"We should call, I honestly think Edward will kill me if this baby arrives and he isn't here," Carlisle said.
"It's his final exam, he can't just walk out," Bella puffed. "Anyway you said it wouldn't be like it is on tv, you said it took eighteen to twenty four hours for the first delivery."
"Imagine a child of Edward's not sticking to the rules," Carlisle smiled.
Things were happening amazingly fast. She had fallen asleep again after Edward woke her to kiss her Goodbye as he headed for class and his finals.
Next year he would begin teaching music and he already had a job secured at Port Angeles Music Academy so they could return and live at Forks.
Bella was looking forward to that, and to living in the house they had designed together. It had been started already but with the Forks weather, one never knew how long building would take.
Edward had insisted on six bedrooms as well as the whole top floor being their bedroom/retreat. At this particular moment in time, she was hoping he was planning on a lot of guestrooms, rather than bedrooms for their future children, because she wasn't sure she ever wanted to experience this pain again.
She glanced at the clock. God, it was a mere two hours since the first pain and already it felt like she had been hit by a freight train. Regularly. Every three minutes.
The contractions were massive and left her feeling unable to regain her breath. Esme was holding her hand and everyone knew, except Edward, so Rose and Emmett were on their way over and Alice and Jasper were on a plane.
"What are we going to do if the baby gets here before Edward's exam finishes?" Bella panicked.
"Maybe we could all hide behind the door and yell surprise as he walks in and just hand him the baby, and he'll be so happy to see it, he'll forgive us all," Esme suggested.
"Can you do anything to slow this down?" Bella pleaded.
"That's the first time anyone ever asked to have a delivery slowed down," said Dr Tanner with a laugh.
"I want to walk, I feel like I should be on my feet," Bella complained and Esme helped her up. She no sooner stood than two things happened simultaneously.
The baby slid out of her and into Carlisle's waiting hands and Edward burst through the door.
"My God, it's a real baby," he exclaimed and rushed to her side. Carlisle wrapped the infant and checked it's airways and the nurse quickly cleared it's throat and checked it over.
"Nine," she pronounced and Carlisle handed it to Edward's waiting hands.
"Why didn't someone call me earlier? I almost missed everything," he growled, gently stroking the new little being in his arms.
"You had your final exam," Bella retorted, getting into a squat to deliver the placenta, with Carlisle's help.
Once it was all over, Edward handed the baby to it's mother and sat beside her, kissing her cheek.
Bella looked into his eyes. "You can feel the baby," she stated.
Edward smiled. "It has much the same effect on me as you do. I can feel the warmth and the softness of it's skin," he reported happily. "Well done, Mrs Cullen. It's a beautiful, healthy baby with excellent lungs."
"It? Is it a boy or a girl?" Bella asked.
"Who cares, let's just spend some time getting to know our firstborn before we factor in the gender," Edward suggested.
Esme got to hold the baby while Edward helped Bella shower and dress and they walked to her room and she got into bed and her husband lay beside her, rubbing her back.
"I wanted to be here for you," he said softly.
"You always are. I just wanted that exam over. Honestly, even as fast as it was happening, Carlisle and Dr Tanner thought I had another hour to go at least. I probably shouldn't have stood up, it moved everything along more quickly."
"I'll be there for every minute of this child's life and your life from this moment on," he vowed.
"I did the first bath, I hope that was okay," Esme said, pushing the baby's bed in in front of her.
"So, you know what it is," Bella smiled, sounding impatient to know herself.
"Just look at this perfect little face and you will know as well," Edward's mother replied, lifting the bundle into Bella's arms.
"I don't think it's the face that determines the gender," Edward smirked, looking down at the tiny face and big green eyes looking back at him.
"Let's see, my eyes, Bella's nose, my mouth, Bella's hair. What does it weigh?"
"Seven pounds even."
"Hmm, no clue there. How long?"
"It's a girl," Edward guessed. He knew he had been 21 inches at birth presuming the mix up occurred after the initial measurements were recorded.
"How long were you as a newborn?" he asked his wife.
"Seventeen inches and seven pounds exactly," she answered, frowning as she rechecked the hair and searched for copper amongst the brown.
"Do you want me to tell you?" Esme asked.
They both nodded and she clapped her hands.
"It is a girl. What's her name?"
"Ashley Antonia," Edward answered. "Ashley means meadow and Antonia means flower and also is the female version of my second name, so Bella wants her named for me."
"That's just perfect, I love it. Though I have a feeling Alice has called dibs on the name Ashley."
"Alice is not married, not pregnant, and most importantly, not sitting in a hospital bed holding her newborn daughter so we win," Edward answered.
The name was important to them both. The meadow was the place they both loved and where their house was built, well, started to be built and where they would live forever. Ashley Antonia would play amongst the wild flowers and outshine them with her own beauty.
Edward felt a particular sense of peace knowing he had a daughter. He could be as over protective as he liked with her and use the excuse she was Daddy's little girl and needed him to protect her. Bella might object but he didn't think so, the way she was cradling the baby in her arms now she knew the gender had changed. Suddenly she was softer, more guarded, like the baby suddenly became more fragile.
It was a normal response, he knew that. Boys were viewed as big tough guys and girls as delicate little petals, which Ashley clearly was.
"Feel her hair, it's as soft as gossamer," Edward said, stroking his finger through the thick thatch on her head.
Bella awoke to hoards of visitors bearing pink wrapped gifts, even Charlie was there, despite his intense hate of flying. The need to see Ashley for himself and to make sure Bella had come through safely won over his fears. Renee and her husband were there but nowhere near as involved, more there because it was expected of them and they were the first to leave once the polite length of time passed.
"Your Mom is not into babies?" Edward asked.
"Not really. But Charlie will make up for that. He can't wait until we go home to Forks and he can invent a reason to visit every day just to play Grandpa. He has a fishing pole with Ashley's name on it waiting at his house."
"Surely nobody could resist this perfect little girl, she's just too amazing for words," Edward said, taking his daughter and holding her gently but firmly against his chest. he smiled as the warmth of her body flooded his own.
He felt like he had everything now. The chance to prove he could be the best father and husband, despite his rough start in life. He had Esme and Carlisle's examples to learn from and he was sure he and Bella would last the distance and anytime they argued or fell out, he knew all he would have to do was look into his daughter's face and know she would always come first from now on. They would work through any issues that arose and find a path that kept them all together as a family, the most precious jewel of any crown.
"I think I want a fairly big gap between Ashley and the next baby," Bella said, feeling every bruise and graze the birth had caused.
"No problem, we can give up sex just to be sure," Edward suggested and hid a smirk.
"Yes, well, we have to do that for the next six weeks, let's see who is smirking by then," she replied and he realized she was right. He would be climbing the walls by the time six weeks passed, especially as their sex life had not even slowed down during the pregnancy. He had been forced by his own fears to be gentle with Bella once he knew his child was inside but that was fine, he liked gentle sex, it allowed him to show his feelings for her, and honor her body as it should be.
He would have to be very nice to her and help with the baby as much as possible if he hoped for any form of relief from his wife, he knew that. But sex seemed kind of irrelevant at the moment. It was a small price to pay for having his own little family, and legend had it, exhaustion would soon eradicate any desires for a while.
Such was life.
Edward lay back in the warm sun of Forks and subtly kept an eye on his children. Playing guitar softly, he was composing a song for Bella's birthday next week, and if he had learned one thing about his wife, it was that she would always appreciate something from the heart much more than actual store bought gifts. She insisted Edward had always given her everything her heart desired just by choosing her, and their marriage had made her life perfect. She had no need for a fancy car or ridiculously priced purses and shoes, all she wanted was for them to always be together and in love and Edward was still fulfilling his promise to love her everyday of forever.
Their three daughters were taking advantage of the unusual run of sunny days and splashing one another playfully in the creek that bordered their property.
Anyone over twelve would find the water bitterly cold and the shrieks from his girls assured him it truly was, but better than that, it assured him all three felt.
They had all maintained their ability to feel, and that had always been a niggling worry in the back of his mind. While most parents probably preferred quieter playing by their offspring, Edward smiled to himself as Alice Marie splashed her younger sister, and Ashley tried to keep order.
She was the most like him in temperament, always that need to be the one in control, a habit he had put down when it showed up in himself as fallout from the complete lack of control in his early childhood. But now he had to accept it was genetic because Ashley had never known anything but security and love.
Hayley, their youngest girl, was all her mother's daughter in mannerisms and temper, yet was the image of her father. She alone amongst the girls had inherited his copper hair and truly emerald green eyes and her waist length hair hung in ringlets, thank God. It was one thing for a man to be blessed, or cursed, with sex hair as Bella referred to his unruly mop, but on a female it would be a nightmare and just look messy.
The older two girls were true brunettes but in this sun, Edward could see the same subtle highlights of reddish mahogany their mother had in her own locks.
Alice Marie had arrived a mere year after her older sister, and Edward knew that had been all his fault. Once the six weeks of abstinence had passed, he just couldn't keep his hands off Bella, needing her constantly, and of course, slip ups happened. Having no condom in his pocket had never stopped him taking her in this very place, on this very lounger, when the baby was with his Mom and his beautiful wife was tempting him, teasing him, taunting him with her incredible sexiness.
She had laughed when he said that to her and pointed out not a lot of men found women immersed in a freezing cold creek , washing the garden soil from her body after a gardening marathon, sexy. But she had been cold and he had offered to warm her up and nine months later she had screamed about that in the labor ward. She had wanted years between the siblings, but what could he do?
He should blamed Bella entirely, she didn't have to be so darn sexy in everything she did. Other wives managed to hang out the washing without driving their husbands wild with desire, yet clearly she couldn't. Just observing how her breasts moved as she tossed a blanket over the line to dry had forced him to grab her and pull her inside, kissing her neck, touching her body, needing to be inside her.
That was Hayley, the washing line incident conception. And no excuses, he did have condoms in the bedroom, but they just hadn't made it that far and she was made on the landing halfway up the staircase. At least it was the internal staircase, he had often pointed out when his wife paused on that landing and smiled at the memory, then mock growled at him about his impatience.
It could have been worse, he could have knocked her up on the outside stairs.
Wait, he had.
That night, after the dinner at Port Angeles where he had been given an award for his students incredibly high grades in music composition. There had been wine, there had been dancing and Bella had kept her body pushed so close to his , swaying against him, arousing things, filling his mind with images...was it any wonder he had driven home far above the speed limit and not managed to wait until he got her inside?
That image in his mind of him taking her up against the wall, right near the backdoor, her moaning in his ear, her legs up around his waist, her lack of panties...
Nope, not his fault, once again.
She could have stopped him, she could have refused and pushed him away, had she? Nope. Had she worn some decent granny panties to discourage him? Nope.
Had she whispered in his ear on the bloody dancefloor that she had forgotten panties altogether, and they were still laying at home on their bed, waiting for her to put them on? Yes, she had.
She made him as hard as metal, it was her responsible to fix that situation, and she had.
But it still had been her fault. She knew how to push his buttons and she never let a chance go by. The woman was insatiable. He could have showed so much more self restraint if it wasn't for her wanton ways.
That was Adam,that conception, their first son. He was two now and it was different, having a boy in the house. He rejected playing Barbie dolls with his sisters and Edward knew his wife wanted more just like him. More boys, more loud, messy , noisy boys.
He was unsure if Adam's hair was truly naturally messy like his own because the kid was forever rubbing foodstuffs and sand and dirt from the garden in it, maybe it was capable of sitting flat against his head, but as yet, they didn't have any idea.
The girls had always come downstairs all shiny clean from their morning baths, pretty dresses and shining shoes, hair neatly brushed, and hours later they still looked the same. Adam came down, holding his adoring Mom's hand, spotless, neat, tidy and descended into a ragged mess within the first hour. A shoe would be lost, a sock stained from the dirt outside as he ran about regardless, his shirt never seemed to stay tucked in, his jeans were constantly marked with grass stains, he was truly another species.
And the copper curls lasted minutes before he became engrossed in whatever activity had caught his imagination. Collecting bugs, digging for snakes, sampling the dog's food from the dish at the back door, somehow it wasn't surprising that he ended up with dirt, leaves, even petals snagged in that mop.
Edward was all for shaving the child's head to save Isabella constantly having to wash the child's hair at regular intervals during the day, but she had threatened him with various types of bodily harm if he touched a single hair on the boys head.
It was almost unhealthy, her obsession with their son. How would he ever mature and grow up to be a man if she was always lifting him into her arms and covering his face with kisses?
It wasn't like he had been obsessed with the girls...well, maybe a little.
Maybe he was simply jealous that she adored the smaller version of him so much, maybe it brought out all his insecurities that she loved him the most.
"Edward, don't be ridiculous," Bella had sighed, and climbed onto his lap the first time he had voiced his fear. "Of course I love Adam, I waited a long time for a baby boy, and yes, he is a Mommy's boy at this point in time but so what? He's little more than a baby and one day he will reject my arms and not want my kisses, I have to take them while I can get them. And I love you in an entirely different way, you know that."
Yes, but which male did she love the most?
That question always got him a slap.
"It's not a competition. You adore the girls, I don't go all crazy jealous over that. I don't pout and carry on when you choose to spend time with them over me. We know we will always make time for one another. Now grow up."
Maybe that was the problem, he didn't want to grow all the way up.
Adam ran his grubby hands through his hair and toddled towards his father.
"S'a'bug," he announced and dropped the wriggling worm into his father's lap.
"It's a worm, Adam and they live in the garden and help make the soil strong and healthy so Mommy's flowers all grow."
"S'a'worm," Adam agreed.
Edward looked at the small chubby face and golden curls and green eyes and wondered if this was how he had looked at this age. He put the guitar down and lifted his male child into his arms and kissed him on the cheek.
"I love you, son, very much. I think I also envy you, because you are cherished in a way I never was as a little boy. I didn't have a Mommy like you do, who thinks you are the sun and the moon and the very air we breathe rolled into one. You are a very lucky little boy."
Adam smiled and patted his father's face with a grubby hand.
"Gamma Esme," his son said, pointing as Edward's mother's car pulled up.
"Grandma Esme. Good point, I had all her love and undivided adulation once she chose me to be her little boy. I guess I had it better than a lot of little boys who never knew love at all. I just wish I had been born to her. I think I would be a better man today and not envy my own son if she had held me in her arms from the very first day I was born."
"Edward, give it up. It's natural. You don't think Carlisle envied the attention I gave you when you came into our home and made us a family? I used to sit on your bed and read you bedtime stories and rub your back, you do remember that?"
"I do, I remember not wanting you to leave, and go to his bed. I remember trying to feel your hand on my skin. And the look on your face, the hope that one day I would regain feeling."
"And you have."
"Better late than never. I guess the vitamin regime through all Bella's pregnancies that I joined in taking may have been the key all along."
"Or maybe just the love of a good woman, never underestimate that."
"You loved me," Edward replied, kicking the grass tufts with his toe. "Yes but I loved you as my child, she loves you in a whole different way. As her soulmate."
Edward nodded, of course Bella loved him best. Differently. Adam would grow up and leave her but he would always stay, always be here. His time would come again once these ragtag children left the nest and God knows he was in no hurry for that to happen. Look how quiet and peaceful his own parents house had become once Jas and Alice finally left for college then married in their Senior Year there.
And like Edward, Emmett had done his best to repopulate Fork's dwindling numbers, by keeping Rosalie constantly pregnant. Four nephews and three nieces and another of unknown gender as yet on the way. Of course, they'd cheated and had two sets of twins.
"Do you think Alice and Jasper will ever have kids or do you think their are enough Cullen grandkids out there already?" Edward asked.
"Darling, your children never put them off, they adore all these children and one day I'm sure they'll feel the time is right. Jasper just had so much he wanted to do first, and Alice got used to the easy life, travelling with his band, visiting a dozen countries each year. I think they are both getting The Look already. It won't be long now before there's more Cullen grandbabies in the world."
Bella walked outside and caught the tail end of the conversation and growled.
"Here's me thinking nobody knew yet. How long have you known?" she asked Edward.
He frowned and looked as confused as he felt.
"About the new Cullen grandbaby under construction."
"Alice is pregnant?" he asked in surprise. Now Bella looked confused.
"You were talking about Alice?"
Esme smiled and kissed Bella's cheek.
"How did it happen this time?" she asked, a smile already plastered across her face. These kids were so lucky, she would have adored to be popping out babies like they did. Edward and Bellanever seemed to plan the next arrival, it just turned up when it was ready.
Adoption, fostering, it had filled the house she and Carlisle had bought ,and filled their lives with kids, but she never forgot those few minutes of motherhood she had experienced with her own little boy, doomed as he was. It truly had been one of the highlights of her life. Of course, that day had been truly both the best of days and the worst. Losing him so quickly had left a hole in her chest that even her adopted children had never quite filled, not to the brim.
She just prayed none of these wonderful parents ever knew that depth of despair and continued to have happy, healthy babies.
"I feel like a pregnant teen schoolgirl, the way we seem to always get caught out every single time your son forgets to put on a condom."
"Are we having another baby, Bella?" Edward suddenly clicked into what they were talking about. Incredible. So much for her wanting to stop at two, then three, then four. Now it was five.
Five little lives to guide, five little babies from hos beautiful wife. He already found himself looking forward to the birth. He loved that sense of wonder, that time of a true miracle as their child, of their making, the product of their endless love, joined them in the world and was placed into his waiting hands. That first touch, that first look, the first mewing cry, he stored all those memories and secretly he snuck downstairs the nights he couldn't sleep and watched the birthing videos in his den. He loved reliving the joy, and seeing what his wife went through to give him what he always wanted, another baby. He was as addicted to newborns as he was to her.
They were so soft, so warm, these sensations he had missed the most much of his life.
"We are and maybe it's time to call a halt to this three ringed circus and get you snipped. Otherwise every bedroom in the house will be full of kids and as it is, we will be down to one single guestroom once Ben is born."
"I'm getting in early. Adam needs a brother and I rather fancy another Mommy's boy."
"Little boys are wonderful, aren't they?" Esme agreed and the two women walked inside, discussing 'Ben's' nursery decor.
"Well, it looks like you are going to be usurped. Us menfolk will have to stick together. Let's go do some man things. Maybe we need to try out that junior baseball kit Uncle Em bought you. You want to pitch or hit?"
"Hit, hit, hit," chanted Adam.
"I kind of expected that. Come on, son, I have a catcher's mitt somewhere in the garage. It's time we started turning you into a real boy."
Edward paused, stricken, and picked his son up again.
"Sorry, Adam, you have always been a real boy. Daddy wasn't thinking."
Adam was unconcerned and squirmed to be put down on the ground. Then he starting running about, hitting the heads off Bella's newly blossoming rose's with the miniature bat.
"Yo, the little man has quite a swing," Emmett's voice boomed as he ran up and took position as pitcher. "As soon as Rose parades my lads in front of Mom and Bella to prove they can look clean and tidy, if only briefly, we can start a game. God, she has three girls, why she needs to try a sissyfy my boys up all neat...it's not natural. This is what a manchild should look like, hey Adam? A bit of dirt never hurt anyone."
"Clearly not," Edward agreed.
Boys tumbled from the backdoor and in no time the yard was filled with Emmett's voice, encouraging the batter, correcting the stance of the smaller boys, getting some order from the chaos.
"So, you want another boy, goes without saying?" Emmett asked.
"I do, I think I really do. I want Adam to have brothers, and enjoy his childhood like I did once you and Jas came into the family. I really loved wrestling with you and knowing I couldn't hurt you."
"Pft, there was never a chance of that, you skinny assed excuse for a man."
"I could take you down," Edward replied, winking as Jasper snuck up behind Emmett and both tackled him at once.
He fell heavily and Edward just rolled out of the way in time.
"Shit, bro, we didn't think that through," he laughed as Emmett gave them the bird.
"Took two of you whipped ass pussies to do it, though."
"I need your advice, guys. My wife is pregnant," Jasper admitted, looking more scared that anything. "She will still let me have sex with her, right? I mean, I tried this morning after she did the test and she said 'oh Jasper, we don't need to do that any more, I'm pregnant already'. This is just a stage, right? A really short lived stage?"
""Ooh la la you just wait, once she hits the horny period you will look back and be grateful she gave you a little time off."
"Bella never gave me any time off," Edward stated. "Never, she was horny...shit, she's pregnant again. Oh we could have co-ordinated this better, three pregnant wives, nobody to babysit when we need a little time alone. We'll all be wanting time alone."
"Esme always said she loved having a houseful of kids, let's make her eat her words."
"Yeah, copping your seven and our four for a night ought to cure any lingering maternal feelings for good," Edward laughed.
"Don't wear her out, Alice plans to have more kids than either of you two. Shit, that means nine kids. I can't do it."
"Nine as of our count at the moment. Don't be retiring Rose from the baby making business yet. I need more boys for my team. I've only got four sons, Jasper and our wuss of a brother only has one so far. Hey, you could take up the slack and have all sons. That would work."
"If we have more than three boys in a row, I think Alice would start dressing the baby as a girl anyway. She has already painted the nursery pink. And filled it with ribbons and pink stuff. I'm kind of hoping this one will be a girl so she gets it out of her system."
"Ha, good luck with that. Rose is washing up all the pink clothes but we are going to surprise her, she's having a boy, no, maybe another set of twin boys. That would be cool. Maybe triplets would be fun."
"Now you are just being greedy," Edward answered. Maybe Bella would have twin boys and even up the genders. If not, he just needed to knock her up again before she got the new baby sleeping through the night and started regaining all her faculties.
Before she noticed the lack of a condom.
He'd be fine, she was always as horny as he was at that six week check up. She always dropped the current baby and the toddlers at his Mom's and came home to lie in wait for him. He took a half day last time. Arrived home before she did and ambushed her at the door. She never let him out of bed all afternoon, she wanted everything.
Then she wanted everything again.
No wonder they had all these children, it was her fault.
A man didn't stand a chance with a woman like his Bella.
"So, this is Bella's birthday party and she is doing the cooking?" Emmett asked.
"Nope, we are grilling out here on the BBQ and with that in mind, we should go get the meat."
"Want me to go run down a deer in the forest? Save you a few dollars?" Emmett joked.
"Right, you would probably come face to face with a grizzly and he'd rip you apart," Jasper laughed.
"I could take on any grizzly in that forest, I'm a real man," Emmett exclaimed.
"Emm, come change the baby's diaper, I'm making salads," Rose called
"Sure, be right there," Emmett replied, placing the ball down on the ground and running inside.
"He can take on a grizzly yet Rose has him whipped," Jasper laughed.
"Shit, man, I'd rather take on a grizzly than take on Rose," Edward admitted. The woman was scary when she wanted to be.
"You are right," Jasper agreed, glad, so glad, he had the quiet little Alice. Well, she may be loud but she was gentle with him.
"Come on, we men need to go hunt at the local butcher's," Edward said and they headed out together as Carlisle took over umpiring the game.
He was proud of all four of his kids but he was mostly happy about how Edward's life had changed once he met Bella. They were standing the test of time, and just as in love as ever.
He'd been wrong to ever doubt them and interfere. At least he had done them no harm.
He was a doctor, it was his gospel.
First do no harm.