DISCLAIMER: ALL THINGS TWILIGHT BELONG TO STEPHENIE MEYER.
A/N:First let me start with a humongous thank you to my bestie and beta, JustineNicole - you are the frosting on my cupcake, the cheese on my cracker...I could not do this without your amazingness! Another huge thank you to Betti Gefecht for the brilliant banner that fueled this story - there would literally be no Feral without her! Above all I want to thank all of my lovely readers. Your reviews, tweets, posts and pms have encouraged me along the way and brightened my day and your overwhelming support has blown me away!
"Bring your arms around your partner and let her relax against you. Now everyone breathe together. Three short breaths in, one long breath out."
I follow the directions of the Lamaze instructor, gently pulling Bella back to lean against my chest.
Bella lets out a deep sigh as she relaxes against me. Her stomach has gotten so big that it's hard for her to move - I know she is definitely tired of being pregnant.
I love having my hands on her stomach, it's so...alive.
Our son moves against my hand. I love when he pushes against me. It's like we have a special bond already.
It's so amazing to me that just eight months ago our son didn't exist, and now he's almost here - a whole new person.
I breathe with Bella as she relaxes in my arms. I know she is nervous about the birth. She's worried the pain will be too much for her and she won't be able to go through with the natural birth she wants.
The instructor talks about other relaxation techniques - like music or having familiar things around.
The rest of our Lamaze class passes quickly, bringing us one step closer to meeting our son.
"Are you surprised?" I whisper in Bella's ear as I lead her to the couch.
"Yes. When did you plan all this?"
"Alice and Mom have been working on this for a couple weeks - they're very excited."
Bella looks around at the smiling faces gathered for our couple's baby shower.
"I can see that," she tells me.
Alice had wanted this to be an all-girls party, but I didn't like the idea of something for our son not including me, so she agreed to a couple's event.
Mom has made tons of food - little bite size things - and she made a beautiful cake decorated with the woodland animals we chose for the nursery.
After we all eat Alice sets us to playing some games. The first game we play is "Guess the Baby Food" - one person in each couple is blindfolded and is fed a sample of baby food by their partner and tries to guess what it is.
To everyone's surprise, Carlisle is the winner - he identified all ten foods correctly.
The next thing we do is decorate diapers - Alice has each one of us use markers to draw a picture or write a saying on plain white disposable diapers.
Bella loves the idea; she thinks it's a great personal touch to, what she informs me is an unpleasant task.
The last game Alice has for us is to guess how big Bella's stomach is.
We each measure out and cut off a length of yarn that we think will fit around her and the closest wins.
Carmen is the closet and I'm second with only an inch of difference between our guesses.
When we open our gifts there are a lot of great things we need; more diapers, clothes, blankets and soaps.
Bella and I are both excited with all the new things, and I know we are both looking forward to using the stuff on our little guy.
"Edward...Edward." Bella is shaking me from a sound sleep.
"What's wrong?" I ask, trying to clear the sleep from my brain as I sit up.
"I think I'm having contractions," she says and the panic in her voice is evident.
"What!?" My mind snaps to attention - contractions equal baby.
I hurry out of bed and slip into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.
"How far apart are your contractions?" I ask.
"The last one was five minutes ago and the first one was eight minutes before that."
"Have you had any other labor signs?"
I can see Bella going through symptoms in her mind.
"Not really. Do you think this could just be false labor?" she asks and I can see tears forming at the corners of her eyes.
I pull her to me and stoke her hair gently.
"I'm sorry I woke you up," she says between sniffles.
"I'm glad you did - I wouldn't want you up worrying alone. Do you want me to take you up to the hospital just to be sure?"
I push back a little, looking down at her face, and I can see she's unsure. I know part of her wants to go, but knowing Bella, she won't want to be a bother.
"Would you like me to call Carlisle? See what he says?" I offer.
She nods and relief crosses her face.
Carlisle answers the phone quickly and I feel a little bad knowing I'm waking Mom up too.
I quickly explain things to Carlisle and he says it's most likely false labor but he is happy to come down and check, just to be on the safe side.
It's only a few minutes until Carlisle is knocking at the door.
Bella has gotten into some pajamas and moved to the couch and Carlisle sits down beside her after coming inside.
Carlisle takes her pulse and asks her about the contraction.
"The last one was fifteen minutes ago," she tells him.
"And how many did you have?"
"Just the two," Bella informs him.
"You haven't had any more since moving out here from the bedroom?"
"No, just the two."
Carlisle stands, a small smile on his lips.
"I would say you are experiencing some false labor - very common in the later stages of pregnancy. I'm glad you called, though. It's always best to be on the safe side."
Carlisle tells us good night and heads back up to the big house and I help Bella from the couch back into our bed.
"Is there anything I can do for you?" I ask.
"Do you mind making me a cup of warm milk?"
I smile to myself as I head to the kitchen. Warm milk with a little honey has been one of Bella's favorites lately.
After heating a cup of milk in the microwave, I add a spoonful of honey and carefully carry it back to Bella.
When I walk into the bedroom, Bella's eyes are just starting to close.
I set the mug on the nightstand and pull the comforter over her shoulders.
"Sorry about tonight," she whispers sleepily.
"I'm not, I'm glad you woke me."
"Still sorry...you were...tired." She seems to be having a hard time getting her thoughts out through the exhaustion.
"I'll put your milk back in the kitchen for you."
She tries to sit back up but I stop her. "Lay back down, you can hardly keep your eyes open."
She sinks back into her pillow with a smile and she's asleep in moments.
I return the cup to the kitchen and put it in the fridge before going back to the bedroom.
I climb carefully back into bed and make sure not to jostle Bella too much. She presses her back into me as I move my arm around her stomach.
I love how she's aware of me even when she's asleep.
I feel a nudge against my palm as I smooth my hand across her skin.
"Hi, buddy, I can't wait to meet you," I whisper. "Try and move carefully - Mommy is already sleeping and she's really tired."
He pushes again and it's almost like he's answering me.
"I love you, little man."
I try to imagine what it will be like to hold him and kiss his tiny cheeks and I feel like my heart will burst with all the love I have for my son and Bella.
"Honey, you don't need to be out here - Edward and I can take care of this," Mom tells Bella as she tries to help her off her knees where she is weeding.
"I'm fine. I just need to do something - I can't sit in the house anymore...I'm going stir-crazy."
I knew Mom was fighting a losing battle. Doctor Amun talked to us about the nesting instinct and Bella is definitely nesting - she can barely sit still this week.
Mom lets Bella be and heads to a different flower bed, but she keeps throwing anxious glances over her shoulder.
I take a break from splitting wood and kneel on the ground next to Bella.
"Will you please take it easy?"
Bella looks up at me, pushing stray hair from her eyes. "Just let me finish this area and then I promise to rest."
"Thank you," I tell her, leaning in to kiss her cheek.
I head back to the chopping block, hoping Bella will take her rest soon.
After splitting several more logs I notice Bella starting to get up and it makes me happy that she is going to take a break.
I watch her walk toward the porch but she stops halfway there, clutching at her stomach.
I plant the ax in the chopping block and rush to Bella's side.
"Are you okay?"
Bella grabs for my hand and I can tell by her grip she is not okay.
"Contraction - definitely not false," she tells me through gritted teeth as I help her to the porch.
I help her sit in one of the rocking chairs on the porch and watch as relief came to her face.
"Tell me when the next one hits and I'll start timing them."
Bella starts rocking slowly and I watch her face for signs of pain.
She closes her eyes and leans her head back against the chair.
A few minutes later, I see her fingers dig into the arm of the chair and she croaks out, "Contraction," through clenched teeth.
I look at my watch, taking note of the time. Bella breathes in through her nose and out through her mouth slowly.
I can see on her face when the contraction stops, her whole expression relaxes.
Now it's just a waiting game - waiting to see if she has more regular contractions, or if this is another false labor.
Bella looks anxious - I know she's hoping this is the real thing...I know she is as ready for this baby as I am.
Her fingers curl on the arm of the chair and I see the pain return to her expression. "Eight minutes," I say out loud, letting Bella know how long it's been since the last contraction.
I watch the pain fade from her expression again.
"I'll go get our bag and then we'll tell Mom we're going to the hospital," I tell her, rising from the chair next to her.
"No, let's wait for one more, just to make sure," she says reaching for my hand.
I stand next to her, holding her hand. It's been six-and-a-half minutes since the last contraction.
I rub my thumb over her hand - waiting.
At seven minutes and fifty seconds from the last contraction, Bella's hand tightens on mine.
She nods, her pain clear.
When the pain subsides, I tell her I'm going to get my mom to sit with her while I get our bag and the car.
I hurry down to where Mom is, completely immersed in her weeding.
I tell her about Bella's contractions and how far apart they are. She hurries off her knees, brushing dirt off herself as we hurry back to Bella.
Mom sits next to her, speaking to her in a low, calming voice.
I walk down to the cottage at a quick pace, trying to keep my mind focused on the task at hand.
It only takes me ten minutes to grab our bag and get the car and pull it up in front of the house.
Mom tells me Bella had another contraction while I was gone.
I help Bella into the car, making sure she's as comfortable as possible.
Mom pulls me into a hug. "I have a few things to square away here, and I'll make sure Max gets fed, and then I'll come up to the hospital."
"Thanks, Mom, I'll see you there."
I can barely contain my eagerness to jump into the car and speed down the road.
Bella is sending Charlie a text when I get into the car - they aren't to the point where they're really talking yet, but they do text on occasion.
I guide the car carefully down the dirt road as Bella sends more texts - I assume to Alice and Rosalie.
The trip to the hospital is nerve-wracking - Bella has two more contractions on the way there and I'm finding it difficult to keep my mind on the road with Bella in obvious pain beside me.
Once at the hospital, I park the car and grab the bag before helping Bella from the car.
I wrap my arm around her waist, supporting her as another contraction hits.
It only takes a few minutes to get Bella checked in and into a room.
The nurse gives us a few minutes so that I can help Bella change into her nightgown before she hooks her up to the monitors that will measure the strength and frequency of her contractions.
Bella's nurse is a really nice woman, a little bit older, a very motherly type and she is sweet to both Bella and me.
Dr. Amun comes to see us after a little while and is pleased with Bella's progress.
She asks Bella again if she sure she wants to go through a natural birth and Bella assures her that she does.
Time seems to slow down as we wait for Bella to progress.
People go in and out of the room as the minutes and hours tick by.
Mom stops in after a while to check on us and see if there is anything we need.
I am amazed by Bella's strength, even as her contractions get stronger and longer she doesn't complain - she just grips my hand tightly and does her breathing.
After several hours of labor with little more progress, Dr. Amun breaks Bella's water, hoping it will force her into hard labor.
It works, and her labor intensifies, hopefully bringing our son into the world sooner.
I feel very useless; there is little I can do to help ease her discomfort. I keep speaking words of love to her and wipe her face with a cool cloth.
When Bella is close to fully dilated, the room comes alive with activity. Dr. Amun arrives in her scrubs and her and the nurse set about getting things ready.
The end of the bed Bella lies in folds away, giving Dr. Amun access between her legs.
I'm not sure what to do as I watch Dr. Amun and several nurses hurry around the room.
I have read all the books I could get my hands on, watched a video of a delivery, attended Lamaze with Bella, but now that we are in the moment, I don't feel prepared enough. I feel like I'm missing something...like there is something more I should be doing.
Dr. Amun checks Bella again and looks up at us with a smile. "You're fully dilated. Are you ready to start pushing?"
Bella nods, her expression a mixture of anxiety and relief. This is the moment we've been waiting for...working for and, even though it will be painful, I know Bella is happy the time has come to meet our baby.
"Edward, I want you to help Bella sit up. Nurse Kebi will help hold Bella's other leg and you hold the one near you."
I can feel the exhaustion in Bella's body as I help her sit up and my fingers grip over hers as together we pull her knee back.
"Alright, Bella, here comes another contraction - I want you to push for five counts."
Bella bears down and I feel the effort she is putting forth as her body trembles while she pushes.
"Great job, Bella. Take a little rest and then we'll push again."
Bella leans back slightly, sweat starting to bead on her forehead and looking even more pale than normal.
"Here comes another one - give me another big push, Bella."
I help Bella sit forward again and she pushes and strains once more, bringing our son a little closer.
We repeat our actions again and again. Each time, I see Bella getting a little more exhausted.
"I can't do this anymore, Edward. I'm so tired."
Tears of fatigue and pain run down her face as she leans her forehead against my arm.
"You're doing great Bella. He's almost here - I can see his head. You can do it," I encourage, rubbing my hand along her thigh.
"I can't, Edward. I can't."
"Yes you can. Look at me, Bella, please."
Her eyes focus on me with difficulty.
"I am so proud of you. You are doing great - just a few more pushes and he'll be here and you can hold him."
A fresh wave of tears runs down her face and she puts her hands back on her knees to push again.
"His head is out. One more big push, Bella, and you've got this," Dr. Amun encourages.
Bella bears down again. I can see the strain on her face as she pushes as hard as she can.
Dr. Amun pulls him the rest of the way out and uses a bulb syringe to clear his throat as Bella falls back against her pillows.
"Edward, do you want to come cut the cord?"
Dr. Amun hands me a pair of scissors, telling me to cut between the clamps.
It's an odd sensation cutting through the spongy umbilical cord.
My son is only making little cries as Dr. Amun lays him in my arms.
I'm overwhelmed when I look down at the brand new person in my arms. No amount of reading could have prepared me for this moment - he is absolutely perfect.
I press my lips to his dark matted hair. I've never been so proud in my life, not even relearning to speak and learning to drive can compare.
Bella and I created this beautiful creature together - I don't even try to stop the tears that are forming in my eyes.
I cradle my son gently in my arms, taking him to Bella and laying him in her arms.
She has never looked more beautiful than she does in this moment - pale and sweaty, with a little smudge of blood on her face where she nuzzled our son. She is an angel.
"Does he have a name yet?" Dr. Amun asks, coming to my side.
"Daniel Henry Masen," Bella says softly, running her finger down his cheek.
My heart is so full right now - I feel like I'll burst.
The nurse steps up to Bella's bedside, telling her she needs to take Daniel's measurements and have the pediatrician check him over.
I can see how much Bella doesn't want to let go as she hands Daniel to Nurse Kebi.
I follow the nurse as she takes Daniel to a small bed with a bright light over it.
A kind-faced man with Dr. Benjamin stitched on his coat comes to Daniel's side as Nurse Kebi lays him on the bed - I assume the man is the pediatrician.
He listens to Daniel's chest and stomach with a stethoscope and then runs his fingers over his limbs and head.
"He's a bit jaundiced. He's going to need to go to the nursery for a bit and lay under the Bili-lamp after he's cleaned up."
Dr. Benjamin gives both Bella and me a smile. "Don't worry, it's very common. You have a very healthy little boy."
Bella's relief is visible on her face - I'm sure mine is as well.
"Go with him," Bella's weary voice sounds from the bed.
I take her hand in mine. "Are you sure?"
"Yes," she says quietly. "I don't want him to be alone."
I press a kiss to her forehead and follow Nurse Kebi as she wheels Daniel from the room in the little bed.
It's only a short walk to the nursery. Once inside, Nurse Kebi wheels his bed to a station with a lamp over it.
"I'm going to get some water and then you can give your son his first bath," Nurse Kebi tells me as she walks away.
He's brought his little fist to his mouth and is trying to find a place to suck, soft noises coming from him as he does.
I run my finger gently up and down his stomach and chest, feeling his little heartbeat against my fingertips.
He's the most amazing thing I've ever seen, and I can't quite wrap my head around the fact that I helped create him - he's so beautiful.
Nurse Kebi returns wheeling another cart - it looks very similar to the one Daniel is in, only instead of a little bed there is a clear tub half full of water.
"Alright, Mr. Masen, you ready to give your son a bath?"
"I...I think so."
Nurse Kebi shows me how to cradle him in the water so his head stays up and his bottom rests in the water. She gives me a soft cloth and tells me to gently wash the blood and goop from his body.
When I get to his head he lets out a loud, angry wail and I feel like it rips my heart in two. I have a new appreciation of my mom and what she must have suffered in my absence. I know with certainty there is nothing I wouldn't do to keep Daniel safe.
When he's washed, I lay him in a towel that Nurse Kebi is holding and she shows me how to put on his diaper, being careful not to bump his belly button too much. She talks with me about the care of his belly bottom as she attaches a monitor to him and turns on the bright lamp.
"Would you like to stay here or go back to Bella?" she asks me.
"I think I'll stay here for a bit." She pulls a rocking chair next to his bed for me to sit in.
"He'll need to be under this light for an hour, then we'll take him back to the room and see if he will nurse."
Now that he's out of the water, he has stopped crying and is sucking his fist once again.
I just sit watching him. I can't take my eyes from him—he's absolutely perfect.
Now that he's washed and dried, I can see that his hair is brown, a bit lighter than Bella's and it curls just a little.
I'm feeling tired as I sit rocking. It's been a long day, but I can't take my eyes off Daniel.
"Mr. Masen…" Nurse Kebi is tapping me lightly on the shoulder, I didn't realize I had fallen asleep. "Daniel can go back to the room now."
Daniel is no longer in just a diaper; he is now wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt with little pouches covering his fists and tiny white socks.
I follow Nurse Kebi from the nursery and back down the hall to Bella's room.
Bella is sitting up eating when we walk in and she smiles weakly at us. She looks so exhausted.
I move to her side and press a kiss to her forehead.
"Are you ready to try nursing?" Nurse Kebi asks, bringing Daniel to Bella's outstretched arms.
Bella takes Daniel gently and cradles him against her, guiding her breast into his mouth.
I'm in awe as I watch the two of them - they are beautiful together.
I can't believe two months have already gone by since Daniel was born.
I love everything about being a dad. I love the little sounds he makes and the way he smells. I don't even mind the middle of the night feedings or the dirty diapers.
"Do you want to get married?" I ask Bella from where I stand in the nursery doorway, watching her rock Daniel.
"Do you want to marry me?"
"Of course. We have plenty of time for that," she says, rising from the rocker and settling Daniel in his bed.
"I meant now."
"Not now now," I tell her, coming to stand behind her next to Daniel's bed. "But soon. I know I want you forever, Bella. I want you to be mine officially."
I slide my arms around her waist and press my face against her hair.
"Okay," she says. "Let's do it - let's get married."
"I don't have a ring. Does that bother you?"
Bella turns in my arms looking up into my face.
"It doesn't bother me at all. Nothing about us has ever been traditional - I don't need a ring. All I need is you and Daniel."
I lean in, kissing her slowly. I can't wait to marry her.
I pull her out of Daniel's room and toward our room, freeing her of her clothes as our lips meet in a heated kiss.
She tugs on my clothes, just as eager as I am.
I pull her down on me as we tumble back onto the bed.
I'm more than ready when she slides down onto me and my hands slip down her silky skin, coming to a rest on her hips, our bodies moving together in such a way I feel shivers race through my limbs.
I love to see her body move and bounce, to hear her sighs and moans.
I love the way she makes my body feel and my heart - she owns every part of me.
We come to a shuttering release together and I pull her face down to mine, kissing her long and slow.
"What kind of wedding do you want?" I ask pulling my lips from hers and rolling us to our sides.
"Just small and simple - our families and a few friends."
"I like the sound of that," I tell her, kissing along her hairline.
"Do you have a date in mind?" she asks.
"Is a couple months too soon?"
"Not for a simple wedding," she says.
"Bella, don't make it simple just because I want to get married soon."
"Edward I want something simple. I've never been a fancy person," she tells me with a sleepy smile.
"Okay, we can tell Mom in the morning. She'll be excited. Will you invite Charlie?"
"Of course, but I'm done worrying about his reaction to everything. He can be a part of our lives or not, that's up to him. I think Daniel is helping things along. Whether he'll admit it or not, I think he likes being a grandpa."
She was right, things had come a long way with Charlie. I think Daniel melted his stubbornness the first time he held him.
Three months pass quickly - Bella and I have both been so busy it feels like we hardly see each other.
Daniel takes up a good chunk of our time and with my job and the bed and breakfast…it's a good thing we are having a simple wedding.
When the morning of our wedding comes it's a typical foggy Washington morning; mist in the air and dew on the grass.
We have breakfast up at the big house with Mom and Carlisle - you can feel the excitement in the air. Bella and I just can't stop smiling.
Bella planned the wedding for midmorning with a luncheon following, so none of us lingered over breakfast.
I walk back down to the cottage alone to change my clothes. Bella and Daniel will stay at the big house to change. I will meet them in the meadow Bella and I like at ten-thirty.
After a shower, I dress in dark blue jeans and a white button-down shirt, leaving it un-tucked per Bella's request.
I walk back toward the main house where Carlisle meets me out front. We walk out to the meadow together. He has agreed to stand up for me and I couldn't think of a better best man.
He told me he was honored to do this for me, but I am the one who's honored - he's a great friend, mentor, and step-father.
A blue and white balloon arch, the minister, and our few guests are the only sign that this is a wedding.
I take my place under the balloon arch and look out at the guests gathered; family and friends...people that have helped us get to this point.
It isn't long before I see Alice walking into the meadow wearing a simple blue sundress, and behind her is my Bella.
Her hair is down around her shoulders and her white sundress fits her body perfectly.
In one hand, she carries a simple bouquet of white tulips and the other supports Daniel where he rests against her hip.
Daniel is dressed just like me - dark jeans and a tiny white button down shirt.
We decided against having any music - Bella and Alice walk to their own beat.
Bella also decided to forgo the tradition of Charlie giving her away. She said it just didn't feel right, but I know she's thrilled that's he's at least here.
My heart beats excitedly in my chest when Bella reaches me, hands her flowers to Alice and takes my hand.
The minister speaks traditional vows and we never take our eyes from each other.
When we are pronounced man and wife, I feel a deep satisfaction, like I'm complete - she is truly my other half.
Our friends and family gather around us hugging and congratulating.
Jasper snaps pictures of us as we hold Daniel between us.
Alice is snapping another set of pictures; each guest is writing a well wish for us on one of the balloons and before they release their balloon into the air, Alice takes a picture of their wish and will put them all together in a book for us.
Slowly people start making their way back to the main house to enjoy the food that Mom and Bella have prepared.
We let everyone else go on ahead of us. I want to enjoy this moment with just the three of us.
"Today has been like a fairytale...this is our happily ever after," Bella says to me, leaning her head on my shoulder.
"I don't believe in happily ever after," I tell her.
"Nope. In fairy tales happily ever after is the end of the story...this is just the beginning."
Bella wraps her arms around my waist, hugging me tightly.
This is our beginning. I know with Bella and our little boy by my side, we have a wonderful life ahead of us.
The End ~XXXX~
A/N: Thank you for reading and please keep me on your author alerts for future projects