Rodrigo: My Momma is the best! Every breakfast is tasty!
Rodrigo: My Momma makes potty time so much fun!
Rodrigo: She has the funnest sleep stories!
Rodrigo: My Papi has good stories too!
Rodrigo: When Papi is gone, and Momma is talking, I watch my baby brother and my other baby brother. I’m Momma’s Helper!
Carmen and her boys were doing well. Rodrigo loved being a big brother and he was always excited to “help” take care of his baby brothers. Carmen felt blessed, and she promised herself she wouldn’t mess up her blessings by continuing to engage in reckless behavior. She stuck true to her promise to herself and hadn’t slept with Hugo since she found out she was pregnant.
Hugo didn’t like her decision, but he accepted it. He still came around often to help with the boys, and they were settling in well to the new boundaries of the co-parenting situation.
Even when Hugo wasn’t there, Carmen still got lots of visitors. One afternoon, she was surprised when Elizabeth and Luca Holloway stopped by to visit Carmen. Neither of them had ever been to her house before.
Liz started gushing over Rodrigo before she was even in the door good. “Isn’t that cute? He’s watching them sleep! I can’t wait until our baby is here. How do your boys sleep through the music you have playing? I should only be so lucky that any kids we have are heavy sleepers. It’s so quiet out there where we live, I bet any loud sound will wake them up.”
Feeling a bit overwhelmed by Liz’s effusive energy, Carmen paused to process everything before choosing which part of Liz’s statement to respond to. “Babies can get adjusted to pretty much any environment,” said Carmen, “at least that’s what all the baby books tell me. So Luca, what brings you two by?”
“What, we need a reason to visit a friend? Maybe we should go,” said Luca in mock passive aggressive voice.
“Oh don’t be a Silly Willy,” said Liz. “Carmen loves having visitors, don’t you Carmen? I mean, my mom’s here all the time!”
“Heh,” said Luca, “I didn’t know Mrs. Chong was over here a lot. Small world.”
Carmen had a lot of energy herself, and she could find something to like about everyone, but Liz just had this way of getting under one’s skin. Carmen took a deep breath and looked away before responding.
Carmen: Well damn, no wonder both Daniella and Laurel find this girl annoying. However, I will not let the opinions of my friends sway me without giving things a chance. I owe it to my girl Hope to not assume her daughter is a chatty dingbat.
“Well,” said Liz, “am I right, or am I right? It’s totally fine that we’re here right?”
Carmen finally responded, digging deep to find her cheerful and hospitable voice. “Of course it’s fine that you’re here. Any daughter of Hope’s is welcome here. And Luca, you know you’re always welcome. You know you oughta call Liz’s mom Hope instead of Mrs. Chong. I mean, you’re closer to her age than you are to Hope’s!”
Carmen: Darn, that came out petty. And hypocritical. Oops. Rein it in girl.
Liz’s smile faltered, but Luca busted out laughing. “You know,” said Luca, “you’re right Carmen. I can always count on you to tell it like it is.”
Once she heard her husband’s words, Liz seemed to regain her smile, though it was smaller than before. Still, Carmen was grateful she hadn’t ruined the potential for them to be friends.
Carmen: Well, at least now she’s knows I’m sassy. And I know she gets a bit…too familiar. We can build on that.
Carmen returned a small smile in Liz’s direction.
“I am being so rude,” exclaimed Carmen suddenly. “I haven’t even offered y’all a seat! Please, sit down.”
Liz took a seat on the couch, but Luca did not. He noticed Rodrigo had started bobbing to the music and decided to join in.
“Luca,” said Liz as she watched him dance, “will you teach our kids to dance like that? That’s so adorable! Carmen, won’t that be adorable? Like, the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen?”
“Erm…,” began Carmen, not entirely sure how to answer Liz’s question.
“Please don’t ask her to find our imaginary dancing children more adorable than her actually dancing child right in front of us,” said Luca.
“That’s not what I was doing, sweetie,” said Liz. “Carmen knows what I meant, don’t you Carmen?”
“Erm…,” began Carmen, not wanting to be rude but not wanting to answer dishonestly. She decided to change the subject. “You seem to have children on the brain Liz. What’s–”
“I know! I do! It’s because I’m so excited,” said Liz. “We’re expecting! I know I’m not showing yet, it’s my darn athletic body, but I’m pregnant! I mean, some women look like they’re in their second trimester the second they know they’re pregnant, but not me. My doctor said I could have twins in there, but you wouldn’t know by looking at me.”
“Yeah,” said Luca, “my wife’s body is banging. She is indeed knocked up, but luckily she’s not baby-fat yet. The way she looks now makes me hope her body will bounce right back after. If I had any money, I would’ve made her sign a prenup promising to stay hot and skinny, haha.”
“Well, alright,” said Carmen, ignoring the implied fat shaming and joining Liz on the couch. Laurel had shared some gossip with Carmen regarding Liz’s possible pregnancy, so Carmen was glad to have the confirmation. Luca sat down too as Rodrigo headed back to the bassinets to watch his brothers. “Congratulations are in order! Since I’m the old pro at baby carrying here, do you have any questions for me?”
“Yeah, I do,” said Liz. “They say childbirth hurts a lot. Is it really that bad? I can’t get a straight answer out of my mom or sister-in-law.”
“Honey, of course it hurts,” said Carmen. “But it’s worth it. You went to high school with Hugo and Luna Villareal, right? Well, Luna’s wife Aadhya is a doctor. Dr. Villareal has delivered every baby born in our world in the past 10 weeks, so she’ll likely deliver yours too. She’s not the most… skilled, but she’ll make sure you and your baby come out alright, okay?”
“Um, that does not make me feel better,” said Liz.
“I thought you wanted the truth, not to be made to feel better,” said Carmen.
“No, I’d prefer to go with the answer that keeps a smile on my face,” said Liz.
Carmen: That explains a lot.
“Well, hey, let’s focus on the bright side,” said Liz, her smile returning to full brightness, “our doctor thinks it might be twins! It’s too early to tell, but if he’s right, I’ll only have to go through this once. I only ever wanted two kids, so maybe I’ll get lucky!”
“I’ll cross all my fingers and toes for you honey,” said Carmen.
“Thanks! Okay, I’ve gotta run to the bathroom,” said Liz, “I’ll be right back.”
As soon as she was out of sight, Rodrigo took her place on the couch. Carmen smiled at him then turned to Luca.
“Okay, tell me why you’re really here,” said Carmen. “I know it wasn’t just so I could burst your wife’s bubble about the pain of childbirth.”