"I do...I do..."
The words rushed from Lydia Adam's lips before she had a chance to reconsider. Rodrigo's hands tightened around hers and the muffled laughter of their family, friends, and colleagues looked on from chairs adorned in ribbons and bows. The rest of the official ceremony was a blur. The prayers, candle lighting, and the trip down the makeshift aisle as husband and wife.
The happy couple had purposely kept the affair small.
The Ochoa and Morales' clans alone were enough to warrant renting out at least two floors of a large hotel but they'd managed to keep it to immediate family and fellow officers who also held the title friend. That didn't explain Officer Dewey Dudek's presence, but today she didn't care.
Lydia was huge; her belly erased the distance between her body and Rodrigo's. He still looked at her the same way he had the day they met. He still told her she was beautiful. He even had the unmitigated gall to plan for a second child after their first was born. And she loved him for it all. He was her rock...her destiny...it was sappy and completely unlike her but true. Tears brimmed at the corners of her eyes when they entered the reception. She smiled graciously when she felt like breaking out in a hundred meter dash.
Nothing, absolutely nothing could shake the sincere happiness she felt.
She willingly waddled to the dance floor when the notes of their first song began. Ben Harper's husky voice floated through the speakers and she lost herself in the truth behind the lyrics. By the time the guitar heavy bridge carried them to the tune's end, the floor was covered with couples and she couldn't stop indulging in her husband's lips.
Gave her a sense of overwhelming peace, the clock had finally stopped ticking.
The wedding fiesta was filled with food; empanadas, tostadas, and her grandmother's famous apple cobbler recipe. She leaned back and placed her feet in her husband's lap. A beer would have been good but she enjoyed the sparkling cider in her glass.
"Long way from the vending machine."
Lydia laughed at his impromptu trip down memory lane, "Or the range," She threw her two cents in for good measure.
He shifted her feet to the chair and gripped the dessert plate in his hand, "What do you want next?"
Her eyes traipsed over the spread at the table below the podium, "Flan."
"There are at least six types of flans, which one Lydia."
She smiled, "All of them."
"Greedy," He kissed the top of her head and walked off to fill her request.
Lydia had little time to herself as a miniature Bryant climbed into her lap and curled against her stomach. He had a mop of curly hair like his daddy and bright eyes like his mommy. His spirit was fearless like his namesake and she couldn't help but wonder what features and attributes the babe in her womb would inherit.
Tiny hands rubbed her belly before he bent his head and listened, "Baby."
He moved his ear back to her belly button and she took the moment to sneak a nap.
"It's a girl."
She raised her head to meet Josie's amused eyes. She had heard the tale for years about determining the sex of an unborn child. Until now, they had avoided knowing what they were having, opting for an array of pastels in the nursery, that they would play up with one primary color after the day of delivery.
"I wish whatever it was would just come out already."
Josie pulled a chair next to Lydia. The woman's accent was heavier thanks to the rounds she'd enjoyed at the open bar.
"Did I ever tell you, Rodrigo, kept me in labor for almost twenty - four hours?"
Absently, Lydia stroked young Nate's head, unaware that his eavesdropping session had turned into afternoon naptime for the toddler.
"Stop trying to scare me."
"Seriously, twenty four hours of hardcore labor, two pushes, and he was here."
Mother found her son in the crowd.
"I'm proud of him for the life he's built...the choices he made..." She could the emotion in the older woman's voice, "Thank you for loving him."
Lydia needed to have this baby or shoot a gun immediately because she was turning into a big softie.
She stuffed her face with flan, supervised the organization of their gifts, and collapsed on the queen sized bed of their suite hours later. She didn't have to ask for him to remove her shoes or massage her feet. She didn't fight when his kisses turned into teasing. They had to consummate the marriage.
Her bladder filled around round one and during round two the new case of gas became too much to bear.
Rodrigo rubbed the small of her back but no relief came. She propped her belly up on pillows and that hurt more. She stood and pressed her back against the wall and nothing but a gush of water covering her feet resulted.
"Rodrigo," Her voice was semi - frantic, "I think my water just broke."
There was no time to concentrate on her breathing. Lydia had gone into labor on her wedding night. She delved out orders, who to call, the quickest route to the hospital, "Drugs...I need lots of drugs...I can't do this natural."
He laughed at her. A boyish grin remained on his face and she knew what was on his mind.
She punched him in the arm.
"This is all your fault, mister, let me get a little bit deeper."
She punched him again before the first pang of labor hit. She couldn't breathe, she couldn't scream, she could only grip the handle of the door. The car moved faster and she bit her tongue.
He barely parked the car in the emergency space. The door opened and he scooped her up into his arms. He tried to run but she was heavy and he was still skinny in spite of his junk food eating habits. Somehow they made it through admissions. Their mother's arrived when they moved her into a private birthing room, and by the time her legs were up in the stirrups she was numb from the waist down and ready to push.
Lydia had endured a rocky road on her journey to the new stage of her life. She wouldn't trade the heartbreaks or disappointments. Every laugh and teardrop shed had prepared her for duty. She closed her eyes, gripped her husband's hand, and pushed her chin to her chest.
At one minute past three in the morning, Sofia Aniceta Morales was born.