"Okay, Mrs. Oliver, now I need to check the baby's heartbeat."
Jade nods her head and lies still as her doctor presses the end of his stethoscope to her bare stomach. "Wow, she has a very good heartbeat!"
Jade laughs. "I'm glad to hear that."
Finn sets his play stethoscope down and grabs another toy out of his kit. "Now we have to—wait, what is this?"
"That's the little thing you put inside my ears to check and make sure they're clean and healthy."
"Oh, okay." Finn crawls over on the bed to sit on her lap, just behind her bump, and turns her cheek for her. "This ear looks excellent."
"Ooh, big word," Jade says. "Spell that for me?"
"Excellent. E-x-c-e-l-l-e-n-t. Excellent."
"Perfect." She grins. "You're the smartest doctor I know." After Finn "checks" her other ear, he decides he needs to do the baby's ears, too. Jade laughs. "The baby isn't born yet; how can you see her ears if she's not here?"
"Mama, I'm gonna check her in your tummy."
"Oh, I see. Okay, go for it." Finn proceeds to move his play otoscope onto Jade's stomach, and places it gently on each side for a few seconds.
"Her ears are good. I bet she can hear me."
"She definitely can," Jade tells him.
"Hi, baby sister," Finn says towards his mother's bump. "I'm so excited to meet you. I bet you're gonna be pretty like Mama." Jade is beaming as she watches him talk to her stomach. "I hope you like Legos, because I have a lot of them. And I'll even let you play with my new doctor kit."
Jade grins and puts one of her hands next to Finn's on her belly. "She's going to love her big brothers."
"How many more months until we can meet her?"
Before they can say anything else, Beck comes into the bedroom holding Ezra. "Look who's awake from his nap," he says, smiling. The two-year-old is resting on Beck's chest, but he sits up as soon as he sees his mom and brother. Beck sets Ezra on the bed and he crawls over to snuggle with Jade. "Still playing doctor?" Beck asks, and lies on the bed next to his wife.
"Dr. Oliver is giving the baby a check-up," Jade informs him, and accepts his kiss.
"I unto do the baby a check-up too!" Ezra exclaims.
"Where's your new doctor kit?" Beck asks him. "Is it in the playroom?"
"No, is here." He points to Finn's kit and Beck shakes his head.
"That one is Finn's, buddy. Where's yours?"
"No, is mine!" He shouts.
"No yelling, Ez," Beck says sternly. "We use our inside voices."
Ezra is pouting now, and he's about to start crying when his dad picks him up and rises from the bed. "I stay here!" He whines.
"We're going to find your doctor kit, bud." And, true to his word, Beck returns momentarily with his son in one arm and the new toy in the other. "Now we have two Dr. Olivers," Beck laughs, and releases Ezra onto the bed.
"I Mama doctor," the two-year-old decides, and pulls out his own stethoscope to use on Jade.
"I'm already Mama's doctor, Ezra," Finn says, and doesn't budge from where he sits in her lap. "You can be Dad's."
"No! I Mama doctor!"
"Ezra, I already told you—"
"Hey, hey," Jade interrupts, "someone should be Daddy's doctor. Look, I think he's feeling really sick." She widens her eyes at Beck, who plays along by coughing and holding his chest dramatically.
"Help! I need a doctor," he chokes out, but neither of his sons cares to move. Finn is already starting to use his blood pressure monitor on Jade, which infuriates Ezra.
"Finn!" He cries. "I unto do it!" Ezra attempts at moving his brother's hands aside, and when the bickering continues, Beck finally puts a stop to it.
"Hey, that's enough," he says in a voice that both boys know to listen to. "If you're not careful, you could hurt Mama or your baby sister. No more. Either you can both be Mama's doctors together, or we're not going to play at all."
"But, Dad—" Finn starts.
"How about this?" Jade intervenes, taking one of each of the boys' hands in her own. "One of you can be the doctor for me, and the other one of you can be the doctor for the baby. Okay?"
"Okay," Finn concedes. "Ezra, you can be the baby's doctor because I already was."
"I the baby doctor!" He exclaims.
"That was very nice and mature of you, Finn," Beck tells his son. "Thank you."
Finn smiles and moves off of Jade's lap so that he can "work" on her legs. "Mama," Ezra says, "where's the baby?"
"She's right in here." Jade puts both hands on her little bump, and Beck helps Ezra place his little hands also on her bare stomach.
"Your baby sister is growing in Mama's tummy," Beck explains. "So we have to be really gentle when we play with Mama so that we don't hurt her or the baby. Can you be gentle?"
"Uh-huh. I be gentle."
Nine hours later, Beck and Jade have barely been asleep for thirty minutes when a phone call to Beck's cell phone wakes him up. His wife doesn't budge, but he's awake enough to stretch his arm over to his nightstand and grab the phone. "Andre?" He asks groggily. "What's up? ... Oh, shit, seriously? Doesn't she still have another— ... Okay. Yeah, don't worry, man. We'll be there as soon as possible."
He sets the phone down and turns back over to kiss Jade's forehead. "Babe, wake up." He shakes her arm enough for her to open her eyes. "Andre called; Tori's in labor."
Her eyes widen now. "But she's only eight months," she says, sitting up quickly.
"I know, and—are you okay?"
Jades eyes are closed tight as she grips her pillow with one hand. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm okay. I just sat up too fast. I'm a little dizzy, but I'm fine."
Beck takes the water bottle from his nightstand and passes it to her. "Drink this; I'm going to call my mom and see if she and my dad can come over and stay with the boys."
She nods, and within half an hour she and Beck are on their way to Breckenridge Memorial Hospital. Jade takes Andre's place in the room with Tori, while Beck tries to restore some of his best friend's sanity and takes him down to get coffee. "So, how's she doing?" Beck asks as they sit at a table.
"She's really scared. The doctors are watching her closely and they said that one month isn't early enough for the baby to be seriously compromised, but it's still terrifying. We thought we had another four weeks, you know?"
"Yeah," Beck says, "babies don't really care about your timing. I guess this is your first lesson in learning that. There will be a day—probably at least in the next week—where you are finally getting to get more than ten minutes of sleep. And you're sure that if you don't get this sleep, you won't be able to keep going. But, as soon as you shut your eyes, your beautiful baby starts to scream. Because they don't care how much sleep you get. You're on their schedule-not the other way around."
Andre winces. "Is that supposed to make me feel better?"
Beck laughs. "The good thing is," he says, patting his back, "you're not alone. You've got Tori, who's currently upstairs kicking ass. And then there's me and Jade, who are always here to lend a hand. Trust me, man. This will be the best thing you've ever done. You have no idea."
Meanwhile, Jade is upstairs with Tori and is trying not to have a panic attack. Tori is sweating, worried, exhausted, and looks like she's in a hell of a lot of pain—and Jade can't even think about how this will be her in five months. "Can I get you anything?"
Tori shakes her head. "It's okay. My doctor said not to eat anything until the baby comes. I've had some light snacks and water, but that's it. Thank you, though. And thank you for coming. What time is it?"
"Just after midnight. This baby of yours had better come fast; I'm tired," she jokes, and adds a wink.
"Yeah, you're tired. Good one. How's Andre doing?"
"He...may or may not have looked like he was about to shit his pants when he walked out of this room," Jade answers honestly.
"I feel bad. I sort of yelled at him, but I didn't mean to. This is just really stressful, and he was trying to stay positive and I—" She stops mid-word as a contraction overtakes her, so Jade offers her hand for Tori to squeeze to help the pain.
"I'm good," the mother-to-be sighs, closing her eyes in rest. "Tell me something about being a mom."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, I'm trying not to think about the pain or how worried I am that the baby is premature. So, tell me something. Something good."
Jade nods her head slowly. "Okay. Well," she starts, "I know it will be a little while before she says your name. But, when she does, it's a feeling that never gets old." Tori's eyes are still closed, but she smiles. "Every time Finn or Ezra says Mama, my heart stops and it feels like the world spins faster."
"Mm," Tori sighs. "I can't wait for that."
"And, when you get to hold her in your arms, you'll just know she's yours. She'll snuggle with you, and, when she cries, she'll want you. Because she's yours."
The mother-to-be smiles tiredly again. "Our daughters will be best friends. They'll be so close in age; they're bound to be."
Jade grins. "You really are sure that it's a girl, aren't you?"
"A hundred percent."
"Alrighty, then. I'll plan on bringing pink balloons when we bring Finn and Ezra to meet her tomorrow."
At two in the morning, nearly three hours after her labor had started, Tori gives birth to a healthy baby boy. When Andre comes out to the waiting room, Jade is asleep on Beck's shoulder and he wakes her to follow their friend into Tori's hospital room.
"It's a boy!" Tori, who Jade thinks should be exhausted and completely dead, has the biggest grin on her face. It's obvious that she's been crying, but Beck and Jade can't tell if it was from the pain of labor or the sheer happiness of becoming a mother. They're guessing the latter.
"Congratulations!" Beck says, walking over with his wife to see the newborn.
Jade is astounded by the sheer size of the infant. She met Ezra when he was a year old, and he never seemed even close to this small. "What's his name?"
"Duke. Duke Milo Harris," Tori tells them proudly.
"He's beautiful, guys," Jade replies.
"Looks like Finn and Ezra have a new pal, huh?" Beck wraps his arm around Jade. "They're going to freak tomorrow morning when they find out he's already here. Can I hold him?"
"Of course," the new mom says, and hands the sleeping baby carefully to Beck.
He rocks him in his arms while Jade looks over his shoulder, and Beck sighs contently. "I've missed this feeling—when they're so small, and you can protect them from everything."
Jade watches how natural her husband is with the newborn in his arms, and she's so zoned into watching him that she barely hears him when he asks if she wants a turn. "Babe?"
"Oh," she stammers. "Yeah. Yeah, give him to me."
Beck smiles as he sets the baby in Jade's arms, and one look at her holding him makes Beck forget how to breathe. "Hi, Duke," Jade coos. "You're so tiny and perfect, aren't you?"
For the next hour, the four adults take turns holding the baby. Jade takes plenty of pictures for the new parents to be able to remember the night forever, and she and Beck don't leave until around three in the morning. The next afternoon, Beck and Jade return to the hospital with several new things: a pizza from Tori and Andre's favorite place, a bouquet of blue balloons, and the boys. If it weren't for their parents' insistence that they stay calm, Finn and Ezra would be bouncing off the walls of the maternity ward. By the time they get to the Harris room, Finn can't contain his excitement anymore.
"Let's wash our hands first," Jade tells them quietly, and leads the boys over to the sink in the room. Once they're clean, she reminds them again to use their inside voices as they walk further inside.
"Hi," Tori says excitedly, smiling at the sight of the boys. "I'm so happy you guys are here! And such good timing—I just finished feeding him."
Andre stands up from the chair next to Tori's bed, the baby in his arms. "Aw, you guys brought Peak 8?"
"Extra large cheese," Beck answers, setting the pizza down on a nearby table.
"And me and Ezra picked out the balloons for Duke!" Finn adds. The six-year-old's eyes instantly land on the baby in Andre's arms. "Is that him?" He asks, and walks over to his uncle.
"This is him." Andre grins. "Do you want to hold him?"
"Yes! Can I hold him now?"
"Yes, sir. Want to sit in this chair right here?" Finn complies, and he's smiling from ear to ear when he sits down. Once Finn's arms are ready, Andre places the baby into his arms.
"It's been a long time since I've held a baby that's this little," Finn tells him as he looks down at Duke.
Beck laughs. "Do you remember when Ezra was that small?"
"Yeah, kind of. I just know that it's important that you be careful with their head."
"That's right," his dad replies proudly.
"Hey, Finn," Jade says, bending down in front of him, "look at me." He looks up and gives her a smile for her camera, and just seeing how happy he is to hold the baby makes her heart skip a beat.
"Mama," Ezra says, appearing at her side, "I unto hold the baby now."
"Okay. Let Finn have a couple more minutes, and then you can hold him." As Jade stands, she picks Ezra up—which, almost halfway through her pregnancy, is getting harder for her to do.
Tori grins at the first grader holding her son. "Hey, Finn, can you believe that in a few months, you'll have a baby sister who's that little?"
"I know," Finn sighs through a smile as he keeps his eyes on his cousin. "She'll be cute, just like Duke."
After another few minutes, Beck carefully takes the baby from his son's arms and sits on the couch nearby. "Alright, your turn, Ez," he announces. Jade takes a seat next to her husband and places Ezra in between them.
"Put your arms like this," Jade tells him, and helps move his little arms. When Ezra is ready and grinning, Beck places the baby in his lap. Jade puts her hand under Ezra's elbow to help support Duke's head, while Beck puts his arm to the side of the baby for extra protection. "Look, buddy. This is your new cousin."
"I holding him!" He says excitedly, making everyone laugh.
Beck leans in to tickle Duke's tiny stomach. "Isn't he cute?"
"Uh-huh. He a baby."
"Yeah, he's just a baby. You're doing such a good job with being gentle. Tell Aunt Tori and Uncle Andre how you've been working on being gentle with Mama and your baby sister."
"I a big boy," Ezra tells them proudly. "I gentle with Mama."
"Wow!" Tori grins. "That is so awesome, Ezra! Are you excited to be a big brother?"
"Uh-huh, I a brother."
Beck laughs. "I don't think he really gets that he won't be the baby for very much longer—which is probably best. I can practically hear the temper tantrum thrown from jealousy even though it hasn't happened yet."
"Well, he seems to be doing pretty good with Duke," Andre points out.
"Yeah," Jade says, "but he hasn't seen me hold him yet."
"Ooh, let's try that!" Tori suggests. "Jade, I bet he'll be fine!"
"I wouldn't be too sure about that," Beck replies. "Possible or not, this kid has his mom's jealous streak."
Andre rubs his hands together. "Alright, well, let's see it."
Jade rolls her eyes, but she's smiling when she leans over to face Ezra. "Hey, bear, can Mama have a turn?" Beck helps move Duke, who is still asleep, into his wife's arms.
Once Jade is holding the baby, Ezra's interest peaks. He stays calm, just watching her, for nearly a minute-but the peace is short lasting. "Daddy, you hold the baby now," Ezra tells Beck, pointing to Duke.
"Oh, but buddy, it's Mama's turn to hold him." Tori, Andre, and Finn watch the situation eagerly. "I got to hold him, and then you got to, and now Mama is."
Ezra furrows his eyebrows and then turns to his mother. "Mama, hold me peas."
Jade is already worried about how he's reacting, so she hates to say no to him. At the same time, since this will be their daily situation in about five months, she is curious to see what he'll do. "Bear, I can't hold you and baby Duke at the same time. But you can sit next to me and look at the baby."
"But I'unt you to hold me," he whines.
"Come here, bud," Beck says, "come sit in Daddy's lap."
Ezra shakes his head vehemently. "I sit with Mama!" He starts to kick his feet, causing Tori and Andre to retract their prior statements.
"Okay, I think that's enough torture for one day," Jade decides. "Trust me, no one wants to hear him scream." She hands Andre his son and pulls a very upset Ezra into her lap. "Hey, hey," she says softly into his ear, "calm down. I'm right here."
"Don't worry," Finn speaks up, smiling. "Even if Ezra doesn't like the new baby, I will!" Tori, Andre, and Beck all laugh at the six-year-old's reassurance, but—while it does put a smile on Jade's face—the whole situation has made her even more nervous than before.
For the rest of the day, Ezra clings to his mother more than usual. He watches her like a hawk, as if he's afraid that if he looks away for a second, she'll be giving someone else her love and attention. He refuses to leave her side, and throws a temper tantrum when he has to go to his own bed instead of Beck and Jade's. At midnight, he comes into the master bedroom, waking both of his parents. "I unto sleep with Mama," he cries, wiping his tears with his blanket.
The sight nearly breaks Jade's heart, so she has Beck pull him up into the bed. Ezra stops crying as soon as he's in Jade's arms, and she's able to sing him back to sleep within minutes. Once he's passed out again, Jade gives her husband a worried look. "What the hell are we going to do?"
"Babe, he's going to be fine. Yes, it will be hard for a little while, but it's nothing we can't handle. By the time she's here, we will have talked to him tons about it. Worst case scenario, we lock him in his room until he doesn't hate her." This finally gets a smile out of Jade, so Beck leans over to kiss her. "Everything will be okay."
In the sixth month of her pregnancy, Jade wakes up at three in the morning with a sick feeling in her stomach. When she's sure she's going to vomit, she shakes Beck quickly to wake him up and then heads for the bathroom. Beck is confused and half asleep, but follows her without asking any questions.
He holds her long hair back and eventually puts it into a messy ponytail. He has no idea what's bringing on this sudden sickness so late in the pregnancy, but it worries him that Jade hasn't said anything yet. When she finally finishes, she sits back and rests against the nearby wall. She's squeezing Beck's hand and he notices that her face is flushed red. "Babe, what's going on?"
She shakes her head weakly. "I woke up feeling nauseous, and two seconds later I knew I was going to be sick."
Beck puts his hand to her forehead and notices that it's hot. "I think you have a fever," he says worriedly. "You didn't feel anything yesterday, did you?"
"No." She closes her eyes in exhaustion. "Right now, I just need water. My throat is on fire."
"Okay. Stay here; I'll be right back." Beck returns in a minute with a cold glass of water. They sit for a few minutes while she drinks it, and when she's finished, Beck carries her back to their bed. "What can I get you? What do you want?"
"Nothing. I just want to sleep, if I can. We can go to the doctor in the morning, but right now I don't want to take any medicine if I don't know what's best for the baby."
He kisses her forehead. "I'm sorry, babe."
"It's okay. Let's just go see Dr. Jones first thing in the morning."
"Of course," Beck promises. "I'll call as soon as the office opens at six, and we'll go when you wake up."
By nine in the morning, Finn has been dropped off at school and Beck and Jade are sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office. Ezra is content in his dad's lap, scribbling in a Cars themed coloring book, while Jade rests on her husband's shoulder. They're called back to see the doctor within ten minutes, and Jade gets onto the patient table in time for Dr. Olivia Jones to come into the room.
"Hey, Jade," she says warmly as she shuts the door behind her. She greets Beck as well, and then looks at the two-year-old, who is coloring while sitting in one of the chairs. "Hi, Ezra! Remember me?"
Ezra, who—alongside Beck—has been to each one of his mother's monthly check-ups, looks up and smiles shyly at the woman. "Look what I brought for you." Olivia pulls a lollipop out of her front lab coat pocket and Ezra's eyes widen. "I figured since you're such a good boy at all of your Mama's appointments, you deserve another sucker, huh?"
He nods his head eagerly and the doctor hands him the candy, which Beck helps him open. "Alright, Jade," she says, turning back towards her patient. "What's going on?"
"I woke up this morning around three with a lot of nausea. I threw up a few times, and couldn't really go back to sleep. I feel dizzy and hot, and I'm exhausted."
"Okay. Let's take your temperature, and then we'll run an ultrasound just to be sure everything with your baby girl is still perfect." As it turns out, it was a mild fever that had started the nausea and headaches. While her current temperature is at 100.2, Dr. Jones doesn't think it will get any higher. "It'll probably break over the next twenty-four hours. Until then, be careful about getting too close to the boys; their young ages will make it contagious. If it hasn't broken by tomorrow morning, come back in. For now, though, let's check on the baby."
Jade nods and pulls her shirt up, and Beck takes her hand. "So," Olivia says as she begins rubbing the gel on her patient's belly, "any name ideas yet?"
"We're trying," Beck laughs. "If it were up to Finn, her name would be Simba, Nala, Sarabi, or Mufasa."
"Mufasa Oliver does have a nice ring to it," Dr. Jones says with a grin. She takes the wand to Jade's stomach and turns her head to look at the monitor. In just a few seconds, they hear the heartbeat and Jade lets out a long sigh of relief. "She's moving a tad slower than usual today, but it's nothing serious. She probably isn't getting much rest if you're not sleeping either—which is why it'll be crucial for you to relax over these next few days. I'm not putting you on bed rest, but I'm not saying it's a bad idea."
"I've got it covered," Beck promises, and rubs his thumb against his wife's hand.
"And the baby is fine?" Jade asks for more reassurance.
"She's fine. As long as you get some rest, everything should be back to normal in a few days."
When they arrive back home, Beck takes Ezra out of his car seat and ignores Jade's claims that she can walk to their room, instead choosing to carry her. He gives her the proper dosage of the medicine Dr. Jones had prescribed, and their two-year-old comes in just as she's swallowed the pills. "Mama! I unto snuggle with you."
Jade's heart sinks as Beck picks their son up before he can reach the bed. "Hey, bud. What do you say you and me go watch a movie in the living room?"
"I getting in Mama bed," he tells Beck, and squirms to get out of his arms.
"Not today, buddy," Beck replies apologetically.
"Mama doesn't feel very well today, bear," Jade says softly. "And if you snuggle with me, you might get sick too, okay?"
Ezra frowns and Beck kisses his forehead. "I have an idea," he says. "How about we go to the kitchen and make Mama her favorite soup?"
Despite the exhaustion, Jade does her best to make an animated face to make Ezra feel better. "It would make me so happy if you and Daddy did that. I would love it."
"I make you a soup, Mama?"
She smiles tiredly. "That would be perfect."
"See?" Beck smiles at the toddler. "Let's go make it." He squeezes his wife's hand and resists the urge to bend over and kiss her because he knows Ezra will want to do the same. "Get some sleep, okay?"
"I'm sure the medicine will help."
He nods and sets a gentle hand on her burgeoning stomach. "I love you. I'll be in the kitchen if you need me."
"I love you, too. And I love you, Ez."
"I love you, Mama."
Once Beck and Ezra are out of the room, Jade closes her eyes and hopes that sleep will come. More than anything, she just wants her daughter to be relaxed and healthy again. She places both hands on her belly and rubs in soothing circles. "Everything is okay," she whispers, both to herself and to the baby. "Everything will be fine."
Around three that afternoon, Tori stops by to bring Finn home from school. When she opens the door of the Oliver home, it's clear that she's got her hands full. After Finn comes bouncing inside, Beck sees his friend with her newborn son in one arm and a take-out bag in the other. "Hi," he says with a smile, and takes the two-month-old out of her arms. "There's the man. Hey, little guy."
"How is she?" Tori sets the bag on the kitchen table. "I brought her her favorite noodles from Wok Wok. I don't know if she'll be up for eating them, but I figure they'll be good in the fridge for a few days if not."
"Dad, is Mama okay?" Finn has dropped his backpack in a chair now and is looking up at Beck expectantly.
"She's doing okay," he promises both of them. "She's just tired, and she's not feeling too hot, but the doctor said that the fever should break very soon. Nothing serious to worry about."
"Can I see her?"
"She's asleep right now, buddy. When she wakes up, you can say hi from the door, okay? I don't want you to go inside because you could get sick, and we don't want that."
"Beck," Tori says, "if you need anything-someone to watch the boys, dinner, whatever—just call me. Andre and I would be happy to help."
"Thanks, Tor." He hands her back baby Duke and she kisses Finn and Ezra goodbye before heading back out to her car again.
When Jade wakes up from her nap, Beck allows the boys to come stand in the doorway of the master bedroom to see her. "Hi, Mama," Finn says, waving to her. "I'm sorry that you're sick."
"It's okay, baby. Thank you. I can't wait until I feel better so that I can snuggle with my boys again."
"Me too. Do you think you'll be able to come to my piano recital on Saturday?"
"I wouldn't miss it for the whole world."
"Mama," Ezra says, "I make your soup!"
She gasps for effect. "Did you and Daddy do that for me?"
"Sure did," Beck tells her. "Ezra helped put in all the vegetables, didn't you, buddy?"
"Alright, let's go back into the kitchen and I'll bring Mama her dinner." The boys blow her kisses goodbye and Beck gets them situated at the table each with a bowl of mac and cheese. When he re-enters his bedroom, it's with a small folding table, a bowl of soup, a dosage of his wife's medicine, and a cup of her favorite tea. "Hi, beautiful."
Beck leans over and kisses her on the forehead, and then on her nose and cheek. After helping prop her up with pillows, he sets the foldable table to her side. "This looks amazing," Jade whispers, as to not strain her throat. "Thank you."
"How are you feeling?" He sits next to her in bed and, since she's lying on top of the comforter, begins rubbing one of her feet.
"Better since getting some sleep. I keep sweating, and I think it's the fever breaking." She takes a sip of soup and relaxes under Beck's touch.
"And how's our girl?"
She can't resist a smile. "She's busy kicking the life out of me."
"Making up for lost time, huh?" Beck grins and slides his hand up to her stomach. He leans in to kiss her bare skin and she sighs contently. "Hi, baby girl," he whispers against her bump. "Daddy's here."
Jade lets him have his moment, but eventually gets him to look up at her. "Go be with the boys. I'm okay, and I want you to be with them."
Beck kisses her stomach again. "I'll be back after their baths."
"Tell them I love and miss them. And bring them in before bedtime, okay?"
By the third day since seeing Dr. Jones, Jade is feeling like a new person. On Saturday morning, she wakes up as one person out of four in her bed. She's lying on her back, with Beck's arm around her shoulder and her head resting in the crook of his neck. Ezra is fast asleep on his dad's chest, and Finn is curled up against Jade. As soon as she opens her eyes, looks down to see that her older son is awake.
"Hi," he whispers.
She kisses his head. "Good morning."
"Dad and Ezra are still asleep, but I'm hungry."
"Me too," she says, smiling. "Let's go to the kitchen, hmm?"
"Uh-uh." Finn shakes his head. "Daddy says you're not allowed to get out of bed, remember?" He grins and sits up next to her. "What are we gonna name the baby?"
"Well, I don't think we've decided yet," she whispers back. "Why, do you have any new ideas?"
"Yeah, I have one. But it's not for her first name; it's for her middle name."
"Alright, what is it?"
"Well, since me and Ezra's middle names are both after Dad's favorite musicians, I think that the baby's middle name should be too. And I know that you and Dad both like Carole King. And Carole is Grandma's name, too. So maybe the baby's middle name should be Carole."
Jade grins and runs a hand through Finn's thick, chocolate brown hair. "I think that is the best idea I've ever heard."
"Really. We'll run it by Dad when he wakes up, but I'm sure he's going to love it." As soon as Jade finishes her word, she feels her husband stir next to her. When his eyes crack open, he sees Finn siting next to Jade, and then notices that his younger son is still fast asleep.
"How long have you two been up?"
Jade turns her head up to kiss him. "A few minutes. Good morning, sleepy."
"Mmm, morning." Beck yawns and uses his free hand to rub Ezra's back.
"Dad, guess what?"
"I came up with a middle name for the baby! And Mama likes it and thinks it's a good idea."
"What is it?" While Finn explains the name and why he chose it, Beck's face lights up. "I love it. It's perfect."
The six-year-old grins. "Can we eat breakfast now?"
"Sure," Beck answers. "Let's go get some of that pumpkin bread." Finn hops off the bed but, when Jade moves to get up, Beck stops her with a kiss. "Let us bring you breakfast in bed."
"Honey, I've been in this bed for two-and-a-half days."
"Just breakfast, that's all. Then we'll go for a walk in the neighborhood. Please?"
"Fine. But only because this little monster is still sleeping." Beck smiles and sets their two-year-old next to her to snuggle. Ten minutes after he and Finn have left the room, Ezra stirs and blinks his eyes open. "Good morning, Mr. Sleepyhead." As soon as he hears Jade's voice, Ezra looks up at her and cuddles closer. Jade runs her fingers through his hair and kisses him. "You had a good sleep, huh?"
When Beck and Finn return to the bedroom, they're each holding two blue, plastic plates with Jade's homemade pumpkin bread and some assorted fruit on them. Jade and Ezra—who are already sitting up in bed and ready—accept their plates, and Jade kisses her husband briefly.
"So, guys," Beck says between bites, "as crazy as it is, we need to start packing soon. We're moving out of this house in a month."
Finn furrows his eyebrows. "I thought we weren't living in the new house until the baby was born."
"That was the plan, but the people who are buying this house want to move in next month. Plus, it'll be good to have some time getting everything clean and unpacked before she gets here."
"The house is almost done, right?" Finn asks.
"It will be in a month," Jade answers. "By the time you start second grade, we'll be living in our new house."
When Jade is just over seven months along, the Oliver family makes the move from their current home to their new house in the back of the neighborhood. The one-story home, which had been recently completed, features everything that Beck and Jade had hoped for. Once everything is moved in, Andre and Tori come over to help Beck move and organize the furniture. As Jade sits in their spacious new backyard, she holds four-month-old Duke Harris and watches Finn and Ezra play together in the yard.
Around noon, Tori comes outside to check on Jade. "Hey," the new mother says, handing her friend a bottle of water. "How's my guy?" Tori bends over and tickles her son to get a smile out of him.
"Happy as a clam. How's everything going in there?"
"We're making good progress! Beck just ordered a couple of pizzas, so expect lunch soon," she adds with a wink. "Do you need anything?"
"Besides for this kid to get out of me, nope."
"Getting uncomfortable, huh?"
"Extremely. I just want to hold her. Carrying her has been fine, but I want to have her in my arms, you know?"
By the time Tori and Andre leave at nine o'clock in the evening, the new Oliver house is complete. After tucking the boys into sleep later than usual, Beck and Jade find themselves on the porch swing that overlooks their spacious backyard. "Two more months," Beck says, slinging his arm around his wife's shoulder.
When Jade is eight months pregnant, she decides to postpone her photography work until after the baby is born. Her stomach is swollen and she gets tired much easier—especially after already looking after Finn and Ezra. The boys aren't ever too difficult, and Beck makes sure his wife gets plenty of time to relax, but she's hit a point where she's basically tired no matter what.
On Finn's first day of second grade, Beck and Jade both go (along with Ezra) to drop him off. Jade fights tears as she kisses him goodbye, but she's comforted by the fact that he looks ready and excited as ever. Finn kisses her bump and hugs his little brother before running off to his classroom, and Beck, Jade, and Ezra head off to Beck's office.
After lunch, Ezra falls asleep in his pack-n-play and Jade works on her newest art piece while her husband is drawing up plans for his company's latest building. "Hey," he says, dropping his pencil, "what do you think about enrolling Ezra in a little pre-school? He can go for half-a-day, three days a week."
Jade's head shoots up, and she glares at him so hard that he fears for his life for a few seconds. "I'm sorry, what?"
"I was just—"
"He's barely three. We're not sending him off to school yet."
"Okay, okay." Beck puts his hands up in defense. He starts rambling something about how they can just do it next year and how he's sorry for mentioning it when he noticed that she has started to cry. "Oh, Jade. Babe, I'm sorry. I'm really sorry." He moves to the other side of his desk and pulls up a chair to sit next to her.
"I don't want him to be old enough to go to school," she cries. "He's just a baby."
"I know, I'm sorry. You're right. He can wait another year." Beck kisses her pouted lips and wipes her tears with his thumbs. He holds her for a few more minutes to calm her down, and, when he rests his hand on her very rounded belly, he feels the baby start to kick.
"She hears her dad," Jade points out, sniffling again as she places her hand next to his. Beck kisses her again.
Three weeks later, on a Saturday morning, she's sitting at the piano with Finn when she feels something that she recognizes instantly. "Finn?"
"Go get Dad, okay?"
"Why? Is something wrong?"
"No, no. I just—I think your sister is coming."
Title is the song by Frank Sinatra that inspired me to write this story. Give it a listen ;)
Up next is the Epilogue.