A Different Perspective


“W-What?” I choked. My brain was struggling to come to terms with what he was saying. Two of them? As in, two babies? Twins? My mind spun. Edward was staring at me, looking just as shocked as I felt.

“I can hear two minds,” he whispered. “I never noticed the sound before, and at first I thought it was only one. They were thinking the same thing at the same time to start with, but then they started to think different things, and I heard the difference in the voices. Their heartbeats must be in sync as well, or something like that, because I’ve never heard more than one.”

I was utterly frozen with shock, unable to move and only vaguely aware of my surroundings. I dimly felt cold hands on my face, and blinked, looking up into Edward’s concerned eyes. I only realised I was crying when his thumbs swiped under my eyes, collecting the tears as they pooled on my cheeks.

“Are you alright Bella?” he asked gently. “Are you in pain?”

I shook my head. “I'm fine, just... surprised.” We both chuckled at the monumental understatement.

“Do you want to go see Carlisle? I can call him at the hospital.”

I shook my head. “No, I’ll wait until he gets home. Going there is too risky anyway. Someone might see me, and you know how rumours spread around here.”

Edward nodded in agreement, turning to a worried looking Nessie and beginning to distract her with one of her favourite games. I sat still on the couch watching them, my mind churning through everything that Edward had said and what I had observed. It had seemed odd to me how I was bigger, suggesting that the baby was growing faster, but I had yet to feel it kick. There had been slight movement, but nothing definite, nothing defined. And now, Edward was talking about hearing two minds, thinking in sync, heartbeats in sync... it boggled my mind.

Alice took Renesmee off for a fashion show after a few hours, giving us a break for some much needed discussion time. Edward wrapped me protectively in his arms and carried me to our bedroom for some privacy.

“How are you feeling?” he asked, stroking my hair softly.

“I'm not sure,” I hedged. “I think I’m still processing it.”

“Are you scared?”

I shook my head vigorously. Mildly confused, yes. Shocked, definitely. But not scared. One thing I was sure was that I wasn't afraid of this. I didn't want to end my pregnancy, no matter how many children came out of it.

“I'm just struggling to believe it's real.” I admitted. “Doesn't there usually have to be a history of twins in your family for this to happen?”

He shrugged. “We could very well have some history. I can't even remember my family outside of my parents.”

I gently stroked my stomach, quiet as I thought. Every second my decision was stronger, more firm. I knew I would keep my baby – or babies – no matter what, that I would not let anyone take them from me, and that I would love them with all of my heart; I already loved them as much as I loved Edward and Nessie, so that shouldn't be too hard.

“Carlisle's home,” Edward murmured.

I nodded. “Let's go.”

He helped me up and we walked steadily downstairs to Carlisle’s office. Edward knocked, then opened the door.

“Hello there you two.” Carlisle smiled at us kindly. “You're looking better Bella. What can I do for you?”

“We were wondering if you could take a look at a few things for us. Run an ultrasound and give us some advice on how to proceed.” Edward explained.

I folded my hands gently over my stomach. Carlisle’s eyes zeroed in on the movement and he frowned, standing and coming around the desk. He still had the hospital bed out, and began setting up the machine from before.

“Is something wrong?” he asked, concerned.

“Not wrong...” I hedged.

“We have reason to believe there is more than one child.” Edward said bluntly, and Carlisle’s eyes popped open wide.

“I see,” he said after a moment, still slightly shell-shocked. “Well, that's certainly serious. Come over here Bella, and we'll take a look.”

I crossed the floor with Edward close beside me, and he helped me up onto the bed, lifting my shirt up like before.

Carlisle spread out the gel with the wand again, searching until the heartbeat began to flutter through the speakers. I could hear that it was louder than Renesmee's had been, but there was no way to identify it as two different beats, for a human at least.

Looking up at the screen, it was obvious that things were not the same as they had been before. There was that same silvery sheen across the screen, but this time it did not seem quite as bright, sightly thinner, and with a thin break down the middle, splitting it into two oval shaped sections.

“Looks like you were right.” Carlisle said softly. “Congratulations, you're having twins.”

I squeezed Edward’s hand, feeling the grin spreading across my face and the tears begin to well in my eyes. He squeezed back, and when I glanced at him he was smiling too, practically glowing with pride.

“Twins.” he whispered reverently.

Before I could say anything, there was a loud thump above us, followed by the sound of scampering feet and Alice’s voice shouting, “Nessie! Get back here!”

Edward chuckled. “I'm going to go get her so we can tell her the good news.” he said, standing up and giving me a soft kiss on the forehead.

I watched him as he strode over to the door and opened it, stepping out into the corridor just as a giggling Nessie came barrelling down it. She smacked into his legs, falling on her backside with a little 'oomph' and a whimper.

“Serves you right, you little monkey!” I heard Alice snap.

“Oh leave her alone Alice,” Edward said, leaning down to pick her up gently. “She didn't mean any harm.”

I chuckled softly and shook my head.

“Bella, look at this,” Carlisle said then, drawing my attention back to the screen.

“What is it?” I asked.

“It looks like the membrane is thinner this time around.” he said, confirming what I had already suspected. “My guess is that this pregnancy is erring more on the human side. And if I get the angle just right...” he trailed off.

Edward stood beside me, Renesmee in his arms, and we all watched the screen as Carlisle moved the Doppler wand around carefully. After a moment, he stopped, and tears sprang into my eyes as I saw the image that was revealed. It was fuzzy and indistinct, but it was easy to see the two curled bodies within the ovals; two bent backs, four arms, four legs, two bulbous heads, each with a tiny set of blurry features. Renesmee gasped.

“Two babies!” she cried, and we laughed.

“Yes darling, two babies,” Edward told her with a chuckle. “You're going to have two new brothers or sisters instead of just one.”

“You might even get one of each,” I said, smiling through the tears that had finally spilled over.

Carlisle pressed a few buttons on the machine, and two little prints of the image on the screen came out of a slot in the side. He pocketed one – presumably for his personal collection – and held the other out to us.

“A little memento for you,” he said with a smile. “Since you didn't have one last time.”

My hands were shaking too much to take it from him, so Edward leaned over and took it instead. Nessie peered at it with a little smile on her face.

“I hope it's one of each.” she said. “One boy and one girl. Then I’ll have someone to share my toys and clothes with, and we can play fun games, but it won't be so crazy as having two boys.”

I smiled at her sweet voice, seeing what she imagined in my head, though she wasn't touching me. It enchanted me, that image; all my children, playing together happily. I couldn't wait for it to be real, and I was glad that it would come sooner rather than later.

I tossed and turned restlessly, trying to get comfortable without jostling the babies too much. My stomach had definitely begun to bulge now, sticking out a good half a foot at least. I knew I was almost at twenty centimetres now, which was bigger than I had been with Nessie at this point. It was just getting to the point of being an inconvenience in certain situations.

Like now.

Rain was pouring down in loud, heavy streams, the falling water coming at just the right angle to beat against the glass rather than flowing straight down, and a fierce wind whistled through the trees, making the leaves rustle. I could remember weather worse than this that I’d slept right through, but for some reason all the noise tonight was keeping me awake. It was completely ridiculous; I felt like I’d gone back to my first night in Forks, when the rain had kept me awake half the night. Granted, this was louder than that had been, but it still seemed silly to me that I wasn't sufficiently used to the sound to sleep through it.

On top of the noise, I couldn't seem to get comfortable. No matter where or how I lay, it always seemed to be wrong. If I pulled the comforter up I was too hot, but if I took it off I was too cold. Even in my favourite spot - the place that felt like heaven, particularly first thing in the morning - I couldn't begin to relax, let alone fall asleep. It was after twelve at that point, and I was tired and cranky. Needless to say, the rain was starting to get on my nerves.

Between feeling sorry for myself, I felt unbelievable sympathy and gratitude for Edward. My poor husband was calmly and quietly putting up with all my fidgeting, wrapping his arms around me whenever I was still and backing off when I started to wriggle. He was very patient, and hadn't complained once, but I couldn't help feeling guilty.

Finally giving up, I lay on my back staring up at the iron vines winding over my head, huffing in irritation.

“It's official.” I mumbled. “I can't sleep.”

Edward chuckled lightly, sitting up halfway and leaning on his elbow beside me. I glared at him, and he stopped instantly, settling into an amused smile.

“Sorry love,” he said, still trying not to laugh. “But you are funny when you're angry.”

“Glad my discomfort amuses you,” I groused, crossing my arms over my chest and trying to ignore him. But, Edward being Edward, he didn't leave me alone for long. His sweet breath sank into my hair and blew across my face as he leaned down to whisper in my ear.

“You really should sleep love,” he said softly, crooning the way he always did to try and put me to sleep. “You need your rest.”

His hand rested on my belly, a reminder of exactly why I needed to sleep – and half the reason I was still awake. See, the twins didn't like the storm either, and they had started kicking every time there was a surge in noise. And in between kicks, they wriggled and squirmed as much as I did, probably more.

I sighed, knowing that Edward was right and I needed to get some rest. Tired of moving around, I simply closed my eyes and worked to relax each of my muscles one by one – that usually did the trick. I was almost there when a deep rumble of thunder sounded from the forest, extremely loud and definitely very close. The rain pelted even harder and the wind blew fiercer, and what had been just been a rain storm had turned into a full blown thunder storm with a hurricane attached. Sleep was, therefore, entirely out of the question. I growled and slammed my fists down on the mattress, opening my eyes and looking mournfully up at Edward.

“Nature hates me,” I told him, pouting. He just smiled and stroked my hair gently.

Lightning flashed outside the window, making me jump, immediately followed by a deafening rumble of thunder and a swirl of wind that shook the trees more than ever before. The twins went crazy, I clung to Edward’s t-shirt, and a loud shriek of “Momma!” echoed from across the hall. My head jerked in the direction of the door.

“She's okay,” Edward reassured me. “Just frightened. She's never experienced a storm before.” He gently extracted himself from my grip. “I'm going to go get her, okay? I’ll be right back.”

I nodded and let him go without a fight, having calmed down from my own moment of irrational terror. Time to focus on my daughter, to give her the comfort and reassurance she needed right now.

Edward reappeared a moment later with a tearful Renesmee clinging to him tightly. She seemed to have calmed down slightly and was now just sniffing pitifully rather than crying, but it was clear that she was far from alright. I sat up slightly and held out my arms for her. She reached for me too, and Edward handed her to me gently, brushing his hand across her hair as he sat down beside us. I cradled her against my chest, softly stroking her curls and murmuring to her soothingly. Her hand found its way to my neck, and I could hear the terror in her thoughts.

It's scary Momma, she whimpered mentally. What is it?

“Shh,” I whispered to her, “There's nothing to be scared of. It's just a storm.”

It's not like others. she insisted stubbornly.

I smiled. “I know darling. But it's not really that different. When it comes down to it, thunder and lightning are just light waves and sound vibrations. They're scary, but they can't hurt you. We're safe inside the house.”

That seemed to calm her down momentarily, until another lightning bolt streaked across the sky and the thunder rumbled again. She shook against me and whimpered out loud. The twins kicked again, one swift jab on each side of my stomach. They had a habit of doing that; hitting me at exactly the same time, in spots exactly opposite to each other.

“Momma!” Renesmee sobbed, hugging me tightly. I hugged her back, soothing her as best as I could.

“I don't like being scared.” she whispered mournfully. “It feels bad.”

“Everyone gets scared sometimes baby,” I told her, smiling.

“Nu uh,” she insisted, shaking her head. “You and Daddy are never scared. Nothing scares you.”

Edward laughed. “Hardly. We get frightened all the time. Me especially.”

She looked at him incredulously. “You? But you're big and strong. What ever scared you?”

“Well, your mother for starters,” he said with a smirk. “Always running off and getting herself in trouble. I’m surprised I didn't end up going crazy.”

I rolled my eyes at him. He just smirked again before turning his attention back to Nessie.

“And you scared me too.”

Her eyes went wide. “Me?”

He nodded solemnly. “Very much. I didn't know if I was ready to be somebody's Daddy yet, and you kind of came out of nowhere, so I didn't have a lot of time to adjust to the idea of having this new little person in my life.”

“Do I scare you now?” she asked, sounding very worried. The conversation seemed to be distracting her from the storm, and she wasn't clinging to me quite as tightly as she had before.

Edward laughed again and ruffled her hair. “Of course not. Why would I be afraid of you?”

Nessie grinned at him, wriggling out of my arms and standing up n the mattress.

“Because I’m a scary monster!” she said, then quickly dropped into a crouch and pounced, knocking Edward onto his back and bouncing up and down on top of him. She was growling, and it sounded like a lion cub in one of those documentaries they show on the Discovery Channel. I couldn't help laughing at her silliness as she swiftly wrestled her father into submission.

“I win, I win!” she crowed, bouncing up and down on his stomach. “I'm the scariest vampire in the world!”

She bared her teeth at him, and he made a show of being terrified for a second before he began to tickle her. She squealed and writhed, trying to get away from him.

“Momma, Momma, save me!” she cried, and I laughed briefly before I carefully plucked her off of Edward’s chest.

“Yey!” Nessie cheered, wrapping her little arms around my neck. “You're so brave Momma! You're not scared of anything.”

I shook my head. “Everyone is scared of something darling. A person who is brave isn't just someone who isn't afraid. It's someone who's afraid, but doesn't let that fear stop them from doing what they have to do.”

“Which is exactly why you are the bravest person I have ever known.” Edward said with a smile that I couldn't help returning.

Renesmee yawned widely, which made both of us chuckle.

“Time for my girls to get some sleep,” Edward murmured, reaching out to take her from me. But she wasn't having that. She shook her head furiously, curling up against me as much as she could with my belly in the way.

“Can I sleep with you tonight? Please?” she begged, and of course we couldn't deny her. I lay down with my arms still wrapped around her, and Edward carefully tucked us both in and lay down beside us. The storm had died down and was now just a gentle rain shower that pattered against the window pane. The twins had calmed down too, and I was pretty sure they'd already fallen asleep.

Edward began to hum my lullaby softly, and Nessie sighed, snuggling closer into me. In seconds, she was out like a light, and I could feel myself joining her. So I closed my eyes, shifted a little closer to Edward, and drifted off into peaceful oblivion.

“Hurry back,” I whispered as Edward pulled away from our kiss. He was going hunting for a few hours, along with the rest of the family, leaving me at home with Jake, Nessie and the now very active twins for company.

“I will,” he promised with a smile, kissing me again and ducking down to kiss my bulging belly. The twins kicked, one on each side in perfect unison. He felt it and smiled wider.

“I love you,” he said softly and pulled away with one last kiss on my forehead. Then he went and leaned down to say goodbye to Renesmee. She was sitting on the floor dressing up her dolls, Jacob watching her with a smile on his face.

“Be good darling,” Edward told her, kissing the top of her head.

“I will Daddy,” she answered sweetly, reaching up to give him a hug.

“Come on Edward!” Alice called from outside, and he stood up to leave.

“Take good care of my girls,” he said sternly to Jacob, who saluted him smartly, before he blew me one last kiss and darted out the door.

I sighed as soon as he was out of sight, putting my hand on my enormous stomach, which had rapidly become its own continent. It had been almost two weeks since the ultrasound, and though it seemed that the twins were developing at a slightly more human rate, the fact that there was two of them meant that my baby bump had grown bigger and faster than it had with Nessie. Carlisle took daily measurements and did regular scans, the most recent of which showed that both the babies has flipped around so that their heads were angled downwards, much like human babies did. If it weren't for his unshakeable curiosity about their nature, he might have delivered them already; they were certainly developed enough, and a fairly good size, though rapidly running out of room. As it was, he was waiting for them to be ready on their own, which worried Edward a little. He tried to keep it hidden, since I was all for Carlisle plan despite the slight discomfort it caused me, but I knew him well enough to see his barely veiled panic and made sure to give him plenty of attention and time to dote on me and the new babies, which never failed to put a smile on his face.

I picked up the book I had put aside – A Midsummer Night's Dream – and went back to reading. Every so often, Nessie would giggle or call out to me or bring something over to show me, and I would divert my attention to her for a while, then go back to the book. Leaning back on the pillows that Esme had very helpfully provided, I was fairly comfortable, all things considered; I was the size of a whale, and indigestion had been bothering me on and off all morning. I hadn't said anything so that I didn't worry Edward, but the cramps in my stomach were getting stronger, and it was beginning to get seriously annoying and slightly painful.

“You okay Bells?” Jake asked when he saw me fidgeting and grimacing.

“Fine,” I replied, brushing it off. “Just got a bit of a stomach ache, that's all.”

He frowned, but didn't push me, going back to Nessie. About ten minutes later, another cramp hit me, hard enough that I sucked in a breathe and clutched my stomach. My book slipped out of my hand and thunked to the floor.

Renesmee was at my side in an instant, her face a mask of concern and her hand on my arm.

Mommy? She thought. What's wrong?

“Nothing,” I panted, trying to work through the pain that still twisted inside me, radiating out from my stomach in waves. “It's just indigestion.”

The pain began to subside, and I breathed deep and slow until I could relax again. Jake and Nessie still looked worried, so I smiled at them reassuringly.

“See?” I said. “Gone already.”

I swung my legs round carefully, placing my socked feet on the floor. “I'm going to go take an anti-acid before it gets any worse.” I told them, then heaved myself to my feet with a little bit of help from Jacob.

As soon as I was upright, I felt a rush of something warm and wet between my legs.

I froze. My knowledge was limited, but based on things I’d read, lessons in school, and lengthy discussions with Renee over the years, I had a fairly good idea of what was happening.

“Bella?” Jacob asked, looking almost afraid now.

“I think my water just broke,” I said numbly, with no inflection.

Everything was frozen for one long, agonising second. Then Jacob recovered from the shock enough to start taking action. He guided me gently back down onto the sofa and knelt beside me, avoiding the wet patch on the carpet.

“Where's your cell phone?” he asked me seriously and gently.

“Kitchen counter.” I said, still staring blankly ahead of me.

“Nessie, can you go get it for me?”

She nodded, eyes wide and confused, and scampered off. Just as she disappeared, another wave of pain flowed through me, making me cry out and fold over myself. Jacob took my hand in his, and I automatically squeezed it as hard as I could.

“Just breathe, okay Bells?” he murmured soothingly. “Deep breaths. I’m right here for you, don't worry.”

I did as he said, breathing through what I now knew was a contraction. This one was long, lasting almost a minute, and definitely stronger than before. I could feel the muscles squeezing inside me, working to widen my cervix and force the babies down and out. I began to shake as the gravity of the situation finally sank in. I was in labour. I was giving birth, naturally, in the human way, and it was agony. I couldn't imagine what it would feel like when I actually started pushing. I whimpered in terror just thinking about it.

“Shh Bella. It's okay.” Jake soothed me, stroking my hair back from my face. “Stay with me Bells. You're going to be okay.”

Nessie came back then, giving my cell phone to Jacob and clambering up beside me. She curled into my side, and I put my arms around her, cradling her head against my shoulder and pressing my nose into her hair.

Jacob quickly scrolled through my contacts and hit the call button, standing up and moving away so that I couldn't hear the conversation.

“What's going on Momma?” Nessie asked me, her sweet little voice trembling with fear. “What's happening to you?”

“Nothing bad.” I assured her. “The babies have decided it's time for them to come out and meet us, and unfortunately that's pretty painful for me. But it will all be worth it in the end.” That was as much for me as for her; I had to keep reminding myself why I was doing this, what was coming at the end of it.

Jake came back over to us, still on the phone. I couldn't hear the other person on the line, but it quickly became clear who he was talking to.

“Yeah, it's definitely started... I’m not sure... no, she seems fine, just kind of freaked out...yes, Nessie's here too... about two minutes ago. Looked like it was a big one.”

Another contraction hit me, and I released one arm from my grip on Nessie to fist my t-shirt in my hand. I whimpered and choked on a cry of pain, trying to hold it in for her sake.

“She just got another one... yeah... okay, one sec.” Jake waited until the pain had passed, then held the phone out to me. I held it to my ear as he gently extricated Nessie from my arms.

“Hello?” I whispered, and my voice wobbled uncontrollably.

“Bella?” Edward’s voice sounded in my ear. “Just stay calm, love. I’m on my way. Jacob is taking Nessie outside so she doesn't get frightened, okay? Don't worry, we'll be back soon.”

“It hurts Edward.” I whimpered.

“I know love, I know.”

“No you don't,” I said weakly. “You aren't a woman.”

His soft chuckle was strained. “True.”

The slight lift in atmosphere was dispelled instantly as yet another contraction squeezed my mid-section. As hard as I tried, I couldn't hold back my agonised cry as my fingers tightened around the phone.

“Breathe Bella,” Edward instructed me. “It's alright, my darling, just breathe.”

I did as he said, breathing deeply in and out in time to his steady breaths echoing down the phone line. When the pain was gone he continued to murmur gentle encouragements and reassurances, helping me through each surge and continually updating me on how far away they were.

After about five minutes, his voice became more urgent, but still gentle.

“Bella?” he said, making sure that I was listening after the last wave of agony had subsided.

“What?” I panted.

“I'm going to hang up now love, but don't worry, I’m right outside.”

“No!” I croaked, my throat rough from crying. “Edward, please don't leave me. I can't do this on my own, please don't go!”

“It's alright Bella,” he assured me placatingly. “I am literally just across the river, I’ll be with you in five seconds.”

I shook my head, forgetting that he couldn't see me, and whimpered, “Please don't.”

“Two seconds.” he promised, and the dial tone replaced his voice. I choked on a panicked sob and frightened, heartbroken tears spilled out of my eyes onto my cheeks, blurring my vision.

Seconds later, cold thumbs brushed them gently away.

“Shh, Bella, shh.” Edward whispered frantically. “It's okay darling, I’m here. I haven't left you Bella, I won't ever leave you.”

I reached out and wrapped my arms around his neck, clinging to him as the tears poured.

“Edward, I’m scared.” I half wailed, half sobbed. “Make it stop Edward, I’m not ready. It's too soon, I can't do it.”

“You can.” he insisted. “You can and you will. You can't give up now Bella, not yet, and I won't let you. You need to calm down love, this stress isn't good for you or the babies.”

And those were the magic words that snapped me out of my panic. The babies... my babies... I had to do this for them. I tried to pull back that old feeling from before, from the very beginning; I had been willing to die for Nessie, and yet I was afraid to go through a few minutes of pain now, something every mother went through to bring their children into the world. So much for being brave...

Stop that. I scolded the nagging, doubting voice in my head. I could not let myself think that way. It wasn't going to do me or anyone else any good.

This is what you're made for. I reminded myself. What you were born to do. If Renee can do it, so can you.

I took several deep breaths to ground myself. My throbbing heart slowed to a slightly more normal pace. I sniffed, relaxing into Edward’s hands, focusing on the feeling of his touch, his smell, his face.

“Better?” Edward asked

I shrugged. “A little.”

“You're going to be fine.” he assured me, his voice soft but fervent, as if making a promise to me and to himself. He leaned in to kiss my forehead and each of my cheeks, his wintry lips brushing away the last of my tears.

“Let's get her upstairs.” I heard Carlisle say and Edward nodded, hooking one arm under my knees with the other supporting my back. I put my arms around his neck, clinging tightly to him and burying my face in his shoulder. He kissed the top of my head gently as he hoisted me off of the couch and carried me swiftly upstairs.

Everything went very quickly after that. My pants and underwear vanished while I screamed through another contraction, unable to hold back my cries no matter how hard I tried. It wasn't fair; I knew Edward would be hurt, knowing that I was in pain, and that hurt me even more. But, try as I might, this pain was too great, and all other considerations flew out of my mind like birds flying south for the winter. Cold hands clasped mine on both sides – Edward on my right and Esme on my left – and I could hear musical voices all around me, telling me how well I was doing. It was hard to believe I was managing to actually do anything whilst in so much pain. Fresh tears poured down my cheeks even as they were wiped away and sweat began to dew on my forehead.

“How much longer will it be Carlisle?” Edward asked tensely. “I hate to see her in this much pain.”

Unexplainable anger overtook me and I glared up at him.

You hate it?” I snapped. “How do you think I feel?”

He stared at me, obviously surprised at my outburst. A contraction hit at that second, stronger than any other, and I squeezed the hands holding mine so hard they probably would have been crushed if they were human.

“I hate you Edward Cullen,” I panted as it subsided. “I'm never letting you touch me again.”

My brain registered his shocked, hurt face, but I didn't have time to process it before I felt an immense pressure centered between my legs, accompanied by more pain across my stomach. I screamed and sobbed and begged for it to be over, and before I really knew what was going on, Carlisle was telling me to push. As disoriented and panicked as I was, I did as he said, my body instinctively reacting the way it needed to.

Again and again I pushed, the pain making me dizzy and causing more than one ear piercing shriek to echo through the room. Edward stayed with me the entire time, whispering gently in my ear, encouraging me and praising me over and over.

And then it was over. A sharp cry punctured the sudden and brief silence after an especially big push, and I wept with relief as the sound of my baby exercising its lungs for the first time reached my ears.

“It's a boy,” Carlisle said, and Edward made a strange choking sound, as if he were crying too.

“EJ,” I croaked weakly.

“EJ.” he agreed, his voice thick, kissing my forehead adoringly as our son continued to cry. He wiped away my tears, and I could just see Rose on the other side of the room, a bundle of blankets in her arms. Before I could ask to see him, something twisted in my abdomen, and I remembered that it was not just EJ who had been living inside me for the last month. There was another baby ready to come into this world, and it seemed they were eager to make their entrance.

“Here comes the next one,” I groaned, flexing my stiff fingers around Edward and Esme's hands.

“Alright dear,” Esme said, stroking my sweat-soaked hair back. “Keep going, you're doing wonderfully.”

“Just a little longer Bella,” Edward promised. “You're almost there, my love, just a little longer.”

Determination gripped me as the pain returned, and for a time I was totally focused on my baby, on getting it out of me and giving life to yet another miraculous symbol of my love for Edward. This time felt slightly easier, slightly faster than the last time, perhaps because I knew what to expect and what to do. I felt the pressure again and forced myself to endure it, pushing even harder with a loud scream.

Something ripped inside me, though what it was I didn't know, and all of a sudden, a wave of blackness crashed over me, dragging me down to a place somewhere deep in my mind where there was no time, no space, no pain. Nothing but nothing.

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