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Chapter Forty Nine

September 21, 1998

Orlando, Florida

Winnie Jacqueline Littrell born September 20, 1998. 3 lbs, 6 oz. 16.5 inches long.

Benjamin Thomas Littrell born September 20, 1998. 4 lbs, 13 oz. 17.2 inches long.

Courtney Marie Standiford, 9 perineal stitches, inability to control her bladder, bleeding like a horror movie…

And absolutely, incredibly blissful.

Oh, and never ever having sex again. Ever. Ever.

Things are a little blurry after the action in my vag area moves off and begins to tend to the babies. Brian is with them, but Nick stays, hovering by me, eyeing Dr. Boone warily as he continues to work on me. His face turns gray and the nurse says something about afterbirth. Nick quickly shuffles up to me, planting a kiss on my absolutely sweaty forehead.

“You were amazing. Ben is amazing. Winnie is...amazing. Winnie? Are you sure. I was just teasing…

“She can’t be anything but Winnie. There was a moment,” I say almost groggily. Nick just smiles down at me.

“Well, I’m going to be corny, but she’s a fighter...a winner. Did you hear that cry? She isn’t going to give up easily. God, we’re going to have our hands full.”

I watch Nick run a hand through his hair, smiling at me and then staring off towards the other end of the room. I see Brian hovering over Winnie, nodding at whatever the nurse is telling him, his eyebrows knitted in worry.

Worry. Love. It’s a good thing. A very good thing.

In fact, I’m so busy staring at Brian that I don’t see the nurse walking towards me with Ben. She places her hand on my shoulder and leans down.

“Do you want to hold your son?”

The question is ridiculous. She might as well ask me if I would like to breathe today. I hold out my arms, hungry to see his little face.

His beautiful, little, perfect face. His pink cheeks. His pink hands. His pink fingers. His pink chin. His pink nose.

“He’s like a little wrinkled little Gremlin,” Nick says in awe. “So little. You’re so little Benny.”

Ben’s eyes open and it’s like looking into Brian’s eyes. He yawns and turns his head. I lift his cap slightly and see a light mattering of light brown/dark blonde hair. I press my lips to his forehead.

I’m hopelessly in love.

I’m a mom.

No one ever tells a woman about the things that you go through after you’ve given birth. Somehow, the world has painted the picture of a blissful, sweaty, charged by adrenaline mom who sits up proudly in the hospital bed holding her newborn. What they don’t mention is the first, shaky trip to the bathroom once the epidural wears off and the way the whole room quickly looks like the scene of a murder because your lower extremities no longer work.

They also don’t talk about sitting on the toilet for an hour with a bag of warm water suspended above you and pouring into a pan you’re hovering over trying to soothe the burn of stitches that make me scared that one wrong move will rip my whole bottom and all my guts will run out.

Of course, all of it is too horrifying to admit. Every time Nick asks me if I’m okay I lie. If he knew the truth…

Then again, I was never going to have sex again.

Brian’s parents arrived early in the morning. Winnie was holding her own, still bluer than her brother and on oxygen, but moving, her blue-blue eyes alert and looking around curiously, her fingers curling and then unfurling as if it was the most fascinating hobby in the world.

“They said they’d probably wait a month for Winnie’s surgery,” I tell Nick. We’re sitting in my room, letting Brian have his time with his parents and the babies in the nursery. I pick at a turkey sub. “So she’s bigger.”

“What about Ben? When can he come home?”

Home. I’m not sure where home is. I thought I had a little more time to consider it. The turkey slides down my throat. “His weight is actually fine since he’s over 4 lbs., but he’s got a little jaundice, so they’re keeping him under the lights. They’re thinking a week.”

“When do you get to go home?”

“Probably tomorrow,” I say reluctantly. I can’t think about dragging myself Frankenstein’d butt home. Again, wherever home may be. I had called Amy, Kal’s mom and my boss, early this morning. She had congratulated me and told me she already had my replacement on the way. It shouldn’t have hurt, it really shouldn’t have, but it did. It had been the plan all along, but I didn’t like the feeling of being replaced.

Then again I had much bigger fish to fry.

“This is going to sound bossy,” Nick reaches over and grabs one of my potato chips. “But the apartment is all yours.”

I look up at him just as he bites into one of the yellow crisps. A large hunk falls onto his shirt. He scoops it up and shoves it into his mouth.

“I don’t do charity.”

Nick gives me a lopsided smile. It’s the same smile that got me Subway rather than hospital food. I imagine the nurse running down the block, her heart exploding, just to get a sub for the Nick Carter. “It’s not charity. It’s your baby daddy doing his part.”

“My baby daddy?”

“Sperm donor?”

I laugh. “Baby daddy it is.”

“Brian’s over the moon,” Nick said. “It’s a good thing.”

I smile. “It is.”

“Not that I’m not over the moon,” Nick adds. “Because I am. Winnie looks just like you.”

I laugh. “You think? Is it the wrinkled pink-ness?”

Nick practically smirks. “I haven’t seen any of your pink-ness except for the sight of human beings coming out.” He rolls his eyes to the ceiling. “I won’t ever be able to get that image out of my head.”

“I’m assuming you’re scarred for life,” I say almost relieved. I grab a chip and imagine Nick’s and my life together, two celibate souls, scarred permanently from the stitch-inducing birth I’d just endured.

“It was amazing,” Nick says, shattering my thoughts. “You were amazing. And catching Ben...oh my God, I will never…” he shakes his head. “You chicks need more credit.”

I laugh. “Us chicks?”

Nick kicks back. “You birthing chicks,” he amends.

I push his shoulder and then lean into it.

“It’s hard not to love you,” I mumble. He pressed a kiss into my hair.

“That’s my evil plan.”

Brian comes back to my room about afternoon, holding a vase full of flowers. Nick is sprawled on the guest couch, his long leg bent over the side, his mouth open in dead sleep. He glances at Nick and then smiles at me. I smile back.

“For you,” he motions towards the flowers.

“Thank you.”

He pulls a chair up and sits by me. “How are you doing?”

“Better,” I say, surprised that it’s almost actually the truth. A recent dose of pain meds has done miracles as has another toilet cooch bath with the warm water. Oh the horror stories they don’t tell you…

“Good,” Brian looks at his hands, picking at the edge of his pinky. “So, Leighanne wants to come see Winnie and Ben.”

I glance at the flowers with new suspicion. Suck-up flowers?


His head pops up in surprise. “Okay?”

I evaluate the word. It kinda came out without me running it through all the possible scenarios. “Yeah, okay. I mean, Nick caught Ben, the least I could do is let her…see them.”

Brian smiles, a million watt smile that would probably send the same nurse that had hooked NIck up with the sub running to go get him an extra large pizza with everything on it.

“That’s awesome. Listen, I don’t know if Nick’s talked to you, but the apartment…”

It’s deja vu, just a different Backstreet Boy. “He did. Thank you. I really...I appreciate it.”

“There’s no thank you necessary. I’m...I’m a dad. It’s…” he laughs incredulously. “It’s amazing. They’re beautiful. Are you kinda numb? Because I feel just...numb.”

I smile. “That’s exactly how I feel.”

Brian leans over and hugs me. I wrap my arms around him. A rush of something I can’t even describes comes over me. I feel, for the first time, that everything is going to work out perfectly. I’ve got a second chance and adding Winnie in has only made things infinitely better.

Nothing can go wrong.

“Leighanne’s flying it. She should be here soon.”

Brian pulls away and I nod. He hops up and stared at Nick.

“If there was anyone that I’d share this with, it’s Nick. He’s good for you.”

I smile. Anytime I hear Nick’s name, I can’t help but smile. “I agree.”

Brian gives me a dimpled grin and heads out the door. I lean back and flip on the TV. I know I should sleep; my time for sleep soon will be nonexistence. But a few minutes of TV won’t hurt…

I watch a talk show for about fifteen minutes before I start nodding off to sleep. I’m almost there when the show is interrupted. A local news anchor appears on the TV…

“This just in. We have reports of a crash. A small plane carrying 10 individuals has crashed en route to Orlando from Atlanta, Georgia. Crews are on the scene now. Primary reports indicate that the pilot radio’d in about a potential issue with the plane’s fuselage. We hope to have more news about the individuals on the plane and any survivors as the information is available. Tune in for our First News at 5 for the latest…”