"I can't see my feet," Max said six weeks after her conversation with Jen. "Do my sock's match at least?"
"You're not wearing any," Kenny replied tossing his magazine aside to study his wife, and knew she was awfully uncomfortable lately. She rubbed her lower back, and couldn't seem to sit still. "Hey are you all right? Max?"
"I'm fine for someone who has a bag of rocks in her stomach. How can something that weighs maybe 8 pounds feel like that? My back hurts, it keeps kicking me, and I can't get comfortable. I'm ready for it to get out of me," Max groaned.
"It'll happen soon enough," Kenny replied, as she glared at him.
"Soon enough? You have no idea what this is like," Max replied. "Next time, you can do this part."
"I'm not sure that's possible," Kenny replied, trying not to laugh at her pouting. "But stranger things have happened around here."
Max shifted uncomfortably on the bed, and couldn't believe that she still had two weeks until her due date. She wasn't sure she could live like this much longer, and all she wanted was maybe an hour of not being in this constant hell. Up until a week ago she didn't hurt, and all of the sudden she ached everywhere.
"Can I do anything? I can't stop it from kicking you, but anything else?" Kenny asked, wanting to do something to relieve her of her discomfort, after all he was partly responsible for her being that way.
"No," Max said, shifting again. "Unless you just want to yank it out of me."
"Ah, as appealing as that sounds, I'll pass," Kenny replied still trying to keep a straight face.
"Oh come on. It's not like you've never delivered a baby before," Max pleaded.
"Yeah, but those women were in labor," Kenny stressed. "Relax."
She shot him a dark look, and didn't respond. Inhaling sharply, as it kicked her again. "Son of a bitch! Would you just cut that out?"
"Maybe he's getting ready to make an appearance," Kenny suggested, watching as the baby gave another strong kick.
Carefully he wrapped one arm around her shoulders, and laid his other hand on her stomach.
"Shit that does hurt," Kenny said surprised when it kicked again. "What are we growing in there? A soccer player?"
"I don't know," Max replied distantly, he pulled her more tightly against him. Feeling somewhat comforted by just being held, she let her body relax some. Kenny gently massaged her back, and she laid her head on his shoulder. Trying to ignore the active kicking in her stomach, Max tried to remind herself that in a few weeks that they would be parents, and that would be worth it.
"I doubt they would go for it, besides isn't Max about to give birth?" Pete replied, shocked at Kimberly's suggestion. "I know you two talked it out, but I don't think it means that either one of them is ready to forgive and forget."
"It could be a way of starting to make amends," Kim argued. "I know that neither one of them likes me very much, but this is a small town. I don't want them to hate me, or feel like they have to avoid me. Besides the three of you work together, and I know all of you put it behind you professionally."
"I'm sure Kenny wouldn't mind smacking me around though," Pete said dryly. "After all I wanted to steal his wife away from him, but we're all able to work together with minimal tension."
"But you don't anymore," Kim replied, and she was thrilled that over the past six weeks she and Pete had taken a few steps to build the beginnings of a relationship. "It might help close this unfortunate chapter in all of our lives."
"It might," Pete said doubtfully.
"Please," Kim asked sweetly. "For me."
"I can't believe you want to go on a double date," Pete said exasperated. "Oh what the hell. I'll talk to Kenny tomorrow, what's the worst that can happen?"
Max held up a gift at her baby shower, and she had no idea what it was. Not wanting to appear stupid in front of all of these women, she smiled sweetly. "This is great, thanks a lot."
Carla leaned in and whispered. "You have no clue what that is."
Max shook her head, and shot her a desperate look for help.
"I know when I had my first child, a breast pump nearly saved my life," Carla announced. "I could just pump the stuff out, and store it for later."
"Here, open mine," Jill said handing a brightly wrapped box, and Max wished more then anything to be lying down in bed. She was happy to whine and cry with Kenny, but not in a room full of people, and it was supposed to be a party. Actually, she was just grateful that it hadn't decided to kick her some more.
"Thanks," Max replied, lifting the lid, and something that she recognized. "Oh, how cute. Thanks Jill."
Clothes, Max thought, that at least I know what to do with. A breast pump? She wasn't sure which end was which, and there was something that looked like a giant trash can that actually looked a little frightening to her.
"These are all great, really," Max said. "But do you all mind if I open the rest later?"
"Oh, but you haven't seen the diaper genie," Laurie exclaimed, handing her the scary looking plastic thing.
"Diaper genies? Is that something from a dysfunctional fairy tale?" Max asked, examining it. "Ah what do I do with it?"
"You put dirty diapers in it," Georgia replied.
"Oh," Max said, setting it down, and she wondered why she didn't just throw them outside.
"And look at this," Jill said. "Isn't this the sweetest bassinet?"
Oh god, Max thought, that isn't a gift basket. I'm going to be a terrible mother, why don't I know this stuff? Even Georgia does. She watched the other women marvel over all of the cute baby stuff, and Max just sat there in wonder at their expertise of all things' baby.
"Max? Are you all right?" Jill asked, noting her pale expression.
"I don't know anything," she blurted out. "All of this stuff . . . The only thing I know what to do with is the clothes and most of the toys, even though that thing with all the lights over there looks a little frightening. Breast pumps, bassinets . . . Can I throw up in my diaper genie?"
"It all comes with time," Jill said carefully, as the other women were still captivated with presents. "Believe me, it all may seem scary and new now, but you'll learn as you go. If you have any questions, you know I'm here."
Max looked at her doubtfully for a moment. "I know . . . Jill? Thank you, for everything. You know what? Your kids are lucky to have such a great Mom, and I hope that I can be half as good at this as you are."
"You will be," Jill replied softly, taken back at Max's compliment. "You ready to open some more of these?"
Max nodded, and the two of them went back to join the party.
"So what is this exactly?" Kenny asked, holding up the breast pump.
"I'm supposed to use it to pump excess milk from my breasts," Max said. "But I'm not sure how it works exactly. Did you see the dirty diaper thing?"
"Why don't we put them outside?" Kenny asked, looking at the space age thing she was pointing at. "Won't they smell in here?"
"I'm not sure," Max replied. "At least most of these things came with directions."
He was glad to see relaxed, and wasn't entirely sure it was the best time to bring up his conversation with Pete.
"Well I'm glad you had fun," Kenny said, running his hand through her hair.
"How was work?" Max asked, realizing how much she missed it. She had four months maternity leave, then part time, and part of her wanted to live vicariously through Kenny at the moment.
"Same old," Kenny said vaguely.
"Same old? Did an elephant trample through the Christmas pageant again," Max asked with a grin.
"No," Kenny said pausing. "I talked to Pete today, and you know he and Kimberly have been dating?"
"I heard the rumor," Max replied, wondering where he was going with this.
"They want to double date with us," Kenny said.
"Are we in high school?" Max asked. "I haven't heard the expression double date since I was about 17. What did you say?"
"I didn't think he was serious," Kenny replied, glad she was taking this so well, better so then he did. "I think they were shooting for some closure, and I know how you feel about that."
"Me and my big mouth. I think I have closure on this, Kim and I had a nice talk while you were in the hospital," Max said thoughtfully.
"It's up to you."
"Thanks a lot," Max said sarcastically. "I really have no desire to go out with them, but."
"But what?" Kenny said, as she paused.
She looked up at him in amazement. "I think my water just broke."
"I think he was doing his best to keep a straight face," Pete told Kim at the same time. "I'm not sure it's going to happen Kim."
"I don't blame them," Kim sighed. "I just wish everything could go back to the way it was before. I know my family looks at me differently, and I feel like I lost one of my best friends."
"You hurt a lot of people, we both did," Pete said softly. "And these things take time to heal honey. Just give everybody that, and be your wonderful self. They'll see."
"Thanks," Kim replied quietly. "You're great, you know that? Max doesn't know what she is missing."
"Yeah, well neither does Kenny," Pete said kissing her, and he had to wonder why he didn't notice this enticing young woman before. Wrapping his arms tightly around her, and she deepened their kiss. Feeling loved and at home in his arms, Kimberly felt like she had been given a second chance. Even if her family and friends didn't look at her the same way, she reasoned, she had Pete. And he accepted her, faults and all.
"I thought the kicking hurt," Max gasped, as another contraction hit her at the hospital. "Oh shit. Why didn't anyone tell me it would be like this?"
"How far apart are they?" Jill asked.
"Five minutes," Kenny answered absently, as he watched Max grimace as she rode out the pain. Even with the babies he had delivered while on duty, it didn't prepare him for watching Max go through it. Somehow it was different with a stranger, and he longed to be able to do something that would make the pain stop for her.
"Okay, I'm going to take a look and see how far along you are," Jill continued. "Take deep breaths, and don't worry. Women have been doing this for years, and you're doing great."
Max nodded weakly as the contraction receded, and she collapsed back against the pillow. A few days ago she couldn't wait to get this thing out of her, and now that it was happening, she wasn't sure that she could handle it. She didn't know that it would hurt this much.
"Everything is proceeding nicely," Jill said. "I'm going to go check on a few things, and then I'll be back."
"You're just going to leave us here?" Max exclaimed. "Jill! I don't know what to do!"
Jill smiled indulgently. "You're going to lie here, and nothing is going to happen yet. Kenny's going to time the contractions, and I'll look at you again when I get back."
Max nodded weakly, and tired not to scream out when another contraction ripped through her.
"Hey, Max, honey. You're doing great, hang in there," Kenny said wiping the sweat off of her brow and smoothing her hair back. "Just breathe through it."
"Breathe," she gasped, clutching his hand. "You breathe damn it."
Kenny tried not to take it personally because he knew she was in pain. "This is the last step, Honey. You'll be able to see your feet again soon."
She shot him a humorless look. "I don't care."
Another contraction hit before he could respond, and she crushed his hand with her grip.
"Why are they coming so fast, so soon? Kenny," Max cried. "Oh, I just want it to stop."
"Uh that was only about a minute between those two," he said. "You want me to go find Jill?"
"Don't leave me here," she pleaded.
"Okay, okay," he responded. "You know what? After everything else that you've ever done and been through, this should be a walk in the park."
She glared at him. "Oh really? You want to switch places?"
Jill popped her head back in. "How is it going in here?"
"The last two were only a minute apart," Kenny replied.
"Well, I guess someone is eager to come out. We're going to get you down the birthing room," Jill said walking hurriedly back into the room.
Jen Davis stood in her room at Cornerstone Mental Hospital, and watched with interest as a van from the prison arrived. She knew that they were coming in from therapy, and she watched them carefully for any of her past patients. Smiling to herself she wondered if any of them had hurt women before, and if they did Jen realized, she might have found a way to continue her work. Observing the group one more time, she saw a familiar face.
"It can't be," she gasped, and she squinted for a closer look. If it was who she though it was her stay here would be much more productive then she ever dreamed.
"I need to find a way to meet them," Jen mused, as the prisoners disappeared into the building.
"You did this to me!" Max snapped at Kenny as a contraction hit.
"I didn't know," he said, in a weak attempt to defend himself. She's in labor, he kept reminding himself, just let it all go.
"On the next one you're going to push," Jill instructed. "Maxine, you're doing great. You're almost there. Ready? One, two, three, push."
Max pushed with everything she had in her, and Kenny couldn't believe what he was seeing. Trying to ignore the pain where she was squeezing his hand, he watched her as she put everything she had into this.
"Good," Jill said. "I can see the head."
Max nodded weakly, and looked up at Kenny desperately. "Max... this is amazing. You're amazing for doing this."
She closed her eyes briefly, and tried to take a brief rest before the inevitable next contraction.
He leaned closer to hear what she was saying, but Jill cut him off. "Get ready to push again, Max. A big one this time."
"What was I doing before?" she gasped, as she pushed.
"All right. One more," Jill encouraged her. "Just one more, and you'll be done."
"I love you," Kenny whispered to her. "Thank you for this."
Max just looked at him, and smiled slightly. Gripping his hand in hers she began the final push, and couldn't believe it when she heard the small cry of an infant.
"Oh, it's a boy," Jill announced, holding it up in the air and laying it on Max's stomach.
"Oh my god," she whispered staring at the slimy auburn haired thing lying on top her, and despite that Max thought it was the most incredible sight she had ever seen. "Oh my god."
Tearing her gaze away from the newborn, she turned to look at Kenny, and saw the same rapture on his face. Feeling incredibly contented, although exhausted, Max watched in wonder as they cleaned him up and cut the cord, until another contraction shot through her.
"Aren't these supposed to be over?" she cried, as Kenny looked at her in alarm. "What's happening?"
Leaving the newborn with the nurses, Jill rushed back over to take a look and couldn't believe she had missed this before. Sometimes sonograms don't show everything, she thought wryly.
"It looks like you're having another one," Jill said grinning. "Get ready to push again."
"Again? I can't do this again," Max begged. "Why didn't I know this before?"
Shooting a helpless look at Kenny, she began to push again and just wanted this second one out of her.
"Good, one more," Jill said, watching the monitors. "Now, go."
"Ahh," Max cried out, and heard a second cry pierce the air. Falling back against the pillows, she prayed that this was the end of it. She felt Kenny brush her soaked hair back from her face, and kiss her temple softly. Looking up bleary eyed at him, she could see that he was happier then she'd ever seen him.
"It's a girl," Jill announced, holding up the screaming, slimy dark haired baby. "Congratulations, and no one else is coming out. I just checked."
"Mmm," Max mumbled, as Jill handed her the boy. In wonder she just looked at him, and couldn't believe that he actually came out of her. He was beautiful she thought, and looks at all of that hair. Looking up at Kenny in amazement, as Jill handed them the girl, neither could believe that these creatures were theirs.
Kenny watched Max as she cradled the two before she passed them up to him. She's a natural he thought, and after all that she had just been through he was surprised that she still had the strength to hold them. As he held his children, Kenny knew he would never be able to repay her from this incredible gift she had just given him.
"I love you," he said simply, looking down at her.
"Love you too," she whispered, as the drowsiness began to take over.
Kenny watched her drift off to sleep, and handed back the babies to be cleaned up. Looking down at his sleeping wife and new born kids, he promised himself that he would take care of them and never let anyone hurt them.
"Congratulations," Jimmy said, extending his hand out to Kenny as he came back out into the waiting room. "How does it feel?"
"I'm not sure yet," Kenny replied dazed. "It's all kind of new."
"So what was it?" Skeeter asked. "Boy or girl?"
"Both," Kenny said. "We didn't see that one coming. Two? We were worried about one."
"Twins," Carter exclaimed. "Twins!"
"How's Max doing?" Laurie interjected.
"Any names yet?" Jimmy asked.
"Ah, they just came out," Kenny said, trying to come out of his haze. "We had some ideas, but we kind of want to get to know them a bit first."
"You look tired yourself," Skeeter said, knowing that after he had stayed up with Linda after she gave birth, he was exhausted. "You want to take a breather for a second?"
Kenny nodded gratefully, and collapsed onto the sofa. "How do women do that? She screamed a lot, but I still don't get it."
Max looked around her empty hospital room after she woke up, and she smiled to herself. Looking down at her absent stomach, she realized that she could see her feet again too. Hearing voices in the hall, she reveled in her privacy for a moment. Max knew that very shortly she wouldn't have much more of it.
"God, I'm a mother," she whispered to herself, and the word felt odd in her mouth. Remembering those two slimy, but beautiful, things that came out of her brought a large grin to her face.
Feeling giddy, and more energized then she had in weeks, but she longed to just enjoy them with Kenny for a while.
"Hey there," he called from the doorway, breaking her out of her thoughts. "I didn't know if you'd be awake yet."
"It's been kind of a long day," she said hoarsely.
"You feel okay?"" he asked, remembering how much pain she was in while in labor. "You were kind of out there for a while."
Max grinned at him. "It's all better now."
"I know there are some people that want to say hi," Kenny replied, looking at his beautiful but exhausted looking wife. "There were a lot of people waiting outside for us."
"I guess someone made some phone calls," Max said quietly.
"Jill," Kenny confirmed. "They're gone now, I didn't think you'd be up to having visitors right now."
"I don't want any right now," Max said smiling shyly at him. "Just you, and I wouldn't mind meeting our kids."
"They're incredible Max," Kenny said softly. "I can't believe it."
"Knock, knock," Jill called from the doorway, wheeling in the cart. "I think there are some people here who want to meet you."
Max sat up slightly, as Jill wheeled them over. Just looking at them made her want to weep, and she didn't quite comprehend that they were actually hers. It just seemed surreal to her that she and Kenny had two children now.
"I'll leave you four alone," Jill whispered ducking out.
"I'm kind of afraid to touch them," Max said softly. "They're so tiny."
"Yeah," he agreed. "You want to give it a try anyway?"
She nodded, and he gently handed her the boy, and he picked up the little girl.
"This feels really weird," Kenny said quietly.
"I know," she replied. "But it also feels wonderful."
Smiling at each other, they just marveled in the perfection of it .
Jen Davis read to paper the next morning and paused when she came to the birth announcements. Rage boiled up within her as she read of the birth of Joshua Andrew and Emily Amanda Lacos. How dare they be happy when I'm stuck in here, Jen raged to herself. Placing the paper back on the table, she eyed the man across the room. Moving slowly, so not to attract the attention of the nurses, she sat down across from him.
"I've been watching you," she said quietly. "I need to talk to you."
"Why?" he asked bluntly, glaring at the women in front of him.
"We have a mutual friend," Jen said lowly. "I'm Jennifer Davis."
"Danny Shreve," the man said. "A pleasure."
They lowered their heads together and Jen began to talk.