Day four of our family vacation. The last time we took a vacation I felt thin and sexy in a bikini. I was full of energy. But right now, I feel like a fat injured cow. I'm really not that big yet, it could just all be in my head. It doesn't help that I am sitting poolside in my bathing suit and cover up with an ace bandage wrapped around my wrist. It isn't broken, just strained. I fell down this morning as we were leaving the dining area after breakfast. We had flown into Miami early this morning, checked in and then took in some breakfast while our luggage was sent up to our suite. As we were walking through the lounge that led to the elevators, I lost my balance and fell down two steps. Christian of course was horrified. He immediately bounced into action and had the hotel doctor check me over. I had a cut on my knee and my wrist was sore. X-rays were taken and we were both relieved to find out that it wasn't broken. I'd rather not be injured at all, but I suppose I should be grateful that it isn't worse.
I can't pick up my baby girl or swim while my wrist is sore. I'll also need to be careful while in bed with my Fifty tonight. I hate knowing that he will want to take it easy tonight with my injury. I was looking forward to some of our kinky fuckery since we are in Miami, and we will have our own room to sleep in. Our suite has three bedrooms and two bathrooms, perfect for our current family of five. Teddy will take one room, the girls will take the other, and Christian and I will take the master. Our security is occupying a few of the rooms that are close to our suite. Carrick and Grace were so gracious to offer their vacation home to us, but we declined since we wanted to stay in South Beach where the shops and restaurants are. This hotel has the convenience of a gym and spa, indoor and outdoor wait staff, pool and beach access, evening entertainment, and of course room service.
Christian had ordered a virgin Pina Colada for me without my knowledge. The waitress had brought it over to me and assured me that there is no alcohol in it. My husband can be so sweet. I know he did it to cheer me up. I also have a glass of water, which the waitress keeps filling for me. My husband insists that I stay hydrated since we are out in the summer heat. Right now I have the umbrella shading me from the sun's rays. It feels so good to sit in the sun, but it had gotten too hot. I needed a break from it.
I've been watching my kids play in the pool, all four of them. Teddy and Phoebe have been taking shots at the basketball hoop. Christian has been tossing Natalie up in the air and catching her as she hits the water. I can't get enough of the sound of her laugh. It is music to my ears. I hate being stuck sitting out on the fun, but the sight before me just brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes.
My mind takes me back to a time when we were here with Teddy and Phoebe. Teddy had just turned eleven and Phoebe was eight. There was a basketball hoop at the poolside then too. Teddy was making a lot of great shots, but Phoebe wasn't able to make any. She grew upset and even started to cry since Teddy could make several baskets and she couldn't even make one. The hoop was slightly high over the pool water in the five feet deep area and out of her reach, so she couldn't even make a shot when she attempted it up close. That is when my Fifty jumped on the scene. He swam over to her and surprised her by coming up underneath her so that she was sitting on his shoulders. He told Teddy to pass the ball and kept her on his shoulders until she was able to make a few baskets. Phoebe was so happy. I can remember the smile on her face when she finally made her first basket, even if it was with a little help. I can remember how proud and pleased Christian was with himself for making her feel better. Even Teddy was happy about it. It was definitely a joy to see. After that, we decided to play two on two. Teddy was on my team and Phoebe was with her father. I don't remember who actually won, but it doesn't matter.
I sip my Pina Colada and watch as my husband brings Natalie out of the pool and removes her vest. Even at forty nine he is still as sexy as he was at twenty seven with his perfect abs and athletic build. His copper hair and blue swim trunks are dripping wet. He looks like he just stepped out of a sexy swimsuit add. He picks up our daughter and carries her over to me. I get her towel ready and open it for her. He places her in front of me on the lounge chair and I wrap the towel around her, giving her a squeeze as I do it. She starts to shiver. The shade can be pretty chilly when you are wet.
"Can you bring down the umbrella" I ask my husband. He happily obliges. As soon as the warm sun hits us my baby girl stops shivering and relaxes against my chest. "Did you have fun with Daddy in the pool?" I ask her and she nods. It is her nap time, which is probably why Christian brought her over to me. Even without wearing his watch he knows what time it is. At first I think he will go back into the pool with our other kids, but he surprises me when he takes the lounge chair next to mine and orders himself a drink.
"Don't you want to go back in the pool?" I ask him. He shakes his head.
"I will, but for now I want to lounge with my wife." He smiles at me. My, how I love this man. "How's your wrist?" I frown. I knew that was coming.
"It's still a little sore. I'll take some more medicine when we're back in the room." Unfortunately the only medicine I can take is Tylenol, which isn't very strong, but it's something. I'll just have to do my best to rest it like the doctor told me to. I guide Natalie up the chair so that she is resting her head on my chest. I stroke her wet hair as she starts to nod off. "We should put a dry diaper on her before she falls asleep" I say to my husband. He agrees and retrieves one of our bags from behind the chair. He helps me change her out of her wet bathing suit and swim diaper and into a dry diaper and cover up. He then helps her settle next to me and she is instantly asleep.
"Do you want me to take her, put her on another chair?" he asks me when he notices that she is out.
I smile and stroke her wet hair again. "No, I like having her cuddle with me." The waitress brings Christian's drink and he relaxes in his chair. We watch the kids in silence as they continue to play with the basketball and hoop.
I relax and my mind takes me back to yesterday while we were in Disney. We had visited Epcot for the first part of the day, and then spent the rest of the day in Magic Kingdom. We tried to squeeze in as many rides as possible. We took advantage of Fast Pass for some of the rides and stood in long lines for the others.
Christian had the task of standing in line with Natalie for the Dumbo ride. I remember he had to do that with Phoebe when she was little and there was no Fast Pass for any of the rides. It's a real shame to stand in line for over an hour, only to enjoy a ride that lasts about three minutes. Christian had to hold Natalie for most of the hour. A two year old can only stand for so long. She had behaved really well during our vacation, Christian just couldn't say no to going on that ride with her. He graciously stood in line with the other parents and screaming kids.
He held Natalie to his chest and I watched from afar as they had a conversation. Christian never told me what they were talking about, but I can tell whatever it was he was amused by it. When they were finally on the ride, it was well worth it to see my baby girl's face. She loved it, and of course she was sad when the ride was over. She wanted to ride again, but Christian had managed to focus her attention on the next few rides, Small World and Peter Pan's Flight.
We didn't have to wait in a long line for Small World. I know it wasn't Christian's thing, but he would do anything for his kids. He took Natalie on that ride again later in the day while I walked with Teddy and Phoebe to some rides that they wanted to go on. It was times like that when I appreciated having security with us. Somebody to talk to while my husband and kids were on rides. We met up again and went on the Carousel of Progress. All three of my kids liked that ride. We couldn't get that song out of our heads. 'There's a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day.' I chuckle as I realize that the song is still in my head.
"Something amusing you?" Christian asks me, pulling me out of my day dream.
"I was just thinking about Disney" I tell him, and he smiles. You can't think of our kids in Disney and not smile. We had a wonderful time. It was difficult to leave, but I know we will enjoy our time in Miami, relaxing during the day and dining at night. "What were you and Natalie talking about, when you were in line for Dumbo?"
He looks at me puzzled for a moment as though not understanding the question. "When we were in line for Dumbo?" he asks me. It seems he is avoiding the question, but I'm not sure why.
"Yes, you were both talking" I tell him, and he shakes his head. "And whatever she said made you smile."
"Baby, everything that comes out of that child's mouth makes me smile. But I don't remember what we were talking about."
I find this hard to believe and I feel myself getting frustrated, angry even. "How can you not remember? It was just yesterday."
Christian can see that I am frustrated and his eyes and facial expression soften. "Ana, I'm sorry but Natalie says a lot of things lately. I don't remember exactly what we were talking about when we were in line for Dumbo."
I don't accept this and I start to pout.
"Don't pout" he tells me, which only fuels my anger.
"I'll pout if I want to" I snap back. Oh boy, it's very rare that I snap at my husband like this. I'm sure I'll pay for it later. I expect him to glare at me for my defiance, but instead he nods and finishes his drink. He stands and removes the towel from around his waist. "Where are you going?" I ask him angrily. Whoa, Calm down Mrs Grey.
"I'm going to use the restroom" he says calmly. "And then I'm going to join our kids in the pool." He walks behind me and puts the umbrella up again to shade me and Natalie from the sun. He then leaves me alone with my thoughts. What just happened?"
Rather than argue with my wife, I decide to walk away, but not before raising the umbrella. Ana shouldn't spend too much time in the sun, and I don't want my wife and daughter to get a sunburn. I know that walking away isn't a practical solution to our problems, but in this case it is the only thing I can do to not fuel her anger even more. I am quite capable of doing that with my own temper, and getting her upset is not good for her or our babies.
I'm not quite sure what my wife is upset about, but I plan to talk with her about it later when we are both calm. I remember from her previous pregnancies that she can grow easily upset and frustrated at the smallest things. And once confronted with those things, she would feel completely ridiculous and then upset for being upset. I've been able to learn patience over the years, between seeing my wife through three pregnancies and having an emotionally fragile daughter. But I also lose my temper at times.
After leaving the rest room I join my kids in the pool. We spend some time playing basketball with the poolside hoop. I have to laugh when Phoebe mentions that the hoop doesn't seem as high as it used to be. She's still petite but not quite as short as she was when she was eight. We take turns shooting and I find that my kids are quite good at it. Teddy challenges us to a game of 'Horse', and of course he wins. We've never put our kids in organized sports, but they have had some experience with playing sports with friends and in gym class. Phoebe takes a break from the pool and tells me she's going to sit in the sun. I remind her to put lotion on. I know she wants to roll her eyes at me, but instead she just lightly smiles and nods. Teddy and I stay in the pool and swim some laps. We race a few times and I come out on top. He might have taken me at a game of 'Horse', but I will always come out on top when it comes to swimming.
I take the lounge chair next to my mother after taking her umbrella down. Natalie is asleep next to her, but she is covered up and safe from the sun. I dry off and rub some lotion on myself. I would like to get a tan, but I know Dad would have an ulcer if I get so much as a spot of sunburn. I notice that my mother seems upset, but when I ask her about it she says she is fine. I don't believe her, but I know better than to press the matter further. If something is up with Mom, I'm sure Dad will press it out of her and do everything possible to make her better.
I sit and lie down on the lounge chair next to her. Each chair has a big comfy cushion. I could fall asleep out here. I look down at my two piece bathing suit, still amazed that Dad would allow me to wear something like this out in public. He's never been a fan of me showing so much skin. I'm usually made to wear a one piece bathing suit anytime we visit a vacation spot. This is a first.
"Mom, did Dad really pick this out for me?" I ask her. This is one of the bathing suits that my parents had bought for me when they announced that we were taking a vacation.
She gives me her loving motherly smile as she strokes Natalie's hair. "Yes. It took some arm twisting for me to convince him that it was time to let you wear a two piece bathing suit on vacation. I reminded him that you'll be eighteen soon and that there are some things that he'll need to compromise on."
"I'm sure he wasn't too thrilled about that" I saw sardonically.
"No, he wasn't" she confirms. "Neither of us is thrilled with you and Teddy growing up so fast. But we know we can't stop you." She reaches over and puts her hand on my arm, and I look back at her. "Just please allow us to go along for the ride. You are still our kids."
I smile at her as she pulls her arm away. Of course I'll want my parents with me along for the ride. Other kids can't wait to get away from their parents, but not me. A big part of me will always need them. And I'm relieved to know that that is okay.
Once we are in our suite, I quickly shower and then skype with Rebecca. I am having a great time with my family. I rarely get to see them so I know I desperately needed this week to reconnect with them. But I am missing my girl. I've become used to being with her every day. This week has helped me appreciate my family even more, and also appreciate my girlfriend more. She appears on my computer screen and I feel myself melt. My body misses hers. I miss her voice, her touch, her smell, her lips. I miss all of her.
"Hi Baby" I say to her. Wow, I sound so desperate. Easy there, Teddy.
"Hi" she says back to me. I've missed her voice. It's only been a few days. I can't believe I miss her this much. "How's my man doing in Florida?"
"Missing you" I admit. "But I'm having a good time. I really needed this time with my family. How's your Dad?"
She sighs and rolls her eyes. "He's so overbearing. He won't let me do anything. He's just as bad as you."
"Careful" I warn her, and then I manage to smile. "He just loves you baby, as do I. We both know you well and we know you will push yourself beyond your limits."
"You know my limits too well, Teddy Grey" she says to me teasingly.
"That I do. And I look forward to the day that I can start testing them again. But not a moment too soon, you hear?"
"Yes Sir" she says to me, and I immediately feel myself harden. What is this girl doing to me? "I wouldn't want to jeopardize my health. I want to make myself good and strong and ready for my man. I'm just so grateful that you are playing this waiting game with me."
"Baby, I would do anything for you. You know that." The truth is, I wouldn't have it any other way. This is the girl that I want, no one else. I can't believe I am feeling this way at my age. I'm only twenty, but this girl has managed to weasel her way into my heart over the past two and an half years.
"I would do anything for you too. I love you Teddy."
"I love you too."
After we get Natalie bathed, Ana showers while I dress Natalie and have her sit in Phoebe's room with her toys. While I would love to join my wife in the shower, I am trying to give her some space. I check my blackberry and it is full of emails. I manage to get through some of them before I hear my wife call for me. I immediately toss the blackberry on the bed and walk into the bathroom to see what she needs. I slide the shower door open and see that she is upset again, and all I want to do is take her in my arms and comfort her. But I know she doesn't want that. "What's wrong, Baby?"
She shakes her head. I think she's embarrassed. I reach my hand into the shower and gently stroke her arm, coaxing her to talk to me. "Can you wash my hair?" she asks me tearfully. I nod and remove my swim trunks. When I step into the shower with her I slide the door shut and am surprised when she buries her head in my chest. I rub my hands up and down her back as she sobs, shushing her and telling her that everything's okay. Once she is calm, she moves away from me and allows me to wash her hair. She then allows me to wash all of her. I take my time lathering her up, cherishing each and every inch of her body, planting light kisses on her shoulders. I'm careful when it comes time to wash her left arm and wrist. She doesn't flinch or try to pull her hand away from me. She trusts me, and that means the world to me, to have my wife trust me implicitly. Even after being married to her for twenty one years, I am still amazed about how much this woman loves and trusts me. I continue to gently wash her, and I'm awarded when she crushes her lips into mine. There is so much need in her kiss, and I feel a wave of guilt wash over me along with the shower water. She needed me this afternoon, and I chose to walk away from her. I was trying to avoid a fight, but maybe walking way was a mistake. I respond to her kiss and move her so that her back is against the shower wall. I lift her leg onto my hip and then pull out of the kiss. I look down at her and wait for her permission. She nods, and then I gently make love to her under the shower water.
I feel so much better after having a shower, and of course having my wonderful husband make love to me. We are both seated on the bed and he is gently towel drying my hair. I love the feel of his hands on me and in my hair. It almost allows me to forget about the near breakdown I had earlier, but he hasn't forgotten. After he's done with my hair, he moves so that he is seated on the bed in front of me.
"Can we talk about what happened earlier?" he asks me. I almost don't' want to, since he's put me in such a good mood. But I know that we have to. I would be such a hypocrite since I've pushed him so many times during our marriage to communicate with me. I nod but I don't make eye contact with him. He gently places his hand under my chin and gets me to look at him. His beautiful face is filled with remorse, but he has nothing to be sorry about. I take his hand with my right hand and use my thumb to stroke it. "I'm sorry I upset you" he says softly.
"Christian, you have nothing to be sorry about. I'm the one that should be." I look down again, feeling shame for the feelings I had earlier.
I inhale and exhale sharply, working hard to fight the tears that are threatening. "Sometimes when I watch you with our kids, I get jealous." He looks at me puzzled, so I know I need to keep talking. "That's why I wanted you to tell me what you and Natalie were talking about. I felt left out since I wasn't standing in line with you. Sometimes I feel like I'm watching my life from the outside when I see you with our kids, and I can't help wanting to be part of every little conversation and every little joke." He reaches over and wipes a tear away that has escaped from my eye, making me feel even more guilty for feeling this way. He is showing so much compassion. "I'm not used to being away from Natalie. She's with me all the time. I get her up most mornings, I take her to work with me, put her down for her naps, I sing to her when she's sad." I shake my head, not believing the jealously I am feeling. "And then I watch you with her, and I feel like you have a much stronger bond with her."
Christian moves so that he is sitting up straight, and I can tell that he is suppressing a smile. He shakes his head and he loses the battle with that. I start to feel annoyed. "Am I amusing you?"
"No, Sweetheart." He takes my uninjured hand into both of his and brings it to his lips, kissing the side of my hand tenderly. "You have no idea, Baby."
Now he sighs. "When Teddy was born, I felt like you had a bond with him that I would never have. And I was right." Now I look at him puzzled. "Think about it, you carried him for nine months, you breast fed him, you had him with you at home for your maternity leave and then you took him to work with you every day. You were the one he wanted when he was upset or scared."
"He wanted his Daddy too" I say to him, trying to make him feel better.
"I know, but it wasn't the same. And then when Phoebe came along, it was the same. I felt like I needed to work harder because she was a girl. With Teddy, I was able to bond with him over toy cars and trains and outdoor stuff, but I knew Phoebe would want to talk to you about clothes and make-up and shoes… and all kinds of girl stuff."
"That's funny, because I always felt you had a much stronger bond with Phoebe" I tell him, and surprisingly I smile about it. "You got on the floor and played with dolls and tea sets with her. You were the one that stopped her from crying and settled her when she was colicky. And you were the one she wanted when she was upset or scared." Suddenly something occurs to me, and I need to ask him about it. "Is that why you insisted on taking care of the overnight feedings and changings?"
He hesitates for a moment and then looks into my eyes, gray in blue. "Yes" That makes sense now, how he could give up his sleep each night to take care of them and never complain about it. "You got them during the day, and I got them at night. And the fact that you got to have uninterrupted sleep for most of the nights was a plus." I smile at him, always the thoughtful one.
"I never knew" I say to him softly. "I feel so silly about this, you know."
"You feel silly for being jealous?" I nod and give him a sheepish smile. "Well don't, because I've always felt jealous too. It just never occurred to me that you would be jealous of my bond with our kids. I was always just grateful to have any kind of bond with them."
"You are great with them" I tell him, and I can see doubt in his eyes. I don't think that will ever go away. I wish he could see what I see, how terrific and wonderful he is. He kisses my hand again, and just like that our conversation is over. He disappears into the bathroom for a moment and then returns with the ace bandage. I watch as he carefully wraps it around my wrist and secures it with two pins.
"Is that alright?" he asks me, and I nod. "Not too tight?" I shake my head and proceed to get myself ready. We are leaving in a few minutes to have dinner and I'm not even dressed. He gets himself dressed while I do my makeup, and then he must see me struggle with my dress because he is by my side instantly helping me into it. "How's that?"
"Thank you" I say softly and then kiss him. He then picks the comb up off of the vanity and finds a hair tie.
"Would you like a braid?" I bite my lip and nod, grateful for my husband having the forethought to do my hair for me. I watch in the mirror has he combs my hair back neatly and then twists three parts of my hair into a braid. Once he's finished he plants a few kisses on my shoulder. "You are so beautiful, Ana."
I moan at the sound of his voice and the feel of his lips on my skin. "You're not so bad yourself." I feel his hand leave my hip and then a swift slap on my backside, which cause me to yelp.
"Not so bad?" I can't help but giggle at his playfulness. I love this man so much.
Once we are ready to go, we collect the kids and head out of the hotel. We are immediately stopped for a family photo. I look at Ana and she nods, so the five of us pose and smile for the camera. I'm sure the photo will end up in People magazine or something, but Ana and I have gotten used to that over the years. Anytime we travel we are stopped for a photo. People seem to be interested in where we travel and what we are doing.
We walk a few blocks down Lincoln Road, followed by some of our security, and we pass several shops and restaurants. Although we have Natalie's stroller with us, I've decided not to bring it since there probably won't be any place to put it while we dine. I carry her for most of the way until we reach our destination. It is a fine Italian establishment with tables outside. We are seated by the fountain and immediately served bread and water. The waiter comes back in less than five minutes and takes our dinner orders. The conversation is light as we relax and sip on our beverages. There are a few musicians going table to table and taking requests. The atmosphere is calm, relaxed and friendly, just how I like it.
The waiter brings our food and I am impressed. I can tell Ana and the kids are too. We didn't need to wait long, and the food is delicious. The meal portions are perfect, not too little and not too much. We haven't eaten since lunch, so I know that everyone must be hungry. Teddy is going to town with his dinner while the girls take their time. I cut Natalie's food for her and then leave her to it. She seems to do better with eating when nobody is paying attention to her. I reach under the table and place my hand on Ana's knee. She looks up at me and I smile at her. She is wearing a green strapless maternity dress and she looks amazing. She and Phoebe are both wearing black ballet flats, perfect for the walking that we have to do.
After dinner, we walk around and take in some of the shops. Teddy purchases a beautiful necklace for Rebecca. Ana and Phoebe buy some earrings that they like. Teddy sees a necklace that he likes for himself and buys it, while Phoebe buys a similar necklace for Trevor. I buy a pair of sunglasses for myself. We have a hard time finding something for Natalie since she's so little. She decides that she wants a stuffed dolphin, so we buy that for her.
After some shopping, we stop for some ice cream. We find a table outside to sit and enjoy our ice cream while we rest our feet. "Sit on you lap" Natalie says to me, but I tell her she can sit on my lap when we are finished with our ice cream. I change my mind when she starts to cry. It is eight thirty and past her bed time. I sit her on my lap and help her with a few more spoonfuls of her ice cream. I eat some more of my own and then notice that she has fallen asleep, clutching her new dolphin. I cuddle her while we sit for a while, watching the people walk by and watching the musicians play. Teddy and Phoebe are having their own conversation. I'm not really listening to them. Ana places her hand on my knee and immediately grabs my attention. She looks tired. "Ready to go, Baby?" She nods, and with that we are on our way back to our hotel.
Christian and I spoon in bed after making love for the second time today. His arm is wrapped around me and his nose is in my hair. I am so tired after taking a short but early flight this morning, sitting lazily at the poolside and then walking up and down Lincoln Road. But as tired as I am, sleep has not found me. My mind is going over the events of today. I can't believe how upset I got with Christian. Was I this emotional during my other pregnancies? How many times has he had to calm me down and make me realize how ridiculous I was being when my hormones took center stage? How many arguments has he let slide in order to placate me?
I think about the events that led up to my near breakdown. I had asked him about his conversation with Natalie. I wanted to know what she was saying to him. I always want to know what she is saying. I hate missing even a second of her life. But I know I was overreacting. It's not like I missed her first steps or her first words. It's unreasonable to think that I can be by her side every second of every day. There will be things that I miss and I must make my peace with that, otherwise I will just make myself crazy. I try to relax and coax myself to find sleep, but I am still finding it difficult.
"She was talking about Tangled" I hear my husband say sleepily.
"While we were in line for Dumbo, she was telling me about Rapunzel, and how she wanted to have hair as long as hers and never cut it."
I smile giddily. I can just imagine my baby girl saying something like that. "We're going to have to talk her out of that." I close my eyes, and just like that sleep finds me. I drift off with the smile still set on my face.