"Natalie?" Clifford asked me.
"Yeah, honey?" I replied one afternoon while I was laying down with my arm over my head, feeling awful. Ever since I had come back from the honeymoon, I was feeling a bit off. Mom insisted that I go to the doctor, but I told her I probably just had the stomach flu, and that I'd be better soon.
"How would you feel about us getting a kitten?" he questioned.
"A kitten?" I paused, removing my arm from over my eyes for a moment to look at him, "Where on earth would we get a kitten from?"
"Your aunt just called. Her cat Snugglez just had kittens, she wanted to know if we would like one of them. I told her that I would need to ask you." He said.
He looked a little shy about asking me this, and quite frankly, it was adorable. I knew he loved animals, his parents always had two in the house throughout his entire childhood. I didn't think he'd miss having one, but it's kind of obvious now.
"Do you want one?" I asked, to which he just nodded sheepishly. It was one of the most adorable things I had ever seen in my entire life.
So, of course, I couldn't say no. I've never been an animal person, but I wont lie, when I saw the little guy I have pictured, I couldn't stop petting him. He's just so cute! Needless to say, we took him home. We named him Felix. Why, I'm really not sure. I think I suggested it as a joke and it just stuck. He stays on the main floor right now, he's too tiny to make it up the stairs, but he has everything he needs downstairs, a kitty condo, a box of toys, his food and water dishes, and his litter box. He was quite shy at first, but he's slowly warmed up to us over the last two weeks.
After nearly a month and a half of being sick, my mom marched into the house after going out to the grocery store and shoved a pregnancy test into my hands, and demanded I go check to see if I was pregnant.
"And if you aren't," she said, "I'm dragging your sorry bum to the hospital. Now get your ass in there and see if you've got a bun in the oven!"
As soon as I got into the bathroom, a strong wave of nausea overcame me. I lunged for the toilet and groaned. I threw up mostly in the mornings, I realized sort of off-handedly.
After about 10 minuets of me telling myself it was okay, I ended up using the test. I waited for those incredibly awkward, think-a-thousand-different-situations, worrisome, and just flat out uncomfortable 15 minutes.
"Pregnant." I mumbled dumbly after I looked at the test.
The test said that I was pregnant. I couldn't believe it.
I walked out of the bathroom and just sat down on my bed. I didn't look when my mother sat down next to me and patted my shoulder.
"So, you're pregnant?" She asked.
I simply nodded, "According to the test, yes. I am."
Before my mom could say anything else I grabbed my phone and I called my doctor. After a few minutes, I set up an appointment for a little later that day. I had my mom come with me. You can call me a 25 year old baby if you want to, but Cliff was still at work, and I wanted to get the test done as soon as possible, and I didn't want to go by myself.
After my appointment was over, I said I would get a call in a few days.
For the next three days I was very much on edge. Clifford asked what was wrong, and I told him nothing, but he knew me better than that, so rather than just taking my "No, I swear, I'm okay" as an answer, he simply kissed my forehead and said, "Okay, sweetie. Whatever you say, but when you want to tell me, I'm all ears."
I just smiled at him and continued to wait for the call.
When I finally got the call I'd been waiting for, I answered in a heartbeat.
"Hello?" I asked.
"Hello, Mrs. Stephens?" a soft, feminine voice replied.
"Oh, hello there! I'm Doctor Phillips. I'm calling so I can give you your test results."
"Oh, okay then," I sighed, pausing for a moment, "what are they?"
"Well, Mrs. Stephens, you came in for a whole bunch of tests, including a pregnancy test, is this correct?"
"Yes ma'am." I spoke softly.
"Well, all of your blood work came back normal, and we didn't find any illnesses."
"Oh!" I smiled, "Excellent!" I giggled, "So that means I'm fine?"
"Yes, Mrs. Stephens, you're perfectly healthy, and, you're six weeks pregnant." Dr. Philips spoke with a smile in her voice.
"I'm what?" I squealed, shocked.
"Congratulations, Mrs. Stephens!"
The doctors words set in and I blurted out, "Um, I'm sorry, you might have one of my sisters, this is Mrs. Natalie Stephens."
"I'm positive it's you, Mrs. That's the name we have on the result sheet and in our records."
"Are you sure it's me?" I paused, "This is Mrs. Natalie Jessica Stephens, twin of Julia Naomi Stephens, daughter of Tabitha Joy Stephens and Kendrick Alex Stephens... Granddaughter of Harmony Cheryl Stephens and Don Chase Lothario-Stephens." I gasped, as if there would miraculously be another Natalie Stephens in town. Of course there wasn't. All the Stephens in this town were related to me. However, I was trying to make sure I heard this right.
"Yes, Mrs. Stephens, this is you. If there is a problem, you're still not too far along for an abortion if that's what would-"
I cut off the doctor, "No!" I paused, "No, that wont be necessary, Dr. Phillips. I'm sorry, I'm just shocked. I didn't think I'd get pregnant so soon..."
I simply heard her chuckle, "Yes, we get that reaction from a number of young mothers. Anyway, Mrs. Stephens, would you like to set up your next appointment now? We need to continually check up on you throughout the pregnancy to make sure that you and the little one are healthy."
"Yes, yes of course. When should I come in?"
I set up my next appointment and hung up with the doctor. During all the commotion I had stirred up my mom came in, a sly smile on her face. As soon as I hung up my mom beamed at me.
"I'm gonna have another grand-baby!" My mom smiled widely and gave me a hug. I just grinned at her and hugged her back.
"So," she paused, "When are you going to tell Cliff?"
"I don't know, but I will soon." I sighed biting my lip.
My mom just brushed my hair back and smiled at me and then said, "I'm going to go make some tea to help settle your nerves and stomach, okay?"
I just nodded, and she left me in my room to ponder.
"Cliff?" I mumbled softly a few days later right as we were going to sleep.
"Hmmm?" He murmured sleepily as he pulled me closer to him, then softly nuzzling his head into my back.
I let out a ragged sigh and that caught his attention, he soothingly kissed my shoulder and lovingly whispered into my ear.
"Love, what is it?"
I turned to look at him, his blue eyes searched my green ones. He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me closely to him. I in turn wrapped my arms around his neck and we laid like that for a few moments. It was one of those silences where it wasn't awkward, but there was an expectancy of something. I sighed one more time and he gave me a reassuring squeeze. I closed my eyes for a moment and when I opened them, I said what I'd been thinking about ever since I found out.
"I'm pregnant, Cliff."
I felt him stiffen, and his eyes lit up, a hint of excitement in his voice, "What?"
"I said," I paused, looking him in the eyes, "I'm pregnant. We're gonna have a baby."
"Really?" He asked, squeezing me a little tighter. He didn't even give me a chance to respond as he turned us over and gave me a deep, loving, excited kiss.
When we finally stopped kissing, I was giggling a little bit. He looked at me with a smile on his lips and in his eyes.
"We're really gonna be having a baby?" He smiled, laying back down on his side, causing me to do the same.
"Mhmm. We are." I smiled, snuggling back down as I felt his strong arms wrap back around me.
I then felt him tenderly place one of his hands on my stomach. I looked back over my shoulder at him and he grinned.
"I've always wanted to have the chance to be a father." He smiled, rubbing my tummy.
"I know, but I was still nervous about telling you." I admitted.
"Why?" he asked, kissing my shoulder.
"Because, we haven't even been married for a year yet, I mean, we're having this baby so soon..."
"Shh..." he cut me off, soothing me, "we've been together since we were teenagers. I was 18, you were 15, so that means we've been together for 10 years. We got married on our 10th anniversary, remember? So yes, we may not have been married for a year, but we've been together for 10 and a half years. So it's not all that soon anyway. I love you, Natalie. I love you with all of my heart and my soul, and I will love this baby we have together just as much. I will protect you, and all the children we have together with my life, because you, and any children we may have are my life. Okay?"
I rolled over onto my other side and smiled at him, nodding, a tear in my eye.
He wiped away my tear with his thumb, making me smile a little. I pulled myself into him and held him as tightly as I could, nuzzling my face into his chest.
I softly mumbled out, "I love you with all my heart and soul too, Cliff. I just never want to lose you, over anything. I want us to stay together our entire lives, and when our lives reach an end, I want us to die together at the same time, in each other's arms. You're my soulmate, Clifford. You're everything to me."
He softly rubbed my back and held tightly onto me and after I finished speaking, he said, "Natalie, darling, I've known you my entire life. I've seen you at your best, and your worst, and you know what? I loved you every second of it. Nothing will make you lose me, not even death. We'll be together, forever, no matter what. Our love surpasses time. I promise you, Natalie, that you, will never, ever lose me. That's what these rings we wear are for, right? To symbolize our eternal love?"
I glanced down at the ring on my finger. God, it was beautiful. It shimmered, even in dim light. To answer his question, I just nodded and then let out a soft yawn.
He just smiled and kissed my hair.
"I love you, Natalie."
"I love you too, Clifford."
I gasped one morning after I got out of bed, my hands instantly going to my ever-growing baby bump.
Clifford darted over to me, "Are you okay, love? Is everything okay? Is there something wrong with the baby?"
I laughed a little and nodded, "Yes, honey, I'm fine, the baby just kicked. I...I hadn't felt that before. It just surprised me a little."
Clifford smiled and then placed his hand on my tummy and I giggled as I watched his eyes get wide.
"Oh my god! He's kicking!" He chuckled.
"He?" I asked, with a raised eyebrow.
Clifford chuckled and shrugged, "Yes, he. I want to have our son first."
I laughed a little, "Why's that?"
"So that he can protect his baby sister." Clifford stated like it was the most obvious thing in the world. I just laughed a little.
"Alright, but you know my family has a lot of girls, and even multiples. So if anything, I think our baby is a girl. Who knows, we might even have babies."
He grinned a little and then felt my tummy again.
"What do you want to name our baby if it's a girl?" Clifford asked.
"I don't know," I said, pondering it for a moment. "I was thinking either Victoria Shea Stephens or maybe Rebekah Brianne Stephens, or baby both, if they're twin girls."
He chuckled, "Both names are beautiful. What about if we have a boy?"
I smiled, "I'm not sure, I was thinking maybe Layton Blake Stephens, or maybe Todd Xavier Stephens."
He chuckled a little. "I like Layton Blake. I think if we have a son, that's what we should call him."
I smiled and nodded a little, "We'll think about it some more, I mean, we have another four months."
He nodded and then looked at the clock and went and hurried back to get ready, "I gotta go to work, babe. Have a great day here, okay? Maybe you should go to the day spa and let yourself relax or something."
I smiled and went up behind him and gave him a loving hug, "I'll see what I can do, stay safe honey."
He smiled and finished getting ready and he turned around and gave me a quick kiss, and letting his hand rest on my tummy, "Don't worry, Natalie, I'll always come back to you and our child safe and sound."
And with that, he left for work.
As time went on, I read every parenting book I could get my hands on, and I even gave a few to Clifford so he could read them and be as prepared as I was. Some of them my mom recommended to me, others my older sister Paige, of whom, I talked quite often to, especially since I became pregnant. We talked nearly every day.
"Natalie! How's my favorite baby sister doing!" Paige said one afternoon that she called.
"I'm doing well," I said, smiling into the phone, "Just the baby's deciding to kick a lot today. God I can't wait to have this kid! I feel like a balloon!"
I heard her laugh, "Oh honey, I was there too. Do you know what gender the baby is yet?"
"No, I want it to be a surprise." I smiled.
"If you say so, darlin', but I would find out so you can pick out the name, and just about everything else easier. I mean when I had Davion, I made sure I knew it was a boy before I did anything."
"Yeah, I know," I spoke softly, "But I like to be surprised. And how's little D-man doing?"
I heard her let out a giggle, "Oh, well, you know, he's a toddler, and he gets into everything. Although, he's learned to walk, he's learning to talk, and pretty soon he should be potty trained. I'll be finishing up with him while you're getting started with yours, ahaaha."
I just smiled and shook my head, "Thank you for reminding me, Paige."
"You're very welcome, Nat!" I heard a loud bang, and then Davion crying.
"That's my signal to go, he probably knocked something over. Have a good day, Nat, and remember honey, I'm just a phone call away if you need anything."
"Thanks Paige," I smiled, "I'll talk to you later."
And after that, we hung up.
When I wasn't reading, talking to Paige, or my mom, or spending time with Kenny, I was in my room painting. I loved to do it, just like my mom and grandma did, and as a pregnant lady, there really wasn't too much else I really wanted to do.
Maureen, who is Chase's long time girlfriend moved in soon after their engagement, which took place around month 8. They're going to be married soon after the baby is born, although, they're going away to have a private wedding, rather than a party.
Since she moved in, she took great interest in helping me out and asking a lot about pregnancy. She was barely 19, my brother, barely 20. She was a real sweetie.
"I can't wait until I'm actually a member of your family!" She enthused.
I smiled and giggled, "I can't wait to have you as a sister in law. I'm sure you and Chase are going to be good for each other."
"I'm glad you all think so, you guys are such great people." She smiled.
"Aww, thank you sweetie."
"You're welcome!" she smiled and then she tilted her head at me, "Can I listen to your tummy?"
I giggled and nodded, "Sure, if you want to."
She leaned her head down and her eyes got wide, and after she was through listening, she stood up and asked me a question I really wasn't prepared to answer.
"Do you think Chase and I will have babies someday, Natalie?"
I smiled, a little taken aback, "I'm sure if that's what you guys want, then of course you will."
"Do you think they'll be pretty like you? I mean let's be honest here Natalie, everyone in your family is beautiful, and I can only hope that the kids Chase and I have are beautiful like the rest of your family."
I smiled and laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. "I'm positive, you're beautiful too, Maureen, and I know you and Chase will make beautiful Nuun-Stephens babies."
That seemed to make her happy, and it was about time to make dinner, so she darted off to help my mother finish cooking.
Sure enough, on his due date, at 1:14 in the morning, my water broke. I woke up with a start and I instantly woke up Clifford, and we drove to the hospital as fast as we could.
I would like everyone to meet the newest addition to the Stephens Family.
Everyone, let's give a warm welcome to Layton Blake Stephens, my first born son.