This is a one-shot I wrote for Trading Yesterdays Challenge which came in 1st place.
Our first love never truly leaves us; when Bella married Edward, I grieved so hard, but thought eventually I would move on. In some ways I did because I grew up and dated. I even loved someone else for awhile, but in the end the love I had for Bella never left me. It was just tucked away in a corner of my heart, a slight ache when I thought about the what-ifs.
We talked sporadically, but our conversations were light. She had told me that she and Edward were trying for a baby last I talked to her. I congratulated her and sent a gift card from Babies 'R Us and a hand-carved wooden rattle when I found out they conceived. I drank too much that night trying to ease the pain. Each time I talked to her after that she sounded more and more tired and more and more stressed.
Then one day Bella called me.
I answered the phone, anxious to hear her sweet voice, but all I heard was heavy breathing. The unevenness of it cut through me; I could practically hear her heart pounding.
"Bella? Bella? Talk to me! Are you okay?" I called out frantically, my knuckles turning white as I gripped the phone.
The softest whimper echoed over the phone lines. "The baby… gone," she whispered brokenly. Then there was nothing.
My heart was breaking for her even as I raced to my car. I didn't care if Edward was home, if he didn't particularly like the connection Bella and I had; there was no way I could stay here. I felt a few tears slip down my cheeks just at the thought of her hurting like this. I drove for two hours until I reached their house. The sprawling stone home was lit by the dying sun as I ran to the door and knocked anxiously.
"Bella?" I called out, fear and worry nagging at me furiously.
Edward opened the door. He looked haggard; his bronze hair was a mess, his eyes bloodshot, and he was weaving a bit unsteadily. The open bottle of Jack on the counter behind him was the obvious culprit.
"What are you doing here?" he asked bluntly, his voice a bit slurred.
"I'm here for Bella," I said giving him a derisive once-over.
"Whatever," he muttered and stumbled back to his bottle. "She's in the bedroom."
I sighed and hurried past him, and up the winding staircase. I heard Bella crying as I pushed the door open to a room that screamed out Edward with trophies, certificates, and dark colors. In the middle of the dark, forest-green bedspread on a monstrous bed lay Bella.
She turned, and I nearly crumpled. She looked exhausted and beaten-down. Tears trickled silently down her face. "Oh Jake…" she mumbled through her tears and reached out to me.
I was on the bed, cradling her, whispering that I would stay as long as she needed me. She wrapped her arms around my neck and confessed she had lost the baby almost a week ago and wanted to call me sooner, about how terrified she had been, how hard it was to cope with, and how Edward had been pulling away in the wake of what had happened.
And then the sobs ripped out of her; she cried against my chest until she was spent. When she was finally asleep in my arms, I pushed back her hair and kissed her forehead. "I love you," I whispered, needing to say it but knowing it was safer if she wasn't aware. She was fast asleep, but she snuggled deeper into me.
It had been awhile since I had seen her, but there was nothing awkward about holding her in my arms. She belonged there and when I was with her, I was home.
I paid for a hotel room for the next week so I could be nearby without intruding. After I left Bella – which had been the hardest thing I had to do – I sat in my hotel room pondering the situation and what, if anything, I could do for her.
I had no answers.
The next day, after Edward left for work, I went back to their house and knocked. Bella answered the door, her hair a tangled mess and her face splotchy from crying. I couldn't resist; I reached out and wrapped my arms around her again.
"I feel so empty," she whispered into my chest. "My stomach doesn't feel normal anymore."
I led her outside, and I sat in the patio chair with her on my lap. We just sat there for awhile, the wetness of her tears on my neck, as I stroked her hair. Then I remembered something my father told me a number of years ago when a woman in our tribe lost her baby.
"Bells? I have an idea," I said.
She glanced up at me, so I eased her off my lap and took her hand, leading her into the backyard. I found a spot under a shady maple tree and sat down, pulling her with me until she was facing me.
"What are we doing?" she asked confused.
"My father told me a long time ago about a woman in our tribe losing a baby and how the rest of them helped her. I thought maybe a small memorial would help you."
She looked a little lost yet hopeful at the idea, and I felt the same, so I tried to center myself. I laid my hand on her stomach. We were both quiet, unsure of what to do, until suddenly I felt connected to her in a way that was unfamiliar. My mind focused on her body being changed and I felt heaviness in my hands.
I glanced at Bella and her eyes were wide open, surprised as I was. "I feel a little… lighter," she whispered.
I tried to fall back on my knowledge of our legends, so I told her to help put the soul of the baby to rest we had to visualize burying it. Bella's eyes filled with tears, but we both sat there and envisioned burying it right there under the tree, and I felt lightness as well.
"Back to nature," I murmured. "Now your baby is laid to rest, and you will re-connect in another life."
She was crying while she told me her hopes for the baby, and I wrapped her in my arms, amazed that something this simple eased just a little of her anguish. Maybe it was a little something in me I didn't know about or maybe it was just the act of letting go of some of the grief, but whatever it was… it had worked.
I stood on First Beach, calm and reflective, as I stared at the gray ocean framed by low-hanging storm clouds. I sipped the chamomile tea in the thermos I had with me, trying to ease my nerves. It had been four years since I lost my baby, but I was finally happy again.
My marriage to Edward had failed horribly after I miscarried. We had just been too young and suffering that loss drove a wedge between us. Therapy had been given a try, but it just wasn't working. Our lives had been too altered, and Edward wasn't yet willing to give up his drinking to hide the pain. The therapist told us it would take time, but I knew with a certainty that there was more to it than our loss; marriage just wasn't meant for us. We had drifted apart too much.
I signed the divorce papers after we gave our best effort, a deep sadness shrouding me for what we both had suffered and just couldn't repair. I let Edward keep the house; it was more him than me. Moving back to Forks had been the right idea. I needed my family and my friends to support me and they did without hesitation.
It took some time to grieve over my baby, over Edward, but Jacob had been so kind and patient with me. It hit me with a flash a year after my marriage ended and I moved back that I was deeply in love with Jacob. It was a painful notion in some ways to realize that I had been in love with him a long time; it just took too long to realize it.
Jacob confessed he felt the same. There were feelings of guilt, of sadness, and of the pain we had inflicted on others because we pushed these feelings down so deep. But there was utter joy for finally admitting to each other how we felt. We began dating much to the delight of our families. Our relationship was never perfect, but it was exciting, comforting, and passionate all the same. It was like snuggling down into that warm comforter with a cup of hot tea and feeling that utter peace and happiness.
The first time Jacob and I made love had been another altering moment. It was beyond physically amazing; his body incited a storm of emotions inside me, culminating in a mind-blowing release. We had connected emotionally even more at the same time nearly sending my mind into a tailspin his dark eyes the one thing holding me there.
Over time we talked of marriage and I knew without a doubt I wanted to try again. Jacob knew me better than anyone, and we were both more than willing to work on any problems, to support, and to love each other through anything. We had a small ceremony and got married in the tribal center with the windows overlooking the beach and rocky shore.
When Jake began talking about children, he was hesitant with me about it. I balked at the idea; fear of what could happen was holding me back. I wasn't even positive I would be able to conceive and carry a child to term. There were discussions, there was an argument, and there were a lot of tears before I finally decided I was as ready as I would ever be to try again.
Charlie told me privately that Renee had trouble conceiving me and that there were some worries during her pregnancy, but he said parenthood was a journey that was so valuable and that holding me in his arms the first time was life-changing. Coming from Charlie, what he said had me sniffling back tears. Renee had agreed with him when I spoke to her and there were more tears.
So, here I stood, staring out at the ocean. I turned around to drive back to our beautiful cottage that Jake helped build and rested my hand on my seven and a half month pregnant belly.
It was still scary, even this far along, but I was doing everything I was supposed to do and Jake was helping me. I texted Jake before I left the beach – even if it was only a five minute drive – to let him know I was on my way home. It had become a habit, one both of us liked. When I parked, I smiled at the sight of my home; it was a beautiful tan brick cottage with pale green shutters. It was small and simple with beautiful, shaded trees and the flowers we had planted lined the walkway.
"Hey sweetheart," Jake said, leaning down to kiss me as I walked in the door. "How are you feeling?"
"A little tired," I admitted, resting my head against his broad chest.
"Why don't you go lie down for a little while?" he said, his brow wrinkling in concern. "I'll get us some lunch when you wake up."
I nodded, gave him a reassuring smile, and headed back to our bedroom. The soft cream and pale blue colors of the room were comforting. I eased myself down onto our queen-sized bed and let out a contented sigh. As I lay there drifting off, I stroked my hand over my stomach. It was still amazing that there were two babies growing in there.
Jake had worn a smug grin for awhile when we found out we had conceived twins. He seemed to like the idea that even though it took some time to happen, he managed to knock me up with two instead of one. I giggled to myself, my hand resting protectively over our babies and dozed off.
A few days later Jake and I had made plans to go out to dinner at this new place that had just opened recently right outside of Forks. The next day we had planned to drive into Port Angeles to finish baby shopping. I had most of what I needed thanks to my baby shower, but there were still a few things to pick up. As I finished my lunch of grilled cheese with pickles – I couldn't seem to stop eating pickles – the phone rang.
I heard the murmur of Jake's voice on the phone. He came out into the kitchen, biting his lip. "Bells? It's Emily. Her babysitter canceled at the last minute, and she wants to know if we could handle Ian for a few hours. She and Sam have a work-related meeting they have to go to. She said she can take him with if she absolutely has to; she doesn't want to impose…"
I cut him off. "As long as you're going to be here and willing to play with him, I can probably handle the calmer parts."
"I don't know, honey… you've been tired and I'm not sure you need this on top of that."
I smiled. "I'll rest while you play, and if you wear him out enough he just might take a nap with me."
He chuckled and relayed the message to Emily. When she got there, she was holding little Ian by the hand, looking frazzled and worried.
"Oh Bella, I'm sorry to do this. Honestly, if you aren't up to it or you are afraid it will be too much for you, please tell me. I can take him with us."
Ian's dark eyes lit up when he saw Jake. He tugged on his mom's hand. "Uncle Jake!" he cried. I grinned as the mini replica of Sam Uley looked thrilled to see Jake.
Emily let his hand go and he charged at Jake who swung him high up in the air. I shook my head with a laugh; after his daddy, Ian had always favored Jacob. "It's not a problem, Emily. I have Jake trained to wear him out before he takes a nap with me," I teased.
She chuckled. "Okay Bella, but I promise it will only be three hours, maybe four at the most. I don't want you to feel worn out," she added, now looking a little worried.
"I'm okay," I reassured her. "You go to your meeting and we'll see you later," I said ushering her out the door.
"Ian, be good for Uncle Jake and Aunt Bella!" she called out. She waved good-bye, and I turned to see Ian perched on Jake's shoulders and giggling wildly. I shook my head. "Okay, Jake, play him out. Ian, honey, I'm going to rest a little okay? Then I promise we can do something fun later."
He nodded agreeably. "Okay, Aunt Bella," he said.
Our bed was practically calling to me as I eased myself down onto my back, propped up on a few pillows. A few minutes went by, quietly, and I closed my eyes. Not long after, I heard giggling from a distance, slowly getting closer. My eyes opened and Ian zipped by the door, giggling. Then Jake walked by the door, and my eyes widened; he was hunched over, teeth bared, walking funny and his hands were raised and his fingers crooked into talons. He disappeared from view, and I couldn't help but giggle myself at the absurdity of it.
Shaking my head, I leaned back again. Not long after that, Ian ran by giggling again. I raised my eyebrows expectantly and saw Jake walking stiff-legged, arms outstretched, his mouth in an "O" shape.
I wasn't getting any sleep, but I was relaxed and highly entertained.
Things settled down after a few minor thumps and giggles, so I began reading my book, but then suddenly Jake appeared in the door. "Hey Bells? Have you seen Ian?" he asked, feigning confusion.
Ian dangled upside down at his side, with Jake's arm firmly wrapped around his waist to hold him in place. The giggles were spilling from him in waves. I shook my head, trying to curb my laughter, and played along.
"No, I haven't. Where could he have gone?" I asked.
"I'm right here Uncle Jake and Aunt Bella!" Ian managed to squeal between giggles.
"Hmm, guess I'll go look for him," Jake said with a shrug and turned and walked away with Ian clinging to his leg.
Laughter was the best medicine apparently, because it took me a little while to stop, and I was feeling pretty good. When Jake came back with Ian, they both looked a little tired. "Nap time!" Jake announced.
Ian made to climb on the bed, but Jake put a restraining hand on Ian. "Hey buddy, remember what I told you? You need to be careful with Aunt Bella, so there will be absolutely no jumping. I'm very serious about this, Ian, okay?"
He had a very serious face on, and Ian paid attention. "Okay, Uncle Jake," he said, making a show of crawling carefully toward me.
I smoothed a hand over the hair sticking up in the front as Jake stretched out next to me. "Did you have fun playing?" I asked, trying not to laugh and get him wound up again.
"Yes!" he said with a little giggle as he sat next to me. "Uncle Jake is fun! I wish you could play, too, Aunt Bella."
"After I have these babies," I said, stroking my stomach, "we'll play together. Promise!"
He was looking at my stomach, so I asked him if he wanted to feel the babies. Right now they were both doing a little rolling around in my stomach, so it was prime time. He gave me his little hand, and I pressed it to my stomach, and his eyes widened comically. "I feel them!" he exclaimed. "Why are they doing that?"
I tried to explain to him that they were just moving around, which utterly fascinated him for all of two minutes. He then laid down next to me, trying to wiggle as close to me as possible.
Jake helped him shift around so his back was to me and his little head was resting on my arm. Jake draped his arm over him, and we locked hands, smiling at each other over Ian's head.
When nap time was over, we had a little snack, and then we took Ian to the beach to play a little more. Jake helped me out of the car, and he got me set up in a chair with a blanket, so I could watch Jake give Ian piggy-back rides. Ian collected seashells for me before we had to head back. When Sam and Emily got back, Ian was so excited to tell them how much fun he had.
After they left, I needed a real nap before we went out to eat, so I lay back down with Jake wrapped around me from behind. He laid his hand on my stomach, idly stroking me. "Man, I'm tired. Ian's an energetic little kid."
I laughed. "Yeah he is. And just think, when we have ours, you'll have to play with two," I teased him.
He groaned good-naturedly. Smiling at the thought, I wound my fingers with Jake's and we were both asleep within moments.
On our shopping trip to Port Angeles, we found everything we needed; we were officially prepared for our babies. While we shopped, I could tell Jake was getting bored. He began picking out the most outlandish baby outfits he could find - polka-dotted shirts and pants in all kinds of mismatched colors, zebra print pajamas, and a little outfit complete with a fuzzy animal on the matching hat that he perched on his head.
Soon he was perching all kinds of hats on his head and holding up pink tutus so I would have an idea how it would look. We were beginning to draw attention to ourselves because I couldn't stop laughing at his antics. One woman looked over at us, shaking her head disapprovingly, and carted her husband away with her to another area. He looked longingly over his shoulder at us making us laugh harder.
"Jacob Black, we're never going to get out of here if you keep this up," I said, trying to curb a giggle.
He smirked. "Isabella Black, you know you love it."
I reached up to loop my arms around his neck; he leaned down, his hands tracing circles over my stomach, to kiss me softly. And he kissed me again…and again. I blushed at our display in public, but I also couldn't hide the smile that crept out.
"I love you," I whispered.
"I love you, too," he whispered.
As we stood there, I saw a figure stop close behind Jacob. "Bella?" a male voice questioned in a surprised tone.
I glanced around Jake, and my eyes widened. It was Edward.
I stood there, baby items in my arms, Jake's arms still wrapped around me and all I could do was stare at my ex-husband.
Jake stepped back, his expression turning cool. "H-how are you?" Edward managed to say, taking a step closer.
Jake moved, too, and I laid my hand on his arm. "Honey, it's okay," I said quietly.
He relaxed a fraction and turned to me, his hand framing my cheek. "You want a minute?" he asked me.
Jake and I were secure in each other that I knew he wasn't jealous; he was just worried and didn't want me to get upset for my own sake and for our babies. "Please," I murmured.
He moved away, leaving me to face Edward. His eyes locked on my stomach in surprise. "You're having a baby?" he asked unnecessarily. His eyes looked sad for a moment before clearing.
"Two," I answered. "We're having twins."
"That's great," he said. "I'm really happy for you, Bella. And you ended up with Jacob, I see," he added.
I looked right into his moss-green eyes. "He's been everything I have needed and wanted," I said honestly. He winced, but I didn't make any apologies. I felt bad that it hurt him, but it was the truth.
"How have you been?" I asked to cover up the uncomfortable silence. Memories of the sadness, the fights, interwoven with time spent too often by myself flashed through my mind.
"Pretty good," he said, nervously fiddling with the bag he was carrying. "I stopped drinking shortly after… well, you know. And I met someone," he added. "We're taking it slow, but it's going good."
"I'm happy for you, Edward," I said sincerely.
We both paused again awkwardly, not sure what to say next.
"Well, I probably should go…" I said ready to go over to Jake who was hovering over by the cribs.
As I turned away, I felt Edward touch my arm lightly. "Bella…" he said sounding nervous.
I looked back at him and he swallowed hard. "For what it's worth, I'm sorry," he blurted. "I know it doesn't change anything, but I'm sorry I wasn't there for you, that I didn't try harder, that I was too wrapped up in myself and then my own grief to truly help you."
I glanced down, trying to collect myself. "Thank you," I said quietly. "It took me awhile to feel better about myself and what happened, but I don't hold any hard feelings. It's not worth it."
"It took me awhile to get over how badly I failed," he murmured, "and to come to terms with what happened. I still grieve for him," he added sadly.
My chin shook. "So do I."
He bit his lip. "Well, I better let you go… I'm glad I ran into you; I have wanted to talk to you for awhile now."
"I'm glad I ran into you, too. I really do wish you all the best, Edward."
He gave me that beautiful, lopsided smile that I hadn't seen in so long and loved, and I smiled more naturally in return. All the good memories of us came back to me, and I was glad we were parting on that note. "It's good to see you happy. Take care of yourself, Bella, and I hope the birth goes well."
With a little wave Edward disappeared out of my life again, but this time I felt good about it. I walked back over to Jake and slipped my arms around his waist. His big hand cupped the back of my head. "You okay?" he asked quietly. "That must have been hard seeing him again."
I glanced up at him and saw the flash of sadness in his eyes.
My hands cupped his face, urging him down to kiss me. "I would trade all of my yesterdays with Edward to have just this one moment with you, one single kiss with you; a lifetime with you," I murmured against his lips.
I felt his lips curl against mine. "That was cheesy, honey," he whispered. We both burst into giggles.
As he wrapped his fingers around mine and we left for home, he looked down at me, his dark eyes soft. "I love you, and I feel the same."
I was sprawled out in bed tracing circles over Bella's stomach while she slept. We had a little under a month left to go. Smiling I glanced up at her calm, sleeping face. She looked so peaceful. At least she wasn't uncomfortable or sleepless tonight; we had had too many of those nights lately. Finally sleep was beginning to tug at me, so I kissed Bella's forehead and her stomach, before curling around her.
In my dreams, I kept frantically trying to reach for Bella, and she screamed for me. Suddenly I was snapped out of my dream by a real cry from Bella. I shot up in bed, fear gripping me, to see Bella sitting up and holding her stomach.
"J-Jake," she gasped. "I'm having contractions; they're coming steadily. Oh God, I can't be in labor now. It's too early!" she wailed.
Fear had me in its icy grip as I fought to keep control. "Ok, baby, I'll call the doctor and see what she wants us to do."
"Hurry…" she whimpered, gasping as another contraction came.
I grabbed my cell phone and speed-dialed Dr. Kendall. Thankfully she answered and told us to go in to the hospital and she would meet us there to determine if it was time. Carefully I helped Bella up, got her into some sweats and a t-shirt, wrapped a blanket around her and helped her outside into the car. I called Charlie and my dad to let them know as I threw an overnight bag into the car.
On the way to the hospital I felt helpless as she cried out. She was trying to breathe like the doctor told her. "Why are they early?" she kept whimpering.
As soon as I pulled in they were ready for her and wheeled her into a room. Charlie, Billy, and Sue were already there. Renee was on her way. I sat in the chair next to the bed, trying to take it all in as Dr. Kendall determined that Bella was indeed in premature labor. Scared to death, I smoothed Bella's hair back trying to remain calm.
"Its okay; both of you need to breathe," she instructed us. "Even though they're early it doesn't mean it has to be bad, okay?"
I eased onto the bed, helping Bella into position as everyone prepared to help her deliver our babies. The only thing I could focus on was the agony of Bella crying out in pain, tears sliding down her cheeks.
"You're doing good, sweetheart," I whispered, feeling her grip tighten on my hand.
It felt like ages, but in a couple hours our babies were born. Our daughter was born three minutes before our son. Bella was exhausted, but I was distracted by the commotion going on.
"She's bleeding," the doctor murmured. "Bella, honey, its okay," she added as Bella froze. "I'm going to have to stitch you up, though."
"Our babies?" she gasped.
The nurse wasn't bringing them over to us, and my face froze. Bella's grip tightened. "What's going on?" Bella cried, trying to move away from the doctor to see the twins.
I stood up, crippling fear rushing over me.
The nurses left the room with our babies and Bella began struggling harder. "Our babies!" she cried. "What's going on? Are they okay?" I could barely see her through the haze of my own tears.
"They both need temporary oxygen. Bella, Jacob, it's not unnatural for this to happen. They're both being cared for, but I need to stitch you up. You're losing too much blood and if you keep struggling you're going to make it worse."
Bella looked about ready to pass out and a new fear gripped me. I eased her down and held her, feeling as if everything was spinning out of control, as the doctor worked on her. Her tears were dampening my shirt. Tears trickled down my cheeks as well. When the doctor finished, she promised she would be back soon with news.
"I want our babies," Bella sobbed. I tightened my grip on her, knowing she was thinking of her previous loss and the fear was penetrating her. I kissed her knuckles, my own tears dripping onto her hand.
Charlie and Billy came into the room, worry on their faces. "Daddy," Bella whispered and Charlie hurried over to her other side. He stroked her hair as Billy gave my hand a squeeze. We sat in silence until the doctor came back.
"They're both okay," she said gently. "They're both still on oxygen, but we should be able to take them off it shortly."
Bella's breathing was still ragged. "Can I go see them now?" I asked shakily. "I just need to see them."
I glanced at Charlie, and he immediately took my spot on the bed, holding Bella, who was still feeling too weak to sit up. "Sweetheart, I'm going to go look at them and tell you just how fine they are, how beautiful," I said quietly.
She knew I was doing this to reassure her; she would believe only me, so she nodded against her dad's chest, her eyes on mine. I followed the doctor down the hall to the nursery. She pointed them out to me, and I stood there in a daze, staring down at my two beautiful children, side-by-side in an incubator. I nearly dropped to my knees at the sight of these tiny newborns hooked up to a machine. My eyes burned, but never left them as I watched their chests rise and fall.
Finally I managed to drag myself away; the nurse offered to let me come in and see them closer, but I didn't feel right doing that without Bella. So with a Herculean effort, I shook my head no and told her I would wait for my wife.
Back in Bella's room, I resumed my spot. I reassured her they were both breathing and told her how tiny they were. Not too long after, the doctor came in with a nurse and they were both holding one of our babies. Bella sat up with my help; fear, hope, and love creased her face. With a smile, the nurse placed our son in her arms and the doctor handed me our daughter.
Bella was nestled against me and she brushed her lips against the slightly darker hair of our son and the lighter, more chestnut-colored hair of our daughter. I stared down at their tiny faces, carefully tracing a finger over their miniature hands. I was a little scared holding something so tiny and fragile.
Billy leaned over, smoothing his hand over the crown of their heads. "You will be healthy and you will be loved, little ones," he murmured. He and Charlie both looked awe-struck.
I kissed the top of Bella's head, exhausted as the worry eased away. My family was here and our babies were going to be okay and that was all that mattered.
Having the twins home was a relief. The fear that had gripped me through and right after the pregnancy was nothing I had ever felt and never hoped to feel again. The first few days home had been a whirlwind. Charlie, Billy, Sue, and Renee when she arrived, flitted in and out of the house helping us to adjust to a new life.
Our days were filled with exhaustion, dirty diapers, trying to breast feed two babies, and attending to their every cry. It was crazy and chaotic, and even though I desperately wanted sleep, I was absolutely elated.
A few days after things slowed down, I sat in the rocking chair in the lavender and cream nursery at nearly three in the morning feeding our son. Jake was sitting on the other chair, feeding our daughter from the bottle of breast milk I had pumped earlier in the evening. It was still a process to get them to latch on and when I was breast-feeding one or the other it was occasionally painful which I hadn't expected. My eyes burned from the lack of sleep, and I knew my hair was a mess. I was a fright, but all I could do was stroke the head of my son, amazed at how tiny he was.
We took the babies in to see the doctor a few days after the birth. Jake held me against his side as my heart beat nervously in anticipation. The doctor told us they were both doing well, and even though they were so tiny, they were both fighters.
I gently burped Alex and was rewarded with a rather loud belch.
I smirked at Jake. "You can tell he's your son," I snickered.
"Hey," Jake protested. "I take offense to that, but way to go, Alex."
We both laughed. I had to stand with Alex as he began to fuss a little. Rocking him slightly, I noticed Jake finish with Emma and start doing the same. Thankfully, this time, they both began to doze and then fall asleep. Carefully we got them situated and stood there, hands seeking each other, as we gazed down at them in exhausted wonder.
"Let's get some sleep before they wake up again," Jake said yawning. We stumbled our way blearily to bed where we both passed out immediately.
It was barely light out when I had to get up. I needed to pump more breast milk before Alex and Emma woke up. I sat in the living room by the picture window, watching the sun beginning to rise as I hooked myself up.
I was lost in the sky, in a sleep-deprived daze, and I jumped when I heard Jake.
"Hey baby," he murmured, kissing the top of my head.
"Mmmm," I mumbled. I was feeling rather grouchy due to lack of sleep.
Annoyed at the breast pump for taking too long, I shifted uncomfortably. My emotions were still a bit out of whack. "I hate this thing," I muttered to Jake. "I feel like a cow hooked up to a milking machine."
He raised his eyebrows at me. "Well, you make a very sexy cow."
I narrowed my eyes at him, ready to unleash some more irritation at him for calling me a cow even though I knew that wasn't what he meant. When his eyes met mine, though, I surprised myself by bursting out laughing.
He shook his head, his lips twitching, and I tried to control my laughter. My hair was a tangled mess, I probably had circles under my eyes, and I felt the extra pounds I had gained so I knew I looked nowhere near sexy.
I finished and put the pump away, ready to feed our babies when they awoke. Shortly after they did and the crying started. We went in together; I picked up Emma and he got Alex. Jake was rubbing Alex's back when all of a sudden we both wrinkled our nose.
"Damn," Jake muttered. "That's awful."
His expression had me giggling, and then outright laughing, as he laid Alex on the changing table. As he changed him, we both groaned, but now we both had the giggles. Lack of sleep was making everything funny.
"Ugh," I groaned. "Hurry and get rid of that thing."
We both began laughing again. We finally settled down and got Alex all cleaned up. After they were both fed and bathed, which took forever, Jake went outside to try and get a couple things done. I sat on the couch, a baby in each arm, just staring down at them in amazement - staring at their tiny lashes, little pink lips, and perfect button noses.
I had wanted a baby so much and now that I had two I could hardly believe it. I cuddled them closer to me as they began to look sleepy. I pressed my lips to their tiny heads with peach-fuzz hair, and I inhaled the sweet scent of our babies. I was so exhausted, but so happy. And I was so grateful that although they were preemies, they would be fine. Losing my baby before had taken a big toll on me, so I counted my blessings that I gave birth to these two without too many problems.
The sun shone in the living room creating patterns on the rug, but it looked a bit blurry. Confused, I glanced up when Jake walked into the room.
"Bella?" he said worriedly. "Sweetheart, why are you crying? What happened?"
I hadn't even realized I had been crying. "I-I'm just happy. And I'm remembering my baby I lost. It still makes me sad, but I'm so grateful that Alex and Emma are okay," I whispered. The tears flowed a little more freely after saying that. "I love them so much. And I'm so happy with you. I love you, Jake." I couldn't seem to stop babbling.
He wrapped his arms around the three of us, pressing his lips to mine gently to stem the flow of words. "I love you, too," he breathed. "And I love our occasionally stinky, but adorable babies."
I giggled, resting my head on his shoulder as he gently traced his fingers over their hands which opened and held on to his finger in response. "Why don't you let me take them so you can get some sleep? You look like you're about to pass out," he said.
I agreed, lying down on the couch as he took them. I didn't even want to get up to go to bed. I felt the touch of Jake's lips before sleep overtook me.
When I woke, it was turning to dusk. I had slept for a couple hours. Surprised at how long I had slept, I got up in search of Jake, Alex, and Emma. They weren't in the nursery, so I continued down the hall. When I got to our bedroom I had to stop and smile.
Jake was sprawled on our bed, propped up slightly on the pillows, with Alex and Emma both sleeping on his bare chest. I smiled at the sight; Jake's chest was certainly broad enough to accommodate our two tiny babies. He was talking quietly to them, and I saw him reach over to grab a book from the nightstand.
"Story time?" I asked quietly.
He smiled. "Want to join me?"
I lay on the bed next to him, propping myself up, and I unbuttoned my shirt. Jake raised his eyebrows at me, but I continued and gently shifted Alex onto my chest. His little cheek was pressed to my breast and I lay my head on Jake's shoulder.
His husky voice began reading:
"On the night you were born,
The moon smiled with such wonder
That the stars peeked in to see you
And the night wind whispered,
"Life will never be the same."
Because there had never been anyone like you…ever in the world.
So enchanted with you were the wind and the rain
That they whispered the sound of your wonderful name.
It sailed through the farmland
High on the breeze…
Over the ocean…
And through the trees…
Until everyone heard it
And everyone knew
Of the one and only ever you."
A tear trickled down my cheek. "Where did you get that?" I whispered.
"It was in the gifts your mom, my dad, and Charlie gave us before they left, sweetheart. There's a dedication in the front of this one, too." He flipped it open to show me.
To Jake and Bella:
Read this to your daughter and your son
and know that we all felt the same the night
you two were born. We love you.
Love, Billy, Charlie and Renee
I sniffled into his shoulder as the tears slid down my cheeks, overwhelmed at the thoughtfulness and love behind this gift, and at how our parents just knew. I snuggled into Jake, my hand cradling my son as his cradled our daughter's. I knew I couldn't be any happier than I was that night.
AN: The quoted part was just a part of the book… it was written by Nancy Tillman ("On the Night You Were Born") and is a beautiful book celebrating the birth of a child.