The alarm on my phone wakes me up with a start, and I scramble in the dark room to switch it off. My eyes are still bleary from sleep as I press the dismiss button, my stomach tying in knots when I see December 22 flashing brightly across the home screen. I wait for the inescapable nausea to overtake me, but instead I'm distracted by the butter yellow of the paint staining the back of my hand. I think of the walls of the room next to mine that bear the same colour; remember the contrast between that and the white crib that took me a day to build, and the only thing that spreads throughout my body is pure joy.
That increases tenfold when a small, warm hand rubs my cold shoulder, the tired voice that beckons me back to bed causing the corners of my mouth to turn up. I move back under the comforter into the space that's warm from the heat of your body and press my chest against your back. You flinch when my chilled hand caresses the small bump of your stomach, but the way you push back into me a moment later soothes the seed of hurt. I move forward to kiss the nape of your neck, and already I know from now on December 22 will be filled with nothing but happiness.
Dear Little One,
It feels strange to be writing a letter to you even though you won't read it for years to come, but letters have a very special meaning for our family. Mommy laughed when I told her I wanted to write to you, but that's because she likes to call me sentimental. That means I like to cling on to things in my past that are important to me - though knowing I have you and your mother makes the future look much more exciting than anything that has come before.
In a way, doing this for you makes being a daddy much more real. You're no longer just a wish but instead a gift we've been blessed with. I've put off writing to you because I needed to know you were strong and healthy before doing so, and knowing that you are is what's causing the tears smudging the ink as I write.
You see, Mommy and I almost had a baby once before. It was when we were much younger and had only been married for a few years, and Mommy wasn't doing so well then. She's better now, but sometimes she still gets sad for no reason at all - not because she doesn't love us but just because, and that's okay. We didn't even know there was a baby until there wasn't anymore, and that's why we're being so careful with you.
We prayed and hoped that you would be okay, and I wish I could explain how happy we were to hear you will be. I haven't told anyone this, but I think your brother or sister is looking down on us from Heaven and making sure you're well, and I thank them every day for it. You are our second chance to be parents, Little One, and we promise to do everything possible to show you how much we care always.
Life has been full of bumps for your mother and me, but how much we love one another has never been in doubt. One of the most important things we have to teach you is that you must never give up. Though I wish we could protect you from anything that may hurt you, eventually something will and how you react to that will shape your path from then on. Your mother and I never gave up on one another even when everything suggested that we should, and the love we share is proof of why you should strive to work through the hard times, even when it hurts to do so.
Know that regardless of what happens, Mommy and I will always be here to help you through. Already you are so much a part of me that I can't imagine being without you – I speak to you through Mommy's tummy each night. Can you hear me, Little One? Sometimes you kick and I'm sure you can, and it feels like another example of how my heart speaks to yours always. I wonder if that's why mine feels so full all the time.
You may only be a small shadow on a screen right now, but already you have filled our lives with so much happiness. We can't wait to meet you.
I love you beyond measure.
A/N: I'd like to thank Astro one last time, just for being herself. I couldn't have done this without her.
Mostly though, I'd like to thank you - for reading, for following and favoriting, for the wonderful reviews. So many people have spoken to me on Facebook or Twitter or even via PMs here about how much they enjoy the story, and I'm so grateful. Your support has been beyond anything I could have imagined.
For the final time - please let me know what you thought.