of town. Working through one and half pregnancies with the added stress of the new position was a bit difficult, but I continued to persevere; it just meant taking the work home at the end of the day, which sucked for our children.
I gave birth to our first baby on January 5th- a boy named Tristan Anthony nearly nine months after Edward and I got married. The doctor informed us that I conceived the week of the wedding and she could pinpoint the exact date, but we didn't want to know. We preferred to think we were married and Tristan was conceived in Italy while on our honeymoon, instead of days before our wedding in a bathroom at the Salish Lodge. However, that was pretty incredible and hot.
Our second baby, a girl named Emma Rose, was born on June 25th, two years later, five days after Edward's birthday. She was a blessing in disguise- she got Edward to slow down and spend more time at home with his family.
Edward was still working at the children's hospital though we talked about him leaving and opening his own practice; he wasn't ready to leave that environment just yet. I supported his decision even if I hated his schedule and the amount of time he was away from me and our children. The patients, the kids at the hospital, were the reason why he got into pediatrics.
And it would also explain why I was sitting outside at a baseball field on an excruciatingly hot day, feeling like a beached whale with my round tummy. The things we do to show our support and love.
The staff at all the hospitals in Seattle had joined together to put on a softball tournament for charity; all the money raised would go to the winning team's charity of choice. Each hospital formulated their own team and had been practicing for the past couple of weeks.
Did I mention that this tournament also pinned father versus son?
We had been at Woodland Park since nine in the morning. Alexis, Tristan, Emma and I had watched eight teams play each other until finally we were at the 'world series'- Northwest versus Seattle's Children. Carlisle was the captain for Northwest and Edward was the captain for Seattle's Children. Let the smack talking commence.
"You know you're going down, Edward," Carlisle stated, pointing a bat in his face.
"Ah, come on old man, my team is younger and faster. We are going to kick your butt."
"I've been watching you guys play and I think Lexi could do a better job of swinging this bat than some of your men," Carlisle taunted, swinging the bat like he was hitting a ball.
Edward waited a few seconds before responding. "Yeah, you're right, but my daughter is on the all-star team, what did you expect?" he shrugged, chuckling.
Alexis was a girly-girl ninety percent of the time, until she stepped out onto the softball field, then she became this competitive kid that kicked ass while wearing her pink cleats and helmet. Her team had won multiple state championships. Even though Edward has missed some of her games over the last four years, both he and I were very proud of her accomplishments.
"Mama, daddy an papa be mean. No fightin," Emma scolded placing her hands on her hips.
She looked up at me with her chocolate colored eyes. Edward said she was almost an exact replica of me, except for her hair, which was Edward's color with my curls; and could be the reason why she had him wrapped around her little finger.
"Oh, sweetie, they're just joking. Aren't you boys?" I questioned sternly, narrowing my eyes at them.
Both Edward and Carlisle's bodies stiffened and looked sheepishly at us.
"You're mama's right, Emma-Bell," he said, picking her up and kissing her cheek. "We're having a little fun."
"You two need to be careful around her. You know how sensitive she gets."
"Sorry, Emma-la," Carlisle apologized giving her a wet, sloppy kiss on her cheek.
"Ew, Papa, gross," she said, scrunching her nose and wiping her cheek with her little hand while we laughed.
"Ow," I hissed, placing my hand on my abdomen.
"Are you okay, love?" he asked, lifting his eyebrows.
"Yeah," I cringed, pushing down on my belly and shifting my position on the bleachers. "He's very restless today."
"Are you sure? Because you look like you're in pain, babe."
I was about five weeks away from my due date and was getting more uncomfortable as each day progressed. I was happy, though, that I was able to be out after being on bed rest because of false labor pains the past month; my doctor said I was doing too much. When I was pregnant with Tristan and Emma, I was still walking around and working at this point. Liam was definitely making me reconsider having more babies with Edward.
This pregnancy was not planned like the first two. No, this was what happened when you ran out of birth control, didn't make it to the pharmacy in time and your husband came home from a conference looking sexy as hell in a shirt and tie.
While I was happy about having another child, I was worried that I'd be left home alone, caring for three young kids.
"This is why I didn't want you to come, beautiful. I knew it was too soon for you to be out of bed. Plus, I'm sure this heat isn't helping." He passed Emma over to Carlisle then placed his hands on my stomach, pressing gently. "Have you've been drinking a lot of water?" He then picked up my hand and pinched the skin; I lightly slapped it away.
"Stop being a doctor, I'm not your patient," I ordered and ninety percent of me meant it.
Edward had been more doctorward than daddyward and husbandward over the last year and a half; that topic was one of the reasons we argued after the kids went to bed most nights…that was only if he was home. He had been spending more and more time at the hospital, fighting for a promotion that he claimed would allow him to spend more time with his family. I wasn't holding my breath. You shouldn't have to work that hard to get less work. It just didn't make sense.
Edward leaned in close to me, his face a mere inches from mine. "You're always my patient, love," he smirked before pecking my lips.
I shook my head, trying to prevent a smile from forming. Though I was mad at him most of the time lately, I still enjoyed seeing his flirtatious side, seeing and hearing that he wanted me still, even pregnant. I'd be lying if I said the thought of him cheating with a younger, thinner nurse hadn't crossed my mind at least once; that thought started formulating when our sex life took a hit with this pregnancy.
"Mom!" I heard someone yell. "Look who's here!"
"Oh, you're such a cheese ball, Dr. Cullen," I commented, rolling my eyes.
I turned my head from Edward, who sighed, and saw Alexis walking towards us with Esme, who was carrying Tristan, Emmett, Rosalie and their three kids followed by Jasper, Alice and their two sons Brandon and Jackson. Emma squealed and squirmed to get out of Carlisle's arms; he put her down and she ran over to Jackson. They were best friends since they were about a month apart in age. Alice and I managed to be pregnant around the same time with both of our pregnancies.
"Did we miss it? They haven't started yet, have they?" Emmett eagerly asked.
Esme dropped Tristan off on the bleachers before walking over to Carlisle and greeting him with a chaste kiss. He wrapped an arm around her waist when they parted and held her close to his side.
"No, they're still warming up," I answered as Edward sat down next to me.
"Is da baby kicking?" Tristan asked me.
He was fascinated with my belly, even more so when we told him he was going to have a little brother. He wasn't happy when we told him about Emma. He wanted to remain the baby and didn't care to have a little sister. I remember walking into the nursery numerous times to put Emma down for her nap and Tristan would be sitting in it, sucking his thumb with his dinosaur blanket. Even now, he tended to push her around and tried to blame things on her.
"Why are Dad and Edward standing over here while everyone else warms up?" Rose questioned.
"They think they're too good for that. Don't you, honey?" I teased, patting the inside of Edward's thigh.
"Just because you're pregnant doesn't mean I won't punish you," Edward whispered, leaning towards my ear.
Yeah, they'll be no punishing until after I have this baby, that's for sure.
"Hey guys," Jasper waved, approaching the bleachers with water, soda and hot dogs.
I greeted Alice as she sat next to me and helped Jasper hand out the food to everyone.
"Let's play ball!" the ref announced.
"Go kick some butt, honey," Esme cheered, rubbing Carlisle's back.
I gave Edward a kiss for good luck and he ran over to the dugout with Alexis because she was the teams' batgirl. Everyone else took a seat on the bleachers, Tristan stood between my legs, leaning slightly against my round stomach.
We watched the game for about twenty-five minutes, cheering for both sides to be fair and catching up when Rose asked, "It's good to see you out and about. How are you feeling, Mama?"
"I'm uncomfortable today. I think he's ready to grace us with his presence the way he's moving around," I responded with a grim face.
"Are you sure they're not the Braxton Hicks?" Alice inquired, joining the conversation.
"Yeah, these feel different," I answered, taking a deep breath and pressing my hand against my stomach. "It's sad, you'd think by now I'd know if I'm in labor. It's not like this is my first pregnancy."
"You should go home, B," Alice commented looking worried.
"I felt fine this morning. It started about four hours ago, but I think you're right. Would you mind driving me, Alice? I don't feel comfortable driving myself. We can take my car and Edward can get a ride with Jazz after the game?"
"Yes, of course. I'll take you. Does Esme have car seats Jazz can borrow? Esme," Alice called across the bleachers toward her.
"I'm going to take Bella home. The heat is getting to be too much for her. We figured we'd leave the kids here and Jazz will bring them home with Edward, but he'll need to borrow the car seats from your car."
"Oh, yes, that shouldn't be a problem. They're always in the car, just in case my grandbabies decide they want to spend time with me," she smiled. "Do you need anything from me, Bella?"
"No, I just need to lie down. Thank you, though."
"Okay, feel better, sweetheart." Esme kissed my cheek and rubbed my belly. "Take care of yourself."
"Tell Jazzy that I took Bella home when he comes back from the bathroom with Tristan?" Alice asked Rosalie who nodded.
Both Alice and Rosalie held out their hands and helped me stand; I used Emmett's hand to step down the bleachers as everyone wished me well. I started to waddle to the parking lot with Alice and barely made it pass the dugout when Edward came running over to the fence.
"Where are you going?" he asked lifting his ball cap and wiping sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand.
"I'm hot and tired so Alice is going to drive me home," I partially lied, walking towards him. "Sorry, I can't watch the rest of the game."
"Bella, don't lie to me, please. What's really wrong?" he inquired concern evident in his eyes.
"I'm having contractions and I just want to lie down, get some rest, you know," I explained getting teary eyed as I looked into his emerald colored eyes. Oh, how I miss the man I fell in love with. I know he's in there somewhere.
"I'll go home with you," he suggested, getting ready to jump over the fence.
"No, you stay. All I'm going to do is sleep. You'll be home before you know it and if anything big happens before then, I'll call your mom."
"Bella," he sighed.
"Edward, if I thought it was in our best interest," I started, rubbing my stomach so he knew I was talking about Liam as well. "I'd have you come with me."
"You're not playing with me are you?"
"No, not about this. I know how much you care about our health," I answered, serious. "I'll see you soon." I gave him a quick kiss then ran my nails through his hair, scratching his scalp, knowing it normally eased his worry. "Go win some money for children's cancer."
"I love you and be safe, please."
"I love you, too and I will." With one last kiss, I left him at the fence, watching me walk away, or more accurately, waddle away.
"Mommy, where you and Aunt Ally going?" Tristan asked, catching up to us as we neared the car.
"Home. Did you want to come?" I inquired, grabbing his hand so we could cross the parking lot.
Tristan had a special place in my heart. He was a mini-Edward head to toe; there wasn't a piece of me in his physical features which made it very difficult for me to discipline him or say no. It also helped that he was our first, a piece of both Edward and I; the fact that he was conceived around our wedding made it even more meaningful.
"Can I?" he asked excitedly.
"Of course you can come with us," I said.
Once we reached the car, I opened the door for him and Tristan climbed into the back seat, buckling himself in to his car seat. Alice and I followed his actions and headed home; I sent a quick text to Esme to let her know Tristan was with me.
~Three hours later~
I stirred as I felt a warm touch rubbing up and down my arm.
"Hey, love, how're you feeling?" Edward whispered before gently kissing my cheek.
"I'm still tired," I yawned.
"How are the contractions?"
"They're still there, but I'm dealing with them. I just know that I need to rest as much as possible while I wait for my water to break."
"Well, at least you weren't sleeping alone before I took him to his bed," Edward commented, pointing to the empty pillow next to me with an indentation still on it.
"Yeah, he wanted to come home with me so I said sure. He passed out before I did. He had a big day trying to hit the ball like you with your dad," I smiled, recalling how Tristan watched Edward whenever he was up to bat and would practice swinging right after Edward did. "Where's Emmy and Lexi?"
"Alice offered to take Emmy to her place so she could play with Jackson and Lexi wanted to spend the night with mom and dad. I hope its okay I said yes to that."
"No, that's great. Thank you," I said grateful, placing a simple kiss on his lips. "Who won?"
When he grinned, I already knew the answer before he responded. "My team by three runs. Dad wasn't a poor sport about it, though. He's offered to take us out to dinner in celebration after the baby is born and home. Speaking of food, do you want anything? You haven't eaten much today."
"I know and no, I just want to lay here with you," I admitted sleepily, grabbing his hand to pull him closer to me. I wanted to feel his body behind mine, which was a rare feeling as of late and I wasn't about to pass it up.
"I wish you'd eat something. You're gonna need your strength, babe," he mentioned, but got comfortable under the covers.
"Later. Now, I just want to sleep. Mm, it's nice to feel you so close," I murmured.
"It's nice to have you want me so close," he mumbled against my neck, where he placed light kisses.
I felt my body go rigid with his words. I knew now was the time to talk to him about the feelings I held inside for too long. So, I slowly maneuvered my body onto my other side so that I was facing him. I placed my hand on the side of his cheek and caressed his stubbly skin.
"I know it hasn't been easy for you these past eight months and for that I am sorry. I want to say it's just the hormones, but I've been missing the connection between us, Edward. I miss you," I confessed.
"I've been right here," he responded, searching my eyes looking for clues to what I was talking about. "I've been trying to re-connect with you for months."
"Your body has been, but this," I said, covering his heart. "This has left us. I know you love me and our children, but there's something missing and I don't know what it is. It's as if you're seeking it out at work with the amount of time you spend there. I want you to figure it out, though. I want you to fix it because I don't want to bring a baby into this."
"What is this?" he asked confused.
"I don't know. I just feel like there's this distance between you and me and then you and the kids. I don't want it to continue. I want the Edward that I fell in love with to come back to me, the one who put us before work and his family first. I don't know who you are anymore," I explained, tears pooling over my lids and trickling down my cheeks.
"Bella," he sighed, kissing away my tears.
"It doesn't help either that when we talk about this stuff you don't deal with it, you just appease me…kisses here and there. Nothing gets accomplished. Are you listening to what I'm saying?"
"I am, Bella. I don't know what you want me to say," he acknowledged. "I know I haven't been around much because of work, but I'm here when I can. I play with the kids, feed them, and spend time with you. I'm hearing you, but I don't understand what you want from me."
"I don't know," I growled in frustration. "I just know in my heart that there's something wrong. Are you scared of something? Is that why you're distancing yourself?"
"Of course I'm scared, Bella. How can I not be?" he asked, raising his voice slightly. "I don't know what will happen. I mean hell, with Tristan you had an allergic reaction and you both could've died. And then with Emma, by the time we got you to the hospital, you were too far into the process to get any drugs and before we knew it she was in your arms. I worry that something will go wrong with this one and I'll lose you, especially with how difficult this pregnancy has been. I can't raise these kids on my own, I just can't. I did it once and I can't do it again," he croaked.
"Oh, Edward," I cried, wrapping my arms around his neck and pulling him as close to me as possible. I felt water drop onto my bare shoulder as I held him.
I don't know how much time passed without either one of us saying anything, but I was the first to break the silence.
"See, these are the things you need to tell me," I whispered into his ear. "I'm not a mind reader, Edward. I need to know that you're scared about this pregnancy and that you're still hung up on what happened with Tristan."
"I didn't want to put those thoughts in your head," I shrugged. "Or add to the worries that you've created for yourself."
"Yeah, I'm sure that wouldn't have helped," I muttered.
"What are you scared of, Bella?" he asked, smoothing my hair back out of my face.
Immediately, the thought made me cry harder than I already was and I shook my head.
"What is it, Bella? Please tell me…I told you mine."
"I worry that I'll be here by myself, taking care of three young kids and Alexis while you sit at work with beautiful nurses surrounding you, waiting to help you take a patient's blood pressure or temperature. You worry that I won't be here to help, but I think it's harder knowing that you're around but not here," I blubbered.
"Bella, I've never nor will I ever cheat on you with any of those women or anyone for that matter."
"I know that, Edward, it's just some crazy thought my pregnancy hormones created in my brain," I sniffled.
"I'm never going to leave you, love. That thought has never crossed my mind, from the day that I met you, I knew you had to be mine."
"The feeling was…is mutual, Edward." He grabbed my left hand and placed a kiss on my swollen finger where my wedding band once sat. It no longer fit.
"I'm gonna fix this, Bella, I promise. This fear you have of being alone, I'm going to do my best to eliminate it. I will physically be here for you and our kids after the baby is born."
"I want to believe you, Edward, I do, but your actions speak louder than words," I admitted.
"I'll make this right, somehow. Now, sleep. We'll talk more later." He placed a kiss on my forehead and started to hum, knowing it'd easily put me to sleep.
I woke up a couple of hours later to feeling wetness between my legs.
"Edward!" I yelled.
Within minutes, he came running into the room.
"Is it time?" he asked, hopeful.
"Yes," I nodded.
"Alright, let me grab your bag, wake up Tristan and take him next door. You get dressed and I'll be back."
"Okay," I said, scooting to the edge of the bed and sitting up. "I think we need to get another bed."
"Well, we'll worry about that later," he said, grabbing the bag and heading for the door. "Right now, I need you to get dressed."
I changed into some comfortable yoga pants and a loose shirt that covered my belly, and then slipped on some flip-flops and started to make my way to the stairs. I met Edward at the landing. He was grumbling about a little spat he'd had with Tristan about staying with Alice and Jasper.
He grabbed my hand and led me to the car, helping me into it. As he backed out, I noticed Alice come running out of her house with Tristan.
After Alice had Brandon, she wanted to move to the suburbs and lucky for us all, the house next door was up for sale. We were just waiting for the one on the other side to go up for sale so that Rosalie and Emmett could move in and have Jacob buy the empty land that just opened up so we could all be neighbors.
"I'm sorry, I know you're trying to get out of here, but he wanted to say something to Bella," Alice explained when Edward rolled down the window.
"It's okay, Alice. What do you need to say to Mommy, Tristan?" Edward asked nicely.
"You havin da baby now, Mama?"
"Yes, I am."
"Good luck and I love you."
"Thank you, honey. Now, be a good boy and go to sleep for Aunt Ally. Maybe when you wake up, you'll have a baby brother. How does that sound?"
"Yaye! Bye," he waved before blowing me a kiss like Edward taught him so many years ago.
~Swedish Medical Center~
By the time we arrived at Swedish Medical Center on Broadway, the contractions were getting worse and closer. Edward grabbed the first wheelchair he could find and placed me in it, and then wheeled me to the elevator and to the ninth floor. You'd think by the way he was acting, this was his first child and not his fourth.
"Hi, my wife, she's in labor. Her doctor, Dr. Koala, should be on her way, I called her from the car," he explained to the nurse.
"Calm down, Dr. Cullen," the nurse laughed as she stood and leaned over the counter. "Hi, Mrs. Cullen, good to see you in here again. Is it time already? Aren't you a little early?"
"Hey, Ashley. Yeah, I think it's time and I know it's early. I'm only thirty-five weeks, but the contractions are coming about eight minutes apart."
"Let's get you set up in a room while we wait for your doctor to get here. You're having it naturally right?"
"Plan to, unless something goes wrong and I have to have a c-section."
I saw Edward wince out of the corner of my eye and I remembered our conversation about his fears; I had to have an emergency c-section with Tristan. I grabbed his hand and held onto it tightly while the nurse wheeled me into a room.
"You can either stay in here or take a walk down the hall until your doctor gets here. Some moms say a walk helps speed up the process," the nurse suggested.
"We'll do that, thanks," Edward grinned.
Edward pulled me out of the chair and led me back out to the hall; he was much calmer now that we were at the hospital and within range of a nurse. We walked up and down the linoleum floor a couple times in silence, the only noise coming from a TV or a beeping machine from inside some of the rooms. I was concentrating on my breathing and getting through the contractions; Edward looked as if he was contemplating something.
"So, I think I've figured out a way to fix this problem between us and I wanted to run it by you before I made any decisions," he said, breaking the silence.
"Okay," I drawled out, a little nervous to hear what he had to say.
"I called the chief after you fell asleep. I'm pretty sure we've worked out a schedule where I'll be home at night and on the weekends."
"What?" I asked, tugging on his hand as I stopped our steps. "How did you get him to agree?"
"Well, I kind of told him that I'd quit if he didn't give me this. I mean I've busted my ass for them, working whenever, filling in for whoever for the last four years, I deserve this."
"So, you'll be home for dinner, baths and bedtime?" I asked, still not believing the words coming out of his mouth.
"That's right, love," he shook his head, a slow smile appearing on his face. "And it leaves plenty of time for us to reconnect through talks, baths, cuddles, sex…whatever you want."
"I can't believe this is happening…that you're actually doing this," I said, more to myself as I rested my hand on the wall so I wouldn't fall from the shock.
"Let's get you back into the room to discuss this further," he proposed, wrapping an arm around my lower back and taking us back to our private room, closing the door behind us. I took a seat on the side of the bed and he laced our fingers, taking a seat next to me. I could feel my body trembling. "Bella, I noticed you were more moody, I just chalked it up to the hormones, not my lack of presence at home. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to realize what I needed to do. I want to work on being a better father and a husband to you. Things are going to change for the better, I promise."
"Thank you. Thank you, Edward," I smiled, pressing my lips to his for a brief second.
"Have I really been a bad father and husband?" he asked sheepishly.
"You're an amazing father, Edward, our kids are proof of that. You've just gotten sidetracked over the last five years. You put the hospital before your family."
"The one thing I swore I'd never do. You know, Emmett once told me I was lucky because Dad was always around for all my games, but he missed a lot of his. I get what he was saying now. I owe them an apology, you especially. I'm sorry Bella for being an absentee father, but most of all, a husband," he confessed, holding my head in the palms of his hands.
"I love you, Edward Cullen. I love you and I wouldn't trade you for anyone," I assured.
I tilted my head up slightly and felt the warmth of his lips against mine once again. Normally, I would have kissed him for a few seconds and then parted, but I wanted to enjoy this. For the first time in months, I felt the urge to get lost in them, to be consumed by his lips. I locked my hands behind his neck, holding him to me. He growled, biting my bottom lip hard, enticing a moan from me.
"Now, really?" he grumbled, not breaking from me. "Talk about bad timing."
He wasn't kidding about bad timing; a contraction hit and it was brutal.
"Shit!"I cursed, bending forward, trying to lessen the pain. "This hurts."
"Keep fighting through it. You're almost there," Edward coached.
A few more seconds and I was sitting up straight again.
"That was rough," I complained.
My doctor walked through the door shortly after, as Edward rubbed soothing circles on my lower back. I was asked to change into a gown and once I did, she checked my cervix; I was dilated five centimeters.
"Okay, Bella, I see that you had an allergic reaction to the lidocaine in the epidural with your first child and you went natural with your second. Are you looking for something to ease some of the pain this time?" Dr. Koala asked, looking over my chart.
"I would like something to numb the pain a bit. I know it won't be as effective as an epidural, but seeing as my options are limited, let's do it," I nodded my head for reassurance.
"Alright, I'll let our anesthesiologist know that you'll be getting a local anesthetic and soon."
"Thank you, doctor," Edward said.
"I'll be around if you need anything."
We had to wait another five hours before anything could start to happen. During that time, Edward called our friends and family to give them the updates. I tried to sleep since it was late, but it was hard to do with the nurses coming in to constantly check on us and the contractions. I got my shot, watched Edward sleep awkwardly in a chair, chewed on ice cubes, went through hot and cold flashes, and even found myself crying as I replayed our previous conversations in my head. Edward remained at my side, hand ready for when I needed to squeeze it.
I couldn't have been happier when Dr. Koala walked through the doors after a nurse had just left and informed me that it was time to bring baby Liam into the world.
"Alright, Bella," she said, pulling on her gloves. "This is it. I'm gonna need you to sit up a little bit. Edward, come over to her left side and hold onto her foot so she can press against your hand. Ashley will be on the right doing the same thing as you. On the count of three, Bella, I'm gonna need you to give us a big push."
Edward helped prop the pillows up behind me since I was incapable of doing that on my own. He then grabbed my hand with his right, placed a kiss on top of my hair matted forehead and held onto my foot with his left; my other resting in Ashley's hand. Homemade stir-ups, I thought.
I braced myself mentally for the pain and exhaustion that was about to come on my body. I did so by thinking of Liam, holding him in my arms, seeing him in Edward's arms…
"One, two, three, push, Bella!" Dr. Koala ordered.
I grabbed onto my knees, gritted my teeth and pushed. I groaned and tried to breathe through my nose until it became too much and I had to breathe through my mouth. It felt as if nothing was moving, that my efforts were for no reason because what was inside didn't want to come out.
"Very good, Bella, relax for a little bit and then we're going to do it again."
We waited for what felt like thirty seconds in my mind but probably was more like three minutes before I was pushing against my makeshift stir ups grunting and pushing at the same time.
I could hear Edward telling my how great I was doing, to keep pushing; I loved the man, but at that point, I just wanted him to shut up. He wasn't the one sitting in a hospital bed. pushing like his life depended on it. He wasn't the one who had to carry around a five or six pound child over the last eight months; yeah, sure, he wasn't always that heavy, but still the heavier he got, the hotter the weather got outside. Summer weather and being pregnant did not go hand in hand.
When the pressure against my feet loosened, I realized it was time to rest again. This process went on about two more times, the third time Dr. Koala told us she could see the head.
"You know, why do all the movies show it's always a maximum of three pushes and voila you have a baby. That's so not true, false advertising," I grumbled, breathless.
"Just two more good pushes, Bella, and your son will be out."
"You're doing an amazing job, beautiful," Edward added.
I braced myself against Edward's and Ashley's hands, squeezed Edward's free one until my knuckles were going white and felt a little blood on my fingertips and pushed with all that I had in me. Edward continued to coach me on and his words of love about holding our son actually pushed me through this time. Before I knew it, I was hearing cries from my baby, 'congratulations' from the nurses and 'I love you, I love you' from my husband; meanwhile I bawled, emotionally and physically exhausted as I laid my head back against the dull pillow.
Liam Charles Cullen was born at 4:43 a.m. on August 14th. He weighed in at six pounds, one ounce and seventeen and a half inches long.
"Edward, would you like to cut the umbilical cord?" Dr. Koala asked.
"Sure," he shrugged. He took the sheers in his hand and cut where the doctor told him.
While I waited for my baby to be cleaned and wrapped in a blanket, I was tended to and taken care of by the doctor, who was making sure I wasn't bleeding more than necessary. Finally, a nurse placed Liam gently in my cradling arms. I couldn't help the smile that appeared on my face, seeing my beautiful baby boy nuzzling up to my breast, his mouth in an 'o' shape.
"He's adorable, look, he has your nose and a full head of dark brown hair," Edward mentioned.
"Our son is here, Edward, and he's so perfect," I cried happily.
I stared down at him, memorizing everything I could about him through my blurry eyes- counting his fingers and toes, tracing his jaw, his nose and his lips when he suddenly started having difficulty breathing.
"Something's wrong! He's gasping for air!" I exclaimed.
A nurse took Liam from my arms, placed him in his plastic bin and began giving him oxygen through a little mask as a doctor and another nurse jogged through the door. They informed me that he had to be taken to the NICU and that they'd be back to give me an update.
"Oh God, Edward," I sobbed. "He's early, what if his lungs aren't fully formed?"
"It's going to be okay, love. He's a Cullen, which means he's a fighter and he'll get through this," Edward said calmly, peppering kisses on my head.
We remained silent, both of us lost in our thoughts as we waited for someone to come back with news. A nurse tried to come in to change the bedding, but Edward shooed her away. Ten minutes later, a doctor walked in.
"Dr. and Mrs. Cullen, Liam is doing better. We have him on oxygen right now and we're going to keep him in the NICU for the next couple of days to keep a close eye on him. He's responding really well so there shouldn't be anything to worry about." I nodded my head and she left us alone.
"Thank you, doctor," Edward called after her. "See, he's gonna be okay, Bella."
"I know, I'm repeating the doctor's words in my head," I sniffled. "I just want to hold him in my arms again. It was only for a second."
"You will, but right now, he needs close care. You'll probably be able to see him in a couple of hours," he tried to reassure me. "You tired?" he asked as a yawn escaped.
"I am, but I'm too sick with worry to sleep right now."
"Please try, for me and Liam. Our son is going to need you to feed him, which means you'll need your energy."
"Let me get the nurse so we can get you some clean sheets and you can sleep more comfortably."
Edward came back with a nurse who made quick work of changing out my sheets.
"Now, you rest a little bit. I'm going to call our parents, let them know what's going on. I'm sure Charlie will want to make plans to come visit as will my parents."
"It's not even five in the morning. Let them sleep a little. You should get some rest, too," I said through droopy eyes. "Join me in this little bed?" I gave Edward my best puppy dogs eyes and pout and he relented within seconds.
Charlie and Sue decided to wait until Liam got out of the hospital to visit, not wanting to crowd us, but Carlisle and Esme showed up with Alexis around nine Sunday morning to see how we were all doing. Alice brought Tristan and Emma on Monday; both were excited about seeing their new brother, even if it was through a window. I was released two days after the birth.
Liam had to stay in the NICU for five days; he was fed through a tube until the fourth day. I showed up every morning and stayed until they kicked me out, pumping breast milk and doing a little kangaroo care. Edward became Mr. Mom and took care of the kids for me while I focused my attention on getting Liam stronger.
~One Year Later~
"Happy birthday to you!" We all sang to Liam, who was sitting in his high chair with a small cake in front of him and screaming with tears streaming down his cheeks.
"Aw, no crying," I said through a little giggle because he looked utterly pissed.
"Dad, did I cry when I turned one?" Tristan asked Edward.
"No, you actually shoved your hands into the thing before we could get the candle lit," Edward chuckled. "Your Nana has a whole scrapbook of photos from that day."
"Oh, Nana, can I see those pictures?" Tristan inquired.
"Anytime, Tristan. Tell you what, next time you come over, we'll look at your album."
"Cool," he smiled.
"What about me, Nana?" Emma asked, tugging on her shirt.
"I have one for you too, Emma-la."
"Oh no, don't do that," I said a little too loud.
Liam was still having a fit and threw his head into the cake. Thankfully, I had taken the candle out before he did it. However, he was screaming at the top of his lungs now.
"Edward, can you take him to get cleaned up, please," I pleaded, wiping the icing out of his eyes and nose then moving the cake off his tray.
"Sure." Edward maneuvered his way through our family and friends to the head of the table. He placed the camera on the table and picked Liam up, keeping him an arms distance away. "Come on little man, let's get you cleaned up."
"Thank you," I smiled.
Things had changed for the better over the last year. Edward was more involved both at home and with the kid's activities; he even became a coach for Tristan's baseball team earlier that year and helped Alexis with her softball.
The first couple of months with Liam home were difficult for me; he rarely slept and I just didn't have the energy like I used to. I would have driven myself crazy taking care of him and the other kids by myself if Edward hadn't changed his schedule for us. He proved day after day why he was such a wonderful father and one of the reasons why I fell in love with him.
"So, things are better with you and Edward, honey?" Sue asked, coming over to help me cut the cake and clean up the mess Liam created.
I never expressed my concerns about my marriage with her, but she claimed she could see it in my eyes and hear it in my voice when things were bad.
"Yes, they are. The Edward I've always known and loved is back and the kids can see the difference in him," I beamed.
"I'm happy to hear that. Any thought on more babies for you two?"
"Uh, we haven't really discussed it, but I'm kind of good with the four that we have. I'm not sure I can handle another pregnancy. I'm not as young as I was when Tristan was born. I just don't have the energy anymore," I explained.
"Well, I'd say you two should have a couple more only because they're so adorable," she smiled. "Oh, did you hear that Seth and Maggie are expecting their first baby next year? I love this whole grandma business."
"I did. Maggie called me last week to tell me. I'm so happy for them."
Seth married Maggie, who he met through Leah and Jacob, about two years ago after dating for three years. They now lived in Seattle- Maggie working at Leah's other center and Seth working as an IT for some company. Maggie was three months along.
"Alright, Mommy, I'm all clean and Daddy even changed my diaper," Edward said in a baby voice, holding Liam out in front of his face.
"Thank you, Daddy," I smiled, giving Edward a kiss as I took Liam from him.
It was only meant to be a short one, but Edward wrapped his arm around my waist, pulled me close to his body and tilted my head back as he increased the pressure against my lips, one hand resting on the side of my neck.
"Mm, baby," I mumbled sheepishly against his lips. I could feel Sue's presence behind me.
"Mm, you taste like icing," he muttered, kissing me once more and then standing at my side, keeping his arm around my waist. "Do you need help with anything else?"
"No, I kind of like you here next to me," I said, pecking his lips again. "Alright, cake is ready. Everyone come get a piece and take it outside. Charlie has fired up the pit for us."
Emma was the first to run over to the counter; Sue grabbed a plate for her and helped her take it outside without dropping it. Everyone else followed suit. For Liam's first birthday, we invited our family and friends over for a barbecue and we figured we'd end the night outside by the fire.
"Bella, can I take Liam for a little bit?" Maggie asked. "You know, get some practice?"
"Of course, thanks," I answered, handing him over to her.
Edward and I were left alone in the house.
"You did an amazing job planning this party, babe," I complimented, placing a kiss on his chest…over his heart.
"Thanks. I was a little worried, ya know, calling everyone for the barbeque, getting the cake, and the Little Einsteins decorations," he said sarcastically.
"Shut up," I giggled, hitting him lightly in the chest. Edward wrapped his arms tightly around my upper body so that I was pressed against his chest; I sighed into his embrace.
"Come on, love, let's go hang out with our family," he suggested.
Edward took my hand and led the way out to the porch, where everyone was sitting around the fire pit and chatting. We shared a seat and joined in with the conversation, which tended to center around our kids and their activities. Jacob and Leah were telling us how they found chunks of black hair in the garbage can; it belonged to their four-year-old daughter, who had received a hair cut by her older brother, Billy.
"Oh, that sounds like something Tristan would do to Emmy," I commented. "Thank goodness we haven't had it happen, only coloring on the face."
"What is with older brothers picking on their little sisters?" Leah wondered. "I thought they're supposed to protect them."
"Nah, remember how Mikey terrorized Julie in Look Who's Talking Too," Emmett recalled, making us all laugh. "I mean he ripped the head off her favorite stuff animal and threw it."
The hilarity continued for about another hour, at which point the kids were getting cranky and falling asleep in some of our laps. After saying goodbye to everyone, we headed upstairs to put our kids to bed. Alexis gave us kisses and hugs, Tristan waited for Edward to read him a book, Emma curled up with her blanket in her 'big girl' bed and stared up at her starry ceiling after getting tucked in by both of us and I carried Liam into his nursery where I rocked him to sleep.
I must've fallen asleep with Liam in the chair because I woke up to Edward shushing our whimpering son as he placed him in his crib.
"Let's get you to bed, my love," he whispered, lifting me out of the chair.
"Mm," I moaned, nuzzling my face into his neck.
Edward carried me to our bed and laid me down gently. He moved to stand up straight, but I slid my arms around his neck and pulled his lips down to mine. I let my fingers tangle in his hair. I opened my mouth, allowing our tongues to connect. Our kisses weren't rushed, though we both knew we didn't have much time alone. I savored these moments late at night or early in the morning before we both had to be swept away to take care of our family and go to work. I sighed when I felt the weight of his body on mine.
Eventually, clothes were lazily disposed of and I was consumed by the man I loved, the man I married, the man who fathered my children. Soft, titillating touches, glorious kisses, little nips and licks here and there with gasps and mews sufficed until both of our releases teetered on the edge of the cliff, the muscles coiling waiting to be sprung free. His thrusts moved with a new force, one arm scooping under my back and lifting my hips off the bed, hitting where I needed him most. My walls clenched around his length and I cried out into his mouth, my orgasm coursing through my body over and over until Edward grunted and stilled as his climax shot through him. We rode out the wave together, breathless and spent.
Edward rolled us over onto our sides, our skin wet and sticky, and held me close to his chest.
"Do you think things will always be like this? Do you think after fifty years together, you'll still want me this much?" I asked curious.
"I'll always want you, love," he said, dipping his head and pressing his lips to mine. "Forever."
"Forever," I breathed, shutting my eyes and nuzzling closer to him.
This is what I'd been missing all those years being single…the sense of being whole, complete.
A/N: *wipes tear* Okay guys that's it. It's been a wonderful journey. Thank you for all the kind reviews, I even enjoyed reading the ones who got angry at my characters...it meant you cared just as much as I did.
Thanks again to my beta who I love..Dawn (kyla713) Thank you for cleaning this up.
I do have one final request...I want to hear about crazy kid stories like the ones I shared in this chapter, either from your childhood or your kids. The haircut is two true stories put together. I did cut my younger brother's hair when I was five and a FF friend found chunks of hair in the trash that belonged to her daughter.
So, leave me some love and hilarious stories one last time.
P.S. I do have plans for outtakes (including the wedding reception which is swimming around in my head) and they'll be posted under Dr. DILF's Bedside Manner.