22

I spent the night in the hospital and had a slew of visitors, some were even my students. Charlie arrived with so many balloons I thought he would take off with the breeze. Everyone wanted to know the same thing, "What's her name?"

A girl from registration showed up twice wanting a name for the birth certificate. Unfortunately Edward was there both times so I couldn't put Laramie Gem. Renee wanted me to send pictures and Elizabeth decided to fly out and help us. God help us!

A nurse came to teach me how to breastfeed, and told me it was a natural birth control, but not to depend on it. I wondered if it would be weird to breastfeed and ten year old. It was late and Edward was rocking her in a chair when I finally brought up the subject.

"So, she needs a name," I observed.

"I have one, but I'm afraid you won't like it," he said sadly.

"Did your mother come up with it?" I asked, because yeah, I wouldn't like it.

"No, when she was born it just came to me."

I hope he wasn't trying to use the 'open line to God' card, because that wasn't fair at all. I waited for him to say it and he held out a tortuously long time.

"I was thinking maybe…Angel Marie?"

I leaned up on my elbows and said it a few times, "Angel Marie Masen," it wasn't bad, in fact I had called her Angel already so I kind of felt responsible for the name. I smiled up at Edward and saw relief all over his face.

The name game was officially over and we both came out winners, just like the marriage game. It was now time to move on to the Grandma game, and this one was not going to be pretty.

We took our angel, Angel, home the next day and she looked so tiny in her crib. Edward and I stared at her forever. She was so beautiful, I mean Edward and I were decent, but she was breathtaking. I was resting in bed when I heard the doorbell ring. I sat up and strained to hear if it was the wicked witch of Chicago.

I heard Big E's voice and fell back onto the pillow and groaned. I was emotionally fragile with swinging hormones; Elizabeth was the last thing I needed. Edward showed them to their room as I got up to get Angel. I tried to put on a smile and ran into him in the hallway.

"You didn't need to get up," Edward said, meaning please don't fight with my mother.

"I'm afraid she'll hand my baby over to a cult," I said, and Edward gave me a stern look.

We went downstairs and waited for the Grands to come down to meet our Angel. They walked into the room with big smiles and for the first time I had hope. "Can we see your church?" Lizzy asked.

"I want to hold the baby first," Big E said. I really liked him so much more than her.

I passed my daughter into his arms and he beamed with pride. "She has your eyes son," he observed.

"I suppose she had a name," Liz said as she glanced at the baby.

"We named her Placenta," I said to mess with the woman. Edward didn't find it funny, but Big E did. He laughed loudly and L smacked his arm. I was beginning to loathe the woman.

"Her name is Angel Marie," Edward announced with pride.

"What a beautiful name," Gramps admitted and Grams nodded in approval.

At least that went well! I was certain it was all downhill from there. Edward took them to see the church and I sat in the rocker and fed Angel. When they came back I had a privacy blanket over my shoulder to keep them from seeing my breast. I thought it was conservative of me, because I didn't care if they watched my daughter eat.

L was appalled and looked away before asking me to get decent. It wasn't like I had my legs spread eagle in front of a fan, I was nursing my daughter! "I am decent," I said adamantly.

"You should consider bottle feeding your baby since Edward is a servant of God," she informed me.

My mouth was literally gaping open and I looked at my husband to see if he was in agreement. He shook his head so softly I'm sure his mother didn't see. "This is how God created women to feed their babies," I said, positive I was right on this one. "I'm sorry if you see your breast as sexual toys and not as nutritional …."

I didn't even get to finish, she gasped loudly and covered her mouth, as if she had said the nasty word sex, not me. I was done being proper and said, "Oh come on, don't tell me big E doesn't lock onto one of your tits once in awhile."

I looked back and forth between them as L staggered a bit and big E lowered his head and smiled. I decided to really rock her world by saying, "I better not hear you two jumping on the bed tonight."

Big E couldn't contain his laughter and his other half stomped out of the room in humiliation. "Way to go grandpa," I said and he nodded. Edward was totally confused and it was okay, he spoke from the pulpit about things that confused me so we were even.

The main problem of having four adults in the house with a new baby was giving everyone enough time to hold her and love her. I would pull the mommy card often and pretended like I needed to feed her just so I could hold her again.

She was such a sweet baby and cried very seldom. I wondered if she was saving up for her teen years and then all hell would break lose. We actually didn't need Lizzy's help, since Angel was such an angel. How do you tell a living martyr she can leave?

I was never into fashion as much as Alice and Rose, but I had a blast changing Angel's outfits several times a day and then taking pictures of her. Big E teased me that I was going to blind her from the camera flash, but I wanted to capture every moment.

On her baptism day I dressed her in a long flowing gown and handed her to Edward in front of the entire congregation. He held her in his arms and my lips quivered when I heard him ask me and the Godparents, Rose and Emmett, to make our covenants of baptism. He smiled at me and baptized his daughter with tears streaming down his face. I never loved him as much as I did in that moment.

We had a party after the service and Lizzy made a point of grilling Rosalie on her position as Godmother. "Do you have children?" she asked.

"No, Emmett and I only recently married," Rose said with a smile.

"But isn't he your third?" she asked and then looked Rose up and down.

"My other two husbands died," Rose admitted.

"Mother," Edward said, "Rosalie is a wonderful woman and she'll be a great Godmother to Angel."

It made me happy to hear Edward defend Rose and put his mother in her place. I had no idea why she was condemning Rose, she didn't even sleep with two of her husbands. Rose mention Angel needed a diaper change and I told her the diaper bag was on my bed. Lizzy ran up to get it for her and came downstairs with an upset look on her face.

She handed Rose the bag and pulled Edward to the side of the room. "What is that horrid thing in your room?"

Hey, I don't care how rich she was, I wasn't horrid. "It is Bella's sofa," Edward replied, letting me know she wasn't talking about me. But it was just as bad for her to be talking about O.J.

"It isn't just a sofa," I said loudly. "O.J. is a work of art and I don't care how much you beg you can't buy him."

Lizzy's eyes grew wide and she looked at big E. "It is a filthy, offensive thing most likely covered in germs."

It wasn't true. I had O.J. cleaned on several occasions, once even professionally. It looked germy, but it wasn't. I stood and put my hands on my hips. "You don't mind sleeping on a mattress we got out of the city dump," I lied.

I knew by simply saying that she was imagining things crawling all over her body. Edward quickly spoke up. "The bed is brand new and Bella has an emotional attachment to the sofa. It is important to her."

I waited until Edward left the room to throw out the dirty diaper before saying to Elizabeth. "I've had mind blowing orgasms on it, so I want to keep it forever."

"Surely before you met my son," she said, to unintentionally cut down her son's virility.

I began to laugh and heard Edward coming back so I said quickly. "He paid me for sex on the island and that is how we fell in love."

I took Angel from Rose's arms and left the room before Edward got there. I took my daughter to my room and fed her as I lounged on O.J. It was perfect until Edward came into the room and shook his head at me. "My parents are planning to leave tomorrow; do you have any idea why?"

"None at all," I lied, with my daughter listening.

"You don't think telling my mother her Pastor son was paying a prostitute could have anything to do with it?"

"Well, I'm sure you repented honey," I said, and flashed my great feeding apparatuses at him.

"What am I going to do with you and my mother?" he said as a rhetorical question.

Hopefully he planned to do totally different things with us, or germy O.J. was the least of his problems.

After two weeks of hell the Masens left. Angel was already so much bigger that grandma actually cried at the thought of missing out on how much she was going to change. Hmm…who knew she actually had a heart?

I was making dinner one night and had Angel in her carrier on the counter when Edward came in. He walked over to both of his girls and gave us a kiss. He got Angel out and held her as he watched me cook. I glanced at him and felt such overwhelming peace in my life. I smiled and said, "Guess what?"

"What?" he asked with his own smile.

"I think I want another baby right away," I admitted. We hadn't even done the horizontal hump and I was already planning another baby. It surprised Edward and he his smile fell. "I thought you wanted kids by the dozen?"

"I just feel so overwhelmed by Angel that I want to give her all the attention she deserves. I think we should wait several years," he said and I dropped the knife I was using. This was a whole new attitude and I had no idea where it was coming from. Did he really not want to have sex with me for years?

I looked down at my still shrinking stomach and thought I was disgusting to him. Maybe seeing childbirth turned him off so much he could never get it up again. I tried to remain calm, but when I felt my milk begin to flow I began to cry.

Edward rushed over and used one arm to hug me. "I'm gross," I cried.

"Gross? No, Bella, you're beautiful," he said to console me.

"You want to go years without having sex," I said as I gasped for air.

"I didn't say that, I just think we should use condoms," he offered.

"Do you think our baby is ugly?" I asked, because I had no idea why he didn't want more.

"She is the most beautiful baby in the world," he said with pride and moved to put her back into her carrier so he could deal with my meltdown. I felt silly for bringing up the subject of another baby and also like my world would end if I didn't have one.

Edward walked me from the room and up the stairs to get into bed, but not to work on another baby. He finished making dinner and brought it to me in bed. I was so lucky to have such a great guy, Jake would never let me talk crazy and then reward me for it.

23.

When Angel was three months old Rosalie announced her own pregnancy and Alice announced her engagement. It was funny how much the retreat had changed our lives in just one year. Edward and I had made one trip; we took Angel to meet Grandma Renee. She spoke baby talk the entire weekend and I was never so happy to leave somewhere in my life.

Angel's hair remained dark and her eyes were grey like Edward's. People would stop me in the grocery store to tell me how beautiful she was, almost like they were surprised. It hurt my ego a bit. She was the light of our life and we spent every day enjoying watching her grow.

When she was six months old I got the flu. I woke up and climbed into the shower, but before I could pee I vomited all over. I learned an important thing that morning; vomit does not just go down the drain. I had to clean out the shower before Edward would get in and I was not happy about it since I was so sick.

Edward had a busy day planned and I needed someone to watch Angel and take care of me, so I called Rose. She was wearing maternity clothes, but actually just looked like she had a full meal not like she was carrying a baby.

She also refused to come into my room, terrified she would get sick. Rosalie had one fear in life, vomiting. When she first got pregnant she would call me everyday crying because she was so nauseous and afraid to throw up.

When she put Angel down for a nap she looked in on me. "Do you need anything?" she asked.

"I'm bored, sit down and talk to me," I begged.

She actually sat in the doorway and I glared at her. "I don't want to get sick. I may never have another baby just because of morning sickness."

"I never had it," I told her, feeling superior and certain Angel would be better than her baby.

"You're so lucky. The only positive thing about pregnancy is not having a period. I don't miss that," she said.

"If you breast feed you don't have a period either," I informed her.

"Really? Then how do you know if you get pregnant again?"

I sat up in shock and realized I was feeling so much better, hungry even. Rose began to laugh and fell to the side as she pulled her phone out of her pocket and called Alice. I was trying to remember every single time Edward and I had sex without a condom. We were pretty good, but not perfect. I assumed the breastfeeding would make up the difference.

"Alice, guess who's pregnant?" Rose said into the phone.

"No," I yelled, terrified Jasper would tell Edward before I could. "Don't Rose."

"Um…let me call you back," she said and hung up. "Why can't I tell Alice?"

"Because I don't know if I am and the last thing I need is Edward finding out."

"I thought he wanted a dozen kids?" she chuckled.

"He told me he wanted to have just Angel for awhile. He even agreed to use condoms…sometimes."

"Sometimes? Well, tell him you're kind of pregnant because he sometimes used a condom."

I had no idea why I was still sitting in the bed. I wasn't sick so I jumped up and got dressed. I couldn't drive past the church or Edward would see me. I couldn't send Rose or he would think Angel was alone as I lay sick in bed. I looked at Rose and said, "Call Alice and tell her to bring a test with her."

I waited for over an hour for Alice to show up. I grabbed the test and ran into my bathroom to pee on the stick. I set it on my vanity and went back into the bedroom to wait. I couldn't look so I had Alice do it for me. She came out with a big smile and said, 'Congratulations."

"Oh God," I cried, and then literally began to cry. I felt like I had betrayed Edward and I had no idea how to tell him. I also knew the name game would come up again and since I was sick it was most likely a boy this time.

I was in a full blown panic attack when Angel woke up from her nap. I went into her room, missing her all morning, and got her out of her crib. I took a deep smell of my baby and smiled widely. "Do you want a brother?" I asked her. She reached up with her little hand and grabbed hold of my nose. "I'll take that as a yes," I laughed.

Edward got home while I was bathing Angel and stood in the doorway to watch me. Angel laughed and waved at him as he beamed with pride. "You are so beautiful my Angel," he told her.

"Imagine a tub full of kids," I said slyly.

"I'm not greedy," he said, "I feel lucky with her."

It wasn't fair to me that he swung back and forth between his values. If a Minister doesn't believe in birth control and wants a full house, he should stick to it.

"There's food in the oven warming," I told him.

"I'll get it later," he said and came over to the tub to help me dry off Angel. He carried her to her room and talked to her while I dressed her in pajamas. I went to nurse her on O.J. while he made a plate of food. He brought it into the bedroom to eat and smiled at me.

"Imagine having a little boy running around here," I said out of the blue.

"There will be, someday," he said.

If he only knew that day was a lot closer than he thought. I finished feeling Angel and put her down for the night. I came back to the room and Edward finally realized I was no longer sick.

"Are you feeling better?" he asked.

"Yeah, I think it is something bigger than the flu," I hinted.

"Maybe you need an antibiotic," he said stupidly.

"I'm pretty sure I'll need a hospital for this," I mumbled.

Edward's fork froze in mid air and he looked at me as if he was going to cry. "What's wrong?" he asked, thinking I had cancer or something.

It was sweet and I wondered if he would let me move O.J. into the living room if I went along with his assumption. I could say I had a tumor in my stomach that was growing quickly, sucking the life from me until and miracle cure could be found…but how would I explain the little boy sleeping in a crib next to Angel?

"It's not my fault," I blurted out loudly.

He looked so confused and totally lost as he shook his head back and forth. His fork was still in mid-air so I walked over and pushed it down. "You lied to me," I said forcefully. "You told me I would be having a lot of babies, and then when I do you decide to be all conscientious about the planet."

"What are you talking about?" he asked. "I have never lied to you."

"Then why don't you want a baby?"

"It isn't that I don't want a baby, I just thought we would enjoy Angel as much as possible. I absolutely want more children," he said.

"Good, because you're getting more," I announced.

He stared at me as the puzzle pieces began to fall into place, and I had to admit he was sure taking a long time to get it.

"Are you pregnant?" he asked softly.

"Will you be mad if I am?" I asked.

"Mad?" he laughed. "Why in the world would I be mad?"

He pushed me over the edge with his question. I was doing back flips to keep up with his mind changing. Did he want a child or not? If I knew his decisions changed so easily I would have put forth much more effort on the island to seduce him. Like there was more I could do beyond giving him a front row gawk at my squawk.

"I took a pregnancy test and it was positive," I said softy with my head down.

"Are you sure?" he asked.

I was ready to lay into him and tell him I wasn't stupid, but then I realized I let Alice read the stick, so I ran into the bathroom to check. I brought it out to show him the proof he wanted. He held it in his hand and then looked up at me.

"It's positive," he said, so I guess now it was true.

I nodded and he picked me up off the floor and spun me around as he hollered loudly. "This is the greatest news in the world," he yelled.

It was good, but come on, the greatest news in the world? I think not.

"I'm no longer set on Barnabas," he said to my relief, "but I like Wilber."

Oh God, here we go again!

That was many years ago, and now we were sitting down to dinner with our family. We had four girls, and I was pregnant with our fifth. Angel was seven, Rachel was six, Gracie was four and Laramie was two. If Edward wanted to name this daughter Barnabas or Wilber, I didn't care.

"Rachel, will you say grace," Edward instructed.

Rachel turned to look at her sister and said, "Hi Grace."

Yeah, Rachel was just like me. She was our problem child and exasperated Edward often. Each one of the girls had such unique personalities. Angel was our overachiever, Rachel our tomboy, Gracie our flighty child and Laramie was our artist.

"I'll say it daddy," Angel said, because well, she's an angel.

"I heard some good news today," Edward announced. "Grandma and Grandpa Masen are coming to visit."

"Maybe you should have told us the good news you heard today first," I said, and Rachel laughed.

"I want you girls to keep your rooms clean and be respectful while they're here," he said and looked directly at Rachel.

"Yeah Laramie," she said, "No pooping your pants."

"I not poop my pants," Laramie said with her bottom lip sticking out.

"Daddy, can I have a monkey?" Gracie asked.

"No dear," he said, without explaining why not.

"Monkey's are dangerous honey," I explained. "They bite."

"Gracie used to bite and we kept her," Rachel said.

"She didn't know any better," Angel said to defend her sister.

"I love each one of you way more than a monkey," Edward said as he ate.

I looked across the table and my wonderful husband. The man I happily had five babies with. The man who turned my heathen life into a religious one, without ever condemning me or pushing me. He caught me looking at him and smiled.

"You look beautiful Bella," he said and all the girls turned to look at me. "Just like the day I met you."

"Where did you meet mommy?" Angel asked him.

"In Paradise," he answered and I shook my head in disagreement.

"No, I met daddy on an island. He married me and brought me to paradise," I corrected.

It wasn't a lie, it was the truth. I thought I had everything in life I needed or wanted. I had two great friends, my education, my own place to live, and a job… of course, O.J. too.

But Edward came into my life and made it so much better. He gave me purpose, and love, and everything wonderful that I cherished. I could only hope our girls find love similar to ours. I got out of my chair and walked over to kiss him as the girls screamed and giggled.

"I love you," Edward whispered and touched my growing stomach, something familiar to him. I was lucky he wasn't like Henry the eighth and had me beheaded for having all girls.

Deep down I felt that God wasn't happy with Edward's name choices either and we were blessed with girls to keep the world free of a Barnabas and a Wilber…but I could be wrong.

Maybe we were part of a bigger game and we would keep having girls until we caved? But Edward and I weren't quitters and we played the game better than anyone around, so if it took ten girls to have a boy, it was game on!

The End.