DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To emeraldorchids[at]outlook.com
On Monday afternoon, Miranda was resting upstairs while Andrea and the girls worked to prepare dinner. Andrea was cleaning some chicken breasts and mincing garlic while the girls were peeling potatoes and cleaning green beans.
It was July 7th, and temperatures in New York were in the upper 90s. Since there were two separate air conditioners for the townhouse, Miranda insisted on the second floor being kept at an icy 64 degrees, and the other inhabitants of the house could wear a hoodie or stay on the first floor.
"Okay, girls," Andrea said as she covered the dish of chicken and placed it into the refrigerator to marinate. "Why don't you go clean up? We'll let Cara finish dinner when she gets back from the market, and maybe we can take a walk for some fro-yo later. I'm going to go check on your mom and see if she needs anything."
The girls nodded and headed to the first floor bathroom to wash their hands while Andrea threw a wool sweater on before going upstairs. Seeing that Miranda was sleeping, she quietly shut the door behind her and crawled into bed next to heror technically, next to the pillow. It was as close as she could get without waking the woman. Since the babies were kicking tbcso much last night, neither of them got much sleep, but she was glad to see Miranda resting comfortably.
A short time later, Miranda woke. She turned and saw Andrea curled up under the comforter next to her. Only the top of her hair was visible. Miranda pushed herself up to use the bathroom, and the moment she was sitting on the bed, she could feel something was different. She pressed her hand to the mattress and it felt as if someone poured a glass of water on it.
"Andrea," she said, leaning back and nudging the young woman. "Darling."
"Hey," she said, peeking her head out from under the covers. "How are you doing?"
"My water broke."
"What?!" Andrea said, quickly jumping up.
Miranda chuckled. "Relax, I'm okay," she said.
"Right," Andrea said, straightening up and walking calmly to Miranda's side of the bed. "Do you think they'll give you medicine to stop the labor again?"
Miranda shook her head. "Not if my water has broken. This is it."
Andrea leaned over and kissed her lips, lacing her fingers in Miranda's hair. "I love you," she said when they parted for air.
"I love you, too."
Andrea reached out and helped Miranda off the bed. "Have you had any contractions?"
"No, I" Miranda gasped as she felt her belly cramping. She exhaled after a few seconds and met Andrea's eyes. "There's your answer," she said. "I'm going to use the bathroom and change. Is that black crossover bra clean?"
"Here," Andrea said, pulling it out of the laundry basket, along with a pair of black capri-length leggings. "Are you okay?"
"Yes. Have Rachel or Emily come sit with the girls, please."
Andrea nodded and quickly dialed Emily. "Hey Em, her water broke so we're going to head to the hospital. Can you or Rachel or someone come sit with the girls? I know they're going to be anxious."
"Of course. Serena and I will actually come by. Do you need me to do anything else?" she asked.
"No, just keep your fingers crossed!" Andrea said.
"The bassinets!" Miranda called from the bathroom.
Andrea rolled her eyes. "Did you hear that? Miranda says the bassinets need to be assembled. Can you take care of that, too?"
"But Andrea, you don't expect the babies home tonight, do you?"
"Em, just please?"
"Yes, yes, of course. Ok, we're hopping into a cab now. Text us when you get there and everything!"
Andrea quickly said goodbye and hung up the phone. "Em and Serena are on their way. Did you want to throw on that DVF caftan?"
"Yes, that's fine," Miranda called from the bathroom. "We don't have to hurry. I'm fine, really."
Andrea pulled the caftan out of the closet while she dialed Roy. "Hey Roy, are you downstairs?"
"Perfect. We'll be down in a few minutes. Can you get everything setup?"
"Towel and water and all?"
"Will do, Andy," he said.
Andrea ended the call and looked up as Miranda waddled out of the bathroom in her soft, stretchy bra and leggings.
"What?" she asked, reaching for the caftan.
"Nothing. You just look incredible."
Miranda rolled her eyes. She picked up her phone from the nightstand and handed it to Andrea as she looked at herself in the mirror. "I should have had my hair cut last week," she said. "It's getting shaggy," she said.
"Here," Andrea said, fishing a bobby pin from her own hair. She pinned back Miranda's bangs and handed her her sunglasses.
"Oh Andrea, this looks ridiculous."
"Do you remember the day you got home from Mexicoon New Year's Eve?" she asked. Miranda nodded. "Your hair was longer like this, and you had your bangs pinned back," she said, gently tracing her fingertips across Miranda's face. "And your cheeks were pink and freckled. At that moment, I knew "
Miranda closed the distance between them, kissing Andrea hard. When they finally parted, Miranda took a deep breath. "Did you call Alice or Dr. Assaf?"
Andrea shook her head, still a little lightheaded from that kiss. "I'll text Alice. Can you text Dr. Assaf?"
Miranda nodded. While they were still standing there with their phones, Andrea gathered Miranda's robe and a few toiletries from the bathroom and added them to the expandable Longchamp bag she was taking to the hospital.
"Did we forget anything?" she asked.
"No, I think we're ready," Miranda said with a smile. She slowly followed her down the stairs, where both her daughters were waiting anxiously.
"Are you going to have the babies now, Mom?" Caroline asked.
"Yes, Bobbsey," she said, hugging and kissing each of them. "Now, I love you both so so so much, you know that, right?" They nodded. "Emily and Serena are coming by, so be good for them. Maybe you can come to the hospital to visit tonightwe'll let you know."
They nodded, and Andrea and Miranda headed out to the waiting town car. Roy helped Miranda into the car, and she hardly noticed the fluffy black towel she was sitting on. Andrea handed her a bottle of water, and she took several sips. Surprisingly, she didn't say a word about the heat and humidity.
"Roy, when we bring the babies home, we will need the carseats installed," Miranda said.
"They're in the BMW already."
"Oh, okay," Miranda said. "And they've been properly installed? They're safe?"
"And what about the car? Can you check the tires, oil, whatever else there is?"
Roy smiled and looked up in the rearview mirror as they approached a stoplight. "We traded in your BMW for the current year model last week. It's brand new, everything is functioning perfectly," he said.
Andrea looked over and could see that Miranda was getting nervous. "Don't worry," she said, taking her hand. "It's all taken care of. Just worry about you and those babies right now, okay?"
Miranda nodded and closed her eyes, squeezing Andrea's hand tightly.
"Is that a contraction?" Andrea asked.
A few seconds later, Miranda exhaled. "Yes, but it's shooting out from my back."
"What can I do for you?" Andrea asked, softly rubbing circles on Miranda's back as she leaned forward.
"Right now? Just keep doing what you're doing. Maybe a little more pressure," she said. "In general, I want you to make decisions when I can't. I really want to do this without medication or forceps or that god awful vacuum device, but I know anything can happen. Andrea, I trust you to make that call."
"I promise I will," Andrea said, gently kissing Miranda's shoulder.
"If it comes to a point," Miranda said as she wiped the tears from her eyes. "If it comes to a point where it's me or the babiesI need you to do what's best for them."
"What?" Andrea froze. "No, no, no don't say that. Don't make me do that, Miranda."
"Listen," she said, firmly taking her hands. "I talked with James the other day. We signed the papers naming you as a second parent for the girls. He has them, all you have to do is sign. Promise me you will take care of my girls," she said.
Andrea could no longer keep the tears from cascading down her cheeks. "No, no. We are not having this conversation now. If the babies are in distress, I'll let them give you medication or do a C-section or whatever, but then they will do everything they can for both you and the babies. Everything," she said. She looked up at Miranda. "I can't believe you just" her voice cracked and she turned away, sobbing into her hands.
"I'm sorry," Miranda said softly, her hand resting on Andrea's shoulder. "I didn't realize how upset you would be. We won't talk about that anymore today. I was just I don't know, scared. Terrified, really."
Andrea sat up, and Miranda gently wiped the mascara from her cheeks. "I'll be with you. You'll be fine," she said, squeezing her hand. "But if you do change your mind, I won't think any less of you."
Miranda smiled. "No, I want to do this. I didn't get a chance to do this with the girls, and I know it will be painful but I want to," she said. "By the way, you look like hell," she added with a smirk. "People are going to think I'm bringing you in for treatment."
Andrea shook her head and laughed, kissing Miranda softly on the cheek. "I love you, even when you're snarky."
"Will you stay close to me today?" Miranda said as she softly wiped the mascara from under Andrea's eyes. "For the entire time?"
"Of course. I'm not going anywhere," she said as she squeezed Miranda's hand.
"I mean, closer than holding my hand," Miranda said, blushing slightly. "I want to feel you holding meyour hands on me. I promise I won't be one of those cliches telling you to leave me alone."
Andrea wrapped her arm tightly around Miranda's shoulders. "I know you're scared," she said, "but I can promise you that I will do nothing but smother you with affection and encouragement today."
Miranda chuckled and kissed Andrea softly. "We haven't even picked out names yetdo you realize that?"
Andrea shrugged. "Names can be spontaneous. I'm sure you'll think of somethingjust not Bobbsey or the girls will be jealous," she said.
Miranda laughed, then reached around to clutch her belly. "Andrea, don't make me laugh," she said as she leaned forward further, resting on the seat back in front of her.
Andrea smoothed her hands down Miranda's back and she began applying firm pressure by moving her thumbs in small circles over Miranda's lower back, just above her hips.
Miranda hummed quietly as she arched into the woman's touch. "That feels really good," she said.
After a few minutes, Andrea stilled her hands. "We're here," Andrea said quietly as Roy pulled up to the dedicated Labor & Delivery entrance at the hospital.
Roy got out to open the door for Miranda, but one of the nurses beat him to it. She helped Miranda into a wheelchair, and began pushing her into the building.
"Wait" Miranda said.
"Wait!" Andrea called, tossing her bags over her shoulder and catching up to them at the entrance. She took Miranda's hand and smiled down at her as the nurse led them upstairs to their room.
In the room, Dr. Assaf was already waiting. "Well, congratulations on making it this far, Miranda. How are you doing?" she asked.
"Good, I think. I'm ready for this," she said as Andrea helped her onto the table.
"Excellent," she said.
Andrea helped Miranda get her leggings off, and Dr. Assaf tugged her panties down just far enough so she could examine her.
"So, your water broke this afternoon?"
"Yes, about an hour agomaybe a little after one o'clock."
Dr. Assaf nodded. "Have you had any contractions?"
"A few. They were pretty mild, and mostly in my back," Miranda said.
"Good. You're fully effaced and dilated about 3.5 centimeters right now. Everything seems to be progressing beautifully," she said, walking over and grabbing the fetal monitors. "I'm going to strap these two bands to your belly so we can check the babies' heart rates and monitor your uterine contractions," she said. "I know you asked for intermittent monitoring, but because this is still a high-risk birth, I need to make sure the babies' blood pressure does not drop when you're having a contraction."
"I can feel one starting" Miranda said before she closed her eyes and reached for Andrea's hand.
"Yes, I can see it here on the monitor," the doctor said.
"It's not that badit's just my back," Miranda said.
"Well, it looks like all is well with the babies," Dr. Assaf said. "Let me check your blood pressure next. Will Alice be coming?"
"Yes, she's on her way," Andrea said.
"Good." Dr. Assaf wrapped the the blood pressure cuff around Miranda's arm and quietly listened for her pressure. "Okay, it's on the high end of normal, but perfectly in line with what we've seen from you throughout the pregnancy." She removed the cuff and stood at the end of the hospital bed while Andrea helped Miranda back into her panties and leggings. "Miranda, I know you want to this without drugs. Every relevant member of our staff has been instructed in regards to your birth plan, and they will adhere to it as long as it remains safe for you and your babies," Dr. Assaf said as she began to disconnect Miranda from the monitor. "That being said, I encourage you to walk around and use various positions and equipment in the room to both progress your labor and ease your pain. If there's anything you need, Jennifer, my nurse, will be just around the corner. I'll be back shortly to check on your progress. But Miranda, I have to warn you," Dr. Assaf said, "do not do anything to exhaust yourself. Labor could realistically progress for the next fifteen hours without intervention."
"Thank you," Miranda said, sighing as she sat up. Once the doctor left the room, she climbed off the table and began to walk around, exploring the room. She paused for several minutes at the windowsill, which overlooked Bryant Park.
Andrea gently pressed her palms to Miranda's lower back as she leaned forward against the ledge, swaying softly as she endured another contraction. Once it was over, she continued to walk around the room, pausing to take a drink from the bottle of water Andrea offered every so often.
Miranda wandered into the bathroom and gestured for Andrea to wait outside. "What about Cordelia?" Miranda asked as she walked over towards the bed and took a seat on the edge. She quickly realized that was quite uncomfortable and walked over to the other side of the room where there was a gymnastics mat spread on the ground next to a large exercise ball and several chairs and stools of various sizes. Miranda lowered herself to her knees and leaned forward, gently swirling her hips in the air, arching her back as she experienced another contraction. "So, Andrea. Do you like the name Cordelia?"
"Oh! I didn't know what you mean. Yes, it'sit's nice. We could call her Corie," Andrea said.
"What makes you think I want their names shortened?" Miranda said with a smirk.
Andrea shook her head. "One of these days, you're going to slip and call me Andy," she said. "And then all nicknames are fair game."
Miranda rolled her eyes. She was getting restless. She lifted one leg so her foot was flat on the floor, and as she went to stand, she felt an uncomfortable pressure against her cervix.
"Miranda, Andrea," Alice said as she ran into the room out of breath. "I'm so sorry, I was stuck in traffic. How are we doing?" she asked. "That lunge is a good way to help open your pelvis," she said, gesturing at Miranda. "How far dilated are you?"
"She was 3.5 cm when we came in, fully effaced," Andrea said.
Miranda returned to her hands and knees as she gently rocked back and forth.
"Are the contractions getting stronger, Miranda?" she asked.
"Not really," Miranda said. "But that lunge wasn't very comfortable."
"That's okay. Perfectly normal," she said. "I'm going to find Dr. Assaf and see if she wants to check the heart rate again," she said.
Andrea gently massaged Miranda's back for about ten minutes until the Alice returned with Dr. Assaf. "Come on, let's get up," Andrea said, helping Miranda to her feet.
She walked over to the bed, but the second Miranda laid on her back, she twisted around and sat up. "OhhhI can'tnot on my back," she panted.
"Here," Alice said, lowering the bed so it was flat. "Lie down on your left side like you do at home," she said. "This is a great position for the babies to get oxygen, and hopefully it will help the baby to shift off your sacrum." She turned to Andrea. "Has she been having back labor?"
Miranda laid her head on the pillow and smiled when she noticed that the pillowcase was one of her sateen pillowcases from home. "Andrea, come here," Miranda said.
"Behind you?" she asked.
Andrea quickly climbed onto the bed behind Miranda, grateful that it was not a typical tiny hospital bed. She wrapped her arm softly around her and wiggled her right knee between Miranda's legs to help support her hips.
"Who needs a pillow when I have you?" Miranda whispered as she laced her fingers with Andrea's own. She bent her elbow and brought Andrea's hand up to her lips, kissing their linked hands. "Thank you so much for being here. I mean thisI would not be here, doing this if it weren't for you. If you hadn'tafter the divorceI would have" she cried.
Andrea felt her body tightening with another contraction, so she held Miranda's hand tightly and pressed soft kisses to her neck and shoulder. "It doesn't matter. I did. I'm here. We're going to have two beautiful baby girls soon," she whispered in her ear.
Dr. Assaf finished reattaching the fetal monitor and watched the heart rates carefully as the contraction subsided. "Let's see how far you've progressed," she said.
Alice helped remove Miranda's leggings and underwear. Andrea moved out of the way as Alice held Miranda's leg up in the air for a few seconds.
"Miranda, you're only 3.8 cm, so things are moving along, but we're still taking it slow. Are your contractions bearable?" she asked.
"Yes," Miranda said.
"Any nausea, vomiting, shaking, or diarrhea?"
"Diarrhea," she said, "but just once."
"Okay. Make sure you stay hydratedyou need about a bottle of water per hour or else we may need to put you on IV fluids, which would restrict your movement around the room."
"Understood," Miranda said.
"Let's just stay here for a few more minutes until we can record another contraction," she said. "And I would prefer if we could keep the leggings off, is that okay?"
"Fine," Miranda said. At this point, she really didn't care what she was wearing.
Alice brought Miranda a glass of water with a straw, and she took a few sips before she returned to talk with Dr. Assaf and her nurse.
"Miranda, can I ask you a question?" Andrea whispered quietly.
"Why do you still feel the need to ask me that?"
"Sorry. Um anyway, what does it feel like?"
"Well," Miranda said, "right now it feels like I have a backache that won't go away."
Andrea squeezed Miranda's hand. "I meant, the whole thing. Pregnancy, kicking, contractionsall of it."
Miranda twisted around and looked up at the young woman in surprise.
"I mean, I've just always been curious," Andrea said, gently placing her hand to Miranda's belly.
Miranda pursed her lips as she detected a hint of sadness in Andrea's eyes. "This is probably not the best time to ask me that question," she said with a smile. "But I will say, it's an amazing, humbling, and overall uncomfortable experience."
"How bad is your backache now?" Andrea asked.
"It's dull and steady," she said. "Once they record the next contraction, do you think we could go for a walk or something?"
Andrea laughed. "Whatever you want. I just want to make sure you're comfortable," she said.
"Don't worry, I'll let you know if I'm not," Miranda said. "I'm just restless, that's all."
"Miranda, do you want to try and sleep a little bit while your labor progresses?" Alice asked.
"Nooo," she said. "I don't want to make this any longer than it has to be."
Alice nodded, then went back to watch the monitor. "Okay, here comes another contraction," she said.
"Do you think I can't feel that?" Miranda spat.
Andrea bit her lip and buried her face in Miranda's neck to hide her laughter. The fact that Miranda was getting snippy was just another sign that she was in pain and uncomfortable. "Be nice to her," she whispered.
Miranda squeezed her hand tightly as she held her breath through the contraction.
"Aren't you supposed to breathe through those?" Andrea asked once Miranda exhaled.
"Aren't you supposed to be supportive?" Miranda hissed as she held her breath once again.
Andrea pushed herself up and gently ran her hand down Miranda's side. "Breathe, Miranda," she said, "in and out."
Miranda obeyed, and in a few seconds she opened her eyes and looked up at Andrea. "That one was a little longer," she said. "And since you asked, it feels like the worst menstrual cramps everbut imagine your uterus pressed up against your ribcage."
"A bit difficult to remember to breathe during that," Miranda said.
"I'm going to take this monitor off and let you move around a little more," Dr. Assaf said. "Are you still doing okay?"
"Perfect," Miranda said with a smile as she sat up on the edge of the bed.
"Great. I'm going to step out for a while, but let Jennifer know if you need anything."
Miranda nodded and stood from the bed, pacing around the room as she sipped on another glass of water.
"Miranda, you're going to be moving into active labor shortly, and I know you want things to move as swiftly as possible, so why don't we try some positions that will help the pelvis to expand and encourage the babies to move into position," Alice said.
Miranda agreed and let Alice lead her into a deep squatting position.
"I want you to hold onto this bar, though," Alice said. "Andrea will stay behind you and keep her arms around you for added support."
Miranda squatted down and stood up slowly, and repeated it several times.
"How does that feel?" Alice asked.
"Good, but my back is still a little sore," she said.
Alice guided her feet backwards a bit, further from the bar. "Try this."
The added distance forced Miranda to lean forward more when she lowered herself, and surprisingly it felt really good.
Andrea gently rubbed her shoulders and her back when Miranda was squatting, and she hooked her arms beneath Miranda's to help her stand up so she didn't exhaust herself.
"Do women actually give birth like this?" Miranda asked Alice.
"Yes, actually. It's a very common position for natural childbirth because gravity is really helping to deliver the baby," she said.
"It's a little like a hen laying an egg," Miranda said matter-of-factly. "Oooooh!" she gasped, tucking her chin against her chest as another contraction hit. "Oh god," she whispered.
Andrea quickly kneeled behind Miranda so she could catch her if and when she let go of the bar. She reached her arms around Miranda's waist and gently began rubbing a circular pattern on her belly.
Miranda moaned a few times and flexed her fingers around the bar.
"Miranda, drop to your knees," Alice said firmly as she spotted her. Miranda let go of the bar. "Lean forward onto your elbows," she said.
Andrea moved her hands onto Miranda's back, again applying firm pressure in a circular motion. Nearly a minute later, Andrea felt Miranda's body relax as she rocked back towards her heels. "Hey," she said softly, running her hand up and down her back, "you're doing great."
Alice held out a glass of water again and Miranda took a few sips from the straw.
"That one hurt really bad," Miranda said. "It was a sharp, shooting pain."
"Well, let's hope that was the baby's head rotating and turning into place," Alice said. "If this is comfortable, why don't you stay like this for a while?"
Miranda nodded and leaned forward once again, shifting her weight to her forearms, which were pressed against the mat. She slowly began rotating her hips while Andrea applied firm, steady counter pressure to her lower back.
The young woman soon matched her rhythm and she felt her pelvis pressed against her rear. "Andrea, I know what you're thinking," Miranda said.
"Really?" she said with a chuckle, gently thrusting her hips forward.
"Yeeess," Miranda moaned as she crawled forward. "Don't do that. We have six more weeks. Please."
Andrea smiled and kneeled next to her. "I'm sorry. You're just so beautiful and amazing, I couldn't resist myself," she said. Her brown eyes sparkled.
Miranda pushed herself up and wrapped her arms around the woman's shoulders and kissed her with full force, sucking on her tongue and softly biting on her lower lip.
Andrea smiled and looked into Miranda's eyes. "What was that for?"
"For teasing me," she said, smiling. All of a sudden, her smile turned into a grimace as she closed her eyes at another contraction, tightening her grip around Andrea's shoulders.
Andrea soothingly ran her hands down Miranda's back and pressed kisses to her forehead and cheeks. "Breathe, Miranda," she said.
"Miranda, you need to start exhaling," Alice said, softly placing her hands on Miranda's lower back. "Scream or moan or yell or grunt or something. It's dangerous to hold your breath like that," she cautioned.
"Ohhhhhhh," Miranda moaned in a high-pitched tone that was almost like a squeal.
"Good, Miranda, that's great," Alice said. "Try to go deeper, like a growl," she said, lowering her own pitch.
"UhhhhhhHHH," Miranda groaned, rocking back and forth against Andrea.
"That's perfect," Andrea said, kissing her forehead again. "You're doing so good. This one's almost over now." She reached up and tucked a stray hair behind her ear.
Miranda finally took a few deep breaths and sat up. Andrea pulled a tube of Blistex out of her pocket and smoothed some over Miranda's lips.
"Are you still doing okay?"
Miranda nodded and handed her back an empty glass. "It feels like knives in my lower back," she said as she twisted around, trying to get comfortable.
"How about a shower? You can let the hot water soothe your back a little," Alice said, "and there's a stool in there so you don't have to stand the whole time."
She looked to Andrea for confirmation.
"It's up to you. Whatever feels good for you," Andrea said, softly kissing her on the corner of her mouth.
Miranda nodded, and sat back onto her heels.
Andrea stood and reached out her hand to help Miranda up, but before getting up, she lifted one foot at a time and gently lunged to each side.
"Excellent, Miranda. That's perfect," Alice said.
Miranda's grip on Andrea's hand tightened as her belly contracted once again. This time, Andrea was able to watch as Miranda's belly physically changed shape into something more like a rectangle.
"Okay, good, now breathe, Miranda," Alice said. "Breathe so those babies get oxygen. You're doing great."
Miranda moaned and reached for her belly with her free hand. After a few minutes, she said, "Let's try the shower," and Andrea helped her to her feet.
Alice refreshed Miranda's water bottles and straightened out some of the sheets while Andrea led her into the bathroom, giving the couple some privacy.
Miranda quickly let go of Andrea's hand and rushed over to the toilet, shutting the door as she went to the bathroom.
"Miranda, can I come in?" Andrea called.
Andrea heard her flushing the toilet and peeked her head inside. "You okay?"
Miranda nodded as she washed her hands at the sink.
"Did you have diarrhea again?"
Miranda blushed and nodded.
"Good," Andrea said. "That means the babies are working their way out, right?"
Miranda shrugged and was looking down at her hands. "I suppose. Doesn't make it any less humiliating."
Andrea softly lifted her chin so she could meet her eyes. "I love youevery single thing about you. Pregnancy is amazing and you have nothing to be embarrassed about, especially with me, okay?"
"Yes," she said quietly. "Let's try that hot water before another contraction comes."
Andrea put the plastic chair into the shower and turned it so the back was facing the shower spray. She turned on the hot water, then helped Miranda out of her bra and panties. While Miranda was getting comfortable on the chair, she kicked off her sandals and tied her own hair up in a messy bun.
Miranda was sitting backwards on the chair and had her head resting on her forearms, folded over the chair back.
"Does this feel good?"
"Mm-hmm," she mumbled.
After a few minutes, Andrea saw Miranda's feet and shoulders tense up and realized she was having another contraction.
"Breathe, Miranda. Exhale like you're blowing out a candle, remember?"
"Ooooooohhhh," Miranda moaned. "Turn it off! Ooooohhhhh turn it off," she said.
Andrea quickly turned off the hot water and began kneading Miranda's shoulders.
"No, lower," she said.
Andrea moved her hands down towards her shoulder blades and again began massaging.
"No, lower. Lower!"
Andrea balled her hands into fists and applied strong pressure to her lower back.
After a minute or so, Miranda's shoulders relaxed and she lifted her head. "I'm sorry, that hot water I was just getting dizzy," she said.
"It's okay, you're doing great. Do you want to try that again or maybe go for a walk?"
"Let's walk around," she said.
Andrea dried off her back and legs with a towel as she stood from the chair. She helped her into her panties and bra, then after another contraction, they walked back into the room.
Miranda walked straight for the bed and laid down on her side. Alice came over and brought her something to drink.
"I thought you'd be in there longer," she said.
"She was getting dizzycan you check her bp?" Andrea asked.
"Of course," she said, slipping the cuff around Miranda's arm. "Everything's good. While you're laying here, do you want me to see how far you are?"
Miranda nodded, then closed her eyes, squeezing her legs together as she moaned through another contraction.
"Your contractions are about four minutes apart," Alice said. She gently lifted Miranda's leg and examined her cervix. "And you'll be happy to know you're just over 6 cm," she added. "Are the contractions stronger now?"
"Yes, definitely," Miranda said.
Andrea took a few drinks from the Diet Coke she brought with her. She sat on the edge of the bed and took Miranda's hand. "Try and get some rest," she said.
Over the next six hours, Miranda's labor progressed. She spent a while in bed, trying to sleep between contractions while Alice and Andrea took turns massaging her. As her contractions grew more severe, she moved to the birthing stool, and Andrea sat in front of her, gently massaging her belly while Alice applied hot packs to her lower back.
Just before midnight, Miranda moved onto a birthing ball, leaning forward against the bed and swaying slowly.
"Your contractions are less than two minutes apart," Alice said.
Miranda moaned a nonverbal response.
"Can you still feel them coming and going?" she asked.
Miranda shook her head. "No it's constant."
"You've been stuck at 8 cm for a while," Alice explained, "so why don't you try stimulating your nipples to release some oxytocin?" Miranda didn't respond, but her continuous moaning slightly changed pitch, which Andrea understood as consent.
"Give us a minute," Andrea said to Alice, who nodded and stepped out of the room. She gently brushed her hand along Miranda's back and squeezed her shoulder.
Miranda turned her head to face Andrea. Her hair was matted along her hairline, and she managed a small smile.
"The babies are almost here."
"I know," Miranda said, nodding.
"We need to help them along a little bit. Can you palm and squeeze your nipples a little bit?"
Miranda pushed herself away from the bed so she was sitting upright and reached her hand up to her breast. "Aaahhhhh!" she cried quickly bringing both hands to rest on her knees as her contraction peaked. "You do it," she said.
Andrea squatted down in front of her and softly took each of her breasts in her hand, brushing her thumbs back and forth over her nipples and gently using her fingertips to simulate a sucking motion on her areolas.
After a minute, Miranda swatted her hands away and reached out for Andrea to help her off the ball. She wandered around aimlessly, leaning against the bed, the bar, the windowsill, anything. Alice came back in the room just as Miranda started to cry.
"I can't do this," she cried, "I can't I can't."
"You can do this," Andrea reassured her over and over.
Miranda wandered back to the bed and sat on the edge, holding Andrea's hand tightly through her contraction. "I can't," she cried. "Andy, I don't want to do this anymore I just want to sleep I want a c-section," she said between breaths.
Andrea couldn't hide her smile. She gently took Miranda's face in her hands and kissed her. "You are so beautiful, Miranda. I am falling in love with you more and more every minute of the day," she said. "You're doing so great."
"Get these babies out!" Miranda screamed, digging her fingernails into Andrea's arm. "I can't do this."
Alice walked over and laid a cool washcloth to the back of Miranda's neck. "Nice slow breaths, Miranda. One long breath in," she said, inhaling, "and one slow breath out," she said, exhaling.
Miranda climbed onto the bed and curled up on her side, gripping her belly. "I don't want to do this, Andy," she said, pausing to growl through another contraction. "Help me make it stop," she moaned.
Andrea sat on the edge of the bed and gently cupped Miranda's cheek. "You are doing this," she said. "You're giving birth to two human beings. You're amazing." She kissed her softly on the forehead and tucked her hair behind her ear. "Look at me," Andrea said, gently tilting her chin. "You're almost finished. Just a little while longer and we'll have our girls in our arms," she said.
Miranda reached out and pushed Andrea away as she leaned towards the side of the bed. Alice quickly held out a mauve-colored basin as Miranda began vomiting.
"Andy, go get Dr. Assaf. She's ready to start pushing," Alice whispered over her shoulder.
Andrea turned towards the door, but the doctor was already walking in with her scrubs on. "Miranda, it sounds like you might be ready to start pushing," she said. "I'm just going to take a quick look at your progress, okay?"
Alice softly wiped Miranda's mouth as she turned onto her back and gave her a sip of water. The nurse pressed a fetal monitor to her belly, and Dr. Assaf pulled her stool up to the foot of the bed.
"You're fully dilated, Miranda," Dr. Assaf said happily. "Why don't you try pushing?" she said.
"Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!" Miranda screamed as she bore down, ignoring the searing pain in her pelvis.
"Wait!" Alice said, quickly repositioning the bed so Miranda was sitting up. "Can you feel when your contractions are coming?" she asked her.
Miranda nodded, keeping her eyes tightly shut.
"Okay, when you feel a contraction, take a deep breath and push down with all of your might," Alice coached.
"Oooohhhh ohhhhh ooohhhhh," Miranda moaned.
Andrea softly caressed her cheek and squeezed her hand tightly. "You're doing so great, Miranda. It's almost over. I love you so much," she whispered. "Soon we'll have our girls in our arms, sitting on the swing out on the back porch in Sagaponack."
Miranda took a deep breath and pushed with all her might as her uterus contracted.
"Good, good. Keep pushing, Miranda," Dr. Assaf directed.
Andrea softly laid her hands on Miranda's cheeks, trying to relax her.
"Miranda, I need you to focus all your energy on your baby's head going through your cervix," Alice said.
"Deep breath," Andrea reminded, softly stroking Miranda's arm.
"AaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhHHHH!" she screamed, her expression contorted in pain as she bore down through another contraction. They were coming in rapid succession, so everyone in the room knew birth was very close. "Ohhh fuck ooooohhh it's burning!" she cried.
"Good, Miranda, we can see the baby's head," Alice said as she held a warm cloth to her perineum, hoping to prevent any tearing. "One more big push this time."
"You're doing so well," Andrea whispered, kissing the top of her head. "Think about us on that swing, watching Cass and Care play on the beach while our babies are cooing and fussing in our arms. We're so close," she said, softly squeezing Miranda's shoulder.
Miranda nodded and pressed her cheek to Andrea's hand as she took another deep breath and pushed with all her might. She exhaled as she suddenly felt less pressure on her cervix.
"Keep going, Mirandapush, push, push!" Alice directed.
"Aaahhhhh!" Miranda cried out as she pushed her daughter from her womb.
Dr. Assaf quickly reached up and placed the baby on Miranda's chest and gently massaged her back while Alice draped a warm blanket over mom and baby.
A high-pitched wail filled the room and Miranda looked down at her baby girl in awe. "Oh my god," she gasped, gently cradling the newborn against her chest.
"She's beautiful," Andrea said, kissing Miranda's cheek. "I'm so proud of you."
Miranda nodded and closed her eyes, gently stroking her daughter's cheek.
"Okay, I'm going to take her to the other side of the room and clean her up, make sure her heart rate is stable, and keep her warm," Alice said as she carefully lifted the newborn from Miranda's chest.
Dr. Assaf snipped the umbilical cord, then pressed the fetal monitor to the side of her belly to check on the other baby. "Jen," she said quietly, "give Miranda some oxygen."
The nurse quickly put the oxygen mask over Miranda's nose and mouth, instructing her to take deep breaths.
"What's going on?" Andrea asked. "Is everything okay?"
"Everything is perfect," Dr. Assaf said calmly, also addressing Miranda. "I just want to play it safe and ensure your other baby can breathe."
Miranda sat there for a few minutes, resting as she tried to catch her breath. "Go," she said to Andrea, motioning towards the corner where Alice was with the crying newborn.
"I'll be right back," Andrea said, kissing her forehead. She stood next to Alice in awe at the tiny creature who was now swaddled in a pink fleece-and-satin blanket with a matching little hat. She quickly pulled out her phone and snapped a picture and sent it to Emily with a short note: 1 down, 1 to go. Mom & baby doing fine! "Will she need to go to the NICU?" Andrea whispered to Alice.
"No, she's perfectly healthy. Do you want to hold her for a minute while I go get fresh blankets and everything setup for baby number two?"
Andrea smiled and picked her up, cradling her gently against her body. She had stopped crying and was now just cooing and fussing as she tried to keep her eyes open.
"Sweet pea, you are so beautiful," she whispered, kissing the newborn softly on the top of her head. Andrea gently tapped the baby's nose and giggled when the baby's bore an eerie resemblance to Miranda's infamous pursed lips.
From the other side of the room, she heard Miranda saying she felt like she needed to push. Alice came over and took the baby while Andrea ran back to Miranda's side. Jen removed the oxygen mask. Andrea gave Miranda a few sips of water and rubbed some lip balm on her lips.
"How is she?" Miranda asked.
"She's perfect," Andrea said. "Absolutely perfect. Are you ready for the next one?"
Miranda nodded. "In a minute," she said. "What do you want to call her?"
Andrea's eyes widened. "Me? No it's up to you."
Miranda shook her head and placed her hands on her belly. "I've already decided, this one will be Catherine. She's stubborn and needs a formidable name," Miranda said with a chuckle. "You pick hers," she said nodding towards the corner of the room where Alice attended to the newborn. "Ohhh," she moaned, gasping and sitting up more on the bed.
"I'm ready when you are, Miranda," Dr. Assaf called.
"Deep breath in," Andrea said, softly brushing her arm, "and push! Hard as you can, focus everything on getting this baby out so she can join her sister."
"Good, Miranda, keep pushing," Dr. Assaf said. "Jen, get her back on 02."
"You're doing great, Miranda," Andrea said. "Keep it up. Deep breaths. Exhale."
"AaaahhhhhhhhhhaaaahhhhHHHHHaaaa!" Miranda screamed.
"Good. Now hold it for a minute, Miranda. Don't push," Dr. Assaf instructed. The baby's head was out, and it wasn't as pink as she would have liked, so carefully slipped her finger around the baby's neck and loosened the restriction around her airway. "Ok, one more big push, Miranda," she said.
In the meantime, Alice placed the newborn back in the incubator and instructed two student nurses to watch her while she returned to Miranda's side. With the last push, the second twin made her way into the world.
Miranda sighed and took a deep breath, resting her head back against the pillow. "Why isn't she crying?" she asked, suddenly frantic. "What's wrong?"
"She's fine," Dr. Assaf said in reassurance as she quickly suctioned the newborn's mouth and nose.
Alice picked her up and laid her against Miranda's chest. "Gently massage her back," she said, draping a blanket over the baby.
Miranda gently rubbed circles on the baby's back with three fingers, and after a while, she coughed and sneezed a few times before letting out a loud, healthy wail.
Andrea didn't realize that she had been holding her breath. Everyone in the room was.
Alice clamped the cord and reached underneath the blanket to discreetly snip it.
Miranda bent her head down and kissed the top of the infant's hair. "Catherine. Catherine Helen Priestly," she said quietly.
"Can I take her to get cleaned up a bit? I want to check her Apgar, too. I'm sure she's fine, but just to be safe," Alice said.
Miranda nodded and let the midwife take her baby off her chest. "Can you move this bed down? I want to lay back," she said. After Jen adjusted the angle, Miranda reached out and took Andrea's hand. "Go," she whispered. "I'm fine. I know you want to be over there."
Andrea smiled and kissed Miranda before prancing over to the incubators.
Miranda closed her eyes and laid back, taking a few minutes to rest while she could, but was soon awakened when Andrea lowered the railing on the bed and sat on the edge, cradling a newborn in her arms.
"How's Catherine?" Miranda asked eagerly.
"She's perfect," Alice shouted over the infant's crying. "Apgar is normal. No NICU for these babies!" she announced.
Miranda sighed in relief as tears began to stream down her face. She reached out for the baby and held her close against her chest, just kissing and cradling her.
Andrea snuck away and snapped a picture of Catherine, who was now wrapped in a pale lilac satin-fleece blanket, and sent another picture to Emily: Meet Catherine, the newest Priestly. Mom and babies all doing fine. No NICU!
As she walked back to Miranda's bedside, she sent Leslee a quick text: Miranda & babies are doing well. Happiness and good health all around.
"Did you decide on a name?" Miranda asked.
Miranda looked down at her newborn girl and smiled. "Welcome to the family, Callista," she said. "Andrea, what's your middle name?"
"Callista Elizabeth Priestly," she said with a smile.
"You know, we get to call her 'Callie' and the other one 'Kit' because you lost our bet," Andrea said.
"I most certainly did not lose any bet. What on earth are you talking about?"
"You called me 'Andy'twice."
Miranda's eyes widened. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"You did. You screamed it out. I think you were going through transition, but all's fair."
Miranda rolled her eyes. "As long as they're both healthy, I don't really care what you call them," she said.
"Not to interrupt you, but we need to get the placentas out, Miranda," Dr. Assaf said. "Why don't you try and see ifCallista, was it?will latch on? Breastfeeding should stimulate just enough uterine contractions for the placenta to detach."
Alice stepped in and helped Miranda free her breast from the nursing bra. She loosened the blanket around the baby so her hands were free. "Okay, now just bring the baby to the breast," she said. With very little guidance, the newborn began suckling.
"What's wrong?" Andrea asked.
"It's really uncomfortable," she said.
"Miranda, give me a few light pushes," Dr. Assaf said. "Okay, okay, stop. You're done."
"That's it?" Miranda asked. "I didn't even feel it."
"Give me a minute to examine and make sure it's intact, but yes, I think that's it."
"Did I tear?"
"Just a tiny bit with the first one. Two stitches. I'm going to go wash up. Alice will finish cleaning you up, and then I'll be back to answer any questions. Miranda, congratulations on your new additions."
"Thank you," she said. "What time is it?"
"Almost 3:00 AM."
"So, when's their birthday?"
"They were both born today, July 8th," Andrea said. "Roughly twenty minutes apart. Callista was 5 pounds, 11 ounces, and Catherine was 5 pounds, 3 ounces."
"And they're both brunettes, like you," Miranda said.
Andrea smiled. "Yep. This one definitely got your facial features. I swear she pursed her lips at me before," she said. "What is your natural hair color, just out of curiosity?"
"Darling you know I don't dye this," Miranda said.
"No, I mean, before the white."
"Strawberry blonde. Lighter than the girls, but then you've seen James and his familythey've all got dark hair," she said. "Both my mother and father had dark hair. I was the strange-looking child."
"I don't see how anyone could ever think you were 'strange-looking.' You're beautiful," she whispered, bending down to kiss Miranda properly on the lips.
Alice cleared her throat. "Would you like to put some clothes on? I have a hospital gown, but I figured you brought something else."
"Oh god, I didn't even realize," Miranda said with a chuckle as Andrea pulled a pair of clean underwear and yoga pants from her bag. "Wait, can I take a quick shower and wash my hair?"
"Of course," Alice said. "Why don't I help you with that while Andrea sits with the babies?"
Miranda nodded and handed Callista over. "Do not let them out of your sight," she said.
"Never," Andrea said with a smile. Jen placed Catherine in a bassinet and wheeled her over closer to the bed. "Miranda," she called after her.
Miranda stopped and turned around. Her right breast was hanging out of her nursing bra, and she wasn't wearing any other clothes. Her cheeks were red and her hair was matted against her head, the bobby pin being the only thing keeping her bangs out of her eyes. "What?" she asked, anxious to get into the shower.
"You're incredible," Andrea said. "And I love you."
Miranda smiled. She believed her.
Andrea moved off the bed and into the recliner in the corner so the nurse could change the linens on the bed. Looking down at the two tiny humans, she was overwhelmed with feelings of joy and love.
She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and dialed Emily's number.
"Hello? Andrea? Is everything okay?"
"Hey Em, yes it's fine. Sorry to call in the middle of the night. Can you wake up the girls?"
"Sure, I'm heading to their rooms now. Are you sure everything is okay?"
"Yes. I just want to tell them I love them," Andrea said.
"Just a second," Emily said. Andrea could hear her whispering to the girls in the background.
"Hi Caroline," Andrea said. "I'm sorry to wake you up, sweetheart."
"It's okay," she said groggily. "Are the babies okay?"
"Yes, Care. The babies and your mom are all doing well. Your mom is taking a shower right now. I just wanted to call to tell you I love you, sweetheart."
After a few minutes of silence, the young girl yawned. "I love you, too, Andy."
"Can you put your sister on? Goodnight, Caroline."
"Sure. Goodnight, Andy. Give the babies a kiss from me."
"Will do," Andrea said as she bent down and slowly pressed a kiss to the newborn in her arms.
"Hi Cassidy. I'm sorry to wake you up."
"Is Mom okay?"
"Yes, sweetie. Your mom had a really long day and she's taking a shower right now. I'm sitting here holding Callie, and I just wanted to tell you that I love you, Cassidy."
"That's why you woke me up? Duh, I knew that."
Andrea chuckled. "Okay, well I just wanted to hear your voices. How would you like it if Emily and Serena brought you by the hospital before school in the morning? You could surprise your mom."
"And see the babies?"
"Yes, and see the babies," Andrea said. "Now go back to sleep for a few hours, sweetie."
"Okay. See you in the morning, Andy."
"See you soon, Cass. Goodnight."
"Goodnight. Love you, Andy. Here's Emily."
"Is everything alright, Andrea?"
"Yes. Can you and Serena come by the hospital for an hour before the girls go to school?"
"Actually, James was going to pick them up in the morning. I will call and tell him to come by earlierunlesswill that be a problem?"
"No, I think it will be fine. Thanks, Em."
"Of course. Oh, and tell Miranda we have everything setup here. The nursery is fully stocked, the bassinets are ready to go, and Helen is anxious to come in whenever Miranda gives the okay," Emily said.
"Perfect. Thank youboth of you. I know it means a lot to Miranda that she can trust you at home. If you two and Nigel want to swing by the hospital tomorrow late afternoon, that would probably be okay. But just give me a call first."
"Yes. And tell Miranda that Serena and I said hello and that we're proud of her. There is no way I could ever put on thirty-five pounds and push two babies through mywell. You know. Give her our best."
Andrea chuckled. "Will do. I gotta go, babies are crying," she said. Setting the phone down, she carefully laid Callie in the bassinet and picked up Catherine, bouncing her gently as she held her to her chest.
Miranda emerged from the bathroom, her hair dry and perfectly styled. She was radiant, although Andrea couldn't help but notice how heavily she was leaning on Alice's arm.
She climbed into bed and held out her arms. "Catherine is hungry, give her here."
Andrea carefully handed her over and watched in awe as Miranda unpinned the clasp on her nightgown, silencing the crying newborn.
"Bring Callie up here," she said quietly, motioning to the space next to her on the bed.
Andrea smiled at hearing the nickname roll off her tongue. She took Callie and climbed onto the bed next to Miranda.
"For the next twelve hours, they will both benefit from skin-to-skinand it doesn't just have to be with the mother," Alice said as she poured Miranda a glass of water.
"Go on, darling," Miranda said, leaning over and kissing her on the temple.
Andrea carefully unbuttoned her blouse and unwrapped the blankets that were tightly wrapped around the newborn.
"Keep her warm with the blanket," Alice said.
"Alice, thank you for everything," Miranda said. "Once Catherine is finished here, I think we're going to try and catch a few hours of sleep. We will see you tomorrow morning."
"Of course. There are nurses on call, so if you need anything, they'll be in right away. Goodnightand congratulations," she said before walking out.
"Andrea, I'm so tired," Miranda said as she leaned her head back against the pillows.
"Let's get some rest. The girls will be fine," she said as she slowly sat up and laid Callie in the bassinet without waking her. She wheeled the bassinet to the other side of the bedto Miranda's sidewhere the nurse had already set Catherine's. She took the younger of the two babies from Miranda's arms and quietly laid her next to her sister.
Andrea dimmed the lights before she returned to Miranda's bedside. "Can I lower this?" she asked.
Miranda nodded, and Andrea carefully lowered the bed so Miranda could truly lay down and relax. "Come here," she said.
Andrea kicked off her shoes and climbed into bed next to Miranda. "I'm so proud of you, Miranda. I love you so much," she said, kissing her softly on the lips.
"Mmm," Miranda hummed. "I know, go to sleep."
Andrea smiled and tucked her head into Miranda's neck as she pulled the blanket up and around them.
The babies slept soundly for the next three hours, as did Miranda and Andrea. The nurses came in and out a few times throughout the night to check on the babies, but Andrea was grateful that Miranda was able to rest some.
Around 7:45 AM, Andrea woke when she heard twin whispers and giggles.
"Andy? Is Mom awake?" Cassidy whispered.
"Hi, sweetheart. She will be in a second," Andrea said, leaning over and softly kissing Miranda's cheek. "Wake up, we have a surprise," she whispered into her ear.
Miranda slowly opened her eyes and met Andrea's gaze. A smile slowly crept over her lips and she reached up to brush her fingers along Andrea's cheek. Before she could move any closer, one of the girls coughed rather suddenly.
"Girls," Miranda gasped. "Oh, Bobbseys, come here," she said.
Andrea climbed out of the bed and threw on a sweater. She grabbed Miranda's silk robe and helped her into it. "Why don't you go sit on the couch over there and we'll bring the babies," she said.
Miranda excused herself to use the bathroom, then quickly joined her family, taking a seat on the couch between her daughters.
"You have to hold her very carefully," Andrea told Cassidy. "Two hands at all times, and remember that a baby's muscles aren't strong enough to hold up their head, so you have to support it."
"Is this Callie or Catherine?"Cassidy asked.
"Catherine." Andrea looked up and saw Miranda showing Caroline how to hold Callie.
"They're so cute," Caroline said quietly.
"Yes, they are," Miranda said. "Where is Emily? How did you get here?"
"Oh, uh, Dad brought us. He's waiting outside."
"He figured you wouldn't want to see him," Cassidy added.
"Andrea, tell him to come in. That's ridiculous," Miranda said. "Girls, I'm so glad you came. You have no idea how happy it makes me to see your beautiful faces. Girls, you've grown up so fast. I am going to need a lot of help in the next few years, and I want you to help me raise Catherine and Callie to be the same remarkable young women you two are." She bent over and kissed each of her four daughters on the forehead.
"Miranda, congratulations," James said when he walked in.
"Thank you," she said, standing up to greet him.
"Can Ido you mind?" he asked.
"Of course not," Miranda said as she wrapped her arm around Andrea's waist. "You've met Andrea, right?"
"Actually, we've only really spoken on the phone," Andrea said. "But it feels like we've known each other for a while."
"Yes. I'm sorry, it's nice to meet you, Andrea. Congratulations to you, too. I'm glad you were here for Miranda," he said.
James sat with the girls as they all fawned over the newborn twins. "Miranda, they're absolutely perfect," he said.
"I know," she said, resting her head against Andrea's shoulder.
Just then, Catherine began to fidget and cry, and Cassidy quickly handed her over to her mother. Miranda held her and quietly tried to rock her back to sleep, but before long, Callie was crying, too.
"Girls, come on," James said. "We've got to get you to school. Maybe you can come back tonight if it's okay with your momafter you finish your homework."
Miranda nodded and said goodbye to her daughters and ex-husband as she and Andrea attempted to quiet the babies' cries. Miranda sat in the recliner and unlatched her gown so Catherine could begin feeding. "I so wish you could help with this," she said.
"When you pump, we could take turns feeding them from a bottlewould that help?"
Miranda shook her head. "No, it's fine. I want to spend time bonding with them both. It's just, I'm ready to go back to sleep right now, and I have to sit through not one, but two of them," she said.
"Okay," Andrea said. "Why don't you move to the bed. I'm sure it would be more comfortable." She helped her up from the chair and over to the bed. "I'm going to ask the nurse for some diapers," she said, heading towards the hallway.
"Andy, is everything okay?" Jen asked.
"Yeah. Two thingsfirst, where are the diapers?"
"Here," she said, pulling a large stack out of the drawer at the desk. "What else?"
"Well, Miranda is really tired. I remember reading about a breastfeeding position where she could lie down on the beddo you know anything about that?"
"Yes, a lot of mothers find that's the easiest for them to get rest. Sharon, one of our lactation consultants, just came in. Should I send her in?" she asked.
"Yes, please. If for nothing else, just a little reassurance," Andrea said. "Thanks for the diapers!"
Andrea carried Callie over to the changing table and carefully put a clean diaper on her. She quieted down, and for a minute, Andrea played with her there, gently holding her hands and kissing her tummy and her toes.
"Knock knock," Sharon said as she entered the room. "Hi Miranda, I'm Sharon, and I'm a lactation consultant."
"Oh, I really don't think"
"Just give me ten minutes, then I'll go away," she said.
"Okay, so I'm sure you know the basics. I just wanted to introduce you to a few different positions, and give you a few tips for relief once your milk comes in. Since these babies are only about eight hours old, you're still producing colostrum, which is a thick, sticky, nutrient-rich food for the babies. I'm sure you're exhausted, so I wanted to show you a position where you can lie down alongside the baby."
"Okay, Catherine's just about finished," she said. "Andrea?"
"Right here," she said, taking Catherine from her arms. Miranda smiled as Andrea cradled her two babies.
"Miranda, if you can scoot over towards the middle of the bed and lay on your right side," Sharon said as she lowered the bed flat. "Stretch your right arm up and lie on your armthat's itand release your right breast from your gown." She reached out and took Callie from Andrea's arms, positioning her flat on the bed.
"Can she get enough milkor colostrum, whateverin this position?" Miranda asked.
"Yes. This is a very natural position for her, and as long as you're careful, you can close your eyes and get some rest, too."
"Careful about what?" Miranda asked as she gently stroked her daughter's forehead.
"Well, if you're alone, you'll want to ensure that you stay awake so you don't accidentally roll on top of the baby or, in a few months, so that she doesn't roll off the bed," Sharon explained. "And of course, once your milk comes in, you'll probably want to lay a burp cloth on the bed or else you'll be changing the sheets several times a day."
"Oh, of course."
"Can I ask how you're doing other than that? Any pain or discomfort?"
"Some mild cramping, but otherwise I'm doing well. Just need some sleep," Miranda said. "Unfortunately I was spoiled these past few monthsI was on bed rest and really got more than enough sleep."
"Well, I'm sure you'll adjust. Looks like you have a very helpful partner, here."
"I do. I certainly do," she said.
"Well, if you need anything else, just ask for me. I'll try to check in on you later tonight before my shift's over if that's okay."
"That will be fine," Miranda said, closing her eyes.
After changing Catherine's diaper and placing her back in her bassinet, Andrea took Sharon's place at Miranda bedside. Shortly after, Callie gently let go of Miranda's breast. Andrea gently picked her up and held her for a few minutes before putting her back into her bassinet as she, too, was fast asleep. She crawled up on the bed next to Miranda and pulled the sheet gently over them.
Andrea wasn't really tired, so she laid there, gazing at the woman she planned to spend the rest of her life with. Even though she fixed her hair this morning, she still pinned her bangs back with the bobby pin Andrea gave her yesterday. Without makeup, she could see the pale freckles dotting the woman's cheekbones and along the ridge of her aquiline nose. There were tiny red dots around Miranda's eyes, which could only be broken blood vessels that resulted from pushing so hard. She couldn't resist lifting her hand and gently brushing the woman's cheek.
Andrea smiled and stilled her hand, not wanting to rouse Miranda from her sleep.
"Do the babies need me?" she asked, her eyes still closed tightly.
"No, they're fine. Go back to sleep," she whispered, placing a kiss on her forehead.
"Mmmkay. Love you."
"Love you, too," she whispered.
Some time later, Andrea had slipped out of bed to take a shower herself. First, she went out into the hall to find the nurse and let her know Miranda was still sleeping.
"Oh, Andy, someone brought this for you. I didn't want to bother you earlier," the nurse said, handing a small cooler over.
"Who is it from?"
"She didn't say. She was a petite blonde girl, very fashionable."
Andrea smiled. "Abby. Miranda's assistant," she said as she looked through the cooler full of healthy, protein-packed snacks. "Thanks, Jen."
Once she was showered and dressed in clean clothes, she cleared off the table along the wall and draped a blanket over it as a tablecloth. She set out two plates for herself and Miranda, poured Miranda a glass of Pellegrino, and began unpacking the cooler. Abby really packed everything: hard-boiled eggs, greek yogurt, granola, fresh berries and melon, cottage cheese, English muffins, almond butter, apples, and honey.
When she laid it all out on the table, she noticed a post-it in the bottom of the cooler: Call 203-929-2003 and ask for Cameron. He'll deliver Miranda's Starbucks order to her room in 3 min. -Abby. She would seriously have to talk to Miranda about giving Abby a raise.
After calling Cameron, she walked over and gently sat on the edge of the bed. "Miranda," she whispered, softly kissing her on the cheek.
Miranda opened her eyes and smiled. "I can get used to being woken like that," she said with a smile. "Are they hungry again?"
"No. They're asleep, but you need to eat something," Andrea said. "It's almost noon."
"Really? Well, I guess"
"It's all set at the table," Andrea said with a smile. A soft knock on the door interrupted them. Andrea smiled and answered it, returning with a scalding venti no-foam latte.
Miranda sat up. "Oh my god, give me that," she said, sitting up and reaching her hand out. She took a sip and hummed in delight. "This is so hot and so deliciousthank you."
"Don't thank me, thank Abby. She arranged it all. And she brought over all this food for you, too," Andrea said, leading Miranda to the table.
Miranda smiled. "Well, thank you for finding her and hiring her and teaching her how to spoil me," she said. Miranda made herself a bowl of yogurt with honey, granola, and berries while Andrea spread some almond butter on a slice of English muffin.
"How are you feeling today?" Andrea asked.
Andrea glared at her with one eyebrow arched.
"Okay. I'm a little sore. My legs hurt, my back is sore, my abdomen feels like it's been a heavyweight punching bag, and my" she waved her hand, gesturing between her legs, "feels like I don't even know. It's uncomfortable."
"I can check with the nurse and see if she can give you some ibuprofen or something," Andrea said.
"That's fine. I'm fine, really. I didn't expect this to be painless," Miranda said as she finished her yogurt. "Maybe you can rub my back later?"
Andrea chuckled. "Of course. I can have a massage therapist come in if you'd prefer," she offered.
"No. Then for sure I'll be sore. I would rather you do it," she said, gazing into the brunette's eyes.
Their gaze was punctuated by a high-pitched wail on the other side of the room.
"I'll go keep her quiet for a while," Andrea said. "You just relax and finish eating."
Miranda watched as the young woman picked up Catherine and cradled her in her arms while she moved around the room. Miranda finished eating and walked up behind the young woman, wrapping her arm around her waist and laying her head on her shoulder. "Andrea, I love you so much. Seeing you here with the babies like thisI'm just overwhelmed. Thank you for loving me, for loving us."
Andrea turned around and kissed Miranda's lips. The only thing keeping them from taking it any further was Catherine's little hand that reached up and touched Miranda's chin.
"Come here, baby," Miranda said, taking Catherine from her arms. "You are my beautiful baby girl who would not stop kicking me these past few months, aren't you? You just couldn't wait to get out so I could hold you, right? Your mommies love you so very much," she whispered, softly kissing the baby's forehead.
They spent the rest of the day relaxing and cuddling with the babies. Miranda experienced a few strong contractions that afternoon, but the doctor reassured her that it was simply her uterus trying to shrink itself down to size.
"I want to go home," Miranda said quietly. "I want to sleep in our bed. I want to lock the door and kiss you." It was Wednesday morning and she was curled up against Andrea's body.
"I know you do, but you know the pediatrician wants to keep the babies for observation for at least another twenty-four hoursprobably until Friday," Andrea said. "Actually, if you want to go and get some rest, I'll stay here with them. But kissing with the door locked does sound romantic," she added.
"Thank you, but no. I'm not leaving them. Plus, I'd have to pump enough for them to drinknot worth it."
"How about we take a walk outside this afternoon? Maybe have lunch at one of the picnic tables," Andrea suggested.
"Yes," Miranda said. "Dr. Assaf wants me to get more exercise anyway, and maybe some fresh air could do me good."
Their time in the hospital was spent entertaining a lot of visitors: James, Caroline & Cassidy, Emily, Serena, Nigel, Irv & Myra, Cara, and even Donatella. As grateful as she was for all that these people were doing for her while she was off work, she longed for some time to herself, just with her family. At home.
Late Thursday night James called.
"Miranda's sleeping, I'll have her call you back," Andrea whispered into the phone.
"I'm awake," Miranda said, reaching her arm out for the phone. "What?" she asked.
"Uh, my mom really wants to come in and see you, stay with the babies, you know, since you're going home tomorrow. She wants me to pick her up from the train station this weekend, but I wanted to run it by you first," he said.
"No. No, I just want one week to myselfjust me an my family. Is that too much to ask for?" Miranda spat.
"Uh, so I'll tell her to wait a while longer."
"Yes. I'm their mother. I can change their diapers and feed them and bathe them. I don't need Helen to show me how to do it!" Miranda huffed and handed the phone back to Andrea.
"James?" she asked, running out into the hallway.
"What the hell was that?" he asked.
"Uh I'm not sure. Maybe hormones or something. Please tell Helen we appreciate the offer, and I know Caroline and Cassidy are really looking forward to seeing her, but Miranda just needs a few days."
James sighed. "She's not going to like that."
"I know. I'll have the girls email her and George some photos of the babies. I'm sorry. I have to go get back to Miranda."
"Take care," he said.
Andrea quietly crept back into the dark room and walked over to check on the babies. Both were sleeping soundly. They were holding their own body temperature, so they were transferred from warming beds to regular bassinets. In the morning, they just needed to pass the Car Seat Test, then they could go home. She practiced holding both girls at an incline today and they were fine, so she was sure they would pass. Andrea froze when she heard sniffling coming from the bed and quickly rushed over.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"I don't know," Miranda said. Her voice was hoarse, and Andrea realized she must have been crying for a while.
"Are you having pain? Do I need to get the nurse?"
"No, no, nothing like that. I just" she buried her head in the pillow and began sobbing.
Andrea climbed into bed next to her and hugged her. Miranda buried her head on her shoulder and clutched her tightly, all while Andrea held her and tried to soothe her.
"Will you tell me what you're thinking about?" Andrea asked after Miranda calmed down a bit.
"Everything. I'm exhausted and I can hardly keep my eyes open. How am I going to stay awake to take care of the babies? How am I going to go back to work like this? The babies are going to forget about me and"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Andrea said, interrupting her. "You are getting so far ahead of yourself, sweetie. Let's take this one day at a time. Now, you have the next three monthsmaybe moreoff work. And no matter how few hours of sleep you've gotten in the past during fashion weeks or whatnot, your body just spent eight months growing two human beings. And it needs a little more restjust for now."
"But they're already getting bigger and I can't just sleep through it!"
Andrea kissed Miranda's forehead. "They're seventy-two hours old. When they're sleeping, you can sleep. When we get home, they can sleep with us if you want," Andrea said.
Miranda's eyes lit up. "You mean that? I thought you said co-sleeping was too dangerous."
"There are risks for everything, especially when they're this little. Putting them in a crib or bassinet is risky, too. I can have Cara take the mattress pad off the bed and secure the sheets tightly. We can put the comforter away for the summer and use that light quilt from the closet. I mean, if you still want to try it," Andrea said.
Miranda smiled. "Yes," she said. "I love you so much, Andrea, you know that, right?"
"I do," she said. "Why don't you try and get some sleep. I will be sure to wake you the minute one of them starts crying."
"Thank you," she said, taking Andrea's hand and linking their fingers. Within a few minutes she was fast asleep in her lover's arms.
Andrea couldn't be happier.
Late Friday afternoon, Miranda and Andrea left the hospital, each of them carrying one of the babies in a carrier. Nigel, Emily, and Caroline & Cassidy walked with them, because by now, there was a significant crowd of photographers awaiting their exit. Miranda carefully draped a blanket over each carrier to shield the newborns from the cameras. As for herself, she donned a Lilly Pulitzer maxi dress with a gauzy white long cardigan and white and pink polka-dot scarf. She and Andrea both wore dark sunglasses, and she pinned her bangs back off her forehead.
Just before they reached the doors, she stopped and turned to Andrea. "Are you ready for this?"
"I am," she said. "Let's go home."
Miranda exited the hospital doors with her head held high. Roy held the door open and helped her to secure Catherine's car seat, then helped her into the backseat, where she sat between the car seats. In the meantime, Andrea walked around to the other side and secured Callie's car seat, then hurried around to get into the passenger seat. Nigel, Emily, and the girls followed in another car.
"How are we going to fit everyone in this car?" Miranda asked once they were on the road.
"There's a second row of seats in the back. I haven't put them in yet," Roy explained. "It might get tight if you have a lot of luggage or something, but for now this should work."
Miranda nodded. She carefully removed the blankets from the carriers. Callie was sleeping soundly, but Catherine's eyes were open wide. Miranda leaned over the carrier and kissed her on the nose while she gently tickled her tummy beneath the safety belt.
"They're beautiful," Roy said after a while, breaking the silence. "Congratulations, Miranda."
"Thank you," she said.
A few minutes later, Roy pulled into Miranda's garage and stopped the car. "Can I help you ladies into the house?" he asked.
Andrea turned around and Miranda met her gaze with a raised eyebrow. "Miranda, you're going to have to climb three flights of stairs. Let Roy bring the carrier in for you."
"Fine," she said.
Andrea unsecured Callie's carseat, then helped Miranda from the car. "Are you doing okay?" she asked when she saw Miranda wince.
"Still a little sore. I'm fine."
Andrea unlocked the door and entered the house, setting down the carrier on the floor in the living room. She headed back down the stairs and met Miranda, helping her up to the first floor. She made her way to the bathroom, and Roy set Catherine's carrier on the ground next to Callie.
"Can I help with anything else?" Roy asked.
"No, we're fine for now. Thank you," Andrea said. The babies were fine in their carseats, so she softly knocked on the bathroom door. "Everything okay?"
"Can you get me another pad?" Miranda asked.
"Sure, here," Andrea said, pulling one from her purse. She cracked the door open and handed it to her. "Is it still heavy?" she asked.
"I'm just moving around more today," she said. "Let's keep the babies down here for a while, okay?"
"Sure," she said while Miranda washed her hands. "I'm going to grab a few pillows and things from upstairs, but I'll be back in a second. Do you need anything?"
"Not now, thanks," she said. Miranda made her way over to the couch and turned both carriers so they were facing her. She unbuckled both girls' safety straps, and carefully picked up Callie, who was now awake, too.
"Oh, Callie, my sweet pea," she whispered, kissing her on the forehead. She held her against her chest and softly rubbed her back. "Mommy loves you so much," she whispered, kissing her temple.
Andrea came downstairs with a laundry basket full of various items. She set the basket down on the ground and handed Miranda a burp cloth, which she quickly put on her shoulder. She took a box of disposable breast pads, a pillow, and several small blankets out of the basket.
"Something to eat or drink?" Andrea asked.
"Lemonade, or if we don't have that, still water is fine."
A few minutes later, Andrea returned with two glasses of lemonade and set them on the coasters on the table. She reached down and picked up Catherine, taking a seat on the couch next to Miranda.
"She looks tired," Miranda said.
"I know," Andrea said. "You know, she has your nose."
Miranda chuckled. "I suppose she does. I thought Nigel and the girls were behind us?"
"They were going to take Caroline & Cassidy out for dinner before coming home. I hope you don't mindI just thought you'd appreciate getting situated before everyone came over."
Miranda smiled. "Thank you. I suppose I shouldn't have been so rude to James the other night. Helen only wants to help."
"You weren't rude, and I think she understands. It's just that grandmother's natural instinct," Andrea said.
"Speaking of grandmothers, have you talked to your mom?"
"Not since before they were born. She did mention wanting to come visit to see the babies and meet you, though. Just hernot my dad."
"That would be finebut we really don't have enough room for everyone to stay here," Miranda said.
"Well we have the daybed on the fourth floor, the sofa in your office, and the girls' play room. And the girls can even share a bed if needed," Andrea said.
"True. Let's hope we don't have that many people staying over at once," she said. "Were you waiting to call your mom for any reason?"
Andrea shrugged. "I didn't really know how you felt about it. It's no big deal."
"Andrea, it is a big deal. You're a mother now, too."
"I know, I just feel bad taking credit. I mean, this was all you," she said.
"I never want to hear you say that again," Miranda snapped. "It was not all me. I've told you, I couldn't have done thisany of thiswithout you. I'm healthy. These two beautiful baby girls are healthy, and it's all because of you. You supported me and took care of me, physically and emotionally. Now, call your mother."
Andrea chuckled and pulled out her phone. "Hi, Mom," she said.
"Andy? Hi honey, what's going on?"
"Well, I just wanted to tell you that you have two new grandchildren," Andrea said.
"What?! When? You said she wasn't due until August. Are they okay?"
"Yes, everyone is doing fine. Miranda went into labor on Monday and the babies were born early Tuesday morning."
"Oh my gosh. Honey, why didn't you call?"
"I'm sorry. I was just so busy and overwhelmed. We just got home from the hospital tonight."
"Well, tell mewhat are their names?"
"Callista Elizabeth was five pounds, eleven ounces, and Catherine Helen was five pounds three ounces. I'll send you a few pictures when I get off the phone," she said.
"Oh, my. And Miranda is doing well?"
"Yes she is. It was a natural childbirthI'm so proud of her," Andrea said.
"Please give her my best and tell her congratulations," she said.
"I will. Look, I have to go now, but I just wanted to let you know about the babies."
"Thank you, honey. You take care, now. Miranda, too. I want to come visit you soon, so please let me know when I can come."
"Will do. Thanks, Mom. Love you."
"Oh wait! What was it you wanted to ask me about Grandma Marjorie's locket?"
"Oh, uh, I um, I'll email you about it."
"Okay. I'll look for your note. Love you, Andy."
"Love you, too, Mom. Bye." Andrea ended the call and placed the phone on the coffee table. "She said to tell you congratulations. She's glad you're doing okay."
"You didn't tell her about the parental rights, did you?"
"Why? Look, if you didn't want them"
"Stop," Andrea said. "Stop. I do want them, and I love them and am so grateful to you for making me a permanent part of your family like this. I just have to tread lightly with my mom. I'm afraid if I give her all this at once, she will freak."
"Okay. But you do intend to tell her at some point?"
"Yes, of course!"
Callie started to fuss, and Miranda quickly realized she wouldn't be able to breastfeed without removing her dress entirely. "Shoot. I have to go upstairs and change," she said as she stood from the couch.
Andrea followed her upstairs slowly, walking behind her in case she lost her balance. Once in their bedroom, she laid Catherine in one of the bassinets and took Callie from Miranda's arms while she changed into leggings and a tank. Andrea gestured towards the chaise, which Emily and Serena had setup as the breastfeeding station. Miranda smiled and sat down, setting a pillow on her lap as she unclasped her bra and freed her breast. Andrea handed the baby over and sat at the edge of the seat, pulling Miranda's feet into her lap.
"Our room looks great," Miranda said. "Remind me to thank Emily and Serena again."
Andrea nodded and gently began to massage Miranda's feet.
Once Callie was finished, Miranda gently lifted her onto her chest. The newborn smacked her lips and closed her eyes, sighing in satisfaction. Miranda, too, closed her eyes, but less than a minute later, Catherine began crying.
"I wonder if they'll ever be on the same schedule," Miranda said, sighing as she fastened her bra and set Callie in her bassinet.
"Would you breastfeed them at the same time?" Andrea asked.
"Yes. It was actually really nice when the consultant showed me in the hospital," Miranda said, sitting back down and doing the same thing with Catherine on her other breast. "I think Callie gets more milk than Catherine."
"But Callie is always done in like fifteen minutes and Catherine takes almost an hour," Andrea said.
"Yeah, but she's lazy. She stops and looks around, then starts again. We're going to need to work on her attention span."
"She's four days old," Andrea said, laughing.
"I can't remember what the consultant said about tilting her chin," Miranda said as she fidgeted with the crying baby in her arms.
They heard the door open and shut downstairs. "Mom? Andy?" Caroline called.
"Up here," Miranda said. She lifted the baby and changed positions, sitting up a little more.
"Is the baby sleeping?" Caroline whispered, looking down at Callie.
"Probably. But you don't have to whisper. Just no screaming," Andrea said. "Where'd you go for dinner?"
"Some Italian place. We had pizza," Cassidy said, joining them. "Whoa."
"What, Cass?" Andrea asked. She looked over and saw that Cassidy's gaze was transfixed on her mother feeding her baby sister.
"Do they always do that?"
"Bobbsey, come here," Miranda said, patting the edge of the chair. "Our bodies are really smart. Remember how I told you that my body knew it needed to stretch to make room for the babies growing inside?" Both girls nodded. "Well, my body also knows that those babies were born, and need milk since they're no longer inside of me," Miranda explained.
"It just looks funny," Cassidy said, scrunching up her nose.
"Does it hurt?" Caroline asked.
"Actually, it does hurt a little," Miranda said, "but that's because they were just born a few days ago. My body is still trying to adjust."
"Girls," Emily said, "why don't we go downstairs and get dinner ready for your mom and Andrea, okay? Come with me."
Once they were out of the room, Miranda took a deep breath. "I was just waiting for the cow comparison," she said.
"Cow? I was thinking more along the lines of porn star," Nigel said.
Miranda opened her eyes. "What? Porn star?"
"I mean, please don't take this the wrong way, but your breasts look amazingbeyond amazing, really," he said, blushing slightly.
Miranda smirked and a smile crept across her face. "This is pretty great cleavage, isn't it?"
"Almost makes me wish I was that baby," he said with a chuckle.
"Nigel, one more comment and I'm going to start getting jealous," Andrea said.
"Well we wouldn't want that," he said. "We brought some dinner back from Spago'ssalad, chicken parmigiana, and tiramisu. Are you two hungry?"
"Yes," Miranda said, perhaps a bit too quickly judging by the way Nigel looked at her.
"Want me to bring it up here or will you come down to the kitchen?"
"Up here," Miranda said. "And please grab my lemonade, too. It's on the table in the living room."
Nigel paused in the doorway. "I'm sorry if that sounded creepy, Miranda. I meant it as a compliment. You look fabulous," he said, quickly heading out the door and down to the kitchen.
"Andrea, do you like my breasts like this?" Miranda asked, careful to keep her eyes focused on the baby in her arms.
"Of course. I mean, they're huge," Andrea said. "But, I liked your breasts just fine before, you know."
"Why didn't you say anything?"
Andrea moved closer and lifted Miranda's chin up. She could see the tears forming behind her eyes. "I didn't tell you how hot you looked because I know we have to wait for you to heal. The doctor explained how swollen your labia will be for a while, and then the soreness with your milk coming in, I didn't think you'd appreciate it. I'm sorry. You really do look amazingeven without the porn star boobs." She leaned over and kissed Miranda softly on the lips.
Andrea leaned down and kissed Catherine on the forehead, which caused her to pull away from Miranda's breast. "Shootsorry," she said.
"It's okay. I think she's had enough anyway. She had a better latch this time," Miranda said. She gently picked her up and laid her back in her bassinet.
"Did you want to go downstairs to eat since they're both sleeping?" Andrea asked.
"No, I'm not really hungry. I'm just going to rest here for a while."
"You need to eat something. What about some tiramisu?"
"Okay, but later." Miranda fastened her bra and slipped on the cardigan she was wearing earlier. "You go down and eat dinner."
Andrea nodded and made her way downstairs. Seeing the two plates on the counter, she took a seat at the barstool.
"Oh, we were going to bring this upstairs for you two. I was just trying to find the tray," Emily said.
"This is fine," Andrea said as she took a bite of salad. "Miranda isn't hungry yet."
"Okay. Is there anything else we can do?" Emily asked.
"No, thank you," she said. "Wait, what day is today?"
"Friday, July 11th. Why?"
"The girls have a pool party tomorrow at their friend Amanda's. Rightare you still going to that?" Andrea asked them.
"Yes, if it's okay? Dad said he would take us."
"Of course. Emily, can you ask Rachel to confirm the details with Amanda's parents, and then with James? Wait. Sorry. I will send Rachel a note," Andrea said.
"Are you sure? It's no bother. I know you'll have your hands full."
"No. Really, it's fine. Goodnight, and thank you again!"
Once they left, Caroline and Cassidy asked if they could go upstairs to watch a movie, to which Andrea did not object. She finished her dinner in silence, then cleared the plates and loaded the dishwasher. She pulled the tiramisu out of the refrigerator, and opened a bottle of Malbec. She carefully poured two glasses, and then made her way upstairs with the plate and two spoons in one hand and the wine glasses in the other.
"What's all this?" Miranda asked.
"Dessert," Andrea said, sitting next to her on the chaise. She set the plate down on the chair between them, and handed Miranda one of the wine glasses. "Just a glass."
Miranda hesitated, then took the glass from the young woman, humming quietly at her first sip in six months. They spent the next fifteen minutes sipping their wine and feeding each other bites of tiramisu. Miranda was smiling and Andrea was happy to see her in a good mood.
When they finished, Andrea took the plate and their glasses and set it on the dresser by the door. "The girls are upstairs watching a movie, and the babies are sound asleep," Andrea said.
"We're never going to be alone, will we?" Miranda said. "It's going to be eighteen years before and then " she buried her face in her hands as she began to cry.
"That's not true," Andrea said, as she tried to figure out where this line of thought was coming from. "We're alone now. And we have plenty of people who are willing to babysit so we can take a night off, or even a weekend. You know that."
"I know, I know. I just can't help the thoughts racing through my mind. Will you even still be here in eighteen years?" she asked.
"Of course," she said. "I am not going anywhere. I'm not here simply to spend time alone with youI'm here for all of it. You, the girls, friends, assistants, family, exes, all of it." She held Miranda tight, reassuring her while her tears subsided. She had read online about the "Baby Blues," and if that's what was going on, those articles certainly didn't prepare her for dealing with two crying outbursts a day.
Just before Miranda went into labor, Andrea learned about the idea of a "push present" for the mother who just gave birth. She was hoping to put some photos into her grandmother's locket, but didn't have a chance to email her mother, asking her to send it just yet.
Miranda sat up and wiped her eyes. "I love you so much," she said, kissing her gently. "Thank you."
"Stop thanking me. I love you, too. Let's rest for a while until the babies wake up again, okay?"
Miranda nodded and stood from the chaise. She was starting to feel a little sore from all the stairs today, so she excused herself to the bathroom and took a quick sitz bath before climbing into bed with Andrea and snuggling against the younger woman. Her belly had shrunk considerably in the past four days, and between the babies, the placentas, and excess fluids, she already lost twenty-two pounds. Regardless, they were able to lie much closer than they'd been in months. She draped her arm over Andrea's body and pulled her closer, kissing her softly and thoroughly for what seemed like hours on end.
"Ugghh," Miranda groaned, rolling onto her back and holding her arm across her chest.
"What?" Andrea asked.
"Nothing. Just stay there and turn the other way. I'll be back in a minute," she said as she began to climb out of bed.
Andrea didn't want to upset her, so she looked away. She heard Miranda going through a few drawers and cabinets, and it sounded like she was frustrated. "Can I help with something?" she said.
"No! No, I can find them, just give me a minute," she said.
Andrea kept quiet, saying a silent prayer that this recent, for lack of a better word, moodiness, was temporary and not a symptom of something more serious.
"Fuck," Miranda muttered under her breath.
Before Andrea could get out of bed, Miranda had already left the bedroom, headed to who knows where, looking for who knows what. She quickly followed after her.
"Andy? Is Mom okay?" Cassidy asked. The girls were sitting on the stairs up to the third floor, and must have seen Miranda run out of the bedroom.
Andrea walked over to them. "Yes, she's going to be okay. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to adjust to a new situationyou know, like if you join a new club at school or something." They nodded in understanding. "Well, we are all adjusting to having two little babies in the house, and your mom's body is still adjusting to not having them in her belly."
"She looked upset, though," Cassidy said.
"Where did she go?"
"The nursery," Caroline said.
"Okay. I'm going to go talk to your mom. Can you do me a big favor and make your mom a cup of hot tea? You have to be really careful not to burn yourself. Put it in the travel thermos, and carry the cup and saucer separately. Can you do that?"
They both nodded and Andrea guided them downstairs, away from the nursery. She took a deep breath and opened the door. Miranda was sitting on the floor next to the dresser, in tears, holding a box of disposable breast pads in her hands. Andrea quietly kneeled next to her and took her hand, squeezing it tightly.
Miranda looked up at her through red, puffy eyes, expecting to see disappointment or annoyance. Instead, her Andrea had the kindest smile, and her eyes were brimming with love and understanding. She wasn't judging her. She was accepting and supporting, and Miranda was at a loss for words.
Andrea squeezed her hand and gently brushed her thumb over her knuckles. "The girls saw you run in here and they were worried," Andrea said quietly. "I told them you're okay, and they're downstairs now." She paused. When Miranda met her eyes, she asked, "Are you okay?"
Miranda shook her head as tears began to fall. "I don't know," she said.
Andrea took her in her arms and held her while she cried, gently stroking her back. "What happened in there?" she asked, quietly.
"I started leaking," Miranda said as she sat up, wiping her tears with her sleeve. "And I couldn't find the pads. And then," she shrugged, picking the box up off the floor, "I couldn't get them open."
"And you thought it would bother me?"
"Miranda, that does not bother me. You are a beautiful woman and a beautiful mother. That is perfectly natural," she said, squeezing her hand.
"I couldn't even get the damn box open," she said, shaking her head.
Andrea hugged her and kissed her on the cheek. "You were probably just too anxious to think clearly," she said. She reached down and picked up the box. "Here," she said, handing it to her, "try again."
Miranda half expected Andrea to open it for her, but she could see in her eyes that she was trying to help her regain some sense of independence. She turned the box over a few times, and when she found the perforated seam, she pushed in with her thumbs and peeled the cardboard top off. She rolled her eyes, but was exceedingly grateful she was able to complete the simple task herself.
"Mom?" Cassidy whispered as she softly knocked on the door.
"Yes, Bobbsey," she said, draping the cardigan over her chest as she tried to hide the two wet circles on her shirt.
"We made you some ginger lemon tea," she said, walking into the nursery and sitting down next to the women.
"We were really careful so we didn't get burned," Caroline added, carrying in the thermos.
Miranda took the thermos from the young girl's hand and poured it into the teacup Cassidy held out. She took a sip and smiled. "Thank you so much, my darlings. This is perfect," she said.
"Are Callie and Kit going to sleep all night?" Cassidy asked.
Miranda pursed her lips and glared at Andrea, who was obviously the source of that nickname. "Catherine," she stressed, "and Callie will not be sleeping all night for a few months. They wake up to eat every few hours because their tummies are too small to hold enough food for the whole night," Miranda said.
"So you have to get up and feed them?"
"Yes. But we are going to try having the babies sleep in our bed with us at night and see how that works," she said.
"Did we sleep with you and Dad when we were babies?" Caroline asked.
"No. You and your sister had to stay in the hospital for a few months because you were really tiny when you were born. When we finally brought you home, you shared a crib for a while. The first night you were home, I didn't sleep one bit. I just sat in the recliner and stared at you all night long."
Part of her regretted not being a better mother ten years agonot that she did anything wrong, but it was all so new to her, she wasn't prepared. As much as she wanted a different experience with Callie and Catherine, she didn't want her ten-year-olds to feel as if they were neglected.
"And back when you were babies, a lot of doctors advised against it because they thought babies wouldn't want to leave their parents and it would be too difficult to transition. That's not really the case anymore," Andrea added.
"So this will make it easier for you to feed them at night, right?" Cassidy asked.
"Yes, much easier," Miranda said. She glanced up at the clock. "It's getting late. Why don't you two head upstairs to bed. Andrea will be up in a minute to tuck you in."
"Okay, goodnight, Mom." Cassidy said, hugging her. Caroline did the same and then they raced each other up the stairs to their rooms.
Miranda got off the floor and handed the teacup to Andrea. "Can you take this downstairs?"
She nodded, and grabbed the plate and wine glasses from the bedroom, too. Miranda quickly changed her bra and tank, then moved her sleeping babies to the middle of the bed. She watched in awe as they seemed to calm each other back to sleep, naturally moving closer to one another so they were touching hands and feet.
Andrea quietly walked up behind Miranda. "Did you put them like that?"
"No, the were about ten inches apart when I laid them down," she said.
"About before," Andrea said, "I know you have a lot on your mind and your hormone levels are all off after giving birth, but I just wanted to remind you that you can talk to me. About anything. Or, if you're just not feeling right and want to talk to something else, we can do that, too. I'm here for you."
Miranda squeezed Andrea's hand and laid her head on her shoulder. "I know, and I just need to remember that. Let's go to bed," she said.
"I'm going to run and tuck the girls in. I'll be back in a minute."
Andrea went upstairs and Miranda carefully crawled into bed, trying not to disturb the sleeping babies. She forgot to turn out the dim lamp on the other side of the bedroom, but as it turned out, it was just enough light so she could see her babies' faces in the night. She gently brushed her fingers along each of their heads.
Andrea returned and slipped into her pajamas: silk lounge pants with a tank. Tonight, since they wouldn't be able to pull the covers up over the babies, she slipped a long sleeve tee on as well.
"Hair," Miranda whispered.
"Oh, right." She took a ponytail holder from the nightstand and quickly put her hair up in a messy bun before climbing into bed. She curled onto her side, mirroring Miranda's position, and reached her left arm up, linking hands with Miranda at the head of the bed. "Goodnight, Miranda," she whispered, blowing her a kiss.
A short while later, Callie began to fuss. Thankfully, she was closest to Miranda, so she was able to feed her quite easily. Once she was finished, Miranda whispered, "Let's switch them," and Andrea picked up Callie while Miranda tugged Catherine closer. Andrea softly laid her hand on the baby's chest, gently stroking her with her thumb as she fell back asleep. On the other side of the bed, Miranda was somehow able to get Catherine to latch on without even fully waking her.
"This is working well," Andrea whispered.
"Yes. I just need to remember to nurse from my other breast during the daytime," she said.
A few hours later, the sound of sirens outside woke Catherine and she began wailing, which meant Callie was screaming, too. Miranda picked up Catherine and laid her on her chest, urging Andrea to do the same with Callie. A few minutes later, the babies had settled down.
"Is Catherine sleeping?"
"No. Callie?" Miranda asked.
"Nope, wide awake."
"On the bright side," Andrea said, "I think they're on the same schedule now. Do you want to try nursing them both?"
"I only know how to do that if I'm sitting up and there are pillows," Miranda said as she repositioned herself, laying Catherine on the bed again. "Let me feed Catherine a little bit, then we'll switch again."
Andrea tilted her head and looked down at Callie. "You have to wait your turn, sweet pea," she said, softly touching her finger to the baby's lips. Callie opened her mouth and began sucking on the tip of Andrea's index finger. "Ouch!" she said, giggling as she pulled her hand away. "That hurt."
Miranda chuckled. "Now, imagine that on your overly-stimulated nipple," she said. "If you want to talk, let's talk about how uncomfortable breastfeeding is."
Andrea reached over and brushed Miranda's shoulder. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be insensitive."
"You weren't. I was just starting conversation. I don't know quite what I expectedsome sort of magical, pleasurable bonding experience, I suppose. It's actually far from it."
Andrea sat up a little and looked at Miranda. "You don't have to do it. You can pump, and we can even introduce some formula," Andrea said.
"No, it's not unbearable. The benefits far outweigh the discomfort. It's just, I don't know, something else I wasn't prepared for. I thought it would be one way and instead it's the opposite." Catherine finished nursing, and Miranda laid her in the middle of the bed. "Hold on, I need to lay on my other side," she said as she repositioned herself. "Okay," she said, twisting backwards so she could take Callie from Andrea.
Andrea gasped and quickly pulled Catherine to her side.
"What?" Miranda asked. "Give her herethis is uncomfortable."
Andrea carefully passed Callie over to her, then leaned down and placed a kiss on Catherine's forehead.
"Why did you gasp?" Miranda asked.
"When you were were reaching back, um, Catherine was kind of underneath you."
"She's fine. I moved her out of the way. But when you changed positions, I think you just moved closer to her than you thought, or she shifted. Anyway. It's fine." She heard Miranda sigh, so she reached out and placed a hand on her shoulder. "This is why we're both here."
"Do you think we should move them back to their bassinets?"
"No. It's been half a night. Let's give it a little more time," Andrea said.
A few minutes later, when Callie was finished nursing, Miranda announced that she was turning back over. Andrea protectively wrapped her arm around Catherine, and Miranda set Callie back in the middle of the bed.
A few hours later, the sun peeking through the blinds woke Andrea. It was almost six o'clock in the morning. She looked down at the babies and the sight brought a tear to her eye. Miranda's arm was draped on the mattress just above their heads. They were both on her side of the bed, and their arms were linked. Callie's face was practically in Miranda's armpit, and Catherine's cheek was resting on Miranda's hand. Andrea quietly took her iPhone off the nightstand and snapped a few photos. There was just enough light filtering in for the perfect shot.
Andrea smiled and lay back against her pillow. She knew she wouldn't fall asleep any time soon, so she made use of the time and began typing an email to her mother.
Hi Mom, Grandma's locket is in a cardboard jewelry box in the top left drawer of my mirrored dresser. Can you ship it to me here? Overnight or whatever the fastest shipping speed is. I want to give it to Miranda. I know it's not conventional, but Mom, she's the one. I want to spend the rest of my life with her and our children. She's been a little emotional these past few days, and I just need to reassure her that I'm in her life permanently. I guess the locket will be in place of an engagement ring or whatever. Anyway, Miranda wanted me to tell you that we had papers drawn up and filed before the babies were born, so I'm legally their second parent. And she and her ex-husband filled out some paperwork regarding in absentia guardianship for Caroline and Cassidy (her ten-year-old daughters), too. We haven't filed yet, but I imagine it will only be a matter of time. So, now you and dad have four granddaughters and a daughter-in-law. They're part of my family, now, so I can only hope you'll accept them into yours. Last thingwe're co-sleeping with the babies, and attached is the scene I woke up to this morning. Aren't they just beautiful? I'm going to have this framed and matted and give it to Miranda as her "push present," hopefully along with the locket. You asked me a few months ago if she was worth itthis photo is proof. She's everything. Love,Andy
Once she sent the email, she carefully set her phone back on the nightstand and turned back to three of the most beautiful ladies in the world. She moved closer and laid her head just above Miranda's hand.
Miranda exhaled and stretched her arm a little in her sleep, but it didn't wake the babies. Instead, they almost appeared to mimic her movements: Callie arched her back and yawned, while Catherine kicked her feet out. Within seconds, all three of them were once again sleeping soundly.
The next day, after James came to pickup the girls for their friend's party, Miranda and Andrea brought the babies down to the den. Callie was perfectly content snoozing in Andrea's arms, but Catherine was wide awake. Miranda didn't mind. She was curled up on the couch with the baby against her chest as she was flipping through the latest issue of Vogue.
"Think we can go for a walk?" Andrea asked after a while.
"Let's wait a little. James said there were still some photographers across the street. We can go sit on the back patio for a while if you wantbut later, once the sun goes down a little," Miranda said. She put the magazine down and picked up her wide-eyed daughter, laying her along her own thighs so she could face her.
"Is she falling asleep?" Andrea asked.
"Nooo," Miranda said in a high-pitched voice. Catherine was gripping her index finger and gazing into her mother's eyes. "This little princess is never ever going to sleep, is she?" She leaned over and kissed her daughter.
"I love this," Andrea said quietly.
"This. You, me, the babies, just napping on the couches here in the living room. No emails. No deadlines. Just us."
"It is kind of nice, isn't it?" She lifted Catherine and laid her on her chest as she slouched down. "Are her eyes closed?" Miranda asked.
"Almost. She's struggling to keep them open, but I think sleep is winning."
"Thank god. She's been awake for nearly six hours."
"You should probably just feed her now so she doesn't wake up in twenty minutes screaming," Andrea said.
"Good point." She gently rearranged the baby and began to nurse her.
"Is that any less uncomfortable?" Andrea asked.
"Yeah, actually it is. I don't know if they're getting better at it or I'm just getting used to it. You know, I really think we should get them into a routine."
"Miranda, they're not even a week old."
"I know. It's just, I would really like to take a shower at some point this week," she said.
"Why don't you go now?" Andrea said. "I can sit here with them."
Miranda shrugged. "Maybe after they both eat."
About an hour later, Andrea took Callie from Miranda's arms and laid her on the floor with her sister. She had a quilt spread out in the living room, and it seemed that the newborns enjoyed being in proximity to one another.
"Are you sure I can go up?" Miranda asked.
"Of course. Take as long as you needwe'll be fine," Andrea said.
"Thank you." She got up and kissed Andrea on the cheek. "I won't be long. When I come back you can take a shower, too, if you want."
Two hours later, Miranda came back downstairs. Andrea was laying next to the twins on the floor, watching them sleep. She kneeled next to Andrea and gently brushed her shoulder. "Shower's all yours if you want," she whispered. "Sorry I took so long."
Andrea smiled. "No problem. They just fell asleep a few minutes ago, so you should be good for a while." She paused for a moment. "Would you rather I wait until Caroline & Cassidy get home?"
"Don't be absurd. I'll be finethey're asleep."
Andrea nodded and stood up. She turned back and looked at Miranda, who was wearing a cotton-lycra blend halter-style maxi dress. "My god you're beautiful," she whispered.
Miranda looked up and blushed. "You better go upstairs, darling," she said.
While Andrea was upstairs, she decided to lie down on the quilt with the babies and try and catch some rest. It wasn't long before Callie began crying, waking the three of them up. Miranda sat up and took her in her arms, gently bouncing her and trying to comfort her, but it seemed that wasn't working. She was screaming at the top of her tiny little lungs and nothing Miranda was doing seemed to calm her down. She tried walking around the room with her, but she didn't want to wander more than a few feet away from Catherine, who was also crying on the quilt. Miranda knelt next to her and tried to pick up her other daughter, too, but she couldn't manage to do so and support her head at the same time.
"I'm so sorry, my darlings," she said as tears streamed down her face. She set down Callie and picked up Catherine, who seemed to calm a little bit once in Miranda's arms. "Are you still hungry, baby?" Miranda asked, untying her top and offering a breast to the baby. Catherine turned her face away as she started crying and screaming. "Please stop crying, baby. Please stop, STOP!" she begged.
Callie's cries were growing strongerso much that she could almost hear her howls echoing in her tiny body. Miranda reluctantly set Catherine in the rocking crib and bent down to pick up Callie, again attempting to soothe her. She wasn't hungry, she didn't need to burp, and Miranda didn't know what else to do. Tears streamed down her face. She was helpless to comfort her child.
She walked over to the base of the stairs, keeping an eye on Catherine in the crib. "Andrea!" she called out. "Andrea!!" she called again. Her own tears took over again and she knelt next to the cradle, putting Callie in there with her sister. For a few minutes, it seemed to quiet them, but Callie soon began to howl again.
Miranda gently rocked their cradle as she cried, begging and pleading with them. "Andrea, where are you?" she cried.
A short while later, Andrea came running downstairs in Miranda's robe, her wet hair wrapped up in a turban-style towel. "Miranda! What's wrong?" she asked, running to her side.
"They won'tthey won't stop crying," Miranda said, letting go of the cradle and burying her face in her hands.
Andrea took a deep breath. "Are they hungry?" she asked.
Miranda shrugged. "I don't know. I can't tell," she said.
"Okay. Okay. Come here, sweetie," she said, picking up Callie from the cradle. "Can you pick up Catherine? Let's take them upstairs."
Miranda nodded and took her little girl, following Andrea and Callista up the stairs. After a few minutes, it seemed like Callie was calming down. Andrea was walking around the room, gently bouncing her.
"Here," Andrea said, handing Callie to Miranda. "Try feeding her now. Let's trade."
Again, Miranda didn't say anything, she just did as Andrea told her, and climbed up onto the bed where the pillows were already setup. She gently brushed her fingers along Callie's cheek and under her chin until she latched on. Meanwhile, Andrea changed Catherine's diaper and rocked her to sleep, setting her gently in her bassinet. Once Callie was finished feeding, Andrea took her, changed her diaper, and also laid her in her bassinet.
Andrea unwrapped the towel from her hair and tossed it on the chair. Miranda was curled up on the bed, her face buried in a pillow. "Miranda," she said, climbing onto the bed next to her.
"Don't. I can't, not now. Justsave it," Miranda muttered.
"I love you," Andrea said, gently curling up behind the woman. "I don't know what you're talking about. I just want to tell you how much I love you."
Miranda turned around to face her. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. "ButI, I failed. I couldn't get them back to sleep. I needed you."
"Sweetheart, needing someone doesn't mean failure," Andrea said, kissing her lightly on the forehead. "Babies are well, babies. They cry, sometimes for no reason. All we can do is hold them and love them and take care of their basic needs. You did more than that."
Miranda sniffled and wiped the tears from her eyes. "I couldn't even pick them both up. I thought that maybe if I could hold both of them Andrea, I can't do this."
"Hey, relax," Andrea said, hugging her tightly. "Until they can support their own heads, the only way you can hold them both is if someone hands the second baby to you and places her in your arms. You can do this, Miranda. You canyou are doing this."
Miranda quietly cried against her shoulder as Andrea soothingly traced circles on her back. After a while, Miranda's tears waned. Just when Andrea thought the older woman had fallen asleep, she heard a quiet whisper. "Don't leave me alone with them. Promise me."
Andre kissed the top of her head. "I'm not going anywhere," she said. She hugged her tightly, then pulled away and looked into her eyes. "Are you tired?"
"Then come downstairs with me," Andrea said. "The iPad is already down there, so we can watch them on the cameras."
Miranda sat up and wiped her eyes. "Give me a minuteI need to wash my face," she said, heading into the bathroom. That gave Andrea just enough time to slip out of the bathrobe and into some pants and a tank.
"Can you pump a little now?" Andrea asked as they walked down the stairs.
"Why? I thought we weren't"
"I want to be able to feed them," Andrea said, cutting her off. It wasn't entirely true. Sure, she did want to feed them, but more than anything, she wanted to relieve some of the burden from Miranda, who was already more than a little overwhelmed.
"Oh. Well, I guess. Of course, what am I saying? I'm sorry, I didn't realize it bothered you," Miranda said.
Andrea shrugged. "It's okay. I get that you want to feed them, and it makes sense. But just once in a while would be nice."
"Of course, darling. All you have to do is ask. I can get the pump all setup now," she said. "We didn't eat lunch, did we?"
Andrea shook her head. "I'll go make something light," she said, wandering off into the kitchen. She filled two pitas with lettuce, egg salad, and a few slices of tomato, then carried it into the living room with two bottles of water. Miranda was already situated on the couch, connected to the dual pump on a small folding table. She set their lunch on the coffee table and climbed on the couch behind Miranda.
"What are you doing?" Miranda asked. She craned her neck, but couldn't turn her upper body because of the pump.
"Just going to massage your back and shoulders a little. Is that okay?" she asked as she softly laid her hands on the expanse of porcelain skin. She gently kneaded Miranda's shoulders, then began moving her hands downward, applying steady pressure with the palm of her hand.
"Andreaaa," Miranda moaned. "That feels wonderful. Ohh god."
Andrea smiled and softly kissed her shoulder. Miranda tilted her head downward, and Andrea trailed kisses up to her ear. Teasingly, she licked the woman's earlobe and dragged it between her teeth.
Miranda gasped and arched her back. Andrea pressed a few gentle kisses to the nape of her neck and smoothed her hands across Miranda's shoulders and down her arms until their hands were linked. Andrea's body was pressed against Miranda's back and she could feel the older woman's ragged breathing.
Andrea leaned forward and whispered into Miranda's ear, "You don't have to worry about leaking."
Miranda started laughing. She detached herself from the pump and pulled her dress back up, handing the ties over her shoulder for Andrea to tie. "I do love you, Andrea. You are my sunshine."
Once she tied the halter, she softly kissed Miranda's shoulder. "I'll put the milk away and be right back," she said. "Need anything else?"
Miranda shook her head and took a sip of her water. When Andrea returned, they enjoyed lunch while watching the twins sleep on the monitor.
"Are you doing okay?" Andrea asked cautiously as she set her empty plate back on the table.
Miranda took a deep breath and set her own plate down. "Come here," she said, opening her arms so Andrea could lie against her chest. "I don't know if I could say this if you were looking at me, so let's just stay like this for a while, hmm?
Andrea wrapped her arm around Miranda's waist and gently pressed a kiss to her chest. "Take your time," she said.
"I'm okay when you're here," she said with a sigh. "But earlier, and last nightI don't know what happened. I could feel myself starting to panic. I was terrified. Everything raced through my mind so quickly, and I just lost it."
Andrea gently stroked her arm. It was exactly the reassurance she needed.
"I know, in my mind, that I can do this. I know, in my mind, that you're just in the other room. I know this, and yet, it's as if I can't convince myself those thoughts are real. I was afraid that my babies were going to die right there in that cradle. I actually thought they were going to cry themselves to death. All while I sat there, helpless, just watching them suffer."
"Miranda, you're a wonderful mother," Andrea said quietly.
"I know that. I mean, maybe not wonderful, but certainly capable. And it helps when Caroline and Cassidy are around, because they're living proof," she said.
"So are Callie and Catherine," Andrea said. She sat up, but kept her eyes downward. "Is it okay if I look up?"
Miranda nodded. She softly kissed the young woman before she settled back against her chest.
"Thank you for being so honestI know that's not easy. I'm sorry I was in the shower for so long. I should have left the door open or something," she said.
"No, sweetheart. You have nothing to apologize for. This is a big change for all of us."
They sat in silence together for a few minutes. Hearing cries coming from the iPad, Andrea sat up. "Maybe it's just one of them," she said, getting up and running up the stairs. A few minutes later, she came down with Catherine, who looked like she was ready to fall asleep again. Andrea returned to her seat on the couch, curled up against Miranda, except this time she held the baby on her chest.
"When is Cara coming back?" Miranda asked.
"Monday, unless we need her sooner. Why?"
"No reason. Actually, that's a lie. The laundry hampers are full. I've been going through multiple shirts a day, and of course we want to use clean towels and blankets for the babies."
"Do you need me to do a load of laundry? You know, we could actually take the opportunity to teach Caroline and Cassidy how to use the washing machine," Andrea said with a smile.
"That may not be a bad idea," Miranda said. "I was thinking of calling Helen tonight. Would you mind if she came in for a few weeks?"
"Why would I mind?" Andrea asked. "It's your house."
"Darling, you live here, too. And, I realize you don't really know Helen. You kind of ran off to your apartment last time she was here. She's very understanding, and she will give us privacy when we want. I promise, she's not like your stereotypical mother-in-law."
"I never thought she was. It's justyou're obviously close with her. You basically just referred to her as your mother. I didn't want to interfere with your relationship," Andrea said. "And I can't exactly run back to my apartment now anyway. I'm subletting, and the couple has already moved in."
"Promise you won't pout and be jealous when she's here?" Miranda asked, gently kissing her on the forehead.
"What?! Of course not. You just have to be as nice to my mother as I am to Helen."
"Did you decide when she'll come visit?"
"Probably not until August. But seriously, if you want Helen to come, call her. I don't mind."
"Okay. I'm going to run upstairs and call her now. I'll bring Callie back down when she wakes up. Is Catherine hungry?"
"Nope. We're both perfectly content."
Miranda smiled and headed towards the stairs. "Ohcan you text James and see when to expect the girls home?"
"Sure thing." Andrea pulled her phone out and saw she already had a text waiting from James: Taking the girls back to my place for dinner after their party. Will bring them back later tonight. You & M okay? Need anything?
Andrea smiled as she typed her response: Great. We're good, thx!
Since Miranda was upstairs and would be for a while longer, Andrea called Emily and asked a favor. She didn't know if Miranda was comfortable with Abby or Rachel seeing such a personal photo, but she knew that she wouldn't mind Nigel and Emily.
"Andrea, that is a gorgeous photo," Emily said.
"Can you just have Nigel touch it up a tiny bit? I love how real it looks, but I want Miranda to be willing to hang this in our bedroom, too. She'll have to look at it every day," Andrea explained.
"Of course. I think it would look beautiful in black and whitewould that be okay?"
"Sure. Whatever you think. I do want a small version of the originalcolor, no retouchingto put on my desk at work, though."
"Consider it done. What about a frame? Miranda has the Grosvenor frames in the bedroom, right?"
"Yeah, so whatever you think will look right. And the baby photos of the girls?"
"I got those, too. How small?" Emily asked.
"About the size of your thumbnail. It's for a locket."
"Only you would try to cram four children into a locket," she said. "Fine. I'll have everything for you Sunday evening. Can I bring it over?"
"Sure. But bring a bunch of random bags from Runway so she's not suspicious. Actually, she probably needs more clothestops, especially."
"Will do. Anything else?"
"No. Thank you so much, Em. Seriously. I owe you," she said.
"Just make sure you keep Miranda happy. If she's happy, I'm happy."
Andrea thanked her again, then ended the call. She scrolled through her emails and saw that her mother mailed the locket and it would be arriving tomorrow. "I hope your mommy likes it," Andrea whispered, kissing Catherine gently.
"Likes what?" Miranda said, coming down the stairs with Callie in her arms.
"Can't tell you," Andrea said. "It's a secret."
"Don't be teaching my daughters to keep secrets from me," she said with a chuckle. "I spoke with Helen. She's going to take the first train in on Monday morning, and I already had Rachel arrange for Roy to meet her at the station."
"Great," Andrea said. "James is bringing the girls over later tonighthe took them back to his house for a while and then they're grabbing dinner. Emily is going to bring some bags of clothes over tomorrow night."
"You're sure that you're okay with Helen coming?"
"Yes. Please relax," she said.
They settled into a routine over the next few days. Helen arrived Monday morning, and she acted every bit the proud grandmother. Miranda also seemed more relaxed in the older woman's presence, so for that, Andrea was incredibly grateful.
With all the commotion Monday morning, the twins missed their nap, and the exhaustion was wearing on everyone's faces. Miranda and Andrea took the babies upstairs. Catherine fell asleep right away, but Callie kept waking up the minute Miranda would set her in the bassinet.
After attempting to set her in the bassinet for the third time, Miranda carried her back to the bed and climbed up. She laid against the pillows and cradled her daughter against her chest. "I'll lay here with her," Miranda said.
"Do you want me to stay up here with you?" Andrea asked.
"No, I'll be fine," Miranda said.
Andrea took Miranda's phone from the nightstand and set it on the bed next to her. "I love you. Get some rest." She gently shut the door and made her way downstairs, where Helen, Caroline, and Cassidy were cleaning up after lunch.
"Are the babies asleep?" Caroline asked.
"Yes, finally. Callie didn't want to sleep in her bassinet, though, so your mom is laying with her in bed," Andrea said.
"Girls, why don't you go find a movie and put it on in the living room. I'm going to talk with Andy for a little bit, then we'll come join you," Helen said.
Andrea smiled at the girls and nodded. Once they left the room she turned to Helen. "I just wanted to say"
"How is Miranda doing?" Helen asked.
"Um, I think she's okay. Why?"
"She started crying when I spoke with her on Saturday," Helen explained. "She said she was fine, but she didn't know why she was crying. Have you upset her?"
Andrea could feel her emotions surfacing, her fists clenching at her sides. "No. I did not upset her. I have done nothing but support her and love her."
"Andy, you'll have to excuse me, because I really don't know you. There must be something. In the fifteen years that I've known Miranda, the only time she cried in front of me was the day she buried her mother."
"Listen," Andrea said. "Miranda cares about you, so I can't ask you to leave, but please. You don't know me, so please stop making accusations." Andrea began pacing in the kitchen as she thought of what to say next. "Miranda has been up and down since we brought the girls home. Mostly, she's fine, but there have been a few times when she was completely overwhelmed and broke down. We talk about it. Sheshe talks to me about what she's feeling. It's only been six days since the babies were born, and I think her body is still adjusting to the hormones, or lack thereof. And, I might add, that I've seen Miranda cry at least once a week these past six months. I don't think it's as unusual as you make it seem."
Helen stared at Andrea for a few minutes, not saying a word. "She loves you."
Andrea smiled. "I know. I love her, too."
"I can see that," Helen said. "I love her, too. She's like a daughter to me."
"I know, and I respect that. She enjoys having you around."
"If you hurt her, I will"
Andrea gently placed her hand on Helen's forearm. "I won't hurt her," she said quickly. "I'm in this forever."
Helen's eyes widened. "Are youdo you meanare you engaged?"
"Not yet, but I want to give her something tonight, I just want to run it by the girls first."
Helen's eyebrow arched up.
"And you," Andrea quickly added. "I am planning to give her my grandmother's locket," she said, pulling it out of her pocket. I put pictures of the four girls in there. It's not a traditional ring, but it's my promise that I'll be here for her forever."
Helen took the locket in her hand and turned it over a few times before handing it back to Andrea. She had tears in her eyes, but Andrea didn't want to press. "It's lovely. The girls and I can entertain the babies for a while later if you want to give it to her privately," she said.
"Thank you. And thank you for being here. I know it means a lot to Miranda," she said.
Helen nodded and turned back to the dishes in the sink. Andrea headed into the living room, putting the DVD on pause before she sat down in front of the girls.
"Care, Cass," she said, "you know I love your mom. I love her more than anything in the world, except maybe you two and your two baby sisters. I want to give your mom something that's specialsomething that is my promise to her that I will love you and be here for you forever."
"Are you going to ask her to marry you?" Cass asked, grinning.
"No, sweetheart. Your mom and I haven't talked about that yet. You know there would be a lot of photographers and stuff involved with that, too. At some point in the future, if your mom agrees, I would very much like to marry her, though. Don't worry," Andrea said.
"What are you giving her?" Caroline asked.
"This," Andrea said, handing them the locket.
"It looks old. Where'd you get it?"
"It was my grandmother's. It's very special to me, and I want your mom to have it."
Cassidy took the locket and flipped it over. "It says 'All my heart'what does that mean?"
"My grandmother always used to say 'I love you with all my heart,'" Andrea said. "Open it."
Cassidy opened the locket and her eyes widened when she saw a picture of herself and her sister from Christmas and a picture of the babies when they came home from the hospital. She looked up at her sister and they both smiled as she handed the locket back to Andrea.
"Is it okay if I give this to her? If you don't want me to, I won't."
"Andy, you have to. Mom is going to love this," Caroline said.
Cassidy squealed and jumped up, wrapping her arms around Andrea. "You're going to be the best stepmom ever!"
Caroline hugged her, too. "When are you going to give it to her?"
Helen appeared in the doorway. "Tonight," she said. "The three of us are going to play with the babies while Andy and your mom talk privately."
Cassidy elbowed her. "She doesn't really mean talk. She means kissing and stuff," she said.
Andrea rolled her eyes and tucked the locket back into her pocket. "You two are crazy. I'm going to run upstairs and check on the girls. I didn't turn the monitor on since your mom is up there with them." They nodded and turned back to the movie they were watching. Once upstairs, Andrea went into the nursery and pulled the giant framed photo out of the closet where it was hiding. Emily had it wrapped in brown paper and secured with raffia, so even Andrea hadn't seen the final product. She carefully opened the bedroom door and stepped inside.
Miranda quickly turned towards the door, then visibly relaxed when she saw it was Andrea. "Did you miss us already?" she asked quietly.
"Mm-hmm," Andrea said, nodding. She leaned the frame against the foot of the bed and peered in the bassinet to check on Catherine, who was sleeping soundly. "Let me try putting her down now," she said, gesturing at Callie who was lying on her back on the bed.
Miranda shrugged, so Andrea carefully picked her up and took her over to the bassinet. She fussed a little bit when Andrea set her down, but after thirty seconds, she was calmly sleeping. "What's that?" Miranda asked, pointing at the frame.
Andrea picked it up and brought it to Miranda as she took a seat on the edge of the bed. "So, I wanted to get you a push present when the babies were born, but I didn't have a chance to get it before you went into labor," she said.
"Darling, I don't need a push present. That's just an excuse for middle-class women to demand diamonds from their husbands," Miranda said.
Andrea shook her head. "Regardless, I wanted to get you something. You have been such a rockstar through all of this. You're so brave and strong, and I know how fiercely you've loved those two girls since the moment you found out they existed. I just wanted to get you something to say thank you for the past eight months."
Miranda wiped a tear from her eye.
"Open it," Andrea said.
She untied the raffia and gasped as she tore the paper away. "Oh my god, Andrea," she said, covering her mouth with her hand. "When was this taken?"
"Our first night at home." Andrea finally got a chance to see the finished product and she was very pleased with the result.
Miranda set the frame down and crawled over to Andrea, wrapping her arms around her shoulders and kissing her passionately. "It's absolutely perfect, darling," Miranda said. "The only thing that could make it more perfect is if you were in it, too."
"I thought maybe we could put it here in the bedroom."
"For now," Miranda said. "But when I go back, this is going on the windowsill in my office. Thank you."
Andrea leaned in and kissed her again. Miranda pulled away and excused herself to the bathroom. While she was gone, Andrea set the photo on the dresser, leaning against the wall. She reached down into her pocket and clasped the locket in her hand. She didn't have a speech prepared or anything, and as she sat on the bed, nervously waiting for Miranda to return, she began to think she should have planned something.
She emerged from the bathroom with a sigh as she gently pressed her hand to her lower back.
"Are you okay?" Andrea asked.
"Yes!" Miranda hissed. "I'm fine. Stop fucking asking me that!"
Andrea bit down on her lower lip. Maybe this wasn't the right time. "I'm sorry, I saw you rub your back and thought maybe it hurt," she said quietly.
"What? So I'm not allowed to touch any part of my body, lest you think I'm suffering? Jesus. I was pregnant. I gave birth. I'm fine I'm fine," she said. "I am fine."
Andrea couldn't read the emotions on Miranda's face, but it was quite obvious the woman was anything but fine. She turned around and had her fist pressed against her mouth to silence her tears. Andrea slipped the locket back into her pocket and walked over to her, hugging her tightly from behind.
"Andrea I'm sorry," Miranda choked out as her sobs overtook her. The young woman pressed a kiss to her shoulder and helped ease her to the ground. Miranda turned in her arms and laid her head against her chest. "I need you but I don't want to," she said.
"Shh, it's okay," Andrea said as she held her close. After a few minutes, Miranda sat up and wiped her eyes. "I won't ask how you're doing anymore," Andrea said.
Miranda pursed her lips. "I didn't mean that. It's just, you're always taking care of me. I don't want to be so needy. I don't want to need anyone."
"I get it," Andrea said. Miranda rolled her eyes. "No, I really do. You've always been in control of everything around you, including yourself. This is a big change." Andrea took her hands. "I'm to blame. I was trying to be helpful and supportive, but I think I went too far and made you feel like some sort of helpless patient. Please forgive me, Miranda. I love you. I just want to make you happy."
Miranda took Andrea's face in her hands. "You do make me happy, darling. You do. No one is at fault. We're both learning this new dynamic, and while I love when you take care of me when I'm laid up in bed, you're right. I do kind of feel like a helpless patient right now. But do not for one minute question my love for you. This year has been incrediblefor so many reasonsbut what I remember most is you. There's only one word for it: bliss. I cannot picture I mean, what would I do ?" Miranda covered her face with her hands as she got choked up again.
Andrea took the opportunity to reach into her pocket and pull the locket out. She gently tugged Miranda's hands away from her face. "I have something else for you. I was debating whether this was the right time to give it to you, and, well, here," she said, holding her hand out.
Miranda's eyes widened as she picked up the intricate piece of heirloom jewelry. "Where did you get this?" she asked.
"It was my grandmother's. I want you to have it, and know that I love you with all my heart," she said, turning the locket over so Miranda could read the inscription. "I'm always going to be here for you. It's not about need or caregiving, it's just love, plain and simple. Always for the rest of my life if you'll have me."
Miranda smiled and looked up at the young woman whose eyes were pooled with tears. "You know the answer to that. Yes, of course," she said, kissing the younger woman.
"Open it," Andrea said.
"Oh, I didn't realize it's alocket," she gasped. "Thank you, darling. It's beautiful." She hugged Andrea tightly. "Wait," she said, sitting up, "you want to get married, right? I'm not crazy?"
Andrea smiled. "You're not crazy. I would love to marry you, but I know that's a little more complicated than it should be at present. So, when the time is right, of course."
She kissed Andrea. "I love you. I want to buy you the biggest, most beautiful ring in the world so everyone knows you're mine," she said. "Would you wear itif I bought you a diamond?"
"I might worry someone would try to steal it on the subway, but yes, I would proudly wear it for you."
"Then it's settled," Miranda said. "This week, we'll go ring shopping, and no more subway rides for you."
Andrea laughed and shook her head. "Whatever makes you happy, Miranda."
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