I was afraid we wouldn’t make it to the birthing center, but we did it in record time. Terrence broke every speed limit to get us here but was cautious when more cars crowded the road.
If there was a World’s Strongest Man competition for sprinting through birthing center doors with a hospital bag around your shoulders and a very pregnant wife in your arms, he would take first place.
What we must look like. He’s going full commando under his basketball shorts. Any onlooker is in for a show. I hold on for dear life to the end of the shirt that wants to ride up my thighs. I didn’t have a chance to grab underwear or pants before we hightailed it here. At least I waxed.
The receptionist has mercy and doesn’t send us home to wait. Though my water broke, my contractions are only eight minutes apart. Terrence held me and pleaded with the woman like I had a gunshot wound before she assigned us to a suite and got me a wheelchair.
“Wow, this is nice.” Terrence wheels me to the middle of the room and stops to help me up.
We toured the center before, but we never went in this room. A queen-size bed sits against the wall with a ceiling fan above it. There are rich hardwood floors, exposed wood beams on the ceiling, and an armoire with a television. Aside from the freestanding porcelain tub across from the bed, the suite mirrors a bedroom outfitted in soothing blues and creams.
“It looks like we’re back at the retreat,” I say in a whisper. Emotions rip through me in waves. “It’s beautiful.”
“Yes, it is.”
My eyes meet Terrence’s soft gaze. He’s not talking about the room. He’s talking about me, his wife, with just-sexed hair, a shirt that barely covers her coochie, and a belly the size of a beach ball.
He presses a kiss to my lips and runs a hand down my back. “Let’s get you into something more comfortable. We’ll be here for a minute.”
The first two hours were pretty manageable, given the countdown to push out two humans from my lemon-size vagina. Terrence rubbed my feet and back and helped me soak in the tub. The contractions weren’t pleasant but were a little easier to bear once I went through a few.
Our parents stopped by to see the room and pray for the safe arrival of their grandbabies. As expected, my mom and Robin tried to sneak in a bag and stay with us before Lee took them both by the elbow and escorted them out. My mother hid behind the drapes like we didn’t see her. I’m thrilled for our parents to shower our little ones with love, but the only person I need in my corner right now is my husband, and my doctor, of course.
When hour five hit, I was over it. Any ounce of joy I had in me evaporated from my body, along with my patience. I wanted to go home and wanted these babies out. By hour seven, I tried to unhook myself from the monitor to leave. Poor Terrence did his best to comfort me. He peppered kisses across my face and told me to get back in bed.
So, here I am at hour nine. My contractions are a bitch, and I’ve morphed into a gremlin.
A very pregnant and tired gremlin.
I look over at Terrence in the oversize armchair next to me. His long lashes rest against his face, his chest rises and falls in a steady rhythm. He grips the remote in his hand like a football and looks so peaceful. The sight would touch my heart if I weren’t in the pits of Hell being yanked by my vagina.
“You did this to me, and you have the nerve to put on SportsCenter while my insides rip open?!“ He jolts awake and throws the remote in the air at my screech.
Terrence kisses the side of my face, unfazed by my rage. “How can I help, baby?”
I stare at him and lower my voice. “Want to help me, honey?”
My hands grab him by his shirt with the grip of three Jason Momoas to bring his face closer to mine. “Get. These. Babies. Out. Of. Me.”
Karma comes in the form of the most powerful contraction yet. I scream in pain.
“Justice? Are you okay, baby?”
I sob. “No. I’m in lots of pain and am horrible.” Another contraction hits, and I let out a wail.
Dr. Gayle strolls in not too long after my breakdown that all of Austin heard. She looks between us and smiles before she checks the monitor. “I see you still have your strength, Justice.”
Tears roll down my face. I turn to Terrence, unable to speak. I’m the most ungrateful woman in the world. Yes, labor is hands down the worst experience of my life. But it’s a blessing. We struggled to get pregnant and miscarried twice. And what do I do when it’s time to deliver our twins? Turn into that woman from Misery.
“Please don’t be so hard on yourself, princess. You’re doing great.” Terrence gives my hand a squeeze and puts my mind at ease, as if he hears every thought in my head.
I inhale a sharp breath and exhale it. Lord Almighty, these contractions are something else. We lock eyes, and I sob again. “You can watch SportsCenter whenever you want. I didn’t mean it.”
He chuckles and kisses me. “Stop.”
I cry out when another contraction hits.
“You ready to use that strength of yours, Justice?” Dr. Gayle inspects my nether regions, which will soon look like a crime scene.
My eyebrows raise. “Why do you say that?”
She looks up with a smile. “Because you’re fully dilated. It’s time, sweetie.”
“Okay, Justice. I need you to put your chin on your chest, take deep breaths, and get ready to push. You’ll feel like you have to poop, and when you do, push until I tell you to stop.”
She looks at Dr. Gayle and nods. I wasn’t sure when it would happen, but her yell comes within seconds.
“I have to poop!”
Dr. Gayle smiles at her screams and takes her place between her legs. I squeeze Justice’s hand and stand next to her for support.
“The first baby is crowning,” she says. “Terrence, do you want to see your baby’s head?”
Don’t do it. You’ll pass out.
Men much bigger than I have fainted from the sight. Hard pass. I cough and shake my head. “No thanks, I’m good.”
After several pushes and Justice’s war cry, the first baby is out.
Dr. Gayle raises our little girl for us to see. “Here’s your daughter.” She wraps her in a blanket and passes her to me.
I squeeze Justice’s hand with tears in my eyes. She has ten fingers, ten toes, and a full head of black curls. She’s gorgeous, just like her mama.
“You did it, baby.” I reach down to kiss Justice and give her a better view. She’s sweating and looks so tired but beams with pride.
“She’s perfect, Terrence,” she says. Tears continue to fall. “I’m so tired.”
My wife is a warrior. I kiss her again. “I know, my love. We have one more to get.”
She looks at Dr. Gayle. Exhaustion sets into her features. “Can we get the other one after Christmas? Please.”
Her eyes soften, but she shakes her head. “I’m afraid not, dear.”
Justice’s eyes return to mine with a look that breaks my heart. She pleads for me to take the paint away, and I can’t. “A few more pushes and you’re done. I promise.”
You can do it.
Fresh tears fall down her cheeks, and she nods. “And then, will you get my rainbow rolls?”
I laugh at that. No matter what, my wife never loses her appetite. I lean down to whisper, “The order is out. I won’t leave you, but your food is on the way.”
She bites her lip to hold back a smile. “I love you.”
“Love you more.”
Justice sits up, looks at the doctor, and bears down. It takes four pushes before the room fills with not one but two cries from the most precious beings.
Our family is here.
After some quick tests, we each hold a twin in our arms. Big brown eyes stare back at me as I look down at my daughter resting on my forearm. We’ve only had our girls on this side of the womb for ten minutes, and I already know I will give my life to protect them and Justice.
“You did it, baby.” I can’t stop kissing my wife. We stare at our children.
She looks up at me with tears in her eyes. “I think you had a little something to do with it.”
I smile and shake my head. “I had the easy part. This was all you, princess.”
Justice displayed strength today that will have me worshipping at women’s feet for all of eternity. She wasn’t happy to push out two placentas, but she did, like the boss she is. I got to cut the umbilical cords, which turned out to be not as gross.
As promised, her sushi arrived forty-five minutes later, but Justice had no desire to eat. After nine hours of labor and two vaginal deliveries, she fell asleep.
Cries consume our suite. I scrub my face with my hand and glance at my watch. Two a.m. Forty minutes since I last woke up. Even though they’re twins, I’m starting to distinguish between Edith and Graciela’s wails.
“One sec. Here I come.” Justice still has her eyes closed as she tries to get up from the bed.
“Oh no you don’t, baby.” I kiss her on the forehead and walk over to the bassinets. Edie sobs next to her sleeping sister. Thank God she doesn’t wake Gracie. One newborn’s schedule is hard enough. Two is a circus act.
I change Edie’s diaper and pick her up. We pace the room to give Justice a few extra minutes of sleep before she nurses. With the amount these girls drink, Jay’s milk is coming in with a vengeance.
“I’m ready,” she says through a yawn. Justice will nurse them one at a time until she’s comfortable breastfeeding in tandem.
When she’s done, I burp Edie and swaddle her back up for bedtime. Gracie wakes up as she goes down, and we start the whole process again. We’re tired as hell, but at least we have some kind of system to make it work.
I’m exhausted, and I can’t imagine how Justice is recovering, how her body is after she pushed out twins. I sleep when she and the babies are down and do everything to help that doesn’t require my wife or her breasts.
I help Justice out of bed to go to the bathroom and use the squirt bottle the nurse gave us for her sensitive spots. She has every pillow and support I brought for comfort.
After four days in the birthing center and some tests, it’s time for us to go home as a family. Lee helps me load up Justice’s Jeep and wants the honor of pushing his daughter in the wheelchair. I have no objections. The extra pair of hands allows me to double-fist these car seats. I’ll never have to do bicep curls again.
Our mothers cheer on the lawn when we pull into the driveway. They’re holding up handmade signs like they’re about to catch a glimpse of their favorite boy band. If the sea of Christmas decorations in my front yard didn’t scare our neighbors, they’re in for a treat.
My mother presses her face against the back-seat window and yells with joy, “The babies are here!”
There’s no time to react—let alone bring the car to a complete stop—before Angela pulls at the other side door. Are these two possessed? I unbuckle my seat belt and turn to Justice. “Stay here.”
My steps toward the back of the car are slow. There are a few ways this could play out, and I hope it doesn’t end with my ass whipped with my mother’s chancleta. Cobras are easier to tame than two excited grandmothers.
My tone is soft and even. “Ladies.” I kiss my mother and then Angela on the cheek. My father-in-law went to pick up lunch for the house and should be here soon to provide backup.
“Oh, Terrence!” My mother clasps her hands together. “We can’t wait to see our girls!”
Angela nods. “Yes! The time we had was too short.”
The two ping-pong off each other before I raise a hand. “I know you two are happy.” Their heads bob like kids who found out they’re going to Disneyland. I hesitate. “I need you both to tone it down a few notches.”
My mother glares at me. Shit.
Here goes nothing. I swallow and roll my shoulders. “My wife is exhausted. We haven’t been home for four days, and we have two new members of our household we need to get situated. Can I count on you two to let me get my family settled before you jump to take the babies?” The last thing I need is Justice on her feet because of an internal obligation to entertain.
They look at each other and turn to me. Angela is the first to speak. Are those tears in her eyes?
“Yes, of course.” Her voice cracks. “You’re so good to my daughter. We’ll give you some space to settle in, and we’ll be here when you need us.” She gives me a hug and walks to the house.
My mom meets my eyes and smiles.
She kisses my cheeks. “You’re a better man than I could’ve prayed for. It’s an honor to be your mother. Abuela Reyes would be so proud.”
I bring her in for a hug. The tears haven’t let up the last few days. “Thank you.”
“Let me get out of your way so you can tend to your family.” She squeezes my hand. “I’m always here if you need me.”
I nod. She walks to meet Angela at the front door. They embrace and link arms to head inside. I have the best family.
It takes one trip to get the twins and the hospital bag inside. I’ll tackle everything in the trunk once Lee gets here. Angela and my mom fidget at the kitchen island for the thumbs-up to take the girls. When I give it, they grin from ear to ear and walk off in whispered conversation with their granddaughters.
Time to get Justice.
“Ready, bab—“ I smile when I open the passenger door and see her in a deep sleep. Her chin is up, her mouth open. My baby is tired.
She stirs when I scoop her into my arms but settles against my chest. “I got you.” I kiss the top of her head. “We’re home.”
“A salacious rom-com that will have you on the edge of your seat for multiple reasons.” – Independent Book Review “The spice in this book was spicy. Terrence may be a cinnamon roll of a man, but boy, does he have a dirty mouth!!!” – Coco, GoodReads ★★★★★ “It was seriously everything I could ask for in a book. I…