I do not own these characters and make no profit from their use.
God's in His Heaven
Hal was relieved when all of the others left first their bedroom and then the house. It was no longer a delivery room, but their own bedroom. It was their own private space once more. He appreciated the willingness of the family to stay with them through the blackout to be present for the birth. He knew that it meant a great deal to his wife to have them there. He also had a feeling that there was some kind of symbolic significance to each person there. He was hopeful that either Mother or Phoebe could explain it to him.
Since everyone was gone, he felt comfortable changing into his nightclothes. But before he did that, he wanted to wash up a little. It had been a very long two days. He had showered that morning, but after heavily sweating for the past few hours he felt pretty grungy. He was hoping that tomorrow they would be able to open the windows and air the room out.
By the time he was done and returned to the bed, he discovered that Phoebe and Maisie were both sleeping. He slipped into bed beside her and then maneuvered his arm behind her. She barely noticed, but nevertheless snuggled closer to him. Maisie gave a little yawn, but then cuddled a little closer to her Mommy. He wondered how long they would sleep before the baby woke up hungry.
He really wasn't tired at all. In fact, he was still exhilarated by the experience of watching his daughter literally enter the world. He felt almost foolish now because of his initial reluctance. The process had not made him feel squeamish at all. In fact, the only emotion that he felt was pure joy.
While Phoebe was in pain, he did not feel as helpless as he thought he would. In fact once the active contractions started, he didn't have time to think about it. He was able to hold her up, encourage her to push, and then help her to breathe. It was something that they were doing together, as a team. Since he had "done his part," so to speak, on the other end, it was only fair that he stuck around for the grand finale.
She was intensely focused each time she had to push. In fact, the midwife had to calm her down at one point. She had become too tense to make any progress. But when the baby was ready to come, she came. And as she passed into the Mrs. Morgan's hands it looked so easy. And with that, the pain was over.
His fears had been based on watching Helen pass away, wracked in a pain from which there was no relief. There was no way that he could do anything to mitigate her suffering. There were no encouraging words to offer, only words of comfort. His mother had been right. Helen's suffering had only passed when she moved from this world into the next. When Phoebe's suffering ended, she was able to hold a new life in her arms.
He knew that he would never forget the feeling of that squirmy, squalling little red thing, still wet with fluid as Mrs. Morgan held her for him to cut the umbilical cord. Then there was the joyous moment when he presented her to her mother, his wife. She was the symbol of their love and devotion to one another. Phoebe wept as she cradled her in her arms. It felt like a sacred moment.
It was at that moment that he truly appreciated her great desire for a home birth. He knew that in a brightly lit, hospital delivery room where she was barely awake, she would have missed those precious moments. He had not experienced this with any of the other children. He remembered first seeing Helen, who was barely awake, lying in bed in the maternity ward. Then he walked over to the brightly lit nursery where a nurse would hold up "Baby Everett" wrapped in a blue or pink blanket.
As they were filling out the paperwork, Mrs. Morgan had commented that the darkened room had probably made Maisie's entrance into the world much less traumatic for her than a hospital birth. He looked down in his arms where Phoebe lay peacefully sleeping, a faint smile on her face. And little Maisie was swaddled and comfortable looking in her mother's arms.
Before she had been able to hold her again, she had given Mother the honor of holding her. The tears in Mother's eyes told the story of her own emotions. It had been a couple of months before she and Dad had been able to really get that close to the other children. In fairness however, none of them, not even Helen and himself, had had this kind of experience. Trelawney was beaming with joy. In fact she very nearly glowed. Emmeline looked relieved, but Tom's reaction was the most interesting of all.
He seemed stunned by what he had just witnessed and then assumed a gesture of prayer. He could not even imagine why. In so many ways he was an enigma. From the day he met her, he had shown nothing but kindness to Phoebe and fond amusement towards Trelawney. His gracious acceptance of his new wife and then his determination to bring his own recalcitrant wife around to accepting her had made Phoebe very happy.
He had offered himself as a grandfather and was now a godfather to the little girl, the half-sibling of his grandchildren. He knew that Tom was protective of Trelawney, knowing that it was her tenacity and love for Phoebe that had ultimately converted (that was the only word for it) Bernice.
That had opened the door for both of them to become a more integral part of their grandchildren's lives. Yet all of these wonderful moments had only occurred because Helen, his only daughter, had passed away. The only word that there was to describe it was bittersweet. No doubt his emotions were a mixture of the joy of welcome a new life and sadness for the one that he had personally lost.
He now faced something of a dilemma of his own. He truly wanted Trelawney to return to his home. He knew that both she and Phoebe would only be completely content when they were living together again. And instinctively, he knew that Maisie needed and wanted her there as well. But he also knew that Mother would be very upset to lose the little girl who she had come to think of as the daughter she never had. The transition would need to be carefully thought out so that no one would be hurt.
He hoped that they would get their telephone service back soon so that they could call Hal. Perhaps if they didn't they could find someone who still had power. He couldn't imagine that the whole town was blacked out. Tomorrow Butch and Prudence would be back home, he from Tim's house and she when she returned with Bernice from their outing.
Then there were other family and friends who would want to see the baby. He was afraid that Phoebe would be overwhelmed by the attention. It occurred to him that if Maisie had been born in the hospital, then she and Phoebe would have been there at least until Wednesday. Perhaps they could stagger some of the visitors and ask others to wait. Phoebe would still be very tired and he didn't want her to become too exhausted to enjoy her first days of motherhood.
But of course he had to be careful not to say that in front of the other kids. They had viewed her as their mother for almost a year now. It would be impossible to explain to them, except for Hal, that Phoebe's relationship with Maisie, as her mother, was going to be different from her relationship with them. He hoped that the intense nature of childcare for an infant would obscure some of that knowledge n the beginning.
Mum and Daddy
Hal sat thinking and turning things over in his mind for a couple of hours. Then a little cooing sound broke into his thoughts. He looked down and saw Maisie starting to wake up. She was turning towards Phoebe with her mouth opening and closing. And then she let out a wail. Phoebe woke up and looked down.
"She's rooting, Hal," she said sleepily. "It's time to get Mrs. Morgan."
But Hal had only put on his robe, when the nurse came in. He figured that her years as a nurse had given her supersonic hearing.
"There you are, Phoebe," she said. "Now she's hungry and it's time for you two to start learning how to nurse together. It may be the most natural thing in the world, but everyone needs a little help in the beginning."
Phoebe nodded. She was now fully awake. Hal was curious about what would happen next. Phoebe opened the hospital robe.
"Now, you need to guide her mouth to the breast so that she can latch on," she said. "Once she grasps the nipple, she will know instinctively what to do to make the milk begin flowing. If she latches on correctly, you will feel it."
Hal watched in fascination as Phoebe guided the little rosebud mouth to the delicate pink nipple. As Mrs. Morgan had said, Maisie latched on immediately and he could see her drinking. He had a feeling that if she wasn't, they would hear about it. He recalled Uncle David's words that it was the most beautiful sight in the world. He was right.
He also found himself looking at his wife's breasts in a new way. Previously, he had derived a great deal of pleasure from them when making love to her, especially since she had become pregnant and they grew larger. He realized that he would be abdicating his exclusive rights to them to his youngest daughter for the next few months.
Reading his thoughts, Phoebe whispered in his ear, "Don't worry, I'm sure she'll share."
Looking at the little one who was sucking eagerly and had reached up to grasp her mother's breast, he thought that she didn't look like she planned on sharing, but he didn't care.
"You two have caught on right away," said Mrs. Morgan approvingly. "Now of course you know that there can be no bottles until she really gets used to this. It's easiest if you just keep her with you all the time so that you can feed her when she needs you. Breast milk doesn't fill the baby up as much as formula. When she's large enough, you can put her on a feeding schedule."
"I don't think that will be a problem," said Hal ruefully. "I do have some regrets about the bottles."
"I'm sorry, I know that it is disappointing for the new father to hear that, but despite the fact that nursing is the most natural thing in the world, the baby must learn how to suck properly. It is much easier to suck from the nipple of a bottle than from the mother's breast. If the baby becomes too comfortable with the bottle she may never become comfortable at the breast," she further explained.
Maisie seemed blithely unaware of what was happening around her. She was sucking and gazing contentedly into the eyes of her mother. Phoebe cuddled the child closer and kissed the little head. Hal suspected that she was only barely aware of what Mrs. Morgan was telling her.
"That's it," said the nurse. "While she is small, you will have to frequently nurse her. As I said before, if you can keep her with you at all times, that will be best. The more frequently you nurse her right now, the faster your milk will come in. For the first few days you will actually be giving her colostum, which is a nutritious fluid that infants can only get from their mothers. There is no formula that can provide the nutrients and antibodies that the mother's own colostum can. She will be a healthier baby for it."
Hal watched in fascination as the baby sucked. This was just another new experience for him. He remembered how after he had spoken to Helen and seen the baby he had gone home from the hospital. He knew that Helen had only gotten to see the baby when it needed a bottle or if she asked. But seeing what Phoebe had described in person, he understood how wonderful it was to have the child with them both from the first moments of life.
"Another advantage to nursing is that generally speaking, nursing mothers don't get pregnant," added the nurse. "It will save you the trouble of dealing with birth control later."
Hal looked at Phoebe a little anxiously. He recalled thinking in the heat of labor how he had wondered if she would ever let him touch her again. But she smiled softly back at him. He knew that there would be more children after Maisie.
However as Hal watched her looking down at the little miracle who had been born only hours before, he knew that this one was special to her, perhaps even more than any others who might follow. It was really her first child. And things would never be the same again.
As close as she was to the other children, carrying this one for nine months, as she herself had said "close to her heart" he knew that they shared a special bond that even he was outside of. He didn't mind. For all the love and happiness that she had brought into his home, this little person that they had created together was his living gift to her of his own love. It was his long promised wedding gift.
The nurse looked pleased. "You two really have caught on quickly. You will discover that there is a hormonal release every time that you nurse. You will find yourself as contented as your child. But you must be careful to nurse her from the other side the next time she is hungry. Some women use a small ribbon to indicate to themselves which side they need to nurse from next. You need to be very careful to alternate sides. If you aren't careful, when your milk comes in the ducts can get blocked. That is very painful."
Phoebe didn't even look up. She was completely enthralled by the little bundle in her arms. Hal could see that as she felt the milk or whatever it was flowing from her breast into the child that a sense of peace had fallen over her. In a moment, the little girl let go and with a deep sigh, snuggled close to her mother again and fell asleep. Now all was peaceful and calm. Hal could see that Phoebe's eyelids were growing heavy again and he came to take the little bundle from her arms.
"Daddy's turn, Mommy needs to go to sleep," he said with a smile.
"Hal," she said before she drifted off. "I want her to call me Mum, like I called my own mother."
He understood and peeking at the little pink face said, "Hey little angel, time to let your Mum sleep for a bit."
Phoebe smiled and closed her eyes. She had had a long night. Hal looked down at the little angel in his arms and realized that he was growing weary as well. But he had really not had any chance to hold his new daughter himself. He sat down in the rocking chair that they had bought for this room. Mrs. Morgan nodded and left the room. Now alone with his little girl he began to think again.
He had forgotten how tiny newborns were. He knew that she would be reddish for the first few days and then have the pale pink and white complexion of her mother. Her hair was so fair that she almost looked bald. But if any of the other children had anything to say about that, all he had to do was pull out their baby pictures. Little towheads always looked bald before their hair grew in. She had the same vivid blue eyes that they all did.
He reached down to pick up one little hand gently and marveled as he always did at the perfect little fingernails. Yes, she was like the others, but in some ways she was not. It would be interesting to see how the other children responded to the idea that Maisie would call Phoebe Mum. It was a natural thing that Phoebe would want her to call her by the same name that she had called her own mother. Probably only Prudence would mind.
He was still unsure of how Prudence would react to the reality of having a baby sister. Having Trelawney move back home would no doubt help with that. Of course with Trelawney starting a new school and her own absorption with the baby, Prudence still might be dissatisfied. Trelawney had a fundamentally different relationship with Maisie.
She was her aunt and would no doubt become her favorite aunt. And Trelawney had two very good role models of "aunts" in Emmeline and Sylvia. Well, they might be cousins, but age wise they were more like aunts. Considering the expansive Figalilly clan, they probably didn't worry much about titles and relationships like that.
But now he was ready for bed himself. Holding the peacefully sleeping child had finally calmed his own mind. She was just as beautiful as her mother. He suspected that she would share her intuitions. It was going to be very interesting to watch her grow up. He then walked the baby over to the cradle that Phoebe's father had built for her when she was born and gently laid her inside.
The child seemed aware of the significance of her new bed. Rather than crying at being laid down to sleep, as his other children had done, she nestled into the little mattress, facing her mother. Seeing that Phoebe was lying on her side that was facing the cradle, he smiled. The first sight that she would see when she awoke was that of her infant daughter sleeping there. Or more likely, looking at her and wailing. Then he got into bed himself and took his wife in his arms, careful to keep her facing the cradle. He recalled Trelawney's words of a few hours ago.
"God's in His heaven, all's right in the world."
She was right.
To be continued . . .