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Women say being pregnant is a wonderful thing.

To which I say- NO!

Especially when your baby is a week past your due date.

It’s 8th October. My 25th birthday. A very happy birthday to me! I hope the sarcasm is apparent here. I struggle to get up from the bed and limp into the bathroom to brush my teeth. What’s more, my mom, Luke and Jess are at the table yelling, “Surprise!!” and banners screaming- ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’ are all over the place, blowing those ridiculous whistles. But one look from me is enough for them to shrink into nothing.

“Get me a jar of pickles and extra hot sauce please.” I mutter.

Jess says, “Rory, it’s 9 am.” and I stare at him. He immediately withers and mutters, “Coming right up.”

I struggle to sit in a chair and look up to see Luke and Mom staring at me. I snap, “What?!”

They immediately change their expressions and reply cheerily, “Nothing” and Mom pours herself a cup of coffee.

I look down at my swollen belly and wince at the sporadic kicking at my ribs. I think of my naïve self, when she was first pregnant. I could really punch her right about now.

I sigh and try something, “You... have... to get out... of my body.” I command to my belly. All it does is stay still.

Luke says, “Uh, honey, you know he won’t get out-”

“I know!!!!” I yell, stunning everyone into silence. “I know he won’t come out! I AM NOT! AN IDIOT!”

Everyone is gaping at me as I lean back as much as I can into my chair and huff, saying, “I don’t care. He’s getting out of me today, tomorrow or fudge, even before this week ends, and if he doesn’t accomplish this, then I swear to God, I will be lunging someone out of the window, Phillip Banks style!”

There’s a beat of silence, before Mom pipes up, “You know honey, we had some errands to run, so why don’t we give you and Jess some space?”

Luke looks up, quizzically, “Since when did we-” and he groans in pain as Mom sharply elbows him in the ribs and gives him a certain look. He understands and corrects nervously, “Yeah, we’ll leave you in peace Rory.” They both get up, chairs noisily scraping the ground, and half walk-half run, alternatively looking back and keeping their tight smiles in place.

I huff at their attempted subtlety, and I hear the door close. Jess comes in with the pickles and hot sauce. I grab the contents from him and mutter, “Took you long enough.”

“Where is...” and I glare at him. He withers and mutters, “that gets scarier by the minute” and clearing his throat, he fakes a smile, saying, “Never mind.”

I take a huge bite of my pickle with too much of hot sauce on it and chomp miserably. That ought to do it.

-x-

That didn’t do it.

The day passes, morning becomes night, after two long extensive walks and the spiciest Indian food on the planet and a whole lot of throwing up; I’m still pregnant. I sleep on my side and Jess crawls in, keeping a safe distance from me. The heat from the comforter is stifling and I huff, “It’s hot.”

“Honey, the heater’s on and it’s cold-”

“It’s HOT!” I snap.

And he changes wind. “So hot!” he agrees.

I glare at him as I shift on my back and throw off the comforter, muttering. I look down at my swollen belly and sigh noisily. I hate being pregnant.

I can’t sleep. The clock makes this strange ticking sounds. I open my eyes and the numbers 02:07 blare out in red light. I groan and close my eyes again and I dream. Well, not exactly dream, but flashback to the day we found out. The day one weird stick changed my life forever...

I pace the bathroom floor, anxious as Juno did before telling her parents. Jess sits on the edge of the tub, watching me. I catch him staring, and say, “What?!”

“Nothing. I can’t stare and be in love with the way you look while you’re pacing?”

I sigh. “Is this your weird way of calming me down? By turning me on?”

He chuckles and before he says anything, the explicitly-ticking timer goes off. We look at each other. Moment of truth. Jess picks up the stick and looks at me after a second.

“Well? What does it say?”

He hands me the stick. “See for yourself.”

I scoff and grab it. And I’m frozen in shock. “Holy shit” I mutter.

Two pink lines. Forming a plus.

I’m pregnant.

It takes a minute for the reality to sink in. And when Jess asks in concern, “Rory?” I explode.

“You got me pregnant!” I exclaim in an angry voice.

Jess is startled by my sudden outburst and slips, but holds on to the edge of the tub, narrowly avoiding a fall. I start rambling. “Oh God, why weren’t we more careful? I mean, we went for a honeymoon, not a baby making vacation, and that is a real thing, believe me.” I smack my forehead with my fist repeatedly, upon realizing the possible place of conception. “Stupid rain. Why did it come and the stupid windshield break and the air conditioning not work and thus we end up making love on the hood of the car?! So stupid!!!”

It's not that I can blame Jess for that. I wanted our honeymoon to go out with a bang and a little rain and broken windshield wasn’t going to stop that. So, I walked out into the rain and I sat on the hood. I started posing seductively, which worked as evident from Jess joining me after a few minutes. I started making out with Jess, and before I knew it, my panties were off, my bra tossed off somewhere and Jess was filling me to the brim. We ended up going for a second round in the car itself, but Jess used a condom, I knew that.

I turn to face Jess and wiggling my finger at him, I say, “You are in big trouble, mister”. He doesn’t say anything at first and instead, looks at me with an amused expression.

“You’re an asshole,” I retort.

“You’re smiling,” he replies.

“I am not.” I protest, though I see the muscles twitching in my cheeks.

He chuckles. “Yes, you are,” he replies. I give up and sit next to him on the marble tub. I turn to look at him and he smiles, leaning over to give me a kiss. He then takes the pregnancy test from my hand and I look and try to catalogue his look of wonder.

He looks up at me. “How are you feeling?”

I reply the first word that comes to my head, “Hungry.”

We stare at each other, all serious, and burst out into fits of laughter.

Eventually, Jess gets up and pulls me up, not letting go of my hand. He leads me out of the bathroom and into the kitchen. I grab the bag of unopened Doritos and we’re soon eating on the couch, my legs over Jess’s lap as I recline on the armrest. I rest my head on my folded hands and stare at the ceiling, trying to wrap my head around the fact that in a few months, I’m going to swell like a balloon and my ankles get all flabby. My boobs will get large (not that Jess would mind) and I would have stretch marks. I’m really wishing that Mom didn’t tell me the story of my birth. I was kind of already picturing myself in her place.

In the midst of all the side-effects of pregnancy freaking me out, I find myself rubbing my belly as if it’s calming me. And to some extent... it is. Jess lightly treads his fingers over my exposed calves, while we trade the nachos quietly. It’s as if he’s playing a tune, and I smile at the thought of it. I would do anything to imbed his touch in my muscles, straight into my synapses. It puts me at ease.

“Well… What do you want to do?” He asks tensely.

I prop my body to a sitting position, resting my elbows on the armrest to look at Jess and see him worried. I did the math. We were twenty-four. What did I want to do? We had been officially married for what? Two years? Well, technically a year, and a half if you counted from the day we were married; but practically two months if including our long-distance relationship during that Obama campaign and then our marital break of about 6-7 months? It was too soon. We were young and had very little time of marital bliss.

But it’s Jess. He’s the best. He loved me despite knowing every detail and secret about me. He has been there for me since the night we met. He’s the guy that bought me hot dogs and French fries. He’s the guy that helped me get through one of the most awful days of my life. He’s the guy who punched Dean in the face for me. He wants me. I knew what it was like to be without him. I would survive, but I would be missing out on an extraordinary life. To some extent, Lane predicted this. We had been like a married couple since the beginning.  A baby could be a-easy, right? Well, not easy to handle, but... the parenting side would be alright, right?

“I don’t know,” I admit. “But I’m not scared.” Because he wouldn’t leave me. Not now, not ever. And I wouldn’t have to do the whole thing on my own.

Jess smiles, reaching for the hand on my belly. “Me neither.

I feel relieved, and slump back onto the armrest. Jess is full on stroking the back of my knees and I hum in pleasure. The weight shifts and I feel Jess shifting my blouse to expose my stomach. He gently presses a kiss to my belly and I close my eyes in relief as my fingers find its way into his hair and I play with it. He comes into focus as he hovers over me, balancing on his forearms over my head and I take his face in my hands, his fingers splayed over my belly. “Anyway, if you’re up for it, seeing that damage is already done...”

I faux-gasp and smack him, “You are insatiable.”

“Only for you.” He says, pressing his lips to mine. It’s so mind-blowing that I relax and forget my name, gripping his plaid shirt tightly. He pulls back and asks, “do you want to-?”

“Shut up and take off your pants.” He nods, proceeding to kiss me passionately and I feel his weight on me as he wraps his arms around my ribs. I feel him against my thigh and I whimper, scrambling to wrap my legs around him. In the process, the Doritos are on the floor and we pull back and look at the mess. But I giggle and Jess smirks at me before he resumes kissing me. I moan, pulling him closer by wrapping my arms around his neck.

Our clothes slip to the floor- his t-shirt, my pale pink blouse and denim skirt. I undo his belt buckle and he pulls down his pants to his knees. I tilt my head to the side, watching the strip of space between the TV and the coffee table as Jess shoves my panties to the side. I feel him enter me and I gasp.

I feel my chest contract and expand as Jess redistributes his weight, making it comfortable for the both of us. And then he’s moving, thrusting with an unremitting wave of force. I thrust against him, my hands squeezing his ass, and feeling my panties tear with the movement.

I keep watching the strip of space until Jess nudges me and I turn my head to face him as he captures my mouth into a kiss. He quickens the pace and I dig my nails into his lower back. I cross my ankles, my knees at his ribs and he groans approvingly into my ear. A flash, bang and scream later, it’s over. I gasp for breath and Jess settles into the space between my shoulder and neck as we come down from our highs. Eventually, we relax and I stroke the hairs at the base of his neck gently.

Jess moans and eases out of me. He readjusts his boxers and takes off his jeans. He slides to the floor and rests against the couch. I feel his hand on my exposed calves from under the haphazardly thrown cover and I sigh in pleasure.

I pull on his t-shirt and discarding my torn panties, I sit next to him, throwing all necessary space out the window. I rest my head on his shoulder and he rubs his cheek affectionately against the crown of my head. We intertwine our right hands together and I hold my free hand over his bicep, while he strokes my belly gently.

He whispers, “I love you”. I smile and snuggle into him. We watch TV, some random episode of The Sopranos, before the smell of onion rings from the next apartment coming through the open window kickstarts my evening nausea.

Eventually, we head to bed, and Jess tries to seduce me again. I smile as he nuzzles his nose against my cheek, whispering my name in my ear, seductively. “Rory.” He says it so well, the rolling of the R’s accompanied by gentle but firm kisses to my shoulder, my chest, my lips. It’s like a chant. Like a plea. Like a declaration...

“Rory?”

I open my eyes. It’s morning. I whimper as I feel a short, sharp sting of pain which subsides in a blink. I sit up and see Jess at the edge of the bed, watching me.

“Hey” I whisper, yawning.

“Hey. How’re you feeling?”

“Same as always.” I mutter, cross.

He sighs. “Should we try the Ross-and-Rachel method of-” he asks uncertainly.

“Shut up and take off your pants. Let’s get this baby out” I say, struggling to remove my panties.

-x-

It doesn’t work. The 9th bleeds into the 10th. I walk all around the apartment, ignoring the steady stabs of pain in my crotch. I try playing grunge rock on my Walkman to the baby in order to instigate the labour, but all it does is play the drums on my bladder.

I eventually make my way to the fridge to grab a soda. I sit at the table opposite Jess, who’s working on his laptop and scowl at him. He knows I’m watching him, because 10 minutes later, he looks up and say, “You know, why don’t we go to the bookstore, huh? I’ve been dying to look at the new releases, it’ll be like a last date as a couple and-”

“I want to be alone.”

He’s shocked, as evident from the look on his face. “Wait, what?” he asks.

“Jess, I’m over a week past my due date. We’ve tried everything we can in the book. Everything’s ready, except for our kid. There’s just too much of stuff annoying me at the moment, and I need you to NOT be one of them.”

“Ror-”

“Get OUT!!!” I snap.

He’s taken aback at my outburst and scoffs. “Wow” he mutters.

“What?” I snap at him.

He shrugs it off, getting up to put his mug in the sink. “Nothing.”

I gasp at him and say, “Oh, I see. Reverse psychology. I’m the crazy one and you’re the victim.”

He sighs and turns to face me. “Ror, I’m tired. I’m this close to getting a knife and pulling that baby out of you, because I’m going crazy. Every time we discuss the best way of getting the kid out or every time you yell at me, I feel like banging my head against the wall. Okay, there it is. You happy?” he takes a deep breath. “But, I can’t be the one who’s putting more pressure on you since you... are carrying my child. So, if it will help... I will leave you alone. Okay?”

He grabs his jacket and phone and I call out to him. “Hey, Jess?”

He turns back, hopeful. “Yeah?”

“I love you.” I say in my sweetest voice possible.

He sighs. “I love you too.”

“But do not come into this apartment, until you’ve had a major attitude change.” I say, scowling at him.

He looks like a kicked puppy and doesn’t say or comment anything as he silently turns to leave. I sigh as I hear the front door close and lean back into my chair. I struggle to get up and decide to take a hot bath.

I undress and look into the mirror. I see the angry stretch marks against my stomach, the hair in my armpits, the size of my boobs and ribs. I proclaim matter-of-factly, “I’m a monster.”

I sink into the water, ignoring the stabs of pain shooting inside my stomach, which is becoming more apparent. And about twenty minutes later, I hear the knock on the door.

I decide to ignore it. If Jess forgot his keys, it’s his problem. But the knocking persists. I sigh, and carefully extract myself out of the tub. I put on a nightgown and make my way to the door, calling out frustrated, “Jess, I swear to God, if you’re trying to win me over and get back inside, it’s not going to-” I swing the door open to stare into space. “Work” I complete.

My eyes go down. And I see her. Denny. Her big brown eyes looking scared. She’s clutching her backpack nervously. And then I remember. We were supposed to babysit her this weekend since Liz and TJ had a wedding and Luke and Lorelai were busy as hell. We volunteered since we thought we could use an extra set of hands for taking care of the baby. Well, that idea’s out of the window.

“Hi, Denny. Come on in.” I open the door a little wider, and she toddles in. I close the door and see her jump on the couch. She was still a little short to sit comfortably, given that her legs are swinging off the floor. I sit on the other side and whimper at a shot of pain.

“Are you okay?” Denny asks timidly.

“I’m fine sweetie. Just wanting to pop this kid out sooner or later.”

She nods. She looks around and asks, “Where’s Jess?”

“I don’t know hon. I kind of... kicked him out of the house.” I sigh and lean back on the backrest. “it’s typical me I guess. I panic and I push people away.”

“Well, he was going to take me to the music store today. He bought me this portable CD player and we were going to check the CDs on discount.”

I lift my head to look at her. “The Blue Frog’s Band? Is that the store?”

She nods. I sigh. I struggle to get up and Denny helps me. I grimace as the pain resurfaces again, squeezing Denny’s hand. It fades off and I sigh. “Okay, I’ll just change and we’ll head down to the store. How’s that sound? We can top it off with lunch.”

Denny’s scared at the suggestion. “Shouldn’t you like lie down or something?”

I grimace through another cramp and shake my head. “Nah. I’m just having Braxton Hicks or something. But it’s alright. We’re Gilmores, sweetie. We work till the water balloon pops. Fun fact, my mother apparently cleaned her entire room while she was in early labour with me.”

“Putting the labour in labour.” Denny jokes, giggling.

I scoff with laughter. “You are one smart-ass, you know that? Just like your brother.” I remark. “I’ve got a ways to go. Now come on. Let’s take the bus, I’m not up to driving.”

“Shouldn’t we call Jess?” Denny asks.

I think about it. But not wanting to deal with our argument and the way I dismissed him today, I refuse. “We’ll call him later. I’d rather spend time with you.”

After changing into a red patterned maternity dress, we head to the store, and once in a while, on the bus, the strange pain shoots up again and I’m forced to take a few deep breaths and squeeze Denny’s wrist as if it’s some stress ball. I realize that I’m squeezing way too hard given that by the time we reach the store, there’s angry red marks on her wrist.

I apologize sheepishly but she shrugs it off. She’s brave that way.

When we’re in the store, Denny pulls me to the rack of CD’s which are on display. They are priced one dollar, but if you buy ten, you’ll get it for 5 dollars. Denny squeals in delight as she gets her hands on the different CDs. I smile, watching her. She takes about 10 CDs, ranging from blues to Coldplay to a collection of Stephen Sondheim and Henry Mancini. I look it over and I’m surprised. “Have you listened to them personally?”

“Jess used to make me mixtapes. We used to listen to them on Uncle Luke’s Walkman. He’s cool that way.” I huh, piling them up neatly. And all of a sudden, a wave of sadness hits me.

Denny notices it and nudges me, “What’s wrong, Rory?”

“Oh sweetie. A lot of things.” I say.

Denny looks at me. And then, she’s tugging my hand and leading me to the counter. I pay for her CDs, but upon exiting the store, she tugs my hand and pulls me towards a diner. I protest, saying, “What are you trying to do Denny?”

She taps her nose at me, saying, “Wait and see.”

I sigh. Sometimes, she’s too much like Jess.

We sit on the bar chairs, given that a booth is physically impossible to squeeze into. A waitress comes out and recognizes Denny, and she smiles and says, “Well, if it isn’t my regular. The usual, Miss Denny?”

“Make it two. With chocolate milkshake for my partner.” The waitress, Rose as it says on her nametag, looks at me and I smile and shrug. Another shot of pain ripples through and I clutch the counter.

“You’re not looking too good Ma’am.” Rose says, seeing me.

I breathe deeply as it subsides. I recover and say, “I’m fine. Just get our order please.”

She nods. “Coming right up.”

I look at Denny, who’s inspecting the menus. I gently take it from her and ask, “Okay, I will ask again- what are you trying to do, young lady?”

“Uncle Luke always said that having pie is the best solution to make you less stressed.”

I look at her and sigh with laughter. I shake my head, saying, “Oh God, what did I marry into?”

“Don’t worry, I’m paying and this is my treat. As a late birthday gift.”

I scoff. “All grown up, huh?” She makes a face and I chuckle. I smile and kiss her on the forehead. “Thank you” I whisper. And I do mean it.

Rose comes in with the “usual”- two slices of blueberry pie with a chocolate and strawberry milkshake. She sets it down and says, “Enjoy!”

I dig into my pie and moan in pleasure- it’s delicious, with just the right amount of whipped cream and blueberries. I sip my milkshake and Denny asks, “So what is it, Rory?”

I turn to look at her, taken aback. “What?”

“You said a lot of things were wrong.”

I sigh. “Oh honey, it’s just stuff... with the baby. I ... am scared. Like hell. I was so excited cause I thought the parent thing would be easy; you know, my mom did it and I turned out, relatively fine... but... what if I’m this boring mom for my baby? And you know, Jess will obviously be the cooler one.”

“I think you’re a lot cooler than Jess.”  

“Aww... thanks Denny. But I don’t think I’m the one who contributed to your great tastes in music.”

“But you have great taste in books and you were the one who helped me with my outfit for the first day of kindergarten.”

“Yeah well... it doesn’t make me feel any better.”

Denny sips the last of her milkshake. She asks, “Can I say something?”

I chuckle. “Anything.”

“Last year, at my music recital, I was all scared. I didn’t want to perform, cause everyone was so lame, and I thought I’d be the lamest. And Jess was there in the wings, cheering me on. it was no big deal, but he was there. And it made me win the best performance award.”

“And... your point being?”

“I managed to care less about my performance because Jess was there despite it being a ridiculous thing. So... you will have Jess and him just being there will make you worry less about being a parent. And anytime if you’d like, I can be the one in the wings, cheering you on.”

I sigh at the utter wisdom of this little girl. “Wow. Sometimes, I really forget that you’re six years old.”

“Almost seven.”

I shrug and finish the last of my pie. I finish my milkshake and feel the pain again. I grab Denny’s hand and grimace through it. It was just like the other times.

Until I feel a faint popping of sorts and a gush of liquid seeping down my legs. I look down and Rose comes in and her eyes widen at the leakage on the floor.

“Holy cow” she mutters.

“Yeah” I agree.

My baby’s coming out.

-x-

Denny and I take a cab back to the apartment, having frantically phoned Jess using Rose’s phone which sadly goes to voicemail. She assures us that she’ll pass the news the next time he calls back. She very gladly called the cab for us and pays the driver in advance. Denny hands her the money for the food and she smiles. “Take care of her.”

“I will.” I say as I grimace through a contraction.

“I wasn’t talking to you.”

“O-kay” I mutter, chastised.

The cab ride is short and sweet and I groan as the contractions become tenser. I walk the stairs and Denny holds on to me. The contractions seem to be coming closer and I squeeze Denny’s hands and the banister for good effect. We reach the apartment and I struggle to unlock it. I whimper through another contraction and tell Denny, “Sweetie, go next door and get Abuela.”

But she shakes her head. “I’m not leaving you” she whines, hugging me as her arms go all around my belly.

I sigh as I cuddle her head, ruffling her hair. “Baby, it’ll only take a few minutes. I can handle a few minutes” and then another contraction hits me. I yell as it intensifies. As soon as it subsides, I tell Denny, “Hurry! Please!”

She reluctantly lets go of me and leaves. I breathe slowly and make my way to mine and Jess’s bedroom. I slowly undress and put on a nightgown, hastily tying my hair into a ponytail.

Just then, another contraction hits and I sink to the floor. Abuela appears in the doorway, with Denny hot on her trails. She yells, “Aiyo! Rory!”

“Hi, Abuela.” I whisper weakly.

“Get on the bed. I need to see how much you’ve dilated.”

I obey, silently. Abuela checks it out and says, “It’s about 4 centimetres.”

“4?!” I ask deliriously.

She nods. I sigh, my head hitting the pillows. Denny scrambles next to me and we hold hands.

Abuela calls Jess, Luke and my mom and proceeds to set about things, such as bringing fresh towels and a basin of hot water. The contractions become longer and intense, and I scream. Denny rubs my hand soothingly, “It’s okay Rory.”

“Do something Denny.” I say.

“Like what?”

“Anything. Sing or dance. Or even tell a joke or an incident. Just distract me.”

She contemplates. And then she opens her mouth to sing and I laugh at her choice of song. It’s Oh-La-Di by the Beatles. And even I join in, as off-key as I can and stop short whenever the contractions come in. to which I stifle my screams and grab Denny’s hands.

And then like a movie, everything fades off into an echo, even Denny’s voice, as soon as I see him in the doorway. Jess. He’s watching me and Denny with tears in his eyes. And then as Denny finishes, he claps his hands.

Denny looks up and yells, “Jessy!” and runs to him.

He scoops her up and says, “Hey kiddo.” He adjusts her in her arms. “Jeez, you’re shaking. You sure you’re okay? You can wait in the hall if you want.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

Jess looks at me and I nod. I wanted her to be there. “Okay then.” He takes a seat next to me and I hug him. he reciprocates it and I breathe in deeply his hair and scent. He smells like sweat and nerves.

“You smell as if you went on a marathon.”

He scoffs. “I ran about 5 blocks.” He explains sheepishly. “I can take a shower.”

I shake my head and grab his head, locked in our embrace. “Just be with me.”

The hours pass. Luke and my mom finally arrive and Luke opts to stay in the hall and feed Denny with takeout he got from the diner while mom tries to make me as comfortable as possible, which is borderline annoying. It’s about 1:45 in the morning, when Abuela says it- “You ready to push?”

I look up, shocked. “It’s time?”

“Yes, it is.” She pauses and asks Jess, “Would you like to watch?” He pales and looks like he’s about to faint.

“I’m better up here” he says, eliciting an eye roll from me. My mom is on the other side. She shakes her head.

She says, “My baby needs me here.” And I groan in irritation.

And then I see Denny standing next to Abuela. No one says anything for a beat. And then Abuela says, “Alright, here we go! Rory, PUSH!”

And I start pushing. The pain is... magnanimous as if it’s one of the circles of hell, the one with the fiery pit. I can’t remember which one it is. I struggle to push and Jess and mom silently cheer me on as evident from them squeezing my hands tight. Denny looks stoically at me. But her eyes say it all. She’s giving me strength, telling me that I’m doing fine.

Time passes and the pain builds up to a crescendo to which I scream deliriously. I sense my legs in the air and I don’t think my body has ever felt this fluid. And Abuela says, “Almost there. One final push.”

And I throw my head back and stare at the ceiling. I muster a last ounce of courage to do it. Jess whispers in my ear, “You can do this. Get our baby out” I squeeze my eyes close and nod painfully.

And when I open my eyes, I see Grandpa. Staring calmly at me with his blue eyes. And my mind flips to various images- smiling, reading a book, working at his desk. And then him in another stance. In his coffin. Dead to the world. The anger and grief inside me soar to unbelievable heights I never knew existed.

And I scream a guttural cry, ripped out from the pits of my womb. Like I’m screaming for emancipation.

And everything stops hurting. The room stops spinning. There’s a brief lull of silence. My head hits the pillow and I feel exhausted. My head hurts and my stomach throbs painfully.

Then I hear it. A piercing wail fills the room.

And I start crying. Or laughing. Either way, I succumb to it from the sheer exhaustion and ache I feel. I slowly prop myself up, with Jess and Lorelai supporting me and see my baby.

My boy.

Just then, Abuela widdles me again and I gasp in shock. She raises her hand, saying, “It’s alright. Just detaching the placenta.” And I feel something detaching me as she sighs. “Done.”

She holds the baby up and I whimper. “Would you like to cut the cord?” she asks Jess. He looks white as a sheet and shakes his head.

“I’ll do it.” Denny offers. Abuela directs her and my baby never stops staring at her. I suddenly grow impatient, overwhelmed by the need to hold him.

As soon as the cord is cut, I whimper desperately “Gimme”, reaching out.

Abuela wraps him in a blanket, my baby blanket and places him carefully in my arms, his cries quieting slightly, but slowly mellowing to small squeaks as I hold him.

I look down at him, taking him in. Oh, he’s here. I’m officially a mom. I look at Jess and I see the tears streaming down his face and his smile cutting into his cheek.

“He’s perfect.” Jess says.

I smile, my own tears streaming down my face. I couldn’t agree more. My baby boy was here. He was so small, he fit right in the crook of my arm and so... perfect. He’s wrapped in my old baby blanket and he’s whimpering like this little lamb bleating. I touch his forehead to mine and nuzzle his nose.

“Hi, baby boy.” I whisper, kissing his head gently and then each one of his fingers.

I hear a sound resembling a choked sob, and look up to see Mom, holding back tears. I cry out, “Mommy!”

“Oh hon, you did so good!” she says, hugging me. She pulls back and says, “I have to go get Luke and tell the rest of the family. I’ll be right back.” And she leaves.

“He’s so little.” Denny says in wonder, having climbed onto the bed next to me peaking over my shoulder.

I chuckle at that. “Believe me kiddo, he wasn’t little inside of me.”

"I can attest to that. You looked like Violet Beauregarde when she was swelling up into a blueberry."

I nod, not paying attention to anything except my baby. He’s quiet now and burrowing himself into my chest. “Hmm, I bet he’s going to be one of the quiet ones.” Jess says, chuckling.

I pout. “Aww... I was hoping he could be the next James Dean.”

“Who’s James Dean?” Denny asks, excited.

“You’ll find out when you’re eighteen.” Jess says with a stern look, and Denny looks disappointed. I whisper, “I’ll show you his pictures on your birthday this year” in her ear and that cheers her up.

Abuela returns and surveys the scene. “Do we have a name?” Abuela says, watching and smiling at our happy family.

Jess and I shake our heads. “No. Not yet. We figured we’d choose when he would be here.” Jess explains.

Abuela smiles, saying, “There’s no rush. Baby boy Mariano is not bad for the time being.”

“No.” Jess says. “Baby boy Gilmore-Mariano.”

My heart stops. Did Jess just...? I look up at him and he smiles. And immediately at ease, I smile back. He stoops to look down at Richie but I hold my gaze. I lean in to kiss him on the cheek. As a thank you for putting up with me. As a thank you for all the years I’ve given him shit and still pulling through, for loving me through it all, for being there despite being so mean to him and for giving me the greatest gift.

He turns and I pull back. But eventually, his look softens and with a small smile, he leans in. Our lips meet and we kiss, a gentle thing. And then I feel Richie’s leg hitting my cheek and an ear-piercing scream, angry for us being distracted with each other. We laugh for the first time since ever and turn our attention to our baby boy.

-x-

We’re in the hospital and to our great relief, after running the necessary Apgar tests, our child is perfectly fine. I’m stitched up and given a dose of Motrin, but so far, everything is fine. Morning light seeps through the half-open binds, and we sit together in the hospital bed. Jess is cheek to cheek with me, staring at our son.

"I just want to look at him forever” I whisper.

I can feel the happiness in his voice as he whispers back, "Me too."

"October 11th is a pretty good birthday, don't you think?"

Jess smiles. "Yeah. But he'll never hear the end of it being a week late and then still refusing to come out until the very last minute thanks to blueberry pie and a milkshake."

I belly laugh. "But he's so worth it." I sigh. "Think it's time to introduce him to our crazy family?"

"Eh… five more minutes. Then yeah."

So, five minutes later, Jess goes to retrieve their family members, quietly returning a few minutes later with everyone, being my mom, Luke, Grandma, Liz and TJ, Lane and Dave, all looking simultaneously tired and exhilarated. They all have matching smiles, offering whispers of congratulations and pride before becoming transfixed with the newest member of our little family.

As soon as everyone has had a turn of ogling him, Jess and I exchange a silent gaze, an agreement to make our announcement.

I clear my throat and adjusting the infant in my arms, I happily say, “Everyone, meet Richard William Gilmore-Mariano.”

Lorelai and Emily gasp and stifle their tears, surprised as hell and wondering whether I had done it for a reason. I nod wordlessly in confirmation, blinking back mine. Luke pats Jess on the back, looking emotional.

Then everyone scrambles to hold him, and everyone has a different experience- Mom cuddles him and Luke tries his best to keep on a straight face, Grandma fauns over him, Liz and TJ have their own kind of weird hoodoo thing, and Denny is quiet, watching him and he stares right back. I intentionally joke that Richie has imprinted on her, but I see the faint smile of satisfaction on her face.

Eventually, everyone leaves and Jess and I are left alone. I fall asleep and Jess takes care of Richie. Eventually I wake, and Jess is sleeping in a chair and Richie is on the other end, sobbing in his crib. I immediately get up, and take him in my arms. And he instinctively quiets down.

He must be hungry. I sigh and sit on the bed, opening up my nightgown. Within seconds, he latches on and I sigh in victory, yelling, “HA!”. And then I immediately become quiet since I hear Jess stir and mutter incoherently but go back to sleep in seconds.

After what feels like ages, he unlatches and I mutter, “My, I really think you got that from me.” He squeals in response and I smile. I manage to burp him once he’s done, and I hold him as he snuggles into my chest. I hear his tiny snores and I whisper, “Hi.”

Okay, I’m getting off to a good start. “So, yeah. Took a long time to come out of me, but here you are. In the flesh. To be honest, I’m scared. I’m really scared. But the truth is, someone gave me some really good advice that I’m going to do my best no matter what. And you have to bear with me, because I’m your mommy and I’m not perfect but I will try 1000%. I promise I will be everything you need- me and your Dad and even more if and when needed. You’re my flesh and blood. My love, my life. And I love you. So go easy on me, okay?”

He whimpers and I smile. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

I get the feeling that I’m being watched. I turn to see Jess watching me with a soft look on his face. It’s a look of love and admiration and it settles in my bones. I smile back at him.

It’s a memory worth remembering till the end of time.

Well, until Richie starts squirming and Jess takes him away for a diaper change.

We’re dispatched from the hospital, and we return home. The car ride is quiet and as I sit at the back with my baby who’s currently sucking on his thumb and sleeping. I catch Jess’s eye in the rear-view mirror. We smile and Jess puts on the radio. A really great song by the Spinners is playing. And the words are everything I’m feeling in the moment.

I’m truly glad to know you
Baby soon you’ll want to go
Hey right now right now right now
I’m king on a throne

I turn to look at my baby, sleeping peacefully, and smile, happy with the name we picked out for him. I whisper, “You are going to have an amazing life, Richard William Gilmore-Mariano. Daddy and I will ensure that.”

8 MONTHS LATER (Jess and Rory’s 3rd Wedding Anniversary):

I stare in the mirror, checking the dress I had worn. It was a black strapless gown, with a purple sash and bodice. It accentuated my curves and I liked it. It made me feel like Gilda.

I hear the knock on the door. “Yeah?” I call out.

“Rory, we’re going to be late. The reservation’s at 6.”

I sigh. “Coming!” I look again and I huff. I had lost some of the weight I gained with my pregnancy, but I still looked... well, flabby would be a good word to put it at best.

I spritz a dash of perfume and come out. Richie is in his carrier, chuckling as Jess tickles and entertains him. he looked ravenous, debonair. A simple black-tie suit with his hair slicked back and a beard. He notices me as he turns.

I pose for him Rachel Green style, and he double-takes. “You look... God, you look...”

I grin. “I’ll take your loss of coherence as a compliment.”

The bell rings and Jess sighs in relief. “That’s the babysitter. Ready?”

I nod excitedly. We go through the formalities, and leave. As we wait in the elevator, I link my arm in Jess’s and he smiles.

The restaurant is a candle-lit affair. Jess has really outdone himself. I gasp and placing my clutch as I take a seat opposite him, I ask, “How did you score a reservation?”

“We’re doing a cookbook for the guy who owns the restaurant. Chris pulled the strings and gave the opportunity to me. Called it an anniversary present.”

I sigh happily. We enjoy a steak dinner with champagne and tiramisu for dessert. Then it’s time for our gifts. Jess pulls out his, a small ring box and I tap mine happily.

“on three?” I ask mischievously.

He chuckles. “On three.” He confirms.

I begin. “One.”

“Two” he says.

“THREE!” we say in unison. We switch boxes and I scramble to open mine. It’s a blue velvet box and I open it. I gasp when I see the contents- a pair of crystal earrings with a huge pearl in the center. I look up at Jess and I say- “It’s beautiful.”

He holds up his gift- a leather-bound notebook with his intials embedded on the front cover. Inside, I had saved all the tissues and scrap papers on which he had doodled and written random ideas and bunched them in the middle. “This is the best, better than mine, Ror.”

“Okay- let’s agree that we both outdid ourselves.” I say.

“Deal.”

We exit and Jess drives back. I turn on the radio and I sing happily along with it. Jess watches me, his hand never leaving mine from they’re resting on the center console.

We stop at a building. I’m confused. I ask, “Jess, what’s going on?”

“Okay, what if I told you... that Luke and Lorelai are babysitting Ritchie till tomorrow afternoon and you and I have one-on-one time till lunch?”

I’m frozen in shock. Jess says, “Rory? Are you-”

I stop him by firmly kissing him. I don’t stop till I’m completely out of breath. “You are the best husband alive. Don’t ever forget that.”

He smiles as he parks the car in a spot. We walk upstairs and Jess unlocks one of the apartments. It’s completely shrouded in darkness. Jess winks at me and says, “Just wait outside for a couple of minutes, okay?”

I pout and he smiles, kissing it off. “It’ll be worth it.” He promises.

I lean against the wall, tapping my clutch. And then Jess opens the door slightly and asks with a smirk, “You ready?”

I take his proffered hand. He pulls me closer and puts his other hand on my eyes. I’m led into the room and Jess whispers, “Your eyes closed?”

I roll my eyes but reluctantly close them and nod. Jess removes his hand and says, “Now open.”

I open them and I gasp in shock. Jess has recreated the site of our impromptu date, the weekend after we both met each other’s families as well as the night we first... you know. Candles are all over the place, tealights in glass holders and a mattress is in the center of the room, adorned with silk covers. “Oh, Jess...”

“Don’t worry. It’s just for a night. Figured we could get some alone time, you know what I mean?”

“Careful, hubby. Don’t want to end up with another baby, now do you?”

“Don’t even joke about that.” Jess says and I laugh. It had been eight months since Richie was born, exhausting months to say the least. But we pushed through.

Jess smiles, coming closer. “although, I would love to see that figure of yours.”

I wrap my arms around his neck and he places his hands on my waist. I whisper, “Hold on.”

I grab my new earrings and put them on. I turn to face him and fingers trail into the loopholes of his pants. I whisper seductively, “Now, Jess. Take me to another world.”

We kiss, slowly at first. Then it becomes heated. It’s a rush to get our coats off and I kick off my heels while Jess steps out of his shoes and slides them off to side.

After a while, he pulls back, saying, “I want to show you something. It’ll only take a minute.” I groan and he leads me to the bed. He drapes my arms across his shoulder. “Hold on.” he asks gently.

I’m taken aback as he dips me. And then I see it. The skylight with the evening sky on display. As if we were stargazing. I moan, “Wow!”

All of a sudden, he groans and we fall on the mattress. I laugh at the delirium of it all and Jess hovers over me. I tease him, “Did you mean to do that?”

He bites his lip and shakes his head. I lift my head up and capture his lips into a kiss. It’s slow and sweet, but no one can deny the passion behind it. I fall back onto the mattress, taking him in. He asks, “Did you mean to do that?”

I look at him. He sinks into me and I wrap my left leg around his hip. There’s no talking for a long time after that.

-x-

I stare at the night sky, satiated with the night’s activities. Jess is on his side, stroking my belly. I sigh, “I missed this.”

“I know. Me too.”

We stay like that, content with each other’s company. I thumb one of my earrings, the only thing on me. I pipe up nervously, “Jess?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m sorry.”

Jess stirs at that. He props himself on his elbow, and asks, “For what?”

“For giving you such a hard time during that last week of the pregnancy. Kicking you out, being mean.”

“You were carrying a baby, Rory. That too, being past the expiry date.”

“I know. I just... I should’ve been nicer. And... you need to know that you’re not annoying.”

“Rory.” Jess says, shifting so that he’s totally above me. “I love you. I wasn’t kidding when I said that no matter reasons or excuses life had to give me, I would never leave you. I’d be doing a great blunder. I want you, flesh, mind, soul. I’m in for the long haul.”

I smile, tears threatening to spill. I whisper, “I love you.”

He smiles. “I know.”

He mouths a few kisses at my neck and I moan my approval in pleasure. I stare into space, playing with the hair at the base of his neck and I say it, “you know it won’t be such a bad idea.”

“What?” Jess mutters, continuing to press lips to the column of my throat.

“Having another kid.”

He pulls back and sees that I’m not joking. “Seriously?”

“Not now.” I correct. “Eventually. When we both feel that it’s right. I mean, at least one more before our thirties. That way, they’re out of the house a little sooner. For now, let’s go with the flow. Okay?”

“Okay.”

He wants to say something more. I ask, “Something else you want to add?”

“It’s just... are you sure you’re okay with going through that again?”

I sigh and I sit up, clutching the comforter tightly. “Look, it was... well, it wasn’t very nice. But... I think it could be easier the second time around and... it’s not like we are in a rush to have kids before 30? Right?”

He sits up beside me, trailing a part on my exposed upper arm. He says, “Yeah. If you’d really want it, then... yes. I think that works.”

“But also, there’s that nagging thought that... what if we lose each other along the way? What if, we become parents, and we’re friends and I don’t know how to be your lover... I... forget how to seduce you?”

“Rory, first off, you never, and I mean never have to worry about forgetting each other; I promise that I will still be the husband that I’ve been and I’m going to be a 12 for our kid. But... let’s just handle one kid first. Then we’ll know when it’s time to have another kid. The universe will give us a sign.”

I nod. He always had a way with words. “Okay then. Let it just be the three of us. It’s more fun that way, isn’t it?”

He looks me, with his dopey grin and his eyes half-lidded but with warmth as much as chugging a butterbeer. Yes, apparently, I’m a Harry Potter fan, thanks to Denny and Ritchie.

“Come here.” he says, holding my face and pulling me into a tender kiss. I pull him even closer, my nails scraping into his back. It’s all tongue, heat and want and he pulls back, close enough to hear him saying, as he’s tugging the comforter, “Lose the sheet, I want to see you.”

I blanche at that and he picks up on my hesitation. “what? Something wrong?”

I shake my head, saying, “No. nothing’s wrong. It’s just... I don’t look the way I used to. I’ve got these stretch marks and I still have some extra weight from the pregnancy.”

Jess looks at me and says my name again. I sigh and I release the sheet.

He looks at me, all exposed, but he doesn’t look as if he’s disgusted. It reminds me of this one scene in a book where the author’s second husband John reacts to Jeanette’s scars. I remember the exact words- And when I first showed him my scar, he said it was interesting. He used the word ‘textured’. He said ‘smooth’ is boring but ‘textured’ was interesting, and the scar meant that I was stronger than whatever it was that had tried to hurt me.

And that’s how Jess is making me feel. He kisses my clavicle and I close my eyes to bask in it. He slowly moves lower and I gasp as I feel his lips on my stomach. I hear him whisper, “So beautiful.”

I whimper softly and sink back into the mattress as he slips under the covers, pressing kisses to my thighs, soft butterfly-ones. I feel him breath against my core, and then I sense him moving up and then feeling his hand beneath my thigh. He’s level with me, staring intensely and muttering darkly, “Look at me, baby.”

I nod and I gasp as he squeezes my thigh and enters me. I close my eyes but Jess whispers, “Keep your eyes open baby.” I immediately open them and Jess starts moving- hard, firm moves that have a jolting effect and I hold back the urge to make any sound. But Jess carnally says, “I want to hear you, baby. Don’t hold back.”

I follow his instructions blindly and he moves intensely. I hold his face in my hands and he gathers me into his arms, his hands on the back of my ribs. He doesn’t slow down and the sensation is too fiery, almost bordering on vivid immediacy and a fervent sensuality being quenched. I let out guttural, unnatural sounds as he pumps into me. He doesn’t break eye contact with me, and that blows my mind away. He takes me into the stars above us, riding on silver wings.

It’s past the point of passion, and the pressure of Jess hitting straight at my clitoris and the way his body tensed under my fingertips is enough to release my orgasm which washes over my body. My left hand flops against the pillows and Jess grabs it tightly. He continues to fuck me into oblivion and I feel him reach his orgasm as he melds into my shoulder. I scream as I feel his teeth sink into the flesh there and I grip the sheets tightly. He doesn’t let go of my hips and I get the vague feeling that there will be a visible mark by tomorrow morning.

I feel Jess’s hot breath against my throat and I play with the hairs at the base of his neck with one hand while the other rubs circles into the small of his back. He groans and shifts me to my side and gently pulls out.

I whimper at the loss and look at him. he smiles hazily and I whisper, “You know- if this is how Buffy and Spike did it during that fling of theirs, I’m considering myself as the luckiest person.”

Jess laughs, pulling me closer. I slide a hand against his chest and he presses a kiss to my forehead and I fall asleep in pure, unadulterated bliss.

I wake up to sunlight streaming the windows and the smell of pancakes. I let out a breathless giggle as I hurry out of bed. I grab Jess’s dress shirt from off the floor and slip it on, buttoning about half of the buttons, sighing as his scent surrounds me. I grab my phone from my clutch and see my hair; I try running my fingers through it in order to loosen some of the waves. But it’s no use- my hair is completely and thoroughly mussed.

This is absolutely what they call sex hair, I think, warmth spreading through my chest as I remember last night’s activities. Trying to clear my thoughts, but completely unable to banish my smile, I make my way to the kitchen, where the delicious smells are coming from-

And I stop, feet rooted to the ground, at the sight that welcomes me.

Jess is standing in the middle of the kitchen as he spoons what looks like scrambled eggs onto two plates before he turns to check something on the stove - bacon, if I had to guess from the smell. He moves confidently around the space, all but naked except for the black boxer briefs he’s wearing, the sunlight that streams in through the windows bouncing off his bare skin, making him look like he’s glowing as it emphasizes the lines of his body against his tanned skin, and highlighting the wild cloud of his hair, locks curling just so at the ends. The look on his face is focused, intense, but edged with happiness.

It’s the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen and I’m so pleased that I could wake up to this every day for the rest of my life. It’s also incredibly and irresistibly sexy and I find myself growing short of breath as desire begins to pool low in my belly, warming me to the bone and making my skin tingle.

I mean, what woman wouldn’t want a mostly naked gorgeous man cooking breakfast in the kitchen?

“Hey, there,” I call out, giggling as Jess startles a bit. But the giggles fade when he looks at me, the look in his eyes full of awe and love. I just want to drown in the emotions the sight sparks in me.

And, just like that, I fall in love with him all over again.

“Morning,” he says, clearing his throat a bit at how husky it came off.

“Mm, morning,” I say as I sidle up next to him, wrapping my arms around him with my front pressed against his side, and Jess leans over to kiss me, spatula in one hand where it’s poised over the pan in front of him. after I settle back down on my feet, I ask, “What’s for breakfast?”, stepping away to lean against the counter by the stove so that Jess can turn off the burner before he overcooks the bacon.

He grins. “Well, bacon, for one - and I gotta tell you, I love the person who has bacon in the fridge. I also just finished making scrambled eggs. And then, to bring it all together.” He shifts, showing me the stack of pancakes. “Buttermilk pancakes.”

“You made me pancakes?” I say, voice soft, as a blinding smile crosses my face.

“I did,” Jess says, smiling back as he pins me gently against the counter. He tucks a strand of my hair behind my ear before he slides his fingers into the hair on the side of my head, and my heart skips a beat at the feel of the soft strands beneath his touch.

 “Marry me,” I say, smile still affixed to my face.

“You do know, that ring on your left hand is proof that we’re legally bound, right?”

“Yeah. But I’d like a second time.” I say, biting my lower lip irresistibly. It works, because Jess rushes forward, leaning over and pulling my lower lip between his teeth as he kisses me. His hands go to my hips to pull me up against him and I kiss him back, letting out a whimpering moan against his lips that sets him on fire.

He holds my hips even tighter as he lifts me, boosting me up onto the counter. I jump up a bit so I can sit on the edge of the tile. My knees part, letting him step between them as he kisses me even harder, our mouths opening against each other in an attempt to devour each other.

Jess’s hands slowly slide down from my hips to the tops of my thighs, my skin gloriously bare beneath his touch, before he sneaks his hands up under the hem of his dress shirt. His palms glide against the naked skin of my hips and he groans. He must have realized that I’m only wearing his shirt and the realization has him gripping my hips tight, fingers curling around me almost bruisingly.

I whimper and pull away from the kiss with a sharp gasp. “Breakfast is going to get cold,” I say, breathless with the desire that always overtakes us so easily.

“Hmm, would be a shame to ruin all my hard work,” Jess says, grinning.

I mirror the grin, giggling as my hands come up to rest lightly on his chest. “It’s like you want me to make a horrible double entendre right now. You’ve set me up so nicely for it and everything.”

Jess wiggles his eyebrows. “I do live to serve.”

I lick my lips, sucking in a sharp breath. “Hmm, I’ll keep that in mind.”

We eat breakfast in the kitchen, just like this: me perched on the counter, Jess standing between my parted knees, eating and feeding each other bites off our plates (even though we each have the exact same thing), trading sweet, salty kisses in between all of it.

We fool around for the next three hours- starting with on the counter, then in the shower, and then back on the mattress. It’s like old times, when we were friends with benefits but with more love and passion involved.

Eventually, we know we have to go back to reality- parenting and Richie. Jess has stowed a bag full of clothes to change into and I give him a quick peck on the lips as a thank you. We drive back, holding hands as we listen to the radio.

Eventually, we park into our building. I all but run to the flat, and throwing open the door, I proclaim, “Lucy, I’m home!”

“In here.” My mom calls out.

I follow the sound and I scream in delight, “Ritchie!”

He screeches in delight and I hear him say, "Mama". I gasp in shock and take him into my arms, pressing kisses all over his forehead.

"Yess, baby. I'm your mama." He gurgles and I resist the urge to cry.

Lorelai says, “Looks like you had a great anniversary celebration.”

I scoff, smiling playfully. “the best.” I say.

I don’t tell her that we talked about having another kid. But for now, I bask into the happiness of being a mom itself.

-x-