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I curl my fingers around Shiloh's little socked toes, happiest when I'm touching him.
He's sleeping, as usual. That's one of my favorite things about the sling; he can sleep comfortably in it while I do what I need to without worrying about him. I never forgot about Jessica and her sling in the supermarket that one day and when the time came I made sure to get one of my own.
I like it also because the emptiness fades when Shiloh is so near to where he began. I'd heard of post partum depression, of the sadness that came with being physically separated from the baby, but I hadn't experienced it with Sophie and I certainly didn't expect it with Shiloh.
But every time is different. The sadness comes and goes, sometimes subtle, sometimes rolling in like water at high tide. I know one day it will go and not come back and I look forward to that. It helps having my mom close by.
I'm okay, for the most part. Hormones and moodiness are facts of life right now; Edward and Sophie know when to avoid me and when to coddle me.
"This one, for sure," Sophie says, walking up with a huge pumpkin. "It can be the jack-o-lantern for the porch."
"It's perfect," I agree, motioning for her to put it in to her red wagon. It's in fine company, surrounded pumpkins large and tiny, ghostly white and deep orange. "I think we're good, Sophie."
"Just one more," she calls, already disappearing.
It's a good day for the pumpkin patch, a Saturday chilly and bright and dry. The end of October, when the sky is blue and clear on the good days, too cold to be cloudy.
Edward would have come, but in the end having a few quiet hours in the house to catch up on paperwork and work stuff won out. And I don't mind. Sophie helps with the baby and half the time the baby's asleep anyway.
It's peaceful here, even with little kids running amuck, hide and seek and tag amongst rows of pumpkins and haystacks.
Every night, I put Shiloh in his bassinette before my shower and every night I come out to find him in bed with his daddy. Edward likes to lay down with the baby on top of him, tucking his head beneath his chin, smelling his baby smell.
I know it's what he's doing because I watch them do this all the time. And because I do it myself.
"You'll never guess who I saw today," Edward says, his eyes following me around the bedroom.
"That guy you used to date… Garrett."
"Oh yeah? Where'd you see him?"
"Thriftway. I stopped by the deli for lunch. He was in line and we got to talking."
"He's in town a lot, isn't he?" I muse, sitting on the bed and lotioning my legs.
"He lives here now."
"Really? Since when?"
Edward shrugs, his hand rubbing absently up and down Shiloh's back. "I don't know but, he's getting married. A girl he works with in Port Angeles who's from here."
I close the bottle of lotion and lay back next to Edward and the baby.
I'm surprised, but not very. Garrett was always a great catch. I remember finding it remarkable that he was single back when we met.
"I'm glad." Yawning a little, I play with one of the miniature pumpkins Sophie left in our room, rolling it between my hands. "He deserves a happy ending."
"He does," Edward says quietly. "He's a nice guy. Did you ever think he might be the one for you? Back when you were with him?"
"No," I say, rolling on to my side. "He was great but… he wasn't you. Even then you were in my heart… it was awful." I say it like I'm teasing – and I am – but there's a grain of truth in it too.
"Yeah, that was a rough time," he sighs, shaking his head. "I didn't think I'd ever be happy at home again. I used to … dread coming home sometimes."
I listen quietly, wanting him to tell me.
"We didn't fight all that much, but when we did it sucked. We tried to keep it from Jaime, but he knew. The rest of the time it was so… neutral." He stops, looking over at me. I watch as the wrinkles in his forehead smooth out. "Let's never be neutral, okay?"
"Okay," I agree.
"I want to always feel this way with you."
"You will. We will."
His eyes are wet. My heart slows down, wanting me to pay attention. "I never stopped loving you, Bella," he whispers, carefully placing the baby between us so he can lie on his side and look at me the way I'm looking at him. "My other relationships never had a chance. My one hundred percent was always more like seventy five."
I nod, dragging my knuckles beneath my eyes to wipe the tears away.
"With you, one hundred's not enough. I want to give you everything," he says.
"You do." Our fingers meet in the middle and tangle. "You gave me my life back, Edward. You gave me this." I move our hands so that they lay lightly on the baby.
For a long while we just lie still and breathe, gazing at each other and the little life we together helped create.
Sometimes things are so good I'm near breathless, waiting for the other shoe to drop. But it's pointless, futile, because the shoe never does drop. Or maybe it drops every time and rightfully so because that's life, the hills and the valleys - and I don't even know it.
But it's always all right.
He gives my fingers one last squeeze before letting go. We roll out of bed at the same time; he picks up Shiloh while I roll the bassinette closer to my side of the bed. We place him inside and walk wordlessly down the hall.
Sophie always kicks the blankets off. I pull them back up and tuck them tight around her.
In the room across the hall, Jaime's fallen asleep with his DS in his hands. I put it on his nightstand and Edward turns off the light.
Satisfied that all's well we come back to our room and climb in to bed. It's still too soon after the baby to be intimate the way we'd like to but there are other ways to love each other and we always do.
My eyes are fluttering shut when Shiloh whimpers and starts to cry.
I pull him out of his little bed and into ours.
thanks again, adt216, for allowing this to be posted (and for donating so generously to Alex's Lemonade Stand for the Fandom Gives Back Auction).
i've loved corresponding with you guys, through PMs, reviews and twitter. you're the best. if you want to kick it, i'm roglows on twitter; i follow back always (as long as you're in the fandom and not spamming me with half price electronics or real estate.)
lastly, i''ll be starting a new story soon. it's a high school fic if that's your thing.