|Me and You and Daisies
Author: Lingering Lilies PM
"Maybe 'happily ever afters' don't exist. Maybe they're fragmented and sprinkled throughout our lives to remind us to keep moving forward. Maybe, if we look from the right angle and maneuver the pieces just so, they become a masterpiece we keep adding to until the day we die." Future fic, Brittana as mothers. Sequel to "Taking the Long Way," but can stand independently.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Family - Brittany P. & Santana L. - Chapters: 30 - Words: 221,567 - Reviews: 2,019 - Favs: 1,102 - Follows: 1,233 - Updated: 01-04-13 - Published: 01-05-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7712698
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Me and You and Daisies
Welcome, readers! I'm so glad you'll be joining us as Brittany and Santana continue their journey into motherhood. If you haven't already, be sure to check out the first half of their story, titled "Taking The Long Way." If you don't want to take on that large piece of reading, no worries. There will be details and a few characters throughout this story that you won't understand, but for the most part, I am making an effort to have this story stand on its own.
The title of this story is taken from the song "Me and You and Daisies" by an artist named Aslyn. There are gorgeous live versions of the song on YouTube, and you can listen to the studio track on her Myspace - or you could support an independent artist and buy it on iTunes.
And now, without further ado…
Chapter 1: Home
Time: March 2022
After hearing that first tiny, pinched cry seconds after our son was born, I swear I actually saw your heart crack open and heal itself over twice as big as before. You shook as he was placed in your arms, eyes flickering back and forth between me and him with that joyful, desperate disbelief that has marked every important moment in our lives together. As soon as you could see through your happy tears, you counted his fingers and toes and marveled at every gooey eyelash, every infant wrinkle, every paper-thin nail. He was no bigger or smaller than any other baby, yet somehow, the way you held him made him seem huge. I loved watching you hold him. You were overjoyed and terrified and so, so full of love.
But after a minute I started to ache because I needed him. It was the most desperate need I've ever felt, as if every part of my body was calling out for him, straining towards him, crying for him. I needed to feel his warmth on mine and to see his face after nine months of only nudges and wiggles and hiccups in my belly. I'm sure you could hear how much I needed him because only a moment later, you placed him gingerly on my chest. As soon as I felt him against me, my heart cracked open, too. He was the tiniest, most powerful person I had ever met. I was overwhelmed and tears blurred my vision, making his outline fuzzier than the blankets wrapped around him. I ached in the best way from head to toe and you just placed your hand on my shoulder and cried with me.
You cut the cord, despite being afraid it would hurt me or him and being afraid there would be a lot of blood. As soon as the placenta was delivered, they took our boy to give him his first bath so we could see him better. As soon as the water touched him he shrieked and wailed, and I saw you coil back like a panther about to attack. I held you back, and a minute later they gave him back to me, wrapped up again, with a little cap to cover his head. A few minutes later he began to fuss. I think he was hungry, because that was the first time we saw him do the fish face and twist his head from side to side. I held him up to my breast and helped him latched on just like the book said to: keep his body perpendicular to mine, his chin tilted up, and brush his top lip with my nipple. He seemed to understand right away. It was amazing, strange, a little painful, and wonderful. He was quiet and still for a while, his only motion the movement of his jaw as he sucked and took breaks to gasp for air. He was new to breathing, after all. It probably takes some getting used to after someone else does it for you for nine months. He had only begun his lifelong rhythm of inhaling and exhaling. Isn't it amazing that we were there for that, Santana?
You climbed in next to me in the hospital bed, pressing into my every curve, yet so cautious not to hurt me. I had never been so tired, sweaty, or happy in my life. My face was flushed and my hair was matted, but you told me I looked perfect. I don't know about that, but I do know that our baby, our amazing little boy- I could hardly believe he was finally here! - was as close to perfect as possible. His face was smushed and a little purple like all newborns, which made him look a bit like a newt or something. But he was still beautiful. He wasn't beautiful because of how he looked; he was beautiful because of everything he meant, everything he was, and everything he would grow up to be. He was warm and he felt solid, like a loaf of home-made bread in our arms as we took turns holding him. I don't know what makes my heart feel more full: holding our baby and feeling him pressed warm against my chest after nine months in my belly, or watching you hold him and seeing joyous tears pour down your face, one after the other. You are the proudest woman I know.
As he slept in my arms for the first time, his lips pursed and reopened, sometimes sighing or shuddering, as if the task of dreaming was exhausting. I suppose it is to him. His fingers, fascinatingly tiny, were held in tight fists which occasionally jerked up or out to the side. Though his face was wrinkled and serious and his eyes mere slits, he sometimes raised his eyebrows as if he was questioning everything around him in his sleep. It made me wonder what he was dreaming about. I laid my head back onto the upright bed and you tilted your head onto my shoulder, never taking your eyes off the tiny person in my arms.
"He's a miracle, B," you said. "You were perfect, and so brave. I could never have done that."
I know that isn't true; you would endure everything I had just gone through to meet our son. It hurts more than anyone can imagine, but as I looked at Caleb's grumpy, wrinkled face, I couldn't think of a single thing you or I wouldn't do for him. Not even an hour old and he already had us wrapped around his tiny, curled pinky.
I heard you sniffle and kissed the top of your head as we looked down at our baby boy. The way you turned your face away from me - just a few inches - told me you didn't understand why you were crying. This was supposed to be one of the happiest moments of our life, right? But it's okay, Santana. I was crying too. Happy tears are my favorite kind of tears. I can't remember the last time I cried them without you.
"What should we name him, Mama?" I asked.
"You choose, Mommy. You did all the work!" you said as you wiped your cheek.
You were being so silly. Even though I did the pushing, we made our family together. You cried as hard as I did when we couldn't get pregnant and you were just as ecstatic and terrified when we found out our baby was finally on the way. You're going to call his name out the back door just as often as I will; send him to his room with the stern use of his first and middle name many times; write his name in the collars of his shirts and socks and underwear before he goes to camp.
And then I knew.
"Caleb. It means whole-hearted."
It was a name I had seen on a website you accidentally left up when you were pretending to browse recipes or something. You had tried to be sneaky about it, spending hours looking up names, pretending to go along with my idea of not choosing a name until we met our child. You've always been a planner. The image of you clicking through pages of names, whispering ones that you liked, made me smile from ear to ear. You do the sweetest things when you're nervous and excited.
I grinned as you played the name in your head. Caleb Lopez-Pierce. I liked the rhythm. You did too, because you nodded.
"He needs a middle name," I said, offering to let you choose. You must have found a name you liked at some point. "Something strong."
The name you chose was better than any name I could have imagined: Antonio, after your dad. You growing close to your dad again is just one of the amazing things that has happened for us this year. It made sense that you want our son to be named after that big piece of your heart that shifted back together after so long.
I nodded, feeling close to tears. I could feel your joy and it was overwhelming.
You kissed me on the cheek before returning your gaze to the tiny, sleeping boy in my arms. "Is that your name, little one?" you cooed. "Caleb Antonio Lopez-Pierce?"
I listened to the ring of the name as you spoke it. It sounded so beautiful. It had rhythm and meaning and warmth on your lips, like music orpoetry. As soon as you said it, Caleb jerked and opened his eyes for a fleeting moment, revealing deep brown eyes with a hint of honey in them. Our perfect little boy made a gurgling noise, moving his lips like a fish again before drifting off to sleep. We watched in amazement, still incredulous. Had we really made him?
"I think he said yes," I whispered.
And that's how we came to name our beautiful boy.
"Caleb Antonio Lopez-Pierce," you whispered. We smiled at each other and turned our gaze back to the baby. "Caleb Antonio Lopez-Pierce," you echoed. "That's your name, isn't it?"
After my family and your dad took turns holding him, we rested our heads together on the pillow as we gazed at Caleb. His tiny torso rose and fell with shallow breaths as my eyes fought to stay open. I whispered to him in his sleep, wanting him to know: "We're so happy you're finally here, little one. We have been waiting for you for a long, long time..."
When we were released from the hospital the next day - for good behavior, I'm sure - you stood next to my wheelchair on the curb. For a second your eyes flashed wild and scared, realizing we were in this alone. But soon they steeled over, determined and strong as you fished out your keys, kissing me on the cheek as you trotted off to get the car. You loaded him in the backseat with the care of loading an armored car. Looking over at me to make sure I was as comfortable as possible, you pulled out of the parking lot as slow as if we were leading a parade. You drove so slow I think it took us three hours to make the two-hour drive back to Columbus.
"Stay right there," you said as we pulled into our driveway. You hopped out of the driver's seat and ran around the passenger side of the car we got just a few months ago. We've had quite the year so far haven't we? A car, a house, a wedding, a baby... and it's only March! Sometimes I worry we're using up all our joy. But then I remember that's not how joy works and I know we still have plenty more to come. Sorrow too, but always joy. We just have to be ready to see it.
You opened the back door and clicked Caleb's car seat out of its base, tucking his blankets around him to ward off the cold before picking the car seat up carefully by the handle. Then you opened my door, offering me your free hand.
"Careful," you said as I stepped down. I know you said it to me, but the nervous smile on your face told me you really meant it for yourself.
You closed the doors of the car and we walked up the path, you holding my arm in one hand and Caleb's car seat in the other. "Are you okay?" you asked as we walked up the stairs.
Of course we were okay, Santana. We've never been better.
"I'm fine," I said with a calm smile. "I remember how to walk."
You set Caleb down carefully next to the door as you fumbled with your keys. I don't know why you were so nervous, sweetheart. It's just a door and it's our door and Caleb wouldn't have known the difference if you forgot how to open it. Once the door was unlocked, you opened it a few inches before you stopped and leaned over, unbuckling Caleb and picking him up as if he were made of porcelain.
"Here," you said, placing Caleb into my arms and pushing the door open wide. "Let's show our prince his castle."
As we stepped across the threshold into our entryway, I think we both saw it differently than we had before. Until now, it had been a place of waiting and planning. We brought in all our furniture - well, you did, because I couldn't really help with my big pregnant belly - and set it up and put everything in its new place, anxious to get it done before Caleb arrived. It didn't take us that long. After all, we'd moved from a two-bedroom apartment to a four-bedroom house that really did feel like a palace. In fact, it was a little eerie, all those rooms with no furniture. We found a spare bed at a garage sale - a beautiful brass day bed - and put it in the guest room, or "Vickie and Gordon's room," as you called it with a grin, and we set up a little home office in one of the other rooms. And of course there was Caleb's room. But everything still felt a little loose and vacant. I know we'll fill it up quickly, though. Just like you have filled my heart for the past eleven years whenever I felt empty.
You picked up the empty car seat and set it inside, shutting the door behind us. You stood behind me, perching you head on my shoulder and wrapping your arms around me, supporting my arms as they cradled Caleb.
"Welcome home, baby," you murmured.
We smiled down at him. I know we were welcoming him home, but really, I think we were welcoming ourselves. This house has always been about him: waiting for him, preparing for him, dreaming of him. But we were the ones who dreamt those dreams, not him. His job was just to exist and grow inside me while we fantasized about the women we hope he will help us become. I'd seen you look out the window at the backyard as the snow melted, and I knew you were dreaming of sandboxes and swings and inflatable pools. I know you felt silly, because you jerked your head towards me with a guilty smile when I walked in. But now that he's here it doesn't seem silly at all. It's okay to plan for those things. We are finally all home.
After a moment, you released your grasp. "Let's show him his room," you suggested.
I nodded and headed for the stairs. You followed me closely, as if you were ready to catch me if I fell. I wasn't going to fall. Yes, I was exhausted and still recovering from giving birth, but my body wasn't failing. In fact, I had never been so surprised by it. I couldn't believe I actually did it. I'd actually given birth! It was all a blur. A painful, sweaty, agonizing blur, but a miraculous one. When I think about it, I just remember flashes and sounds and never-ending waves of pain. I remember the way my fists gripped the rails of the bed as my whole torso seized with contractions; the way my throat rattled as I screamed; the way I panted after it released; the anxious, encouraging phrases my mom murmured to me over and over; and your face, right next to me, determined to be strong, timing each contraction out loud as you blew cool air on my face, encouraging me to breathe and wiping my forehead with washcloth. All those flashes put together don't seem to be a birth, but they are.
I entered the nursery - seafoam green, which is even prettier than the sky blue at our old apartment - and you guided me to the rocking chair, adjusting the footstool because you thought it might make me more comfortable. To be honest, lying down is the most comfortable, but after lying in bed in the hospital for so long, sitting is a nice change. As soon as I sat down, I tilted my head back and yawned. I think Caleb will sleep well in this room. Well, I hope he will. Once he's big enough.
He must have known I was sitting in his nursing chair, because he started to wiggle and fuss, his tiny fist grasping in the air as his mouth opened and his nose wrinkled, coughing out a few of those itty-bitty, pinched newborn cries that sound more cute than distressed. It's funny to hear him cry, because even though the noise was just like any other newborn, I felt a tug in my chest. My left breast was swelling just a little, so I figured he was probably hungry. I pulled up my shirt and unsnapped my nursing bra. He was so hungry I swear he almost reached for me. I guided my nipple to his mouth and he latched on, sucking earnestly.
"Can I get you anything?" you offered. "Chocolate chip pancakes? Coffee?"
"I still can't have coffee," I reminded you. "Unless you want a caffeinated infant too."
I hadn't had any trouble breastfeeding, and I was so relieved. Caleb seemed to be learning how to latch well, though it still hurt. After our difficulty with Caleb's conception, I was glad something came easily.
"Right, duh," you said, embarrassed at your momentary forgetfulness.
"Water would be nice, though," I said. I know you like to have something to do when you are anxious or excited.
"Coming right up."
I could hear you walk downstairs to the kitchen. The house was so quiet compared to the hospital: no beeping, no rolling gurneys, no squeaking sneakers or TVs playing down the hall. Our house was so quiet I could hear you take a glass out of the cabinet. Breathing in the stillness, I gazed down at Caleb as he nursed, rocking ever so slightly. I felt so calm with him in my arms, probably because he looked so peaceful and focused now that he was eating. His eyes were closed, his tiny brow furrowed in concentration. His tiny, ruddy fist was raised midair, as if he had been reaching for my face and forgotten midway.
You came back a minute later with a glass of water that had a wedge of lemon on the side of the glass. You hovered in the door of the nursery, nervous like a deer at the edge of the woods. I looked up and smiled, beckoning you closer. You walked into the room, setting the glass on a small table next to the chair. You knelt by my side, mesmerized by Caleb suckling.
"That's amazing, Britt," you whispered.
I smiled down at Caleb. Nursing was pretty fascinating. Odd, too. I'd never been someone's source of food.
"It's not the most comfortable thing in the world," I admitted. "But it is pretty cool."
You knelt there for a long time, fascinated and enamored with our son. I don't blame you: new life is amazing and you hadn't had as much time with him as I had. And you are so cautious, so wary to dream of anything wonderful, maybe you didn't quite believe there was actually a baby inside me. But now he's here. See, Santana? We can dream something and it becomes real.
I sipped my water. When I shifted Caleb to nurse on the other breast, you snapped out of your daze.
"I'll be right back," you said as you stood up and left the room.
As Caleb nursed, he made these little gurgling, humming sounds. Those sounds are the sounds a person makes when they are truly calm, truly comfortable, truly trusting of someone. Once or twice I've heard you make humming noises in your sleep, and it makes me smile to know I'm the only person who will ever hear you make those noises.
A moment later you walked back to the nursery with your hands behind your back. "I have something for you," you announced with a sneaky, proud smile.
I didn't know what to expect. We already had everything - and I mean absolutely everything - we need for the baby. Whenever you got nervous during my pregnancy, you went shopping and came home, proudly showing me the wipe warmer or mobile or lap pillow you'd purchased.
"I read about this thing in one of your baby books. It said that you should keep a safety pin in your bra strap so you remember which side the baby last nursed on to make sure you nurse evenly. But I thought that was really impractical; it seems hard enough to juggle a baby and your clothes without worrying about stabbing him with a pin. So… I got you this instead," you said. You brought your hands out from behind your back and I saw a black velvet box. I gasped.
No one has ever made me feel as spoiled as you have this year.
You walked forward and sat down on the footstool, placing the box on your flattened palm. I looked at you with delighted apprehension. You opened the box. Inside was a ring: a ring with a dozen tiny diamonds laid into a slim silver band.
"But… I already have a ring!" I exclaimed, looking at the ruby ring nestled next to my wedding band on my left hand.
"It's a nursing ring," you explained, taking my free hand and slipping it on my finger right above my wedding band. "You put it on the side he last nursed on."
"Oh, Santana... it's gorgeous!" I breathed. "I love it!" I wiggled my fingers, admiring the ring. "It's perfect," I said as I leaned forward at bit, being careful not to squish Caleb, puckering my lips. You leaned forward and kissed me and I felt the smile on your lips. Doing things for me makes you calmer and happier when you're nervous. But you know what really makes me happy? Having you by my side. The ring is just a bonus.
I broke away and looked back at the ring, sighing happily. "I love having a ring for each of you."
You nodded, smiling. "That's the idea…" you said, "Caleb and I are both in it for life. Plus, I want to keep my baby mama happy," you added with a wink.
Caleb released his hold on my breast as he sank into a deep sleep, letting out a shuddering sigh. As soon as I was sure he wouldn't be rousing himself for more, I pulled my nursing bra up and my shirt down and leaned my head back onto the chair.
"I'm so happy," I sighed, "and completely exhausted."
"You should be," you said. "Your body just went through the most enormous change in its life. It makes me tired just thinking about it."
I nodded. I knew you'd say something sweet like that.
"Let's take a nap while we can," I suggested, nodding toward the sleeping baby.
"Good idea," you said. "I read the only way to not always be exhausted is to sleep when the baby sleeps."
Knowing you, you'll be too nervous to sleep. But please sleep, Santana. I promise we'll be okay.
You rose, offering your hand to me. I took it and stood up, trying not to wake Caleb up. We walked into the bedroom and I placed Caleb delicately in the bassinet next to my side of the bed as you pulled back the comforter. I slipped off my shoes and sank down, resting my head on the pillows.
"I missed our bed," I mumbled, eyes already closed as I sank deeper into the haven of home. "That hospital bed just didn't compare."
You leaned over me, smiling and pulling the comforter up to my shoulders in the same way I know I'll watch you tuck our children in, bending over with utmost care as you placed a kiss on my forehead. I love the way your kisses leave a little tingly damp spot on my skin, a reminder that you will be there when I wake up for years and years to come.
You walked around the bed and took off your shoes, slipping into your side of the bed. You scooted towards me, spooning me and reaching for my hand. You lifted your head to look at my face over my shoulder as you felt my ring finger, exploring the feel of the new ring that accompanied the wedding band I was already so used to feeling.
"I love you, S," I said dreamily, eyes still closed. As I sank into sleep, I felt I was sinking into you, too. You will always hold me when I am fading.
"I love you too, B," you murmured, "now more than ever."