It was hard to say who was counting down the days to the birth of the twins most eagerly. Understandably, by this point Jack wanted the pregnancy over immediately, if not sooner. He was tired of looking, as he put it, like a hippopotamus crossed with a bouncy castle, and being unable to see, never mind reach, his feet. According to Owen, Jack was approximately thirty weeks along, and the babies seemed to be on the move constantly, battling each other for room to grow, and kicking seven kinds of hell out of Jack’s innards.
“That’s it, no more kids after these,” he told Ianto several times a day. “Three is more than enough. If you want more, you can be the one who gets pregnant next time.”
Ianto wisely refrained from pointing out that despite being immortal, as an otherwise regular twenty-first century human male, he lacked the necessary parts for childbearing.
For his part, Ianto would be glad when the babies finally arrived, partly because he knew Jack was having an increasingly rough time as his pregnancy progressed, and partly because it would mean he’d get time off work. He’d been running Torchwood for the last couple of months, ever since Jack’s pregnancy had reached the stage where he’d had to give up going to the Hub because he no longer fitted behind his desk. Ianto hadn’t had a single day off since then. Owen would be taking over leadership for the first six weeks of the twins’ lives so that Ianto could stay home and help Jack juggle feeding and changing two babies, although in the event of an emergency one or other of them would be available to assist the team.
The two parents weren’t the only people eager to see the end of this particular pregnancy. Like Jack, Nosy was looking more than a bit frazzled. It still had Meriel to look after and play with, more now than ever since Jack was incapable of doing much more with his daughter than playing board games, reading with her, doing jigsaw puzzles, or watching TV. But now while Ianto was at work and Meriel was at school, Nosy had Jack to take care of, fetching him things, picking up whatever he dropped, and comforting him when he felt ugly and lumpy, or tired, or bored, or all of those things at once.
Not that Jack got bored easily; as he had when he was expecting Meriel, he’d been knitting up a storm, this time making two of everything, although mostly in different colours. The pile of handknitted baby clothes in the nursery was huge and Jack had taken to buying wool in bulk online, having it delivered to the Tourist Office for Ianto to bring home since taking delivery himself wasn’t an option. As the world’s first pregnant man, he couldn’t afford to draw attention to himself, and no one could avoid noticing him; he wasn’t exactly inconspicuous.
Meriel was getting impatient too. She marked another day off on the calendar every morning, kissing her daddy and talking to the baby bump before going to school. She was excited about becoming a big sister, eager for the babies to arrive so she could help look after them, but every day when she got home, the babies were still inside her daddy, and he looked bigger and more uncomfortable than ever.
“I’m not sure if I want to have babies when I grow up,” she confided in her Taddy one morning. “It looks so uncomfortable, and they take so long to grow. It’s been simply MONTHS, and poor Daddy can hardly walk. How much longer?”
Ianto smiled, kissing the top of his daughter’s head. “Nobody ever has to have babies if they don’t want to, Princess. As for Daddy, it shouldn’t be much longer. Uncle Owen says it could be any day now, but the babies will know when they’re ready, and they’ll let Daddy know.”
“And then Uncle Owen will come and cut them out of Daddy’s tummy?”
Meriel frowned. “I don’t know if I want to see that part, all the blood would be icky, but I’ll want to meet my brother and sister right away.”
“And I’ll make sure that you do.”
“But if they arrive while I’m at school, I’ll miss everything.”
“If that happens one of your aunties will go to your school and fetch you, I promise.”
“That’s okay then. Thanks, Taddy.”
“Come on, let’s get you to school. You don’t want to be late.”
The days drifted slowly by, one after another, with very little changing except that Jack got bigger and his knitting pile grew taller. Meriel dashed in every afternoon to fuss over her Daddy and the bump, telling them about her day, and almost before they knew it another week had passed. Jack sighed a lot, rubbing his aching back, and Ianto massaged his husband’s aching feet, and Nosy hummed comfortingly as it picked up Jack’s knitting for the seventh time, and the countdown to Baby Day continued. Ianto had never known time to pass so slowly, not even when Jack had been pregnant with Meriel.
Another week passed, and then another, and Meriel crossed one more day off on the calendar before going to school. It was Tuesday and she liked Tuesdays because she had art in the afternoon. She painted a picture of her Daddy and her Taddy, each of them holding a baby, and put herself in the middle, with a great big smile on her face. She would have put Nosy in the picture too, but the Fluff was supposed to be a secret, so she’d just add it in when she took her painting home.
Auntie Tosh was waiting at the school gates for her when the bell rang, and there was no sign of her Taddy; that was when Meriel knew.
She ran up to her Auntie. “Is it time?” she asked breathlessly, eyes wide with excitement.
Her auntie nodded. “We should hurry, or you’ll miss everything. Are you nervous?”
“No, I’m excited! Why didn’t you fetch me sooner?” Meriel hurried towards Auntie Tosh’s car, practically dragging her auntie with her by the hand.
“We only just got the call ourselves. Perhaps your brother and sister have been waiting so you can be there to greet them.”
That made a sort of sense to Meriel, she’d told the twins many times how much she loved her Tuesday art class so they must not have wanted to interrupt her in the middle of it. Hopefully, the babies would wait a little longer though, just until she got there. She fidgeted all the way home, completely unable to sit still; after all the endless months the long-awaited day was finally here! She was so lucky; no one else in her class was getting a baby brother and a baby sister at the same time! Of course, two babies would be a lot of work, but she’d help her daddies as much as she could, and so would Nosy.
The birth wasn’t as horrid as Meriel had thought it might be. There was blood of course, and the babies came out looking all slimy and crumpled up, but her daddy healed up right away. She was allowed to cut the cord for her sister, while her Taddy cut her brother’s, then while Daddy had a shower, she got to hold her brand new baby sister in her arms, all red and scrunched up. She gazed in wonder at the tiny little nose and pursed lips, the delicate little fingers, and the bright blue eyes, so much like her own.
“Hello, baby,” she whispered. “I’m Meriel, your big sister. We’re going to have so much fun together as you get bigger, you and me and our brother.”
“Was it worth the wait?” Taddy asked, sitting beside her, cradling her baby brother in his arms.
Meriel nodded, so full of happiness that she was lost for words. This was absolutely the best day of her whole life!