PONY BOTTLE

CHAPTER 1: NEW VOICE

A sweet tiny breath rushes up my arm, and I reach out and pat his little bare bum.

Soft mewls come from his body, and I wrap an arm around him and pull the covers up a little bit so he won't get cold. Crap! We forgot to put a cap on his head. That's supposed to be pretty important.

I crank my head over my shoulder and the bucket of birth supplies seems miles away. Dammit! I don't want to get up. I'm exhausted and Bella's out for the count.

But my baby boy is wriggling around. He's not acting hungry but he's definitely alert and active.

And then I feel it . . . A warm, wet sensation spreading and seeping through the sheets and moistening my stomach.

Little man wet the bed.

I smirk at my luck to be lying in bed with a gorgeous woman and the cutest, chubby baby in the world who pees buckets of fluid.

Yeah, he looks like a reconstituted raisin like all newborns do, but he's my chubby-rumped reconstituted raisin and I love the little booger.

"Hhhhhuuuu uuuuhhhh," I sigh a big breath.

I am not changing these sheets. I won't move Bella and wake her, so, more towels it is. I'm sure there are other fluids on the sheets by now anyway and it will need to be changed in a little bit. I'll wait till Alice shows up and we clean this whole place.

I gingerly roll out of bed and get him a diaper, his cap, the olive oil and a fresh towel.

Very carefully, I generously lube up his genitals and the surrounding area so when he passes some more meconium it will come off easily and not stick to his silken, fresh skin. I cover it with the diaper, put his cap on and then spread the towel over his newly marked territory. I lie back down and place him tummy down on my chest and cover us with a blanket.

This moment is perfect. It's like time stands still as I hear my baby breathe, feel him snuggle into my frame and relax into me.

My hand absentmindedly caresses his impossibly smooth and fragrant skin.

"I love you, son," I whisper, kiss his little head and close my eyes . . .

Welcome to the Cullen clan. Be glad I listened to your mother and she birthed you peacefully at home in the water.

~ooOoo~

Slurp, slurp, sluuuuuurrrrrrp!

"Shhhhh . . ." I whine " . . . sleeping, babe."

A soft giggle erupts and my weary eyes open a smidge to see the most radiant beautiful woman I have ever seen breastfeeding what has to be the fattest newborn ever.

I reach out and gently rub his back and Bella beams at me with a softness and tenderness I can't get enough of.

"He's ours," she whispers.

"He's mine. He's on loan to you," I tell her emphatically. "My boy."

"I thought that we shared everything," she teases and looks at me like I'm the most ridiculous man she's ever known. I probably am, but I don't care. That's my boy! I plan to hold him every chance I get and Bogart all of the newborn baby time.

"I don't share your breasts and I don't share my boy. I'm allowing him to eat and you to love on him, but that's it. You both belong to me," I quip. "My equipment."

"Oh, and I guess the fact that I let him live in my womb for nine months gives me no claim on him?"

"Nope. I put him there and I got him out," I taunt her, bragging a little in the process.

"You did not. This labor didn't start from sex," she corrects me. "It broke my water."

Same difference. I roll my eyes at her. Are we seriously going to argue semantics here? "Well, there's always next time," I say with a naughty wink, making light of it.

"No, no next time. We're done." She lays down the law.

"You're only saying that because you just squeezed his fat can out of your body. We're not done, baby, not yet. We just started . . ." I try to convince her. I don't know why but the thought of this being the last baby Cullen really bothers me.

She gives me the look of death like she may lean over and squeeze my groin into submission and obliterate my swimmers.

"Let's not decide on that right now . . . Enjoy the moment," I tell her, cowering every so slightly at the glare she's blasting at me.

Suddenly her demeanor shifts and turns to pain.

"Oh ick! I hate the afterbirth cramps; they're worse than labor!" she moans.

"Want some ibuprofen?" I ask her.

"No . . . I'll be okay. He's got a vacuum for a mouth so it's making the contractions really intense." She closes her eyes and starts doing some deep abdominal breathing.

"You sure?"

She nods her head yes as she concentrates on relaxing.

"Maybe we should go ahead and call Alice since he's nursing well and settled and we've had some time to snooze," I tell her.

She nods her head, and I see her legs stretch and flex, trying to deal with the intense cramping and his strong unwavering suction.

I give Alice a quick call and let her know that we're ready for her onslaught of craziness and manic energy to take over.

It should be interesting to see her reaction to our choice to go it alone. I'm sure she's going to kick me between the legs for leaving her out of the birth.

"We need to name baby D," Bella tells me when I get up and then maneuver in behind her. She shifts forward in the bed, careful not to smother the baby, and I start massaging her back to help her relax.

"I don't think he's baby D. That doesn't sound right to me." Her voice is thoughtful.

"What are you thinking then?" I feel her relax into my touch, and I love knowing that in some small way I'm helping her so she nurse with less stress.

"I don't know. He looks like he owns the place and can conquer the whole damn world with how big he is. How about Alexander the Great," I joke.

"Alec, I like Alec," she says as she tilts her head towards our new seven day lord and master who will run the household.

"Alec . . ." I say, letting it ruminate and roll around on my tongue. "I like it. Okay, Alec it is. Alec, my pudgy Buddha baby."

I give her a kiss on the cheek and keep kneading and working her overtaxed muscles. "You sore, baby? How can I make you more comfortable?"

"I think I want the body pillow from the closet when you get up and I'll need to pee soon. My bladder's getting uncomfortably full but he's not acting like he's going to unlatch anytime soon." She sighs a little with contentment, relieved to not be pregnant any longer.

"Can you blame him? I don't like letting go of those either. Quit being a porn star with those things and then the men in your life will quit hoarding them and fighting over them," I tell her.

"Yeah, Brendon's gonna have to deal with sharing them now," she says, sounding a little overwhelmed.

"He shared them before, he'll do it again," I remind her.

"I know . . . but he was a newborn and didn't have a choice before. Plus, he didn't have a vocabulary so there was no articulating his preference. I'm sure we're going to hear about it now. I've already warned him that if the baby wants to nurse then he'll have to wait until the baby's done. We'll see how well he listens," she says.

The front door is being banged down by what can only be a midget who pretends to be a pixie of a midwife.

"Alice," Bella predicts.

"Let her stew for a bit at the door," I say with a shrug of my shoulders. "I'm too busy enjoying a super model in my bed, who lets me touch her from time to time and occasionally lets me have more," I say with a silly mock, bedroom voice. Waggling eyebrows add to the effect and make Bella giggle. I love seeing her so deliriously happy.

"If she says that I didn't tear, it doesn't mean I'm giving you intimate favors as a celebration of love," she threatens with a delicious smile.

"It sure as heck does," I poke fun at her.

"Answer the damn door before she passes out from exhaustion," Bella insists as she lightly kicks back into my shins.

"Damn, so bossy. What? Did you just give birth or something? Jeesh!" I gripe, playing around.

"Yes, and King Alec says to bring me back a sandwich and a bottle of water," she adds.

"Anymore demands, your highness?" I ask as I caress her back and get in a few more ripe smooches on her cool, slightly dampened neck. She's starting to sweat and get rid of the excess fluids from the pregnancy.

"I'm sure I'll think of something else after you get your sexy butt back in this bed."

"That won't be for a while, 'cause I'm sure Alice will find a million chores for me to do like last time," I tell her. This was why we waited. We wanted time to bond with the new baby and simply be.

"Shorts might be a good idea. She doesn't need to see the merchandise," Bella reminds me.

"Why? It's not like she hasn't seen a naked man's parts before," I taunt.

"She hasn't seen yours and that. Is. Mine," she growls.

"Ooooh, I love it when you get possessive of my equipment."

"Door! She's giving me a headache," she says, waving me on like the pest that I am being. I slip on some clothes quickly and trudge my way to the front door.

Alice tackles me the moment I unhinge the door, and she's blubbering and going on about how mean we were to not let her be a part of the experience.

"Damn, little Keebler elf-girl. Calm the hell down. First of all, we didn't want anybody to burst our little bubble of love, and second of all, I . . . we, are not apologizing to you or anybody else over the way we chose to have our little guy enter the world," I tell her, setting her straight.

"A boy?" she shrieks, not acknowledging a word I said. "You have another penis in this house? Good gravy, Bella . . ." she yells ". . . you need more estrogen in this house!"

"Jeez, Alice, you trying to make my kid deaf? You already knew it was a boy from the ultrasound. Are you high this evening or what? 'Cause you're acting like a freaking lunatic! Quit yelling, or I won't let you near him," I warn her and even as I'm serious, I'm cracking up because Alice is like a headless chicken with no rhyme or reason to her clucking or racing around. She's setting up her tools and putting a pot of water on the stove to boil.

"Oh shut up! We're family now and you can't tell me what to do. I'm practically your sister-in-law. I'm going to see him eventually," she reminds me. Her elopement with my cousin, Jasper, shocked the hell out of a lot of people. They were engaged for awhile and were making necessary preparations for a big wedding, and then out of nowhere . . . upped and did it without a word. I suspect it was Jasper's doing, not so much Alice's.

Family and friends of theirs were in an uproar over it. Not Bella and me, we figured it was their choice and we would respect it.

We suspected something was up when she suddenly stopped texting and calling us all of the time. It was so odd for her and she seemed almost guilty, like she was hiding something when she finally did call. A week later she spilled and shared their little secret.

"Now, tell me all about the birth," she demands as she goes to town scrubbing her hands like she's about to perform surgery.

I give all of the details I can remember and she soaks in every last word like it's her last meal.

"Wow! You guys! Making babies like grown ups and then playing doctor or some crap." She pretends to wipe a tear out of her eye. "Doctor Cullen, I'm so proud of you!" she squeals, mocking me.

"Oh, shut up. That's my dad's name and I'm not a doctor," I tell her. "I'm . . . man, I'm just a husband, and I love my baby and my wife. That's it." Why am I so offended that she called me Doctor Cullen? It feels off somehow . . .

She scrunches her face up at me and then sticks her tongue out petulantly. "You shut up! You're such a softy, Edward, and I love that about you. It's why I keep you around."

And then she marches straight past me with purpose, and I hear her start cooing to the baby and Bella.

I chuckle at myself and how much fun it is to have Alice in the mix. While she's checking on them, I call to spread the news to the rest of the family, talking to Cori first.

"Is mom okay?" she asks sweetly.

"She's perfect and so is your little brother."

"I wish I could have been there," she tells me with longing.

"I know, sweetie. Next time, I promise."

"But mom says she's done."

"She's not one hundred percent certain and I don't think we're done," I inform her.

"Okay." I hear the hope in her voice.

"Why don't you ask your dad or Leah to bring you over after dinner to come and see your new brother?"

"Maybe I should come after the twins go to sleep," she wisely postulates.

"Good thinking. You are so darn smart, you know that? What on earth would we do without you?" I ask her, buttering her up. She's such a good girl, a terrific older sister. Our family really wouldn't work as well as it does without her.

"Can I talk to your brother now?" I ask.

"Sure, dad. I love you," she calmly responds.

"I love you too, Cori. Can't wait for you to hold him. He's a fatty," I add.

"Send some pictures to Quin's phone so I can see him," she suggests.

Cori has taken to calling Jake Quin, short for Quineayla, to differentiate between him, her biological father, and me, her step-dad. It drives Jake nuts but I love it! It's so appropriate of her to choose very different familial titles for us and he's the jackass that made her call him that name in the first place. I love the sweet irony that it turned against him. It brings a hint of a smile to my face when I see him react to it. Priceless!

"Goodness, why didn't I think of that?"

"'Cause you're in la la land over there from the new baby and his sweet smell," she jests. She obviously remembers very well how I was always sniffing the twin's heads after they were born. It's this amazing fragrance that puts me in a happy angelic 'baby' place. Better than baby powder, that's for sure.

"Yes, we are. Okay, baby girl, let me talk to Brendan," I remind her.

"Okay, dad." She pauses and then hollers for him, "Brendan! Dad wants to talk to you!"

I hear him grumble before he gets on the phone.

"Hey, buddy. Your little brother has made an appearance," I inform him.

"He did? Dids he like me?"

"He does. He loves you and he can't wait to meet you!"

He goes straight into toddler mode, immediately making his preferences known.

"Daddy, since dis baby haves a penis like me, he can't touch it and pull on it 'cuz dat can hurt," he informs me. I laugh at my little guy and his new obsession with his genitalia between his legs. Obviously, my telling him to quit pulling so hard on his foreskin has seeped in. "And he be's sharing nana with me but I get to haves nana fiwrst."

"No, that's not what mommy said. She said the baby gets to pick first and then you," I correct him.

"But it's my nana fiwrst, so I get to," he whines.

"You'll still get nana, but the baby doesn't get to eat all of the other yummy things you get to. Can the baby eat popcorn?" I ask him.

"Yes."

"No, he can't. Can he eat yogurt? Or bananas?"

"No! Dat's my yogurt, daddy! He can't have it!" He is now really irate over the conversation.

"Calm down, buddy. He can't eat anything except nana so you can eat your favorite foods and have some nana too, but he gets more nana because that's all he can eat. He doesn't have any teeth and his tongue only knows how to nurse," I explain.

"No teef? Dat's silly!" he scoffs.

"Babies are born without teeth and they only drink their mama's milk."

"Oh. Okay, dat's still silly that he doesn't gots teef, but he'll like nana. Nana tastes happy," he says. He has a way with words for somebody so little; just a little over two years old.

"Can you put Leesy on the phone now?" I ask him gently.

One twin down, now the calmer one to let in on our news.

"She's eating," he says, refusing to be cooperative.

"Okay, let me talk to Uncle Jake then," I say, regrouping.

He doesn't respond and hands the phone to somebody.

"What's the word, idiot?" Jake answers the phone.

"The word is, I'm going to send you some pics of the baby for the kids to see and then I was wondering if you or Leah could bring Cori by after the twins go to sleep tonight and then bring them all home tomorrow morning?"

"I'm not your damn cab service," he fusses.

"Give me a break; do you always have to give me hassle about every damn thing?" I say, pushing back.

"I'm just messing with you. Yeah, we can do that. Don't send me any pictures of the baby with a breast in his mouth, 'cause that's just gross," he whines.

For somebody who used to touch those breasts, he sure is squeamish. "You're such a woos. You do realize that's the sole purpose of a breast, right? Not to get you off, but to feed the younger version of our species?"

"Yeah, and you don't sexualize them?" He throws it back in my face.

"You know I do, every chance I get, but I don't deny that they're a feeding and parenting tool too. It's a multipurpose tool, joker," I educate the stupid fool.

"You better quit swearing so much. I don't want my daughter hearing your crass language," he muses.

"Forget you! Nobody says the f bomb as much as you do," I quip.

"And nobody actually does the f bomb as much as you do, so I'd say you're way worse." He slams me. "You think she needs to pop out your baby every stinking year."

"Yeah, whatever. I know you're jealous," I taunt, unyielding to his jibes.

"Okay, keep your junk stowed away so she can heal herself down there."

I roll my eyes. "So juvenile," I say. "I treat her right and I don't bug her for sex. I wait till she comes to me." And I do. I didn't ever press her after the twins. She told me when she was ready, and I was more than willing to comply with her needs and wishes. Lucky me, it only took three weeks and she was stripping me down and groping at me in desperation.

"Stop showing off. Oh . . . gotta go. Pizza delivery guy is here," he says and he hangs up on me.

"Such a rude jerk," I mutter to my phone as I click the end button and make a call to my mom.

"Edward? Are you bringing the kids by?" my mom answers.

"Oh crap! I forgot to call you about that . . . Um, actually, Jake has the kids and we have news . . ."

~ooOoo~

"I want to see my babies," Bella tells me, gripping my arm.

"You sure? If the twins come home, you know they won't want to go back over to Jakes," I gently explain.

"I know, but I need all of my children here. I want them with me, and I want them to meet their new little brother," she tells me, eyes brimming and overflowing with emotion.

"Okay, baby. I'll call him up and tell him to bring them all home." I give her a satisfied kiss. I feel the same way. I want them here to bask in the moment as well, but I didn't want her to feel overwhelmed with our kids being loud and running around. This feels right though, her request is right on.

I ring Jake up again and he huffs out annoyed that I'm changing the plan.

Joining Bella as soon as I can, I go back to loving on her and the baby and absolutely glut on having them alone. Well, not quite alone, since Alice is in the room but she's busy doing midwifery stuff so she's out of our hair.

Before long, the front door almost bursts open and Jake hollers out he's leaving after I hear him scuffle their car seats in and sets them in the corner. Doesn't bother to come and see the baby. He's out of here so fast you'd think his tail is on fire. It ticks me off he's being so insensitive. Didn't even say hi, the scumbag!

"Such a pansy," I mutter under my breath and roll my eyes. He basically shoved the kids in the door like he couldn't stand them or us. I shouldn't be offended, but for some reason I am. Very much so.

"He's giving us some privacy," she tells me, patting my arm in understanding.

"Since when does he care how we feel? He's too much of a wimp to see you breastfeed and see a newborn. That man is clueless," I say emphatically.

"You wanted him to see me lying in bed naked with my breasts exposed?" she asks, eyebrow quirked.

I take it upon myself to be affronted for both of us. "You're not naked. You're covered in the blankets. He wouldn't have seen anything that he shouldn't have," I tell her, stewing over it. "He's disrespectful. As my friend, as Cori's dad and a part of this family, the polite thing for him to do would be to ask to see the baby, even if he's not into newborns. Most guys aren't, but still. He has no flipping manners," I say, not bothering to mention that he was once married to Bella. For Pete's sake, this feels like a slap in the face and it does not sit right with me at all. And then none of that matters because I hear Cori gasp behind us in awe.

That's my girl! She knows what's up. A new family member has joined us and that's cause to rejoice.

"Watch the language," Alice warns me.

"You're our midwife, not my mom," I chide Alice.

"Well, your kids don't need to be scarred by your inappropriate language when they're trying to get to know the baby," she teases me.

"Whatever! Your potty mouth is just as bad," I tell her. What is it with people telling me I curse like a sailor today? What the f – I mean heck? I'm not that bad.

"Never said it wasn't," she says with a wink and then she ushers the kids over to Bella and the baby. The twins seem really nervous, hesitant.

I wave them over and help put them up on the bed, warning them not to crowd the baby too much.

Alec is sleeping peacefully and Bella's looking drowsy but not quite ready to sleep.

Cori hugs Bella and they kiss happily, sweetly.

"Mom, can I hold him?" Cori begs.

"Sure," she says and hands over the baby and then covers him with a fleecy cream colored blanket so he won't get cold.

"Remember what we said about his neck? It's very fragile so you have to give him head support," I remind her.

Cori nods then goes back to gazing with awe at her little baby brother.

"Aw, he's so cute! What's his name?" she asks, with a pleased, reverential voice.

"Alec," I say and am cut off by a shrill yell from Brendan.

"I want a turn! Me, me!" Brendan starts hopping and rushing across the bed to the baby.

I pick him up and hold him slightly over the baby so he can get a good look.

"I think he should sit when he holds the baby," Bella says warily.

"That's a good idea, mama," I agree.

We finally convince Cori to let go after several minutes of baby blissing from her.

Leesy decides she doesn't want to hold the baby; she's a little trepidatious over the new arrival.

Brendan, who I was most worried about with sibling rivalry, is beside himself and treating the baby with lots of love and respect. He shushes everybody if their volume is even half a decibel over what he deems acceptable. He is protective of his new sibling. My heart swells with pride over my boys instincts to love and keep his baby brother safe.

Not to long after, he gladly has nana alongside the baby. Bella laughs as she watches Brendan grab his baby brother's hand while they both nurse simultaneously; our son looks gargantuan compared to Alec but he is very gentle and pleased to share the liquid gold. It makes for a peaceful moment and everybody seems content.

Everything feels right, until Alice spreads her crazy around.

"Hey guys," she calls with her sing song chirp. "Wanna help me make some art?"

Cori jumps at the chance and is immediately at her side.

"What kind of art?" Cori asks, eyes alight.

"Birth art!" Alice cries in utter excitement.

"Oh, goodie!" I grumble. "Do we have to do this?"

"Yes!" she gives me a reproving, sharp look of disapproval. Alice looks like she might use her umbilical clamp on an appendage of mine if I don't shut it.

"Bella, baby, stop her," I say, turning to my wife who is logical and understands why I don't want this demented thing to take place. I know what Alice is about to do and it's just sick!

Brendan unlatches out of curiosity and leaves Bella for this experimental art project.

"It's up to the kids," Bella shrugs, letting it go. She is too wrapped up in our chubster lying in her arms to worry about trivialities like twisted birth art.

"This is seriously messed up," I mutter and Alice reaches over and smacks me for pseudo-cursing.

"Ow!" I howl. "Sorry, but it's just wrong on so many levels," I tell her, chastising her for her bizarre need to turn birth into art. We didn't keep the belly cast; Alice did. She refused to throw it out so it's probably hanging up in her office or her home or decorating whatever rock she lives under. I don't even want to know what she does with it. If she turned it into a shrine, then that's something I'm better off not being aware of.

"It is not. It's beautiful," she corrects me.

Bella is oblivious to our banter. She's cooing at the baby and touching his fat little arm over and over again and kissing his slight hand.

"I want to help!" Leesy jumps in.

"Okay, we're going to make placenta prints," Alice begins. She turns to me right away and scowls. "No comments from your close minded father." Her supplies are being strewn out on the floor.

"I'm leaving the room," I joke and pretend to head in the direction of the door.

"Fine, you'll miss how enlightened your children become when you let me teach them something useful," she boasts.

"Enlightened? Useful? That's what you call this mess?" I say motioning to her materials that she has ready at her disposal.

"Yes, enlightened." Alice spreads out some thick newspaper on the ground and then lays out big portions of white paper for the kids. Are these eleven by fourteens? Why do we need it to be so big? Son of a bitch, I'll be having horrific nightmares tonight! Alice digs back at me and my skeptical, disapproving looks. "Be glad I didn't make placenta brownies and make Bella eat it. Some cultures make the mom eat the whole thing cooked in a soup or dessert," she says, giving me her platitudes.

"Remind me why we invited her over here?" I whisper conspiratorially to Bella as I sidle up next to her and the baby in the bed, where all of the normal people are. I join in her admiring our handy work that's suckling beautifully again. Kid is thirsty! You'd think with rolls like he has that he wouldn't be so ravenously hungry. But what do I know?

"Okay, here's what we're going to do," Alice starts.

I groan in annoyance. This hippy seriously needs some new hobbies. Her subjecting my kids to this is beyond stupid, it's a waste of paper and time.

Cori doesn't agree; she's mesmerized.

I glance over for a moment and almost want to pack Alice up and send her out the door.

She rubs her gloved hand all over the mother's side of the placenta and spreads a layer of the blood onto her palm. Then she flips it over and coats the baby's shiny side that is all lobed and lumpy.

"Is that blood?" Brendan chokes.

That's my boy! He sees how disgusting this is and he'll back me up on this!

Alice nods and Brendan cheers, "Cool! We're playing with dat blood!"

"Oh great," Bella groans now, joining me in my distaste for this little act of 'quality auntie time' with Alice.

"You hold the paper on the edges and I'm going to print it." Alice grabs what looks like a bloody brain and tries to gently maneuver it onto the paper. It plops down on Brendan's and he giggles. "Ewwww! Squishy!"

Alice explains it's called the tree of life as she lifts it off like a freaky version of a giant stamp. She has it stretched out and gazes gratified by the red inked oversized parchment. It does look like a tree but still . . . yick!

"See? Easy!" Alice says full of pride.

"Can I do it myself?" Cori asks.

I give a skeptical look at Bella. She smiles and shifts her gaze down to the baby.

"Sure, get some gloves and you can do it too," Alice encourages.

"This is getting out of hand," I say to Bella.

"They're your kids," Bella responds, washing her hands free of it all.

"My kids? Um, last time I checked they came out of your body and drank your milk. When did they suddenly become my sole property?" I ask her, cocked brows in defiance.

"Since they started enjoying playing with organs and blood. You're the one that thinks the placenta is cool. I think it's nasty," Bella says. I never said it was 'cool.' I think it's interesting a woman's body can make a new organ that is only needed temporarily. Honestly, it's fascinating. She usually says it should be tossed immediately. We don't freeze it and plant it under a tree like Alice begs us to do no matter how hard she pesters us about it. Really, if it were up to Alice, she'd have us do a lotus birth, but that crud's completely out of control psychotic. Bella and I both agree – not happening! Uh uh. The afterbirth should be just that . . . after the birth and forgotten. We are not attached to the placenta, nor should our baby be.

Cori gets gloved and makes her own rendition of the tree of life. She shows Bella and me. I struggle to keep the wrinkle of displeasure off of my face. Bella kisses her daughter and explains gently that this 'art' is not something that we want to show to a lot of people and that other people might not understand its significance to us.

I snigger at her choice of words, since Bella and I can't stand it and want nothing to do with it.

"That's code for don't hang it on your wall, baby girl." I break it down for Cori.

She nods, not upset in the least. The kids help Alice clean up and then Alice finally puts them all to bed for us.

"Thank the heavens she did something helpful," I tease.

"She means well," Bella says kindly.

"She means to drive me nuts and gross me completely out," I correct her.

"You'll get over it," she tells me.

"Doubt it. Now . . . give me some sugar, baby," I tell my wife and she gives me a light, playful smack on the arm and gives it up.

Oh . . . Man, how I love this woman and our new baby. Alice, not so much. Nah, she's alright, but she's still a pain in my . . .

~ooOoo~

A/N:

I promise this is a very different Edward than any other I've ever written or seen.

Lotus birth, for those of you who are not familiar, is where the placenta remains attached to the baby through the umbilicus and the parents keep it in a basin nearby. They salt and turn it several times a day so it will dry up and then fall off naturally. Some parents feel this is the natural way (I tend to disagree since even wild animals detach the placenta from the baby right after birth, but to each his own). Some parents believe that the baby feels pain and loss when an umbilical cord is detached. It's a unique perspective on birth that I thought I would share . . . Take it or leave it, but it's already out there so sue me!

Thank you all for your love and support in this story. I really appreciate it.

Much love,

Scarlett