I was watching my husband cuddle with our son the other night, and kind of felt the need to write this little ficlet. It’s set in contemporary times. I’ll likely add other ficlets to this universe, but each should be able to stand alone.
Jamie stopped short in the hallway, pausing before he opened the door to the Neonatal ICU. The sun had set hours ago, and the ward was dark. The only illumination came from the hallway and the odd bilirubin lights hovering over some of the newborns, which cast the room in a strange blue tinge. Through the glass, he could see that Claire had fallen asleep in the recliner next to the baby’s incubator. She looked uncomfortable, as her hand was still inside one of the access ports, her finger resting on their baby’s leg.
She was such a wee, delicate thing. Perfect to look at, but tiny. She had arrived twelve weeks early, before the realization that he would have a child, a real, live, breathing, human child, had truly sunk in. Yes, he’d whooped in delight when Claire, with bright trepidation in her eyes, her voice trembling, had told him she was pregnant. When he realized what she was saying, he had grabbed her in a great bear hug and lifted her off her feet, had told her how happy he was. And he wasn’t lying, not even a little bit, though he was shocked. He’d wanted a family, had always wanted children, and knew she was meant to be their mother from almost the first time he had laid eyes on her. So when she told him that she thought she couldn’t have children after trying for years with her ex husband, he had accepted it, gracefully, he hoped, though with mixed feelings. First and foremost he was disappointed, but it was impossible to be genuinely upset when he had Claire. She made him soulfully, deeply happy, and he couldn’t bear to hurt her by letting her think she had somehow let him down. And he thought it would be lovely to have the next few years to spend as a married couple, just the two of them, since their romance was such a whirlwind. They had married after only knowing each other for six weeks. Surely they could take a little longer to start their family. Maybe in a few years they could talk to a fertility doctor, or adopt, or possibly even both.
So when she told him she was pregnant, he was floored. Thrilled, yes, but floored nonetheless. And terrified. His brain froze for what felt like several minutes, but could not possibly have been for more than a few seconds. It was long enough, though, for her to start apologizing. She was a doctor, for God’s sake, and she damn well knew better. She shouldn’t have assumed, she stammered, and she should have been on birth control. He couldn’t seem to make his mouth form words, so he stopped her blathering with an incoherent, happy yell and a tight embrace.
He’d spent the next several weeks getting used to the idea. He was happy, really he was, but in an abstract way. He didn’t really know what to expect, having spent little time around babies. Though his sister had a little boy she had named after him, he had been abroad when wee Jamie was born and had only met him a handful of times. Jenny had just had a girl, but they hadn’t had the chance to spend much time with her yet. He wanted children, but he wasn’t completely certain what to with them.
Even when Claire’s belly started to swell, reality hadn’t quite hit. It wasn’t until weeks later, when she gently took his hand and placed it on the bump, and he felt the baby move against his palm for the first time, that his heart caught up with his brain. Dear God. He was going to be a father. Soon. He was going to be responsible for a tiny human, a helpless little person who would depend on them for literally everything. The responsibility was immense. At least he’d have a few months to prepare. Then Claire had started to have contractions, much too soon, and his anxiety skyrocketed. When she started to bleed, he felt his world collapsing around him. He adored her, would do anything for her, but now, there was absolutely nothing he could do to fix it. And the baby had come nearly three months before they expected her.
Jamie silently entered the ward, nodding in greeting at another drowsy parent hovering over her child. He set his bag on the floor, bent over the plastic case, and peered at his new daughter. She still didn’t have a name, even after two weeks. The tag on the incubator still said, “Baby Girl Fraser.” They had talked about it before she was born, but thought they had more time to decide. And now that she was here, none of the names they tried seemed to fit her.
She was exquisite. The dark fuzz of her hair was covered in a little pink cap, and there were far too many wires and tubes protruding from her delicate form, but she was still lovely, and so very, very small. He stared at her wee toes and the tiny little fingers curled in sleep, and he wished he could pick her up. Instead, he kissed the tip of his finger, slid his hand through the open access port, and touched his finger to her skin.
Then he turned to his wife. Claire was stretched awkwardly toward the incubator, her right hand touching the baby, as she dozed. Her head lolled uncomfortably to the side, and if she didn’t straighten out soon, she’d have a raging headache and backache when she woke. Jamie tenderly brushed her riotous curls from her face and kissed her forehead, gently drew her hand from the incubator, then slid his arms beneath her and lifted her up as if she was a child herself. She started to wake as he settled himself into the recliner and arranged her in his lap. She murmured his name sleepily.
“Aye, lass. It’s me. I brought ye dinner. Are you hungry?”
“Thanks,” she yawned, “but not right now. I don’t think I could work up the energy to eat even if I wanted to.” She tucked her head into the crook of his shoulder and pressed her lips to his neck, and he knew that she needed his comfort far more than she needed food.
A nurse stopped beside them and leaned down. “Can I get you another chair?”
Before Claire could answer, he said, “Thank ye, but no.” He wasn’t about to let go of her. Instead, as the nurse smiled and walked away, he pulled her tightly against him, relishing the solid weight of her body, and pressing his cheek into the tickle of her hair. He closed his eyes and breathed her in, focusing on the floral scent of her shampoo instead of the antiseptic smells of the hospital. “How was she today?” He wished he could have been there, but a pipe had burst at the new distillery, and he had spent the entire day dealing with the mess.
Her body tensed a little. “Had a bit of a scare in the morning. She was having trouble breathing. I was afraid she’d be intubated, but they got away without it.”
“She looks peaceful now, but I’m sorry I wasna here wi’ you.”
He felt her shaking her head against his jaw. “You don’t have to be sorry. I’m sorry I snapped at you when you left. You didn’t deserve it. I know you would have stayed if you’d had any choice in the matter. I’m just… This is just…”
He stroked her back with his open palm, saying, “Hush, now. Dinna fash. I ken.” He felt her tremble slightly, and after a minute of silence, a wet droplet landed on his collarbone. He tipped her chin up with the crook of his finger and saw tears running down her cheeks. His heart melted a little at the sight of her glistening eyes, so wide and trusting as she looked up at him. This was the very same expression on her face that captured his soul, fully and completely, only days after they’d met. He had reacted so viscerally, had wanted, no, needed, to tuck her close against him and shelter her from the sorrows of the world with his heart and his body. After he kissed the tears from her cheeks, he asked, “Och. What’s all this about, now?”
He was actually startled at her answer. “I can’t help but feel this is all my fault.”
“What? How could it possibly be? That’s no’ possible, and ye ken that.”
She curled up against him again, mumbling into his neck. “I was working too much, too hard. It was too much of a strain on the baby. The call, those long nights, the long hours. They offered to lighten my load, but I was stubborn. I wanted to get that hard rotation over with. If I wasn’t so stubborn, if I taken better care of her…"
He cut her off before she could get any farther. “Listen to me, lass. You didn’t do this. Or did they teach you in medical school that you could stay o’ trouble by lyin’ abed for your whole pregnancy?“
She chuckled despite herself. “Of course not.”
“Then did they tell you you could keep a bairn from harm by playing housewife? Or hurt it by standing up too long? By staying up too late?”
"No…” she admitted.
He repeated, “Hush, then. Dinna fash. You’ve done naught but love her since you realized she was growing within ye.” Since he couldn’t reach her lips from this angle, he brought her hand to his mouth and pressed his lips firmly against her knuckles.
Quietly, she asked, “How can you be so calm? Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful. You’re my rock, you know? But how are you holding it all together?”
“Mmph.” He told her the truth while he stroked her fingers. “Because I’ve already faced my greatest fear, mo nighean donn. When you collapsed, when I saw you in so much pain, I thought I was about to lose ye both. I’ve never been so scairt in all my life. While you were on the ground, I had this, well, I guess you’d call it a vision. I saw you going from me, fading away, and just imagining it left this great void in my chest. I dinna know what I’d do without ye, Claire. I was so afraid, and I knew there was nothing I could do to help you…”
She looked up and him and started to interrupt, “But you were perfect! You didn’t hesitate a second. You got me…”
“I called for the ambulance, but that’s all I could do! I want to protect you, ye ken? I’d do anything to keep you safe. But there wasn’t really anything I could do. I felt so powerless. I’m not like you, not a doctor, nor a nurse. All I could do was hold you in my arms and wait. Did ye no’ feel me crushing you? I knew I was holdin’ ye too hard, but I couldn’t help but feel ye’d slip away from me altogether if I didna hang on tight enough.”
She lifted her hand to stroke his cheek in comfort. “I’m so sorry, Jamie. I didn’t think what it must have been like for you.”
He kissed her forehead. “You didna have the time to fash over me, Sassenach. You were quite occupied, if I recall,” he chuckled. “No, I don’t tell you this so you’ll feel bad for me. I just mean to say that I’m no’ afraid now, because I’ve already looked my greatest fear right in its face. I was so scairt to lose ye, but ye’re here. Both o’ you. Right here in my arms, and I willna let ye go. Don’t be afraid,” he whispered. “There’s the three of us now.”
Her eyes softened, and he could see that she understood. “You’re really not scared.”
He touched his forehead to hers. “You’re with me, by my side, loving me as I love you. And that gives me faith, mo ghraidh, faith in you, faith in myself, faith in the bairn. Faith in our wee family.”
He kissed her then, softly and sweetly, and would have kept on and on, hospital be damned, but he felt her lips stretch wide into a smile, and she pulled away. As Claire turned to look at their baby, she exclaimed, “That’s it, Jamie! That’s it!”
After only a moment, he knew exactly what she meant, and a matching smile spread across his face. “Aye. You’re right. That’s her, isn’t it?”
January 1st, 2016 : 247lbs - each month I will do progress pics with weight checks ins. I will do my best to be better at posting pics of my journey along the way again. It definitely helps keep you accountable for sure.
Little a bout me if your just now catching along… I’m 26, I’ve been married for 7 years and I’ve had 3 little ones in basically 3 years. All boys so they keep me pretty busy. I’ve been a cardiac nurse, a medical icu nurse, and am now currently a neonatal icu nurse. I just recently had an appendectomy and a total hysterectomy and have moved away from all my family to TN so I’m homesick and dealing with stress and emotional eating.
I’m determined to overcome my bad habits and some day feel beautiful in my own skin!!!