Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight
Epilogue - Five Years Gone By
"Do you want more ice?"
"I think you need more ice. Your forehead is getting all shiny."
"God, Alice. Leave me alone."
"Don't act cranky, I'm just trying to help."
"Edward…" I whine. "Make her stop. Please God, make her stop."
"Alice," he berates in a warning tone, his voice sounding from my right, and the two of them get into a hushed argument that ends with her huffing and giving us both the stink eye. Which is perfectly fine by me, because at least she's no longer talking.
"I'm sure if Esme wanted her to have ice, they'd bring her ice," my mother says reasonably from across the room. She's sitting in a little fold-out chair, looking out of place with her dark tan, white capris, and flip-flops.
"Sure they would," my dad agrees. He's standing by the wall, too anxious to sit, and checks his watch for possibly the thousandth time. "Where is she, anyway?" His eyes scan the room, as if expecting Esme to pop out of the shadows at any given moment. They settle on Edward. "Shouldn't she be back by now?"
"The nurse will call her when Bella's ready," Edward explains.
"What if she doesn't get here on time? Does the nurse know how to deliver a baby?"
"Dad, it's under control," I say tiredly. "Stop worrying."
"My boss's wife had her baby in the car, Bella. Just popped the thing out like a pressure cooker. Of course I'm gonna worry."
"Charles!" My mother looks scandalized, but apparently not enough to keep from adding, "Edward and Alice are both here. Between a doctor and a nurse, they'd never let Bella become a pressure cooker."
"All I'm saying is we should be prepared for the worst," Dad argues.
Mom and Dad begin bickering with each other, just like old times, and Alice taps her foot on the floor at a rapid speed, actively partaking in one of her more annoying habits. Edward rubs his hand down my forearm, avoiding the IV, and says in my ear, "I can kick them out if you want."
He's been like this since the pregnancy: attentive and thoughtful, always making sure I have what I need, ensuring that I never carry anything too heavy or that I'm not on my feet too long. I wanted to work up until my due date, despite Edward's protests, but in my third trimester, Esme sided with Edward and I was overruled.
It's funny how she remained my doctor after all. I attempted to switch to another office, but I had an honest-to-God dream about her place – about the waterfall, the soothing music, the coffee – and I was simply unable to part with it afterwards. When I tried to make my next appointment with Dr. Cooper, Esme must have snagged my file for herself, because I was forced to endure another awkward exam beneath her scrutiny.
I haven't had the heart to say anything since. Especially since the pregnancy, which brought tears of joy to her eyes. She's been so excited at the thought of delivering our baby.
I suppose Alice has been right about some things. But at least now I won't have to choose between allowing Esme or my mom in the delivery room. Alice was downright gleeful over this detail whenever I brought it up, exclaiming, "I told you letting Esme be your coochie doctor had its perks!"
The nurse comes in and makes everyone except Edward leave the room so that she can do an internal exam. He holds my hand, rubbing my knuckles with his thumb, and she announces that I'm seven centimeters dilated before glancing at my IV bags and leaving the room.
Carlisle files in with the rest of the crew, dressed in baby-blue surgical scrubs with a matching cap on his head.
"Seven centimeters?" I hear him say. "You trying to hold it in, Bella? I have to do a valve repair in an hour."
"You can come back when you're done, Dad," Edward says tiredly, answering for me.
"What? And be the last person to see my grandson?"
Carlisle has assumed it's a boy ever since we announced the pregnancy, even though we decided not to find out the gender until the birth. He once stated that I'm carrying the child the same way Esme carried Edward, whatever that means. Esme knows the sex, of course, but I made her swear on her beloved Barefoot Contessa that she wouldn't say a word to her husband.
"Oh, did you find out it's a boy?" my mom says excitedly.
"Of course it's a boy," Carlisle interjects loudly. "Look at how big she is!"
A hushed horror falls over the room, and then everyone reprimands him at the same time. I just shake my head, completely unsurprised.
Some things will never change. Carlisle and I have continued to banter, to insult, to try to get the best of each other. Edward's never understood it, and yet he's always submitted to his father's nonsense, taking Carlisle's subtle insults and absorbing them like a punching bag. But I've long since discovered that that just makes his behavior worse.
Carlisle stood up for me once. Two years ago, I received the chiding of a lifetime from a doctor over an order that was written and not completed the day before. The doctor blamed nurses in general for our incompetence and insisted I call the supervisor and explain why the patient had yet to make a full recovery. Carlisle witnessed the event, took the doctor aside, and I soon thereafter received a brief apology from the doctor with the assurance that he would take care of the problem himself.
It may not seem like much from a normal person, but Carlisle's brief act of kindness proved that he likes me. Just a little.
The feeling is mutual, whatever it is.
A few minutes later, Esme comes and checks in on me, then gets called away for something else. Carlisle tells the nurse to bring him a cup of coffee, and when she refuses, he disappears for the cafeteria. Emmett and Dr. Hale – Rosalie – show up a half hour later, just in time for the nurse to come in and clear the room again.
I'm nine centimeters dilated.
"Any minute now," she says happily while trashing her gloves.
I'm nervous and my mouth is dry, but there's no way I'm going to say anything lest Alice tries to shovel more ice down my throat. I thought I was prepared for this, what with the Labor and Delivery class I took in college and all the re-watching of that gory Knocked Up delivery scene I forced upon myself. But no, not even hours upon hours of bloody, shiny crowning could ready me for this moment of my life.
As soon as they had rolled me into the birthing suite, I grabbed Edward by his shirt-sleeve and told him to get me a damn epidural ASAP and that I didn't care what he had to do to get it. I'd have willingly turned a blind eye to just about anything if it made the pain stop. It never even crossed my mind to go without this miraculous form of pain management, especially as the contractions wracked me from deep within and threatened to split my lower back open.
Now, I can barely feel anything from the waist down and the contractions are nothing but a dull, painless pressure, each spell coming and going with an increasing consistency. On the little monitor above my head is the baby's heartbeat, faster than my own, and I catch Edward watching it frequently, his eyes shifting upwards and his features relaxing with each reassuring glance.
I told Edward he doesn't have to watch the actual delivery – that I won't be offended or anything – but the whole birthing process doesn't seem to bother him. He's been moderately calm throughout the ordeal, even when the contractions started before my water broke. It probably has something to do with him being a doctor, and you'd think I'd be the same way as a nurse, but the thought of his peen ripping open and a baby human emerging makes my insides want to spasm and die. I just assumed he'd feel the same way.
The crew comes in again, but it seems like only minutes pass before the nurse is ushering them out once more, apparently acting on some kind of vaginal instinct. She does a final exam and announces that I'm fully dilated and that she's leaving to go call Esme.
Just the thought of what's to come causes me to sweat a little. Edward comes to my aid, giving me ice without me even having to ask, and strokes my hair soothingly. If they allowed it, and if there was more room, I think he'd even sit in the bed with me.
My mother is the only person they'll allow in the room with us. Esme comes in and does another internal exam – which is no longer awkward at this point – and on her command, people begin taking apart the bed. My feet are placed into the stirrups and the overhead light, which is as large as the flippin' sun and possibly even brighter, is spotlighted directly on my vag.
Esme squeezes my hand in reassurance before we begin. "This is it! You ready?" she asks excitedly, and all I can do is grimace in return.
This is it.
Edward holds my hand, his grip firm, and I hang on like he's my life support. Two people – one on each side – push my knees back to my ears, and it occurs to me that this is exactly how I got myself into my current situation. Minus Esme and the spotlight, of course.
"Alright, Bella. Are you ready? When I say so, I'm gonna need you to push as hard and for as long as you can."
I nod quickly, concentrating on my breathing like she taught me to do. In through my nose, out through my mouth. In through my nose, out through my—
"Okay, let's give a big push! Come on, Bella! Puuussshhhh!"
Aside from an uncomfortable amount of pressure, nothing hurts like I thought it would. The epidural is a godsend. I get a small sheen of sweat on my forehead, but I attribute this more to the heat waves rolling off the spotlight than the actual work I'm performing. Edward's immediately on it, however, throwing a wet towel on my forehead, trying to be supportive while simultaneously struggling to catch the whole show. Despite my fear, his excitement is contagious, and all I can think about the whole time I'm having our child is how lucky I am.
Esme coaches me through it, telling me to push, then push harder. Edward squeezes my hand, then my foot, and if I wasn't so preoccupied I'd probably laugh. My mom stands respectfully near my head in a quiet observation.
The pressure is tremendous, and all at once it disappears in a quick, sudden relief that leaves me panting. There's a blur of movement as everyone springs into action, and all I can see is a small, goopy bundle in Esme's arms.
No one tells me the sex and I want to ask, but there's so much commotion and noise and I suddenly feel too exhausted to raise my voice so that I can be heard. The baby lets out a choked cry before the umbilical cord is cut and it's whisked away to a table across the room.
A few minutes later, Esme resumes her current position, telling me we're not quite done. She talks quickly, determinedly, coaching me through the expulsion of the placenta, which comes easily after several long minutes but distracts my focus from everything else occurring in the room. There are pads – lots of pads – tucked beneath me by what appears to be a nurse tech. Then the bed is reassembled and my legs are repositioned, and all I want to know is where the hell Edward is and why he left me at such a vulnerable moment. My chest gets tight, and for the first time in my life I experience the crushing, overwhelming sensation that leaves me feeling hopelessly suffocated in everything that's occurring around me.
Then from out of nowhere, his lips are on mine, his thumbs wiping away the sweat on my cheeks as he kisses me briefly and yet with purpose. "It's a boy, Bella," he whispers, and then Esme is at my side, lowering the tiny bundle into my arms.
I've never had a lot of experience with babies, but this one settles perfectly against my chest, it's little body warm and soft and so incredibly fragile. Thin, dark hair is matted against his head, the ends settling an entire inch above eyes that are clenched tightly shut.
The room fills with people for an indefinite amount of time, everyone cooing and ahhing over the boy in my arms. It's loud and crowded and I'm feeling selfish; I just want everyone to go away, to have this perfect moment all to myself. When the nurse begins kicking everyone except Edward out of the room, it's all background noise against the cozy, seamless little existence that surrounds us.
Edward kisses my temple, and when I turn my head he kisses my mouth.
When it's just us and the nurse in the room, the reality of my fortune weighs upon me, its presence a sharp contrast to the anxiety that burdened me only moments earlier. For the first time since my wedding, I weep tears of joy.
"Thank God his hair isn't blonde, right Bella?" Alice whispers loudly, leaning towards my bed so that I can hear her clearly. "Could you imagine if he came out looking like Carlisle?"
Jasper lightly smacks her on the arm for me, aghast at her statement, but I can't help but crack a smile. She's so right.
After the nurse kicked everyone out of the room, she assisted me with my first breastfeeding, which took a few tries. Then she left the three of us alone, and shortly afterwards I was moved to the maternity ward. A crib for the baby was parked in the room with us, which is once again overflowing with family and friends.
Emmett takes the baby, handling him carefully, and the little boy looks tiny and breakable against his looming size.
"I think he looks like an Emmett," he announces judiciously. "Isn't that right, little E? Oh shit—sorry, I mean crap—he opened his eyes! He likes the name!"
My dad, who's probably the only person who hasn't seen his eyes open, nearly crashes over a chair to witness this turn of events.
We still haven't decided on a name. Edward and I debated on a few we liked, but in the end we decided we'd wait until we saw the baby to see if one "fit." Which may be ridiculous, but it felt like the right thing to do.
So far, we've barely had a moment to ourselves to see what we both think.
"He looks terrified," I hear Edward say.
"Nah, dude, he's fucking ecstatic. I mean freaking ecstatic. Sorry."
"You can't say freaking, either," Rosalie says.
"Why not? It's not a cuss word."
"It's inappropriate. I don't want you saying it around our kids."
Two months ago, Rosalie confessed that she wants to start trying for kids right after they get married. They were engaged a year ago, right after Emmett started work as a nurse practitioner at an emergency clinic. Their wedding date is set for November, a little over three months from now.
I recall how years ago, while sitting in Emmett's living room, she told me she never wanted kids. Then again, being with the right person can change things.
A knock on the door turns everyone's heads, and Dr. Ellis – who I began calling by her preferred name Tori over three years ago, surprising the hell out of even myself – enters the room, her eyes immediately zeroing in on the bundle in Emmett's arms.
"Sorry I'm so late," she apologizes, quickly stepping forward to hug me and then Edward. "I had a complicated surgery. Oh my God, is this our little man?" she exclaims, quickly moving towards Emmett's side and gushing at the baby.
Things were awkward between Dr. Ellis and I for a long time. Despite the peaceful lunch we shared, becoming close friends wasn't quite so easy – I still didn't fully trust her, and I think she sensed my unease. She continued to keep her distance from Edward until I finally invited her to a BBQ at Emmett's house. After we all had a few drinks and really had a chance to talk, the tension seemed to ease away, the wall between us slowly but surely chipping down at the edges.
Tori has been dating someone for a year now, although it's still uncertain whether they're very serious. She's vague with the details, and when asked if he's "the one," she coyly replies, "I guess we'll see."
As it turns out, she's had a hard time with things – with life in general. She's not close to her father, the former Senator, despite how Carlisle made things seem, and her mother died when she was fourteen. She's been taking antidepressants on and off since she was twenty-four, and I later found out that the unmarked pills she dropped in the hallway so many years ago were Trazadone.
She's reportedly not taking the pills right now, however, and has been doing well without them.
Over the years, she's maintained her close friendship with Carlisle, and when I finally asked her about it, her answer was surprising: "Good friends are hard to come by," she said with a shrug. "Carlisle can be a little crass, but he looks out for the people he cares about. Believe it or not, he's sometimes hardest on the people he loves the most."
I think about Edward and hope like hell that's true.
"What's his name?" I hear Tori ask Edward.
"Baby likes Emmett," Emmett says promptly, as if this should settle the matter.
"The baby does not like Emmett."
"You could always go the celebrity route, " Jasper jokes. "Coco, Seven, Apple…"
"Apple is a girl's name," Alice interjects.
"Apple is a fruit's name," Emmett argues.
"Well, personally, I like the name Mango."
"Too girly. I like Avocado."
"Are we thinking of names or what we want for dinner?" Dad interjects. "'Cause I could go for a Filet."
Pretty soon, the baby starts fussing and the nurse comes by to make everyone leave. It's getting late, so they tell us they'll let us get some rest and come visit again in the morning.
The nurse assists me with another breastfeeding lesson and then quietly leaves the room, allowing me to finish on my own. I watch the baby a moment, touching his silky-soft nose with the tip of my finger, and he looks up at me with sleepy, grayish-green eyes. As soon as Esme saw them, she claimed they would fade to Edward's bright-green eye color in just a few short months.
Edward is sitting on the recliner by the bed, watching us silently. I wave him over and he approaches with caution, sliding in beside me slowly so as not to disturb the baby.
When the baby finishes eating, I hand him over to Edward to burp him, watching in awe as Edward handles him easily and with care. I'm exhausted – I feel like I could sleep for weeks – but my eyes are glued to the scene next to me, unwilling to miss even a single moment.
After he burps, the baby sags, going limp and peaceful in Edward's arms.
"Guess he's full," Edward murmurs quietly. He turns and looks at me. "You tired, Bella? I can go to the chair so you can sleep."
I shake my head, turning on my side and nestling against Edward's chest. He shifts the baby into his right arm and wraps his left around my shoulders, pulling me closer.
My eyes go heavy almost immediately, especially as Edward begins rubbing my forearm with his fingers. Especially as he turns and kisses my forehead, his lips lingering, his nose skimming the base of my hairline while he inhales deeply.
I know the feeling. Clutching them both tightly, not wanting to lose a moment even in sleep, I hold on for as long and as hard as I can.
This is perfection, I think as I drift to sleep. And I'd be crazy to let it go.
A/N: Awww... I'm so sad it's over :(
Many many thanks to everyone who read and reviewed and to passionmama and ms-ambrosia for all their help and advice. Writing has been a fun journey - a creative outlet - that I've really enjoyed taking. The learning experience has been invaluable.
As of right now, I'm not planning anymore stories. I'll probably write outtakes when I have more time, and they'll be posted in the outtakes section on my profile when they come.
To everyone who supported my writing and offered words of encouragement... those words meant the world to me. I can't express how grateful I am to all of you.
Until next time... xoxo