7

Jess: The Unsinkable Titanic.

How is it that for years I've been this cocky, know-it-all, skinny brat of a girl that could make men melt into pools of desire or fear, depending on my mood, only to be trumped by a baby?

Three seconds flat. That is the time it takes my daughter to make the door salesman run for his life.

I shut the front door quickly, to stop the February night air from seeping into my toasty home. Not cool fresh air, but the type of cold that makes your lungs seize up and breathing seems impossible. Way too freezing out.

"How did you do that?" I coo, taking Ellie off my hip and lifting her up so she is eyelevel.

Smiling and seemingly content, it is like she didn't just screech her lungs out for the whole neighbourhood to howl in the pain of bleeding ears. Is it possible that she inherited my badass genes?

"I've got a secret weapon!" I call out, proud of little Ellie. My nose catches a scent, a powerful odour. I look up at her blue eyes, identical to her dad's, and note the exertion on her face.

It must be Ben's genes that are making me have to change her nappy every hour, on a good day. I'm not complaining, really I'm not, but it's really not normal. It's only in the last couple of weeks it's occurred; for her first six weeks it was perfect. Maybe it's my breast milk?

I walk into the living room and see Lils sitting comfortably on the sofa, immersed in the TV show. Her daughter, Arzaq, is sleeping soundly, draped on top of her mother's chest as if it was made to fit her perfectly. Lils didn't even have to hold her in place, to stop her slipping; Arzaq just parks there, like a koala.

"What? Lils! I thought we agreed you weren't going to get sucked into daytime TV while we were on maternity leave!" I tell her off. Honestly, I turn my back for one minute...

"But it's not daytime anymore." She looks up at me guiltily, like she hadn't been expecting me back so soon.

I notice she makes no attempt to change the channel and her eyes immediately snap back to the TV as soon as the blonde woman on screen lets out an almighty soap-opera scream.

God, we used to watch those Australian shows when we were in school. Nothing really changed in them in over ten years...Oh shit, did she really just jump off the cliff?

"No, no, turn it off!" I say, feeling myself get sucked in. "There is no way we're becoming those type of mums."

Lils purses her lips and really struggles with switching off the TV. And I mean she really struggles. But, and I'm proud of her for it, she does it. It's not that I'm against TV, I'm not going to be that type of mother either, but bad acting is bad. No matter how desperate a person feels in need of watching it. Lils should know that above everyone else.

"How'd you get back so quick?" Lils says, speaking sotto voce but not bothering to whisper as I sit down beside her.

We wanted to train our girls early on to sleep in any environment. Nothing against the mothers that switch off all the lights in the house and play lullaby music for hours, then sit in silence for more hours - ok, I'm a little offended by them - but it just isn't us.

"I'm awesome, that's how."

Lils twirls her finger round and round, her powerful nose immediately scrunches up and she points at Ellie, who was busy chewing her sock covered foot.

"And what, exactly, did you mean by secret weapon?"

"Hello, Auntie Lils!" I hold up Ellie higher, resting her feet on my thighs. Gripping her hand in mine and waving it around, I put on my 'baby' voice. "Please will you change me? You do it oh-so-well!"

Lils shoots me a look and purses her lips.

"I think you think too highly of my skills, Ellie," she says, hands moving to pick up her sleeping daughter off her chest. She lays her down gently on Ellie's Moses basket resting on the stand beside the sofa. She smiles a little as she strokes back the growing mass of dark hair, her free hand pulls up the bright red blanket halfway, making sure she is warm but not overheated.

Lils only had her a month ago, but she's such a pro at these things. It might be all the practise she's had with her brothers, but I've had the same with my little sisters, especially Georgie, the youngest. It's something else, something that makes her glow with confidence. Touch wood. I don't want to jinx her or anything, give her the evil eye her mother is so scared of, but it's hard not to be impressed.

It just occurs to me, with the red covering setting off the sleeping blush on the baby's cheeks, how much Arzaq looks like Snow White.

Ellie is a pale, worryingly so. Her skin's taken my easily tanned pigmentation but she looks pasty, yellowed and ill. What am I doing wrong? She is friendly and pleasant enough but she wasn't born like this, so it must be me.

"Hello, my darling," Lils croons coming closer to us, holding her hands out and twinkling her fingers.

Ellie bounces around in my grip and lets out a hearty chuckle, happily going to her Godmother.

"Thanks, Lils," I say, proud that I made the right decision there. It is more than the fact that Lils is my closest, oldest friend. 17 years is no small feat, after all. And, it is most definitely more than the fact we now live on the same road. Distance was never a thing for us. I know that Lils is perfect, even over my sisters, because she is so loving, accepting and so giving.

"My poor empty stomach is crying out for attention," I say, pulling out Ellie's bag from under the coffee table and parking it in the last metre square of free floor space. I remember when my living room wasn't scattered with baby things and actually looked quite stylish.

"Mine too," she says, grinning at me and laying Ellie down on the changing mat I'd prepared for her. "And, I bet this little one is too. Are you hungry, Ellie?"

She gurgles, sticking her fingers in her mouth and letting out her choking sort of giggle. She is so at ease with Lils popping the onesie buttons and lifting her butt, I really think that Ellie sees Lils as her second mum. When Ben does it, she fidgets like crazy.

"I'll be back in a sec," I announce, leaving her to it.

"Sure, leave this horrific scene under the pretence of dishing out food," Lils chuckles, finishing off with baby noises that keep Ellie laughing happily.

I wash my hands, smiling like an idiot. So what, right? I'm a proud new mum, I like the fact my daughter laughs more than she cries. Staring up at the clock on the wall while I dry my hands, I see that it's almost six. The guys will be here soon. Maybe we should just wait? Have a snack in the meantime, something healthy like fruit.

"Jessie, maybe we should wait for Adam and Ben?" Lils calls out, as if reading my mind. "Just bring a banana, I think I saw a bunch earlier, grab the bananas?"

We spend way too much time together.

Seizing the bananas, some apples and a few tangerines off the fruit basket on the kitchen table, I carry the plate and set it on the coffee table, sitting down on the floor in front of it.

"Now, I've been in shitty situations before but this has got to top them," Lils's mirthful voice calls out as I peel a banana and cut it into coins, popping one into Lils's mouth and then in mine. Her nose scrunches up and her eyes squint.

I can guess what she's going to say next and I roll my eyes, for good measure, even before I hear it. I pop another banana piece into my mouth.

"Seriously, how the hell did you manage to produce such a digestive friendly child?"

"Don't screw your face, Lils," I reprimand, giving her another banana coin. "My daughter is just like yours."

"Er, sorry to burst your proud parent bubble, Jessie but my daughter has far superior bowel control."

"Yes, but my daughter has a faster metabolism."

"Don't even start on that," she laughs, and with her my daughter also laughs. It sounds a little strained though, like she has no energy to laugh. Maybe she's tired, but she's only just woken up from her nap.

Arzaq can only be considered chubby when compared to Ellie, who loses weight by the minute. A mixture of throwing up and loose stools, I do worry about it, a lot actually. But Ben doesn't like my fretting and I hate having to appear so foolish. I wish I was more tuned into motherhood, more in control of it like I am with most things.

"She must be eating something that makes her stomach delicate."

"That's what I thought but she's still only on breast milk. Ben said I was overreacting."

Lils finishes strapping the nappy up and cleans up immediately, face pulled into a thoughtful frown for a second before Ellie grabs her attention and makes her smile. Cleaning her hands with a fresh wipe, Lils looks at me head on.

It's the sort of look that warns me she's annoyed with me and worried at the same time. I pick up Ellie and put her in Arzaq's baby seat, giving her a small kiss as I leave the room to follow Lils into the downstairs WC.

"What is wrong with you, Jessie?" she whispers, disposing of the old nappy and washing her hands thoroughly. In the soft light, she doesn't look as tired as I know she is but the way her smile drops...I am actually afraid. "Come on, you're smarter than this! You know if your child isn't functioning normally you go and seek medical advice. How long has she been having stomach problems?"

"About ten days," I say, feeling incredibly guilty. I want to tell her that I thought of going to the doctor but second guessed myself. I don't want to come across as an anxious mother. I was never like that as a girl.

"If I was going to the toilet repeatedly for ten days, with drastic weight loss and pale skin, what would you have done?"

I'd have smacked her a couple of times, told her she was being stupid and dragged her to the hospital myself.

I don't say any of this. I don't need to, Lils knows exactly what I'm thinking of. She doesn't need to hear that answer, she needs to hear why I'm ignoring my intuition.

The trouble is I don't have any intuition, not when it comes to this. I didn't pick up enough from my mother before she was killed. And in all the years that Aunt Neel, Lils's mum, acted as a step in mother, I never once picked up on maternal skills. I was too busy enjoying being the pampered daughter I never could be except in her company.

Short of saying, 'my mother ruined me, your mother spoiled me', all I can do is shrug and hide my shame behind my hands.

"Come on, let's sit and talk about this," Lils whispers, softly pulling my hands down with a warm grip on my wrist. She smiles encouragingly and pulls me out of the small toilet, taking me to the living room.

There have been countless times, in our friendship together, where one of us was emotionally or physically weaker than the other and has had to lean on them. We help each other, all the time, no matter what the request. We moan sometimes, roll our eyes mostly, but we do it happily because we'd do anything for each other.

This isn't a big deal, except that lately, all the giving has been one sided. I've been terrible, and she's been so supportive of it. I don't even have postpartum depression to hide behind, or the toll of looking after a newborn. The first few weeks were hard but it is only getting harder.

"First of all, don't listen to Ben," she says realising I'm not going to say anything. She hands me a couple of banana coins and apples pieces that I didn't notice her cutting. "I've said it once, I'll say it a million times over. Ben is an idiot. Sure, we make a great writing pair, sure he is loving to you and makes you very happy. I will even go as far as saying he is a very generous dad and showers Ellie with love and time. But, he's still an idiot. Don't listen to him over your own judgement – that is, your kickass intuition. The second guessing judgement you've recently developed can be overlooked."

"I think it's my breast milk," I say, still a little unsure. I mean, it could be a number of different things.

Ellie is already fast asleep in the chair but I know she will wake up any minute now, wanting a feed. I don't want to give it to her, but I don't want her to starve.

"Have you tried switching her onto formula?" Lils says, going with my theory.

I shake my head and take another apple piece she offers. Formula is easier, but I just have a bad feeling about it, like she's going to grow up weaker because of it. It's not rational, but I never claimed to be.

"We can try that, or we can go to Amu Bilal first, see what he says," Lils offers, but it sounds like she is convinced I am right.

It's a little encouraging hearing how much faith she has in me and, again, I feel stupid for acting like this. I know I'm bigger than insecurity, beyond self-doubt, and yet, here I am, crippled by it. I know I should just snap out of it. But it just doesn't happen.

"I can breastfeed her if you like," Lils continues, looking at the basket where her daughter sleeps for a second before her eyes snap back to mine. "In Islam, it would make them sisters though. Sisters through breastfeeding, and all the siblings that follow will be their siblings too, but those kids won't be siblings towards each other, only towards these two. Do you get it? I don't know how you feel about that."

"For years I've mooched off you, Lils."

"You didn't, we shared!" she corrects, giving me a huge grin.

We started off sharing, at Uni, we shared a room and shared the rent, we cut our expenses and debts by half and grew pricelessly closer. But after we graduated, I still shared her bed more often then I slept in my own. No rent split, no nothing. I always used the excuse I was trying to get away from a guy but in actuality I just couldn't stand being too far from her. She is closer than my sister.

I know, psychologically, it shows how screwed up I am. It shows how dependant I am on her. But all the raging nerves in my body that normally scream at me for being so reliant on any one thing are dead when it comes to this. I know my attachment issues come from having no mother. I know this may be a weakness, but it is one that I am not willing to free myself from.

"Besides, it isn't mooching and even if it was, Ellie will be doing it not you," Lils continues, passing me more apple pieces and motioning for me to eat them quickly. "But it's not. Arzaq is just sharing."

It may be why I'm so eager for Ellie to get attached to Lils and to Arzaq both. I want her to feel the love the same way I do, so that she doesn't grow up and resent it, or feel like she's missing anything, should the worst happen.

This breastfeeding idea...if Ellie actually takes Lils's milk and gets better...I can't even put it into words how utterly pre-destined it all feels.

"Shall we try it tonight?" I say, eagerly.

Lils's eyebrows pucker at my eagerness but she just shrugs.

"She probably still needs to see a doctor. She'll need some rehydration sachets too," she says, bringing out her phone and typing out a text at super speed. "I'll ask Adam to get some baby milk too."

"No! Don't ask Adam. I'll ask Ben," I say, too loud. It makes Ellie stir but she doesn't wake up.

"Too late, I already did!" she chimes, sticking her tongue out at me.

"Fine, I'll just text him to say we changed our mind," I moan, sticking my tongue back at her. Now, where did I put my phone?

"He won't listen to you," Lils chuckles, obviously knowing where my phone is and unwilling to disclose the information. "Just let it go. I win this round."

Some days it felt like we were right back at Uni - the same carefree girls that could never be left alone in the house for fear that we'd do something random. Like the time we painted the living room like a kaleidoscope...that was fun.

But we're not them anymore. Not really. We've got jobs, responsibilities, in-laws. As if I don't feel bad enough for taking up all of Lils's time and attention, she has to make her husband shop around like he's responsible for us too. Not that he even registers it; to him, our households are one and the same.

She'll call me dumb if she hears me thinking like this. To be honest, it is a little dumb, I've never felt a difference between us before. She gives, I give, her family is mine and vice versa. We even have our period at the same time every month. There was no excessive thinking about it, about any of it, even after she got married and especially after I got married. The Fernandezes treat me like family, same as her. Jesus, we even got pregnant at around the same time, like some sort of sign that our equality reached other planes.

Again, I get the feeling that everything is pre-ordained. Lils has been trying to sell me that idea for years but it's never stuck. It's not so ridiculous...but I'll wait until I see how Ellie takes Lils's milk. That will be the decider, for sure.

"Here, Jessie," Lils says, shoving a peeled tangerine under my nose, stuffing hers into her mouth, segment by segment. "I like these. They're juicy, sweet and sour at the same time. Ben always picks good fruit! I'm going to steal some more for my house."

I smile, seeing right through her. She just wants to put me at ease, to make me feel less like a burden. And it works, too.

Ben is a good fruit picker, though.

"He's good at picking other things too," Lils continues, eyes shooting up to the ceiling in thought. "His nose, most memorably."

I snort, unable to disagree with her. He is my husband, father of my child, I love him but I'm not above feeling disgust.

"What about Adam?" I say, feeling the need to protect my man regardless. "He's good at picking fights."

"True, but that's more annoying than it is revolting. And he only really does it to you, because he knows how pissed off it makes you," Lils says, scratching her temple. "Ben picks brains better than monkeys pick lice off heads."

"Adam is plain picky. He can't stand seeing something out of place," I moan. God, it's like those two were made for each other in OCD heaven!

Lils laughs, putting a hand over her belly, still a little bit swollen from the pregnancy and birth. Other than that she was all recovered, and the whole near-death experience was nothing more than a nightmare for Adam. And, it was major inspiration for her writing not that Adam like hearing it. I'm glad the bump remains, to remind her that she has just given birth and should be taking things easy. I know she doesn't listen to anyone who tells her to relax. I also know she is writing, when she gets up at night to feed Arzaq. Honestly, the girl is a masochist!

"He stands it when he comes here," Lils returns, giggling with a hand over her mouth.

"Oh! Oh, Lils, that is below the belt!" I gasp, holding a hand over my breaking heart before bursting into laughter with her. "It's true but the only other mess he can handle is your hair."

Lils heaves a deep breath and looks at me, amused but shocked.

"How dare you?" she whispers, eyes alight with indignation, accepting, and mirth. "My hair is awesome, thank you very much."

I tilt my head from side to side and shrug. "Not when you wake up in the morning."

"Coming from you?"

"What's wrong with my hair?" My hands immediately go to it. My hair rocks, it's thick and wavy, and very healthy. Noks hasn't let me put any chemical dye on it for the last five years. It's beyond healthy.

"What's up with the mum-do?" Lils scrunches up her nose again and shakes her head. "A bun? Really? Are you missing being a primary school teacher that much you went all schoolmarm-ish?"

"You bitch," I whisper and chuckle, letting my fingers cage over the ball at the nape of my neck. "Ben likes it."

"Ben loves your long hair out," Lils says, obviously knowing something I don't. Did Ben complain to her about it? "So do I. You look sexy with long hair and your permanent glare, now you just look like a teacher made redundant entering an early stage of psychosis."

I catch my reflection on the blacked out TV screen. Fuck, I do.

"I'll tie it in a pony, higher," I decide quickly, pulling the band out and brushing my fingers through the strands.

"Leave it out," Lils suggest, giving me a suggestive wink. Ben has definitely spoken to her about something.

Realising, I can't leave her having the upper hand, I resume our previous battle with, "Adam's picks are forever getting lost or damaged."

Yes, he plays the lute as well as Lils's Dad but honestly, does he have to be so reckless with the plectrums? Uncle Mo doesn't lose them.

"Ben picks at his nails. Noisily," Lils returns with a raise of her eyebrows and another segment being put into her mouth, slowly.

"Adam picks at his sideburns."

"It's a nervous habit," she explains, smiling at me, silently calling for a truce. "Ben is good at picking up the pieces."

"Adam is beyond par at picking up on details."

Far too intuitive for my liking. It's why he, more than anyone else, can piss me off. He actually notices what irks me.

"He's worried about you, Jess," Lils admits, raising an eyebrow at me, dropping it quickly when Ellie began to stir. She gives me a look as if to say 'this isn't over' and pops the last tangerine piece in her mouth, picking Ellie up as soon as she woke. The crying that threatened to spill out of her stopped as soon as Lils held her.

"She's hungry," I say, knowingly. "Try feeding her now."

Lils looks at me and smirks. She keeps her gaze as if she's committing to memory the way I look.

"I've been waiting a while to hear you sound so confident about your kid," she says, unbuttoning her shirt and looking at the window and the darkness outside it.

I get up to draw the curtains. Ben hates it that I always forget to do it. Lils tolerates it with obvious hints. Moving back to my position on the floor, I give one quick look at Arzaq to make sure she is ok. I notice she is actually awake. Staring up at the ceiling, she notices me hovering closer and blinks at me.

"She's awake," I note aloud. Why doesn't she make a noise?

"She knows her dad is coming, that's why," Lils says, chuckling a little.

I turn back to her and stare, a little like when I was a girl watching my mother feed my sister for the first time. I pay attention to the way Ellie instantly suckles. Her face distorts a little, realising there is a difference, but once she is used to it, she sucks a little harder.

"I suppose we should have asked their dads first," Lils says, biting her lower lip in discomfort. No doubt she's feeling sore and it's only going to get worse if Ellie continues feeding from her. "They might not like the idea of them as sisters. But it takes three different feeds for them to actually be considered as such...we'll ask them when they get here, ok, Jessie?"

"Sounds good to me," I say, unable to take my eyes from the way my daughter seems so happy. Of course, she feels like that with me until she throws up five minutes later. "I don't want us to make the decision without them, they feel left out enough as it is, but we might as well wait to see if it's worth bringing it up."

Lils nods, busy with the feeding, and I look at Arzaq again. She's staring off into space, looking like she's waiting. But it's impossible. She is only weeks old!

The doorbell rings and I flinch. Arzaq immediately looks at me and starts shuffling, making noises to show me she wants to be carried. Impossible...

"She's still going at it," Lils says, sounding panicked.

I pick up Arzaq and cradle her in my arms, turning to see Lils attempting to drape a scarf over her head while breastfeeding.

"No, don't worry. I don't think its Ben," I say, looking down at Arzaq. She certainly seems to think it's her dad. It's probably not a good idea to shock a man with his wife feeding another baby. "In any case, I'll stall whoever it is."

"Thanks," Lils says, sighing and letting her hand, and the scarf gripping it, fall to her side. She looks down at Ellie and grins. "I think I'll have smaller boobs than you for once, Jessie."

Great. I forgot about the bazookas.

I ignore the comment and leave her to it. No way are her boobs ever going to be considered small.

The door bell sounds out again and I hear the sound of conversation.

"So, he's thrown his friend's trainer in the pond. His friend is laughing his head off, not seeming to care he is missing a shoe, right up until the mum comes," Ben says, as dramatic as he always is.

"She's the boy who threw the shoe's mum?" Adam asks, letting out a chuckle that can only mean Ben did one of his wide-eyed nods.

Arzaq, hearing her dad's voice, begins to squirm in my arms and I stop eavesdropping, well, I plan to stop eavesdropping as soon as I hear the end of the story.

"And she's huffing and puffing, wondering how she's going to get the shoe out. The boys are saying, 'we need a stick. A long stick.' And she's completely ignoring them, probably wondering how she got stuck with them during half term," Ben laughs, taking a wheezy breath. "So her kid, Paddy his name is, cries out, 'Mum, Mum, I know where I can get a long stick to get it out'. She ignores him up until the other kid says 'at the back of the park!' and then she yells, 'go and get the stick, you stupid child!' and he runs off happily.

"He comes back, moments later, holding the stick like the Olympic torch." Ben cracks up into raucous laughter and I hear gloved hand clapping against each other. "Oh, God, it made my day!"

"Did they get the shoe out in the end?" Adam asks, sounding just as amused but less like a clown than my dear husband.

Arzaq lets out a little noise of annoyance and I look at her apologetically. Impatient little daddy's girl, she's just like me!

"Ok, just hold on a second," I assure her, wondering what kind of genius she's going to grow up to be. I'm definitely going to teach her to read as soon as she says her first word. It's never too early to start with exceptional babies. She may just be the student of my lifetime. I wonder if she'll thank me when she accepts the Nobel.

I swing open the door and see the guys grinning at me. Well, Ben's is aimed at me. Adam's is straight at his daughter.

Holy crap, it's cold out!

"Come in, quick!" I say, waving my hands frantically and shutting the door behind them.

"You look great, Jessie," Ben whispers, staring at my loose hair and grinning. He gives me a hearty kiss but his lips are so cold. I linger a little longer, warming them up a little.

God, I missed him.

"You know, my daughter is watching everything you do," Adam says, hanging his coat, his blazer along with it, woolly scarf and bag on the hooks quickly. He looks like he wants to take Arzaq but isn't sure.

I suddenly realise that maybe I'm not the only one going through terrible self doubt and indecision.

"Hello, my love," he coos instead, taking his daughter's hand and kissing it before rolling off a long list of endearments in a mixture of Arabic, Spanish and English.

Arzaq is contentment epitomised in my arms. She smiles, mirroring her dad, and her fingers tighten around his.

"Where are Kali and Ellie?" Ben asks, throwing his coat over the banister messily. His scarf slips and falls on one of the steps and his gloves...well, I can only see one.

I see Adam purse his lips at the mess disapprovingly and smile to myself, pretending to be interested in the plastic bag Ben is holding.

"They're inside," I say nonchalantly. "Come, guys, I need your help in the kitchen."

"Is Ellie feeling better today?" Ben asks, following me instantly. Adam looks like he wants to go into the living room to see his wife.

"Adam, you alright to hold her?" I jog him out of his intentions, claim his attention again. I wait for the nod and hand over his daughter. He doesn't seem so concerned about holding her, and I think my previous opinion isn't correct. Maybe he was just worried about holding her after coming in from the cold. Maybe I am the only one struggling.

"I know you're sleep deprived but just don't fall asleep on her," Ben jokes, giving him a wink. Now that I am baby-less, Ben wraps his arms around me and gives me real affection.

I chuckle, between kisses, thoroughly swept away. I know I married him for a reason.

"Ya Allah!" I hear Lils cry out in disgust. "Your PDA, seriously guys. The babies!"

I break the kiss and look up at her, standing by Adam's side. One arm holds Ellie while the other has its fingers hooked into Adam's trouser pockets. That's about the extent of their show. Yeesh! I feel sheepish but, at the same time, the kiss gets me feeling good. And that is apparently what my face shows because Adam and Lils break into laughter together.

"Oh, my angel!" Ben cries out, taking Ellie from Lils and holding her up, his hands gripping her chest securely.

Oh no. She's just been fed. She's going to throw up all over-

Ellie laughs, happily. No sign of nausea anywhere. I sniff discreetly. No bad smells.

I exchange a look with Lils, her eyes tell me that Ellie took the milk with no problems.

That is the last box ticked off, isn't it? I really have no excuse except to accept that there is a higher force out there, paving our paths and our destiny. That's what all the signs say.

I think back to my upbringing and my church school. I've always known there is a god, but for some reason it never clicked in my head that He is God. At school, they taught us faith was about being kind to neighbours, God was just a name given to unexplainable power. Like Mrs Stevens, the head teacher, the higher power at St Lucas that people hardly ever saw but everybody feared.

I think back even earlier, the first time I ever really came across the idea of faith. It was my mother who introduced me.

Oh, my mother!

I just realise that she is the first stage of upbringing I ever had. She was the first person to tell me about God and destiny. She taught it to me, in her catholic prayers, well before she died. She taught me a lot more. She taught me how to be good, how to make my husband love me, she taught me how to be strong and selfless without ever sitting down and giving me a lesson. I saw it, I saw it in her the way she lived each day, the way she loved my dad. And I picked it up.

"Jess? You look tired, take a seat. I'll take over," Ben says, sitting me down on a kitchen stool. He hands Ellie back to Lils and gets to work straight away, warming up the food I'd made.

Lamb casserole, exactly like my mother's. I followed her recipes, ones she'd written in a scrappy old notebook that she'd always intended to transfer to a new one. I'm glad she didn't. I worshiped that notebook until I committed it to memory.

All this self doubt, it's all from fear that I will never be able to really be a mother, even in living, like I assumed my mother couldn't be in death. But she's already taught me everything I know, she's already taught me how to do it, I just have to remember her. It's like air, I know it exists but I don't think about it every time I breathe.

For all the times, Lils has tried to get through to me, to build up my confidence about this, and I had the answer all along.

I look at her, wanting to burst to tell her I feel ok again. At least, I know I will be fine from now on. But I see her talking to Adam in inaudible whispers. Her eyes do most of the talking anyway. Adam's always been able to read them much faster than her mind can form speech. She's telling him about the breastfeeding idea, I know it.

Adam looks between his daughter and mine, seriously, waiting for Lils to finish talking. He's so protective over his family, it's very likely that he won't agree to it. Certainly, he has every right to. Formula milk will make Ellie ok again. I'm sure he's picked up a lot from his doctor father. He probably knows a lot more than both Lils and I, and maybe because of it he will think the idea of nursing each other's babies is archaic.

Is the situation really worth all this thought, all the unknowing nerves making my stomach ball up? No, because, its destiny. If the girls are meant to be sisters through breastfeeding they will be.

If they aren't, then they'll be something else. Everything has a solution, everything has an outcome. I don't have to know what it is. I just have to know it's going to be ok. And, no matter what happens, I know it's going to be ok.

I feel a weight lifted over my shoulder. I feel unsinkable.

God, it's so easy when I think like this, isn't it?


A/N - Hello all! That's all for now, folks. Seven one-shots (because it's the magic number) done and done!

I doubt there will be any more but who knows...never say never, eh? Mama Saqr might make an appearance! hehe.

Anyway, for any of youse interested, there is a Scarfy 3 in the pipe works. (That was the whole reason for being open ended in StP and "mysterious" in my A/N in chapter one of test. Feeble, I know.) BUT, It won't be out soon, no matter how much I try, but it is likely to be out eventually. I aim for the end of the year, but me and time-keeping...*shakes head*

Meantime, there's my blog (link's on my profile) and I'll keep you updated on that sort of thing amongst other deliriums.

So, ta-ra for now.

(review please - :D )