“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Eirene… happy birthday to you!”
I bent in close to the cake so she could blow out the candles. Then I set her down and backed up into Noah’s arms, trying not to cry. I never thought I’d be this emotional over one of my kids growing up. EVER! But the sparkles consumed her and I had to fight off the tears as my baby girl grew up.
“Daddy!” she laughed, hugging back. Then ruining the emotional moment, “Let’s have cake before the icing gets stale.”
“The icing won’t go stale in just a few minutes,” Dad said with an actual smile and not just a less severe scowl. A smile.
Reeny looked seriously at him. “We can’t risk it. We better eat it.”
The next day all three of her aunts all took her out for a girls’ day out. Reeny came back with a new haircut and nice clothes my sisters refused to take money for, as it had been a gift. Reeny blathered on about the shopping trip and how they even looked at baby clothing for her eventual cousin. Then she looked at me and Noah with a super curious look and asked, “Daddy, will I have a baby brother or sister sometime?”
Noah choked on his dinner while I turned rather red. “Um, well, you might one day,” I sputtered out. Noah and I had talked in February though we hadn’t come to any real decision regarding the pregnancy thing. We did look into adoption and decided that we would definitely adopt in the future but first we wanted to try to have our own kids. The question was… how?
In April we got our answer in the most surprising and shocking ways possible.
It started off innocently enough. Glados was babysitting while Noah worked and I did training with Max and Royce. When I got back, Gladdy was cleaning up the kitchen and idly asked about the baby thing. She told me apparently Reeny expected to be a big sister eventually soon.
“She seemed so insistent that I did wonder if you and Noah were up to something,” Glados giggled. I promised her we hadn’t made any decisions and mentioned that we couldn’t figure out how to get around the pregnancy thing. Neither of us particularly wanted to be pregnant and couldn’t decide how to do this. “I suppose Noah would be the more sensible choice in case you’re attacked–stop glaring at me, I’m in full agreement with Grams. I believe you’ve still got an enemy out there somewhere.”
I just harumphed in a very Dad-like manner and Glados smiled, shaking her head, and not saying anything else. Two days later, however, she showed up again wanting to talk to me and Noah about something.
Noah gave me a quizzical look. “Uh, no, not really,” I muttered.
“That’d probably be the best way of going about things,” Noah said and I took his hand. “Not really sure how to go about–“
“I’m offering to do this,” Glados said and we both gaped at her. “Look. I’ve thought about this. I would like to be pregnant at least once in my life to know what it’s like and understand it better. And maybe one day I’ll have kids myself, although I think I’d prefer to adopt. So I thought I’d offer to be a surrogate for you two unless you do decide to go the one-of-you-is-pregnant route.” She sat back, looking all businesslike. “I know it will take a lot of time and talking and such, which is why I figured I should offer as soon as possible since I’m not sure when you two would like to try to do this.” She folded her legs and rested her hands in her lap. How could she look all cool and calm?!
“Sure?” she interrupted, raising an eyebrow. “Yes. I’m positive. Unless you two would be way too weirded out at me having your baby which I understand completely. If you’re not weirded out then… well, I’m willing to do this.”
Noah and I talked about it for hours that night. We actually got into a minor argument since I wasn’t too keen on the idea whereas he thought it’d be a good option. I didn’t know why I didn’t like it as much as he did. A slight part of it was because of Gladdy being my big sister but part of it was… well, it just seemed so weird. Someone else having our baby.
“If we adopt it’s essentially someone else having our baby, just not our biological baby,” Noah said and I turned away unhappy. When did he get so dang logical. “Look, why don’t you look up some forums or something? Maybe seeing how others dealt with surrogacy will help make your decision.” He came closer and put a hand on my arm. “Dude, whichever you want is fine.” He sounded tense though, and I felt bad for snapping at him earlier. I turned around and gave him an apologetic kiss. Noah grinned. “If you honestly would prefer one of us to be pregnant that’s cool too, but that wasn’t really getting us anywhere, now, was it?”
I grumbled a bit then flopped into his arms, weary of thinking about it. I did take up his suggestion though, and the next day while he was at work I looked on some forums, at other parents who had done surrogacy. I specifically looked for same-sex male couples and found that more than I expected had chosen surrogacy over impregnation. For reasons that matched with me and Noah; they just didn’t feel like impregnation was right for them or suited to their lifestyles. I rubbed my forehead, struggling with this a lot more than I really expected.
“Daddy?” Reeny came into my room and tried to peek ’round me at the computer screen. I quickly minimized the window. “You okay?”
I spun in the chair and got up, picking her up and half-tossing her. “More than fine, darling! Wanna go play outside?”
“Mmm. Just trying to figure things out.” I sucked in a deep breath and looked at my daughter. “You really want to be a big sis, huh?”
Her entire face lit up. “Oh! Yes! Yes! Are you and Uncle Noah gonna have a baby? I get to be a big sister? Is it a boy or girl?” Her eyes landed on my stomach and her happiness turned into suspicion. “You gonna have the baby?”
“No,” I said with a nervous laugh. “Actually we might do something else. Where someone else has our baby. Uncle Noah is fine with it. That’s why I looked upset earlier because I am trying to figure out if I’m fine with it.”
“Someone… else?” She looked super confused. “That weird. But, ummmm, if it gets me a baby brother or baby sissie then it’s okay.” She hopped off the lounge chair and crawled up into my lap, curling up. I put my arms around her and buried my face in her hair, a twinge in my chest at the thought of another baby. Oh how I wanted another kid. “Daddy?” she asked, voice a bit muffled.
“How is, um, a baby from you an’ Uncle Noah put in someone else’s tummy?”
“That’s with science, sweetie.”
“How are babies made?”
“…how about we get some ice cream.”
I thought about it for a long time. I didn’t rush this, like I knew I sometimes rushed other things. I constantly asked Glados if she felt positive about wanting to do this, I talked for hours on end with Noah who remained patient with me somehow, and I talked to Pa and Dad about it who were surprised but told me they felt fine about it (and both of them actually told me they thought it’d be a great idea). Finally, in May, I decided to go for it. Of course we couldn’t just start immediately. It took time. We had to sign lots of things, go to multiple appointments… Glados had to be examined while Noah and I had to submit our sperm. The hospital examined our bank accounts and history, to make sure we’d be able to afford all the fees. We were stretched a bit thin from still paying off for the house but the hospital seemed to think we’d be fine, so… it started.
Within a year Noah and I would have a baby. The exact date we couldn’t be sure of yet since they had to change one of our essences into an egg, get it fertilized… etc, etc. And before all that happened Lumie had her baby. Five days after Noah and I celebrated our first anniversary (a year? already?) my twin went into labor. I was hit mentally by her extreme agony and could barely make it through my final sim fu class.
“Yes!” Pa said, sounding scared. “Your dad’s on his way in but I didn’t know what to do about Eirene so he’s going to the hospital and I…” He trailed off.
I nodded. “I’ll pick you both up, thanks.”
The three of us arrived at the hospital a good ten minutes sooner than we should have since I kinda went a bit over the speed limit. It was hard to concentrate on driving with my sister screaming obscenities in my head but somehow I managed and we got there safely. Glados and Dad were in the waiting room and they told us that Presea was on her way. Soon Grams showed up and the lot of us had nothing else to do but wait, occasionally going into her hospital room to give her love and comfort as her labor continued on for hours. At one point she begged me to stay in the room with her and I reluctantly sat down. Noah stopped by but because we couldn’t keep Reeny at the hospital for an indeterminate amount of time he took her back to the house.
Finally after a long time she gave birth. She held onto my hand and Adan’s hand, crying out as she pushed. Both of us kept having flashbacks of her first birth which made her more emotional. She screamed and screamed, crying out in so much pain that I wanted to break down but I kept strong.
Finally just before midnight my nephew Carlos popped out, wailing loudly even after he was placed gently into Lumie’s arms. The three adults cried and then Lumie cried more when Dad and Pa came in to meet their new grandson and then Presea and Glados came in and there were more emotions and finally, eventually, I went home. I ate the dinner Noah prepared for me then just collapsed into bed, exhausted but very happy.
As Lumie settled into her new role of mother, Glados was injected with my future baby. Okay yeah it kinda weirded… really weirded me out that my sister would be giving birth to my child, but at the same time I didn’t want a stranger to do this. Gladdy, though, seemed super ecstatic. She chatted on and on about how much she had wanted to try pregnancy (Lumie kept giving her disbelieving looks and sent me a mental message of how our sister had gone off the deep end) and had been considering offering surrogacy to one of her friends who then became pregnant so she insisted she was glad to be able to do this for us.
Soon after, Eirene started her first day of school. I walked her to the bus stop–hinting more than once I could just drive her to school. She just gave me a look, rolled her eyes, and told me she wanted to go by bus. She at least accepted my hug before she climbed onto the yellow monster that swept my baby away from me.
She came back unusually quiet. I asked how her day went and she promised it had gone fine as her eyes darted away and her lips pursed. Both strong signs of her lying. “Darling, if anything happened–” I tried but she stomped her foot, yelled that nothing had happened, and ran upstairs.
That’s how things went for a while. I grew extremely worried about her but she refused to talk about whatever caused her problems. After about two weeks she seemed to relax more and even chattered on about her time in kindergarten; she made friends and liked her teacher. So what had caused her problems in her first couple weeks? Noah told me it was probably just her trying to adjust to the school and after some thought I agreed.
With Reeny in school, me working, Noah working, and all of us preparing for the upcoming baby it seemed like the months just zipped by. We got one of the extra rooms set up as a guest room and the other as a nursery. It felt so emotional to be buying baby things again. We didn’t need to buy a ton of things since we still had some of Reeny’s stuff, though we had sold quite a bit. The stuff we did keep we just new stuff for like new sheets and such. Reeny helped, super excited about being a big sister. She asked constantly when her sibling would arrive, whether it’d be a boy or girl, etc, etc.
Autumn passed, then winter. Glados grew large and as well as less pleased with being pregnant. She told me one night that she didn’t regret making the choice to do this. “But,” she said with a groan, “it’s not something I think I’ll go through again. Unless you two want another kid, then I might. For you.”
Gladdy laughed. “Hmm, would Saya and Lumes be the other two?”
“Hmmmmm,” I drew out. “Maybe. I guess. I mean, if I were forced to make a decision I suppose I’d put their names down too. Hey love,” I added as Noah came home from work.
He came over and gave me a kiss then sat down on the other side of Glados, beaming at her belly. “Only another two months!” he exclaimed. “Hah, I bet you’re ready to get this over and done with.”
“Urgh. I am.” She swung her legs around and stretched out, rubbing her stomach. “Your little kiddo is kicking and punching and throwing fits day and night. And making me want pizza. Pa said it’s what he craved 24/7 pregnant. Says I inherited it…” We all chuckled at that, knowing perfectly well that Pa would have pizza 24/7 without a pregnancy. “Oooof. By the way, who is taking me to the appointment tomorrow?”
“I am,” Noah said with a smile. “Though I might miss Lamaze class on Friday–my boss is talking about some sort of meeting we all need to attend, but I’m not sure.”
The first time we had gone to one of those classes it had been super weird. Everyone had assumed Gladdy and I were together and that Noah was Gladdy’s brother. The teacher had gotten very flustered when we explained and the three of us laughed hard later, but agreed that Noah’s hair color looked very similar to Gladdy’s hair color so… Which did sometimes make me feel a bit odd but he had more brown in his hair instead of red.
That night at the dinner table we talked about names for the baby. Noah and I had come up with a few names but we wanted Reeny to help. We had found out a couple months before that we’d be having a daughter. Another little girl. So we figured, why not give her a goddess name too?
Eirene crinkled her nose up. “Ew, Eos sounds weird.” Noah shrugged and crossed that off. “What are they goddesses of?” Reeny then asked, shoveling lasagna in her mouth.
Noah cleared his throat. “Artemis is the goddess of hunting, Athena is the goddess of wisdom and such, Hera is the goddess of women and marriage, and Selene is the goddess of the moon.”
Reeny stuck her fingers into lasagna sauce and licked it off, obviously thinking. “Hmm. Hmmmmm. Artemis Danevbie or ummm Selene Danevbie. Iunno. Cause like, ummm, Artemis you could uh, give nicknames like Arty or Missy. Or um Selene could be um. Sele. Eirene an’ Artemis. Eirene and Selene…e… Seleney.” She giggled. “I don’t like Hera or… Ath… Athe…Athenena.”
“Athena,” I said.
“All right, then Noah and I will decide which one of those will be her name,” I said, leaning way over to kiss the top of Reeny’s head. Reeny looked really happy to be included in choosing the name for her sister, and of course I was happy to make her happy and feel part of this whole thing.
The next day, though, we swept all talk of the baby to the side because Reeny turned six. Noah and I took time off work (one reason he felt he couldn’t miss the meeting on Friday). We gave Eirene all our attention for the day, made a huge fuss over her, gave her lots of presents, and of course a huge cake.
“Did you have a good birthday?” I asked that night when I tucked her in.
Reeny blinked sleepily at me and gave a yawn. “The best, Daddy. Thank you for everything. I can’t wait to do this with a little sissy though.”
“You nervous?” I asked Noah the night before the due date.
Noah gave me a look. “Well, duh. I’ve never had a kid before! I remember when Reeny was just a newborn but that’s not the same really.” He fiddled with the blanket, tugging at a loose string. “Yeah. I’m nervous.”
I reached over, taking his hand then tugging him into my arms. “It’ll be fine. You make a great dad. Reens adores you and you’re going to be incredible with the new one. Burping her, getting vomit all over your shirts, cleaning diapers…” I trailed off in chuckles as he smacked my arm. “Mm. It’s a tough learning curve but you’ve been doing great in the classes and just wait till you hold her in your arms for the first time. It’s incredible.”
“She won’t hate you, I promise.” I pressed my lips into his neck. “Having a baby in the house is going to make things difficult though.”
“Like this?” he asked, hand sliding down my thigh.
I grinned then slowly the grin faded. “And other things. It’s a lot of work keeping up a relationship with a baby in the house…” I tried not to let the panic get to me, remembering the fights with Goose after Reeny’s birth and then further back to my first marriage ending in ruin. Would a baby tear me and Noah apart?
As if reading my mind Noah pressed into me. “I know it’ll be difficult but I promise I will do as much as I possibly can to make sure things go as well as they can go–“
“It takes both of us,” I reminded him, rubbing his hipbone area. “And a lot of patience. And–mm–” I broke off as he kissed me.
“You’re over worrying right now,” he whispered, breaking the kiss then sliding his hand to my cheek. “We’ll take things as they go? Please? Because you, oh darling husband of mine, tend to start panicking.”
Noah smirked. “Fine. You tend to worry. Which, considering what you’ve gone through, is natural.” He stroked my jawline and nuzzled into my neck. I shuddered happily at the roughness of his stubble. I had never really thought how incredible sexy the feel of stubble and muscles would feel against my body but jeez. “I really think maybe right now we should just take things a day at a time. Relaaax…” his hands went down my body, “and let our attention be focused on the present…”
I closed my eyes, taking a deep breath then slowly exhaling. “You’re right. I’ll do my best to focus on the present and… not… the past.” My eyes snapped open. “And in the present we’re having possibly the last night to do things for a while.”
Noah tilted his head, eyebrows wriggling. I laughed and half-tackled him, the two of us trying to keep our giggles to a minimum as we, er, enjoyed the present. However in the middle of things my cell phone rang. Literally in the middle of things. I hesitated, not sure if I should answer or not but then reached over to check the screen because of the minor chance of it being… well, just who it turned out to be: Glados.
I swore, carefully pulled away from Noah, and jabbed the answer button. Before I could say anything Gladdy screamed, “THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO!”
Labor had gone so fast that Gladdy gave birth shortly after we all arrived at the hospital, the whole thing going very smoothy with a slight exception that left Glados needing a couple stitches. Our daughter was a little underweight but otherwise very healthy so after a couple days we were able to take Artemis home.
I had the same reaction with her as I did with Reeny: complete awe. I couldn’t believe we had made this little perfect being. How could I possibly have made two perfect girls? Two such absolutely flawless little tiny girls. I must have had super genes or something, and had been lucky to have made babies with two men who also had super genes because seriously. My daughters were perfect.
“Babies usually are,” I said, kneeling in front of them. I reached over to tuck a bit of the blanket more around Arty. “You were this tiny. Remember the pictures I showed you?”
Reeny nodded. “With you and my other daddy.” She hesitated, knowing the subject of her other daddy was a sensitive one to me. But I just smiled so she added, “Daddy Goose?” I nodded, doing pretty good at keeping my emotions in check. “Arty’s other daddy is Uncle Noah?” Reeny then asked.
“That’s right,” Noah said, sitting down next to her. “But I love you just as much, all right baby girl?” Reeny looked up and Noah gave her forehead a kiss. “You’re both my little girls and I love you both the same.”
The four of us just sat there for a good while, all of us with big smiles except for Arty who just kept giving little yawns and blinks. I felt so incredibly happy, and felt like for once that everything was going to be okay.