First Comes Love(77)

By: Emily Goodwin



“We have diapers and wipes,” I say with smile. “That’s pretty much all we’ll need. Just keep Ella clean and fed and she’ll be good.”

“Hah-hah, not funny.” She slowly makes her way into the nursery, hands on her large baby belly, and stops in the middle of the room, looking around.

And I look at her.

She gave me a chance to prove myself—again—and I won’t ever let her or Ella down. I never thought I could feel any stronger toward Lauren but this last month proved me wrong. I’d never opened up to anyone before. Making the promise not to bottle shit up and let it slowly fester and eat me up has made us closer than I ever thought possible.

Being honest with Lauren means being honest with myself, and that’s a new thing. A good new thing.

“Okay,” Lauren mumble to herself as she goes around the room. “Diapers, wipes, clothes arranged by color and size … first aid kit … books and toys … swaddle blankets, burp cloths … all the bath stuff is in the bathroom.” She nods. “I think I’m good here. I just need to check the diaper bag and my hospital bag one more time.”

“Then let’s rest for a few hours we have to head in. Maybe even get a little sexy time in there.”

Lauren raises an eyebrow. “Don’t hold your breath. I have a seven-pound baby pressing on my cervix. I don’t want anything else inside me.”

“Fine. It’ll be the last time we get to have sex for a while.”

She makes a face. “I’m scared I’m going to tear.”

I’m scared she will too. “It’ll be fine, I’m sure.”

“And as long as Ella is okay, it doesn’t matter, right?”

“Right.” I take her hand and help her check the bags one more time, then pretty much have to drag her into the bedroom so we can lay down.

“The next time we’re in here, we’ll be a family of three,” she says. “It’ll be weird. A good weird. But weird.”

“Definitely good.” I spoon my body around her; she’s laying on her side with a big pillow under her belly … pretty much the only way she can sleep now. Ella hasn’t been born yet and I’m already feeling like the luckiest man in the world.





*





“All right, it’s time,” the nurse says after checking Lauren. “She’s pretty far down. I think it’ll only take a couple of pushes and she’ll be out.”

“I’m scared,” Lauren tells me. “What if I can’t do it? What if she gets stuck?”

“Deep breath,” I say, leaning over the bed to kiss her. “You can do this. You’ve been amazing this whole time.” Ten hours ago, she got induced and hasn’t complained about anything the whole time. Her mom and Katie are here with us, but stepped out for the actual birth.

“I can’t feel anything. I shouldn’t have gotten the epidural. What if I push wrong?”

“There’s no wrong way to push,” the nurse says. “And you did great with the practice pushes. Are you ready?”

Lauren looks at me, green eyes full of fear. “I think so.”

“I’ll get the doctor.”

“Noah,” Lauren says as soon as the nurse leaves the room. “I’m scared.”

“I know you are. But you’re going to do fine. Our baby is almost here. You can do this.”

She closes her eyes and lets out a shaky breath. “I hope you’re right.”

“I know I’m right.”

The doctor comes in, and just a few minutes later I’m holding onto Lauren’s leg, watching our baby come into the world. She’s tiny and wrinkly and covered in goo, but she’s the most beautiful thing I have ever laid eyes on.

She’s perfect.

Then she opens her mouth and lets out a little scream, followed by a cry. I’m hit in the heart with emotion.

That is my daughter.

That teeny tiny little thing is mine. She gets to come home with us, make us a family.

The nurse puts a blanket over Ella then puts her on Lauren’s chest.

“Oh my god,” Lauren whispers, tears running down her face. “Ella.” Carefully she wraps her arms around the little bundle and kisses Ella’s head, which is full of hair, dark like Lauren’s.

I move to the head of the bed and put my hand over Lauren’s. Ella’s cries quiet, soothed by the touch of her mother.

“Dad,” the nurse calls a bit later. “Time to cut the cord.”

I don’t want to step away from Ella. It takes me a few seconds to tear away and cut the thick cord. Then I’m right back up there with Lauren and Ella.

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