Three days before Christmas, exactly one year since Bella walked back into my life, we find ourselves sitting in the hospital waiting room going out of our minds with worry.
Earlier in the day, Bella started feeling some cramps and tightness. At just over sixteen weeks gestation, it's way too early for contractions. All of the signs point to Braxton Hicks contractions, or "practice contractions," but Dr. Newton always tells us better safe than sorry, so I convince Bella to call him.
Once she describes the pain she's feeling, he concurs that it is most likely Braxton Hicks but wants her to go to the hospital to get checked out just in case.
Thankfully, Dr. Newton calls ahead and we don't have to wait long to be seen. Bella is taken back after only about ten minutes, and I follow with a tight grip on her hand.
"Okay, Mrs. Cullen," the nurse starts, and I smile like I always do when I hear someone call her that. "If you could just change into this gown, we'll get you hooked up to the fetal monitors and see what's going on."
The nurse leaves the room while Bella changes and I help her up onto the bed. Only a few minutes go by before the nurse returns with some equipment. She has Bella sit up while she puts some kind of elastic belt with a paddle attached around her waist, followed quickly by a second belt.
"These are monitors, so we can see what's going on inside your uterus," she explains. She flips a switch on the machine and moves one of the paddles around until the familiar sound of our baby's heartbeat fills the room. "That sounds like a nice, strong heartbeat." She smiles at us while she positions the other belt.
"This one will monitor any contractions. It will give us an idea of the intensity and frequency. I just need you to lay here and relax for a little bit, and a doctor will come in to check the readout once we have some data."
Bella gives a timid "okay" and I move the chair over next to the bed and sit, taking her hand in mine again.
We sit quietly, drawing comfort from each other's touch, for about fifteen minutes before a doctor enters the room.
"Good afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. Cullen. I'm Doctor Gerandy," he says, offering his hand which I shake quickly. "I've spoken to Doctor Newton and I understand you may be having some contractions that we need to check out."
"That's correct," Bella says softly.
Dr. Gerandy looks at the monitor and printout before speaking again. "Well, it does look like what you're feeling are contractions …" Bella and I both cringe but he continues on quickly. "But based on the intensity of them, I am pretty sure they are only Braxton Hicks contractions. Most people don't even feel them, but some feel them constantly. Just to be sure, I'm going to do an ultrasound to check for changes to your cervix. As long as there's no shortening or opening of the cervix, you won't have to stay with us any longer."
Switching off the machines, the doctor removes the monitors. He covers Bella's lower half with a blanket and lifts the gown so her slightly rounded abdomen is peeking out, and then he squirts the now familiar ultrasound gel on her.
With a wave of the magic wand, we are once again looking at our baby on the screen. The doctor confirms that the heartbeat is good and growth looks on target before moving on to check Bella's cervix. He takes a few measurements and snaps some pictures.
"Based on the information I received from Dr. Newton's office, there's been no change to your cervix. It's measuring exactly the same as it did at your last ultrasound."
Bella lets out a breath of relief before looking contritely at the doctor. "I feel so stupid, coming in for no reason."
"Please don't feel like that, Mrs. Cullen. There's no way you would know the difference, and we always believe it's better to be safe than sorry, which I'm sure is what Dr. Newton told you. Unfortunately, you'll probably continue to feel these off and on for the rest of your pregnancy. You'll just need to be on the lookout for any change in intensity or frequency."
Bella and I nod in understanding.
"Now, on the bright side, would you like to know what you're having?"
I look at Bella with shock on my face. We hadn't even discussed that yet. "You can tell?" I ask the doctor.
He gives a knowing smile. "Yes. It was probably too early at your last ultrasound, but I can tell you for sure now if you want to know."
"Do you want to know?" Bella asks me.
"I'm fine either way," I tell her. "It's kind of exciting to wait, but at the same time, I'm excited right now to find out."
She laughs and says, "Let's find out."
At my nod of approval, the doctor moves the ultrasound wand again to find the right angle. I can see it before he even says anything. "Mr. and Mrs. Cullen, meet your baby boy."
My smile is a mile wide, and I look over to see tears in Bella's eyes. I wouldn't care what we were having, but somehow knowing makes it all that more real.
"A boy," Bella says quietly with a smile on her face.
We leave the hospital about a half hour later with pictures of our son and instructions for Bella to drink more water to help with the contractions.
"Let's stop at Carlisle and Esme's," Bella suggests and I agree.
Ever since we announced the pregnancy, Esme has been so excited about the baby. She even taught herself how to knit, telling us she wanted to be able to make something for her grandchild.
That was another interesting discussion, when Esme told us she wanted to be the child's grandmother. Technically, she'll be his aunt by blood and only his grandmother by marriage. In such an odd situation, I wasn't sure where that would leave her. But, she insisted that she wanted to be a grandmother for two reasons. For one thing, her husband would be a grandfather no matter what. And the second reason, which of course made Bella cry both tears of joy and sorry, was because Bella's parents weren't around to fill the role.
We walk into the house unannounced, as we always do, and find Esme in the kitchen making dinner.
"To what do we owe this pleasure?" she asks with a smile when she sees us.
"Is Carlisle around? We have some news that we wanted to share with you guys," Bella responds.
"I think he's in his office. I'll go get him. You'll stay for dinner?" Esme calls out as she heads toward Dad's office.
"That sounds great, Esme. Thanks," I answer.
Esme returns with my dad and we all exchange greetings.
"So, what's going on?" Esme asks eagerly.
Bella starts explaining. "Well, we had to stop at the hospital today. Before you ask, everything's fine. I was having Braxton Hicks contractions so my doctor just wanted me to get checked out." I can see the relief on both of their faces. "Anyway, while we were there, we got a few new pictures of the baby."
Bella hands each of them one of the photos with "It's a Boy!" written at the top and an arrow pointing to his goods.
Esme laughs out loud and my dad smiles widely. "This is great," Dad offers. "This was probably the first time they could tell, huh?" Ever the doctor, I'm sure he knows that the gender isn't visible until about sixteen weeks.
"Well, she had an ultrasound two weeks ago and they didn't say anything," I say. "Today, Dr. Gerandy was able to see it clearly though."
"This is wonderful!" Esme exclaims. "Now we can start to plan the nursery and get you registered …"
My wife goes off into the kitchen with her sister to start planning, and I can't wipe the smile off my face. Dad and I head to the family room while we wait for dinner.
After a few minutes of idle chit chat, Dad turns serious. "You know, I wasn't sure how Esme was going to handle news of a baby boy."
I look at him, surprised that he's bringing this up with me. He's never mentioned it before, but I guess there was never a reason to.
"I don't know if you're aware," he continues. "But, Esme had a son that died a few days after birth."
I nod and take a deep breath. "Yeah, Bella mentioned it a while ago, but she didn't give me any details. I think she was concerned about how Esme would react to our news initially, so she wanted me to know what was behind it."
"There's not really much to tell," he says softly. "The complications during his birth left her without the ability to carry another child and ultimately led to the demise of her marriage. But, she came to terms with it all a long time ago, and I really believe that she's excited for you both."
"I don't doubt that. She's going to be a wonderful grandmother."
We sit quietly for a few minutes, each of us lost in our own thoughts, until I have another question.
"Hey, Dad," I say, waiting for him to acknowledge me. "Do you know what her son's name was?"
I nod and hum.
We spend most of the evening at their house, staying after dinner to play cards for a while. Ever since the wedding, things have gotten so much easier between us and we truly enjoy our time with them, so we're actually almost regretful when we have to leave because Bella's getting tired.
Surprisingly, she attacks me almost as soon as we walk in our door.
"I thought you were tired, babe," I say questioningly between her frantic kisses.
"I seem to have caught my second wind."
"Well, then … allow me to take advantage of that second wind." I smirk as I lift her up and carry her into our bedroom.
Once I have her naked and lying on the bed, I sit back and gaze at her. If I thought her body was perfection before, it has nothing on her shape while she's carrying our child. Her breasts are fuller and her hips slightly wider, but what I can't get over is the slope of her belly.
I run my hands over the roundness, which is just starting to remain showing when she's lying flat on her back. Bella's fingers thread through my hair as I kiss her belly, cherishing every inch of her perfect skin with our child tucked beneath it.
"You're so sexy when you're worshipping our child," she says quietly.
"There's nothing sexier to me than you carrying our child … our son," I correct.
She gives me a blinding smile before I move my worship lower. I swear her taste is even sweeter now that she's pregnant, and I take every chance I can get to enjoy the flavor.
She moans when I hum against her lower lips, and groans when I tongue her repeatedly. My fingers work their way inside her slippery channel, and before long, she's panting out her release.
I quickly move above her, careful not to drop my weight on her belly, and slip inside her inviting warmth. Resting my weight on one arm, I hitch her knee over my other. Bella mewls as my thrusts go deeper, and I angle myself to hit her sweet spot on every pass.
Before long, she quivers around me, calling my name through her orgasm. With a few more deep thrusts, I release inside of her and still our bodies while we're fully connected.
Dropping her leg, I fall to the mattress in exhaustion and pull her tightly against my side. She immediately curls her body into me and rests her head on my chest.
After a few minutes of rest, we start chatting about the crazy day we've had while Bella's fingers play with the sparse hair on my chest.
"Are you happy it's a boy?" she asks.
"I'm happy he's healthy and safe," I respond. "I wouldn't have cared either way, but knowing makes it exciting."
"Yeah, that's kinda how I feel, too." She lets out a deep sigh. Lifting her head, she smiles brightly at me. "Hey, now we can start thinking of names!"
"Do you have anything in mind?"
"Not yet," she answers. "But it'll be fun to think about it."
"What do you think of Jacob?" I ask.
"I like it, but where did that come from?"
I let out a breath and run my fingers through her hair. "My dad told me that Esme's son's name was Jack. I thought maybe we could honor him."
"I think that would be wonderful."
A/N: Almost the end, peeps! I hope you enjoyed this chapter. The last chapter will post on Friday, and then the epilogue will post next week.
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