Matt made his way back into Emily's room, after informing their two older children that they had a new baby sister. Lauren was already twelve and Justin was ten, while new baby Gillian was just born this morning, and already very complicated. Matt didn't have the enthusiasm about her birth, that he'd had with Lauren and Justin, and he just honestly wasn't sure how he felt about Gillian. He hadn't even really held her yet; the nurse had given her to Emily, and then taken her to get cleaned up.
Matt sat beside Emily now, in the semi-comfortable armchair positioned beside the bed. She was fortunate to get the window, while her roommate was stuck with the door. Still, the window, the chair, none of it really mattered to him right then. It had been a very difficult year for them and he was tired. Emily was already asleep, head turned toward the curtained doorway, as if she knew he'd becoming and was waiting. Watching her sleep had always been soothing to him, and it sounded like the perfect thing to do now.
It wasn't that Matt was unhappy with the idea of a third child, it was how Emily had gotten pregnant. Eight years ago, they'd decided that they didn't want anymore children, two were enough, so Matt got a vasectomy. He didn't mind, it meant they wouldn't have to worry about pills, diaphragms or condoms, and Emily had carried and birthed two babies, he could be the one to go under the knife. But all this meant that for the last eight years, he couldn't have gotten his wife pregnant if he'd tried.
If Emily had cheated on him, it would have been easier, and less painful to go through. It would have hurt like hell to know she did that, but he could have forgiven her. He loved her that much.
Instead, Matt received a phone call one night that his wife, who hadn't gotten home yet, was actually at the hospital. She'd been badly beaten, raped and left for dead in an abandoned warehouse blocks from the federal building. He'd called Frank to stay with the kids, and met Cheryl at the hospital. Emily was badly bruised, with a broken wrist, and a concussion that knocked her out for two days. By the time she'd woken completely it was too late for emergency birth control to work.
The next two months, he watched Emily agonize and debate with herself, until she finally made an appointment for an abortion at a clinic. During that time, they discovered her attacker was a pissed off HT and violent felon that she'd helped serve a warrant on. They'd also managed to convince their children that mommy was okay, just had an accident and was still recovering. Fortunately the two children were old enough that they were no longer climbing in bed with them, or they would have seen daddy holding mommy very tightly as she sobbed from another nightmare.
Matt had gone with her to the clinic appointment, promising her that this was her decision, and he'd support whatever decision she made. Emily had sensed though, that he didn't want her having her rapist's child, and didn't even know herself if she could love it. She'd disappeared with the nurse that day, into the clinic, only to return twenty minutes later with tears in her eyes. She couldn't do it.
Emily had carried two babies in her womb before this one, so just knowing that she was pregnant was enough for her. It didn't matter what she logically knew about the fetus. She'd begged Matt not to be upset, not to hate her for not being able to do it, but she just couldn't. A little piece of him had hated her at that moment, but it didn't compare to the very large part that loved her. As he had many times before, he'd taken her in his arms, and promised her that everything would be alright.
They'd returned to their lives, and told their two older children they were going to have a baby brother or sister. They'd tried to smile at work, when they announced that Emily was pregnant again. Emily had cried with Lia and Cheryl, and Matt had leaned heavily on Frank and Duff. He'd showed up at Cheryl's one night, and cried too; what happened to Emily made his stomach turn, and the baby, he didn't think he could love it. If he couldn't love that child, could he raise it, or would that unfortunate little life destroy their family?
When he'd looked at the ultrasound photos, all he'd been able to see was Emily being violently attacked. When that entered his mind, he felt a burning rage course through him. It had been a damn good thing the cops had found that her attacker and locked him up; if he'd still been on the streets, Matt surely would have killed him. But, knowing this, when he looked at Emily's child, would he see that same image that so angered him? It wasn't Gillian's fault where she came from, but could Matt be a better man than he felt he was, and see past that? He genuinely didn't know.
That was why Matt was apprehensive when the nurse wheeled in the little plastic crib. He didn't pick the baby girl up immediately, but sat and watched her. She was awake, and squirming around underneath the pink blanket, matching little pink cap on her head. He knew under that cotton cap was the tiniest bit of soft, red-brown fuzz, and she seemed to have gotten her mother's eyes too. The beautiful baby girl was watching him with the same eyes he'd been staring at for over fourteen years.
Lauren and Justin, they both looked like him, with black hair and deep brown eyes, though fortunately, they both seemed to have gotten Emily's brains. Gillian seemed to be all her mother, which relieved Matt considerably. He watched her wiggle around, stick her thumb in her mouth, and make a spit bubble. He gave her his finger, and she grabbed it with her tiny little hand, and brought it to her mouth. She sucked on his finger, and stared at him with wide blue eyes.
With his hands slightly quivering, Matt finally reached into the plastic basinet, and lifted Gillian into his arms, blanket still wrapped around her. She was so small at six pounds and three ounces, so fragile, and so unlike the violence that created her. Matt brushed a hand across one of her soft chubby cheeks, and then picked up her hand and examined her tiny little fingers. Gillian was beautiful and innocent laying there in his arms, and watching her, holding her, Matt felt the same feeling wash over him that had the moment he'd seen Lauren and Justin.
"Hey," he whispered softly, "I'm your Daddy."
His eyes began to water, and his breath caught in his throat. He wanted to protect her fiercely, from all the ugliness in the world, from the truth of her conception. He wanted to take care of her, teach her to walk, to talk, soothe her when she was sick, and watch her grow. It wasn't conscious. He didn't make a decision to love her, if it were that easy he wouldn't have had to stress the last several months. It was instinctual almost. It was looking at a child, and suddenly knowing that child is yours; yours to care for, yours to protect, and yours to love.
In that moment, Gillian became his. Not biologically, she would never be his that way, but emotionally, he'd already made that connection. And that was the one that mattered. It only took minutes, but baby Gillian had stolen his heart, as easily has her mother had all those years ago. When he looked at her, he didn't see the monster that made her, but in that adorable, perfect creature, a little piece of a woman he'd already loved for years.
"Easy squirm," Matt said, when she began to fidget, and adjusting her to lay against his chest.
Lauren and Justin had both liked that when they were babies. When they were very young, and Emily was still on maternity leave, he'd get home, and take the baby while she took a much needed nap. When it was just Lauren, he'd lay on the couch, with her on his chest, and put on cartoons. Sometimes she'd watch with big eyes, others she'd fall asleep. When they had Justin, he sit with his son, usually snoozing, on his chest, and his little girl sitting on his lap.
Gillian wiggled a bit more, blew a spit bubble, and then seemed to settle down. She grabbed some of his shirt in her little first, and then just laid there like a little lump. Matt sat in the hospital chair, gently rubbing her back, soothing her, and walked over to look out the window. He stood in the curtaining and stared out the hospital window to LA, and actually, it wasn't a horrible view. It was the parking lot in back, but there were patches of grass, and trees here and there.
"Hey you see that, Squirm?" He asked Gillian, turning his body so her face was pointed at the window. "Palm trees, they're all over Los Angeles. I kind of like them, but then I grew up with them. Mommy didn't, she grew up all the way on the other side of the country, with maples, oaks, spruce, pine trees, those are Christmas trees, the pine. She prefers those trees, sometimes she misses the season change back East. But, you know what we have that's really cool in California? A big Redwood forest, with these really, really big trees that look more like the ones Mommy's used to. Mommy and Daddy went there one day, and you know what? Our whole family could fit into one, the trunks are so big. Can you imagine that?"
Matt didn't actually expect the newborn to respond, but he asked her anyway. He stroked her head gently, and shifted her up a bit on his chest. She didn't seem to mind, just stared out the window with him.
"Do you see that ugly SUV there? The black one? That's Daddy's car, I used to have a really cool car, but some bad people blew it up. Totally destroyed it, damn near broke my heart, but you know what? That day could have gone much worse. Sure, your Aunt Cheryl was a little pissed, but I saved what was most important--your mommy. My Mustang was a sacrifice I'd gladly make again," he told her, remembering that day as vividly as if it had happened yesterday.
"I ought to warn you, we'll have to take you to see everyone in the office in a couple of weeks. There's a lot of women in Mommy and Daddy's office, and they like to squeeze babies and pinch cheeks. All that fussing got Lauren wailing when she was a baby, and Justin did a very boy thing, and those ladies didn't want to squeeze him with that smell. Talk about natural defense mechanisms, huh? Well, this time Daddy will make sure you don't have to scream or poop to get them to let you go. We'll go play with the boys in HRT, they don't squeeze as much," Matt explained, tightening the blanket around her tiny body.
"You better put ear-protectors on her then," a tired voice said from behind them.
"Hey, you're awake," Matt said softly, letting the curtain hang back, and walking over to Emily. She eased herself into sitting upright, and Matt cradled Gillian briefly, before laying her in her mother's arms.
Emily cuddled the infant to her chest, finally getting a chance to really look at her new baby. After the nurses handed her over it was a very quick visit, then they took her back to clean her and get Emily situated.
With Lauren and Justin it was easy, they were created from love, Matt put them inside her. They loved each other and were so happy, and those two were a celebration of that. Gillian wasn't Matt's, but was a reminder of a horrible attack that still haunted her in nightmares. Part of her had hated herself for not being able to go through with the abortion, and just rid herself of that little reminder growing bigger inside her. Looking at Gillian now, Emily didn't regret that decision though. Emily couldn't say she loved the newborn yet, really loved her, but she felt that maternal connection, as if the umbilical cord had never been cut. That she wanted to hold her, and wanted to love her, that was more than enough for her right then.
Emily looked up her husband then, grabbed his hand, and pulled him to sit on the bed beside her. He kissed her softly then, the kind of kiss they'd been sharing for over a decade. They were loving kisses that still had all the passion from when they'd first started dating.
Emily stared into his dark brown eyes, and said softly around the tears building in her throat, "you referred to yourself as her Daddy."
"Aren't I?" Matt asked, his own throat tight.
"Yes," Emily said nodding, tears streaming down her cheeks. "Yes, you are."
This story came while I was mulling over another story, I have more in my head, but not sure I'll pursue it. Anyway, thanks for reading, and please review!
And yes, I know I have active stories, Falling update soon!