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After lunch, everyone piled into their cars and hit the road. The Baby Center was next. Abby had wondered why her mother had said it was going to get harder, and ten minutes into the new store, she soon found out.

"I like this crib," said Izumi, "but they only have two in stock. It's just the right size, John."

They got back into their vehicles and went to the next store, which did not carry the brand of crib Izumi was looking for. However, she did find three car seats that she liked, so they were loaded into John's car, and off they went to the next store. To Izumi's delight, this store did have the exact style of crib she wanted in stock, but they only had one, and they needed three. John bought the single crib and went back to the second store, only to find that they had already sold one of the two cribs they had just admired. Terry laughed and shook his head wearily. The second crib was purchased, and it was off to Strollers Etc.

"This is the last store, and we still don't have much of the larger items on my list," sighed Izumi.

They made their way straight to the cribs, and to Izumi's gratitude, found a matching third in stock. John immediately secured it, and resumed the rest of their shopping. This store was the hardest of them all, for besides the crib, they had to buy three high chairs, a triplets stroller, an expandable barrier to keep more than one child in a safe play area, three swings, three different music mobiles for the cribs, maternity clothing for Izumi, and a large body pillow that would help support her during the long months of bed rest that lay ahead.

Even in all the flurry, Terry spotted three small matching teddy bears, and bought them as a present for the triplets. By the time they were finished, Terry's truck was filled to capacity, and the rest of it had to be split up between John's car and Abby's jeep.

Wearily, the group found the nearest restaurant and collapsed into the booth seats to eat dinner.

"Little Dove," said John, thankfully, "I'm so grateful we're doing this now, while you're able to move about. I can't imagine making all these decisions without you!"

"That was the last store, wasn't it?" asked Terry, once more.

"We still have the Home Center," said John, with a tired sigh.

"Will they be open by the time we get there?" wondered Abby, checking her watch.

With the store hours in question, everyone hurried to finish dinner, and got back into their cars.

Strangely enough, the Home Center came as a welcome change for the men, who had spent the entire day looking at maternity clothes, support garments, and baby cribs.

While the women picked out a pastel Noah's Ark themed wallpaper border to run along the top of the nursery wall, John bought the paint in the shade Izumi had requested.

"Since we don't know what sex the babies are," said Izumi, as she and her daughter strolled down the aisle of light fixtures, "I'm sticking with gender neutral colors."

"This lamp is nice," commented Abby, winding up the music key and listening to "Rock-a-Bye Baby."

Before too long, Jake found Abby and followed her around as he usually did. It was behavior such as this that had earned them the collective nickname, "AJ."

"As soon as we get home," groaned Abby, "I'm taking a long, hot bubble bath. My feet are killing me!"

"You should have worn comfortable shoes," grinned Terry, coming down the aisle to meet them. "Have you picked out a lamp, yet?"

"This one," replied Izumi, pointing to the one Abby had liked. "Are we done? Is John ready to check out?"

"I'll find him," volunteered Abby, as Jake trailed behind her.

"Those two," smiled Terry, watching AJ disappear around the end of the aisle. "You look really tired, Izzy. Maybe you should sit down for awhile."

He helped her to a chair that was on sale, and pushed the cart to where she was seated. Soon John and AJ joined them.

"Let's go home," said John, when he saw his wife's exhausted face.
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