I couldn't help but feel the excitement and anticipation of seeing the new addition to our makeshift family. It felt like such a long time since there had been a baby in our lives even though Eve was only eighteen months old. It felt like an eternity since I'd held her in my arms when her fingers were the size of my fingernails and her skin wrinkly and pink; yet it felt just like yesterday also. Time was a strange thing.
Peeta had the kids dressed and up early, ready to be at the hospital as soon as we possibly could be, knowing that Delly would want Mika to be there and to see us also. I wondered how Thom had held up through the night and what Delly would have been like giving birth. The two of them together seemed pretty tough so I'm sure they handled it well. Just thinking about it made me more anxious for my 'natural birth'. I hadn't even been in the labor ward in 12.
We drove the children to the hospital, picking up some lilac tulips on the way there, knowing that they were Delly's favorite. Peeta and I would have walked over, but for the kids it was a bit of a trek so we decided to get in the car. Eve was clattering a plastic doll she had been bought by Hazelle against the windows and Mika seemed half-asleep, but excited to see his Mom. It only took us ten minutes to get there. By the time we'd got them out of the car with the flowers, the card, and the teddy bear we'd bought in advance for the baby, we were all but running into the reception area, asking which way for the maternity ward.
"Look who it is!" I said jokingly as I saw Thom crouched in front of a vending machine, pressing the touch screen to get a bottle of lemonade. He looked up and gave us a weary, but ecstatic smile.
"Hey guys! I'm so glad you came!" He said happily as he stood up to pat Peeta on the shoulder and give me, and Eve, a kiss on the cheek before opening his arms to Mika and spinning him around.
"Congratulations Thom, honestly, we couldn't be happier for you guys." Peeta said joyfully and hoisted Eve a little higher on his hip as she wriggled, not liking the bright lights of the hospital on her.
"Thank you so much you two. I know it was a weight off Delly's mind knowing you were there with this little monster. You were a huge help." He gave the same tired smile again. He had shadows under his eyes, and looking closer at him, it didn't look like he'd slept at all. His hair was flattened at the back probably from leaning back on a chair and his clothes were the same as he had on yesterday: crumpled and worn.
"I can't wait to meet him Thom. I've been so excited ever since we got that call." I added, giving him a big smile and stroking Mika's head as he clung on to his Dad.
"He's the cutest. Delly did so well; she was a trooper. Bit of screaming here and there, but nothing I can't handle." He gave us a cheeky wink as Peeta smiled. I could already tell, with Peeta looking around the wards, that he was beginning to visualize us here in four or five month's time.
"Come on through and meet Felix guys. Del will be so happy to see you. Fair warning though, she's a little drugged up." Thom said quietly as he motioned for us to follow him down the hallway and through a pale green door into the room. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was all of the flowers and gifts scattered around the room. A sudden pang of sadness shot through my heart as I realized that none of them would be from either Delly or Thom's parents. Delly's father had died in the bombings, along with Peeta's; her mother giving birth to her. Thom's parents were out there somewhere, but they had been separated long ago from 12, and therefore Thom. He had never been close to his family though, and like Gale, had raised his siblings.
Delly lay in a cotton gown on the bed in the middle of the room, holding a tiny baby in her arms. He was swaddled in yellow blankets that matched the curtains in the window. The floor was thinly carpeted and there was a scent of disinfectant in the air. Her face lit up as she saw us, and she pulled her gown down as she finished feeding Felix. Peeta put the flowers on the side and she smiled so widely at us, I could see her wisdom teeth. I ran up to her and gave her a tight hug, kissing her hair as I bent down to admire her newborn son. Peeta was stood with Thom talking as they gave us a moment. I could see the faint glisten in his eyes though as he saw the boy in his mind that we would be having soon.
"Delly he's beautiful!" I exclaimed and stroked his forehead as he stirred. His tiny fingers clenched and unclenched as he wriggled in her arms.
"Isn't he? All that pain is so worth it for this moment. Felix, meet your aunty Katniss." She said blissfully as she stroked my arm and reached out her finger to his hands as he grasped them. I felt my own eyes well with water, but swallowed hard. He was so small and fragile. Delly and Thom had created this life together. There was nothing more amazing. Being a mother now, I saw it differently than when I had with Mika. It all felt so much more real, and connected.
I'm so glad to see you Katniss, I've been thinking about you for hours!" Delly suddenly said as she brushed her stray hair away from her face. Her eyes looked weary, and her cheeks were flushed. There was a drip going into her arm pumping her with 12's strongest painkiller, no doubt. Morphling wasn't used that often nowadays here. I t had too many side effects and after the quarter quell when the Morphlings from district 6 had been broadcasted, a few people had a change of mind.
"Me? You've been thinking about me at a time like this? Why?" I asked in disbelief as I sat down in the chair next to the bed and placed a hand over hers. She looked joyfully down on her baby.
"I'm not sure. I think it's because you're having a boy too. I know you must be scared this time around, but I just want you not to be. It's the best feeling in the world now; our family almost feels complete, you know?" She asked, her eyes a little hazy as she looked up at my face. I nodded slightly and gave her a small smile.
"Don't worry about me Delly, I'm much better with the idea now. I don't think you should spend your time here concerned about me. I have you guys, as well as Peeta and Eve, as my family and it's great. I'm honestly so happy right now." I said quietly back to her, as I felt Peeta walk up behind me and put a hand on my shoulder.
"Isn't he gorgeous?" Peeta said softly as he reached his other hand out to stroke his soft head and let out a small laugh. Delly looked at Peeta, then back at me.
"I can't wait until it's you guys. It's not long now. I'm so excited!" She said, slurring a little, but the happiness was real. Thom went to her other side and stroked her cheek.
"Honey, maybe you should concentrate on your own baby right now." He said jokingly as he called Mika over to sit on his knee. He had been waiting by the door, hiding behind his dad's legs, unsure of whether or not to come into the room.
"Hello Mika!" Delly said as she kissed her hand and pressed it to his face. He giggled. "Have you been okay baby?" She asked and he nodded quickly.
Thom picked up Mika's hand gently and reached it over to his brother's head. "Mika, this is your baby brother, Felix. Say Hi to him." Thom said gently. Mika held his breath as he stroked him. "Hi Felix." He mumbled in his high-pitched voice, still unsure what to make of it all but seeming proud that he had a younger brother. A tear slipped down Delly's cheek again, before she turned to me.
"Do you want to hold him?" She asked, and I wiped my own eyes before nodding. I reached out to take him, trying to do most of the work so that Delly didn't have to move too much. I knew how sore and tired she would be, not to mention mentally drained. But for now, she was looking like she was coping.
I brought him close to my chest as Peeta rearranged the blankets slightly so that his face was fully out. He began to cry at first, but after some gentle rocking he settled down. It was such a strange feeling; to have something that Delly was carrying inside her just yesterday, and all those months, in my arms and against my skin. He really was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen. I felt my little bump sit underneath him and cried some more, happily. Peeta continued to stroke my shoulder from behind and I brought Felix closer to my face and kissed him gingerly.
"So...you two fancy being Godparents again?" Thom asked, clearing his throat. Delly slapped him lightly on the stomach, but looked too tired to properly hurt him. He laughed as he looked at her, and then our faces. "Sorry, I guess I was meant to ask it in a more...serious way." He said shrugging and lifting Mika onto the hospital bed so that he could see his Mom. I rubbed my eyes again with the back of my hand, not wanting to hold Felix with one hand, but feeling okay because I was sitting down.
"Really?" Peeta said with a wide smile on his face. Delly nodded.
"You two have been perfect to Mika, why would we not want Felix to have the same treatment?" She said playfully as she grabbed one of Thom's hands and rubbed Mika's back with the other as he grabbed at wires behind the bed. Thom pulled him back slightly, before his gaze fell on his newborn baby. It was the same look he had the day that Mika was born, but this time it was more knowing, more knowledge-filled. Pride seeped out of his pores before he seemed to check himself and look back at Peeta and I.
"You guys are the best for the job, that's for sure." He started. "There's no one else Del and I would ask. You're family." Thom added, grinning at us. Peeta spoke first.
"I'm really touched, honestly, I am." He said happily. I chimed in.
"We'd be honored to, of course."
After more talking, Peeta asked if he could hold him. I tentatively handed him over, feeling like a part of me had been taken away as he left my skin. I couldn't get over how small he was compared to Eve, who had been sleeping happily in the chair in the corner Peeta had popped her down in when we came in the room. I walked over to her and gently woke her up, explaining that Aunty Delly wanted to see her and that she could meet her new friend. She was confused, and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes but soon woke up when Delly made a fuss over her as she sat on her lap and grabbed at Mika.
"Momma...your baby soon?" Eve suddenly asked as she sat bolt upright in Delly's bed and pointed at Felix in Peeta's arms and then at my bump. Thom laughed and ruffled her blonde curls, which were growing by the week. "Soon enough kiddo, trust me." He replied to her. She seemed content by this and went back to lying on Delly. I felt myself smile, but the anxiety threatened to make it wobble slightly. I knew it was wrong to be scared; I'd been through it before, and this was what we wanted. It didn't stop it from being terrifying, though. Delly and Thom were so happy though that it overrode my fears. I was surrounded by people who cared about me, and that was all that mattered.
Delly began to grow weary after another twenty minutes of chatting, and soon she had her eyes closed. Thom lifted Mika away from her, and set him down with some coloring books whilst I picked up Eve as she gave Delly a kiss goodbye, just before I did too.
"Katniss...thanks for the flowers...so beautiful." Delly suddenly murmured drowsily as I pulled away from her. I laughed and squeezed her arm.
"Goodbye Felix." Peeta whispered softly, as he gave him back over to Thom. "Welcome to the world."
When we all got back home that morning, our moods were different. Peeta seemed quietly content and I had a certain amount of optimism about our future. That kind of feeling was rare, so I cherished whilst it lasted. We were even more affectionate than usual. Whilst I made Eve some lunch, Peeta stood beside me, his arm around my waist. He kissed Eve whenever he passed her, or sat next to her, and his eyes had a certain sparkle in them.
"They seemed really happy didn't they?" I asked, suddenly breaking the silence at the table as we munched on some bread. Peeta nodded and wiped Eve's mouth as she smeared butter around it.
"It seemed impossible for them to be any happier. I'm really glad for them. Felix is adorable." He pointed out as he took a bite of his own lunch.
"It seems so surreal that they have another child. It all happens so quickly don't you think?" I mumbled, thinking about time again and how strange it was that so much could change in such a short space of it.
"I know. Things are changing so fast, but it's a good kind of change. If I'd looked forward into the future and seen all of us just a few years ago I'd never have believed it." Peeta said laughing, but there was also sadness behind it, a remembrance of things past.
"Love you." I said, surprising myself as I reached a hand out to stroke his. He smiled back at me. "Love you back." He replied.
Eve looked up between us with a mouthful of her sandwich and pointed at us both. "I love you!" She exclaimed as she spat some bread out. I grimaced but Peeta and I both laughed. This made her giggle too. Peeta put an arm around her and squeezed her, smothering her in kisses.
I woke up in the night needing to pee for about the fourth time in the last hour. My pajama shorts felt tight around my waist and as I walked to the bathroom I realized that I'd have to dig out my maternity clothes again. I cringed at the thought. I'd tried to wait until the last possible minute with Eve because I hated the thought of changing so much that I couldn't wear my normal clothes. I'd already gained a few more pounds, and I didn't think a lot of it was the baby. It was probably the amount of cakes Peeta had been making me.
By the time I'd flushed the toilet, I realized how out of breath I was from walking. The doctor said this was normal for the second trimester as the uterus starts growing and taking up lung room or something. I hadn't told Peeta, it was just something more for him to worry about.
Another thing that I hadn't told Peeta about was the dreams. The dreams had come back, and they had come back with a vengeance. This time round, the dreams weren't laced with Snow's poison on me, or the world, or Prim dying, or fire, or flashbacks to the arena. They were strange, and unexplainable and vivid. They weren't all bad, although most of them were. Once again, this was down to my hormones, and I knew that deep in my bones. But when I had dreams of giving birth to an evil child it frightened me to the depth of my heart. The baby grew up to be a replica of the sociopaths in the Capitol: cold-hearted and sadistic. Peeta and I could do nothing to stop our child from being this way. He pointed the finger at us every time and reminded us we were the reason. Each time I awoke in a cold sweat and looked at Peeta, and how wonderful Eve was, I told myself over and over how good things were now, and how beautiful and good our boy would be, and it calmed me down again. It wasn't playing on insecurity, more like regurgitating the past and projecting it on to the future. Sometimes I really detested my mind.
I walked back over to bed, sipping the water on the bedside table before crawling back in bedside Peeta. He naturally rolled over and put an arm over me in his sleep. I sighed contently into him. He must have stirred slightly at the sound because he opened his eyes a fraction and whispered. "Are you okay?"
Peeta always asked this if he saw I was awake in the night. He worried that I'd had a flashback or that I was having a panic attack; it was almost like a reflex now.
"Yeah, yeah I'm fine I just...oh!" I whispered back, surprising myself with the last outburst.
"What?" He said worriedly, sitting up in bed. I pushed him back down, laughing but groaning at the same time.
"I think the baby has hiccups..." I said wearily as I pulled the blankets up around me more and curling back into Peeta.
"Really? Can I feel?" He asked excitedly, despite my obvious discomfort. He chuckled as he put a hand on my stomach, disappointed when he couldn't catch anything.
"He's too small at the moment. Only I can feel it. Sorry." I apologized as I nestled my head into the crook of his neck.
"I forget about all the good stuff to come as the weeks go on." I moaned as I felt my bladder starting to feel uncomfortable again.
"I know, and I can't wait for it all." Peeta responded as I became more and more drowsy.