A week after Bruno won 5 Grammys for Come Back to Me he woke up with Marla stretched out in the bed pushing him to the corner of the bed. He hugged her tightly rolling her off of him with her not even moving a muscle he got out of the bed putting on a shirt walking past piles of new baby things stopping to see Rosie stretched out in her bed the same way Marla slept. He smiled at her deciding not to wake her up walking to the kitchen looking at the small note Marla had left him on the fridge. It’s been more than 5 years. Can you believe that? ”Not even a bit, baby.” he said to the note pulling out the ingredients for chocolate pancakes that he was going to make with Rosie later in the morning- something that had become a tradition on the day of her birthday parties. He felt a hand touch his waist lightly feeling Marla’s stomach against him. He laughed at her turning around to kiss her. ”Good morning mama.” he said handing her a few things to put on the counter.
”Good morning, Bruno.” she sat down at the kitchen table watching him. ”Why didn’t you wake her up?” she asked him.
”Same reason I didn’t wake you up. You’re both grouchy when someone wakes you up.” he told her honestly. She started to open her mouth with him starting to talk for her ”and don’t even tell me it’s the babies because you’re like that pregnant or not.”
”Damn. You’re right.” she said defeated hearing foot steps behind her and Bruno’s eyes lighting up.
”Good morning, Rosalia.” he told her holding out his arms. ”Are you ready for pancakes?” he asked her.
”The chocolate ones?” she asked him.
”Yes!” he told her moving the chair over to the counter for her to help him.
”Dad…can mom help this time?” Rosie asked.
”Why don’t you ask her, baby doll?” Bruno asked her.
”Mommmaaa…..” Rosie whined turning around seeing Marla watch them. ”Come help me…and then the babies can help toooo.” she said with a bright smile.
”Okay…but you have to teach me how to do it…you have three years on me.” Marla said mixing things with them.
Later that afternoon Bruno saw Marla contemplating how to bring out a large stack of party favors and food in the house. He walked up to her staring at the items the same way she was. ”Well…aren’t you gonna help me or are you going to use your Bruno Mars powers to make them magically move to the backyard?” she asked him.
”I’ll go with the second one.” he said walking away from her.
”Hey!” she yelled half upset and half sarcastic. She turned around seeing him laughing at her. ”Quit being a dick and help me. God.” she moaned pointing to the things she couldn’t handle. She walked out the door not saying anything to him. She put the things down seeing him talking to Eric. She could only imagine the conversation they were having. She’s being such a bitch. I cannot wait for her to not be pregnant anymore. Now I know why I was on tour the last time she was pregnant. When can we leave? She imagined the thoughts starting to cry. She started moving things around for the party wiping her tears as people came up talking to her about Rosie and how excited they were to have the other babies in a few months. After everything started she sat down next to Bruno at a table looking at him still angry at what he had said earlier. He smiled at her taking her hand squeezing it. She held in everything that she wanted to say to him knowing that she would embarrass herself if she told him exactly what she was thinking at that very moment. After the party she cleaned up feeling like this was a lot like two years ago, even if she couldn’t remember the day well enough to pinpoint exactly what she was feeling. She said good bye to her brother and his family as they were the last ones to leave. She held onto some plates washing them as Bruno started to put together one of Rosie’s new toys. She smiled at him still upset at the way he acted earlier. She saw him push Rosie toward her bedroom. She watched him walk toward her taking the plates out of her hand.
”Go sit down…” he said to her putting the plates back in the sick taking her hand leading her to the couch and a pile of pillows he had made for her feet.
She looked at him almost about to cry. ”If you don’t want to be here you can go to the studio…or you can go to your brother’s…or..wherever…”
”I’m not even going to answer that statement, Marla Hernandez.” he told her kissing her walking away hearing her cry into a pillow.
”Oh god. I’m soooo sorrrryyyy.” she whined. ”You were just being sarcastic…..I couldn’t tell. I’m horribleeee.” she cried even more. Bruno put down the dishes he was washing walking over to her lifting up her feet sitting underneath them
”Marla….stop. I know you’re up and down but babyyy…I’m not upset at you or frustrated or anything. I’m more in love with you today than I was yesterday. And I’ll love you even more tomorrow…if that’s possible.”
”Shut up. I’m going to start calling you Cheese. You get cheesier every damn day, Bruno Hernandez.” she smiled through her tears wiping her face.
”Well….if I’m Cheese you get to be Maple because you’re sappy!” he laughed at her.
”Oh dang. Bruno! That was good. I’ll be Maple but you have to agree to respond to Cheese until the babies get here.” she told him sitting up looking at him.
”Baby….” he stopped being silly suddenly becoming serious.
”What?” she asked him.
”Do we get to have sex today?” he asked her still in a serious tone. She raised her eyebrow at him shrugging her shoulders.
”I don’t know.” she smiled at him saying it the same way Rosie did when she knew she was in trouble.
”Oh god. Marla.” he laughed seeing Rosie walking toward them in a big Barbie dress and a tiara with the dog behind her wrapped in a pink boa.
”Mommaa…come dress up with me.” she asked.
”Help me get up, Bruno…we gotta go get dressed up.” Marla said as Bruno lifted her up dramatically. Marla watched her daughter pull clothes out for her. Mala leaned her head down trying to put on the clothes. ”Rosie..I think I’m too big for these.”
”No, mama. You’re amazing just the way you are. Now stand next to the Prince.” she moved her mother over to Bruno picking up the camera taking a picture of them.
Bruno picked Rosie up tickling her throwing her on her bed. ”Let’s get you ready for bed Princess.” She lifted her arms up letting him take off the dress tucking her into the bed in her pajamas. Marla watched Bruno take care of all of this realizing that he did a lot of it when she was sick. Wow. He’s amazing. She leaned her head back on the wall daydreaming trying to remember past birthdays. Their anniversary and Rosie’s birthday were the only days she could continue to remember small details of. She could never figure out why she didn’t remember Christmas or either of their birthdays or other holidays. Their anniversary, June 18 2014 and Rosie’s birthday..whatever day they ended up celebrating it were always the most vivid memories she recalled. She drifted to sleep feeling herself land on their fluffy mattress second later.
”Brunnnoooo…” she called out.
”What mama?” he asked nearing the door.
”I don’t think we’re gonna have sex tonight.” she yawned stretching out in the bed.
”It’s okay, Maple. I’ll let it slide this time. But you’ve gotta make it up to me next year.” he winked turning off the light to their bedroom sitting down at the piano with his notebook. He moved his fingers along the piano playing something she had never heard before making her fall asleep.
Today we celebrated Rosie’s 5th birthday. Five years and 8 days ago you were yelling at me and telling me that you hate me. Too bad I put a ring on it because you’re mine forever- no matter how hormonal or sick you are. You’re mine forever! See…it would be better if you could hear me laughing after writing that. After you and Rosie went to sleep I wrote a song. I think you’ll like it. But you can’t hear it yet. It’s not finished. And don’t even think about telling Rosie to ask me to sing it to her. It’s not happening, Maple. I love you Mar.
Cheese (or Bruno whichever)
”Look at thissss…” Marla said holding out chenille bunny in the store with Bruno and Rosie. He raised his eyebrow at her seeing if she would get it.
”Our newborn children will not hear that song until they are 18.” Marla laughed. ”I think it’s cute…and it goes with the whole theme.” she answered him.
”Our theme….I think it’s your theme, Mar.” Bruno said holding the bunny handing it to Rosie. ”What do you think, Rosie?” he asked her.
”I like it. And I like all these…” she answered picking up a pile of stuffed animals. ”But these are for me. Not for the babies.”
”Okay, Rosie…but you have to share.” Marla told her daughter. ”We’ll get them for you…but you have to give one to each of them.”
”No. They’re only mine. I’m not sharing.” she answered. Bruno walked about from them knowing that she was going to give her a mommy talk that involved lots of therapy and little mothering. He sighed wandering around picking up things seeing how expensive they were. Marla sat Rosie down on a mushroom shaped bean bag chair sitting next to her in a cushy matching chair not quite sure if she was going to be able to get up- now 7 months pregnant.
”Rosie….do you know what the best part about being a sister?” Marla asked her.
”What, mama?” she asked.
”Well, the favorite part about being a sister is sharing the things that you have with your brothers and sisters.” Marla answered.
”No, mommy. I’m not sharing. I’m never sharing.” she said holding onto the stuffed animals/
”So you’re not going to share your love or me or your dad with your brother and sister?” Marla asked.
”No, momma. That’s silly. Of course I’m going to share you. But not my toys.” Rosie responded.
”Well…what happens when they have something you want? Like a toy…” she pulled one of the stuffed animals out of her daughter’s hand. ”Or some food…like on their birthday…or when you get older you want to borrow your sister’s clothes? Are you going to share then?”
”That’s even sillier momma…I’m not going to want their icky food and I sure won’t be able to wear baby clothes..they’re too small.” Rosie replied unable to understand her mother’s abstract thought.
”Okay, Rosalia. That’s alright.” she kissed her daughter getting up out of the chair leading her daughter to the part of the store Bruno was at.
”Look at this…” Bruno said pointing to a red crib and a yellow crib. ”It’s radical red and doo-wops yellow.” Mara walked up next to him running her fingers along the crib.
”I like them.” she answered. ”Let’s get them.”
”What? You aren’t gonna argue about it?” he asked her.
”Nope. We’ve looked at all of these…” she motioned to the whole room full of furniture. ”And they’re all pretty much the same…it’s just the color. I just want it all to be done. I just want the decorating and the presents and all the stuff to be done. It was so stressful with Rosie. I forgot how stressful it was, Bruno. So let’s get these and go home. And my feet hurt.” she told him. ”Oh and the stupid stuffed animals for little miss selfish.”
Marla sat on the couch watching Rosie jump around playing a video game without a care in the world after their shopping trip. In front and behind her there were piles of stuffed animals topped with her favorite frog. ”You’re cleaning that up, right, Bru?” she asked him looking up at him as he handed her a plate of celery covered in peanut butter wrapped in a corn tortilla. She smiled at him taking the plate. ”Thank you.”
”Yes, I’ll clean it up.” he said sitting on the couch rearranging her feet then wrapping his arms around her laying one hand on her enormous stomach. ”Hey..Maple?” he asked her.
”Yeah Cheese?” she laughed at him readjusting herself to look at him.
”This isn’t too bad, you know? Like being married and having kids and sitting on a couch with your pregnant wife? I know what my parents were talking about when they said having a family was the best thing in the world.” Bruno told her.
”Oh man, Brunz. You got that oxytocin high don’t you?” Marla laughed.
”The what? That’s not a drug is it?” he asked her shocked by her statement.
”Oh goodness. You really haven’t read any of the books have you?” she replied.
”I got through the first three months. I read it the first time…I don’t think much has changed….” he admitted.
”Nevermind. I was being intellectual. You’d tell me to shut up.” she said turning to watch Rosie still bouncing around in front of their large tv.
”I wanna know!” he told her pulling her face back toward him.
”It’s just a hormone. It’s like a bonding and love hormone that’s released when you’re in love. It increases in guys when their significant others are pregnant.”
”Oh.” he answered.
You said something about me having some funky hormone today because of the babies. I don’t know if it was a compliment or an insult or it was just you being yourself. Either way I’m happy that I get to be with you and Rosie every single day until we see these babies. I didn’t realize until a few days ago how much I missed when I was gone when you were pregnant with Rosie. I’m sorry I missed your morning sickness and your cravings and your huge feet, your mood swings and your smelly farts and the hilarious way you walk. I love you because of all of that, not in spite of it. Mar, I love you forever and always.
A month and a half later Marla looked in her daughter’s closet pulling out clothes for her first day of Kindergarten. She held onto a bright purple shirt trying not to cry. Oh my god. She’s so big. I don’t even know what to do anymore. Babies were so easy….she’s going to be 18 in a blink of an eye….She heard a bang on the other side of the house jolting her out of her thoughts. She heard Rosie’s cries causing her to drop everything running toward her daughter who was sitting next to Bruno who was holding her arm.
”She dropped one of your books on her…..” he said pointing to a pile of Marla’s textbooks now laying on the floor. ”We were going to move it to the babies’ room…” he told her.
”Oh…Rosieeee….are you okay?” Marla asked sitting on the floor next to her.
”Mommaaa…it hurts.” she cried. Bruno let go of her going to the kitchen getting an ice pack for her handing it to Evie who held onto Rosie who slowly started to calm down.
”Go with your dad, mama…” Marla pushed her daughter off her lap after a few minutes of crying. ”Are you gonna be okay?”
”I’m better mommy.” she told her running toward Bruno who was in the babies’ bedroom with the book shelf.
”Oh god. I can’t get uppppp….” she whined. ”Brunnnnooooo.” her cries went unanswered so she turned to the side of the floor closing her eyes. I am tired…..she thought to herself trying to fall asleep while the two of them were in the bedroom. A few minutes later she was awaken by their front door opening with a huge group of people coming in the house- his brother and family and Phil’s family came in the house in a rush full of things they had bought and stored in the kitchen.
”Mar! What are you doing on the floor?” Urbana asked.
”I got stuck.” she laughed while Eric helped her get up. ”Thank you. Your brother was no help at all.” she told them taking a handful of small clothes placing them in the pile with other clothes holding onto a small ball throwing it toward Bruno in the other room. ”That’s for leaving me on the floor. Jerk.” she told him.
”What are you talking about?” he asked her.
”Oh god….Bruno…she was asleep on the floor because she couldn’t get up with all these babies in her!” Cindia told him.
”Oh…oh…Mar….sorry.” he answered.
She rolled her eyes helping to set up the bedroom with everyone else.
A few days later Marla laid stretched out in the bed turning to see her alarm go off at 5:30 in the morning. She struggled to get out of the bed finally getting up after almost falling on top of Bruno. She walked out of the bedroom headed toward her daughter’s bedroom running into Rosie who was running her way. ”Ouch.” Marla said feeling her daughter run into her hugging her.
”Mom! I go to school today!” she exclaimed.
”I know, baby. It’s exciting!” she told her taking her daughter’s hand leading her to the living room to watch tv. ”Let me get you breakfast. What do you want?”
”I wanntttttt……pancakes! The chocolate ones!” Rosie said going to the pantry picking up the mix they use.
”Baby..that takes too long. Think smaller.” Marla said taking the pancake mix from her daughter who was about to cry. Not today. Marla thought to herself seeing her daughter’s face change from a sleepy happy face to a faux temper tantrum face where she wrinkled her nose and pouted starting to cry. It was cute for a while because she looked exactly like Presley – or at least that’s what Bruno said but it slowly got to a point where she was getting everything she wanted with the face. ”Go sit down and I’ll get you cereal.” Marla said pointing to the table as Rosie cried.
”Wait…wait…wait a minnutteee!” Bruno came running into the kitchen in his pajamas going to the fridge. Rosie and Marla turned around giving him the same confused face. ”Look what I have!” he sang to them pulling off the foil of prepared chocolate pancakes. Their jaws dropped as he put the pancakes in the microwave warming them up for Rosie. Marla poured their daughter some orange juice putting it next to her daughter coming up behind Bruno whispering in his ear.
”How did you do that?” she asked him.
”Magic.” he told her taking the pancakes out kissing Marla on the cheek. ”Here Rosalia. But only today. Tomorrow you get the cereal…okay?”
”Okayyyy…” she said with a mouthful of pancakes in her mouth making Marla and Bruno laugh. Bruno sat down with Rosie as they finished eating breakfast while Marla went to Rosie’s bedroom picking up clothes for her to put on. Ouch. Geez you two…that hurt…she thought to herself as she left the bedroom walking toward the bathroom where they were singing while brushing their teeth. She better get his voice. She thought to herself watching them.
”Ready, Rosalia?” Bruno asked after they finished.
”I’m ready for schoooolll!” she sang taking the clothes from her mother.
”How many contractions have you had today, Marley?” he asked her as they walked toward Rosie.
”Like three….but remember last week it was like constant…” she told him.
”Yeah…I guess…the doctor said it could be really soon….” he told her.
”I’m fine.” she answered kissing him lightly walking over to Rosie helping her tie her shoes.
They got in the car driving to the swanky private school with equally swanky parents, nannies and children running around. They walked toward the classroom they had visited a few weeks ago to see Rosie’s teacher Ms. Ortiz standing at the door to welcome them. Rosie let go of her parents’ hands running toward one of her friends. ”Well…she certainly has no attachment issues.” Marla told him getting him to laugh. Even if he was a musician he had caught on to some of the things she did at work. He took his hand taking hers squeezing it knowing she was about to cry. ”How did we get here, Bruno? I feel like…well….like I just held her in my arms for the first time.”
”It doesn’t get any easier.” another mother leaned over to tell her.
”I didn’t think it would…” she answered. Ms. Ortiz handed Bruno some papers for them to sign and turn in and then said she had everything under control after that. As they started to walk out the door Bruno felt Rosie pulling on him.
”Don’t leave me, daddy….mommaaaa…pleasseeee…don’t leave me again.” she started to cry.
”Rosie…I’ll be back to get you at 3. Start counting. It won’t be long.” Bruno told her.
”Listen to your dad, mi Corazon.” Marla leaned down to kiss her on the head seeing her tears dry up as Ms. Ortiz came up to them.
”Come on Rosalia..your friends want to see you…” the teacher said sweetly pointing to the children sitting in a circle.
”Please don’t hesitate to call me if she starts getting moody.” Marla told the teacher who smiled at her waving at them as they left the room for the final time.
They walked toward the car in the middle of the parking lot filled with equally expensive and ridiculous cars like the one Bruno was driving. He walked toward her wrapping his arm around her opening the door for her. As he pulled away from her he felt her gasp. ”Oh…” she said looking down.
”Really?” he asked her.
”Yeah….I think so….” she told him.
So…I was thinking…and Marla has to be like 15 months pregnant or something if they could feel the babies in December…so…that sucks. I’m such a stickler for accuracy. Anyway. Please excuse my mistake and let’s carry on….
”Get in the car!” he exclaimed. ”Breathe Marley…it’ll be okay…”
”Bruno….it’s not like this is our first time…I think we have time to go home and call the doctor….” she told him.
”But Marla! Why are you so calm!” he asked her still nervous.
”Bruno…you acted like this with Rosie too…it’s going to be a long time, Brunz. We have time.” she reassured him as they drove closer to their house. When they got to the house she called the doctor, her mother and then some of Bruno’s family- all in between stronger contractions. ”Owwww…..” she exclaimed as she sat down at the kitchen table watching him hand her a blueberry bagel. ”What is this?” she asked him.
”You were eating this when your water broke with Rosie.” he told her smiling.
”The day your memory goes away is that day I just should give up.” she smiled taking a bite. ”This was exactly what I needed.” she told him watching him hold his hand out for her walking to the car. ”Bruno….are you nervous? This scares me. We woke up a family of three and we’re going to go to sleep a family of 5….like…holy shit.”
”Marla..I’ve been nervous since…well…forever.” he said taking her hand. ”But it will be okay.”
”Well, I know it will…but….oh my godddd….owwwww.” she squeezed his hand making them both cringe. ”Sorry.” she laughed after the contraction passed. ”I know it will be okay…I’m just like…it’s such a change and yes we’ve been preparing for it…but…it’s just…I’m scared. What if we mess up?”
”You’re asking me this?” he wondered out loud.
”Yes! You know all the answers!” she told him sweetly.
”Baby…I don’t know the answers…but I do know that everything will be amazing and you are beautiful and I love you…” he said turning off the car walking to her side of the car. ”Come on mama….let’s get you dome babies.” he smiled kissing her as he lifted her up and out of the car. She dug her nails into him as he lifted her up having a contraction at the same time.
”Shit. I could kill you if I keep doing that.” she smiled taking his hand as he led her into the hospital where they saw her mother and father.
”Ready for these babies, Nana?” Marla asked sitting down in the wheelchair being pushed by the nurse. They were led to a swanky private hospital room. ”Am I Beyonce?” she asked.
”You’re better.” Bruno laughed. ”But we only get one room.”
”What, not the whole floor?” she asked.
”Naw.” he said turning away avoiding the needle going in her back.
Bruno wiped Marla’s forehead with some ice looking into her determined eyes. ”You’re almost there.” he leaned down whispering in her ear.
”Shut up….just get them out…” she snapped at him.
”I think a few more pushes and we have one….” the doctor told them. Bruno smiled at her making her almost forget how much pain she was feeling.
”Owwwwww…..” she moaned as she pushed one more time.
”You’re almost there, baby.” Bruno told her again.
She pushed a few more times still mentally killing Bruno through her pushes finally feeling a sudden rush of pain. ”Guyssss….it’s a girl!” the doctor exclaimed pulling the baby out watching Bruno and Marla’s eyes move toward their daughter. Marla took his hand squeezing it.
”Oh my god….” she gasped watching them wrap her up.
”One more Marla…..we’ll get our little boy out….” the doctor said in a reassuring voice. She pushed several more times pushing through her tears and overwhelming amount of hormones.
Bruno bent down near her side talking her through it with a soft almost lullaby voice making her drift away from the florescent lights and beeping. She was pulled out of the bliss hearing two distinct cries coming near her.
”Marla….this is Esperanza….” Bruno told her handing her a small bundled baby with a mound of hair. ”And this is Angelo…” he said walking to the other side of her smiling as he placed the other small baby with even more hair and beautiful eyes in her arms.
This morning we woke up a family of three. Tonight there are 5 of us. They are the most beautiful babies in the world. Esperanza has your eyes. Angelo has your nose. Marla, I hope you remember today. You deserve to remember every single second of the day, because you told me it was tied for the best day of your life. I love you.