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Veritas Aequitas

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“Al…we’re going to meet our twins so soon. You’re so strong and amazing, baby. You can do this.” Ashlyn places little kisses all over her face. “I love you so much. I’m right here with you and I’ve got you. I’ve got you…”

Monday December 24th, continued…

“Sit tight for just a minute, baby. I’m going to grab what we need and I’ll be right back. Stay right where you are and just yell out if you need me in here.” Ashlyn kisses Ali’s forehead after getting a little nod. She quickly rushes to find Kyle in the kitchen where he’s pacing around nervously and looking like he might cry.

“Harris…what…” Kyle starts but Ashlyn just gets right to it.

“Hey bro, I know…little scary, but everything is fine and I’m gonna need you to stay chill with me right now.” Ashlyn levels with him. “She’s okay, but this is happening. So, we gotta get going. In the back of my Jeep is a small tarp and some blankets. Put the tarp over the passenger’s seat of Alex’s car and then a blanket over it. Recline it a bit too. Then leave me another extra couple of blankets cause I’m not even going to attempt to put a coat on her right now. Then pull the car up as close to the door as you can.”

“Ok, ok. I can do that.” Kyle seems to settle with having something very specific to do and immediately rushes off.

Ashlyn blows out a quick breath and then runs up the stairs to grab a pair of loose sweatpants and the package of Depends underwear she had bought and hidden in the bathroom cabinet weeks ago.

“Hey, love…how are we doing in here?” The officer is back in the downstairs bathroom in no time.

“I’m okay. Nothing else yet, but I’m feeling the tightness slowly building up again.” Ali stays sitting on the toilet and holds her belly, trying to steel herself for when the next contraction starts.

“Ok, I’m going to help you get underwear and pants on. Then I think we should ride out the next contraction right here so it buys us some time to get you out to the car and on our way after that.” Ashlyn lays out her plan.

“Um, pretty sure those are Edith’s and not mine.” Ali motions to the Depends underwear in Ashlyn’s hand with a raised eyebrow.

“Can’t get anything past you, baby.” Ashlyn smiles at her. “I’m well aware that these aren’t the usual sexy and cute panties that perfectly frame that phenomenal ass of yours, but I did my research. Turns out that 87% of pregnant women agree… this is the surefire and preferred way to get to the hospital without looking like you peed yourself.” She holds up the Depends. “But I brought your normal underwear too, we’ll do whatever you want.” She holds up Ali’s underwear in the other hand.

“If you ever tell anyone that I wore Depends…” Ali points a finger at her.

“I’ll take it to the grave.” Ashlyn promises and crosses her heart. “And I’ll put these in my pocket and ask the nurse for a minute when we get there…we’ll change them out and no one will ever know but us.” She winks and puts Ali’s normal underwear into her pants pocket before helping her get the Depends on.

“Ash…” Ali puts her arms around the officer’s neck and holds her tight. “Before I start screaming in your face and damaging your hands… I just want to tell you how much I love you and how wonderful you are. Thank you my sweet, thoughtful, absolutely perfect wife.”

“I love you too, my queen.” Ashlyn kisses her softly. “I promise I won’t take it personally when you start calling me awful names.”

By the time the officer gets Ali’s sweatpants on, the brunette is back to being doubled-over and grunting in pain again. This time she’s less vocal, just scrunched up with her face contorted in agony. Fuck this is hard. Ashlyn does her best to stay calm and remind Ali to breathe even though a piece of her heart feels like it’s breaking off at not being able to do anything else to make it better.

“Ok…ok… think it’s over.” Ali starts to breathe more normally after a minute and feels Ashlyn wipe her forehead with a cool washcloth. “I can do this. I can do this.” She tries to give herself some confidence.

“You can totally do this.” Ashlyn repeats in reassurance. “That was thirteen minutes since the last one, doing great baby. Do you want to walk to the car or want me to carry you?’

“I think it might feel good to walk a little.” Ali replies and lets Ashlyn do most of the work in getting to her feet.

It’s slow going, but after a quick hug with an emotional Kyle and a promise to call him and keep him updated, they’re in the car and on their way to the hospital.

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“Fucking Boston, fucking pothole mecca of the world.” Ashlyn grumbles through gritted teeth as she swerves what has to be the tenth huge pothole in less than two miles and just winds up hitting a smaller one anyway.

“Baby, are you gonna swear at every single pothole? Cause this is Boston in the winter and that’s a lot of fucks.” Ali has to laugh a bit at how Ashlyn’s anxiety has chosen to manifest itself. “Just wanna know so I can prepare to hear one or both of our babies yelling ‘fuck’ as they come out of the womb.”

“Sorry, Alex. Just don’t want to make you any more uncomfortable with all the bumps.” Ashlyn lets out a sigh.

“I promise that you can hit every single one of them and I won’t feel any more uncomfortable than I already am. Just don’t fuck up my chrome rims, Harris, or you’ll be the one who’s uncomfortable.” Ali ties to lighten things just as they get stuck at a red light. She takes the opportunity to take one of Ashlyn’s white-knuckled hands off the steering wheel and brings it up to her mouth for a kiss, immediately feeling just how much it’s shaking. “Look at me for a sec.”

“Sorry baby, I’ll tone it down.” Ashlyn promises, mentally chiding herself for losing her cool as she meets warm whiskey eyes.

“You don’t have to tone it down, sweetheart. I meant what I said before. You’re wonderful. And as much as I’m going to need you today, Ash… you don’t have to be a hero. Just be my wife. Be you… you’re all I ever need. Whatever you’re feeling, let yourself feel and show it. Today is about you too. Everything is going to be okay. We got this.” Ali smiles at her. “Now give me one of those kisses that makes my heart explode and then get back to driving like your normal cocky Masshole self.”

“I love you, Alex…more than…” Ashlyn tries hard as usual to find something strong enough to convey it right now, “literally everything…I just love you so much.”

“Just kiss me.” Ali requests again and this time it’s fulfilled immediately with Ashlyn’s warm, soft mouth taking hers in a deep kiss that makes her brain foggy. “I love you too.” She gets out with her lips still ghosting the officer’s just as a loud horn startles them.

“Yeah alright! Easy.” Ashlyn groans at the broken moment, hands going back to the steering wheel as she sees that the light is green now. The car behind them beeps again. “Fucking, prick. You in that much of a rush? No problem, asshole.” She glares into the rearview mirror as she barely lets the car roll towards the intersection, only punching the gas to go through the light at the last second before it turns red again. She smiles triumphantly when she sees that the guy got stuck at the light. “Ooooh, sucks when that happens! Later fucker!”

“See now that’s what I’m talking about… that’s my girl right there.” Ali reaches over and squeezes the officer’s thigh.

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“Can’t believe they lost our paperwork.” Ali grumbles as they sit in the waiting room after managing to get through two contractions in the car. They are coming at around 10 minutes apart now and she is hoping she doesn’t have to deal with more than the one that is already threatening while in the uncomfortable waiting room chair with zero privacy.

“I know, baby. Ridiculous.” Ashlyn tries not to lose it even though she absolutely seething, They had spent almost a half hour two weeks ago pre-registering and doing all the paperwork ahead of time like Dr. Baylor suggested so that they wouldn’t have to wait to check-in. Now here she is doing it all over again while digging to find insurance cards and hurriedly filling out pages of questions that took the two of them to deal with last time.

“Ugh, fuck. Uhhhh.” Ali lets out a grunt before practically curling up into a ball in her chair as the next contraction hits.

Ashlyn drops the pen and clipboard on the floor, immediately wrapping her arms around Ali to support her as best she can. “Slow breaths, love. Just listen to me breathe and try to do the same. You’re doing great, Alex.” She rubs Ali’s back soothingly as the brunette squeezes her bicep so tight she can already feel the bruises forming.

“Don’t wanna be out here anymore.” Ali whispers as the contraction starts to subside.

“I know, baby. I’m gonna do everything to get us in that room before the next one.” Ashlyn wipes her wife’s sweaty forehead with her sleeve and kisses her cheek before getting back to the task at hand. She holds up her end of the bargain, getting through the paperwork in a fury and practically running over to the check-in desk. “Her contractions are about 10 minutes apart and her water broke about 45 minutes ago already.” The officer reminds the in-take receptionist behind the desk who casually takes the paperwork and tells Ashlyn that they’ll be called in when everything is ready.

Ashlyn tries to distract Ali with small talk about some of the ideas Rivera has for his and Emily’s wedding, but her eyes are constantly darting to the check-in desk where their paperwork sits untouched. She does her best to keep her calm, but when Ali goes into another contraction in the waiting room, the officer sees red. As soon as the contraction eases up and Ali is back to sitting normally, the officer stalks over to the desk with a determination like none other.

“Hi…Deputy Chief Ashlyn Harris. Former Army Ranger taskforce Staff Sergeant and current head of defense and preparedness for the Mass Department of Homeland Security.” She holds her hand out to the woman at the desk with a steely gaze.

“Uh, hi.” The woman shakes Ashlyn’s hand, looking perplexed at the odd introduction and quickly looking over to the other receptionist beside her

“For the record, I have never once in my entire career used any of my titles to throw my weight around or exert influence…but, I hope you understand now that you definitely don’t want to be on my bad side. And when there is literally no one else in here for you to process and my wife is sitting there having contractions on a crappy plastic chair while our paperwork sits here untouched as you two chat about your holidays plans…after your department already messed up by losing our original paperwork to begin with… you sure as hell aren’t on my good side.” Ashlyn’s voice is low, cold, and unyielding. “There’s about 8 minutes left before her next contraction. I suggest you pick up the pace.”

“Sorry officer…uh...Chief Harris. It’ll just be a minute or two.” The woman recovers from being slack-jawed and grabs the pile of paperwork, getting right to typing as Ashlyn nod and walks away.

“Just a few more minutes, baby. I’m sorry, love.” Ashlyn says softly as she sits down and wraps an arm around Ali’s shoulders.

“I heard that. Like a fucking shark.” Ali smiles and presses her face against the officer’s cheek. “God I love you. Thank you.”

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“You’re 5 centimeters dilated, Ali. That means you’re well into active labor now and we’re going to move you into a labor and delivery room. Were you having contractions before your water broke?” Amanda the in-take nurse asks as she finishes the required initial check.

“I guess so. I thought it was just bad cramping and back pain.” Ali explains.

“It never ceases to amaze me how some women have no idea they’re in early labor and others are in here begging to be admitted.” Amanda shrugs with a light laugh.

“And you call me a bad ass.” Ashlyn squeezes Ali’s hand from beside the bed.

“The babies’ heartbeats are strong and everything is looking good. We’ll wheel you right over to your room in just a few minutes and you’ll meet your labor nurse who will get you set up with an IV and explain everything in more detail.” Amanda tells them before typing a couple notes into the computer and leaving the room.

“How’s my girl?” Ashlyn seizes the first quiet moment since they got here to check in with Ali, brushing a few stray hairs out of her face.

“Your babies are kicking my ass…and everything else in here.” Ali lets out a deep breath, feeling the tightness starting to build again. “But so far I suppose it seems better than I imagined it would be in my head.”

“Of course they’re my babies when they’re being difficult.” Ashlyn smiles with a quirked eyebrow. “You’re so damn incredible, you know that? You’re crushing it, Mrs. Harris.” She presses her forehead to Ali’s and gives her a quick peck.

“Only because I have the best support in the world.” Ali smiles back.

“No way. Don’t you dare give me credit right now. This is all you, Al.” Ashlyn says in genuine awe of her wife. “I’m just your cheerleader, baby. Anything you need and it’s yours…I’ll even put on a cute mini-skirt and pom-poms if it’ll help.”

Ali starts to laugh and is about to press Ashlyn to make good on that offer when pain shoots through her mid-section. “Uuuugh, ahhhh, oh god… fucking, fuuuck!” She screams out and just grabs onto whatever she can.

Ashlyn desperately stifles a yelp as Ali grips her shoulder so hard that she knows the brunette’s nails just broke skin even though her shirt. “You can do it, love. You got this, Alex. Breathe…deep and slow.” She tries to encourage her even though she feels completely useless.

“How long?” Ali asks breathlessly as it finally subsides.

“7 minutes since the last one and 56 seconds long.” Ashlyn answers after taking a glance at her watch.

“Thank you. This is getting intense really fast.” Ali says still trying to catch her breath, realizing that the breaks in between have gotten shorter and the duration much longer within just the hour that they’ve been here.

“Our warriors just can’t wait to meet their beautiful Mommy.” Ashlyn says sweetly before leaning close to the brunette’s belly. “And we can’t wait to meet you either, loves. Go easy on your Mommy though, cause it breaks Mama’s heart to see her in pain.”

“Sorry about your shoulder.” Ali whispers guiltily, just now noticing that her fingers actually left little creases in the fabric.

“You grab and squeeze whatever you need to, honey…I honestly don’t care if you break my hand if it helps you.” Ashlyn assures her.

“Uh…hi. I just wanted to apologize for before.” The in-take receptionist walks in and gives them a hesitant smile.

“It’s ok. I’m sorry for being pushy with you. This is just our first time doing this, so…” Ashlyn gives her an apologetic look, knowing how intense she can be when she’s upset like she was. “Really it’s fine.”

“No, no. You were right. Sometimes we get so caught up in the bustle of day-to-day that we forget what it’s like for the people coming in for such a huge life moment.” The woman replies. “Anyway, I just wanted to bring you this.” She holds a blueberry muffin out for Ali. “Not sure if you’re hungry, but they won’t let you eat once you officially check into labor and delivery.”

“That’s really sweet of you. I’m pretty hungry actually.” Ali smiles. “Thank you.”

“Yeah, that’s really nice of you. Thanks.” Ashlyn agrees.

“No problem. Sorry again for before and good luck!” The woman flashes them another smile and quietly slips out.

Ali quickly scarfs down the muffin in record time, leaving Ashlyn a bit wide-eyed. “Geez, hungry much?”

“Yeah well, we never got to that late lunch Kyle was cooking up.” Ali’s stomach rumbles at the thought of it. “You should eat too.”

“Promise I will once we’re settled.” Ashlyn assures her.

“Ok, we’re rolling.” Amanda says cheerily as she comes in with a wheelchair to get Ali to her new room.

“I am so not going to miss flopping around like a beached whale.” Ali jokes a bit as she relies heavily on Ashlyn and Amanda to get into the wheelchair.

“Whales don’t fit in wheelchairs, love.” Ashlyn plays off of Ali’s humor. “Also pretty sure they don’t flop much once they’re beached. You’re zero for two…who are you and what have you done with my facts-only asshole lawyer?”

“Wow, did you just call your pregnant and in-labor wife an asshole?” Amanda blurts out in surprise as she pushes Ali down the hall with Ashlyn beside them carrying their bags.

“Relax, that’s just my sexy idiot’s way of flirting.” Ali winks with a little giggle.

“Well clearly I’ve been doing it wrong for years then.” Amanda shrugs at their exchange and smiles, noting how Ashlyn is holding Ali’s hand as they move along despite having to walk a bit awkwardly to do it while she carries two bags in the other one.

“Obviously.” Ashlyn deadpans and gets a laugh from the nurse.

“Okay, this is your room from now through delivery.” Amanda says as they reach their destination.

The room is exactly as they expected it to be from the tour they took of the maternity wing during their baby preparation classes at the hospital. It’s a mix of looking both homey and comfortable while still being filled with state-of-the-art medical equipment.

“Feel free to get comfortable. There are a couple of hospital gowns right over on that chair for you to change into. You’re also welcome to wear anything you brought with you. I’d just make sure it’s about as accessible as the hospital gown so you don’t have to fight with taking it on and off every time we have to check you. You labor nurse will be in really soon.” Amanda adds before making her way out.

“Thanks, Amanda.” Ashlyn replies and Ali smiles as the nurse leaves. “Hospital gown? Pssssh... amateurs.” She winks at Ali and opens one of their bags to take out a gown that the brunette ordered on Amazon a few weeks ago. It has snap buttons on the back and along the shoulders for easy access, but is made of a comfortable cotton and fits more like a summer dress. It’s also a nice light blue color with a soft yellow floral pattern.

“No potato sack gown for me.” Ali jokes and points to the hospital gowns on the chair.

“Of course not my queen.” Ashlyn gently lifts Ali up out of the wheelchair and helps her lean against the hospital bed a bit. “You ok standing like that while I help you change?”

“I’m good, honey.” Ali smiles at how over-the-top careful Ashlyn is being with her. And it’s not just that, it’s the way the officer is looking at her right now too. Ashlyn is being quick to get her changed, but her wife’s eyes are simultaneously studying her figure with complete adoration…like she’s trying to memorize it. In this moment when her body seems so foreign and she’s never felt so disconnected to herself, the loving gaze is everything. “Eyes up here, Harris.” She moves her hand to Ashlyn’s cheek with a teasing smile.

“Nope, sorry. Absolutely not…you’re too beautiful.” Ashlyn kisses her forehead with a grin. “Plus your nipples are like little beacons right now, kinda hard not to get drawn in.” She adds playfully.

“Right?! Who knew nipples could even get this dark brown. These little warriors will have to be blind not to find them! I’m counting on that part of breastfeeding not being an issue at least.” Ali laughs. “Well babe, better enjoy it all now before I look like a deflated balloon.” She shrugs.

“I’ll enjoy you in every single state you’re in… you’re perfect, Al. End of story.” Ashlyn says sincerely as she holds Ali’s gaze.

“And you deserve a Medal of Honor just for being such an incredible wife.” Ali declares as the officer finishes putting the gown on her and snapping all the buttons closed. She starts to lean in for a kiss, but the tightness in her belly builds fast and she’s doubled-over in pain before she even knows what’s happening.

Ashlyn jumps into action, using her foot to bring a yoga ball that’s nearby closer to them. “Here, baby…sit on this.” She gently lowers Ali down onto it and crouches down so she can hold her steady on it. “Breathe, love. You got this… almost over.” She whispers into the brunette’s ear as Ali grips the back of her shoulder’s tightly. “Doing so good, Alex.”

“Uggghfhh.” Ali lets out a low grown amidst panting breaths as she recovers. “How…long?”

“Still seven minutes since the last one and about 58 seconds long that time.” Ashlyn answers. “Just stay right there, give yourself a couple minutes to relax.” She says as Ali tries to get up, moving her hands to rub the brunette’s back lightly and keep her in place.

 “Well, looks like you two are doing perfectly great without me!” A red-haired woman says as she enters the room. “Hi Alexandra and Chief Harris, I’m Amelie and I’ll be your labor nurse for the next 12 hours.” She has a sweet smile and appears to be in her 40s.

“Hi, you can call me Ali.” Ali introduces herself.

“And Ashlyn is good for me.” The officer adds with a smile, reaching out to shake the woman’s hand while keeping the other on Ali’s waist to help her stay stable on the ball.

“Ali and Ashlyn, that’s easy. I just didn’t want to presume.” Amelie tells them. “So, looks like we’re pretty well into active labor here from what the check-in nurse noted on your chart and I see you’ve already gotten changed into a gown…that looks fabulous by the way. So, would it be okay for me to give you a rundown of details?”

“Absolutely.” Ali replies with Ashlyn still kneeling close and rubbing her back.

“Dr. Baylor was paged and updated on your status. Since Dr. Moore is the current attending physician on staff, Dr. Baylor is planning to come in once you reach 7 centimeters of dilation. That is considered the transitional aspect of labor where you progress towards delivery and it tends to happen a bit more quickly than the earlier stages. It gives her more assurance that her 14 hours on shift are enough to be here for the delivery. Of course, she wants to confirm that you are okay with that approach.” Amelie explains and waits for their response.

“Perfectly okay, we’ve met Dr. Moore and know she understands our plan.” Ali confirms and Ashlyn nods.

“Great. I’ll call Dr. Baylor back to let her know. She lives less than ten minutes away, so she can be here very fast if anything changes.” Amelie assures them. “So, what I’ll do now is get an IV started on you so that we can keep you hydrated. We can start an epidural at this point too if you’d like us to go ahead and do it already. However, we can also wait until the 7 centimeters dilation point. The downside of doing it now is that once you get the epidural, you won’t be able to walk around. It’s really about what you are comfortable with. Our goal is to help you labor in the way that is easiest and most comfortable for you.”

“You think it’s okay if I wait?” Ali looks at Ashlyn in trying to decide.

“Of course I do. We’ll do this however you want to try it, honey.” Ashlyn supports her. “She can change her mind at any point, right?” She checks in with the nurse.

“Right. We can have the anesthesiologist up here at any time and get it going pretty quickly. So, if you want to try without for a while and it gets to be too much, just let me know.” Amelie replies.

“Ok. Let’s wait a bit then. I like the idea of being able to move around right now.” Ali says more confidently.

“Great, you just let me know what you need. We have various chairs, yoga ball sizes, pillows, and even a bathtub. I am going to strap two small monitors around your belly that will keep track of your contractions and the babies’ heartbeats. It’s wireless and on battery, so it shouldn’t be in the way too much. We’ll have Dr. Moore come in to check you every hour to keep an eye on your progression and I’ll be in every 5 to 10 minutes or any time you need me.” Amelie lays out the plan. “The only thing we can’t do now is let you eat because of the epidural on the horizon. Unfortunately I can only offer ice chips.” She adds with a sympathetic frown.

“Well, thank god for blueberry muffins then.” Ali smiles knowingly at Ashlyn before looking back to Amelie. “Ready when you are.” She jokingly puts out her hand.

“I’ll go get that IV kit.” Amelie smiles. “The bathroom is fully stocked with sanitary pads and towels and there are extra blankets and pillows in the little closet over there. Remember, the point is to be as comfortable as possible, so don’t be shy.” She reminds them before writing her name down on the little white board in the room and walking out.

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“Baby, will you be okay if I just quickly eat something?” Ashlyn asks as Ali comes down from what has to the millionth contraction now. With the way things had seemed to move so fast as they got to the hospital around 1pm, the officer was sure they’d be holding their twins by dinnertime. It’s now past 7pm and Ali is still at only 6 centimeters dilation, battling minute long contractions every 3 minutes for the last few hours. And the brunette isn’t the only one battling.

Ashlyn can’t remember the last time she felt so exhausted both mentally and physically, but she can only guess that it was probably during Ranger training. If anyone had told her before today that her most intense army training could rival being a pregnant woman’s support during labor, she would have laughed at them. But here she sits just trying to find the energy to keep going and beyond flabbergasted by how well Ali is managing this.

The last few hours have been a combination of dealing with the emotional aspects of seeing Ali in pain and the physical effort of moving her wife every few minutes. With all the internal pressure, Ali has felt like she has to pee a least every ten minutes, which has required Ashlyn to practically carry her to bathroom every time. The rest of the time has been filled with moving Ali into various positions, massaging anything she asks for, and letting various parts of her arms, shoulders, and torso get squeezed in a vice grip when the brunette is working her way through the pain. Time has passed both slowly and in a flash, her grumbling stomach being the first thing to clue her in on just how long it’s been since they’ve got here.

“Oh god, you haven’t eaten yet!” Ali practically screeches in concern when she realizes. “Ash, I’m sorry, honey. Sit, eat. Can you just help me get onto the bed to lay down a little?” She requests from her current seated position on the big yoga ball.

“It’s totally okay and of course I can, beautiful.” Ashlyn smiles and lifts Ali into her arms, laying her gently on the hospital bed.

“Love you.” Ali whispers, kissing the side of the officer’s neck as Ashlyn slowly lowers her down. She’s completely physically exerted at this point and, knowing she’s not even close yet, starting to question whether she can actually do this.

“Want me to go in the hallway or over to the corner?” Ashlyn asks after she pulls out a few sacks from one of their bags, feeling guilty for eating in front of her likely very hungry wife.

“No way. Sit right beside me.” Ali replies adamantly as she motions to the chair beside the bed, not wanting Ashlyn to be more than a foot away right now.

Ashlyn just nods and sits down, doing her best to eat fast.

“You are the absolute sweetest, Harris.” Ali says adoringly even as another contraction builds, her lips curling into a little smile at what the officer has in her hands.  A package of strawberry pop-tarts, a peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich, and a quinoa protein bar… all things the brunette would never ever eat. She knows immediately that it’s no coincidence. “I’m starving, but… no appetite. Feel free to eat something… ugh…better.” She barely grunts out as the contraction takes hold.

Ashlyn immediately drops the pop-tart she was eating and stands up to hold Ali’s hand only to get yelled at.

“EAT!” Ali uses any breath she has left to shout and wave her off before just groaning through gritted teeth.

“Ok.” Ashlyn replies apologetically and slinks back into the chair, doing her best to wolf down food even though it’s like trying to eat sawdust right now with her stomach in knots over Ali’s pain. The mix of feelings is overwhelming. On one hand, she’s in complete awe of her wife and happy that the babies are on their way. On the other, it physically hurts to see Ali going through this and she feels a bit useless even knowing deep down that she’s doing everything she can.

Despite having to choke it down, the food works like a charm and Ashlyn immediately feels more energized. And it’s just in time too. After hours of things being static, the contractions suddenly start ramping up over the next thirty minutes, now being two minutes apart and almost a minute and a half long. Ashlyn’s arm is being squeezed into oblivion every couple of minutes and she’s running to get cold washcloths to wipe Ali’s sweaty forehead in between. She had initially kept up her encouraging words, but Ali quickly stopped talking when things got more intense and shortly after put her hand up to signal that she just wanted silent support.

“Hi ladies. Ali you’re doing great. Let’s have a quick look to see where you are now that things are changing.” Dr. Moore encourages as she takes a couple minutes to check everything. “You’re at 7 centimeters.”

“Oh thank god!” Ali says in relief, her first words in nearly twenty minutes.

“Looking really great. This puts you officially in the transitional labor stage and things tend to move along more quickly now. At 10 centimeters, we’ll have you start pushing. So, we’re getting there and I would estimate within the next couple of hours if not sooner. The babies’ heartbeats are strong and everything looks good.” Dr. Moore says positively. “I’m going to go ahead and page Dr. Baylor as well as have the epidural team come up to get that going for you. You’ve done amazing getting to this point without it.”

“Thank you so much, Dr. Moore.” Ashlyn says gratefully as Ali goes right into another contraction.

“You’re doing wonderfully too by the way, Chief.” Dr. Moore smiles on her way out and Ashlyn just nods before her attention goes right back o Ali.

“I’m…so…fucking…tired…Ash.” Ali gets out through panting breaths when the contraction eases up.

“I know, baby. You’re crushing this, Alex… positively crushing it. You’re amazing and you can do it…almost there.” The officer brushes some hair away from Ali’s face. “I love you so much, beautiful. You’re such a warrior.”

“Almost there. Almost there.” Ali repeats in a whisper with a little smile as she locks onto Ashlyn’s eyes. “Your babies are gonna kill me, but I love you so fucking hard, Harris.”

It’s only about ten more minutes before Ali starts to tremble uncontrollably from the contraction intensity. Ashlyn calls the nurse in immediately, but Amelie just assures her that it’s completely normal for this part of labor. Before she knows it the officer finds herself trembling a bit too, the emotions inside seemingly intensifying right alongside Ali’s contractions.

“Dr. Baylor should be here any minute now and the anesthesiologist will be here within about 30 minutes to place the epidural. I’m just going add Dr. Moore’s notes to the online record, but let me know if you need anything while I’m in here.” Amelie explains as she starts typing away at computer in the room.

“Thanks.” Ali says softly, just trying to rest in the little time she has before the next contraction. The back of the bed is inclined so that she’s pretty much sitting up in the most comfortable position at the moment. She closes her eyes, thinking to herself how lucky she is as Ashlyn maneuvers to massage her shoulders as best as she can in the tight space. She can’t imagine how any woman ever does this alone. The thought is fleeting as the next contraction hits and white spots pop behind her eyelids with everything clenching so tightly that she feels like she might snap. Wordlessly, hands stop massaging her shoulders and a strong forearm is suddenly placed in her grasp to squeeze as she battles through the agony; it’s as if she and Ashlyn are of one mind.

Ashlyn takes a deep breath and wipes the beads of sweat from Ali’s forehead again as the brunette comes down from a really strong 90 second contraction. There’s a nervous flutter in her stomach and she feels her legs trembling a bit.

“That was a particularly strong one. That’s good, you’re doing great, Ali. They really don’t get any worse than that.” Amelie encourages as she sees the peaked lines on the screen of the contraction monitor.

Ali just nods and tries to catch her breath, opening her eyes when she feels Ashlyn’s arm slip from her now loosened grasp.

“Alex, I’m gonna sit for a sec.” Ashlyn mumbles, feeling slightly dizzy. And then it’s complete bliss… some of most restful sleep that she can ever remember having. It feels so good right now when she needs it most and she hopes more than anything she can have a couple more hours of it, just like this.

“ASH!” Ali screams out as her wife suddenly slumps down against the railing of the hospital bed before her eyes roll back and her legs give out…her body falling back onto the floor with a thud, her head just missing the hospital tray table by a couple inches.

“Shit.” Amelie quickly presses the emergency call button in the room when she sees Ashlyn down on the floor, rushing over to the fallen woman. “It’s okay, Ali.” She tries to reassure the frantic brunette who just keeps shouting her wife’s name. “What happened?” She asks, having not looked over until she heard the unmistakable thud.

“I don’t know. She started to say something about sitting down and then she fell.” Ali desperately explains as tears stream down her face. “Please help her! Ash, get up, baby.” She pleads in sobs.

“It’s ok, Ali. I think she just passed out.” Amelie tries to simultaneously calm the brunette and check on Ashlyn. “Ashlyn?” She’s about to check the fallen woman’s pulse when she gets interrupted.

“Wait! Don’t touch her yet!” Dr. Baylor yells as she rushes into the room with another nurse in tow and quickly assesses the situation.

“Dr. Baylor…Ash…” Ali barely gets out in a shaky voice.

“Easy, Ali. She’ll be okay.” Dr. Baylor kneels down next to Ashlyn who just looks peacefully asleep. “Ashlyn?” She lightly shakes the officer’s thigh. “Ashlyn, can you open your eyes?”

“Mmm.” Ashlyn groans softly as voices pull her from the wonderful sleep that she’s so hesitant to leave behind. ‘Ashlyn’ the voice is louder and more insistent, a tug on her leg. The officer begrudgingly opens her eyes expecting to see the ceiling of their bedroom, instead her brow furrows in confusion when she sees a bright fluorescent light and three faces looking down at her. “What…” She immediately tries to get up.

“No, no. Stay down and still.” Dr. Baylor instructs and gently holds Ashlyn’s shoulder down. “Can you hear me?”

“Yeah.” Ashlyn replies at the odd question, her brain still trying to process what is happening.

“Good. Do you know who I am, Ashlyn?” Dr. Baylor asks.

“Of course I do, Baylor. What’s going on?” Ashlyn shoots a question right back as it dawns on her where she is and why. “Where’s Ali?”

“She’s right there, don’t worry. She’s fine. Just answer a couple more questions, ok?” Dr. Baylor says gently. “Do you know where you are?”

“At the hospital, our twins are coming.” Ashlyn replies easily.

“That’s right, good. Do you know what time it is?” The doctor questions, knowing how easily spouses of women in labor tend to lose track of date and day of the week, but are usually attuned to the time.

“Was like around 8pm last time I checked.” Ashlyn answers.

“Good. She’s ok.” Dr. Baylor announces more for Ali’s benefit than anyone else. “You just fainted, Ashlyn. Does anything hurt at all? Your head? Your back?”

“I did? Fuck.” Ashlyn tries to remember, vaguely recalling now that she was getting dizzy and going to sit down. “Nothing hurts. I feel completely fine.” She tries to sit up again and this time Dr. Baylor lets her. Her eyes immediately go to Ali who is leaning over the rail of the hospital bed, tears running down her cheeks with a terrified look on her face. “Oh Alex…I’m okay. I’m sorry, honey. It’s okay, baby.” She tries hard to comfort her wife while feeling completely embarrassed about what just happened.

“Should I get a BP and pulse?” Amelie asks.

“No. Well not unless Ashlyn wants it.” Dr. Baylor looks at the officer. “Ashlyn if we do any kind of treatment in here, take your blood pressure, check your pulse, any of it… we legally have to admit you. Which means you’ll have to go down to the emergency room to get checked out and I have no idea how long that would take. I know you don’t have a concussion and my professional opinion is that you just passed out from an emotional stress reaction. Happens more than you think in these situations. But I’ll leave it to you to decide how you’re feeling and if you want to go get checked.” She explains.

“God no, I’m fine.” Ashlyn gets to her feet only to be directed into the chair by Amelie and Dr. Baylor.

“Easy there, killer.” Dr. Baylor says lightly. “Give yourself a few minutes. Amelie, will you grab some orange juice and get me a disposable glucose monitor?”

“Al, I’m okay baby. I promise. I actually feel really good.” Ashlyn reassures her still sad and scared looking wife.

“Promise?” Ali asks with her lip quivering, her heart still racing. “Will you get checked?”

“Honey, I swear to you… I’m fine.” Ashlyn scoots her chair over a few feet and reaches out to take the brunette’s hand. “If I wasn’t, I’d go get checked. But I’m really okay.”

“Shouldn’t she get checked?” Ali appeals to Dr. Baylor.

“I think she just fainted, Ali. It’s a normal thing, especially in stressful situations like this one. She says she’s okay and I believe her.” Dr. Baylor tries her best to find a compromise between both women just as Amelie comes back in.

“Good timing.” Dr. Baylor takes the orange juice and glucose monitor and places them on the tray table near Ashlyn before wheeling over the blood pressure machine. “I can’t officially check you if you don’t want to be admitted, Ashlyn. But I can’t stop you if you happen to use the equipment in the room to check yourself when we step out for a few minutes. I mean, anyone could easily slip on this blood pressure cuff and press this button right here…or put the glucose monitor against their index finger like this and push this button, holding it down for 30 seconds. It’ll give a little finger prick, but I’m sure there are band-aids on the counter over there.” Dr. Baylor says nonchalantly and then gives Ashlyn a determined look. “Do we understand each other, Chief?”

“Yes, doc. Clear.” Ashlyn nods.

“Good. I’ll be back in a just a couple minutes to check on you, Ali.” Dr. Baylor says as she and Amelie purposely leave the room.

“Thank you.” Ali breathes out in relief as the women head out the door. “Hurry, Ash.”

“Alright. Alight.” Ashlyn concedes and decides to get the blood test over with first. “Sure, make the woman who just fainted and hates needles stick herself.” She grumbles under her breath and closes her eyes as she presses it to her finger and pushes the button. It takes less than a minute for the monitor to a show a result and then the officer moves to take her own blood pressure, all the while repeatedly telling Ali that she’s fine.

“What were the numbers?” Dr. Baylor asks casually as she walks in a few minutes later.

“Blood pressure said 119 over 82. The blood monitor said 91.” Ashlyn replies.

“Perfect. All normal. With your blood sugar so stable, I’m guessing you ate recently and you just fainted from a stress reaction.” Dr. Baylor explains. “She’s fine, Ali.” She assures the brunette before telling Ashlyn to drink the orange juice anyway.

“I thought contractions were coming about two minutes apart?” Dr. Baylor questions Amelie as she looks over the monitor log for the last half hour.

“They were.” Amelie replies, looking perplexed. “Well until…” She motions to Ashlyn.

“Hmmmm.” Dr. Baylor continues to look things over with a furrowed brow, noting that it has been about 15 minutes since Ashlyn fainted and Ali hasn’t had a single contraction in that time, the usually peaked lines are all completely flat.

“Is everything okay?” Ashlyn immediately gets concerned.

“Fine. Everything’s fine.” Dr. Baylor assures them. “Babies’ heartbeats are strong and Ali’s vitals are good. Just no contraction activity right now, which I think is just a reaction to being upset a few minutes ago. We’ll give it a little bit.”

“I have never seen anything like this.” Amelie muses, never in her 18 years of being a maternity ward nurse seeing a woman’s contractions completely flat- line during either active or transitional labor.

“Neither have I.” Dr. Baylor admits, in awe of the whole thing herself. “But you haven’t been around these two long enough yet.” She smiles at the two women. “They practically share a body. So, I can’t say this surprises me all that much. I’m sure everything will pick back up again soon. Just try to relax, Ali.”

“Great, we’re a medical marvel.” Ashlyn tries to joke a bit before leaning in close to kiss Ali softly. “I’m so sorry, baby. I’m okay…I didn’t mean to freak you out. I don’t know what happened.” She stokes the brunette’s cheek.

“Don’t apologize, not your fault.” Ali reassures her. “God, watching you just slump and fall like that…scared the hell out of me. You almost hit your head so badly on that tray table.” She entwines her hand with the officer’s. “Love you. So glad you’re okay.”

“I love you too, beautiful. What can I do to help relax you?” Ashlyn asks sweetly.

“Well, as much as this probably isn’t good….I’m thankful for the break.” Ali jokes a bit about the lack of contractions. “Will you sit next to me and just hold me a little? I’m pretty tired.”

“Anything you want, Alex.” Ashlyn immediately scoots to sit in the bed as best she can and pulls Ali against her chest. She looks down to see Ali close her eyes and take a few deep breaths, clearly inhaling in her scent. “I got you, sweetheart. Always.” She whispers and rubs Ali’s back with her hand.

Unfortunately, the peaceful moment only lasts about five more minutes before the anesthesiologist arrives with the epidural. Dr. Baylor immediately suggests that Ashlyn step out while it gets placed, but the officer is adamant that she’s staying. She’s not allowed to touch Ali or even be closer than ten feet while the anesthesiologist works, but she still feels better being present. It only takes about 15 minutes and even though she knows a huge needle is going into Ali’s lower back, she’s in front of the brunette and can’t see it happening. The whole thing goes by pretty fast, especially with Ali still not having any contractions to work around, and it doesn’t faze her at all like she thought it might.

“Interesting. If you were gonna pass out, I would’ve bet everything that this would’ve been the moment.” Dr. Baylor comments to Ashlyn as the anesthesiologist wraps things up.

“Me too.” Ashlyn laughs in amusement. “Go figure.” She shrugs before taking the opportunity to check in with the doctor while Ali is still occupied. “So this no contraction thing…”

“I’m not sure. Can’t say I’ve ever seen it happen quite like this…you two really are pretty remarkable in how you connect to each other.” Dr. Baylor admits. “We’ll give it a little longer, these babies definitely want out and I’m sure things will start up again. The body is amazing and knows what it’s doing. I have a back-up plan if we don’t see something soon.”

“God, I feel so dumb for going down like that.” Ashlyn shakes her head, still embarrassed. “I don’t understand. I’ve never fainted in my whole life. I’ve passed out from shock and blood loss before with injuries… but just randomly passing out like that, never. Not even close.”

“Don’t be ashamed. Seriously, it happens all the time in these delivery rooms.” Dr. Baylor tries to reassure her as she thinks over what the officer just said.  She immediately gets a doubtful look from Ashlyn that clearly conveys she’s not the average person, especially with what she has endured mentally and physically in her past. “Well… let me ask you this then. In your whole life, have you ever cared for or loved someone like you do her?” She motions to Ali.

“Never.” Ashlyn replies without the slightest pause.

“There’s your answer.” Dr. Baylor smiles. “And I’m sure hers is the same…which is why we have no contractions.” She nudges Ashlyn’s arm with a little laugh and then goes to sign off on the paperwork required by the anesthesiologist.

-------------------------------

“How does it feel?” Ashlyn asks, having resumed her place beside Ali on the bed after being very careful not to touch the tiny taped down epidural tube going into her back. It has been about an hour since she fainted and everything stalled, but still no contractions.

“It doesn’t.” Ali giggles a bit. “I can’t really feel anything below right here.” She points to her ribs. “It’s so weird.”

“Then it’s working perfectly.” Amelie says from beside them at the computer station.

“At least I feel a little less exhausted now.” Ali shrugs. “I just want them here.”

“I know, love. Me too…but they’ll come when they’re ready.” Ashlyn kisses her forehead and then puts her hand against Ali’s belly. “Come on you two. We’re so ready to hold you, and kiss you, and love on you. Just go easy on your Mommy. In fact, maybe just come gliding right on out of there like little penguins on an ice slide.”

“That’s cute and kinda gross, Harris.” Ali laughs and then pauses immediately when she feels her belly tighten. “Oh…”

Ashlyn feels it too against her hand, searching Ali’s face for a reaction and only seeing one of confusion.

“I don’t feel anything but tightness.” Ali says after a few seconds.

“It’s definitely a contraction.” Amelie announces with a smile. “Just no pain now with the epidural, so all you feel is the muscle movement and pressure.

“Why did I wait to get the epidural again?” Ali questions with a little chuckle, still shocked that she’s able to talk through a contraction.

“Cause you’re a feisty, bad ass warrior princess who never would’ve had it any other way.” Ashlyn reminds her with a smile.

“Right. Thanks, baby.” Ali leans her head against the officer’s shoulder.

“Well, that was a pretty mild one and the tightness will still feel intense when they get stronger again, but at least the pain won’t be there. I’m going to go tell Dr. Baylor that contractions seem to be restarting…this is good.” Amelie explains before leaving the room.

“Alright you two little warriors…bring it.” Ashlyn gently rubs Ali’s belly again.

“Correction…she meant bring it gently. Well, within reason anyway.” Ali plays back, rubbing her own belly. “Of course the second you tell them to get a move on, the contractions start again. I’d say coincidence, but they always seem to respond to you.”

“They just like my jokes… let’s see how long that lasts.” Ashlyn shrugs.

“I give it a month.” Ali teases.

“Harsh.” Ashlyn playfully taps the brunette’s cheek.

“I’m kidding, honey…I give it two months.” Ali winks just as her belly tightens again.

“Let’s see here.” Dr. Baylor walks in just as the contraction is about halfway through. “Alright, looks like we have some action back. Five minutes in between… not particularly strong, but they’ll build back up hopefully. I’m going to give it another half hour and then check you again.” She explains. “This might be the most comfortable you’ll get for a while. So, I suggest taking advantage and trying to get a little sleep.”

“Good idea.” Ashlyn agrees, seeing that Ali still looks wiped out despite saying she feels less tired.

“That means you too, Ashlyn.” Dr. Baylor looks at her pointedly.

“Yes, General Baylor.” Ashlyn salutes her playfully.

“I could get used to that.” Dr. Baylor laughs and walks out.

--------------------

Ali manages to fall right to sleep and is having a good nap right through the contractions. Ashlyn closes her eyes, but the little sleep that comes is anything but restful. The officer stays as still as possible since Ali is resting on her shoulder and just does her best to relax. As promised, Dr. Baylor is back just half an hour later and gently rousing Ali so she can check her.

“So, good news is that you’re at 8 centimeters.” Dr. Baylor declares in an upbeat tone.

“Which means there’s bad news.” Ali immediately hones in on the doctor’s facial expression.

“Really didn’t think you were gonna slip one by the wonder attorney here, did you?” Ashlyn quirks an eyebrow at the doctor.

“Of course not! And it’s not bad news.” Dr. Baylor assures them. “Your contractions have gotten to be three minutes apart now over the last half hour, but not much difference in the strength. There’s no way that these contractions resulted in this dilation progress. So, I’m thinking you made this progression to 8 centimetes with those intense contractions you were having before they completely stopped.”

“So what does this mean? Level with us.” Ali demands softly.

“I am going to give it another hour to see if your contractions naturally strengthen on their own, but my guess is that they might not at this point. With twins, the uterine muscles can really struggle to generate strong enough contractions to begin with because they are so stretched. While you were doing well before, I think the interruption might mean that they don’t come back as strong as we need them to be now. I could be wrong though, which is why I’m going to give it a little more time.” Dr. Baylor explains.

“And if you’re right and they don’t get stronger?” Ashlyn asks, the guilt sitting like a rock in her stomach.

“Then the plan is to start you on Pitocin. It’s a safe medication that we put through the IV to produce contractions. We use it all the time to safely induce labor. I’m pretty sure that will give you the boost you need to get those contractions back to where they need to be. It tends to result in unnaturally strong contractions, but you’re on the epidural now so it shouldn’t be a problem in terms of tolerance. Does that sound like an okay game plan for you two? The alternative would be to head right to a c-section.” Dr. Baylor lays it out for them.

“Oh hell no, I didn’t go through all this to not do everything possible before that c-section.” Ali says resolutely. “We do the Pitocin. C-section is still the last thing I want.”

“What she said.” Ashlyn just completely defers to Ali.

“Ok, plan in place then. We’re still going to give it another hour though, so get some more rest if you can.” Dr. Baylor suggests before leaving again.

“You’re doing so great, honey. Think you can sleep a little more?” Ashlyn smiles at her wife.

“I’m going to try. But how about you talk to me first…I may be in labor, but I’m not blind.” Ali gives the officer a knowing look. When Ashlyn’s smile doesn’t reach her eyes, it’s always a dead giveaway that she’s upset about something no matter how hard she tries to hide it.

“Here I am lecturing Baylor that she can’t slip one by you…” Ashlyn shakes her head, knowing she should have counted on Ali being just as perceptive as usual.

“Exactly, so just tell me.” Ali presses her.

“Obviously I couldn’t really control it and didn’t do it on purpose, but I feel so stupid and guilty for fainting on you. I’m so sorry… it made you upset and your contractions stopped because of me. Now you have to go through all this extra crap because of it. I feel so bad about it.” Ashlyn says sadly. “Maybe I should’ve eaten more or rested more, I don’t know.”

“Alright, Hero…listen real close.” Ali reaches to hold the officer’s face in her hand. “First, our warrior twins are going to get here eventually and however that happens to be is exactly the way it was meant to. After everything we have been through, you should know that better than anyone.” She pauses as another contraction tightens up her midsection and gives herself a minute.

“You okay?” Ashlyn asks.

“Yeah, it’s passing now.” Ali nods and gives it a few extra seconds before finishing her thought. “Second, I couldn’t be more proud. Yes you fainted and yes I got upset…and yes, everything got stalled. But you know what… I couldn’t be any damn prouder of that fact that we just completely baffled a whole slew of medical professionals because we’re that connected to each other. I love you so deeply, Ash…and you love me the same. And we have a whole ward of doctors and nurses that can back that right up with the physical evidence of what just happened. It’s so real that it’s science, baby.” She pulls Ashlyn’s face towards hers and kisses her slow and deep.

“I love you so much, Al. God, if I ever lost you…” Ashlyn says emotionally.

“Hey now… nobody is losing anything but sleep right now.” Ali kisses her chin. “You okay?”

“I’m great, promise.” Ashlyn smiles at her.

“Good.” Ali smiles back at seeing the officer’s smile reach her eyes this time. “Think I can go back to being the needy one now? Cause I’m gonna need my big tough Hero back to get me through this.”

“You sure can, beautiful. I’m right here and I’ve got you.” Ashlyn pulls Ali gently into her shoulder again. “Try to sleep.”

“I know you do.” Ali closes her eyes and settles into the crook of Ashlyn’s neck as best she can. “You’ve always got me and I’m so damn lucky.”

----------------------------

“Uuuuughhh, fuck… I need to push so bad!” Ali screams out as she squeezes Ashlyn’s arm tightly.

“Don’t do any pushing. I know it seems counterintuitive, but not until we tell you.” Amelie immediately warns her gently. “I’m going to get Dr. Baylor to come have a look.”

Dr. Baylor had woken the couple up around 9:30pm to check in again, but nothing had changed in terms of contraction strength or dilation. She administered the Pitocin as planned and it only took about 30 minutes after that for Ali’s contractions to come on fast and furious.

Despite not feeling the pain of it, the intensity and pressure the brunette feels is incredible. Each contraction takes her breath away, she’s shaking and sweaty just like earlier in the day and completely wiped out already after an hour of it.

“You’ve got this, Alex. You can do it, baby.” Ashlyn talks Ali through yet another contraction, her forearm pretty much numb at this point from being squeezed all day and likely to be purple by tomorrow. It’s now just past 11pm and she has completely lost track of what day it is, just that the hours have been both endless and a blur.

“Fuck, I feel like I just need to poop or push or something.” Ali groans. “So much pressure.”

“I’m sorry, honey. Can I do anything?” Ashlyn asks sympathetically.

“No, I don’t think so.” Ali says defeatedly, knowing she just needs to keep going. “Just…if I poop in this damn bed while giving birth, don’t tell me. Like don’t ever, ever, ever tell me. Not even like 20 years from now. I’ll die of embarrassment.”

“Promise I’ll take it with me to the grave, baby.” Ashlyn assures her, unable to keep the little smirk off her face knowing that Ali must be really out of it right now to even be talking about poop. She would normally be mortified to have this conversation.

“God, I hope I don’t poop.” Ali mumbles anxiously.

“Honey… just stop saying the word poop… stop thinking about it… and just focus on the babies. Forget all about the poop, ok?” Ashlyn tries to redirect her.

“Yeah, ok. You’re right. Who the fuck cares about poop? We’re going to hold our babies soon…I can’t wait.” Ali barely gets out a little smile just before another huge contraction hits and her face contorts.

“Wow that is a big one. Doing so good, Ali…really, really great. Just hang in.” Dr. Baylor says as she walks in and sees the peaked lines across the screen. “This is definitely going the way I hoped, maybe even better.” She waits for the contraction to pass before checking the brunette.

“She says she feels like she needs to push and there’s a lot of pressure.” Ashlyn informs the doctor since Ali can’t seem to speak right now.

“That’s a good sign!” Dr. Baylor responds as she checks. “Okay you’re definitely over 9 centimeters, but not quite at 10… so close. I’d say in like 30 minutes or less, you’ll be pushing. I can feel the top of the baby’s head, she’s right there. Just hang on and don’t push at all until we tell you to…pushing early can cause the area to swell and tighten up.”

“No pushing.” Ali confirms, her eyes still shut with her hand coming up to give a shaky thumbs up.

“I’ll have Amelie empty your bladder with the catheter again and that will help alleviate the pressure just a bit hopefully.” Dr. Baylor says, heading off to get into a proper set of delivery scrubs since it can be any time now. “Be back in like 10 minutes to check again.” She adds before walking out.

It only takes another 13 minutes and a quick check by Dr. Baylor for the action to start. “We’re at ten and ready to go…she’s coming down already, I can see her head.” The doctor says excitedly. “She certainly won’t be bald… got some good hair going on. Want to see, Ashlyn?”

“Oh uh…sure…I mean, if you’re okay with me…” Ashlyn looks at her wife.

“Go.” Ali smiles at her, even in this moment appreciating the officer’s penchant for all things science.

“So, right in there.” Dr. Baylor motions with one hand as her other hand parts Ali’s vaginal lips a bit.

“Oh wow… she really does have hair!” Ashlyn says happily with a tight smile, her emotions a bit conflicted because this is both one of the coolest and yet most terrifying things she’s ever seen. Oddly, she can’t seem to peel her eyes away even though she wants to.

“Eyes…up here…Harris.” Ali finally snaps her out of in, her breathing labored again as another contraction starts.

 “Right here my queen.” The officer resumes her spot next to the bed and places her arm back in the brunette’s grasp. “She’s right there, Al. Beautiful…you can do this, baby.” She says in Ali’s ear as the next contraction rips through.

Amelie takes up residence on the side of the bed opposite Ashlyn and Dr. Baylor sits on a stool at the base of the bed. “Okay, Ali…on the next one, we push. I want you to reach down and grab the back of your knees and pull them towards you… then you’ll push as hard as you can for ten seconds. It’s almost like doing an intense crunch. Then you’ll rest for ten seconds and then push for another ten. We want to get in 2 to 3 good pushes with each contraction. Let’s aim for two right now, ok?” The doctor instructs.

“K.” Ali barely gets out, feeling out of breath still.

“Ashlyn… you help her keep count with Amelie. Support her leg on that side.” Dr. Baylor directs.

“Got it.” Ashlyn nods and does everything she can to prepare herself. The next few seconds are almost eerily quiet as everyone just looks at the monitor and waits for the next contraction to build. What happens next is something she never could have prepared for.

“Ok and push!” Dr. Baylor shouts.

Ali does everything just like she was told and Ashlyn eyes go wide. The brunette’s face goes completely red, veins popping out on her forehead and neck as she trembles through pushing with all her might. She looks like her head might explode, her teeth gritted together and her expression completely scrunched tight. Ashlyn helps hold her leg up but forgets to count until Amelie says “count with me, Ashlyn.”

Intense. Powerful. Extreme. Insane. Those are the first words that come to mind as the first fifteen minutes of pushing pass. All Ashlyn can do is try to support Ali is best she can while she stands there in complete and utter awe of her wife’s strength…already sure there is no way in hell she could ever do this.

“Fuck…can’t do this…anymore….can’t.” Ali says through ragged breaths. She feels like she just ran a marathon and like her body can’t physically do any more.

“Her head is just start to poke out, but let’s rest for the next couple of contractions and try to get you back a little energy.” Dr. Baylor suggests.

“I can’t, Ash…I can’t.” Ali pulls Ashlyn in closer by the arm, her face panicked and desperate.

“Maybe let’s try a more helpful position.” Amelie offers.

“Good idea. Maybe get some gravity working for us a bit. Can we sit you up more Ali?” Dr. Baylor asks and gets a nod from the brunette.

“Alex, you can do this, love. I know you can. You’re killing it… just a little longer, baby. You can do it.” Ashlyn encourages her as the nurse adjusts the bed so Ali is sitting up more, her knees bent with feet planted on the bed.

“Perfect.” Dr. Baylor remarks. “Easier for you to reach your legs now too. How are you doing?”

“Exhausted.” Ali says dejectedly.

“I know…you’re doing perfectly, Ali. You really are. We’re almost there.” Dr. Baylor tries to bolster her confidence.

“You really can do it, Alex. I know you can.” Ashlyn reiterates.

“Need you.” Ali holds Ashlyn’s arm tightly, her eyes pleading.

“Uh…” Ashlyn’s mind races to figure out what on earth she can possibly do to make this better.

“Ready to push again, Ali?” Dr. Baylor presses a bit.

“Wait.” It hits Ashlyn like a lightning bolt. “Can we scoot her forward a little and can I get in behind her? Al…is that okay?”

“Yes… yes…I want that.” Ali says emotionally, desperately looking at Dr. Baylor for confirmation.

“Oh yeah, we can definitely do that. Just be really careful of that epidural hookup back there, ok?” Dr. Baylor replies and hears Ali let out a relieved sob. “Don’t be shy Ali, you can tell us what you need.” She reminds the brunette.

Ashlyn doesn’t hesitate and takes off her shoes and pants, carefully slipping in behind her wife after Amelie helps scoot her forward. “Is this good, honey?”

“So good… need you.” Ali presses herself back into the officer.

“I’m right here, beautiful. You got me…and I’ve got you. Let’s do this.” Ashlyn whispers into Ali’s ear.

“Alright, here we go…” Dr. Baylor resets them.

****************************************

Tuesday, December 25th

The feel of Ashlyn wrapped around her changes everything. Her body feels protected and warm, and most importantly, not alone. It physically feels like her completely spent body has help now, that they’re doing this together. It gives her all the strength she needs to keep going.

“Push! Hold it, hold it, hold it…come on, Alex! Keep it going…hold it, longer…come on, you can go longer…push, baby, push!” Ashlyn doesn’t even recognize her own voice, letting Ali do the work but reaching to put her hands over the brunette’s in helping her pull her legs back. She’s suddenly this weird mix of loving wife and commanding drill sergeant, leaving Amelie do the counting and just egging Ali on in whatever way that seems to be working.

7 minutes and three rounds of pushing is all it takes before the breakthrough.

“Her head is out!” Dr. Baylor says cheerily. “One more good push and she’ll be out, Ali. One more!”

“She’s almost here, baby. You can do it…one more!” Ashlyn’s heart races wildly.

“One more.” Ali confirms as she feels the contraction building.

With a loud grunt from the brunette, their baby girl is in Dr. Baylor’s hands, a huge gush of fluid releasing along with her. “And that would be baby number two’s water breaking. He won’t be too far behind.” Dr. Baylor remarks even as she works to quickly suction the little girl’s mouth and nose, wiping her face too.

And then the most beautiful sound in the world as the two women stare wide-eyed at the tiny, blue, slimy body placed on Ali’s bare chest….crying, loud and strong.

“Whew, she’s got lungs! Looking great so far, ladies.” Dr. Baylor says as Amelie makes notes on the baby’s appearance and movement to eventually tally an Apgar score that rates her health.

“Ash…” Ali’s trembling hands go to immediately hold their daughter against her chest.

“She’s perfect…look what you made, Alex… perfect.” Tears stream down the officer’s face as puts her finger against a tiny little palm and watches their baby girl grip it.

“She’s so beautiful. You made her too.” Ali’s tears start to fall too, completely unable to take her eyes off of the tiny little girl with an ample tuft of matted brown hair still wailing loudly on her chest.

“So beautiful. Just like you, Al. She looks just like you.” Ashlyn says happily and strokes the baby’s head, taking in miniaturized versions of Ali’s nose and lips.

“She’s doing excellent.” Amelie assures them as the baby’s skin starts to pink more and her movement and reflex reactions look normal.

“Hear that, baby girl…you’re excellent. You’re wonderful.” Ashlyn says softly, kissing Ali’s head as she continues to stroke their daughter’s head lightly. It has a clear lulling effect, the baby starting to settle and the crying dying down to soft little cooing.

“Look at you, Mama.” Dr. Baylor smiles at them.

“She had this effect well before now…best Mama ever and one incredibly lucky Mommy too.” Ali lightly nudges Ashlyn’s cheek with the side of her head.

“Ok, so I’m satisfied that the two cords aren’t tangled up or causing any problems…think you can use those long arms of yours to reach and cut her cord?” Dr. Baylor asks Ashlyn.

“Oh uh, yeah. Just let me wipe my eyes.” Ashlyn uses one of hands to wipe her tears, terrified she’s going to mess something up. “The pressure right now, geez.” She breathes out as Amelie hands her scissors and Dr. Baylor clamps the cord in the right spots.

“Relax, idiots do this.” Dr. Baylor jokes to calm her down. “Right there.” She points to the spot.

“Well, I am an idiot, sooo.” Ashlyn smiles and lets out one more quick breath before reaching out from behind Ali to complete the task. The cord is white and almost rubbery, nothing like she expected and she actually has to put in a little effort to cut it. Still, it’s over in seconds and her focus goes right back to Ali and their daughter.

“Do we have a name?” Amelie asks as she starts to type out a hospital tag for the baby’s foot.

“Harper Kai?” Ali checks with Ashlyn to make sure they are still in agreement now that she’s here.

“Absolutely.” Ashlyn smiles.

“That’s a beautiful name, so strong.” Dr. Baylor comments. “She’s definitely bound to be a kick ass woman just like you two.”

“Doesn’t matter… she can be anything she wants. She’s perfect…she’ll always be perfect.” Ashlyn says softly, her tone emotional again.

“Babe…love you.” Ali reaches her hand back to hold Ashlyn’s face and pull her closer.

“Love you too, Alex.” She nuzzles into Ali’s hair and just keeps watching their little girl wiggle around a bit on Ali’s chest.

“I’m so going to remind you that you said that when she’s a teenager, Chief.” Dr. Baylor chuckles as she moves an ultrasound probe over Ali’s belly.

“Ughhhh.” Ali suddenly tenses with a soft grunt.

“Alex?” Ashlyn says worriedly.

“It’s okay, just a stronger contraction. They’re building quick again…forgot about baby boy, huh?” Dr. Baylor says playfully.

“Kinda…dear god, I hope we don’t do that again.” Ashlyn half jokes, moving her hands from their sweet baby girl so her arms can hold Ali close again. “You okay, love?”

“Yeah.” Ali says through gritted teeth as the contraction starts to subside, her eyes staying focused on their daughter. “I’m so tired, Ash…I don’t know if I can do it again.” She admits quietly. It has already been fifteen minutes since their baby girl got placed on her chest, but it feels like it was just a minute or two.

“Yes you can, Alex. Look what you already did baby… she’s amazing.” Ashlyn puts her hand over the one Ali is using to hold their daughter. “You can do it again… our baby boy is waiting to meet us. We’re so close. I’m right here just like before…together, ok?”

“Ok.” Ali agrees. Ok.” She repeats a bit more determined. “I don’t think I can hold her though…can you…” Ali starts, but Dr. Baylor jumps in.

“Actually, we need to completely focus on this little guy. So, this is the perfect time for Susan the assistant labor nurse to take her to get cleaned up a little and get her official weight and height, ok? She’s not leaving the room, just going right over there on that little table under the warming lamp…you can see her the whole time.” Dr. Baylor explains.

“Ok.” Both women say unison, but still have a hard time letting go a couple minutes later when Susan comes to take their daughter.

“Let me quickly tell you what’s going on. Baby boy’s water broke when Harper came out, so he’s ready to go. He’s turned on his own to some extent in the extra space now… he’s transverse, so horizontal with his head slightly lower. I don’t see any signs of him being tangled in either of the umbilical cords. So, I’m going to press hard on your belly and reach inside at the same time. I’ll try to see if I can help guide his head down with my hand. You’re going to feel a lot of pressure, so just do your best to hang in there.” The doctor explains calmly. “Let me know when you’re ready.”

“You got this, love.” Ashlyn tries to pep Ali up a bit and holds her securely, using her arms to envelope her as much as possible.

“Ok, ready.” Ali prepares herself as much as she can.

Pressure is an understatement and Ali feels like her whole midsection is being squashed like a grape as she yelps. The sensation is horribly unpleasant despite not really being painful because of the epidural.

Ashlyn’s eyes are like saucers when she sees just how far Dr. Baylor’s arm appears to be inside her wife and she can’t even see it all because of the way the blanket is draped. Ali is sweating buckets and she just does her best to keep talking to her while wiping her forehead frequently with her sleeve.

It feels like forever, but is only just over a minute before they hear Dr. Baylor’s voice excitedly yell “Yes!”

“Did he…” Ashlyn starts to ask, but the question is already being answered.

“His head came down right against my palm and followed into the birth canal.” The doctor announces proudly. “We’re a go. Let’s get this little guy delivered.”

Dr. Baylor waits through a few more contractions before she’s satisfied that they’re strong enough again to be productive and then directs Ali to push.

“There you go, baby…that’s it, hold it, hold it…come on… longer…go, go, you got it Alex!” Ashlyn goes right back into drill sergeant mode again while Amelie counts. She presses herself further into Ali’s back, trying to be physically more supportive when she feels that Ali’s body isn’t able to push as hard this time around. “Little more, love… I know you can push a little harder on the next one. I know you can.”

“His head is already right here, Ali. Just a couple hard pushes.” Dr. Baylor encourages her.

Even though she feels like she might pass out, Ali fights with everything she has left, pushing with every ounce of strength on the next one with her fingernails digging into the back of her knees.

“That’s it, that’s it! Keep pushing, don’t let it go!” Dr. Baylor yells as the baby’s head is halfway out. “Just a little more… keep going…keep pushing… head is out!”

“Breathe baby, get some air… he’s almost out. Just one more.” Ashlyn rubs the brunette’s arms. “I love you, Alex… he’s almost here. You’re doing it, baby.”

“Fucking burns.” Ali’s face takes on that same agonizing look from much earlier in the labor process.

“Epidural is starting wear off, it’s normal.” Dr. Baylor tells a worried looking Ashlyn. “It’ll feel better when he’s out, Ali.”

“Ooo…k.” Ali’s whole body is shaking uncontrollably and she desperately tries to find it in herself to do this, her body and mind completely in doubt that she can. “Alex…” She hears Ashlyn’s soft voice in her ear, the officer’s warm breath against her face.

“Remember the Museum of Science on our first date… your favorite exhibit…it’s amazing, isn’t it? You made that green light blink with a perfect baby girl… you did that. One more time, honey… do it again. One more push, make the green light blink again for our son.” Ashlyn keeps her voice steady and even despite feeling shaky herself.

The words are like magic, Ali’s mind visualizing that little green light and suddenly feeling like she can take on the world. She feels her stomach clench, a sharp ache accompanying it this time, and she quickly grabs her legs with Ashlyn’s support. Her vision goes black for a few seconds and her ears ring a bit as she literally gives it everything she has left. Everything fuzzy and muffled as she hears a loud cry and feels a warm weight on her chest.

“Alex? Baby… you okay?” Ashlyn holds the brunette’s face, seeing the glazed over expression and starting to panic. “Alex?”

“Yeah…” Ali whispers hoarsely. “Yes…” her voice comes out more strongly as Ashlyn’s face comes into focus now. “Is he…”

“He’s right here.” Ashlyn puts Ali’s hands on the tiny baby boy on her chest. “You did it. He’s perfect, just like her.”

Ali immediately looks down to see a similar sight as before… a squirmy, bluish baby, covered in goo and screaming.

“This great…both strong and healthy. Might wanna invest in ear plugs though.” Dr. Baylor smiles widely, feeling her own relief now as the baby pinks up pretty quickly and is moving well.

Ali just takes their baby boy in for a few seconds, a beaming smile breaking out across her face when she sees the little pointed nose, a prominent chin, pouty lips and an angular jaw that actually surprises her, not knowing that baby faces could be anything but round and chubby until now. He’s long and lanky… he’s a little Ashlyn.  “Ash… look at him… he’s a mini you. So beautiful…he’s beautiful.” She says joyfully even though her voice is low and tired. “Those skinny little legs.”

“Sorry little man, I have to tell you from experience that you’re never going to be able to skip leg day.” Ashlyn tries to joke through her happy sobbing, literally crying her eyes out right now as everything inside unleashes. “He’s amazing, Al. Perfect, wonderful, amazing.  I love you so much. I’m so in love with all of you.”

“We love you too, Hero. You’re everything to us.” Ali reaches back to pull Ashlyn’s head against hers again. “Pull it together back there, Mama… you’re gonna have a cord to cut soon.” She tries to soothe her wife, feeling how hard Ashlyn’s heart is beating against her back.

“Geez, can’t a girl have a moment? I mean…have you seen my beautiful family?” Ashlyn says sweetly and wipes her eyes. “I got this, promise.” She starts stroking their son’s head lightly and, once again, the crying fades to quiet.

“Baby whisperer.” Dr. Baylor says in amazement as she clamps the cord.

“They love their Mama.” Ali agrees with a tired and content smile, her eyes glancing over to see Susan holding Harper in a little bundle.

“Personally, I think that they just love being against that perfectly comfy boob. Trust me, I know how easily one can find peace there.” Ashlyn shrugs with a grin.

“Really, babe?” Ali shakes her head.

“I only speak the truth.” Ashlyn kisses Ali’s head, her crying finally easing up a bit. “So proud of you… you’re amazing.” She whispers in Ali’s ear.

“Okay, we’re ready for your expert cord cutting again, Chief.” Dr. Baylor hands the officer the scissors and points to the spot.

This time Ashlyn is much less nervous, confidently completing the task with a smile.

With that done, Dr. Baylor turns her attention to Ali again. “How are you feeling, Ali?”

“Wiped out, a little nauseated. I ache pretty bad, but it doesn’t burn as bad down there anymore.” Ali answers, becoming attuned to her body again after being too distracted to notice with their son in her arms.

“Ok, all normal. I need to go ahead and deliver the placentas now.” Dr. Baylor explains, seeing that at least one of them is low and ready to come out. “You might feel a little pressure or tugging sensation, but it shouldn’t hurt.”

Ali nods and just says focused on their little boy, who is now gripping her finger firmly and looks to be pretty much napping on her. She can’t get over how strong his features are, feeling overjoyed that he looks so much like Ashlyn given that their little girl is definitely more Krieger. “Still okay back there?” She checks on Ashlyn.

“I’m beyond great… just speechless.” Ashlyn admits quietly, her eyes constantly darting between their son and daughter.

“Ugh…” Ali grunts lightly at the feel of the placenta coming out, a wetness sensation between her legs.

“You okay?” Ashlyn asks.

“Mmmhmmm, just feels weird.” Ali replies as she feels another light tug. “Am I bleeding?” She can’t help but ask at the feel of it.

“It’s normal, Ali. Just fluid and normal blood from the placenta. Both out now. Actually, no tearing at all… doesn’t get any better than this. Someone clearly massaged like I told her to.” Dr. Baylor says with a smile. “Speaking of, I need to massage your stomach now to make the uterus contract and stop the bleeding from placenta detachment. Might feel a bit rough and crampy, ok?”

“Yep.” Ali replies, knowing it really can’t be any worse than what she just went through twice.

“We’re going to switch these two for a few minutes and get him cleaned up and measured, ok?” Amelie says as she comes over with their daughter wrapped up in a blanket, a little red and green striped hat on her head.

“Come here little princess. We missed you.” Ashlyn helps Ali hold her, loosening the blanket so their daughter can rest right against the brunette’s skin. She lets out a tiny little cry, but then immediately settles. Her eyes are now covered in an antibiotic ointment just like they told them to expect during baby classes.

“Hi baby girl.” Ali smiles down at her, really noticing the softer features and slightly chubbier body now that she was just holding their son who is the opposite. She feels the tight cramping in her belly and the pressure from Dr. Baylor’s pressing, but it’s easy enough to ignore while she hones in on the softness of their baby girl against her skin.

“I assume this little guy already has a name too?” Amelie asks from across the room as she cleans the baby boy who is back to crying again.

Ashlyn looks at Ali who just nods at her. “Gram Justice.” Ashlyn answers.

“What a cool name!” Dr. Baylor pipes up as she works to put fresh towels under Ali. “Another strong one…unique, but solid and not weird. Now I have to ask how you came up with them.”

“Gram for my grandmother who raised me… and Justice for Ali’s mom who was a head judge on one of the high MA courts.” Ashlyn explains.

“Harper is the last name of our dear friend and Ashlyn’s grandmother’s best friend, Edith. Kai is a variation of my brother’s name.” Ali fills in the rest.

“So creative…you two are good at this.” Dr. Baylor is impressed.

“We tried.” Ashlyn smiles.

“Alright so let’s see what we have here.” Dr. Baylor finally finishes up with Ali and goes to look over the notes about the babies. “Harper… 12:13 am…5 lbs. 10 ounces, 18.5 inches long. Great Apgar score, completely healthy.” She looks over the next set of notes. “Gram… 12:41am… 5 lbs. 6 ounces, 20 inches long. Another great Apgar score, also healthy. They’re excellent, ladies. Two perfectly healthy babies. They’re on the small side in general, but that’s pretty normal for twins. The important thing is that they’re above the low birthweight mark and are breathing and moving normally, so no need to have them in the NICU as of now.”

Ashlyn breathes a sigh of relief, having completely forgotten about the high possibility of the babies being required to go to the NICU until right now.

“I heard that, Hero.” Ali moves to squeeze Ashlyn’s arm lightly, feeling her own sense of relief.

“Just don’t ever want to let go.” Ashlyn admits, still so completely mesmerized.

“I know, love.” Ali understands completely. “And you won’t…we have strong little warriors.”

“Brought into the world by the greatest warrior of them all… you were… beyond words, Alex.” Ashlyn says warmly, admiring her wife in this moment more than she ever has, and that is saying a lot. “I could never ever do this like you did… I love you so much, Al…just… you’re magnificent and wonderful… thank you.”

“Well I could never ever have done this without you… you have no idea. I love you too, Hero. Our sweet, supportive, completely perfect, Mama.” Ali replies lovingly. “Now give me that ‘holy shit we actually did this’ kiss I’ve been waiting for, gorgeous.” She smiles and turns her head, her lips immediately captured by Ashlyn’s in a passionate kiss that easily ranks right up there with some of their best ever. She lets herself get wrapped up in it, until the movement on her chest breaks the moment. “Woah there, baby girl...whatcha doing?” She looks down to see their daughter bobbing her head up and down vigorously, her mouth opening and closing.

“She’s hungry.” Amelie says with a smile from beside them.

“Oh!” Ali replies and immediately grabs the closest breast in attempt to get her nipple closer.

“Hold on…she can find it. Give her a few seconds to do her thing.” Amelie directs gently.

“So cute.” Ashlyn says adoringly, watching their daughter’s somewhat frantic search as she starts to almost whine cry. It’s only another 30 seconds or so before she finds Ali’s nipple and immediately latches on. “There you go, princess. Oh damn… she’s going to town…”

“Yeah…that feels so weird.” Ali jumps a bit at the strong sucking. “Hurts a little.”

“It takes some getting used to, but it’ll help if she gets a deeper latch. So break the suction a little bit with your finger and then really shove your nipple into her mouth as much as you can. She can handle it.” Amelie suggests.

Ali follows the instructions, earning a little cry of frustration from Harper before she latches right back on again.

“How’s that?” Amelie asks.

“Still weird, but a lot better. Hurts less.” Ali answers.

“That’s exactly what you want it to look like, nice deep latch like that. You’re a natural.” Amelie compliments the brunette.

“So amazing.” Ashlyn whispers, completely transfixed by the whole thing. “Alex, you’re beautiful.”

“Thank you, love.” She leans her head back into the officer and lets herself relax into it.

“Ok, I think this little man is ready for some loving from his moms.” Dr. Baylor brings a bundled Gram over to them, his hat matching Harper’s.

“Oh…uh…” Ali isn’t sure what to do with Harper sprawled our across her chest and still eating. The reality of juggling two babies at once finally hitting her.

“It’s ok, I got him.” Ashlyn pipes up from behind her, maneuvering to get her shirt and bra off so he can rest on her skin like he’s supposed to…the whole thing a bit comical since it leaves her in just boxer briefs behind Ali who is already stark naked after losing the gown hours ago. Both Morris’ and Porter’s wives had told them about how quickly both your self-consciousness and sense of dignity get lost in the labor process, but she couldn’t quite understand until now. A few different nurses are in and out of the room at the moment, but she could care less about who sees what. Nothing matters but the babies and Ali.

Ali can only smile widely as she watches Ashlyn scoot to the side just enough to hold their son against her chest, her heart pounding and her stomach fluttering at the sight of the goofy happy grin on the officer’s face.

“So tiny.” Ashlyn whispers, Gram practically fitting right in the palm of one of her hands. He makes a little whimper sound and curls right up comfortably in her hands, his eyes goopy like Harper’s from the ointment.

“To be fair, your hands are huge, babe.” Ali jokes before leaning over to kiss the little boy’s back. “I feel you little sir… I know just how good it feels to be secure in those hands. Safest, best place ever.”

“Little sir…I like that.” Ashlyn muses. “Goes perfectly with little princess.”

“I think so too.” Ali replies just as Harper comes off her nipple with a little popping sound. “Guess we’re done. Do I burp her?” She asks Amelie, feeling a little stupid at having to ask.

“Yep, just rest her on your shoulder there and nice gentle taps on the back. She might not burp, but always give it a try for a few minutes after feeding.” Amelie explains and nods as Ali does it correctly. It’s not long before a pretty loud burp comes out.

“Ha! Oh baby girl…looks like there is some Harris in you after all. Think we just found it.” Ashlyn laughs just as Gram’s head pops up with a little cry, his mouth suctioning to her chest. “Hungry too, little sir? Trust me, I am not the one you want for that. Lesson one…not all breasts are created equal, buddy. You want these beauties right over here.” She gently scoots him over to Ali and reaches around to take Harper.

Ali lets out a laugh at Ashlyn’s antics and shakes her head as she tries to put Gram in a spot where he can succeed at finding her nipple.

“Direct him a little to the other breast…the one Harper fed on is probably a bit empty still.” Amelie offers some help again.

It takes Gram a couple tries and a little more help from Ali, but he eventually gets a good latch just like his sister and sucks vigorously.

“Easy little man, it’s not going anywhere.” Ashlyn says and gently reaches to stroke is head after seeing Ali wince a bit. “You okay, baby?”

“Yeah, just gonna take some getting used to.” Ali admits, too happy that she’s successfully breastfeeding to care how much it actually hurts.

“Only takes a few days before it gets better and more routine.” Amelie assures them.

“Ok… well… I think my job is done here.” Dr. Baylor chimes in, having quietly watched the little family interact for a couple minutes after finishing all her required notes. “I’ll be back to check in a little later, but looks like Dr. Moore needs my help with another delivery that just got underway. So, I get to go do it all over again.” She smiles at them. “You did so well… both of you. I’m so happy for you. Congratulations, ladies.”

“Wait… Baylor.” Ashlyn gets her attention. “Come here.”

 The doctor walks over to the bed with a questioning look.

“Sorry we’re a bit indecent, but bring it in… gonna need a hug, lady.” Ashlyn smiles at her and Ali nods, both women freeing an arm and holding it out.

“Doesn’t faze me one bit, story of my life.” Dr. Baylor laughs and leans in to hug them both at the same time.

“Thank you so much…I can’t thank you enough.” Ashlyn gets a little emotional again and squeezes the woman as tight as she can without smothering the babies.

“Just doing my job.” Dr. Baylor waves it off.

“I say that all the time… and now I realize why Alex always gives me that look when I say it. Total bullshit, Doc…this was above and beyond. I’m so grateful for you. Thank you for taking care of our family.” The officer says adamantly.

“What she said, times like a million. You’re the absolute best. Thank you.” Ali adds to it.

“Really, really happy for you two. They’re truly beautiful…and I see a lot of babies. Congratulations! I’ll come see you later once you’re settled into your maternity suite.” Dr. Baylor promises before she makes her way out, turning back one more time to look at one of her favorite families ever.

-------------------------

The next hour passes in a whir of instructions and paperwork, the nurse making sure that the women know how to properly change diapers and keep a breastfeeding log to make sure the babies are eating well. Before she knows it, Ashlyn finds herself lying next to her wife in the wider bed of the maternity suite, holding both babies in her arms after they ate again and Ali went out like a light in the middle of eating a sandwich, falling asleep hard from the utter exhaustion.

“There we go… everybody’s full and happy.” Ashlyn whispers, watching both babies sleeping soundly on her chest, Ali against her shoulder. “You two are so cute that they gave you only the finest accommodations.” She jokes, finally taking a good look around the room that they just settled into about an hour ago. Having twins had automatically gotten them placed in one of the larger deluxe maternity suites and the officer has to admit that she’s impressed by it. The bed fits her and Ali comfortably side-by-side. There’s a nice little couch, a big TV, a large bathroom with a shower and tub, and the décor feels more like a hotel than a hospital room.

“Never gonna let you go.” The officer says softly as she eyes the two bassinets that the nurse left for the babies and practically scoffs at the thought of putting them down for even a minute. She’s completely and totally in love, obsessed really… her eyes still scanning them carefully to take in any little details that she might have missed.

Her eyes start fluttering closed in the peaceful moment, her own body completely spent and sore even though she wasn’t the one that gave birth. “I love you so much, Alexandra… so much.” She turns to kiss Ali’s head before kissing each of the twins. “Love you too, my littles.”

Ashlyn is just really starting to drift off when the sound of voices floats into the room. The officer frowns with her eyes still closed at the disruption of the quiet moment. It sounds like just a couple of hospital staff members talking, and she immediately wonders why anyone would be having a conversation loud enough to be heard through a closed door in the middle of the night, in the maternity ward no less. She can hear something being discussed about dinner plans and she tries to ignore it even as her irritation grows. And then she hears two words that make her eyes shoot open and her heart pound, any annoyance now long gone:

‘Merry Christmas’

The officer’s mind races to process what day it is and what has happened in the last 24 hours. It was Christmas Eve…like 1pm when we got here…around 8pm when I fainted and Dr. Baylor got here…past 11:30pm when Ali started pushing… 12:13am, 12:41am birth times. “Oh my god, no way.” Ashlyn whispers and carefully moves to check the date function on her watch, seeing the 25 in the little white box. She cranes her neck in disbelief, squinting her eyes to see the birthdate on the bracelet around Gram’s ankle…December 25, 2018. “It’s Christmas morning… Christmas babies.” She whispers in complete wonderment, now truly appreciating their little red and green striped hats that match completely with the exception of the little white bow on Harper’s.

She desperately wants to wake up Ali and tell her because she knows there is no way her wife kept track of what day it was either in all that chaos, but she doesn’t have the heart to do it knowing exactly how much she just went through. Instead, she settles for looking at her perfect little family all snuggled together and letting it all wash over her.

In this moment it truly hits her how in just three Christmases, Ali has given her everything she ever wanted and needed… hope for a future, forever love, and family. Those perfect Christmases she dreamed of her whole life are finally a reality of her own. It makes her realize why during all those years of horrible Christmas after horrible Christmas, she still woke up every Christmas morning hoping for her dream to come true. Because this feeling right now… even the tiniest little spark of possibility that this feeling would ever exist inside her like it does in this very instant… it was enough to keep her hope alive all of that time, it was worth wishing for forever.

“Merry Christmas, Harper. Merry Christmas, Gram. Best gifts ever.” She kisses each twin on the head softly before leaning over to lightly press her lips to Ali’s. “And Merry Christmas to you, queen of my heart, my whole world, my forever.”

-----------------------------

Ashlyn immediately wakes up to Gram starting to softly cry, her eyes going to the clock in the room to see 4:26am…just under an hour since she fell asleep. Given that the nurse said the babies eat roughly every two to three hours, she figures they have at least another twenty minutes before Ali has to wake up to feed them and she wants to make sure the brunette gets every second of that twenty minutes. She uses every core muscle she has to slowly and gently get out of the bed with a twin in each arm, trying not to wake Ali.

“Shhhh, shhhh, shhh…” She walks around the room slowly and bounces them a bit in her arms, seeing both of them with eyes open and trying to look around. “Hi loves… let’s keep it down, okay? Mommy really needs to get some sleep and we don’t want to wake her up, right? Right. You probably already know, but she’s an amazing woman your Mommy. She worked so hard to get you two here all beautiful and perfect…for months and months really. She’s tough as nails, but be sweet and gentle with her anyway, ok? She deserves that more than you know.” The officer whispers to them, her voice keeping them seemingly satisfied for now. “And while you’re at it, maybe go gentle on me too…cause Mama has no clue what she’s doing. I just love you endlessly and hope that’s all it takes.”

Ali is sure she’s a completely melted puddle of goo on the bed right now, awake and hearing every single word… her heart feeling so full that her chest actually aches like it might explode. Her legs tingle, her muscles are screaming at her, her crotch burns and throbs painfully, but none of it matters right now as she watches Ashlyn softly pace the room with a baby in each arm. And just when she thought she couldn’t be any more in love…she is. She’s absolutely more in love than she ever thought possible with these three people…her people.

Ali’s couldn’t pry her eyes away if she tried… Ashlyn with her messy short hair, in gray sweatpants and an open flannel shirt, a baby pressed to each side of her sports bra clad chest and held securely in those muscular arms that she knows so well. As a feminist, she’s always rolled her eyes at women who talk about how incredible it is to see their husbands hold their newborns…scoffing at the notion that men being tender is such a novel concept that has to be so specially beheld. But watching Ashlyn now, she actually gets it.

There’s something about her tough, strong wife being so over-the-top careful and gentle with their babies, her normal confidence obliterated as she nervously rocks them and yet, still looks so natural doing it. And it’s not that it’s novel…Ashlyn is gentle and sweet with her like this all the time, but the thing is that she never gets to see it from an outside perspective. And that is what makes it so remarkable…to experience this side of her wife in the way that others see it in how Ashlyn treats her, only more intensely because she’s watching it happen with their tiny little babies. It’s an indescribable feeling that makes everything feel right in the world.

“Merry Christmas, Ash.” Ali finally alerts the officer to the fact that she’s awake.

“Hey, there you are… so beautiful, Alex.” Ashlyn turns to take in her wife, a huge dimpled grin on her face. “Al, it’s Christmas morning!” She blurts out excitedly just before her brain actually processes what Ali just said. “Wait…you knew?”

“Honey, I carried these two around for almost a year and then squeezed them both out of my vagina thinking my body was just gonna die on me the whole time. You’re damn right I kept track of the exact date and time they were out of there.” Ali giggles.

“Of course you did my feisty lawyer.” Ashlyn laughs. “How come you didn’t tell me?”

“Because I knew how great it would be when you figured it out for yourself.” Ali smiles knowingly.

“You know me too well.” Ashlyn gets close to the bed and sits down carefully, leaning over to kiss Ali sweetly.

“Mmmm…one more please.” Ali requests with her eyes still closed.

“Anything you want, baby.” Ashlyn smiles and leans in for another one.

They’re interrupted by Gram’s fussy cry again, followed by Harper’s just a few seconds later. It’s a pattern they’ve noticed already in their short time with the babies…when Gram cries, Harper seems to immediately follow more loudly. It almost seems like she’s trying to tell them that Gram needs something because she settles quietly as soon as Gram does.

“Don’t worry princess, Mommy is gonna feed your brother and then you too.” Ashlyn soothes Harper as Ali takes Gram and gets him over to her nipple. “Yep…like clockwork.” The officer notes as Harper quiets down the second Gram is happily breastfeeding. “You’re such a good big sister, little princess. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that Gram is supposed to protect you because he’s a boy… that’s some total bullshit right there. You two will always protect each other…but trust me and Mommy when we tell you that no matter how strong your brother may seem, he is always going to need you, baby girl. Just ask Uncle Chris and Uncle Kyle when you meet them.”

Ali shakes her head at how much she feels like a swooning schoolgirl right now. “Your level of adorable is practically killing me right now, Harris…take it down a notch, Chief Perfect.”

“Says the total goddess with the wonder breasts feeding our perfect babies right now. How about you take it down a notch?” Ashlyn winks before adding, “Nah, actually don’t.”

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By mid-morning, Ashlyn has managed to call or text everyone in their immediate circle of family and friends to tell them the news. By mid-afternoon, their room is already filled with balloons and stuffed animals from those very people. Combined with little periods of sleep here and there, all the loving messages of congratulations make them feel loved and a bit more refreshed than they were early this morning.

In just a few hours, they’ve already learned that the twin bond is alive and well. The babies definitely prefer to be held together or very close to each other and tend to settle more easily that way. If they are put down together, their hands make their way towards each other, even managing to wiggle out of a tight swaddle to do so. When one cries, the other is quick to follow…especially Harper who is seemingly more patient and will settle quietly while Gram eats or gets changed before she does.

By late afternoon, their first visitor arrives in the form of a blubbering Kyle who completely loses it at his first glance at the babies. He can’t even say anything for a while as he holds both twins on the small couch in the room, Ashlyn wiping his tears for him every so often. After about twenty minutes and Gram’s first very smelly and tarry-black poop diaper… he manages to pull it together and go sit by Ali, still holding Harper while Ashlyn changes Gram. It leads to a playful and spirited debate about whether Harper looks more like him or Ali. Of course he totally loses it again when Ali can’t keep her own emotions in check and whispers in his ear: “Look at the perfection you helped create…thank you.” To which Kyle can only reply “Mom would be so proud and happy.” Ashlyn walks over with Gram just a moment later and immediately smiles at their teary faces, only needing one look at the two them to know the gist of what was said.

Edith is the next one through the door shortly after Kyle leaves. “Give me my grandbabies” is out of her mouth the second she walks in. Just like Kyle, she wants to hold them both together, saying “what good are twins if you can’t love them both up at once?!” Of course she brings a bag full of knitted baby booties in all sorts of colors and sizes. Ashlyn immediately works to get a pair on each of the twins while Edith talks to them.

“Oh yeah… Harper is a good name for you. You sure are cute…you’re gonna be hot stuff, just like me.” The older woman looks up and winks at Ali. “And you...you have your great grandpa Curtis’ nose. Of course you do, it’s your Mama’s nose too. You have quite a name to live up to, little man Harris… but you look up to the task… she really was something special.” Edith trails off a bit sentimentally, prompting Ashlyn to sit down next to her and rub her shoulders sweetly.

It’s quiet for a few minutes before Edith speaks up again, looking Ashlyn right in the eye. “You did so good, Tin Man.” She smiles and looks up at Ali. “You too, Dorothy.” And just like that she completely shifts the mood, telling a few stories about Ashlyn as a baby…including a particularly good one about how Ashlyn once pooped on her legs while she was trying to help Eunice change her on the beach. It leaves them all laughing just as the twins fall asleep and Edith insists that she leave and demands that the two women sleep too. “You have to take care of you to be able to take care of them.” She leaves them with one last word of advice and promises to come see them and bring dinner when they’re home.

The sleep doesn’t last long though when Gram is hungry again just half an hour later, but it turns out that the timing is excellent when Chris pokes his head in the door while Ashlyn burps the little boy so Ali can feed Harper.

“Oh…uh…sorry, we can come back in a little bit.” Chris stutters and turns red, looking down at the floor.

“Nope, now is great. I think we all know that anyone around us is going be seeing a lot of both sets of twins for quite some time.” Ali laughs and motions to her chest with her free hand. “So, let’s just throw all the awkwardness out the window right now.” She says resolutely, determined a long time ago to not let herself feel self-conscious about something so natural…not that it matters much anyway because Harper is pretty much covering everything up as she eats.

“Come on in.” Ashlyn encourages him, happy to see that Bridget and the kids came too.

Bridget and the kids immediately fawn over how cute the babies are as Ashlyn and Ali work to get them ready to be handed off. But the officer notices immediately how quiet Chris is… he seems almost overwhelmed. “You okay, big bro? Ashlyn comes over to stand next to him.

“Yeah…just… look at you Ashlyn … damn…just… you’re a parent. My baby sister is a parent… such a good one too.” A cheesy grin takes over his face and he wraps her up in a hug, careful not to make it too tight since she’s holding Gram on her shoulder.

“Crazy right?” Ashlyn nudges his head with hers.

“Little bit.” Chris lets out his signature deep laugh.

“Gram, this is your ding bat Uncle Chris.” Ashlyn hands the little boy over to him, smiling at how visibly her brother’s brawny body adjusts and relaxes as he holds his nephew.

After the very emotional visits with Kyle and Edith, this one is lighter with Curtis and Elsie providing some much needed fun distraction as everyone helps them hold the babies. Their excitement over their cousins is nothing short of adorable and at times funny, especially when Elsie declares that they’ll be special guests at her tea party next week.

By 6pm, both women are starving and work to practically inhale the trays of dinner the nurse brought in with one hand as they each hold a baby.

“Guess this is the new normal, huh?” Ashlyn can’t help but pause to laugh when she sees that she’s dropped a bunch of pasta in her lap and Ali has a smear of ketchup on her cheek.

“Guess so. I kinda like it” Ali laughs right along with her. “Scratch that…I love it.” She corrects just a second later.

“Me too.” Ashlyn reaches over to clean the brunette’s face with a napkin. “Team Harris.”

“Team Harris.” Ali agrees with a smile.

By 7:30pm, they’re both settled in the bed after the twins are fed and changed into fresh diapers. Everyone is cuddled up close, Ali holding Harper while Ashlyn holds Gram.

“How is my girl feeling?” Ashlyn asks, making sure to check in with Ali every so often in the bustle of everything.

“A little rough. Definitely like I just squeezed a couple of twins out my cooter and then let them crack my nipples open for good measure.” The brunette replies truthfully. “But, I did manage to get some fresh mascara on with that last trip to the bathroom, so all in all…not so bad.”

“I noticed that.” Ashlyn shakes her head with a smile at Ali’s eye make-up. “I’m sorry, love. Anything I can do?”

“You’ve been so great, Ash. Just keep those amazing ice-pack maxi pads coming and I’ll be fine…those are my happy place right now.” Ali jokes.

“You’re wonderful, Alex. I love you.” Ashlyn says sweetly.

“I love you too, Hero.” Ali replies with a yawn.

“Alright babe, give me one of those gorgeous smiles of yours.” Ashlyn takes the opportunity to take their first family selfie with her phone before one of them falls asleep. Satisfied with the picture, she posts it to all of her social media accounts along with one of just the twins from earlier in the day where they are holding hands while they sleep:

My back-up has arrived and they couldn’t be any more perfect. Meet Harper Kai (5lbs 10oz, 18.5in) and Gram Justice (5lbs 6oz, 20in). Moms and babies are all doing great (my wife is a goddess like no other). Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. – The Harris Family :-)

“Perfect.” Ali smiles as she reads over Ashlyn’s shoulder and then drops her head down onto it.

Ashlyn just kisses Ali’s head when the brunette falls fast asleep just a couple minutes later and moves to put a pillow under her arm so that Harper is supported properly as Ali’s body relaxes more. Dr. Baylor walks in just as she is finishing doing that and getting herself comfortable with Gram.

“No, don’t wake her.” Dr. Baylor whispers as she sees Ashlyn going to nudge Ali. “She really needs to sleep so she can heal up.”

“She’s gonna be bummed she missed you.” Ashlyn replies quietly.

“I’ll see her in a couple weeks at her post-partum check-up.” Dr. Baylor assures her. “Sorry, I didn’t come in sooner… got caught up taking over that delivery for Dr. Moore and it ended in an emergency c-section.”

“I can’t even imagine doing what you do every day…today was mind blowing.” Ashlyn says still awestruck by all of it.

“I can say the same about what you and Ali do.” Dr. Baylor shrugs. “Life is funny like that. So, how are things so far?”

“Totally amazing… little crazy…also scary, but amazing.” Ashlyn divulges. “They’re eating well, peeing and pooping already, and crying…plenty of crying. They’re perfect.”

“Exactly as it should be.” Dr. Baylor laughs quietly. “They’re beautiful babies…you’re a beautiful family.”

“Thanks. So…I meant what I said earlier. You have been an absolute lifeline for us in so many ways through all of this. It means everything to us and I wish I had better words than thank you, but I mean it from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for taking care of our family…none of this happens without you.” Ashlyn says sincerely.

“Just doing my job.” Dr. Baylor uses the same response as earlier.

“Stop using my own modest one-liners on me and just say ‘you’re welcome’, Baylor…geez.” Ashlyn rolls her eyes playfully.

“Fine. You’re welcome, Chief.” Dr. Baylor laughs.

“Better.” Ashlyn smiles. “I hope your wife knows how lucky she is.”

“How did you know I had a wife? I don’t remember mentioning that…maybe I did.” Dr. Baylor asks in slight surprise as she tries to think back, usually not bringing up her personal life at all with patients.

“You probably did at some point, no idea.” Ashlyn shrugs not really sure why she knows that either. “But even if you didn’t… I think we all know family when we see it.” She adds with a chuckle.

“So true… there’s like a lesbian aura or scent or something.” Dr. Baylor jokes.

“Totally.” Ashlyn agrees in jest.

“Well anyway, I like to think she knows how lucky she is.” The doctor winks. “You’re pretty lucky yourself.” She motions her head towards Ali.

“Girl, you don’t even have to tell me…there has to be a permanent horseshoe up my ass with this amazing wife of mine. I wake up every morning now and wonder how the hell this is my real life.” Ashlyn says happily while trying to keep her voice down.

“Gonna be one hell of a morning tomorrow then.” Dr. Baylor smiles and motions to the twins.

“Sure is.” Ashlyn smiles back.

“You need to sleep too. Get to it.” The doctor goes right back into professional mode.

“Yeah, I know. Merry Christmas, Doc.” Ashlyn replies kindly.

“Merry Christmas to you too.” Dr. Baylor makes her way out the door before poking her head back in. “Hey, Chief.”

“Yeah?” Ashlyn whispers back.

“All three of them…“ Dr. Baylor points to Ali and the twins. “They’re incredibly lucky too.” She smiles and closes the door softly.

*************************************************

Friday, December 28th

After a three day whirlwind of getting used to being parents and learning how to take care of the twins, lots of visitors, and little sleep… Ashlyn almost feels shell-shocked when she pulls the car up to the hospital entrance and sees Ali waiting just inside the glass door with the twins strapped into their carseats next to her.

The officer busies herself with getting everyone settled into the car, checking the carseat buckles at least 3 more times even though she already checked them at least 10 times before they even left the hospital room. Ali can barely stifle a laugh when Ashlyn checks her seatbelt too, but holds it in and doesn’t say anything. She can tell Ashlyn is anxious, seeing how stiff her body language is as she loads their bags into the trunk.

Anxious is an understatement. Normally, Ashlyn is the epitome of a Boston driver… confident and cocky, assertive and bordering on a little bit reckless at times. This is not that Ashlyn. In fact, they’re not only driving in the slow lane of the highway where the officer usually spends less than a minutes unless she’s merging or getting off of an exit ramp… they’re also doing 40mph at best in a 65mph area. The officer is leaned forward and gripping the steering wheel so hard that Ali can see how white her hands are from the backseat were Ashlyn insisted she sit in case the twins needed anything. It’s completely quiet and Ali can’t even remember the last time they drove without the radio on in the car.

“Doing ok up there, baby?” Ali asks sweetly, trying hard not to be so amused by this whole thing.  She’s a little nervous about getting home too, but not nearly the level Ashlyn seems to be right now.

“Uh yeah, just need to focus. Tell me if we need to pull over.” Ashlyn replies briefly, her eyes not even glancing into the rearview mirror to look at Ali like they normally would in this situation.

“We’re good, honey. Just keep doing your thing.” Ali replies reassuringly with a little smirk.

Ashlyn lets out a huge sigh of relief when she eventually pulls into their driveway and parks, the smell of the ocean already hitting her nose and her body relaxing. It’s only then that she realizes how cramped all her muscles are from the drive. “Home sweet, home.” She says before hurrying around to go open Ali’s door and help her out.

“You made great time, babe… only 1 hour and 34 minutes for a 50 minute drive.” Ali looks at her watch with a shit eating grin on her face, not able to hold in the teasing now that Ashlyn looks more like her normal herself. “Can’t wait to tell the twins this story when they’re old enough to appreciate it.” She adds with a laugh.

“Thanks a lot, asshole.” Ashlyn leans in to kiss her softly.

“You are seriously the absolute cutest, my idiot. My heart is just…” Ali makes a little explosion gesture with her hands near her chest. “Love you so fierce… now let’s get the warrior squad inside.”

Ashlyn nods and takes a carseat in each of her hands, putting one of her arms out further so Ali can use it for support as they walk up to the door.

“Is it bad that I’m a little jealous that I’m not the one being carried right now?” Ali pretend pouts as they get to the door and Ashlyn unlocks it.

“Hold that thought.” Ashlyn uses her foot to push the door open and places each of the carseats on the floor just inside before turning back and lifting Ali into her arms, walking them inside the house. “Welcome home, fam bam.”

“There’s no place like home.” Ali adds with a giggle and kisses her wife’s cheek.

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Friday, January 25th

“Can’t believe they’re already a month old.” Ali says a little tearily as Ashlyn snaps a picture of the twins in matching onesie’s that Ellen sent. The outfits are navy blue with white lettering, Harper’s says ‘Buy one’ and Gram’s says ‘Get one free’…behind them is a set of kids’ blocks that says ‘1 month’. 

“It’s going too fast.” Ashlyn agrees. Which is in complete contrast to the fact that hours often feel really long. It’s not until they hit these milestones that it dawns on them how quickly it went. And what a month it has been.

Their first few days were completely terrifying, both of them constantly getting up to check that the twins were still breathing as they slept. They happily rang in their first new year as a family, although Harper wasn’t too pleased when Ali forgot she was breastfeeding and pulled Ashlyn into a passionate kiss at midnight.

Days went by pretty fast at first with visitors constantly in and out, bringing food and helping them with errands. After that, things got quieter and it was a learning curve to settle into a routine together. What was once completely organized quickly became organized chaos, both women soon coming to grips with the fact that sometimes just getting through the day and nothing else is completely acceptable. Ashlyn has been taking on the lion’s share of diaper duty as well as waking Ali and the babies up to breastfeed every 2 to 3 hours and settling them afterwards so that the brunette can get the rest she needs to heal.

And it hasn’t just been the babies or new routines, but they’ve had to relearn each other too. There are constantly new emotions to deal with along with the simple fact that they aren’t the only ones in the center of each other’s worlds anymore. There’s so much now to differ in opinion about and even more things to compromise on, but they’ve found a way to stay close and connected through it all despite the major effort needed to do it. Sometimes even managing to communicate with each other when they haven’t slept well in days is a major challenge. Not to mention that as soon as they seem to find something that works well, it often changes just a couple days later. Still, even though they’ve never been this exhausted before… they’ve also never been happier.

“They’re so damn cute.” Ali smiles down at the twins wiggling around next to each other on the carpeted floor. Over the last few weeks their features have become a little more prominent. Harper still looks very much like Ali, but has lighter brown hair like Ashlyn and her eyes have only gotten lighter over time. While both babies have pretty colorless gray eyes and it’ll be a year before the true color starts to show, Ali is sure Harper is going to have Ashlyn’s hazel. Gram’s eyes are a dark gray with a ring of brown at the center. Harper’s however are very light gray with tiny yellowish gold swirls in spots… a yellowish gold that Ali knows all too well. And while Gram is still long and lanky with angular features like Ashlyn, his hair is dark brown like Kyle and Ali’s and his eyes are all Krieger to match it.

“They totally are. We made such beautiful babies.” Ashlyn agrees.

“Come here, you.” Ali pulls her wife in by her shirt and kisses her passionately, taking the opportunity while the twins are happy on their own right now. Although it still hurts to go to the bathroom, she’s more self-conscious of her body than she has ever been in her life, and the thought of anyone coming anywhere near her nipples makes her cringe, she still wants Ashlyn as much as ever…craving every little touch of her skin. “Mmmmmm.” She moans into the officer’s mouth and parts her lips for Ashlyn’s tongue to join hers. She feels Ashlyn’s large hands rake up and down her sides and slides her own hands behind the officer’s neck to pull her in closer…thoroughly enjoying the heated moment that has been a rarity this last month, her heart racing and the familiar tingle building between her legs.

“I miss you.” Ali says breathlessly as they both pull away in desperate need of air.

“I miss you too, Alex.” Ashlyn rests their foreheads together. “How about you, me, and a jacuzzi bath when these two go to bed tonight?” She says sweetly.

“That sounds wonderful, Hero. Yes, please.” Ali leans in for another deep kiss only to be interrupted by Harper’s cry.

“They miss your boobies too.” Ashlyn jokes.

“I feel like a milk cow.” Ali laughs and gets settled into the rocking chair in their bedroom. “Bring her over.”

Ali feeds the little girl and hands her over to Ashlyn to burp her while she takes Gram to feed him too. A loud squishy farting sound fills the room just as Gram gets a good latch onto Ali’s nipple.

“Whoop… looks like someone ate well, huh little princess?” Ashlyn laughs.

“You always get the worst of it, sorry babe.” Ali can’t help but feel bad at the fact that the officer has now been pooped on by both twins and that Gram has peed on her face twice.

“It’s my calling.” Ashlyn jokes back. “No worries, I got this.” She heads to the nursery to change Harper.

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“Wheeew, little princess!” Ashlyn scrunches up her nose at the smell once the diaper is open. “How can someone so cute makes such a serious stench?”

“Don’t worry baby girl, your Mommy is a beautiful queen and she can stink up the bathroom like you wouldn’t believe.” Ashlyn laughs. “Don’t you ever tell her I said that though. Unless of course you want Mama permanently living in a dog house in the yard.”

Ashlyn quickly gets a new diaper on her and then pokes Harper’s bare belly softly a few times while making kissy faces at her, knowing it brings the closest thing to a smile the little girl has right now. She watches her daughter’s nose scrunch as her mouth opens and her lips curl slightly, a happy little squeal coming out of her mouth as her gums show. “That nose-crinkle kills me little princess…” Ashlyn practically melts at the facial expression that is completely identical to Ali’s.

“That smile… and just wait until you have teeth… that smile is gonna light up the whole world… just like your Mommy’s.” Ashlyn kisses her face a few times and then re-buttons her outfit.

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“You’re Mama has such a good heart. I hope that whoever you end up with someday, that you’re as sweet to them as your Mama is to me. It’s the best feeling in the world.” Ali talks softly to Gram as he continues eating. “Except for that line about me stinking up that bathroom, she’s gonna pay for that one. For the record, it’s not true.” Ali shakes her head, having heard every word through the baby monitor that Ashlyn clearly forgot about, her mind already plotting revenge. Suddenly Gram pops off her nipple, making a very serious face.

“What’s the matter, little sir?” Ali asks with a furrowed brow just before he lets out a little fart. “Oh well…there we go. Better?” She coos at him and watches as his face lights up in a smile that she knows is just because of the gas, but melts her heart anyway. And then she sees it…

“Ash!” Ali calls out in an automatic reaction, just like any other time either of them notices or sees something new with one of the twins.

She’s captivated…completely mesmerized as she looks at, trying to memorize it before it goes away... a beaming smile on her face because it’s something she hoped for right from the beginning…and here it is now, completely undeniable.

“What’s up, buttercup?” Ashlyn walks in grinning, lightly bouncing Harper in her arms.

“Oh uh…” Ali watches it disappear from the left side of Gram’s mouth as he yawns, her eyes going up to look at its match on her wife’s face. “I love you, Ash.” Ali covers, knowing she wants to be able to show her wife and not just tell her.

“I love you too, Al.” Ashlyn blows her a kiss just as Harper yawns. “I think she’s ready for nap time. I’m gonna put her down and come back for him. Nap with me after?”

Ali nods and watches her walk out, putting Gram against her shoulder and starting to burp him while she rests her cheek against his. She can’t help but smile to herself, knowing that for the second time in her life…. a single-dimple has completely stolen her heart and turned her world upside down in the best way possible.