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Second Sunday in May

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Judy had to learn a lot of hard lessons as a kid. 

 

The toughest lesson- that the people who were supposed to love and protect you weren't always capable of doing that, that maybe they never were- was hardest to understand and accept. In fact, it was one she had to learn time and time again, well into adulthood, before it really sunk in. 

 

(It wasn't until Jen that she learned this wasn't always the case.)

 

Something she discovered early on, though, something that most people don't ever have to think about, was that not everyone celebrated holidays equally. 

 

In elementary school, before Thanksgiving, when her class was asked to make lists of what they were thankful for, and discussed their favorite Thanksgiving foods ("do you call it 'dressing' or 'stuffing'? Do you like apple pie or pumpkin pie more?"), Judy noticed a stark difference in herself and her classmates. While her list contained things like "flowers" and "sunshine", most of the other kids wrote "mommy and daddy" along with cool things they had, like the TV in their bedroom (Judy couldn't even imagine). And Judy never had a big feast like they showed pictures of at school, had never had most of the foods they talked about. Some days she didn't have any food at all. She learned not to mention that, though. Her friends gave her funny looks and her teachers asked questions she didn't feel right answering.

 

And everyone at school always got so excited as winter break approached, but different fun activities, like making ornaments for a Christmas tree and writing notes to Santa, weren't as fun for Judy as they were for everyone else. She'd never had a Christmas tree, and no matter how many notes she wrote or how hard she tried to be good, she never got the presents she wanted. When Judy asked her mother about it, at a very young age, she was told that Santa wasn't real, and Jesus wasn't real, and her mother didn't have the time or money for things like Christmas trees or presents.

 

(Judy still wrote to Santa, though, because her mom didn't know everything. But she stopped asking him for material things. She started asking for her mother to be safe, and to be happy, and to love her. Judy still made ornaments, too, always giving them to her friends and her teachers, because she loved art, and she loved making people happy even more.) 

 

Then there was the second week in May. Judy remembers the first time her class was encouraged to make something special for their moms (or aunts, or grandmothers, or a nice neighbor. Judy realized later her teachers were just covering their bases). Even in first grade, she had a knack for art; her macaroni heart was by far the most symmetrical in the class, the most perfect- not a drop of glue to be seen on the paper, not one piece of the pasta out of place. She even added red glitter in the middle, something her teacher patiently helped her with. "I know your mom is going to love this," her teacher said, and Judy beamed. 

 

At first, Judy thought her mother's laugh when she gave it to her was one of happiness; her comment of "what a ridiculous holiday" quickly told Judy otherwise. 

 

The way Judy felt the next day, when she saw the heart she'd worked so hard on in the trash can, stayed with her for years. She was young, but she was smart, and she understood what it meant. 

 

She could handle not getting presents. She could handle not having a large feast of food. But knowing her mother didn't want to be celebrated for being her mother... it broke her heart. 

 

So at Judy's home, she learned, these days weren't anything special; they were days like any other. Just the fourth Thursday in November, just December 25th, just the second Sunday in May. 

 

*

 

The first time Judy got pregnant, she was 26 years old. By the time she found out, she was a couple of months along, and the father, a casual, short-term boyfriend she'd had, was well out of the picture. She couldn't even get a hold of him to tell him the news, but she barely even cared. She was going to be a mom, and she could be all the parent her baby needed- it's all she'd ever wanted. 

 

Judy hadn't seen her own mother in a couple of years. Nothing good ever came from their visits, and Judy always left feeling worse about herself than when she went in. But Elinor was due to get out of prison soon, and Judy had hope- hope that maybe things could be different, that maybe she would want to be a mom now. Would want to be a grandma. It was the second week in May, as chance would have it, and visiting hours were on Sundays. It felt like fate; it felt right to Judy to go and tell her the news.

 

"Are you sure you want to keep it?" was her immediate response.

 

"More than anything," Judy answered through her tears, before walking out without another word, the card she'd brought left unopened on the table between them.

 

Unfortunately, her body had other plans. 

 

*

 

When Judy and Steve were expecting the first time, it was a total surprise to her when he gave her a gift to open at their Sunday morning brunch- a coffee mug, with "World's Best Mom" in big block letters. (Steve was so sweet back then, when everything was out in front of them. Before it all fell apart, and he blamed her for all of it.) She'd cried when she opened it, felt a happiness she thought wasn't possible on a day she had grown to hate, a happiness she still didn't believe she deserved. She still couldn't think of this day as hers, as something to celebrate; not yet. 

 

Years later, after Judy's fifth miscarriage, Steve threw the mug against the wall in a fit of rage. Staring at the shattered pieces on the ground, in a kind of numb state of shock, Judy had never related to anything more. 

 

*

 

It had been 15 years since Judy last saw her mother. She wrote letters in that time, so many letters. She couldn't help herself, despite the pain Elinor always caused her, and despite the letters never being answered. But when Judy found out she was back in prison, she also couldn't help going to visit. Judy had lost so much, and although she'd never really had her, she hadn't lost her mother.

 

The words she spoke in their two visits should never have been surprising to Judy.

 

"Motherhood's overrated, anyway."

 

Judy felt the breath leave her lungs at that. It was the absolute most painful thing anyone had ever said to her (and there had been a lot). The worst part wasn't that this woman hated being her mother. The worst part was how much Judy longed to be one, how much she wanted a child to love like she never had been loved, through good and bad.  Yet, she couldn't. 

 

"You were a tough baby. You never slept, you were always crying, just really needy. I was just a kid myself, I couldn't handle it. It's why I started using."

 

It hurts, hearing her mother finally voice what Judy always knew to be true, of course it does. But in realizing how irrational her mother had always been, how incredibly selfish, it does something else, too.

 

" Would you do that for me, Judy Ann?"

 

"No."

 

It sets Judy free.

 

*****

 

Six months after Jen and Judy get married, six months into wedded bliss, Jen comes home one night after working late with a giant stack of paperwork. Judy walks out of the bathroom, brushing her teeth. "What's that?" She mumbles around her toothbrush, as she watches Jen separate the paper into two piles on the bed. 

 

Jen looks up at her and smiles, kicking off her heels. "Hi baby, my day was great, thanks for asking!"

 

Judy rolls her eyes, holds up a finger, and goes to the bathroom to spit out the toothpaste. Jen joins her, pulling on pyjama pants then grabbing her own toothbrush. Judy leans over to kiss her. "Hi. How was the dinner?"

 

"Oh, the usual bullshit. But I met a couple of new prospective clients and the food was good, so it was fine. Just a long day, and I missed you. How was your day?" She starts brushing her teeth as they look at each other in the mirror.

 

Judy smiles. "I missed you too, and it was good. Just on the phone a lot about the new program. So, what's all the paper about? Looks like about a dozen trees died for it." Now it's Jen's turn to pointedly hold up a finger. Judy huffs a little, but stays to watch Jen finish up. She can't get enough of this, the small moments they share. 

 

"So," Jen says as they walk to the bed, then pauses as they sit down next to each other, Jen closest to the stacks. Judy's surprised to hear a bit of nervousness in her voice, and her curiosity is piqued even further. "I did some research today when I had some down time at the office. I know we really haven't talked about it much, but thought it was the right time to... and I wanted to have some information so we could decide what to do. Or, not do."

 

"Okay..." Judy waits for Jen to continue, although there's a flicker of hope that she knows where this is going. She's learned to be patient and let Jen go at her own pace. 

 

"This," Jen places her hand on the top of one stack, "is information on the adoption process in California and a few different adoption agencies," she moves her hand to the other stack, "and this is information on surrogacy." Judy doesn't speak immediately, she's holding her breath as she looks down at the papers under Jen's hand; she's not sure what to say, she's completely surprised Jen already did this much research, and she's never wanted to pressure her. Jen keeps going, "If we want to have a baby, we'd have to do in vitro regardless, and even if I am able to get pregnant, which I doubt, that's not something I want to do again. So if we go in that direction, I thought surrogacy would be the best option. It'll be expensive, no matter what we do, but we can afford it."

 

Judy finally lets out a shaky breath, and looks up to see Jen watching her intently. "Wow. I... I can't believe you did all this! I love you." It overwhelms her, still, how much she loves Jen, how obviously and freely Jen loves her.

 

"I love you, too," Jen says, "and I meant when I said I'd give you anything you want. So... is this something you want?"

 

"Yes," it's automatic, her response, but she tries to hedge, has to know Jen wants it, too, isn't just doing it for her. "But I'm so happy now, Jen, I don't need anything more. I only want this if you do, truly."

 

"I know you are. I also know how much love you have to give. Adding to our family... it won't be easy. But it feels right to me." 

 

Judy studies Jen's face carefully, can see she means it, so she nods, face feeling like it could split in two with how big she's smiling. Then she all but tackles Jen, kissing her as they fall onto the bed, hands finding their way into Jen's hair, Jen pulling her closer immediately. "Oops," Judy pants as she finally pulls back and sees the papers strewn all around them. 

 

"Fuck, Judy! I spent so much time organizing those," Jen groans, then narrows her eyes. "You're going to pay for that."

 

Judy grins as she pulls off her robe. "Promises, promises."

 

*

 

They decide to go the surrogacy route. It's a long, complicated process, but one that will result in them having a newborn, which is what they both want. It also seems to give them more control than the adoption process, which would depend too much on other people's decisions. It means a lot to Judy that the baby be biologically related to one of them, if possible, and she knows it more than likely can't be her. Trips to a fertility doctor and tests confirm this; the doctor tells them Judy's eggs have a near zero chance to produce a pregnancy. Jen's, however, could "very likely" result in a pregnancy, they're told. 

 

"No shit!" Jen can't hide her shock at that news; Judy and the doctor both laugh.

 

Judy loves the thought; even though she knows the baby will be theirs, it will have Jen's genes. Charlie's and Henry's, too. 

 

Next, they have to pick a surrogate. They hire a surrogacy agent, who has a list of several women she's worked with personally before. They meet with two of them, and both like a woman named Lauren the most. She's 31, and the older of the two. Judy loves that she has two children of her own, and has already been a surrogate twice as well. When Jen asks her why she does this, she talks of a best friend who struggled with infertility, and how hard that was to witness; the first time she was a surrogate was for that friend. She also says she truly enjoys being pregnant. When she leaves the house, Judy tells Jen, "Her aura was like, immaculate."

 

Jen rolls her eyes but says, "Well, immaculate aura, we aren't beating that. She's the one." So, she is. They get all of the legal stuff out of the way, signing a mountain of paperwork ("Still not as much paper as you brought home," Judy teases when Jen complains of a hand cramp. "Shut it," Jen responds). Judy feels any apprehension she had melt away as everything is explained to them- the contract ensures the (still hypothetical) baby will be 100% theirs. She trusts Lauren, but it's good to know that surrogates can't change their minds and decide to keep the baby, unlike with adoption. Judy knows she wouldn't have been able to handle that. 

 

The last big decision they have to make is to find a sperm donor. The agency provides them with hundreds of profiles they can access online ("This is like the world's most bizarre dating site," Jen jokes), but before they really start delving into them, Jen asks Judy a question. "How would you feel about asking someone we know?"

 

Judy knows there's only one person she could be talking about.

 

"You don't think it'd be creepy?" Jen asks.

 

Judy shakes her head, "I don't, no. I'd love to know the person who gives our baby half its DNA, and it be someone we love."

 

"I think I would, too. And at least we know what kind of crazy Christopher is. It'd just be a crapshoot with these random dudes."

 

So, they decide they'll at least broach the subject. Jen calls Christopher to invite him and Alan to lunch a couple of days later. 

 

As Judy and Jen wait at the restaurant, Judy notices Jen fiddling with her water glass, her silverware. She grabs Jen's hand, stilling it. "Nervous?" 

 

Jen nods, "Yeah... it's not every day you ask someone to father your child."

 

"Well, we don't have to put it exactly that way-"

 

"Hi! How's my favorite ladies?" They hear Chris before they see him, and Jen responds immediately. 

 

"Good! How's our favorite ladi-" she stops when she looks up and sees only him. "Wait, where's Alan? I thought he was coming, too. We wanted to talk to you both."

 

Chris sits down across from Jen. "He got held up at work," his eyes widen in concern, then flit between Jen and Judy. "What's wrong? Is one of you sick? Are you splitting up?" He looks at Jen. "What did you do?!?"

 

Judy would laugh if the thought wasn't so terrible, "No, of course not!"

 

Jen talks over her, "Fuck, no, none of the above, okay? We just have a pretty important... favor to talk to you about."

 

He visibly relaxes, then leans forward, elbows on the table, as if awaiting gossip. "Oh! What kind of favor?"

 

"A big one!" Judy chimes in quickly, not thinking about it. She's nervous now, too. "Like, really big. Gigantic. The biggest of the favors, actually-"

 

"Okay, Jude, he gets it," now Jen grabs her hand to calm her. Jen takes a sip of water while Chris waits expectantly. Judy is wishing they'd ordered alcohol. "So we haven't talked in a few weeks, sorry about that, but it's because Judy and I have been really busy. We're going to have a baby."

 

The noise that comes out of Chris can best be described as a high-pitched squeal. A few heads at nearby tables turn to look in their direction. Then he finds words, "Congratulations! I'm so happy for you both! Wait..." he looks between them again, as if realizing for the first time this couldn't just happen, "How?"

 

"Well," Jen answers, "we obviously need some sperm. So, we were wondering," she takes a deep breath, and even Judy is interested in how she's going to phrase this question, they hadn't really planned it out well, that may have been a mistake, "...if we could have yours."

 

Judy coughs to stifle a laugh, but the laugh comes out anyway, especially when she sees the look on Chris' face. Definitely a mistake.  "What Jen was trying to say, so eloquently, is that we have hired a surrogate, and are using Jen's eggs to have a baby. All we need is a sperm donor, and before we looked at strangers, we thought we'd ask someone we know and love. We know this is a big deal, but we wanted to see if you and Alan would be open to it being you."

 

A big smile breaks out on his face, and he puts his hand on his chest in apparent relief. "Thank God for science! I was having heart palpitations at the thought of having sex with you. I love you, Jen, but I'm too old to get that drunk."

 

Judy cracks up laughing, but Jen isn't amused; Judy's actually worried for Chris for a split second. If looks could kill, they'd have to pivot from planning for a baby to planning a funeral. "Fuck you!"

 

"Again, what Jen means to say is we would appreciate you even thinking about it."

 

"Wow," Chris nods, "was not expecting this to be our lunch conversation. But of course, I'll think about it. I'm honored you would ask me," he pauses. "How would this work, exactly? As much as I'd love being Uncle Chris, more responsibility than that..."

 

Judy jumps in, "We'd sign paperwork saying you have no parental rights. Or obligations. But obviously, you'll stay a big part of our lives."

 

"Oh good. Adele is such an only child."

 

Judy nods, regarding him seriously. "We will always respect your boundaries-"

 

Jen cuts her off, sending a a "Shut the fuck up," Chris' way, but then they're smiling at each other fondly, and Judy feels happy watching them. She always feels happy to witness this friendship, to feel a part of it now.

 

Chris takes both of their hands. "I'll talk to Alan, and we'll pray about it. Regardless of what we decide, I'm so happy for you, and I'll be praying for you, too."

 

Judy glances at Jen, sees her open her mouth and for a second she thinks a typical smart-ass remark is going to come out, but her face softens. "Thank you. Take your time," she pauses, "but not too much. We're kind of on a timetable so if you could pray quickly?" Judy stifles a laugh again as Chris' smile turns to a glare. 

 

Jen's phone rings later that evening, and Judy can tell by the look of anticipation that crosses her face as she answers that it's Chris. She's been acting like it's not a big deal, but Judy knows how hard it is for Jen to ask something so big, so personal of someone,  even someone she's as close to as him. 

 

"Really?" Jen says after a couple of seconds. "You're both sure?" Her eyes find Judy's, they're filled with tears, and Judy's chest constricts with emotion when Jen nods at her in confirmation. 

 

*

 

The following months consist of fertility treatments for Jen, egg retrieval, then the in vitro process. Lauren tells them in her other experiences it only took one time for her to get pregnant, and they're really hoping it works the first time, both because they want a baby soon, and because it's expensive.

 

Judy will never forget the mid-July afternoon when her phone rings. She's sitting next to Jen by the pool, watching the boys swim. As soon as she sees the caller ID, her heart stops. She shows it to Jen, whose eyes widen, then she answers. 

 

"Hello?"

 

"Hi, Judy!"

 

"Hi Lauren, how are you?" She's trying to keep her voice calm. 

 

"I'm great, and so are you... we're pregnant!"

 

Judy's tears start immediately, and when she finishes talking to Lauren and hangs up, the boys get out of the pool and they all share wet hugs. Judy was worried the boys would be hesitant about having a baby sister or baby brother, but that worry couldn't have been more unfounded. They've both been so supportive. 

 

Hard as she's trying to fight it, Judy feels the anxiety creep in immediately, and she's struggling to breathe a little as she settles back down into her chair. Jen reaches over and grabs her hand. "Hey."

 

Judy looks up at her, forces a smile best she can, "Yeah?"

 

Jen smiles softly, "It's going to be okay. The baby is going to be okay. And if something happens, we will try again. We'll keep trying. I mean, I'll have to tell the boys they're on their own for college, so they should really start getting better grades or finding a talent or something, but we'll be fine."

 

Judy laughs, and her chest immediately feels lighter. Jen always knows how to make her feel better. "Thanks, baby."

 

"Always."

 

The months pass quickly, and everything is going well. As soon as they tell her the news, Karen offers to throw them a baby shower, which they accept, but Judy wants to wait, doesn't want to have one too early. She's made that mistake before. When the seven month mark comes, they agree that it's time. Karen has them over for mimosas and some planning. 

 

"I am so excited!" Karen enthuses as they sit down at her kitchen table. 

 

"Thank you so much, Karen," Judy says, so thankful to have a neighbor this kind.

 

"Yes, thank you," Jen adds, genuinely. She won't admit it, but Karen has really grown on her.

 

"Of course! I think in another life I could have been a party planner, I love it so much. And babies! The only thing I love more than a party is a baby."

 

"Well I guess you should be thanking us, then," Jen deadpans, sipping her drink. Judy grins. 

 

Karen laughs, "Thank you. So, first off, since you don't know if it's a boy or girl, I'll keep the theme neutral. Any special requests?"

 

Judy looks at Jen, who shrugs. "Up to you, babe."

 

Judy smiles at Karen, "I'm sure whatever you come up with will be great!"

 

Karen beams, "Awesome! Okay, the next thing I want to discuss is the games we'll play," Judy can see Jen out of the corner of her eye, shaking her head vehemently already, "I was thinking we could do the game where we melt different chocolate bars in diapers, and everyone guesses what they are? I've played it before and it's so funny-"

 

"Gross. Absolutely not," Jen says, as Judy was trying to think of a more tactful "no".

 

Karen's undeterred, "Okay! How about the one where everyone wears clothespins around their neck and any time they say "baby" one gets taken away?"

 

"Nope, don't like that."

 

"Baby shower mad libs?"

 

"Is that a thing? I don't think that's a thing."

 

Now, Karen is visibly deflating, "Bingo? The guests fill out cards with presents they think you'll get, and the winner gets a prize?"

 

Judy jumps in this time, "That sounds great Karen, let's just do that one! Keep it simple."

 

The baby shower is simple, and perfect, and they get most of what they registered for. Judy's favorite thing is the nursery bedding, Winnie the Pooh themed, a gift from Margo, who came in from San Francisco for the day. It matches perfectly with the yellow walls Jen and Judy already painted. 

 

The funniest gift, of course, is from Karen.  There's two bags, and Judy opens one while Jen works on the other. Judy pulls out a onesie first, it's gray with "Party of Five" written on it. There are two other matching shirts, in what seem to be Charlie and Henry's sizes, also in the bag. She looks up to see Jen pulling out two more shirts; they're the same but with a feminine v-neck. Karen is watching them excitedly. "Do you get it? Because you're a family of five now? It's even the same font they used on the TV show!"

 

"So cute, Karen, thank you!" Judy is of course effusive in her thanks, beyond grateful for everything Karen has done. "You already threw us the shower, you didn't have to get us a gift, too."

 

"Yeah, you really shouldn't have," Judy shoots Jen a look at her tone, so she adds, "but they're great, thanks. The reference is current as always!"

 

Lorna, hilariously, wins bingo; she sighs when Karen hands her the prize, a bottle of wine. "Well, it's not my preferred brand, but I'll drink it nonetheless."

 

It's a perfect day, and it's really starting to sink in for Judy- this is actually going to happen for them. For her.

 

She realizes later she hadn't even thought about her mother's absence, hadn't thought about her at all; when it does cross her mind, it's not even painful.

 

It's how she knows she's healed.

 

*

 

It seems fitting, after all that's happened since they first met, that Jen and Judy get the call their baby is being born in the early morning hours of April 1st. 

 

They rush to the hospital, and into the delivery room with Lauren, something they'd all discussed and agreed upon together. It's hard, seeing her in so much pain, but Judy clutches her hand and offers all the support she can. Jen is keeping them both calm. It gets easier after the epidural, and watching their baby being born is pure magic to Judy. The first cry that they hear is music to her ears; they're all crying as the doctor announces, "You have a beautiful baby boy!" 

 

"A boy!" Judy looks at Jen, filled with glee, then grimaces. "Sorry babe, I know you wanted a girl."

 

Jen wipes away a tear, "Oh please, I just didn't want to be outnumbered. But look at him! He's perfect. Plus, now we get to tell Chris they share a middle name." It was something they'd decided to do, when they picked a name for each gender, if it was a boy. 

 

Lauren cuddles him on her chest for some skin to skin contact for a few minutes, something else they'd planned, while Jen cuts the umbilical cord. Then a nurse wraps him up in a swaddle and puts the tiniest hat Judy's ever seen on his head. 

 

Judy can hardly believe it when the nurse hands her her baby. He's the most beautiful thing she's ever seen. Judy looks up at Lauren, tears running down both their faces. "Thank you," she manages. 

 

"You're welcome. Congratulations, Mama."

 

Jen wraps an arm around Judy, kisses her on the head as they both stare at their boy. "Welcome to the world, Maxwell James. You are so loved."

 

They say their goodbyes to Lauren and are moved to a different room; even though neither Jen nor Judy has to recover, they have to stay a couple days to make sure Max is healthy and good to head home. After about an hour, Jen goes to meet Charlie and Henry in the lobby and bring them back to the room. They burst in, Henry leading the way, bouncing around excitedly. Charlie follows, looking cool as a cucumber, but Judy knows better- he's excited, too. "Meet your new baby brother, Max," Judy tells them.

 

"It's a boy! I knew it!" Henry exclaims. "I had an inkling."

 

"'Inkling?'" Jen laughs as she takes the baby from Judy, and they share a smile. This is the first they've heard of it; also the first time any one of them has ever used the word "inkling". 

 

"Yeah," Henry shrugs, "an inkling. But I didn't want to jinx it."

 

"Oh. Okay," Jen nods as she hands the baby to Charlie.

 

"I can't wait to tell him he was made in a lab," Charlie laughs.

 

"Don't you fucking dare!" Jen snaps.

 

"What?! It's cool!"

 

"Dude. Seriously."

 

"Fine," he sighs, focusing back on Max. "Welcome to the world, little man. I'm Charlie, your favorite brother."

 

"Hey!" Henry yells, "That has yet to be decided."

 

Judy just takes it all in, grin never leaving her face; Jen sits back down next to her, smiles at her as she reaches over and grabs her hand, then turns to watch the boys. 

 

Judy leans closer to her, "Aren't you kind of wishing we had our "Party of Five" shirts to put on right now?"

 

Jen answers without a beat, "Absolutely fucking not." Judy laughs, then Jen's tone softens. "I'm not wishing for anything."

 

*

 

The two nights they spend in the hospital are long. Judy can't wait to get home. The baby is being really fussy the second night, and Jen is rocking him to sleep, opting to hold him instead of put him back down once he finally passes out. They're both staring at him as he sleeps; Judy knows she should get some sleep herself, but she doesn't want to look away. "He's such a perfect angel," Judy says softly. 

 

Jen looks up at her and smirks. "They always are when they're sleeping."

 

At that moment, Max smiles in his sleep, and Judy yelps. "Look!" It's the cutest thing she's ever seen in her life. 

 

Jen looks down in time to catch it, then looks back up at Judy. "He has your smile," she says, a look of absolute adoration on her face. 

 

Judy laughs, replies, "That's impossible," but she can't stop grinning. She sees it, too. 

 

*

 

The first few weeks are wonderful, and tough. Judy knew motherhood wouldn't be easy, but it was still hard to know exactly what to expect. Luckily Jen has been here before, and helps Judy gain confidence in her own abilities. What surprises Judy the most is how often babies have to eat. Life revolves around making bottles, feeding him, and cleaning the bottles; it's a constant cycle, day and night.  And the poop. So much poop! The first time Max has a diaper blowout, Charlie is holding him. Judy doesn't know what's better- the face Charlie makes when he realizes, or Jen's raucous laughter when she does. 

 

Judy and Jen alternate who gets up with him each night, that way at least one of them is getting a full night's sleep for the next day. Still, it's exhausting. 

 

It's worth every moment.

 

Max is a little over a month old when Judy is feeding him one night, rocking him back to sleep around 3:00 a.m. and staring at his perfect nose (she thinks, she hopes it will look just like Jen's). The door opens quietly and Judy looks up in surprise to see Jen come in. "What are you doing up?" She asks quietly. "It's my turn!"

 

"I know," Jen whispers, "but I woke up and I couldn't wait to give you this." Jen is holding a card and a small present; it takes Judy a moment in her half-asleep state to remember what day it is, and she feels her throat narrow as Jen crouches down beside her. "I'm guessing you'd rather me open this for you than give him up?" She asks with a grin.

 

Judy nods, "Good guess." Jen opens the small box, and Judy watches; she can tell that it's jewelry. When Jen holds it up, Judy squints to see it in the soft light of the lamp. It's a necklace- a delicate silver chain with three interlocking hearts, each inscribed with a name. Charlie. Henry. Max. Tears prick Judy's eyes and she whispers, "I love it so much."

 

"Charlie and Henry helped me pick it out," Jen says as she puts it back in the box. "I can't wait to see it on that beautiful neck of yours."

 

"Thank you," Judy chokes, then adds, as she gets her emotion in check, "Sweet talker."

 

Jen winks at her as she opens the card, too, then hands it over for Judy to grab with her free hand. Judy scans the outside, reading the sweet yet cliche words printed on the card. It's the hand-written note inside she's more interested in. 

 

Judy- This has been a difficult day for me to celebrate ever since I lost my mom. But just like everything else, you've changed it for the better. It's been the greatest joy to get to see you as a mother to our sons, and to mother them with you. You deserve to be celebrated every single day. I love you. -Jen

 

Judy's exhausted. Half of her wardrobe now features spit up stains. She misses going to work, and misses the days where she never forgot to take a shower. But her son is asleep on her chest; she can feel the gentle rise and fall of his as he breathes. She's never been surrounded by so much love. To her, motherhood could never feel overrated. 

 

And when she looks up from the card, her wife's happy, tired eyes meeting her own, her heart feels like it could burst out of her chest when Jen says,  "Happy Mother's Day, Judy."