Owen opened the curtains in the nursery, as Cristina carefully carried Chloe into the room. She bent over and gently placed their newborn daughter in her crib for the first time.
"I need a picture of this." Owen pulled out his camera and started focusing the lens on Chloe.
"Another one?" Cristina smirked.
"Are you kidding?" Owen asked, before taking the photo. "Have you been online since you went into labor? People are demanding pictures."
"And you are only too happy to oblige."
"Well, she is adorable," he grinned. "Okay, let me get one of you holding her."
"Uh uh." Cristina stepped back from the crib. "I look like crap."
"No you don't." He took one more picture of Chloe before putting away the camera.
They stood by the crib and watched Chloe blink up at the ceiling.
"Now what?" Cristina asked.
Owen chuckled. "The rest of our lives." He kissed Cristina's cheek. "I'll go unpack your hospital bag."
"Okay." Cristina stood by the crib and watched Chloe, as he left the room.
She stared down at the sleepy infant, who was dressed in a gender-neutral green sleeper. It occurred to Cristina that she'd never imagined what their child would look like. Now she was looking at a miniature version of herself, complete with soft black curls. She reached down and gently touched Chloe's pink face.
"You're going to be taller than me, like your father," Cristina said softly. "Everyone keeps talking about how long you are, like it's a big surprise. I certainly knew you were going to be long, the way you kept stretching out in my uterus."
Her pocket buzzed. Cristina reached in and pulled out her cell phone, quickly answering it. "Hi Mom."
"Hello!" Helen sounded very cheerful. "How is my grand-daughter?"
"She's good," Cristina said, stepping away from the crib. "We just got home."
"Owen sent us some pictures yesterday and she looks so precious," Helen said. "Saul booked our flights and we'll be there in a couple of days to meet her in person."
"Is anyone there helping you and Owen?"
"No," Cristina said. "We want some time alone with her today, it got really crazy in the hospital. We could barely get discharged, we had so many visitors. Meredith might come over today, and Owen's mother is going to spend the day with us tomorrow."
"Good, you're going to need a lot of help."
"What does that mean?" Cristina frowned. "We're doctors."
"I know!" Helen trilled. "Babies require a lot of time and attention. Even from doctors."
She found Owen in the basement, loading dirty clothing into the washing machine. He smiled to see her. "How is she?"
Cristina shrugged and held up the baby monitor. "She fell asleep. Mom called, Saul booked the flights and sent you an e-mail with the times."
He nodded and continued with his task. She sat down and watched him. When he was done, he checked his watch. "It's noon. Are you hungry?"
"Is there anything you want in particular?"
Cristina shrugged again. Then jumped, as the baby monitor squawked and Chloe started to cry.
"And so it starts," Owen smiled.
They walked upstairs and looked in the crib, where Chloe was squalling, red-faced. Owen reached in and picked her up. He felt her bottom and smelled the air. "I think she's dry. Must be hungry."
"It's been a couple of hours." Cristina sat down in the rocking chair. Owen smiled as he handed Chloe over to her. "I'll go start our lunch," he said, before leaving them alone.
With one hand, Cristina unbuttoned her shirt and opened her nursing bra. Tentatively, she placed Chloe to her breast. The infant quickly latched on, sucking hard.
Cristina tucked her hair behind her ears and watched Chloe nurse. She realized this was the first time she was nursing without Owen or the lactation consultant present.
"Colostrum," she said aloud. "My body is producing colostrum, which contains protein, minerals, and immunoglobins. This is why I'm doing this." She ran through a mental checklist. She was holding Chloe correctly, supporting her neck. She'd neglected to get a pillow. Chloe had latched on well, and was sucking away.
"How do you know how to do that?" Cristina asked Chloe, shifting to get more comfortable. "How do you know how to nurse?" She sighed and listened to the sound of rain hitting the window.
Owen poked his head in through the door. He held up a bottle. "Time for ibuprofen?"
"Yes. And I forgot to get a pillow," Cristina said. Owen nodded and brought her a pillow, helping her lift Chloe and get everything positioned. Then he handed her a pill and a glass of water. After she gave the glass back, he just stood there and watched her nurse.
"What?" Cristina felt self-conscious. "What am I doing wrong?"
"Nothing," he smiled. "I just like watching you feed her. Isn't it incredible? She's one day old and has so much to learn, but some things she knows by instinct."
"Oh. Yes." Cristina sighed. "This doesn't feel natural. I've never had a mouth on my breast like this. She's like a lamprey eel."
Owen nodded. "You'll get used to it. Oh, Derek sent a message, they'd like to drop by this afternoon, if that's okay?"
After Chloe went down for a nap, Cristina ate lunch with Owen. Feeling tired, she curled up on the couch and fell asleep. She felt that she'd only been asleep for 10 minutes when Owen woke her up, by bringing a crying Chloe into the room.
"I changed her diaper and she's still crying," he said apologetically. "Maybe she's hungry again?"
She moaned and sat up, motioning for Owen to hand over the baby. He gingerly placed Chloe in her arms.
"Pillow," she muttered, unbuttoning her shirt.
No sooner did she have Chloe settled at her breast and properly latched, the doorbell rang.
"Want a blanket?" Owen asked.
She pursed her lips and then nodded. "Just in case it isn't Meredith and Derek."
Owen chuckled and carefully draped an afghan over Chloe, then went to the foyer. A blast of cool air entered the house as he opened the front door. Meredith quickly walked in out of the rain, with Derek carrying their son right behind her.
"Hello!" Meredith smiled and waved, before pulling off her jacket and revealing her pregnant belly. Derek set Robbie down and waved.
"How are you doing?" Meredith sat beside Cristina.
"Okay," Cristina said. "This is her second feeding at home. She's a hungry girl."
Derek guided Robbie over to the couch. "Say 'hi' to Auntie Cristina."
"Hi," he said shyly, eyeing the lump under the blanket.
"Hi Robbie." Cristina tugged the blanket off.
"We have a baby!" Owen cheerfully announced to Robbie. "Her name is Chloe and she's having lunch right now. And in a few months she'll be old enough that you can play with her. Gently."
"And you'll have your own baby sister by then," Derek said, briefly placing his hand on Meredith's stomach.
"I don't wanna baby," Robbie said petulantly, blue eyes scornful.
Owen chuckled and crouched down to Robbie's height. "Hey, you get to be the oldest, that's a special thing. I'm the oldest in my family. Everyone had to listen to me."
The small boy looked at him doubtfully.
Owen grinned. "You know, while my girl is a tiny little baby, I don't have anybody to share my trains with. You think you can share them with me?"
Robbie grinned and nodded.
"Let's go downstairs and get some," Owen said.
"I'll come with you," Derek said. The men disappeared.
Meredith watched Cristina, smiling.
"What?" Cristina asked.
"You look so uncomfortable," her friend said. "Regretting breastfeeding?"
Cristina shook her head. "It's the best thing for her, of course I'm going to do it. I … thought it would feel more natural. I mean, she knows how to do it by instinct, why don't I?"
Meredith nodded. "It will feel natural soon. You're doing great!"
"Well, she's been home a couple of hours and we haven't killed her yet."
"Exactly," Meredith said. "Owen is great with kids, and you, you can research what you don't know. You'll figure everything out."
By the time the men came upstairs, Chloe was burped and lying in Meredith's arms, looking around the room.
"Cristina went upstairs for a nap," she told Owen. "So I get to have this little cutie all to myself."
Robbie walked over to Meredith and looked at the baby again.
"See, Robbie?" Derek said. "Babies are cute. Only ours won't look like Auntie Cristina."
"Hmph," the boy said, before turning to the toys.
Her cell phone woke Cristina up. Groggily, she answered. "Hi Mom."
"I just wanted to check in with you," Helen cooed. "How is Chloe?"
"Urgh," Cristina moaned, rolling off of the bed. "You woke me from a nap."
"Oh, I'm sorry. You can nap all you want when I'm there, I'll take care of everything. Call me if you have questions!"
"Urgh." Cristina ended the call and staggered out of the master bedroom. She went into the nursery. The crib was empty.
She went downstairs, where Owen was setting the table. Her eyes sought out and found Chloe, who was sleeping in Derek's arms. Meredith was sitting beside him as Robbie played on the floor.
"Just in time for supper," Owen smiled. "Good nap?"
"Uh huh, until my mother called." Cristina sat down on the couch, next to Meredith. "Chloe wasn't hungry?"
"Nope," Owen said. "She needed a diaper change, that's all."
"And she's having a nice visit with Uncle Derek," the black-haired man grinned. "Robbie didn't like being passed around when he was a newborn, but Chloe is a good sport."
"Huh." Cristina yawned. "She's not anti-social. That's good."
After supper, Derek helped Owen clean up while Cristina and Meredith hung out on the couch. Chloe slept in her bassinet while Robbie watched TV.
"Are you okay?" Meredith asked Cristina, who was looking worried.
"What about when she starts to teethe?" Cristina said. "What if she doesn't make any friends? What if she doesn't get into the medical school of her choice? I have no idea of what I should do."
Meredith chuckled. "Cristina, she was born yesterday. Focus on keeping her clean and fed. The other stuff will come later."
"I know what to do for a baby as a doctor," Cristina said. She looked in the bassinet, as Chloe started to stir. "I thought that I would know how to mother her. I did all the research while on bed rest, it sounded so easy."
"Right now is easy," her friend said. "She needs to eat, sleep, pee and poop. Your job is to feed her and clean her up and keep her happy. You can do it. You'll feel more confident soon."
"Hmm." Chloe started to cry and Cristina frowned.
"What's wrong?" Meredith asked.
"My boobs are leaking," Cristina confessed, picking up Chloe. "She started to cry and they turned into faucets."
"See, your body knows what to do," her friend said. "It knows her hungry cry and it started to produce milk. You've got mothering instincts."
"I guess," Cristina said, as she prepared to nurse Chloe again.
"I'll come over tomorrow if you want," Meredith told Cristina, as they prepared to leave.
"Owen's mom is going to spend the day with us," Cristina said. "You'll have to wrestle her if you want to hold Chloe."
"Well, call me if you need to. Any time, for any reason."
"Okay." Cristina waved as the Shepherds left. She turned and went into the living room, where Owen was sitting and holding Chloe, as he read something on his laptop.
She looked at him, at how his eyes were drooping. "Have you had any breaks today?"
He shook his head. "I've been busy. There's a lot to do."
Cristina sat down and held out her arms. "Give her to me and go take a nap."
"I don't think so," he smiled. "You just gave birth, you get nap priority."
Cristina cleared her throat. "Major Hunt. At ease. Now."
That produced a chuckle. "Fine," Owen relented, passing over Chloe. "I'll go get the clothes out of the dryer."
"I said, 'at ease'," she retorted, as Chloe wiggled in her arms. "The laundry can wait."
"Yes ma'am." He yawned. "I admit it, I'm tired."
"Then go lie down."
"As you wish. You should go online, a lot of people want to know how you're doing." Owen moved the laptop over on the coffee table, before he stood up and left.
"Okay." Cristina moved Chloe to the bassinet, and started typing. She raised her eyebrows at the flood of emails and messages congratulating her on becoming a mother.
"Look at that," she said to Chloe. "You're brand new and already people say they love you. Daddy posted photos of you and everyone is 'liking' them. You're popular." She paused. "But being popular isn't what you should strive for. Good grades and the Harper Avery Award, that's what I'm talking about."
When Owen emerged from the master bedroom, yawning and rubbing his eyes, he heard crying from the nursery. There, he found Cristina grumbling as she undid Chloe's diaper.
"Green poop," she sighed. "This is why I didn't want to have kids. Toxic feces."
He chuckled as he walked over and assessed the situation. "You're wearing latex gloves to change a diaper?"
"Owen, this shit is nasty."
He bent over and kissed Chloe's forehead. "We should give her a bath."
"Okay." Cristina looked determined. "I read about this. We can do it."
Owen looked at her. "You've never bathed a baby before?"
"Didn't you ever … babysit?" Owen asked. "When you were a teenager?"
"No, I didn't need the money," she replied, grimacing as she disposed of the foul diaper.
"But … what about when we babysit Robbie …" Owen grinned. "Of course. You make me do all of the dirty stuff."
"Yes." Cristina sighed as she looked at her sticky hands and her fussy baby. "And now we have a poo-covered baby of our own."
"She's a cute poo-covered baby." Owen grabbed a towel and wrapped Chloe up in it. "Do you want me to set up the bath?"
"I'll set it up." Cristina paused. "Wait, where is everything?"
After Owen coached Cristina through the bath, Chloe was clean and had stopped crying.
"Now you smell better," Cristina told Chloe, as she dressed her in a fresh diaper. She noticed that Chloe was smacking her lips. "Let me guess, you're hungry again."
"Probably," Owen chuckled. "She's got a great appetite."
"I want to try something I read about,' Cristina said. She lightly brushed her finger on one of Chloe's cheeks. Instinctively, the baby opened her mouth and turned her head towards her finger.
"I do believe we have a smart baby," she noted, settling into the rocking chair again. She started to nurse her, while Owen left to take a shower.
Cristina felt satisfied. She had remembered the pillow this time and the latch was good. She looked down at the small baby with damp curly hair.
Her eyes went to Chloe's small fist, which was curled against her breast. Cristina placed a finger next to Chloe's fist, marveling that her baby immediately grabbed her finger.
"Let's be honest," she whispered to Chloe. "I didn't want kids for a long time. But I wanted you. Be patient with me." She paused. "You are cute. And smart. I can tell already. You're going to do great things."
As she was burping Chloe, Owen reappeared. He was dressed in pajama bottoms and rubbing his hair with a towel.
Cristina frowned as Chloe suddenly started to cry. "Why is she doing that? She's clean and fed."
"That's what babies do." Owen grinned as he slung his towel over his shoulder.
"How do we make her stop?" Cristina felt panicked.
"We do this." Owen gently took Chloe from Cristina. He cradled the crying baby against his chest and started making soothing noises.
Cristina sat back and watched Owen sway from side-to-side, holding Chloe close in his huge arms. He patiently rocked her as she continued to wail.
The scene was interrupted by the buzzing of a cell phone. Cristina sighed as she answered. "Hi Mom."
"She's crying," Helen clucked. "You should feed her."
"I fed her ten minutes ago. She had a bath … she's just crying," Cristina replied. Owen smiled and quietly stepped out of the room, carrying Chloe.
"Is she taking a pacifier?"
"We're not giving her one of those," Cristina sighed. "She's fine, Mom. I think she just wanted a cuddle, and Owen's good at that stuff."
Owen stuck his head through the open door and grinned at her.
"She will get lots of cuddles when I get my hands on her," Helen promised. "I can't wait."
"Uh huh," Cristina muttered. "I promise we'll keep her alive until then."
"I'm not worried about that." Her mother paused. "Cristina, you are very intelligent and I do know that you have deep feelings inside. I am sure you will be a good mother."
Surprised, Cristina couldn't speak for a few moments. "Thanks Mom," she whispered.
"You're welcome. And you sound tired. Kiss my grandbaby for me and get some sleep."
"Okay." Cristina smiled. "Good night."
Cristina sighed and put her cell phone away, as Owen crept back into the room. Chloe had stopped crying and was looking up at him with a puzzled expression, as he continued to gently rock her.
Leaning back, Cristina thought that something about Owen was different. Her eyes examined every inch of him – the spiky damp hair, the broad chest with a sprinkling of soft hair, the worn pajama bottoms, the bare feet. Very nice, but that wasn't new. The diaper-clad baby curled up in his arms was new, but that wasn't it. She examined him again.
The smile. Owen was smiling in a way that she had never seen before. His smile said that he was feeling … fulfilled.
Immediately, Cristina relaxed. She might have to rely on books and advice to mold her into a good parent, the kind that Chloe deserved. But everything would be okay, because she had Owen, and he was born to be a father.
She didn't realize she was still staring at Owen until he caught her gaze. He grinned. "What? Am I doing it wrong?"
"Not at all." Cristina smiled and stretched. "You're a total DILF."
Owen laughed and shook his head. "That's something I've never been called before."
"Get used to it."
"I can't thank you enough for having Chloe," he said, fervently. "I'm grateful that you changed your mind, I know that could not have been easy."
She looked at Chloe, who was yawning. "Actually, looking at her, I don't remember it being hard."
"She is just amazing," Owen grinned. "And she's falling asleep."
"Uh huh." Cristina yawned. "We should all go to bed."
Owen smiled softly before kissing Chloe's forehead. He brought her over to Cristina.
"What?" Cristina frowned.
"I thought you might like to say 'good night' to her," he smiled patiently.
"Oh." She sat up straight and spoke directly to her daughter. "Good night, Chloe. And please, try to sleep through the night and not wake us up every two hours."
Owen looked at her, his mouth twitching with poorly suppressed amusement. "Oh-kaaaaaaay." He kissed Chloe one more time, before placing her in the crib.
Cristina stood up and grabbed the baby monitor. Owen turned on the nightlight, then flicked off the overhead light. He took Cristina's hand as they left the room.
"Wait." Cristina turned around and walked rapidly to the crib. She reached down and quickly touched Chloe's hair. "Good night, baby," she said. "I hope you like your room. Auntie Callie picked out the decorations and Daddy put all of the furniture together."
Owen chuckled as he embraced her from behind. They stood there and watched Chloe blink sleepily.
"I could watch her all night," he murmured.
"I know." Cristina yawned. "But that also sounds kind of creepy. We don't want to scare her."
"True." Owen kissed her cheek. "Let's go. We'll be awake soon enough when she gets hungry again."
"Okay." Cristina reluctantly turned away, and walked with Owen to their bedroom. She quickly changed, while he brought her more ibuprofen and water. Owen made sure the monitor was turned on, and then they crawled into bed. He gathered her in his arms and kissed the back of her neck.
"We did it," he whispered, stroking her hair. "We're parents now."
"Mmm-hmmm." Cristina closed her eyes. "Good night, DILF."