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Alyson L. 

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When Misty came over with Marshall, she too complained of a backache, and Helen‚??s eyes lit up seeing how the baby had turned for Misty as well.

Of course, I felt every twinge Kathryn had. Fortunately, for me my pain threshold is quite high, with a little concentration I could pull most of Kathryn‚??s pain away from her. Helen figured it out in a heartbeat, she told me angrily, "JJ, Kathryn needs that pain, and it is how her body prepares itself to deliver Amanda. If you take too much of it away her labor will be very long and even more difficult."

I look at Helen as another contraction starts, there nearly twenty minutes apart. I can understand what she means. I am taking nearly all of Kathryn‚??s pain and not allowing her to fill the discomfort that racks my own body. Kathryn overhears, she comes in punches me in the arm trying to break my concentration. With a little anger to her voice Kathryn says, "Do not take this away from me, JJ. This experience is what makes a woman a woman."

Helen says, "Kathryn, I think JJ is going to give you what you wish for. Remember that when you get angry at him for getting you pregnant."

Kathryn‚??s eyes go wide as I release more of the pain back to her, she knows better than complain because I will simply take it away again. Looking at her I say, "I was probably the first husband in history that could do what all other husbands have wished they could do, take the pain away that you have giving us children."

Kathryn places her hands on her back, arching it to stretch which only makes her belly look that much bigger. Over the last month, I swear Kathryn has gotten so large, I know it was to give Amanda room to finish growing. Kathryn still swims daily, although it is a little more difficult for her now, and she is quite a bit slower. The time in the pool helps, her feet does not swell as much when she spends time there. The days Kathryn does not get to swim her feet swell, and I do my best to massage her feet those days.

Sam and Crystal sees their mother‚??s discomfort, and the two girls come asking if there is anything they can do for her. Kathryn giggles and says, "No it is just your baby sister letting me know she is coming soon."

The girls‚?? eyes light up at the news, more than at the snow that has kept me home today.

Misty giggles and says, "I guess Junior is letting me know he is coming too."

Marshall tells me, "We been packed since the first, just in case the Doctor is wrong."

Looking at Marshall I explain, "Premonitions are like weather forecasts, little things can change and alter what was going to occur. Remember back on the first was not a very good time, we just had Sylvia‚??s funeral."

Marshall says, "Then I am glad our kids were not in a hurry to be born. They would never understood why we were a little sad on their birthdays."

Kara comes in dropping snow from her coat. Daniel on Kara‚??s heels is carrying a bundled up Cindy, when he sets Cindy down she sheds her coat and runs to me. Jumping into my arms she says, "Uncle JJ you need to take Aunt Kathryn to the hospital now. You too Uncle Marshall, you need to take Aunt Misty."

I am a little confused therefore, I ask, "Cindy, why do I need to take her now?"

There is a look of certainty in Cindy‚??s eyes as she says, "I had a nightmare, the roads are getting really bad and if you do not leave now, you may not get to the hospital in time." Sam and Crystal run to get their and their mothers bags. That is their job on our hospital plan.

Daniel says, "It has already come over the news that only emergency vehicles, and those with four-wheel-drive should attempt being on the road today, and the sheriff has asked that everyone remain home if possible."

I look at Cindy, have learned to listen when one of our children have a message from their deceased parents. Sam‚??s Angel Mommy delivers very accurate warnings. Looking at Cindy I say, "Thank you for the warning Cindy, will leave right now."

Kara raises an eyebrow before she asks, "You are not going to go out in weather like this, are you?"

I ask a question in return, "You think Sylvia would lie to us and put us in danger when we did not need to be? I do not think she would, and this is her warning us."

Cindy looking at Kara says, "I told you Uncle JJ would know."

Kara says, "JJ we were out playing in the snow until we got very cold this morning, we decided to come in. Daniel volunteered to make us some soup and sandwiches, and Cindy and I took a hot shower to warm up. We gotten dressed in pajamas and were sitting on the couch just cuddling together. We must have fallen asleep because it felt so good getting warm."

Cindy continues for her Mom, "Daddy was being a little slow getting the sandwiches and soup. I had the dream, Angel Mommy warns the roads are going to be bad, and you will have to help other people so it is going to take a long time getting Aunt Kathryn and Aunt Misty to the hospital. If you leave soon you will get there in time."

Kathryn says, "My contractions are about twenty minutes apart now, they usually do not want you to go in until their ten minutes apart. Under the circumstances it might be wise to listen to Angel Sylvia."

Marshall pulls on his coat saying, "I am going after Misty‚??s bags, pick me up if I am not back before you leave. JJ that SUV you have is a four-wheel-drive right?"

Answering Marshall‚??s question I say, "Yes, Kathryn got me the four-wheel-drive model."

Cindy says, "Do not forget to bring a few ropes, and some extra gasoline."

It took us two and a half hours, we pulled out five cars from ditches that blocked our way, and another had run out of gas. All the gas stations remained closed due to the bad weather. Their employees could not make it in to work.

We pulled into the hospital, Kathryn‚??s and Misty‚??s contractions were barely more than eight minutes apart and lasting for quite a long time. Actually I say we, I should say the family, between the Coach, Ron, Charles, and Uncle George there were enough SUVs with four-wheel-drive to bring everyone, we even picked up a few extra bodies along the way the needed to come to the hospital. Uncle George along with Charles had volunteered to help bring anyone into the hospital because the emergency services did not have a four-wheel-drive. As soon as we arrived at the hospital, they immediately ordered out along with an EMT team. I allow them to use my SUV as well.

Helen looking at Marshall‚??s face east time one of Misty‚??s contractions start, you do not need telepathy to read his mind, but Helen asked anyway. "Marshall I bet you just want to take Misty‚??s pain away?"

Marshall takes a heavy breath and says, "I would give anything if Misty had no pain, I would take it in a heartbeat."

Helen says, "JJ said something about everyman would do that for their wife if they could." Marshall shakes his head yes reconfirming what he said.

Ron sent after the Doctor, who was stuck in a snowdrift and nearly out of fuel. Ron drove a hummer that was similar to the ones military use. There some areas in our County that allow four-wheel-drives to go mudding. Ron and Reese both seem to enjoy their outings. I have even tried it once, taking Sam and Crystal along. I really did not enjoy the clean up afterwards, must have been forty pounds of mud on my SUV.

Ron‚??s hummer was the best to pull a car from a snowdrift, and we just could not leave the car in the road. Ron returns nearly an hour later, he shakes his head and says, "It is so bad out there it is a good thing I was raised up north. Even places where the road is fairly clear it is really icy."

Ron does not get more than ten minutes break, before they request Ron again to assist another person in their efforts to reach the hospital. Charles asks, "Would you like some help, Jim can shovel for you if you need someone to help dig someone out."

Jim have been looking nervous, and the young man really needed something to do. His father having worked around young men probably knew that better than anyone did. Jim is actually happy to be helping Ron, and the hospital has provided them a shovel, which he used to clear the emergency area of snow. Fortunately, the snow had stopped falling although the wind kept it drifting, the worst of the snowstorm may have passed because it seemed calmer now.

I nervously am pacing across the floor of the waiting room, ever so often they will run me out to examine Kathryn. Other than that I am always at her side, the doctor was amazed at how well she was handling the pain from her contractions. He thought I was having sympathetic contractions; many husbands have those although mine was a little different, I simply shared her pain. I feel them placing a spinal block in Kathryn. I know this is one of the last things done before taking her to delivery.

I meet Kathryn on her way to delivery, although our hospital does not allow me to accompany her in the operating room. With a spinal block in, Kathryn is no longer having pain only some mild discomfort from her powerful contractions. Before we are separated Kathryn whispers to me, "JJ let me have this all by myself." We do get one more kiss and a quick I love you before she disappears into the operating room.

I do what I can, to separate Kathryn thoughts, emotions and senses from my conscience. I am not that successful, and I try to meditate to place myself in a state in which I am separate even from my own body. It takes a while, because I have not done this in years. Now I not only have to separate myself my own body, but Kathryn‚??s as well.

It seemed like only an instant passes when Helen began shaking me, and I come out of my trance. Looking into her happy eyes, I know Amanda has arrived. Helen then leads me to the room reserved for Kathryn and I. Inside I find Sam and Crystal on the bed watching as Kathryn feeds Amanda. Kathryn smiles at seeing me and the large smile on my face. The two girls nearly tackle me once I walk into the room.

Sam asks, "Daddy where did you go?" Crystal shook her head indicated she had the same question.

I shrug my shoulders unsure of what she means but reply, "I was meditating so your Mommy could deliver Amanda without me interfering." See the confused look I explain, "When I meditate I separate myself from even my own body. It is like I am not even alive anymore."

Kathryn looks up and says, "Do not do that again. I actually felt lost without you. I am so glad you are back with me now."

It may be due to the effect of the meditation, but even without touching Kathryn, I can get a sense of how it feels to nurse Amanda. Beforehand that would require direct contact to Kathryn. Perhaps that is only temporary or our bond is now stronger.

Despite all my meditation, I find that I am actually exhausted, with Sam and Crystal on my chest Kathryn giggles as my eyes closed and a three of us instantly fall asleep. I wake in the middle of the night, Amanda is moving in her crib, when I walk to it she is not yet awake, but she will be awake soon she is hungry. I realize I connect to Amanda much as I was to Kathryn a few years ago. I can since her surface thoughts, although they are very simple now. Things like hunger and thirst, the need for sleep or being uncomfortable, even the longing for touch seems to come through that connection.

Gently lifting my daughter from her crib, I hold her in my arms and walk to the nurses‚?? station for a bottle. The lights in the hall or the movement awakes Amanda, and she begins to cry and search for a nipple. The nurse explains I need to take her back to her mother, because Kathryn listed breast-feeding only. Walking back into our room, Kathryn giggles before taking Amanda. Kathryn says, "You are going to have to wait until I have some bottles ready. Then you can feed Amanda at night."

I marvel at this tiny little life given to us, Amanda‚??s hands are so small that when her hand wrapped around my finger it barely reached from tiny little thumb to her tiny fingers. Kathryn and my heart soar with love for our new daughter. Loving Amanda makes us love Sam and Crystal even more. It is strange how that works, the more love you have the stronger it becomes.

Sam and Crystal must have awoken, they each whisper as they watch their mother feeding their baby sister. I pull the two back into my lap, and caress my two older daughters. I looked down into their eyes and smile, kissing them on the forehead I say, "I love you too, that will never change. I am having a new experience with Amanda. It is not that I love you any less than her. Babies do need a lot of attention, they cannot help themselves, they cannot eat by themselves, and they cannot change their own diaper or take a bath. My big girls, you will get to help to all those things with Amanda and all your other little sisters."

Sam and Crystal look into my eyes before Sam says, "You mean I have to change stinky diapers."

Trying not to chuckle I say, "Not very often, but I am sure I will need your help once in a while."

Crystal giggles and says, "We will take turns Sam, when we need to." Amanda grunts as she fills her diaper, and the two girls giggle. I realize I will be changing a diaper shortly, once we have allowed enough time for Amanda to finish.

By the time Amanda needs changed, the girls have fallen back asleep and I am not going to wake them up to help me now. I got the diaper, the diaper wipes and I took Amanda over to a changing table, Kathryn is watching as I gently remove the soiled diaper, once the cool air contacts her skin, Amanda urinates. Recovering her with the diaper to allow the diaper to absorb it, now with her tiny bladder empty I change her diaper. I removed the diaper from between her legs then use the wipes to clean her skin, placed a clean diaper under her and use another diaper wipe to ensure that she is completely clean before adding a small amount of baby powder. Then attach the tapes for her new diaper into place. I pull down her sleep shirt then rewrap her in her blanket.

Holding her in my arms Amanda is warm and comfortable, she has a full stomach, and she seems to fall back asleep immediately. What comes to mind is the more they sleep the faster they grow. I bring her back to her mother, Kathryn smiles brightly at me, as I hand her Amanda. Kathryn had a need to hold her, and to look into her face as she slept.

My arm goes across Kathryn shoulders, as I gently sat down next to her and we both watch our daughters sleep and wish them sweet dreams. Only a few moments later a light tap is at our door, and Marshall sticks his grinning face in, he says, "How is my baby niece?"

I whisper, "Just getting back to sleep. How is my baby nephew?"

Marshall smiles then in a whisper replies, "Doing the same thing, sleeping and growing. Misty, MJ and I will come by in the morning to visit. We are next door by the way."

Kathryn whispers, "I am looking forward to meeting MJ, see you in the morning."

Marshall softly closes the door behind him. Exhaustion is hitting Kathryn, and I take Amanda back to her crib and gently place her back covering her in her blankets. Kathryn is lying on her side watching Amanda as she sleeps. Kathryn‚??s eyes become heavy and joy feels her heart as she falls asleep.

Coming back into bed, Sam and Crystal scoot back onto my chest and I caress their backs. I quietly whisper, I love you my big girls.

Sam and Crystal both whisper, "I love you too Daddy."

I am half-awake at various times when the nurses check on Amanda and Kathryn. We get more than a couple giggles at seeing how we sleep. Sam and Crystal cuddle together while sleeping on my chest. Kathryn is holding my hand as she faces Amanda who sleeps in her crib just within arm‚??s distance.

The nurses try to be as quick and quiet as they possibly could, they do not wish to disturb our three princesses. I know morning is coming, the three girls are becoming ravenous, and I realize I not only can sense Amanda, but both Sam and Crystal. Maybe that is how I was always able to be at Crystal and Sam‚??s bedside when they woke from a nightmare.

Perhaps my training or the experience I am having with Kathryn has awakened a portion of my mind that allows being empathetic, the ability to feel their emotions. Another possibility is being connected to Kathryn like I am we get the benefit of each of our abilities, acting like to receivers that senses the wants and needs of our daughters. A second possibility could simply be, I was hungry as they are in my subconscious is telling me that.

Does not change the fact that we missed dinner last night, and I know the girls will be ravenous. I hope the stories, on how bad hospital food is, are incorrect. With the snow outside, I doubt I could find a restaurant open, and I am hopeful that the kitchen staff was able to make it in to work today.

I should not have worried, Ron comes in pushing a cart full of trace, Reese, Daniel, Kara and Cindy follow him, Daniel has a folding table that he sets up, and a couple nurses bring folding chairs they only sit them down then leave. Ron leaves for a moment, he returns with Marshall, Misty and MJ. Daniel leaves for a moment to and brings in a second table, the large room now seems crowded with the additional tables and chairs.

Marshall carried in the crib, while MJ was in Misty‚??s arms. I walked up to Misty and looked down into my nephew‚??s face. I know he is truly not my nephew, although for most of his young life he will call me uncle. If our premonition is correct, about his sophomore year he and Amanda will discover each other in a different way. Well they will want a different kind of relationship from the way they grew up.

Reese and Kara are setting out the trays, as Marshall and I help our wives to the table. With everyone seated, I notice six empty chairs that is when MC brings Rosy, Allen and Anna in. That confuses me because, should not Allen and Anna be with Uncle George and Alyssa. MC sees my question and answers before I ask, "Uncle George and Alyssa along with your Mom, Michelle, Karen, Joan, Johnny, Jim, Helen and Michael are helping in the kitchen, they are rather shorthanded because of the storm. Charles and Jane will be in shortly there delivering food to the nurses‚?? stations."

Almost as soon as MC finishes her statement, Charles and Jane stroll in to our room. A smile crosses their face looking at the babies.

Charles brought a third table, and the nurses follow him again and bring in chairs. The nurses give Jane a hug. Before they leave, they think her for bringing their breakfast. Jane returns their hugs and says you are welcome to each thank you.

Charles remarks, "For a small community, this is one of the better hospitals I have visited. I have been at far too many hospitals, either visiting my friends or there for treatments."

Ron has a faraway look before he says, "I remember you coming to visit me. I really was not in the mood that did not stop you." Then giving his friend a smile, Ron says, "You turn my mood around, I never thanked you for that. It was the first step of my recovery. Thank you my friend."

Reese gives Charles look that I am not sure if, then a smile crosses her face. She says to Charles, "Charles is that why you had me be Ron‚??s adjutant while he was stuck in the hospital. You knew how we felt about each other?"

Charles chuckles and says, "I knew, not many people did. The first day you two met, I saw the way he looked at you Reese. I also saw how disappointed he was when he found out your rank, I think he wanted to get you a field commission just so he could date you."

Ron chuckles, "I had a second disappointment that day, I found out Second Lieutenants cannot give field commissions."

Jim laughs, "Now you know why, if they were able to, they would be a lot of pretty Second Lieutenants running around." The room is full of laughter, and Ron‚??s face reddens until Reese pulls him into a long passionate kiss.

A nervous Mitch comes in; looking at me, he waves me out of the room. I follow curiously into the hall. Once alone Mitch begins, "JJ, I am sorry. I had a small accident with your SUV."

Concern crosses my face before I ask, "Are you okay, No one got hurt?"

Mitch taken aback at my lack of concern over the vehicle explains, "Just one quarter panel is damaged, I am fine, and I was still able to get the persons they sent me after back to the hospital. I just got back. I slid off the road on the way there, it looked clear but they must have been some ice. The back corner panel hit a post beside the road."

I say, "It was just an accident, something that you would never do purposely. Quarter panels are easily fixed, a person on the other hand is not easy to repair or replace."

Mitch relaxes, he says, "I will pay to get it fixed, I was just driving a little too fast, I was trying to hurry to get to the person who needed hospitalization."

I ask, "Did they get here fine?"

Mitch smiled in return saying, "Actually they did, turns out it was not an emergency, like I thought, just a pair of grandparents that could not get here to see their new grandchild." Looking into my face, he says, "It is Misty‚??s parents, her Dad was having a little angina, but the doctors cleared him. They want me to ask if it would be all right for them to see their grandchild. Could you help me?"

With a smile I say, "Misty has wanted her father to come around ever since her wedding. He was a little angry thinking she and Marshall were giving up their future just to get married."

Mitch smiles and then says, "That explains the conversation they were having on the way to the hospital. Misty‚??s mother was giving her husband a real talking to about their daughter. Even though he was having chest pains, she had no sympathy for him. She said it is his own fault for being so hardheaded. That even his body was trying to tell him he had been wrong, and it is time to make it right."

I remember back when Uncle George did not know that Marshall and Misty were learning to trade, that Kathryn and I were giving them a different type of education. An education that left them financially independent, and then there was the treasure Sam naming both to receive a share. Her father knew none of this. Misty‚??s mother insisted that he remain in the dark about these events. Misty‚??s mother insisted that he needs to come back to her because of his love and nothing else.

I give my head a shake and I ask, "Mitch, can you get three more trays so you can join us for breakfast?"

Mitch smiles and says, "I am starved, they have had me out all night without a chance of getting anything to eat."

I walk back into the room and announce, "We are going to have three more join us shortly. Can we make room for them?"

It does not take us long; we simply put three of the children onto our laps. Cindy goes on to Daniel‚??s lap, Sam on to mine, and Rosy takes MC‚??s lap. That leaves two chairs open beside Marshall and Misty, and one by MC. Mitch brings in the three trays of food. Setting them down in the now empty places, and he takes the seat next to MC. I cannot help but notice the warm smile that MC gives him, and I wonder if the two will strike up a friendship or possibly more.

There is a knock on the door, as it opens Marshall breaks into a wide smile seeing his father and mother in law, Carl Caldwell and his wife Sarah. Misty quickly hands Marshall their son, then jumps up and runs into her father‚??s arms. The two hug tightly, sobs come as the pain washes away with their tears. Finally pulling back from his daughter Misty‚??s father says, "Misty, I am so sorry."

Misty smiles through her tears and says, "It is okay Daddy, you are here now and that is all that matters."

We spend the next hour, catching Carl and Sarah up on the events of the last nine months, we allow Sam to tell the story about the lightning bolt and the treasure tree. At the end of her story, Carl‚??s eyes rolled back into his head and he passes out in his chair.

Sarah knew a little of what had occurred, but she did not want to know the full details afraid she would accidentally allow her husband overhear her retelling them. She is a little pale in the face to learning her daughter and son-in-law are billionaires. She knew they had more than enough to live off comfortably, but had no idea it was this much. Looking at her husband she giggles, "Oh, let him sleep. If he had been doing as a father should have, he would have known all this beforehand. If he had not been so stubborn, and just listen to Marshall once he would have known."

We did not let him sleep all that long, mainly because Marshall Junior started to cry, which started Amanda crying. The two infants woke him quickly and he came awake with a start. Misty was just putting MJ to her breast, using a blanket to cover her chest. Kathryn was doing likewise; both babes heard nursing easily.

He looks at his son-in-law and asks, "Did I fall asleep and dream that you are a billionaire?"

Marshall chuckles then replies, "No, you heard we were billionaires then you passed out."

His hands are practically shaking as he tells Marshall, "Marshall I am so sorry, if I had listened to you I would have known how wrong I was. I know now that my mistake was jumping to the conclusion that you were throwing away your life, and my daughter was going to go down with you. Misty honey, I am sorry."

Misty giggles, "If you would come around sooner, you would not be driving that old beater, that could not make it in here. I wanted to get you a new truck for Christmas, but Mom would not let me until you come around."

Her Dad shakes his head no before he says, "Misty honey, you should not buy me a present so expensive anyway. You know I can never afford to give you anything of equal value."

Misty looks at her father and shares a lesson she is learned. Smiling at him she says, "Daddy, it would not matter what you gave me, if it cost a dollar or a million, as long as it came from your heart it would be priceless to me."

Carl gives his daughter a smile and ask, "How did you get so wise in just nine months?"

Misty looks at me then Sam and says, "I just become part of a very wise family, now that you are over your stubbornness you are a part of it also."

Carl looks around at the smiling faces that greeted him. He says, "In my stubbornness I truly have been a fool. I missed the one true thing my daughter has brought to my attention. You have accepted her with love into your family. That is something I should have done, I should allow my heart and not my mind to decide who my family is."

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