It was five weeks before her due date, and Charlotte was having contractions. Hoping it was just her imagination, she got up from bed, walked around, and stretched a little. Ten minutes later, her water broke, and the first really hard contraction came.
“Travis!” she yelped. “The baby!” She gently shook his shoulder and roused him from a deep sleep.
“The baby!” he repeated, as he threw his shoes on.
“I don’t have time to wake Mama and Dad. It’s go time!” Charlotte said, trying to breathe as she had learned in class.
She waddled down the steps as quickly as she safely could, with Travis in front of her, in the event she slipped. Another contraction came, and she yowled in pain. “We gotta hurry!” she told him.
“Meet me out front,” he said as he ran for the garage.
They sped toward the hospital as fast as Charlotte’s car could drive. She called the hospital in the car on the way over, so they were ready and waiting for her with a wheelchair when they arrived. They got her into a room, and the ER doctor informed her that Dr. Myles was minutes away.
“We have no time to get you to a delivery room,” Dr Myles informed Charlotte and Travis. “She’s coming now.”
Travis held her hand as Charlotte labored painfully. In a few minutes’ time, Dr. Myles was holding their newborn baby girl. They no sooner got her cleaned up, when Charlotte felt another strong contraction. “Oh my word!” she yelled, surprised by the sudden pain.
“Charlotte… you… have another baby,” Dr. Myles informed her, not believing her own eyes. “This is incredible.”
“Wha…” was all she got out before labor started intensely again. The second baby took a little longer to be born, but she arrived about 30 minutes later than her older twin. She was cleaned up and swaddled, and the doctor handed one baby to Charlotte, and the other to Travis.
“Doc, how could this be? We had ultrasounds. How could a second baby be missed for this long?” Travis asked, totally incredulous. Charlotte couldn’t stop smiling as she held her firstborn daughter in her arms.
“Once in a great while, a baby will hide behind its twin, so that we can’t see him or her until birth. It explains the month premature, but they are both in excellent condition, not too much under normal birth weight.” Dr Myles was astounded as well. In all her years, she had never seen it happen.
“Travis, we only have a nursery set up for one baby.” She smiled and kissed her little girl. “I guess we have some work to do when we get home.”
“Well, I have work to do. You are not going to lift a finger, little Mama! I can ask your brother to come and help pull the extra crib from the attic tomorrow.” The baby Travis was holding squirmed and started to cry. “I think she’s hungry!”
He handed the baby to Charlotte, who now had two crying infants in her arms. The nurse came in for the save and took one to comfort while Charlotte nursed the other. She was such a natural, and everything seemed instinctive with her. Travis sat on a chair and watched her, amazed.
They were released from the hospital the next day. As she had done before, Jen sent a limousine for the new family to bring them home, along with flowers and a doll like Charlotte’s. Bella and Rog were waiting at home with open arms and surprised expressions as they saw them with two baby girls.
“Twins!” Bella squealed, holding her arms out to take one. “Oh Charlotte, you guys outdid yourselves. They are perfect!”
Rog took the other baby and cradled her, cooing. “What did you name them? I know you only had one name picked out.”
“The firstborn is Darcey Isabella, and the second one is Danae Elizabeth,” Charlotte beamed. Each baby’s middle name was their grandmother’s first name.
“I’m in love,” Rog bubbled. “Charlotte, princess, you did a good job.” She sure was happy to have both of them in the same house, because with an extra mouth to feed, she would need two extra hands to help.
Charlotte and Travis put the girls in the crib upstairs until Chris could come to help Travis with the second one. Grabbing a baby monitor receiver, she went to sit in the living room with her family.
“I’ve never seen this happen before, in all my years as a doctor,” said Rog. “They are truly a gift, you know that.”
Charlotte smiled. ”That they are, Daddy.”
“I’m surprised you used my full name, princess,” Bella observed. “I have never once gone by Isabella. Never.” Rog looked at Bella oddly. Apparently, he didn’t know her full name, either.
“Darcey Bella didn’t sound right, Mama.” And she agreed that Isabella sounded better. “Travis, you should call your parents.”
“Do I have to?” Travis sighed. He had the distinct feeling they were still hoping he would come home and marry Amy’s sister, despite the fact that they knew he was happy where he was, and that his promise to Amy ended when her life ended.
“Nothing melts a heart like a grandchild, Travis,” Bella smiled. “Maybe it will be different now.”
Deciding to give it a try, he dialed his old phone number. “Travis?” his mother answered, and then sighed angrily. “What do you want?”
“Gee, mother, good to talk to you, too.” He rolled his eyes and shook his head at Charlotte. “I thought you might want to know you have twin granddaughters.”
“Did you name one of them Amy?” Elizabeth Jones asked impatiently on the other end.
“No, why would we do that?” Travis was very sorry he had called and even sorrier that they chose her name as Danae’s middle name.
“Because of Amy, son. You know, the one you’re cheating on with that tramp from Starlight Shores.” His mother growled under her breath. “It would have been a nice gesture to remember the mother of your FIRST baby.”
“That is my wife you are talking about, mother,” he growled through gritted teeth, “and I don’t appreciate your tone. Amy is gone and she has been for almost 9 years. No amount of pretending will bring her back, and I wouldn’t want her now even if she was alive.” His mother made an audible gasp on the other end of the phone. “It’s about time you and Amy’s family dropped this charade and faced reality. But, if you don’t care about your own flesh and blood just tell me, and this relationship is dead.”
“That tramp is not your real wife, and the only flesh and blood I cared about died in that car accident with your rightful wife. Goodbye Travis. Call when you come to your senses and decide to come home, without HER!”
He pressed End on his phone and nearly threw it. Charlotte could see his temples throbbing as he clenched his teeth, furious with his mother. “That woman is my mother no longer,” he announced. “She is dead to me.”
Charlotte went to him and held him. “I’m sorry, honeybear,” she said with remorse. “I should have known better.”
“Baby, It’s not your fault they are stuck in the past, honey.” He shook his head. “I’m the only one who has moved on. It’s been nearly 9 years. They need to get real.”
One of the babies woke and began to cry. “I’ll get her,” Charlotte said, as she trekked up the stairs. “I might nap while I’m up there. I slept terribly last night.”
Travis nodded his head, yawning. “Baby, I’m right behind you honey.”
“Say Mama,” Charlotte sat with Danae. Slowly, she enunciated the words. “Ma-ma. Ma-ma.”
“Da-da,” repeated the violet-eyed little girl. Charlotte laughed.
“That’s not what Mama said, Punkin!” She lifted the little girl and snuggled her close.
“Da-da,” repeated the toddler. “Da-da.”
“Okay, don’t rub it in,” Charlotte giggled. Darcey crawled over to Charlotte and reached for her. She was happy to indulge her, and all at once she had both squirmy, giggly girls in her lap. Since Chris and Cade lost Nicky, Charlotte didn’t take one moment with her babies for granted.
“Mama!” Darcey babbled, and Charlotte’s heart leaped. “Mama! Mama!” she sang, seeing the reaction she got from Charlotte.
“Aww, that’s my sweet girl!” she cooed and cuddled her.
Charlotte laughed. “Yes, Dada will be home soon, sweet pea.” With both of them still on her lap, she covered them in kisses, their giggles filling her heart to overflowing.
From the loft, Bella and Rog were watching them play. “She is a wonderful Mama,” Rog said, smiling.
“She’s almost a better mother than I was,” Bella replied. “She has two of them. I only had one at a time.”
Rog smiled but shook his head. “You are the best Mama, darling.” He took her hand to kiss it. “Nicky changed her, for the better, I think.” Rog was pensive. “Nicky changed us all.”
“Not bad for a little boy of two,” Bella pondered.
The door opened at 8:15, and Charlotte already had the girls bathed, read to and fed. “Hey honey,” Travis greeted her with a kiss.
“Your babies are waiting for ‘Dada’, honeybear. Danae has been wanting you all day.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him upstairs. Quickly, Bella and Rog situated themselves to make it look like they weren’t spying.
“You don’t have to hide it, Rog, Bella.. We know you were watching.” Travis smiled at his in-laws. He opened the door to the nursery to see two little round, cherubic faces peering through the crib at him. “There are my sweet little punkins!” he gushed. He walked to Danae’s crib, who held her arms out for him first. She was Daddy’s little girl. He plucked her from the crib and tickled her belly, which yielded giggles and squeals. Charlotte rolled her eyes. She just spent an hour getting them to calm down, and he had them all riled up again within seconds. Gently, he blew bubbles on Danae’s tummy and set her back down in her crib. She pouted as he walked to Darcey’s crib and picked her up. Darcey favored Charlotte just a little more, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t happy to see her Daddy. She cooed at him and babbled in a language only she and Danae knew, and he tickled her, hoping to get more giggles from her. He snuggled Darcey for a moment, and then placed her back into her crib, then walked back to Danae’s crib, where she was waiting, arms up, for one last snuggle.
Luckily, the girls were tired, so it didn’t take them long to resettle and drift to sleep. “I have dinner for you in the oven, honeybear,” she said, kissing him.
“When do you have time to do everything you do with those girls, cook for four adults and still work a full-time job?” Travis asked her, amazed.
“You forget, I have two built-in babysitters. When I get home, they’re cared for. I get all the fun stuff, and Mama and Daddy are into diapers and storytimes.”
“I’m sure your Dad just hates that,” Travis snickered.
“Terrible,” she laughed. “But today, Danae learned to say Da-da… again.”
Travis laughed. “How many times did you tell her Ma-ma?”
“At least ten.” She smiled. “I don’t care what she calls me, as long as she loves me.” Charlotte got misty-eyed thinking of Nicky and Greg. “The boys were right around this age when we found out we were expecting the girls.”
“They were, weren’t they?” Travis finished his dinner, and Charlotte took his plate.
“Yeah, they were. Funny how 15 months changes so much.”
Travis scooted his chair away from the dining table, and Charlotte sat on his lap. “What do you say, we try to give those baby girls a little brother or sister?”
“Hmm,” she thought. “We can try.”
“Trying is the best part,” he replied, taking her hand and leading her to their bedroom.
Finally! She thought as she looked at her home pregnancy test between retches. A positive! It explained why she couldn’t hold any food down, but then again, she did have an emergency shift a few nights before the vomiting began. It could have been the mystery burrito again. She washed her face and returned to the ER floor.
“Are you feeling okay, Dr. Jones?” a nurse asked her.
“Do I look that bad?” Charlotte asked, embarrassed.
“No, you don’t look bad, but it sounded horrible.” Another nurse chuckled. “Not that it bothers me. In the ER, it’s almost an ambient sound.”
She laughed uncomfortably. “Yeah, I guess it is.” She looked at her watch. Two more hours to go, and she felt queasy.
When her shift was done, she drove herself home, having to pull over to fertilize some bushes on the way. Danae and Darcey were home from Kindergarten, and Bella was giving them cookies and milk for a snack. I don’t know what I’m going to do once they’re gone, she thought. Her parents, getting older, were beginning to slow down, and Charlotte feared her time with them was growing short.
“Hey girlies,” she called to her identical twin daughters. Staring at them, pretending as though she couldn’t tell them apart, she began to tease them. “Now, which one are you?” she said to Danae as she looked for signs of difference.
Danae giggled madly. “I’m Da-nay,” she said. “And that’s Darcey over there,” she laughed, pointing at her sister.
“Come here you two and give Mama some loves!” She knelt down and opened her arms for them, and she covered them in kisses as she pulled them to her. Man did she ever love to hear those babies giggle, and she was very good at making them do it.
She didn’t want to tell anyone about the baby until she had told Travis, and he wouldn’t be home until evening hours. So, her reveal would have to wait.
Charlotte’s pregnancy with her third child went smoothly, much more so than her first pregnancy. With just three months to go, the hospital gave her extended paid leave. And with the girls in the old nursery, Charlotte and Travis placed a crib into their own bedroom and hoped they would not be surprised with twins again.
“What happens if our baby turns into two? Or triplets?” Charlotte shuddered at the thought of five children.
“Then we love them just the same as we love those babies sleeping down the hallway,” he said.
“We’d need a bigger house,” she sighed. “Nine of us won’t fit into this space.”
“How about, we cross that bridge when we come to it, baby?” He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her nose. He pulled away and gently patted her belly. “I love you, little one,” he cooed.
Charlotte felt at ease. He had a way of calming her anxieties so completely. “I can’t wait to see what we have, honey bear.” They chose not the know the gender of this baby. “But, I feel like this one is a boy.”
“How do you know that?” Travis asked.
“I don’t know for sure. It’s just a feeling.” She patted her belly as she felt the baby kick. “Yep, this one will be a soccer player, just like his daddy.”
“Mama, what’s gonna happen when you have the baby?” Darcey asked innocently.
“Daddy will bring me to the hospital, and you’ll stay here with Nana and Pop-Pop. Then, I’ll give birth, and we’ll be home the next day,” she explained, keeping it simple to understand.
“No, I mean, are you gonna love me and ‘Nay,” she worried.
“Of course we will, sweetie pie!” Charlotte hugged her. “Why would you think we wouldn’t?”
“My friend’s mama had a baby, and now she doesn’t spend any time with her anymore.” Darcey hugged Charlotte close.
“Don’t you worry about that, little love,” she said, trying to ease her concerns. “I do want you to know, that babies take a lot of care and attention. But you will always have me and your Daddy. We will always love and take care of you. Always.” Charlotte kissed her cheek. “Do you understand, honey?”
The little girl nodded, feeling better. “I love you, Mama,” she said. Charlotte’s heart swelled with joy.
“I love you too, Punkin.”
They were in the middle of dinner, two days after Spooky Day, when Charlotte started having contractions. The pain hit her out of nowhere, and she doubled over.
“Ooh, Travis,” she said. “The baby is coming!”
“Don’t worry, we’ve got the girls taken care of,” Rog said. “Hurry!”
Travis got the car and pulled around to the front of the house. Bella walked Charlotte to the car and kissed her cheek before she got in. “Be safe, and call me!” Charlotte nodded as another contraction took her breath away.
She was in labor for hours before Dr. Myles saw her. “You’re not quite there, but I don’t want to send you home, either. You could be here for another 2 hours, or 24.”
“Can I have something to help this along? The pain is terrible,” Charlotte asked, breathing rhythmically.
“I would rather not at this point. Give it another 2 hours and we’ll see.”
“This is crazy,” Travis muttered. He kissed her face, damp with sweat and tears.
“If this baby doesn’t come soon, I might go crazy, Travis.”
Three hours later, and still no baby. Charlotte called Bella, even though it was the middle of the night. She knew her mother would worry with no word about progress.
“Princess! How’s the baby?”
“Still not here. He’s not in a hurry.” Another pain ripped through Charlotte’s body. “The doctor isn’t giving me anything, either. She wants me to wait it out.”
“Oh sure, it’s all fun and games when the doctor isn’t the one in pain.” Bella sighed. She was happy Charlotte and Chris were easy deliveries. Charlotte heard Rog mumble in the background. “Your daddy says you have to demand it, princess. Asking apparently isn’t good enough.”
“My doctor won’t budge.” Charlotte breathed through the pain. “She’s good, but I wish she would relent on this just a bit.”
“I don’t want to keep you on the phone. Have Travis call me with updates, honey.” Bella said and hung up the phone.
“She wouldn’t be suffering like this if I was still in charge,” Rog mumbled. “That’s inhumane, to let her endure that without something to help her.”
“Hold me, Rog. I have a bad feeling about all of this.”
Two hours later, Charlotte’s water finally broke on its own, and hard labor began shortly afterward. But, she was still in delivery for another three hours, and she was getting exhausted from pain.
“Can I please have something, Dr. Myles? I can’t handle much more.”
“You’re too far along now, Charlotte. Just keep on breathing. You’re doing wonderfully.”
Twenty minutes later, Charlotte was holding a baby boy, perfect in every way. The pain was long gone and forgotten as she snuggled her son close, cooing at him.
Travis called Bella and Rog, as Charlotte had promised.
“Hello? Travis?” Bella answered the phone.
“Hi, Bella. Charlotte is doing great! We have a son,” he beamed. “He was born about an hour ago, and he’s perfect.”
“Congratulations!” Bella squealed on the other end. “Charlotte is doing okay?”
“She’s better than okay,” Travis replied. “She is ecstatic, over the moon happy. The doctor says she was a trooper. I felt terrible for her, but she is an amazing woman.”
“Let her know the girls miss her, and they can’t wait for you to come home. May I tell them about their baby brother?”
“Yes, you can tell them. Charlotte misses them terribly. But if everything is good, we’ll be home tomorrow morning.” Travis talked another few minutes, and they hung up the phone.
“What did Mama say?” Charlotte asked as she nursed their son.
“Danae and Darcey miss you fiercely, but I gave your mom permission to tell them about Devin. Hopefully, we’ll all be together tomorrow morning.”
“I hope so. I miss my girls.” Charlotte smiled serenely as the baby fell asleep. “Thank you, Travis.”
“For loving me. For our children. I couldn’t be happier, and it’s because of you. Thank you, my love.”
“Baby, It’s always my pleasure, honey.” Travis curled up with her and the baby, happy and fulfilled.
Up Next: Chapter Six, Generation Four