Another one begins, Cesar is occupying Dr. Morgan, and neither are paying attention to the monitor’s zipping noises as it charts my contraction. The twins’ heartbeats slow when a contraction comes, like it’s squeezing them too tight to breath, but in this case, for their hearts to beat. It always pops back up to one hundred and fifty beats a minute right after though so Morgan isn’t concerned over it.
Cesar is asking questions about water breaking, and cleaning lung passages. I’ve gone through this before, and I don’t even have all these answers. It’s not necessary to know how to clean a baby’s lungs out if you have a doctor to do it, but no one can tell that to Cesar.
He’s spent the past few months over at my place as often as I’d allow, and sometimes showing up even when I’d told him not to bother. He always had care packages from his Mother, and I am pretty certain that was his excuse to come by when he wasn’t invited.
His parents are excited for the babies, it’s their first grandbabies, and as far as my say in the matter, this is the last time I’m coming here to do this sort of thing. Not that Cesar has to stay with me, or that we are doing anything permanent to pretend we might not ever separate. His Mother especially is urging Cesar to propose already, it might kill her a little to have bastard grandchildren, but she doesn’t talk about it, not to me anyway if it does.
It’s time to push, I can tell by the familiar sensation. I will for my body to hold them in longer, to fight what it wants to do, because no matter how I try, it feels like Ella will die when these babies take their first breath.
Morgan is here with Nurse Caroline, and other doctors are near by and ready if something were to go wrong. Morbidly I think that if something went wrong, maybe I could feel a stronger connection, realize that somewhere I do have this desperate love for them like I do for Ella. I try to remind myself that even I didn’t feel that strongly for Ella in the beginning, it wasn’t fully until she was in preschool.
“God,” I cry out in my head, “please don’t let it take me that again. Please.”
Morgan doesn’t have to tell me it’s time to push, my body has already begun the process. Cesar who was logical and calm just moments earlier, asking for the scientific side of everything, has now fallen into this shocked stupor.
They wanted to turn the television off, worried that it might break my concentration, make this process go slower than necessary. I won’t let them do it. In this room of surreal, it is the only thing that represented normalcy. Somewhere out there in South Port, was someone else watching this program, maybe in their pajamas, and thinking they should get dressed and figure out dinner. I wanted to feel tethered to them with their normal lives, I’d give anything to trade places with them, to be anywhere but here.
I know it’s not pretty where the action is happening, Cesar has been thrilled at the prospect of watching his children enter the world, but when Baby A crowns, he averts his eyes and looks disturbed. I feel like the gross kid in school again that no one wants to play with, sitting alone on the stone wall during recess, trying to disappear. I know it’s not like that with Cesar, but his expression brings me back there anyway.
Then the pressure is gone, and there is a muffled cry. “It’s a girl,” Dr. Morgan holds up this little naked pink baby, and my breath catches. She looks just like Ella, from this distance anyhow. They hand her over to me, telling me it might be a few minutes before Baby B engages.
In my arms I can see she doesn’t really look like Ella at all, just her coloring when it comes down to it, which is like mine. I’m surprised that she doesn’t have Cesar’s coloring, and a worry creeps in. Maybe they aren’t his after all. It’d kill him, my heart starts beating faster, and it’s being broadcast through the monitor. I swallow hard, hoping it pushes the thought from my mind, and calms me down.
They have his black hair, I tell myself, the bartender has blond hair, and I have brown hair, obviously they are Cesar’s babies. Obviously… hopefully.
Too soon, it’s time for Baby B to make an appearance, and we go through it all over again, except this time Dr. Morgan announces, “It’s a boy!”
I would have preferred two boys. What if Ella feels displaced because she’s not the only girl now? What if Cesar stops caring for her because he has his own daughter? I can’t stop the worries from coming, I’ve been in these relationships as a child, I know that a child of your own can change everything. I also know that a child of your own can mean nothing, my Mom showed me that early.
Nurse Caroline has cleaned him up, and is looking at me expectantly, like she’s asked me a question and I’ve missed it. I can feel the judgement in the air. It’s clear that Cesar is the all-star here, and I’m just this mess of a mother. They probably pity the twins, being sent home with me, thinking they would do better, and I don’t deny that that they probably could.
She asks again if I want to hold the twins, and I shake my head. “Give me a minute.” It’s not what a mother says just after having her babies, but I need a moment, I need hundreds of them but I’ll take what I can get.
Cesar has already stepped in to begin talking with them, asking them what they want their names to be. We’ve talked about it, and he wants names tied to his family, and I want something that isn’t horribly foreign. Which left us with four name possibilities. Now we have to decide, and I don’t feel up to that yet ether.
Caroline has moved next to Cesar, and I can tell from her posture that she is nearly swooning by the sweetness of Cesar. He’s one she’ll remember later on tonight, maybe her own husband isn’t this excited about their own kids. I know Matt was never excited about Ella, still never actually met her, and she’s six now.
Now Cesar is hiding his face, then uncovering it like a Jack in the Box and crying out each of their possible name variants. I guess he’s hoping they’ll make some sort of response telling them what they would like to be called. It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. I think of dogs and how you can say the meanest shit to them, but if you do it in a happy tone, they think you love them. Cesar could be saying awful names right now, and one might hiccup and he’d take it as a sign, name the kid something awful like Gerty, just cause it made a noise.
I can’t stand to watch this any longer, “Could you send Ella in?” I interrupt him, and he seems a little disheartened to see my expression. I’m not sure what it conveys precisely. I try to save the moment for him, “I want to show her the twins.” Several expressions play out on his face, too quick for me to fully grasp each one before another takes over, and then he’s smiling and heading out the hall to get her. “Alone though. I want to see her alone.” His step falters a moment, but he doesn’t turn around.
Caroline and Morgan give me a look, and then a plastered smile before bowing out of the room behind Cesar. Then it’s just me and the babies, for a moment.
I stood near to them while I waited for Ella. I needed to do this alone, there was a chance she would act poorly to the twins, and I didn’t know if it would hurt Cesar’s feelings, if it would jeopardize their relationship. I hear the door creek open, inching slowly that I can’t even see that it’s moving at first, and then Ella’s head peeks in.
“Mom?” she calls out unsure. I answer her, and she steps in only a tiniest bit more sure. “Thought it was the wrong room,” she admits, but still hasn’t picked up her pace.
She stops walking, then just stares at the babies, one in pink and one in blue. “A girl?” she asks. I fear she’s had my concerns of this baby replacing her, but I don’t say anything. I don’t want to give her extra worries if she hasn’t had them on her own yet.
“Can I see her?”
I nod, and move to pick her up. This is my second time holding her, and I’m not used to her tiny, fragile weight. Her head bobs with uncertainty, and jerks for a second. I’m no good at this, no good at all.
“See,” I hold her out after being sure she isn’t harmed from my inability to cradle her head.
Ella leans in close inspecting her sister.
Her face twists, and turns grotesque. “Gross,” she leans in even closer, “She has really big eyebrows.” She looks over at Baby B, “Does he have bushy eyebrows too?”
I go to answer, then realize I don’t know. I haven’t even held him yet, and the familiar pain of guilt grips my stomach. “I don’t know, let’s take a look at him together.” This time, I’m overly cautious as I lay her back in her cradle, being sure to fully protect her head from her feeble neck.
When I go to pick up Baby B, he startles in my hands, and I jump a little from it. Without realizing, I find myself cooing to him, and abruptly stop myself.
I fully take in his appearance, and can’t help but feel something stirring inside. He is rather sweet, he has Ella’s complexion too, but these large brown eyes. He seems alert, like Ella was as a baby, and I wonder if he will prove to be perceptive like her.
I hold him out to Ella for her inspection. She takes this task seriously, scrunching up her nose, and moving in close enough to count the hairs if she were so inclined. After a long look, she pulls back some, “Nope, he doesn’t.” There is still a furrow to her brow, and her eyes are still fastened to his face. “Don’t you think that boys should have the big eyebrows?”
“I haven’t really thought about it. But maybe.”
“I feel sorry for her. Boys might not like her.”
“All because of her eyebrows?”
She nods, “Kids can be mean sometimes, you don’t even know, Mom.”
I smile, and nod like maybe I don’t really have a clue, but I do. She has no idea what my life was like at her age, and I don’t know if I ever want to share it with her. She’s had her own problems in life, she didn’t need to be burdened with mine.
She’s staring back at Baby A now, and I wonder if she’s remembering her own problems in school. This year was the first year there was really any issue. In the beginning of the year there had been an “All About Me” theme, and each student had to share basic information about themselves in front of the class. It sounds harmless enough until a basic question is what does your Mommy and Daddy do for a living. Ella didn’t have an answer about her Dad, and admitted that she didn’t know who her Dad was. The kids prodded that she had to at least know who he was, and then she had cried in class, and got teased for not having a Dad.
She came home off the bus begging to know who her Dad was, and I still didn’t give her his name. It’s better this way, I feel it, but it doesn’t make it not difficult. I know though that if it got out that Matt was her Dad and that Flint and Jett were her half-brothers, that it would be worse. I find comfort in knowing that as a truth, and that’s what I cling to when she’s upset about not having a Daddy. This is the better place for her to be, at least for right now, I hope.
“I’ll be her friend though if people are mean,” she’s moved next to the bassinet now, and her hand is hovering over the baby’s foot like she wants to touch but is afraid to take that step.
I chuckle a little, not because this is funny, but there’s this need to release the energy that has been building up within me.
“I’m glad though, that she has bushy eyebrows I mean.”
She takes me off guard, and I go back to looking at her, “Why is that?”
“Because now I can tell them apart,” and this time I laugh for real. Without realizing it, she’s dispelling my fears, and for the first time in nine agonizing months, I begin to think that maybe, just maybe things won’t be that bad. Maybe Ella can have a good childhood after all.
There’s a knock at the door, and Caroline pops her head in, “I need to take the twins in the nursery for their exam, are you ready for me to take them now?”
I nod, and Ella waves good bye to them. “They need names, Mom, you can’t call them Baby A forever, that’s worse then big eyebrows.”
I pet her head, pushing her shiny brown hair down, “I know. How about we use the first names we picked, you liked those right?” She thinks, scrunching up her nose, and then nods. “Ok, go run out real quick and tell Cesar to see if he agrees, then he can tell his parents.”
“OK!” she shouts, and rushes out the door, I realize I should have told her to walk calmly, but it’s too late now, and I resign myself to the edge of the bed, feeling exhausted and out of breath.
* * *
I’ve just left the hospital room to find Ella to send her into Annie. I find my Dad asleep in the lobby room, Mom is prattling on to him as if through osmosis he will remember everything she’s blathered on about. It’s only 4:30 in the afternoon, but ever since he turned sixty-five, he’s prone to falling asleep just about anywhere. Dad says Mom would keep his dead body around just to have some company, but it all ends with a stiff silence, as their age increases.
My mind is far from those morbid thoughts now though, today is singularly the most inspiring day of my existence. Even Annie can’t take away from it.
I find Ella busy reading a school book, and I’m grateful that my parents went to get her from school. Annie wouldn’t sign the papers to be admitted until she knew that someone would get Ella. She kept going on that she would feel forgotten and unloved if she went home to an empty house.
Annie is always concerned that Ella will feel left out, that I now go out of my way to make a point of including her. I don’t think I would ever exclude her, I’ve known her since she was three years old. Annie just doesn’t understand that I care for Ella too, I think she used to see that, but the pregnancy changed everything. I hope that time can make it better, but a piece of me is concerned she could be right. I’ve never been a real Dad before, I’ve just been filling in for Matt, maybe it is different.
I don’t have any siblings, so I only have media to tell me how big sisters should behave, and Ella doesn’t do those things. She’s like her mother in this way, they are always lost in their own thoughts. I worry how Ella will be with the twins. If she doesn’t adjust, Annie won’t.
I can hardly allow it to consume me though, there is no going back, the twins are here. My Mom looks up as I step into the room, anticipation in her eyes, and I can’t hold back. “They’re here, a boy and a girl!”
I send Ella to the room, pointing out which door is Annie’s, and go back to fill my parents in on the delivery and details. They’re both really happy, and have this glow to them that I feel on my own face, but I can see the concern in their faces too. They aren’t good at hiding it, or they aren’t really trying. I ignore it though, today is a special day, not one for talks of weddings and proposals.
I sit with them until Ella rushes in to the waiting room, and tugs on my arm to whisper in my ear. The girls want to go with the first names we decided, I say the names in my head a few times, then nod in agreement. She seems happy now, excited without a doubt, and I hope that when I see Annie again that she will reflect at least a portion of this excitement.
Caroline steps into the waiting room and tells us that the twins are in the nursery awaiting Dr. Morgan for their thorough examination, but we can look at them through the windows in the meantime.
With that information, my parents hop up with more agility then I’ve seen in years. They even beat me to the window, and start cooing over the babies. Except they aren’t looking at their grandchildren.
“Oh he has your nose! I remember it like yesterday, all squished flat. You really didn’t want to come out.” My mother is prattling along.
“Aye!” Dad gives a hearty confirmation. “He’s got a nice healthy complexion just like you did, son.” I can’t help but chuckle a little.
“Wrong baby,” I interrupt their gushing, “These are your grandchildren.” I point to the little boy, “Mom and Dad, this is Manuel and this is Marisol.”
They seem embarrassed and quickly move to the proper positioning behind the window, Mom darts her eyes around to see if anyone noticed her grave mistake.
“They’re so fair.” Dad remarks.
“Sickly even.” Mom finishes for him.
I imagine they are concerned that they aren’t really my twins, and that they’ve been concerned with this being probable since I announced the pregnancy. I can’t lie that it hadn’t crossed my own mind, but it was mostly in the beginning of the pregnancy. I made a decision after seeing them in the ultrasound that whether or not we were genetically tied, I’d be their Father if Annie allowed.
My parents have both gone quiet, inspecting the twins with wariness and hope. Then with a triumphant declaration, Mom shouts, “Why they have your eyes! They have your same eyes Cesar!”
“Just like that one had my nose?” I playfully tease.
Mom blushes, and playfully shoves my arm, “Oh you stop that, I was just trying to be nice earlier, this time I mean it.”
I look over at Dad who is awfully silent, and he’s just got this warm expression of love on his face. They weren’t happy about there not being a wedding, but that’s far from their mind at the moment. Right now Manuel and Marisol have stolen the limelight, and I’m happy to let them.
Notes: Finally the twins have arrived! Now, Maria (Cesar’s Mom) might have been playing nice, but her thoughts were not straying far from her wants panel:
Cesar is not necessarily opposed to getting married, but he has some other odd wants going on right now, like he got coffee and suddenly the lady behind the counter is his one sim. I really don’t understand, it seems kind of glitchy to me. Their relationship is a 1, so… really? And Annie’s one sim is not Cesar at this point ether. So let’s just say I don’t have an engagement planned for them at this point in time.
I just want to add as well in Annie’s defense, even perfectly happy people can have concerns over adding to their family, and their firstborn feeling usurped over the ordeal. It’s a very common concern, and add in all the other pieces to Annie’s life, and giving birth to twins, it would be easier to see that Annie might be a little apprehensive over the ordeal. She did come around at the end of it all though, which I hope I conveyed well enough!
Thanks for reading!
(And Happy New Year, I thought it was kind of cool to do a January delivery in January.)
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