Emma never wanted to compare her children to one another.
She loved her daughter and her son both so much, it overwhelmed her.
But she couldn’t help marveling at just how much her life had changed.
It was a shock sometimes, thinking about how far she had come. Emma never, ever would have believed that she could have this life.
Like now, as she was sitting in her daughter’s room in the dim morning light.
Hope sighed as she suckled from her mother’s breast. Emma stroked her daughter’s impossibly soft skin as she rocked them in the unbelievably comfortable rocking chair as she became a little lost in thought.
Her true memories of when she had given birth to Henry was one of the most painful moments of her life. Her ankle had been cuffed to the hospital bed. It was humiliating. Like she could have run if she wanted to. Like her body, heart, and soul weren’t ripped in half that night. His cries for her to hold him cut into her like knives. She couldn’t bear to look at him as the kind doctor carried her precious boy away from her.
She had cried that night. She cried from losing her baby, she cried from the physical pain, she had cried every time she showered and the hot water had released the pressure of her breasts that were aching to nourish her son. It was the only time she could really let herself cry, prison wasn’t exactly group therapy. The nurse held her hand, but she was a stranger. Her doctor was very kind, but there was nothing he could do to make things better. The prison guard stood as a sentry.
There was no going home. It was only going back to a cell.
This time was so different.
She wasn’t cuffed down to the bed. The only cuffs in town belonged to her and her father. Her family and friends were waiting for her when she needed them. This time it was KIllian holding her hand, not a nurse whose name she couldn’t remember. KIllian held her hand, let her hold his wrist, his hook, anything she needed to anchor herself. If she had needed a guard, it would have been to protect her.
Hope had been placed on her chest the minute she had been cleaned off. Emma had been able to wrap her arms around her darling little newborn, overwhelmed by emotions.
She couldn’t bear to look at Henry. She couldn’t keep her eyes off Hope.
And Killian. God, Killian.
Killian had cried when she had told him that she was pregnant. He had cried into his hand when they first heard the baby’s heartbeat. He had cried when he felt her first kick. He had cried when Hope was born. He had cried when he held his little girl in his arms.
In jail, Emma had had no previous prenatal care, she had been tested for drugs and put on prenatal vitamins she got in a cup every day. While she got extra protein and calcium, her hunger was never sated. She could never get excited or plan anything. She didn’t even get to name him.
Killian had gone with her to every doctor visit, armed with a supportive arm and questions. He had talked to her growing stomach, he had happily indulged her every ridiculous craving. He had been endlessly patient with her mood swings. He had rubbed her swollen ankles and carried her up the stairs at night. He had researched childcare like a man possessed. He had helped her every step of the way.
Hope had come home to a cradle in her parents room. She had a room all her own with her name on the door and a darling little chandelier Killian and Snow had both lost their minds over. She had two parents and an older brother and a family to dote on her.
She hadn’t known Henry’s name until he showed up at her door at the age of ten.
Killian had whispered Hope’s name in her ear as she snuggled into his bare chest.
Hope’s name was now embroidered in a bright warm pink on her pretty baby blanket, so much like Emma’s. Emma had gotten a bit overwhelmed when Granny gave it to her one morning, Emma had run her fingers through the incredibly soft yarn and a lump formed in her throat. She couldn’t speak, she just hugged Granny tightly. The normally gruff woman averted her eyes at that gesture.
She touched the blanket now and placed a kiss on top of her now sleeping baby’s head.
“Swan? You alright, love?”
Emma looked up to see Killian standing in the doorway watching the sweet scene.
She nodded through happy tears threatening to spill over.