(My last)A/N: You've suffered through thirty six of these in this story, so why not one more?
I've come to the conclusion that writing will never be my forte. I'm more science-minded, not artsy. Doing something pseudo-creative where I have no confidence in my ability, where it's so easy to be a miserable failure is not really in my nature. I'm a flight medic—that, I know well, it's what makes me tick. Opening myself up to something so different was daunting. I wasn't sure I'd get a many hits, let alone a single review. There was so much I had no control over and I like control. But in the end, I expanded my horizons and took a chance and am very happy that I did. It was a great experience.
THANK YOU to everyone who came along with me on this journey. I am grateful for everyone who beta'd, bannered, pimped, reviewed or simply read the words I put together on my computer screen.
Now on to the Epilogue. It's in past tense whereas the previous chapters were all in present tense. There are time jumps as well as recollections of prior events. Hopefully it flows for you and is not too confusing.
Thank you all again.
CHAPTER 37 EPILOGUE
Bella and I were married on September twentieth. I proposed to her one year prior on the exact same date.
I intended to have the two best days of my life coincide with the fourth anniversary what I would consider the worst, the day of the fire. Now, instead of only sadness, there is celebration and happiness, invalidating so much of that pain. Nothing could reinforce to me more, that everything we have endured was worth it, because now, I have Bella as my wife.
A week before our wedding, toward the end of our rehearsal dinner, the text I had been waiting for came over my phone. We had just finished with desert and everyone was hanging around, talking with each other. Perfect timing. I let Charlie know that Bella's wedding present had arrived and he said that he'd be at the bar in the next room, and will be back in a half hour. I put my hand on his shoulder and told him to have a drink for me.
Charlie was in on the planning of the surprise present with me. In fact, I couldn't have really done it without him. Since our altercation, he and I have grown pretty close. When I told him what I wanted to do for Bella, he pointed me in the right direction, and hoped for everyone's sake, it turned out well. Like Charlie, I wasn't sure how it would go down, so I arranged to give Bella her present early.
I went to the rear entrance of the establishment where a middle aged couple arrived. I introduced myself and escorted them to our table.
Bella, with her back to us, was talking to Ben and a very pregnant Angela. They had agreed to be in our wedding party and had flown in from Alaska with their son Collin, who was almost eleven months old. Brady, their second son, was still in the oven, but will be ready to be introduced into the world in almost two weeks. Irish twins. They were catching up while Ben was chasing a newly toddling Collin around the dining room. I prayed that my surprise wouldn't cause an abrupt termination to Bella's obvious happiness.
The pair found some seats and nervously waited what was to come next. Renee Dwyer, Bella's mom, had just arrived at our rehearsal dinner. Her husband Phil was by her side, wordlessly reassuring his wife with kisses to her hand and forehead as I went over to get Bella.
A few weeks prior, with Charlie's help, I located and contacted Renee who lived about two hundred miles from our town. I found out that she was no longer drinking, so I had hope that Bella wouldn't shut the door I'm hoping to open for Renee to re-enter her daughter's life. Charlie and Renee had said what needed to be said to each other and called a long awaited truce for the benefit of their daughter. From these conversations, I had hope that inviting Renee would turn out to be a positive experience.
Renee had been clean and sober for the past seven years and had recently married Phil Dwyer, a washed up semi-pro baseball player, now plumber, who was also a recovering alcoholic. He had been sober for over twelve years. Together they kept each other healthy and happy.
From our phone conversations, Renee told me as the years started ticking away, she was became even more reluctant to get in touch with Bella. She thought her daughter would never be able to forgive her for what she had done so many years ago and the longer it got, the worse she thought Bella would react. She tried to get me to understand what the situation was like at the time, but I refused. She didn't have to explain anything to me, but maybe she would get to opportunity to explain everything to Bella.
I wasn't one hundred percent sure when it came right down to it that Bella would welcome her mother back into her life, so I didn't make Renee any promises. Renee understood that and was willing to take a chance.
She was incredibly thankful that I contacted her and set everything into motion. I didn't give her too much information about her daughter and said that if Bella accepted her back, she can fill her in on the missing years at that time. All I told Renee was that I was desperately in love with her daughter and that we would be married soon. Renee jumped on the chance to see Bella again and drove over three hours to come to the dinner.
Having shed my suit jacket a short time ago, I loosened my collar and tie, unbuttoned my sleeves and rolled them up to my elbows, ready for anything. I put my arm around Bella's waist and waited for a lull in her and Angela's conversation.
"I'm sorry for the interruption, ladies, but I was wondering if I could drag my bride to be away for a moment." I turn to Bella and put both hands on her waist and kiss her forehead. "I want to give you your wedding present now."
Bella looked at me surprised. "Oh, Edward, that's sweet, but I'm not sure if I should get it now. Isn't there some sort of superstition about getting wedding presents too soon before the wedding is bad luck? I'm not sure…but I don't have yours with me, either. We should just wait until next week."
She kissed my cheek and turned to talk to Angela again.
I didn't anticipate she'd try to blow me off. I needed a new tactic.
Nervously, I dragged my hands through my hair. "Well, then it could be a continuation of your birthday present, so it's actually a little late. You should really get it today."
Her eyes widened slightly. "Another birthday present? But we went out to that nice bed and breakfast the weekend before and you gave me beautiful sapphire earrings to be used as my something blue…it's too much already. We should definitely save it for the wedding then."
"No. Uhm, it won't keep. Really, Bella, it can't wait. I have to give it to you now, baby."
I winced as soon as I finished what sounded like a line from a bad porno, especially with Ben in earshot. He swiped Collin up into his arms and not letting a good opening for sarcasm flap alone in the breeze, he said, "Save it for the honeymoon, Ed. I know it feels like you can't get enough now, but it'll keep. Just wait until you have a couple of these little ones running around…it keeps just fine, just wear looser pants."
I shook my head and lowered one eyebrow at him in a look of intimidation to get him to pipe down, but it was no use. He was laughing at himself and continued on with his ribbing.
"Wait, did you get her something perishable like a fruit basket? Ya' know you have to be married for at least a couple years before you can give crappy presents, man. You and me have to talk. Oh, wait! Did you get her those really great steaks that come in the dry ice? If she doesn't want them, I'll take it off your hands for ya'."
Bella found this exchange amusing, but her interest in Ben teasing me waned as she turned back to Angela.
Not knowing what else to do, I apologized to Angela for interrupting her again and physically turned Bella around, pointing in the direction of Renee seated at the far corner of the room. Her eyes focused at the target my finger indicated.
She gasped as her hand went to her mouth.
"Oh my God!" She wrapped her arm around mine and I steadied her as she stood, not moving from her position.
I was a more than a little nervous, not knowing if this was a good reaction or not. The next minute or so would answer my question, so I just watched how this was going to play out. Fingers crossed.
Renee stood up, with tears in her eyes as she nervously took a few steps closer to Bella, but stopped, unsure if she was welcome to do so. Bella stood there shocked with tears overflowing. My worry began to double with each tick of the clock that went by that this was going to turn into a disaster.
Then suddenly, Bella let go of my arm and closed the distance between her and her mother, pulling her tightly into a hug. They held each other and swayed together, audibly crying. In between sobs, words like sorry, forgiven and love were said multiple times, like music to my ears.
Bella was more than elated to see her mother, and Renee chose to make the most of her second chance. Both were beyond grateful to me that I put the reunion into motion.
Renee had no intention to disappear from her daughter's life again. The following week, she took to her role as mother of the bride with ease. It was the first step in repairing the damage between mother and daughter.
A few years later, Renee and Phil moved within ten miles of us to be able to spend more time with her grandchildren.
Ah yes, the grandchildren—our offspring.
We didn't expect for it to happen so quickly, but Bella and I found out that we were starting a family of our own about four months after we were married.
I arrived home from work one night to a romantic dinner by candlelight and my wife in some sexy lingerie. We were very much the typical newlyweds, so this was not unusual, but the fact that she had a present for me and it wasn't even my birthday was a bit strange. I tore open the wrapping to find a tiny gender neutral yellow bib with goofy looking giraffe on it that said, I love Daddy.
I was overjoyed and showed Bella just how happy I was—the first of a few times—right there on the dining room table, our dinner forgotten.
Our wedded bliss lasted for about another month after that night—then the vomiting started, all day, every day. She had no appetite and even water was a challenge to keep down at times. When she wasn't vomiting, exhausted prevailed, sleeping at least twelve hours a day whenever possible. She even woke up a couple times a night to vomit, although at that point all there was nothing left to purge. Medications the doctor prescribed helped somewhat, lowering the number of times she ran off to puke from double digits a day to single.
She teased that our child was sucking the life out of her and it certainly seemed that way. She had to be miserable, God knows I was, knowing I did this to her, but she never complained.
Bella insisted on going into work, every day she was scheduled, struggling through her fatigue and keeping her frequent vomiting discreet while she was there. Knowing the nature of her job, I don't know how she managed. I always thought Bella was a strong, determined woman, but this was a not so gentle reminder of her spirit…and it made me crazy.
I proved with a little rearranging of our finances, we could afford for her to stay home, but she wouldn't hear of it. It took her getting so sick from dehydration that she fainted while working one day and was admitted overnight, for her to agree that I may have a point. Again I had to compromise, and Bella agreed to temporarily change her status to part time. At times, my wife was more stubborn than yours truly, it must be contagious.
At our visit to the doctor's office toward the end of Bella's first trimester, we found out that her exaggerated symptoms weren't simply random and unfortunate. Two tiny overlapping heartbeats filled the room with a sound that meant our lives were about to change in incredible ways.
Our identical twin boys, Masen and Liam were born a little after our first anniversary after a long and difficult labor.
A couple months prior to delivering, Bella went loopy and wanted desperately to have an all-natural birth. I could understand not wanting forceps or episiotomies, but she didn't even want pain medication. I was convinced she was losing her mind. I was not a big fan of the idea, but her doctor was a big supporter of natural births, assured us that it had been done before with twins and it wasn't usually a problem since Bella had no other high risk indicators. That was all Bella needed to hear as a go-ahead for her plan. She coerced me into accepting the idea of a natural birth as well. After all, who was I to insist she needed pain medications and induction agents if she didn't want them.
I was proud of my compromise.
She pushed her luck, however, a couple weeks later and tried to talk me into an at home ,water birth with a rental birthing tub and a doula. First, I didn't know what the hell a doula was. And second, who knew you could rent something like that? It was at that point, I lost my mind. Although to me, I was still compromising because I made sure she wasn't delirious with fever before I birthed a calf at her idea.
I lowered my voice and calmed down as soon as I noticed the tears forming in her eyes at my tirade. Once I apologized and explained that the anxiety her idea provoked in me came out in the form of anger, we were able to communicate like adults. Sometimes I still forget.
We talked about it and I explained that I just wouldn't feel comfortable without a hospital, especially since she was having twins. She conceded to my resolute requirements of a doctor and a hospital. Luckily she found out that the hospital she worked at, which is also where her Obstetrician had privileges, had rooms with a lot of amenities for natural childbirth and was the next best thing to having the boys at home.
After a Lamaze class, we visited one of the hospital's newly renovated large delivery suites. Aside from a couple monitors near the bed and a baby warmer of which we will need two, it hardly looked like a hospital room at all. It had a couple rocking chairs with a pull out sleeper couch. There with different areas where Bella could move around to help the labor along. There was a large whirlpool tub area which Bella intended to take advantage of; in fact she asked if I was allowed to be in the water with her.
I didn't know how I felt about that, but this is her show and I am merely tagging along. She's the boss lady.
Bella went into labor three weeks prior to her due date, which wasn't too bad for twins because they frequently tended to arrive early.
She had everything planned out. It was going to be great. She kept some of her options open, but had an overall birth plan that suited her desires and was agreed on by her doctor; from who would be in the room and to what position she wanted to be in to give birth. There was a play by play flow chart of what she wanted and didn't want.
It seems Bella did her homework on the subject. The strategy seemed as complicated and thought through as super bowl coach's play book on game day.
For the first few hours, everything was going so well, I thought to myself, we should have been on that show…I couldn't remember what it was called…maybe A Baby's Tale or something. No, that doesn't sound right. Whatever the name was didn't matter, our baby story would have been a big hit. Bella was laboring like a boss. We were in the tub; I was rubbing Bella's back, coaching her on her breathing. My hands were starting to cramp a bit, but damn, it was a beautiful experience.
We definitely should have been on that freaking show. We were bringing not one, but two lives into the world, damn it! And it was fucking magical!
I was having a great time…until I wasn't.
From one contraction to the next, Bella suddenly ordered me out of the tub and to get the hell out of those wet shorts and properly dressed.
I had no idea what I did wrong. Then I found out what my mistake was. I was the bastard who impregnated her.
During the most difficult part of her laboring which was subsequently being done in a bed in stirrups, she made multiple, threatening declarations between contractions, with me, predictably, as the one in the cross-hairs of her wrath.
Apparently, her flow chart hadn't made provisions for personality altering pain.
I wiped her forehead with a cool, damp rag, telling her how incredible she was and how much I loved her, as I had done over the past couple hours. It seemed comforting for her…until it wasn't.
As her pain ratcheted up another level, she pushed my hand away, instantly hyper-sensitized to any physical contact.
That's when the yelling started.
"Keep that rag away from me! In fact, don't ever touch me again! I swear if you lay one finger on me, I…I need a restraining order! Where's my father? From now on, you're no longer allowed within nine and three-quarter inches of me! Do. You. Understand, Edward Anthony Cullen?"
I saw the look on her face—she was not kidding, not in the least. This wasn't funny, but much to my mortification, everyone else in the room thought it was hysterical.
"Impressive," I heard the older nurse lean her head over and say out the side of her mouth toward my mother in law, which added to their laughter at my expense.
A point was added to Bella's side of the score card. I am still ahead by a long shot because I was not exposed for the world to see and in excruciating pain…although the night was young. Like her, however, I was then suitably humiliated, basically with my privates no longer private, in front of strangers.
Being a target for my wife's hostility was then my only job in the delivery room. It seemed to make her feel better and gave me a purpose, so I suppose it worked out fine. I was relieved that we weren't on that baby show, after all. Things were no longer quite as magical.
My least favorite exclamation came shortly thereafter. "From now on, you are to keep your penis away from me or risk having it forcedly removed from your body!" Her threats were effective. She seemed to be focused intently on my baby-maker, knowing how intimately I am attached to it. With her declaration, she reached over and grabbed my crotch firmly and begged me to test her resolve. I feared for my life as well as the possibility of future children, which at that point, seemed futile anyway.
Luckily, my begging worked and she let go before the next contraction.
I longed to be back in the whirlpool with my then, loving wife because I didn't know who this angry woman was. I'm glad I'm not in there with her, she would surely drown me.
About ten minutes later, she gritted this bone chilling threat through her clenched jaw, "When this is over I'm going to kick you in the balls as hard as I can, every five minutes for hours. We'll see how you like it!"
Followed by the generic:
"I hate you!"
"I will never have sex again!"
Next contraction. "Oh God! I want a divorce!"
Needless to say, Bella was having a hard time handling the intense pain of natural childbirth without showing a considerable amount of unfriendliness toward the person that put her in that position in the first place, me.
Unfortunately, the labor just wouldn't progress naturally and she never fully dilated before one of the boys started to show signs of distress, necessitating the decision for a surgical delivery. But for more than sixteen hours prior to the surgery, she held her own, dealing with the pain in her own way, never once giving in or asking for medication. The least I could do was sit there and be yelled at.
After the decision for a C-section was made, when the epidural was in place, I suppose the rush of endorphins she was experiencing made her euphoric for a moment.
She promptly apologized for her outbursts and told me she loved me again. She even offered to kiss my bruised testicles. This caused another bout of laughter at my expense. They apparently were not as terrified of my wife as I was.
I thought to myself, what would happen if both these kids wind up with colic? Would they come over to jam a dart into her spine and give her some of that happy juice which made everything numb and her legs ineffective, giving me the opportunity to escape? Would they protect me and my manhood while I tended to two perpetually screaming infants? I think not. So they should promptly quit laughing at her. They have no idea what she is capable of.
Her mood rapidly switched a minute later. I was across the room getting a drink of water when I saw sadness overcome her expression.
"I couldn't do it! I tried so hard, but I couldn't! I'm a failure!" The first tears overflowed as she sobbed into her hands.
Renee and my mom went to her side; reassuring her while I stood there trying to understand how she could think that way. I wanted to reassure her as well, but I just stood there in awe. I knew she would instantly reverse the comfort she was currently experiencing and readily agree to be tortured again for hours, if the wellbeing of our children wasn't at risk, just to do what she believed would be the healthiest option for them. The ferocity of her love and devotion to them was incredible and she hadn't even met them yet.
I walked over and my mom and Renee moved aside.
"Isabella Marie Cullen," I whisper while gently wiping the tears from her cheeks. "You're going to listen to me, now. You are the most incredible human being I have ever met and I don't know what I did to deserve to have you as my wife, but if I know one thing, I know that you are NOT a failure. Our sons will meet their mother today and they are without a doubt, the luckiest people on the planet. They will begin their lives with you as their hero—I had to wait over thirty years for you to become mine. I LOVE you, and my hero is NOT a failure. Do you understand?"
She shook her head and I kissed her gently as a few more tears continued.
She was prepped and taken into another room for the surgery where I was the only one from our family allowed to be with her.
Thankfully, all her sadness was forgotten as soon as our sons entered this world, perfect, healthy and more than happy to test out their tiny lungs.
I was proud of Bella—still scared, but proud too.
They were not kidding when they said that we had identical twins. Masen Charles and Liam Carlisle were both a little over five pounds each when they were born. Liam was born first and began crying straight out of the chute. Masen needed a little encouragement but once he started, his color pinked up nicely. We kept ankle bracelets on them for the first two months until we were sure we could tell them apart. Soon we noticed not only do they have a couple of different birthmarks, but completely different personalities as well.
If you look at my baby pictures, it's as if we are all triplets. It is startling how much the boys look like me when I was a baby. My mom cries her happy tears just about every time she sees them, saying it's like she stepped back in time.
Mom has been an invaluable help to us, especially right after the boys got home. Gram helped her with me and Alice when we were first born, so Mom says she is just paying it forward. She stayed with us for three weeks straight, helping us get into a rhythm with the boys and letting us get a couple extra hours of sleep here and there. Renee was also there as often as possible, doting on her first grandchildren.
We learned when one woke up in the middle of the night, it was best to feed and change them both. Soon they were on a schedule and we were adept at caring for these two tiny and amazing people. Bella breast fed, but we used bottles half the time so the boys were used to both. This way, I could feed them as well.
Masen is the quiet one, contemplative and more than content taking in the world around him, as long as his brother is nearby. Liam is giggly, wiggly and playful, always keeping his brother entertained. Mom says Alice and I were incredibly similar. My mother has come to the conclusion, because of his personality that was so much like mine at his age, quiet little Masen is officially my clone—poor kid.
While I know how to be a dad in general, I never took care of an infant before. I didn't know Kate when she was a baby and didn't have partial custody until she was a toddler. I've come a long way. Admittedly, I never even held Janey until I thought she was more durable and I wouldn't be able to break her as easily.
I'll never forget my first real introduction to dealing with an infant. It was a couple months after Bella and I were engaged.
It was Christmas Eve, I was at work and got a call from Bella to let me know that Rose went into labor early this morning and was at the hospital. I went directly to the hospital on my way home. I got into the maternity ward just before seven forty five. Baby girl McCarty was introduced to the world only seven minutes before I arrived.
A short time after I got there, Emmett came out in his brand new daddy outfit of a hair bonnet, booties and a yellow gown that was too small for him, to bring us to the nursery for our introduction to the new love of his life, Ms. Gianna McCarty.
I have to give it to Rose and Emmet; she was one good looking baby, healthy and a good size at over eight and a half pounds with a set of lungs on her that could wake the dead. She had a bunch of dark spiky hair and long dark eyelashes. Both her little fists were wiggling a bit near her pink cheeks and she opened her eyes briefly to look at her daddy. So much for Emmett's "men make men" proclamation. He was the new proud papa of a little girl and he was a hot mess, falling over himself about it.
He wasn't sure if he should shit or wind his watch, but once he held up his daughter, a look of joy came over his face and I knew he was done for. That baby had her daddy on his knees already.
The next time we saw little Miss McCarty was the next afternoon, on Christmas day. She was partially covered beneath a receiving blanket, hungrily attached to my cousin. Because I'm an awkward asshole, I immediately assessed the situation then turned to walk out the door, hoping they didn't really notice me in the first place, even though they were looking right at me. Bella snagged my elbow and turned me right around on my heel and back into the room. There was nothing indecent about it at all, but I just didn't know what the proper etiquette was, or even where you should look when your cousin is nursing her newborn.
It was all Emmett could do to tear himself away from his family, but sensing my discomfort, he got up and clapped me on the back to go for a walk and talk. He knew I would have done the same if the roles were reversed. The smile that rarely left his face for as long as I've known him, was even larger than I've ever seen.
I couldn't be more elated for my best friend as he showed me over three dozen pictures he had taken in the prior twenty four hours chronicling his daughter's first day, poopy diaper included.
When we arrived back at the room, Bella was holding a sleeping Gianna with a huge angelic smile on her face. It kind of knocked the breath out of me for a second or two, my mind inescapably imagining it was our child in her arms.
Bella walked over to me and asked if I wanted to hold my baby cousin. I had to confess that I never really held a newborn before and they make me a bit nervous. Sure I had field-delivered quite a few babies as a paramedic, but this was altogether different. This was my little cousin and she was all bundled up in blankets, with a tiny stocking cap that masked the riotous dark mane I knew was hiding beneath it. Her plump little fist balled up and resting hear her cheek. She was all beautiful and pink and warm, content and perfect. I didn't want to disturb that perfection.
Bella encouraged me to hold out my arms and she gently transferred my sleeping cousin. For that moment, Gianna was in my charge and I was petrified, but with each moment that passed, I got a little more comfortable. She was magnificent. Most importantly, I didn't drop her or hold her too tight in an effort to prevent that from happening. Rose said I did a good job which made me proud and more confident.
It was then that despite my prior gracelessness, Emmett and Rose still thought it was a good idea to ask if Bella and I would be the child's God parents. Of course we were honored and accept after Bella cried just a bit at the gesture. It was a really great Christmas and the best gift we could have received.
Now my goddaughter is almost two years old as I get the chance to hone my baby skills on my own boys. Even though they were much smaller than their big cousin when they were born, they are from hearty stock and rapidly make up for the set back.
I must admit, even though I may be biased, my boys are incredible. We could not be more blessed. Both were born with bright blond hair, just like I was, but surprisingly their eyelashes are a darker brown color, like Bella's. Their eyes have turned a bright green with a dark circle around their irises. Their complexion is just a bit darker than mine, like me as a baby, but with a tan. I have to say, these boys are going to grow up into handsome devils. God help us.
Mom and Dad can't get enough of the boys and still stay overnight at our house occasionally. It has given Bella and I opportunities to get away for the occasional, romantic, one night vacations. Our lives have changed from constant focus on each other to constant focus on managing all we had to do that seemed so effortless before we had the addition of two little people in need of continuous care and attention. The first break we got came at exactly two months after the boys were born, once we got the go-ahead from the doctor. I had to pry her away from her sons but once we were alone together, it was like riding a bike; you never forget how it's done.
Long forgotten were the declarations Bella made during her labor.
After re-igniting the fire that has always burned so brightly between us, I realized nothing had changed; the sex was just as incredible as I remembered. It just wasn't going to be as abundant as it once was. A part of me mourns for those days, but it is overshadowed by the sight of my boys every morning.
That night, we intentionally and indulgently slept all the way through until morning. Uninterrupted sleep is a luxury in and of itself lately. Sleep has become very precious and interfering with it for any reason other than diapers and feedings seemed frivolous.
Prior to getting the green light, a few times right after the boys were born, I woke up in the middle of the night, not from the sound of crying babies, but only from the warmth of my beautiful wife beside me. My penis seemed to have a sleep schedule of its own. I considered pressing into her that part of my body that kept me awake with its selfish demands, like I had done so many times prior to the twins being born, only to remind her how much I want her. Although sex was still a no-no, I couldn't help but also hope she would be agreeable to do whatever was allowed to lull it back to sleep. I have to admit though, I was still a little afraid of her after the ripping off my body parts threat she made while in labor. She tended to be as irritable at the new mommy sex ban as I was, and didn't think that she would be so gallant to see that my needs were taken care of when hers were left perpetually unmet, even aside from waking her up to do so. No—without a doubt, under those conditions, she would forcefully remove my penis from my body.
Since then, the boys have grown into co-conspirators in all things toddler. They are strong, agile and fearless and keep me and Bella on our toes. They started walking just before they hit ten months old which for twins born early and small, is quite an accomplishment. I bet they will be fantastic athletes. I already bought them baseballs, bats footballs and helmets to inspire the process. So far, all they do is clobber each other with the equipment, so, yeah; I had to take the bats away.
They are almost two years old when their cousin Riley, is born. Alice, Jasper and Jane welcome with open arms an unexpected addition to their family, a healthy and handsome son, when they thought no other children were possible.
Almost two weeks after Riley, our third child was born.
With the twins, for planning purposes, it was best that we knew if we were having boys, girls or one of each. We decided the next time around, we would keep the gender of our baby a surprise.
Bella's second pregnancy was so much easier than the first. The worst she had was occasional swollen ankles when she put in a busy day on her feet at work.
All was perfect up until two months prior to her delivery date. I was at work when she called me pretty early in my shift to tell me she wasn't feeling well. I knew she would never do this unless it was serious.
"What's wrong, Bella?"
She was hesitant to describe to me how she felt. I knew she didn't want to worry me.
"Uhm, I just need you home with me. Can you come home?"
"Yeah, baby. Don't worry, I'm gonna leave right now. But please tell me what's going on."
"Edward, please, just come home soon, okay?" Instead of arguing with her for details, I left work on an emergency family leave and raced home. I wasn't sure, but I was afraid that Bella's silence on the matter was more to be worried about than if she just told me right out what was wrong in the first place.
She called Alice while I was on my way and my sister arrived before I got there.
"BELLA! ALLIE! Where are you? What's going on?" I shouted loudly. I didn't see them immediately when I got in and immediately I start to panic.
"We're in the bedroom Edward," Alice called out.
I ran back and found Alice putting together Bella's bag while the boys were taking a nap that lasted up until I came home yelling. Now they were awake and ready for attention.
"Take Bella to the ER. I'll drop the boys off with Jasper and meet you there with her bags as soon as I can." Alice was all business, cool and calm. It's made me even more nervous.
"Can someone please tell me what's going on?" I ran up to my wife and touched her gently, afraid of what I would find out in the next few minutes. I looked at Bella and she seemed like she was keeping it together, but only for my benefit.
"Walk and talk, Edward. She'll tell you everything on the way." I'm ushered out of the house holding Bella's arm we moved to my car.
"Bella, please tell me what's happening."
"Get me into the car, baby. Everything will be okay."
It was then that I was able to take the first decent breath in over an hour, relieved by her words.
I closed her door and ran over to my side of the car, starting it and taking off in the direction of the hospital.
"I've been having cramps for a couple hours now. They started out feeling like a tiny ache, but now they're worse."
"Are you in labor? It's too soon! You're only thirty four weeks!" I'm yelling at her like this is her choice. My nervousness is causing my foot to press down on the gas pedal a bit too heavily.
"Edward, listen to me now! You need to do two things. One, you need to relax and two, you NEED to slow down or we won't make it to the ER." Her tone wasn't loud, but it was in her best Mommy voice and I knew she meant it. I did what I was told.
"All right. Okay. I'm good. I'm being careful. I'm sorry, baby. I'm just scared."
"I got a call back from our OB-GYN doctor. She called just before you got there and told me to come in right away. The pain is different from regular labor pain and I'm worried." I glanced over at my wife and she looked a bit pale and nervous. I didn't like it.
I tried to stay calm until we were only a few miles out from the hospital when Bella told me that she felt something wet between her legs. I looked over hoping that her water broke and the pain she was feeling was from contractions.
My heart raced in my chest and the edges of my vision were fading to black when I focused on the passenger's seat of my car.
Bella was bleeding.
The situation was threatening to launch me head long into the grip of a huge panic attack of which I haven't seen the likes of in almost three years. The fear of this reality was rivaling the intensity of any nightmare I have ever had. The only thing keeping me together was that Bella needed me. I had to be strong.
Less than ten minutes later, I pulled up to the Emergency department entrance where the ambulances park. I wasn't going to lose time going through the Walk-in entrance. Luckily there was an ambulance crew there that assisted me in getting Bella inside. She was evaluated in the Emergency room briefly and was then taken up stairs to the labor and delivery suite.
Bella needed an emergency C-section. She had a placental abruption which means that the placenta tore away partially from the wall of the uterus causing extensive bleeding and pain. It put our baby's life in danger and it was possible that Bella could lose hers as well.
She stayed fearless during everything and was reassuring me constantly. I knew it was because she saw how scared I was and she was trying to keep me calm. Even in the middle of a life threatening situation, her only thought was to take care of me.
Due to our backgrounds in the medical field, we both knew how dangerous this was. The doctor doing the surgery said it was best if I stayed in the waiting room. I knew then there was a possibility of losing both Bella and our child.
Long dead demons were threatening to come to life in my mind. I began thinking this was my fault. I was the one who wanted another baby.
I wouldn't fall apart and let fear take me over, I couldn't. Even if I wasn't in the same room as my wife and child, they needed me.
My father arrived up stairs shortly after Bella was taken away. On our way through the ER, I asked one of the nurses to let him know his son and daughter in law were on our way up to L&D.
I took a deep breath and explained to him what was going on. I knew this department was not under his authority, but simply because of professional courtesies, his presence would be beneficial nevertheless.
He left me to check on Bella.
I wanted to break down now that he was here, feeling that I could now shift the responsibility of keeping it together to him and I could fall to pieces from the terror threatening to crumble my resolve. I wanted to give in to the panic that I used to be so familiar with, but I didn't. Alone in that waiting room I found the strength that hadn't been tested in a very long time, one I was all but convinced that I no longer had within me.
Twenty minutes later, Dad came back to get me. "Bella's still in the O.R. She's going to be okay." He smiled and grabbed my shoulder. "You can see her shortly, but in the meantime, let's go meet your youngest daughter."
"I have a baby girl and Bella is okay?" I whispered, afraid that fate could hear and take everything away from me if I'm too loud.
"Yes, Son, everyone is doing fine. Come on, let's go see her."
Luckily it was not a complete abruption and Makenna Elizabeth Cullen was born rather hastily, but at the same time, healthy, at five pounds, ten ounces and seventeen inches long.
As the boys take after me, Mak is all Bella. Her hair remains a unique strawberry-orange color, almost a true ginger. Otherwise, she is all Mommy, which means she is absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful.
Bella lost a lot of blood and needed a transfusion but no other complications arose. They both stayed a couple extra days in the hospital but were discharged home to the happiest husband and Dad on the planet.
We decided Bella's second pregnancy would be her last. After that, we made the decision for my vasectomy which was done when Makenna was a few weeks old. Bella cried a bit sending me off to same day surgery, but I wasn't sad. I already had so much, and now I know I could rest easily knowing I would never risk her life with another pregnancy again.
My mother also shed a few tears when I confirmed that she welcomed the last of her grandbabies with Mackenna, but she counts her blessings every day, as do I.
Kate, now a teenager, has helped so much with her brothers and sister. She loves them but hates when the boys get into her stuff so she now locks her door to keep the brutes out.
One time they found a stash of her makeup in her room and used it as finger-paints with her bedroom walls and each other as their canvasses. That was on my watch.
Boy, did I catch hell for that from both Bella and Kate when they got home from girls- day, shopping at the mall.
I swear it happened in the span of fifteen minutes when I was taking care of an explosive diaper on baby sister. That kid can poop.
I knew the boys were being too quiet, but I was elbow deep in a really unpleasant task at the time. Now, when I am alone with the mob, I put an extra-giant diaper on the girl and keep the boys in my sight at all times.
I've come to the conclusion that you can crate puppies and no one blinks an eye, but take it from me, if you even suggest doing so with children— you wind up sleeping on the couch.
They are a devious bunch and love to get me into trouble, so I have to settle for a baby gate to corral them into a child safe zone.
My life has changed so drastically because of those three little precious people that I love beyond reason. Every smile, every pout, every giggle, every sparkle in their eyes fascinate me. When I look at them, I can't help but think that Bella and I made them and a surge of pride follows. I know how special our love for each other is, and just like Kate, I know these kids are bound for greatness.
I thought I was a pretty good parent until Bella hit her stride, now, she is my mentor. She's an amazing Mom. More than that, she is my other half, an incredible partner in the life we have made together, and she keeps me strong. She will always be my everything.
She still takes my breath away, she always will. Every day I try to show her how much she means to me, no matter how tired I may be or how chaotic the evening becomes. She thrives on the chaos our children bring into our lives, knowing that each day is precious, and too soon they will be too pre-occupied with their own lives to cause much of an uproar in ours.
My Bella smiles through fevers, vomiting, crying jags, and hell…that's just from me. Sibling rivalry, beating each other with the baseball bats I bought them, diaper rash, waking up ready to play before the sun is up—no matter. She takes it all in stride and is the glue that keeps us all together.
Whenever I can, I take a few peaceful minutes in the comfort of my bed, in the stillness of the night, to thank God for all the ways that my life has changed from a once, very dark place. I reach over to touch the reason for my salvation and pray that God knows how grateful I am for all I have. Especially for the person that has made it all possible. My Bella.
Fate brought her to me, my true love, who gave me all my second chances.