…so….as it turned out, it really wasn’t long at all before Marina got pregnant. On the one hand, it wasn’t that surprising considering how much we had, er, tried, (especially on our wedding night…I mean I still got chills just thinking about it), but on the other it still took me off guard because I don’t know…I just wasn’t expecting it to be that easy. After all, some couples try for years before they get lucky! I guess…I guess I was just hoping I’d have more time to get used to this idea, but as it was, I’d have to get used to it now…because it was happening. Marina was pregnant again.
On that note, I don’t think I’d ever seen a person happier about morning sickness….
In response to this news, Marina made sure she paid extra attention to our little Daniel, getting him ready for the addition of his new brother or sister.
I’m not sure how much he actually understood about the whole thing, but he definitely seemed to be excited about it!
“I big bruhder?!” =D
“Yup! And you’ll need to watch over your little brother or sister and make sure they stay safe. Do you think you can do that?”
“I keep safe!”
“And if it’s a little sister, you have to make sure she doesn’t date until she’s 30.”
“…you’re going to be a great big brother.”
Heh heh heh heh heh >:]
“Good night little man,” I said, setting Daniel in his crib and giving him a kiss goodnight.
“Goo’ nigh’! I wuv you.”
“I love you too.”
On that note, I should mention that we got incredibly lucky with Daniel. He was such a loving, nice little toddler. Sure he had his moments and tantrums, but overall he was surprisingly well-behaved, preferring to stay focused on figuring out his logic blocks, playing with his toy car, or pounding out little tunes on his xylophone rather than get into trouble.
Mom couldn’t help but note how completely opposite Daniel was to me as a toddler apparently. She said that I didn’t seem happy unless I was screaming.
“But that just made me all the more endearing, right?”
“….sure, Reed. ….sure.”
When Marina wasn’t taking care of Daniel or checking in with work, she would once again practice cooking, saying that she should have learned ages ago anyway, so now she was just playing catch-up. I also tried to brush up on my own cooking abilities, but found that I barely had time between my continuous long shifts at work and helping out with Daniel.
Daniel may have been a good, even-tempered little toddler, but he still had a lot to learn before he could be considered even a little independent.
So when I’d come home from work, I’d change into comfier clothes and then head into the kid’s room to help Daniel learn how to walk. Marina and I wanted to get in as much time as possible helping him to learn his basic skills so that it’d be easier when the new baby finally arrived.
“Can I let go?”
“Are you sure? You’re doing so well! Look, you’re already almost standing on your own!”
“….otay, le’ go!”
“…are you sure?”
“I walk, I walk, I walk!”
“I DID IT!”
“Yes you did! That was awesome!”
“I is awesome.” 😀
Life was going pretty smoothly actually—I went to work early in the morning, came home to take care of Daniel, and then would spend the evening with Marina before we went to sleep to prepare for yet another day like the one before. It sounds like it should have been horribly monotonous, but it really wasn’t. Marina and Daniel made every one of these days special and more than worth the hard work. I loved them both more than I ever could have imagined.
….so it worried me that this pregnancy seemed to be a lot harder on Marina than the last one. I’d often come home from work to find her passed out on the couch, my mom or dad taking care of Daniel while she slept. She just seemed to get tired a lot easier and would often have bad backaches that no amount of massaging seemed to get rid of.
At our next prenatal exam though, we found out exactly why. Marina wasn’t just pregnant with one baby, but two babies. We were expecting twins! My first reaction resulted in me feeling kind of light-headed and having to sit down and drink some water out of a little paper cup, but my second reaction was to get up and hug Marina as tightly as I dared, all the while telling her that I loved her over and over again. …she seemed to like the second reaction better, understandably.
Wow. Just wow. Twins!
We would have to go in for more regular check-ups, and the doctor warned that Marina might have to be confined to bed rest near the end of her pregnancy, but to be honest these facts were, in a way, more of a comfort to me. I figured that the more care we got, the less likely it would be that anything like last time would happen again. Call me overprotective if you want…but could you really blame me?
Knowing that Marina was pregnant with twins, I tried even harder to help out around the house so she could relax more. I’d do the laundry….
Take more time out of my day to take care of Daniel….
And even try harder to get home on time, not spending quite so many long hours at work. I was finally doing better here in Neverglade, so I could afford not to stay so long after my shift anymore.
I also got some surprising phone calls over the next few days. It turned out that Buttercup and Tony were now expecting their first child! It felt a little weird that I was younger than her and was already going to have three kids while they were just having their first, but I couldn’t have been happier for them. And it sounded like they were pretty happy as well! Buttercup almost burst into tears when she told me. Apparently they had been trying for awhile and had finally gotten their wish.
I also found that out that Aspen was expecting a child. ….only this story was not as filled with joy and the whole thing was so weird that I wasn’t even sure I understood what was going on. Apparently, at Daniel’s birthday party, he had found that Melody and he had a lot in common (the woman who was laughing at mom’s somewhat senile friend, if you remember) and well…one thing led to another and now she was pregnant. However, it got even weirder from here, because apparently they broke up soon after this happened and were both now dating other people. WHAT?
When I tried to ask him more about it though, he said he had to go and hung up. I tried to call back a few times during the week in case he wanted to talk, but he never answered. I sure hoped he was working things out….
But I didn’t have time to think much about it. I didn’t have time to think much about anything actually, because just as everything was going so perfectly, tragedy befell us again.
It was a quiet evening in the Winters household when my dad was taken away from us. He had just been collecting the laundry when he muttered something about feeling funny, and then all I knew was that he was no longer with us.
I don’t think I could ever come up with the words to accurately describe how I felt at that moment. All I can say is that I couldn’t even hold in my pain—I was crying before I could tell myself not to, and beside me I could hear Marina crying as well. I remembered vaguely realizing that in a way, my dad had become her dad too, but I really couldn’t think of anything comprehensible after that. It was hard to think clearly when your world was falling apart.
My only comfort was that for some reason, I felt deep in my heart that he had gone peacefully and willingly. I knew that he had lived a fulfilled life as he had frequently told us that he wouldn’t have changed a thing about it, because if anything had happened differently, he said, he wouldn’t have had what he did.
Still…despite this small comfort, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmingly lost and hurt. I couldn’t believe that he was gone. Like to so many kids, my dad was my hero, so his death shattered my very outlook on life.
After all…heroes were supposed to be immortal.
No one was struck harder by this tragedy than my mother, and for awhile I feared that we would lose her too, because even though she was still here with us, she seemed to have stopped really living.
She would wander into the laundry room, turn on the little music box we had in there that dad had found once when he was fishing, and then just stand and stare at the wall for hours…long after the music had stopped playing.
Sometimes I would hear her crying in there, but mostly I heard silence. …it was the silence that scared me the most. My mom just wasn’t herself anymore.
I had to force her to come out now and then to eat, but even then all I could get her to eat was the occasional piece of toast with some jam on it.
A significant piece of my mother had clearly been taken away that night…and neither Marina nor I knew what to do about it. We all felt so fragmented already. How do you fix another when you’re broken yourself?
Even Daniel, so sweet and even-tempered before, seemed to be wholly shaken up by the loss of his grandpa and would often take to just sitting in the middle of his room and crying. Nothing seemed to console him.
That is, until my mom took notice of him. I don’t even know how it happened, but one evening after she had locked herself in the laundry room for hours, she wandered upstairs, scooped Daniel up in her arms, and held him close. He didn’t even squirm as he wrapped his arms around his grandma, holding her just as close.
“I miss gwanpa.”
“Me too, sweetie.”
Daniel leaned in close to my mom and said in what he thought was a quiet voice, “Dada said he’s still here.”
Daniel nodded. “In here,” he said, putting his little hand on his grandma’s heart.
My mom was quiet for a moment and then the smallest of smiles crossed her features, her eyes shining behind her glasses. “Your daddy is right. Grandpa will always live on in our hearts.”
From that day on, Daniel and my mom were pretty inseparable. Whenever Marina was resting or I was at work, Daniel would be with his grandma, playing together or having dinner together or even just simply being in the same room as each other. My mom finally seemed to be returning to us, and I couldn’t have been happier about it.
With this integral part of the puzzle completed, the rest of the pieces fell into place easily, and soon things almost went back to normal. It still hurt, but we felt less lost, and that made all the difference for us.
Time continued, as it does no matter what has occurred, and Marina was bigger than ever now! That is, her stomach was…because of the babies…oh you know what I mean!
….yeah, remind me to make sure Marina doesn’t read this thing.
I could hardly contain my excitement at this point…even if my excitement was often punctuated by brief moments of panic. Marina always seemed to notice when this happened though and would squeeze my hand or run a comforting hand through my hair, constantly assuring me that everything would be okay.
And mostly, I really did believe that it would be…but the fear never fully disappeared.
“I felt a kick,” I marveled, holding my hand to Marina’s tummy.
“Yes…they tend to do that,” Marina said with a slight smirk. “Only I’m pretty sure that most of the time they’re kicking my bladder. Do you KNOW how many times I’ve had to pee today!?”
“Can’t say that I do….”
Marina laughed, shaking her head.
“Mmmm. I hope at least one of these babies is like you, Reed,” she said quietly then, taking my hand in hers. “You are such an amazing person.”
“Well then the other needs to be just like you, because you’re an amazing person too,” I said honestly, taking a hold of her other hand as well. “I love you, Marina.”
“I love you, too. So very, very much.”
How was it that every kiss I shared with Marina always felt even more amazing than the last?
It was the middle of the night when the twins decided, a week and a half before we had actually expected, that they were ready to come into this world. It took every ounce of my strength not to have a panic attack as we loaded up the car and made our way to the hospital, Marina struggling to keep breathing in and out as she nearly crushed my free hand in an iron grip.
I wasn’t sure if the grip was because of the contraction she was currently trying to breathe through…or if that was her way of keeping me grounded, but no matter what the intention, the feel of her hand wrapped tightly around mine kept me sane.
Still, as we entered that hospital and checked in, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to stay calm anymore. I worried that I would just completely lose it and have to run out of the hospital, or would just end up fainting, but somehow, somehow, none of that happened.
Instead, we welcomed two beautiful, perfect baby girls into the world.
Tamara and Catherine.
It was a few days later when we were finally released, Marina having recovered enough to go home, and the twins having finally been given the official clean bill of health so to speak. I could hardly believe it. Two perfect baby girls…and Marina was 100% fine and still with me…oh thank god.
“You could try to manage a smile, Reed,” Marina said amusedly, still looking a little tired (but beautiful nonetheless).
“I am smiling! …well, sort of,” I said with a bit of a laugh. I took a deep breath. “I’m just so relieved.”
“Me too. I was pretty sure my bladder was going to mutiny. You can only take so much, you know?”
“You know what I mean!”
“Yes, I do,” Marina said seriously. “But hey, for being so, so amazing throughout all of this, I promise I won’t ask you for any more children.”
“You mean it?” I asked with a half-smile.
“Yup. No more children. Our family is perfect,” she said, smiling down at little Tamara in her arms. I smiled as well, looking down at Catherine and nodding.
“I couldn’t agree more.”
Besides…I had the feeling that the three we had would already be more than enough to keep us on our toes….
So long, sleep o_o;
Oh Noah, you left far too soon!!! You were only like, what? 91, 92 days old? *sigh* You will definitely be missed buddy =( On that note, sorry if this chapter feels a little bit fragmented…the death kind of threw me off D= Wasn’t expecting that. Next chapter we will have lots of adorable toddler pictures, Daniel as an adorable kid, and more! And Aubrey, you better not die >:O So far the twins are toddlers and she’s still there so…WATCHING YOU >:[