Unannounced hiatus over – I’m back! Yaaaay! Back in Australia at last. It’s been more than a month, and I’m very sorry for that, but here we are. A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all! I hope you enjoy 🙂
Whenever you think you have everything all planned out and in order, life has a funny way of turning your plans upside-down in the most unexpected of ways.
I wasn’t stupid – I had been through this before, and knew what random bouts of nausea were most likely to mean. But, knowing how careful we had been since Gabriel’s birth, I prayed that it wasn’t the case. I couldn’t afford another distraction.
So, in the weeks that passed, I went to work as normal, ignoring the concern of Luc and my parents and their suggestions that I should stay home and rest, still in the hope that my temporary illness was just that – temporary. Some days I was more tired than others, but I managed to struggle on – at first without too much difficulty, but the tiredness and the nausea combined eventually became too much for me, and I (quite literally) collapsed.
I awoke what must have been hours later, because I had left work at three in the afternoon and it was now almost sunset. I took my phone out of my pocket to check the time, and found that I had five missed calls from home. I cursed under my breath. Luc must have been worried sick.
I arrived home fifteen minutes later and found Luc upstairs, sitting on the floor of the nursery with Gabriel. I couldn’t help smiling as I watched Luc attempting to teach our son a nursery rhyme, while Gabriel ignored him completely, staring curiously around the room instead. His eyes lit up when they landed on me. “Mama!”
Luc turned, too, but frowned at me as I moved forward to greet Gabriel with a kiss on the forehead. “Where were you?” he hissed.
“Later,” I mumbled. “Let’s get Gabe to bed first.”
Luc nodded, getting to his feet and scooping Gabriel into his arms. He lowered the toddler into the crib a few feet away and bent down to kiss him goodnight. “Night-night, my boy,” he murmured against his soft hair.
“Night-night!” Gabriel echoed cheerfully.
Once he was sure that Gabriel was settled down and ready for sleep, Luc straightened and turned back to me. “Well?” he said. “Are you going to tell me what’s going on?”
I nodded, with half a glance at our sleeping son, and whispered, “I think… I think I might be pregnant.”
“What?!” His shock was evident, but I had hoped he, at least, would be pleased with this development. “When? How? I mean…” he bit his lip. “We’ve been so careful! Are you sure? How do you know?”
I held up my hands defensively against his rapid onslaught of questions. “I’m not a hundred percent sure,” I admitted. “But… there’ve been a few signs.”
“What signs? I haven’t noticed…”
I sighed, and recounted that afternoon’s events, along with the unusual tiredness and vomiting I’d been experiencing in recent weeks. I had expected Luc to be angry, but to my surprise he simply pulled me into his arms and held me close.
“Why do you insist on doing this to yourself, Di?” he sighed sorrowfully in my ear. “Why do you push yourself to the limits until you break from the strain?”
I shook my head. “I don’t know,” I whispered.
He sighed. “I worry about you, you know.” He turned his head to kiss the side of my neck. “Promise me you won’t push yourself too far. Promise you’ll stay at home and get some rest, at least for a few days until we can get someone to confirm the situation.”
I knew he wouldn’t let up until I promised that I wouldn’t put myself in harm’s way again. And, deep down, I knew he was right. “I promise.”
Several days later, after four weeks of unrelenting fatigue and nausea, Luc drove me to the hospital in town for a doctor’s appointment, at which my worst fears were confirmed. I was pregnant, again.
It wasn’t that I didn’t love Gabriel dearly, or even that I didn’t want a family with Luc. It was just that right now wasn’t the best time for it to happen. Still, I never gave a second thought to the idea of aborting my pregnancy. This was my baby, and now that it was here, come hell or high water I would bring it into the world safe and sound.
Although I was now on maternity leave from work, and in daily fear that I would lose my job altogether if I didn’t get back to it soon enough, being pregnant wasn’t all bad. One of the few bright sides was that it meant I had hours every day to spend with Luc and Gabriel, which I took full advantage of, to the best of my stunted capabilities.
Mum and Dad were over the moon when I told them about my pregnancy. I suspected that they had always yearned for more grandchildren, and since Flynn was barely eighteen and none of us had heard from Emily in years, the burden of their hopes had largely fallen to me. Both of them promised to do whatever they could to support me and Luc in the months ahead, and after the babies’ birth.
Yes, you read that right. Babies, as in plural. As in twins. I was a bit wary of the idea, honestly, but Mum made up for that by being more excited than the rest of us put together.
This pregnancy progressed much more smoothly than the last, owing largely to the fact that, this time, Luc remained firmly by my side every step of the way. His excitement at the idea of watching and aiding in the preliminary growth of his children was so great it rivalled Mum’s. I had rarely seen him in so good a mood, in spite of my ridiculous cravings and constant need for backrubs and foot massages. He spent all his spare time reading all the pregnancy and childcare books he could get his hands on, or search online for things like “What to do when your girlfriend is pregnant with twins” and “How to be a helpful dad during birth”. I couldn’t help but laugh every time I caught him at it. Who knew that the boy who skipped school to vandalise public property had such a side to him?
“You alright, babe?” he asked me, on one particularly trying evening when I was having difficulty even standing.
I frowned. “Not really. I feel like a beached whale and my back hurts like hell.”
He smiled sympathetically. “I can fix that,” he said, motioning for me to turn around. His fingers settled lightly on my shoulders and started to knead and press the muscles there. It hurt at first, but gradually the pain receded and I began to relax.
“Better?” he asked as I stood up and stretched like a cat.
“Better,” I agreed. Then, catching sight of my reflection in the mirror behind the dining table, I groaned. “I still look like shit, though.”
Luc chuckled a little behind me. “You look beautiful to me,” he whispered, leaning in to give me a gentle kiss. I couldn’t help but smile when he did that.
As he made to pull away, I reached up to cup my hands around the back of his head, keeping him close. His hands settled on my waist and he smiled.
“I don’t know how you put up with me,” I told him. “But thank you.”
He kissed me again. “Because I don’t care how bad you get, I love you more than I’ve ever loved anything in my life and I couldn’t imagine ever being with anyone else.” The sincerity in his tone brought tears to my eyes. “And on that note,” he continued, stepping away from me again, “there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you.”
The implications of that statement, both good and bad, weighed heavily on my mind as I waited with bated breath, while Luc dropped to his knees and reached around to fumble in his back pocket, still grinning at me. I held back my tears with extreme difficulty. If this was what I thought it was… then I saw the velvet box, and couldn’t help the gasp that escaped me.
“Diana,” he said, locking his eyes on mine, box at the ready. “Feisty, beautiful, genius, mother of my children and love of my life… there hasn’t been a moment since I met you where I was able to imagine my life without you in it. I’ve been thinking about this for a long while. I love you, and I want to spend forever with you. So… marry me?” He finished this speech with a cocky smile, that didn’t quite hide the enormous grin he was trying (unsuccessfully) to suppress.
“I could never marry anyone else,” I whispered. “It’s always been you, Luc. As soon as I’m one person again instead of three, I’ll marry you.”
He laughed as he stood up, drew me into his arms and hugged me tight. “I love you,” he murmured in my ear. All I could do was nod, but Luc understood.
The remaining few months of my pregnancy passed in a happy blur. Luc had read in one of his books that talking to the baby (babies) was good for its development, and put this into such rigorous practice that I sometimes felt as though he spent more time talking to my stomach than to me. But I didn’t mind all that much, and the jokes and antics he put on for our babies’ benefit constantly had me in fits of laughter.
At other times he would simply caress my stomach gently, hoping to feel even a small flicker of movement, and then there’d be a kick and he’d gasp and smile at me. And I’d smile back.
It happened early one morning as I was relaxing downstairs watching T.V. (the pregnancy had my sleep cycle all over the place). It began as a small ache low in my abdomen. Dread and excitement in equal measure filled me. I recognised the signs. The aches came more painfully and more frequently for the next hour, until television was no longer a worthy distraction. I was on my feet clutching my belly in pain when Luc appeared at the foot of the stairs.
“Luc!” I gasped through gritted teeth. “Car… hospital… quickly!”
Luc immediately dashed back upstairs and returned fully dressed and with car keys in hand. “Come on, Di.” He led me gently by the hand to the car, supporting me whenever a contraction hit. We reached the hospital with minimal difficulty and I was rushed straight to the maternity ward in a wheelchair.
Eighteen gruelling hours later, our babies were born. A boy and a girl. We named the boy Hugo, and the girl Hope.
I was cleared to leave the hospital after two weeks, and Luc and I returned home in the cool of the evening with our two youngest children.
Luc unpacked our bags when we got inside, while I attempted to quieten Hugo and Hope, who were both whining and whimpering. “Shhh… we’ll feed you in a minute,” I told them. Luc handed me one of the milk bottles we’d brought with us from the hospital, and raised his own in a mock toast.
“To family,” he said with a grin.
“To family,” I echoed, and lowered the teat of the bottle into Hugo’s desperate mouth.