The baby is finally here. :)
Some notes. I did some "research", and just in case you were wondering c-sections take about an hour, though the "removing the baby" part can occur in as little as two minutes in an emergency, and about 10-15 in other cases. Diana's is one of the other cases. The rest of the procedure is removing the placenta, afterbirth, and stitching up all the body parts that were sliced into.
Also, children that arrive via c-section generally look "cuter" than babies that are squeezed through the birth canal. I'm not trying to be offensive, but natural deliveries can give the baby a misshapen or pointy looking head.
I really don't have any good reason to give Diana a c-section. But I bet a c-section is easier to write about than a natural birth. And if Diana does things that seem odd after having a major surgery, she is a superhero with decent healing powers. Plus, I'm not a doctor. I don't know what she can and cannot do. But she knows her limits, and who's going to tell her she can't do something. :)
Oh, I grew up with Barbara as Batgirl, so when I found out she was paralyzed, it was a bit of a shock. But in this story, she is still Batgirl and capable of walking.
Thanks for the corrections and ideas KN. Hope you like the rewrite, though it's a little different from what I envisioned.
The Blessed Event
Today was the day.
With the exception of J'onn, Bruce, and Diana, all of the senior members of the league were gathered in one of the Manor's many hallways dressed in plainclothes. Bruce was, of course, with Diana, and J'onn was too. He, along with Dr. Leslie Thompkins, was presiding over the birth of the baby.
For safety as well as sentimental reasons, Diana had wanted to give birth in their home, but didn't like the idea of the child's first sight to be that of the cave. Bruce had agreed and duly outfitted the room next to the nursery into a sterile surgical room.
"So, how long is this going to take?" Wally was pacing back and forth, driving John nuts.
"It will take as long as it takes. Can't you sit down for one second?" Lantern wouldn't admit it, but he was just as nervous as Flash about the procedure, and was taking out his frustration on the lanky redhead.
Hawkgirl looked up from her sports page, deciding to nip the eventual bickering in the bud. "Diana told me it shouldn't take longer than an hour from start to finish, so we should get to see them in about forty minutes."
"This is killing me." Everyone looked over at Clark. Even though he spoke of trepidation, he was beaming. He couldn't wait to see his godchild.
"Imagine how Diana feels." All the men grew silent at Shayera's words, until Wally said, "I bet it's nothing to what Bats is feeling. At least Diana is sedated."
Everyone laughed as they conjured up their own mental images of what Batman was doing in the delivery room that very second.
Bruce was a bundle of nerves, though he managed to stand stock-still, holding on to Diana's hand the entire time. He refused to look as J'onn made the incisions, locking eyes with Diana during the whole procedure. He did, however, squeeze her hand more tightly whenever her eyes flickered from the discomfort in her abdomen.
It wasn't long before J'onn brought their child into the world. Leslie whisked the little one away before they had a chance to see, but her voice rang out across the room. "Congratulations! You are the proud parents of a handsome baby boy."
Diana whispered, "I knew it," but Bruce was too happy to speak.
As Leslie cleaned and examined the child, Bruce tried to ready himself for the moment when he would see the baby. But nothing he did could have prepared him for the joy he experienced when Dr. Thompkins placed his boy, now snugly wrapped in a blanket, into his arms. "Your parents would be so proud of you. And Alfred and I are too." He silently nodded his head, and walked over to the patient's bed. He lowered the child, so Diana could see him.
While it cannot be said of all newborn babies, he truly was beautiful. The baby had cheeks as chubby as any cherub, and his head was covered with black hair. Not having had to enter the world through a birth canal, his skin was a nice shade of pink and his head was perfectly round.
Like his father, the child knew how to make a dramatic, though silent, entrance. He hadn't cried when he was brought into the world, and he was now quietly surveying the man holding him. Even though the newborn's bright blue eyes were trained on him, Bruce knew that the baby could only see a blurry image. Still, the father was thrilled.
As J'onn finished stitching her up, Diana alternated contented glances between her child and husband. She had never seen Bruce smile so widely.
Having made the last suture, J'onn remarked, "He is a fine looking child," to the parents, and then both he and Leslie quietly exited the room.
"May I hold him, please?"
Bruce leaned over Diana, kissing her lightly on the forehead. She looked up at him, and smiled, blinking back the tears from her eyes. Then he gently lowered the baby into Diana's awaiting arms.
She stroked the infant's cheek and the boy's face moved so his blue eyes came to rest on her. "Nicolas Andrew looks just like you, Bruce." Diana grabbed for her husband's hand, pulling him into the bed with her.
Bruce began playing with Nicolas's fingers, and he felt a sudden rush of happiness when the baby reflexively grasped at his fingers.
"Nicolas Andrew, huh? I like it. What does it mean?"
"They are both Greek in origin, though I have read that they are English, too. Nicolas means "victory of the people," and Andrew means manly and courageous. I was thinking of you when I named him."
She touched his face, and he leaned over to kiss her. Looking into her eyes, he spoke the only thought that was running through his mind, "I love you. And him."
"Me too. So much."
They both turned to look at Nicolas, watching him experience his first moments outside of the womb.
"He looks just like you." Even though this was the second time Diana had said that, Bruce had yet to grow tired of hearing it.
Diana knew that there were many people waiting to see them, so she gave Bruce a friendly reminder. "I think it's time we let the others in."
He didn't want to share his family with anyone at the moment, and Diana could sense that. "They've been waiting for over an hour, and you promised them."
"I know." But he didn't move.
"Alfred and Dick will be waiting." He did want to see them hold Nicolas. Seeing that Bruce was beginning to consider letting all of them in, she continued.
"Thirty minutes, and then you can go. OK?"
Walking over to the door, he opened it, which signaled to the others that they were allowed to come in.
Along with the Justice League's senior members, Dick and Alfred stopped by as well. Dick was the last to enter the room. He stopped at the doorway, where Bruce was standing, and shook his hand.
Bruce nodded his head in greeting.
"Barbara and I were trying to figure out what to get the little guy, but we got stuck. What do you get for the baby who has everything?"
"And I chose you to be one of his godparents?"
"Don't worry; you made the right choice. I have lots of excellent qualities. And I did find him a gift, though I don't know if you'll let him accept it."
Bruce raised an eyebrow at the younger man. "What is it?"
"Time with his father. Babs and I got Gotham covered for the next week. If you want us to, that is."
Bruce mulled it over, but soon accepted, with one caveat. "You call me if things get out of hand."
"We already arranged for Superman to be our emergency backup. But if he can't handle it, we will let you know."
"Fine, but I want hourly updates."
Dick rolled his eyes. "Come on, Bruce."
"Every two hours."
"Wow, you caved in more easily than I thought." Dick grasped Bruce on the shoulder. "I'm just kidding. So what did you name him?"
"Diana did, and he's Nicolas Andrew."
"I like it. Baby Nick."
"OK, baby Nicolas."
"I was wrong. Fatherhood hasn't changed you at all." Dick gave his mentor a grin, then joined the others at Diana's bedside.
Bruce leaned against the door frame taking in the scene before him. Less than a minute had passed before a blur of scarlet streaked across the room. Without warning, Bruce had a cigar stuck in his mouth, as did everyone in the room, with the exception of Diana and Nicolas, though Flash did leave one in the baby's hand.
While Alfred and Bruce disinterestedly removed the sticks from their mouths, John couldn't let the event pass without saying something. "Wally, these are Cuban. That's illegal contraband. And what are you doing giving a cigar to a baby!?"
Wally took out the cigar from his mouth and held it under his nose, inhaling deeply. "Only the best for Nicolas. Besides, how often do Diana and Bruce have a baby?"
John took Nicolas's present from his laughing mother and moved to throw the two cigars away, but Wally was too quick. Before they could end up in the bin, Flash had three cigars in his mouth.
Shayera leaned over the baby, touching his fingers and toes. "Diana, he has your eyes, but he looks just like Bruce."
"Do you want to hold him?"
Shayera gave Diana a surprised look.
"It's really easy, Shayera. Just make sure his head and neck stay supported."
Hawkgirl took the baby into her arms. "Oh, this is easy. And I was right. He's a little heartbreaker."
"Just like his father." When Diana said that, all eyes turned on Bruce for his reaction. His eyes were narrowed and his fists lay clenched at his side, a stance he had adopted ever since Nicolas had left his mother's arms.
For Diana's sake, he tried to look friendlier. But at that very moment Shayera chose to hand Nicolas over to Wally. Seeing a change in Bruce's posture, Dick walked over to Wally. "Here, give him to me. Big brother's prerogative."
"But I just got him."
"Just do it." Dick whispered urgently.
Seeing his dejection at having to relinquish the baby, Diana gave Flash some encouragement. "Don't worry, Wally. You will get to hold him when you baby-sit him."
"Really? I didn't think he," Wally nodded his head towards the dark presence in the doorway, "would let me."
"He'll be persuaded otherwise." Diana was sure that given the proper motivation, Bruce would do anything she wanted. And she knew she had a very large bargaining chip. Bruce hadn't slept with her in ages.
The man whose libido was in question didn't get a chance to object because Dick soon passed the bundle of joy over to Superman. Bruce's irritation quickly turned into irrational mirth when Nicolas started wailing in Clark's arms. The man who could leap tall buildings in a single bound and travel faster than any speeding bullet could not get Nicolas to stop crying. Alarmed, he passed his godson on to Alfred.
Bruce's chest puffed out with even more pride when his son stopped crying as soon as he was in the butler's arms.
Dick gave the crestfallen Clark a pat on the shoulder. "Don't worry. I'm sure it had nothing to do with you." But he muttered, "Baby kryptonite," under his breath, and Clark gave him a dirty look. Ever since they had been told they would be Nicolas's godfathers, the two affable men had become unusually competitive with each other.
As all the people were chattering away happily, Bruce looked down at his wristwatch. Even though he had told Diana he would only stay for twenty minutes, it had been thirty five. Having gone above and beyond his initial promise, Bruce made eye contact with Diana. She smiled and mouthed the word, "Go." As he had a few items of business to attend to, he silently left the room.
Bruce returned nearly two hours later, flowers and a wrapped box in hand, but no one was in the room. He forced himself to breathe slowly as he jettisoned the presents in their bedroom and went to look for Diana. He finally found her in the main living room, standing in front of the portrait of Thomas and Martha Wayne.
When he realized she was speaking to Nicolas, he stopped in the doorway to listen and watch.
"And that's your grandmother and grandfather. I'm sure they would have loved you very much, just like your own mom and dad do. You know, I haven't seen your daddy this happy since I married him." She kissed the baby on his head, then continued. "And you're very blessed. You have the best father in the whole world."
Diana stopped speaking and began to hum a tune that Bruce recognized as Brahm's lullaby. As she swayed slowly with the child, Bruce walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her, being careful not to place his hands on her surgical wounds.
"Hello, love. I didn't hear you come in." She rarely called him that, but he liked it when she did.
"I'm very proud of you, Bruce; you lasted longer than I thought you would."
"Anything for you."
"How gallant. A whole thirty five minutes." She turned and smiled at the happy father, who returned her joke with a kiss on the nose.
"I think we should put Nicolas to bed."
Diana looked at him apprehensively. "Are you sure?"
"I have the whole room rigged out. If he so much as turns over, we'll be there. Besides, you need to get some rest."
She opened her mouth to deny it, but instead of words, a huge yawn escaped her lips. Bruce looked at her knowingly; she gave him a sheepish look in return. "You're right."
He took the sleeping Nicolas from her arms, and followed her up the stairs to the nursery. He gently lowered his son into the bassinet and pulled a blanket over him. The child's leg jerked in reaction, causing Diana to quietly observe, "He's already practicing his batkicks."
"He has very good form." At Bruce's subtle humor, Diana turned and gave him a big smile. Taking her by the hand, he led her to their bedroom.
He stopped at the threshold. The woman who had been smiling happily seconds ago was now looking very melancholy.
He drew her fingers to his lips and kissed them. "Diana, he's going to be fine."
"I know that."
"Then what is it?"
Diana didn't answer, but pulled Bruce into a hug, which he gingerly returned. "It's alright, Bruce, you aren't hurting me."
As she held onto him, he tried to figure out what was going on in her mind. He moved his head back so he could look at her face, and when he saw the tears on her face, he wiped them away.
"Tell me what's wrong."
"I wish my mother were here to see him."
He placed one of his hands in her hair, and guided her head to his shoulder. Then he uttered, "I do too."
Sensing the double meaning behind his words, Diana said, "I believe that your parents are watching over Nicolas and us right now."
He didn't know how to reply her statement of faith, but she wasn't expecting an answer. He did, however, move back to the topic of Hippolyta.
"And I'm sure your mother would be here if she could."
"There is nothing stopping her. And yet…" Diana's voice trailed off, as she dropped her hands at her side.
There was nothing he could say to make her believe him, so he led her into their bedroom. When he flipped on the lights, Diana saw a bouquet of flowers and a box lying on their bed.
She gave Bruce a surprised glance then walked over to the bed. She lifted the flowers—jasmine and purple orchids, her favorites—to her nose and breathed in the pleasant scent.
She looked over at Bruce, only to find him eyeing her intently. "Thank you for the flowers. And is this another one of your gifts?" She had found the other twelve boxes of lingerie that Bruce had hidden at the back of his closet.
She was still smiling about Bruce and his compulsive need of giving her lacy under things when she opened the box. The smile quickly disappeared from her face, and she turned again to see Bruce, who was now standing mere inches from her.
With great carefulness, Diana removed the wooden rattle crafted in the shape of a dolphin. The toy was worn with age, so she gently cradled it in both her hands, as she raised it towards Bruce for him to inspect.
He saw the tears forming in her eyes as she said, "This was mine. How did you get it?"
"With a little help from Shayera." Now was not the time to go into just how difficult it had been to break the news to the Amazon Queen that her daughter was having a baby. Thankfully, Shayera wasn't intimidated in the least by royalty or very tall women. It had taken four visits, but seeing Diana's face in that moment, Bruce knew it was worth it.
He peered over into the box. Seeing a small piece of parchment, he picked it up and handed it to Diana.
She handed the rattle to Bruce and took the paper from his fingers, then read the missive aloud:
"Something for your very own sun and stars. I look forward to seeing the three of you soon. Love, Your Mother"
Bruce looked at her elated reaction, then added, "She would like to visit us in a month."
"Thank you so much. I'll need to start working with Alfred to prepa-," Diana stopped her happy chattering and turned to face Bruce. In a more subdued tone she continued, "I wish I had something to give you." They both knew she was talking about his parents.
Bruce took the note and rattle and set them on their nightstand. Then he took Diana in his arms. "I have all the family I need."
She kissed him sweetly and softly. Looking up into his eyes, Diana told him again just how much she loved him and Bruce received the news just as happily as he had the first time she had revealed it.
She lied down on the bed, and he walked over to turn off the lights.
He crawled into the bed with her and found her hand in the darkness.
"Bruce, I know you said you have all the family you need, but there are still plenty of babies that need to be made. By us."
She snuggled into his side and let out another large yawn.
"I know, Diana. But we can get started on that later."
Then the two of them, exhausted from the day's events, quickly fell asleep.
Thanks for all the reviews. I hope you guys liked this last installment as much as the others. Now I'm going to focus on my other story Until Somebody Loses, which takes place before this fiction and The Starry Nights one.
For my anonymous reviewers.
Thank you, Franz! I'm glad you liked Bruce teasing Alfred. I wasn't sure if I went overboard with the "cuteness" factor. And poor Bruce, but I'm sure Diana will make it up to him. There are still plenty of babies they need to create. : )
Karith, both you and Diana and me are agreed. Bruce is a wonderful father. The best. : ) Thanks for the review.