The days dragged by so slowly for the month Ben was gone. I was hurting a lot more so Tom was constantly making me lie down and rest. One day he was gone for most of the day with a photo shoot and interviews. The only way he would leave me there alone was if I swore to lie on the sofa most of the day and rest. He made Robert swear to call me at least twice through the FaceTime app so he could check on me since he only lived twenty minutes away. Tom called me four times. Of course, I didn't lie on the sofa the whole time; I cleaned the entire house. Tom was mad at me when he got back and saw how clean everything was. He canceled all future interviews since I couldn't be trusted to rest. I was going absolutely mad being indoors all the time. I finally convinced Tom to take a short walk on the beach with me and to sit in the wet sand while the water rushed in over us.
He sat behind me with his legs around me and held me close while I leaned against him. He loved to put his arms around me and rub my huge belly. The girls' were particularly active today and he enjoyed it. He loved to feel them move around and kick. He wore a smile of happy contentment. He was so excited about being a father. As much as I still loved Ben, I began to hope they were Tom's daughters. I would not want to see the look of devastation I knew he would have if he was told they weren't his. I had already discussed the paternity test with the doctor and he agreed to collect the samples immediately after birth and rush the test because they were likely to be premature and he would need to know whose genetics and family history he would be working with in the event that something was wrong with them.
I started seeing the doctor weekly to monitor my blood pressure and the pains I was having. The closer I got to the thirty-two week mark, the higher my blood pressure was creeping and the more intense the pain was becoming. There was still four days before Ben was due back in California and Tom didn't want to call him to let him know the situation. He thought it was unnecessary, but I was worried I'd end up needing an emergency C-section soon. I tried texting Ben all day, but he didn't respond. I finally got Tom out of the house to take a jog on the beach so I could call Ben. It was two in the morning in London, but it was the only chance I was going to get since Tom was on my butt like a freckle all day long; besides Ben said to call him if there was a chance they'd be born before he got back. It went to voice mail the first two times I called, but I kept hanging up and calling again. He answered after the first two rings on the third time I called. He was grouchy and half asleep when he greeted me with, "It's after two in the morning, this better be fucking important!"
"Ben, it's Claire. I'm sorry to call you so late..."
He was immediately more alert as he cut me off, "Is it the babies? Are you in the hospital?"
"I have a strong suspicion I will be before you get back here in four days. My blood pressure has been high and I've already been given an injection to stop labor pains once."
"Why the hell didn't Tom call me when that happened?"
"It was just a couple of days ago and he didn't want to bother you since you'd be back soon anyway. He thinks I'm worried over nothing, but I have a feeling they're going to be born any day now."
"I'm calling the airline as soon as you hang up and getting on the first available flight. Try to hold on Darling; I'll be there soon."
"Then I better go now so you can call them."
We both said our good-byes and I hung up. He called me back thirty minutes later, while Tom was in the shower, to tell me he was on a flight that was leaving at five in the morning, London time. He also said that he'd just take a taxi from the airport to the beach house so there was no need for anyone to come pick him up. He promised that he'd be there with me the next morning. I didn't tell Tom that I'd called him, instead I said that Ben had texted me earlier in the day and would be arriving in the morning.
"Oh, he's coming in early? I'm surprised he didn't let me know so I could pick him up at the airport."
"He said there's no need to, he'd just take a taxi. He knows you're worried about me and didn't want to keep you away from me for too long since traffic can be horrendous."
"That is true. Did he happen to say why he changed his plans?"
"Nope, he didn't mention it."
Tom didn't question me further. We ate dinner together soon after and I went to bed early since I wasn't sleeping well and was feeling tired. It was a couple more hours before I felt Tom climb into bed next me, lean over and kiss my cheek before settling down close to me with his hand on my hip. He loved to sleep close to me, touching me in some manner. I'd never had a man who did that before and I found it a bit unnerving. I soon rolled over and snuggled in as close to him as I could get with my protruding watermelon of a belly. He shifted slightly so he could move his upper body closer to me. The girls suddenly started kicking in response to the outside pressure on my belly. Tom said, "Your little occupants clearly do not want other siblings to come after them."
I giggled and replied, "Why do you say that?"
"They are kicking me right in the balls!"
I broke out in a fit of giggles. He shifted some so he was safely out of range and kissed my forehead. "Go back to sleep Darling. I didn't mean to wake you."
"I wasn't really asleep, just resting. It's so hard to fall asleep these days."
"Is there something I can do to help you sleep? Maybe sing you a lullaby? Read you a bed time story?"
I giggled again and replied, "I'm not three Thomas!"
He laughed softly and said, "Well, technically you are: one Clarice and two little girls inside; that makes three. I'm not that bad at math!"
"You're definitely a smartass!"
"Wouldn't you rather I be a smartass than a dumbass?"
"Oh dear Loki! You've definitely been around me far too long! You're starting to repeat some of my quips!"
"We both knew it would happen eventually. You're just too charming not to rub off on the people around you."
"Charming? Is that the new PC way of saying I'm a bitch?"
"You most certainly are not a bitch! You can be stubborn and temperamental at times, but you have a very passionate nature. You're never lukewarm about anything. You either love it, hate it or couldn't care less. You do take some getting used to and weaker minded people can't handle you. You also have an uncanny ability to see right through anybody's attempt at lying to you and that scares a lot of people. I happen to love your passionate nature; you don't scare me, though you often impress the hell out of me. I really admire your strength, but I have to confess that I loved you even more after you confessed to me that you have trouble with letting people in and broke down and cried hysterically in my arms. It made realize you really need me. You might enjoy Ben's fiery lovemaking, but you need a man who can hold you when you cry and not think any less of you for needing to do it. I know you're strong and that's very much your nature, but it's OK to be vulnerable sometimes too. I'll never get upset with you for showing me that side. Ben has only ever seen your fiery side; I've seen both. I've seen the whole picture and you've never shown it to him have you?"
"No I haven't. I don't like feeling vulnerable."
"Are you afraid to show it to him? Do you think he'll think less of you?"
"There really hasn't been the opportunity for him to see that side of me. I wouldn't say that I'm afraid to show it to him. I really don't know how he would feel about it and I'm not going to put words his mouth."
"I'm OK with seeing all you have and all that you are. Being completely honest with me about everything will never change my opinion of you. I love you and I can accept all that comes with it. I know you've been hurt in the past and you still hurt a lot inside. I can't promise you that I can take it all away, but I'm willing to try to get rid of as much of it as I can. I want you to have happiness in your heart and soul. You are a wonderful woman and you deserve it."
I couldn't help but start to cry. He said all these wonderful things to me, but he wasn't the man that had my heart. I love Ben and I wanted to be laying there in his arms and I wanted these sweet words to come out of his mouth. Tom held me tight and kissed my forehead repeatedly. He kept softly telling me to just let go of all of the pain so I wouldn't hurt anymore. I ended up crying until my well of tears ran dry again and soon fell into a fatigued sleep.
He awakened me the next morning with tender kisses on my face. Once my eyes finally fluttered open, he kissed my lips gently. As I woke up more, he initiated more passionate kisses. He soon moved down to my neck and collarbone, kissing everywhere. He finally removed my short nightgown and began gently kissing and suckling my enlarged breasts. Several minutes later he paused to say, "Can we? Is it safe to still be doing that?"
"Please Tom, I really don't want to. I'm too uncomfortable."
"Oh, you mean because you're so far along?"
"It's not just that...Tom, I don't..."
He put his fingers over my lips and said, "Don't say it. It's not true. You do love me, you're just scared and confused. I'm going to go get you a cold drink and make you breakfast. That will help you feel better."
He kissed me and then dressed so he could go get me a glass of ice water. After he brought it to me, he went back to the kitchen to make breakfast. Not long after he left, I got up and dressed. I took my glass of water and joined him in the kitchen. I saw by the clock above the stove that it was after ten; Ben should be arriving soon. I sat on one of the stools at the counter and watched Tom as he made French toast.
"You got out of bed too soon! I was going to serve you breakfast in bed."
"Sorry Darling, but my side was hurting from laying so much. I really needed to get up and move around. I've rested so much lately that I'm sore in places I'd forgotten I have."
He served me a few slices of French toast just as the doorbell rang. He went to answer it as I started eating. It was Ben of course. He immediately walked into the kitchen and gave me a hug while asking how I was feeling. It felt so good to have his arms around me. I didn't want him to let go.
"I'm fine Ben. My blood pressure is up some, but I'm still holding on to them."
Tom went back to finishing up the French toast. Ben helped himself to a couple of slices and sat on one of the other stools next to me. Tom asked why he was back early.
"I wasn't really doing anything, so I thought I'd make sure I was here in case Clarice went into labor or the doctor decided they have to be born now," he replied.
He wasn't admitting to Tom that I had called him. I suddenly blurted out that I had called him because I was concerned that I'd end up needing a C-section at any time and I knew he wanted to be here for it.
"Oh, well that makes sense I guess. All you had to do was be honest. Besides, the sooner we get the paternity test done, the better. We'll all be able to move on with our lives," Tom replied.
I detected a bit of controlled hostility in Tom's voice. I hoped there wasn't going to be any drama. I was too far along and too cranky for such crap. I finished eating then waddled off to the bathroom. I could hear them talking with a more friendly sound as they ate and chatted about whatever Ben had been doing in England.
While I was in there, I noticed my panties seemed excessively wet, but I was a bit hot so maybe I'd just been sweating. I changed them and my shorts before I went back to the kitchen to get a second glass of ice water. Tom gave me a kiss and told me to go sit down in the living room and relax; he'd clean up the kitchen. I went off the living room and laid down on the sofa while I searched through the channels on the television. I started to experience some cramp-like discomfort, but nothing too severe.
The boys soon wandered into the living room. Ben sat down in the chair near my head while Tom took the end of the sofa, picking up my feet so he could sit down and then placing them in his lap. I had found reruns of my favorite comedy about a nanny and widowed father of three living in New York City on one of the cable networks. Halfway through the second episode, Tom nudged my leg and said, "Darling I think you need to go change your shorts, they're soaked."
"What? You're kidding me! That's the second time today! What in the hell is wrong with me?"
"I'm not joking Darling, you have an enormous wet spot on the back. Since they're pink it's quite noticeable."
I groaned and got up to go to the bedroom to get clean clothes before going to the bathroom. While I was changing, I examined the shorts and panties closely. It was then that I realized I could feel quite a bit of moisture on my thighs. There was only one thing that caused this. I put a maxi pad between my body and panties this time. I then pulled on the beige maternity shorts and went back to the living room. I stood in the doorway to announce, "Guys, I think there's a problem."
Both heads whipped around toward me so quickly it was comical. I went on, "I think my water broke."
Tom immediately grabbed his phone to call the doctor, while Ben guided me back to the sofa to sit down. I could hear Tom on the phone with the doctor's office while Ben said, "Isn't it a little early for this?"
"I'll say it is! About two months too early! There must be something wrong."
Tom soon returned dressed in jeans and sneakers with my duffle bag on his shoulder and my slip on sandals in his hands. "Your doctor wants you at the hospital now honey. He's concerned enough that he'll be meeting us there. Are you having contractions?"
"I feel a little crampy, but it doesn't feel like contractions."
"I hope the traffic isn't bad today," Tom mused as I put on my sandals.
Ben led me to the car in the garage while Tom made certain everything was turned off and locked up. Ben had insisted I sit up front in the passenger seat as it was easier for me to get into. He climbed in the back while Tom exited the door, making certain it was locked. He opened the garage door before getting into the driver's seat. After backing the car out of the garage, he hit the button to close it, making certain that it did before he backed out of the driveway. It took almost an hour to get to the hospital due to traffic. I didn't feel like I was experiencing contractions even though I was still uncomfortable.
Tom made use of the valet parking so he would be with me the entire time. I had Tom on my right and Ben on my left as we entered the hospital and went to the information counter. We were directed to labor and delivery on the seventh floor. I ended up in a wheelchair at Tom's insistence while we also had an escort by a nurse and two security guards. Apparently my doctor had sent them to the desk to wait for us to arrive.
As soon as we arrived at the seventh floor labor and delivery area, I was taken to a private room and given a hospital gown to change into. I quickly changed and got settled in the bed so the nurse could hook me up to the monitors and check to see if it was amniotic fluid leaking from my body. The little yellow paper strip turned a dark blue as soon as she wrapped it around her gloved finger and swabbed my vagina. After showing me the strip, she said, "I'll go let your doctor know it was positive. I'm sure he'll be in to see you soon."
She left the room and Tom pulled a chair up close to the bed and held my right hand. "Are you all right Darling? Are you having contractions?"
"I still just feel some minor cramping pains. I'm physically OK, but I'm worried about the babies being born so early."
"So am I Darling, but we have to think positive and hope for the best."
Ben was pacing around the room like a caged tiger who desperately wanted to be free. The doctor finally entered the room and announced he was going to go ahead and do the C-section since I was clearly in labor. He also gave us the speech about how premature the babies are and how their lungs might not be fully developed; the usual warnings about the complications and risks of babies who are born early. The guys asked a few questions, but I didn't have any because I'd been through this before. Ben also asked if both of them would be allowed in the operating room. The doctor said it was usually only one other person in there with the patient but considering our circumstances he agreed to make an exception as long as they both stayed near my head and out of the way.
He left after they finished their questions. Not long after a young nursing assistant entered with scrubs for the guys to change into. She passed them out and explained the procedure of covering the shoes and head. Judging by the way her voice trembled and she kept staring, I would say she recognized them both. Just before she left, she finally gushed out, "You're Tom Hiddleston, aren't you?"
"Yes I am."
"Oh my gosh! Can I get a picture with you?"
"Now's really not a good time. Maybe after my girlfriend delivers the babies and all the excitement has died down a bit."
She looked around the room like she suddenly realized where she was and that there was a woman there about to give birth. Ben looked annoyed, but I could clearly see he was checking her out. She blushed and said, "Oh of course! I'm so sorry, that was a bit rude I guess."
She quickly rushed from the room and Ben admired her butt with a small smile on his lips. I felt the pangs of jealousy and shot him a dirty look, but he didn't catch it. He then got up to go to the bathroom to change. While he was gone and the room empty, Tom quickly changed too. Soon they were both ready to go and getting impatient. A nurse finally entered and put an IV in my arm. Shortly after she left, the anesthesiologist came to talk to me about the spinal block he was going to do. He was relieved to know I'd had it before so I was familiar with it and wouldn't freak out. Another fifteen minutes passed before they finally came to get me to take me to the operating room. The boys followed behind, but had to wait outside until I'd been numbed and prepped.
Everything went quickly and smoothly from my injection to the rest of the prepping. The boys were finally brought in and ushered next to me, by my head. Tom sat on the stool next to my arm while Ben stood directly behind him until someone brought in an extra stool. The anesthesiologist had him move to the other side of my arm so he wouldn't be in the way. Tom kept rubbing my arm the whole time trying to reassure me. Through my oxygen mask I told him, "It's OK Tom, I've been through this before. I'm not concerned for me, I'm worried about the babies."
"You've been through this, but I haven't. I'm nervous enough for both of us."
The doctor then entered and did his quick pre-surgery check. Two of the nurses then hung up the big cloth drape so we couldn't see what was going on around my abdomen. I heard Tom and Ben chatting a little bit with the anesthesiologist as he watched my monitors and checked my blood pressure reading every five minutes. I could feel the strange, yet familiar tugging sensations around my abdomen as the doctor gained access to my uterus so he could remove the tiny babies. A few more minutes passed until I heard him say, "Here's number one!"
It was followed quickly by the faint cries of my newborn daughter. I turned to watch Tom's and Ben's reactions. I could see the surprise in their eyes over the white face masks that covered their mouths and noses. Ben watched with rapt attention as they took the first baby girl over to the warming bed to clean her up some, check her over and take all of her measurements. One of the nurses said, "Does Dad want to come over?"
Ben and Tom looked at each other and Tom gestured with his head. Ben sprang up and went over to the baby. We then heard the doctor announce baby two was out while she softly cried. She was no sooner taken to the other table then Tom jumped up to go to her. It's amazing how quickly dear ol' Mom is forgotten about once the babies are out. I had trouble seeing well because of the equipment in the way, but I soon saw Ben standing there with the baby in his arms and an enormous smile partially hidden by the mask he still wore. I then saw a nurse approach him with a swab in hand, pull down his mask briefly while she swabbed his cheek. She capped it then wrote his name on the label with my identification information. I then saw her approach Tom with a swab and repeat the action. By this point, Tom was holding the other baby in his arms. I then realized nurses were taking pictures for them with their camera phones. I turned away from the whole scene and closed my eyes as the tears I'd been holding back finally began to slide down my cheeks. My heart felt like it was racing and I soon heard alarms going off and shouting around me, before I lost consciousness.
When I came to, I was in the recovery area. Ben was next to me holding my hand. I made a noise and tried to move the oxygen mask so I could speak and ask what happened. He grabbed my hand to stop me while saying, "Oh no you don't. That needs to stay right there Miss."
My mouth was dry and with much effort I managed to ask what happened.
"Apparently your blood pressure suddenly dropped and you passed out. It scared the crap out of everyone including Tom and I. They put the babies in their bassinets, took them down to the nursery and kicked us out."
"Where are the girls? Are they OK?"
"They're tiny and are on oxygen tubes, but their lungs seem to be OK. The doctor just wanted to be sure they were getting enough for right now because they were a little blue tinged when they first came out and they didn't quickly recover."
A nurse soon came over and removed my oxygen mask to replace it with a nasal cannula. She said I would be taken to my room soon. I thanked her and then asked Ben how long I was out. "It wasn't long Darling. The girls are only about twenty minutes old."
"So why are you here instead of in the nursery with them?"
"I felt one of us should stay with you until you woke up and Tom didn't want to do it. I'm sure there's a story there that you're going to have to share with me when you're feeling more up to it. Tom is with the babies in the nursery. The doctor put some kind of major rush order on the paternity testing so we should actually know by tomorrow morning at the absolute latest. Since they were so early he wanted to be prepared for anything that may go wrong."
"How much did they weigh?"
"I'm not more than passingly familiar with the American weight system, but the nurse said they were just over three pounds apiece. I'm assuming that has more meaning to you, than me?"
"It means they are both tiny babies," I replied as tears came to my eyes.
Before I could ask any more questions, two attendants arrived to take me to my hospital room. I was taken back to the same room I had been in before. Once I was transferred to the bed, they left and Ben sat down next to me in a chair.
"Now that I'm awake, you should go be with your daughters. I won't be able to go down to see them until the anesthesia wears off at the earliest."
"Oh that reminds me," he said as he pulled out his iPhone.
He unlocked the screen as he moved to sit on the bed next to me to show me pictures of the babies. They looked so tiny in his and Tom's arms. There were even photos of them holding both babies in their arms. They looked so happy with those tiny angels in their arms. It broke my heart to think one of them was going to end up broken hearted because they weren't his daughters. For now though, they were both happy. After he finished showing me the pictures, he gave me a kiss on the forehead and went off to the nursery to be with his daughters. Since I was still totally numb from my breasts down to my toes, I had nothing to do so I dozed off.
I awakened three hours later when a nurse came in to check on me. Since I had regained all feeling in my legs and the rest of my lower body, she removed the urinary catheter and offered to take me down to the nursery in a wheelchair so I could see my babies. I got up from the bed, slowly and walked two steps to carefully sit in the wheelchair that had been covered with a sheet and a thick absorbent pad in case I bled out from the pad I was wearing. She covered my legs with a light blanket, moved my IV bag while temporarily unhooking my morphine machine and then started out of the room. As she wheeled me down to the nursery, she gabbed on about Ben and Tom and how they'd been sitting in the nursery all this time with the babies who were in warming beds as a precaution because they were so early. They had even been allowed to hold the babies and give them their first bottles.
"Don't worry though Mom. We took lots of pictures for you. I almost wish both of those guys were the fathers. They're both so happy with those little girls," she stated as she stopped outside the doors to open them.
Another nurse came out to hold the door open so she could maneuver the chair inside of the room. I was greeted by a most unexpected sight: Tom and Ben were both sitting in rocking chairs next to each other, shirtless with a baby laying on their chests. The babies were covered with blankets, but most of the naked upper half of the guys was clearly visible. The three nurses in the room seemed to be enjoying that sight as well. Why wouldn't they be? Tom and Ben were both gorgeous. I looked between the men and the nurses, smirked and said, "Whose brilliant scheme was it to get these two sexy Brits half naked?"
Tom blushed, but Ben piped up and said, "Actually it was my idea. Since we all assumed the babies would be premature, I did some research on premature babies while I was in England. I read about skin-to-skin contact and all of the wonderful benefits it could provide preemies. It can lower their blood pressure, normalize their breathing and blood sugar levels, as well as be very soothing so that it lowers their stress levels and the corresponding hormones. It doesn't have to be just the mother that does it either; they will benefit as much from their fathers. I'm the one that talked the nurses into doing it. Apparently it's not widely done in the States."
For once in my life, I didn't have a smartass reply. I was surprised that Ben knew this or that he bothered to research it; it was a very pleasant surprise. I gazed at Tom briefly who just smiled and winked. Ben went on, "You may be the experienced parent here, but I'm not completely ignorant of babies. If there's a chance I could be a Daddy, I want to be a good one. Now are you just going to sit there admiring the view, or are you going to take pictures of this adorable scene?"
I laughed as I took his phone and snapped a few pictures. I even got a really good one of him leaning over and kissing her tiny head. I then took more pictures with my camera, even though Ben promised to send me all of the ones he took. I wanted so much to hold one of my daughters, but they were both so happy that I kept quiet and let them enjoy it for as long as possible. I'd never seen such looks of contented joy on their faces. It was a beautiful sight to see.
Our happiness was soon interrupted by my doctor. "I should have known I'd find everyone in here. I have the results of the paternity test and well...it was quite unexpected."
All three of us froze and stared at him. I felt my heart rate pick up and I wouldn't be surprised if the guys felt the same. The doctor went on while looking at the papers in his hands, "I've never actually seen this in my entire career, though we did discuss it briefly in medical school. It's just so rare that no one really talks about it much. Have any of you heard of heteropaternal superfecundation?"
We all looked at each other confused. Ben chimed in, "I'm assuming it has something to do with fathering a child?"
"It's something that can occur when a woman's body releases two eggs at the same time and each one gets fertilized by a different man's sperm. The resulting babies are fraternal twins with different biological fathers."
Tom looked down at the baby against his chest and said, "You mean we each fathered one of the babies?"
"Yes, that's exactly what I mean," he looked down at the papers in his hands then said, "Baby A genetic match for Tom Hiddleston."
Tom looked down at the hospital band around his wrist and saw he was in fact tagged for baby A; the one he was holding. The doctor went on, "While baby B is genetic match for Benedict Cumberbatch. Congratulations guys, you each have a daughter."
The doctor handed them the test result pages before leaving the room. They sat staring alternately between the papers and the babies on their chests. Finally Ben said, "Wow! I didn't expect this outcome."
"Isn't fraternal twins the one that runs in families?" Tom asked, looking at me.
"Yes it is. The ability of a woman to produce two ovum at the same time is a genetic trait. I had always heard that my maternal great-grandmother had twins that died shortly after birth, but no one had ever confirmed it as truth. No one else in my family has ever had twins that I know of anyway, so I always assumed it wasn't true."
"Well apparently it does run in your family, it's just not frequent."
Ben was quiet the entire time. He was holding his daughter and that fact brought an enormous smile to his face. He leaned over and kissed her tiny head repeatedly as he softly said, "Did you hear that Jocelyn? I really am your Daddy. I get to keep you because you're mine."
Tom kissed the other baby's head and said, "I guess that makes you my little Morgana."
Both of them were happy now that they each had a daughter and I wouldn't have to deal with either of them being heartbroken, yet I was the one who felt heartbroken. I had brought them into this world and I had yet to get to hold either one of them. Judging by the happy contentment of both of them, I wasn't going to get to anytime soon. I was fighting not to cry; I guess my hormones were getting out of control again. I turned around to find the nurse who had brought me in and asked to go back to my room. She hesitated and I said, "Please take me back, I'm really starting to hurt. I want to lay down and rest."
I lost the battle and started to cry. The nurse finally moved to get my chair and push me back to my room. She helped me get settled back in bed and started the morphine pump. I curled up and cried for a while. It was at least fifteen minutes before Tom appeared in my room. He sat next to me on the bed and moved the hair back from my eyes. "What's wrong Darling?" He asked innocently.
I got mad. "What's wrong? Seriously? They're my daughters too Thomas! You two have been with them since they were born and I didn't even get to hold one of them!"
"I'm sorry Darling. You should have said you wanted to hold them."
"Why the hell else would I be down there? I gave birth four hours ago and I went to the nursery without my freaking pain medication. What the hell did you think I was there for?!"
He tried to comfort me, but I was too angry with him. "GET OUT!! GET OUT OF MY ROOM RIGHT NOW!!"
He seemed startled by my outburst. "OK Darling, I'm leaving."
I broke down and cried again after he left. I'd been so stressed out for so long and now with my hormones changing post-partum...I was a total emotional mess. Sometime later, a different nurse came to my room, checked me over and then left to return with a wheel chair all decked out in sheet and thick pad like that other had been. "What on Earth is that for?" I asked.
"It's for you to go see your babies at the nursery. We can't bring them to you yet and they need their Mommy," she replied.
"Aren't they a little too small to be able to nurse? My other preemie couldn't do it."
"Don't worry, we'll bring in the breast pump if you'd like to still provide them with breast milk. That's not what you're needed for; you're needed because they're your babies."
"Tell it to the baby hogging duo!" I retorted angrily.
"I did and they're both sorry for it. They are completely enamored with those babies and didn't even realize what they were doing. You're a veteran Mom aren't you? They are clearly first time Dads."
"I have a son. He lives with his father in Miami because I work a lot and he loves his private school. I didn't have the heart to force him to come out here with me when he's so happy. He just turned ten last month."
"I thought so. They are both remorseful and want to make it right. Now get into the wheel chair so you can go hold your daughters."
I carefully got up, moved slowly to the wheel chair and sat down. She unhooked what she needed to and then wheeled me to the nursery. They were both still sitting in the rocking chairs, shirtless, with the babies on their chests. I didn't even want to make eye contact with them because I was so mad. Ben immediately got up and came to me with Jocelyn in his arms. He carefully placed her in mine and I put her up on my chest so she could be comforted by the smell and feel of her Mommy. Ben kneeled down in front of me and said, "I am so sorry Clarice. I never meant to imply that Jocelyn is not your daughter too. She's just as much yours as she is mine. I only get four weeks to spend with her before I have to be gone for nearly three months. My agent contacted me to say the filming schedule has been changed so I'll be going back to England sooner than I had planned. I'm under contract so I can't just say no."
I just nodded my head in response because I was fighting not to cry again. He stood back up and kissed my forehead. He then asked a nurse if he would still be allowed to hold the baby if he got dressed in his own clothes. She said the doctor hadn't left any special instructions regarding handling the babies, so it was fine. He left to go back to my room where he'd stored his clothes. I held Jocelyn for quite a while; I had to finally give her up because it was time for a blood sample to be taken for some tests. Ben returned by the time both babies had gone through their blood samples so he was free to hold Jocelyn for a while again. Tom gave me Morgana to hold while he went to change his clothes. It wasn't too much longer before I had to go back to my room because I was exhausted. Tom was staying the night in my room since there was a cot for him. Ben took the car keys to go back to the beach house promising to be back by eight the next morning. He was so exhausted he said he'd probably go right to bed as soon as he got there.
I was released from the hospital after four days, but the twins stayed for three weeks. Ben only got one week with Jocelyn at home before he had to go to England. I allowed him to exclusively take care of her for the whole week. He did a wonderful job and never once complained about being sleep deprived. Tom and I took turns with Morgana while we had the chance. He did more than I did though; he kept insisting I sleep as much as I could because it would be harder when Ben was gone and we had both of them to care for. Besides, I was still recovering too.
The day finally came that Ben had to go to the airport. He had given Jocelyn her bottle and changed her diaper. He stood in the nursery, hugging her closely to his chest with tears running down his cheeks while he repeatedly kissed her head. "I'm going to miss you so much Princess," he said softly to her.
I stood in the doorway, fighting the urge to cry too. "Well, look at that, Been-A-Dick really has a heart."
He rolled his eyes and smirked at me before saying, "I would think you had figured that out by now. As it is though, fuck you!"
"I've done that already. That's how you ended up a Daddy."
He let out an exasperated chuckle and said, "You're a real handful, do you know that?"
I grabbed my own boobs and said, "Two handfuls really!"
He laughed at that and said, "Oh come here, you naughty girl!"
I went over to him and he hugged me to him with his right arm. "I'm going to miss you as much as her. Oh, Clarice, how will I ever replace you? You're a unique breed of bitch, you know that?"
I laughed and said, "You don't have to replace me Ben. I'm yours. I love you and you're the one I want to marry and spend my life with."
He sighed. "Does Tom know?"
"I haven't told him yet, but he's not stupid. Ben, when you come back from England, will you marry me?"
"I thought I was supposed to propose to you."
"When have I ever been conventional?"
He laughed. "Good point. Yes, Darling. I still love you and I want to be with you. If you have chosen me, I gladly accept. I just ask that you let Tom down as gently as you can manage. He is a good friend of mine and he's far more fragile than people realise."
"I won't be mean about it. You should know me better than that."
He then handed me Jocelyn and said, "Take good care of my princess. I want lots of pictures! FaceTime too!"
"You know I'll take good care of her. I'll send you a picture every day if you want."
He kissed her head again, kissed my forehead and then left the room. Tom was driving him to the airport so I soon heard the doors close as they left. I could see the car back out of the driveway from the nursery window. Ben rolled down the car window so he could wave good-bye. I waved from the nursery window and then they were gone.