First Comes Love(79)By: Emily Goodwin
“Noah,” she says softly, looking at me with so much love in her eyes.
“I love you, Lauren. I always have, and I always will.”
“AM I HURTING her? I’m hurting her!”
“You’re not hurting her,” Noah says, somehow calm.
“Then why is she crying?” I scoop Ella up out of the carseat, feeling like I’m fumbling with the world’s most precious football.
“Because she’s a baby?”
“Shhh,” I soothe, gently swaying Ella. It takes a few seconds, but she stops crying. “See? I don’t think she likes the carseat.”
Noah puts his hand on my shoulder, steps in, and kisses me. “Want to wait until the nurse comes back?”
“Yeah.” I cradle Ella to my chest and sit, cringing when my ass hits the mattress.
“Are you hurting?” Noah sits next to me and slips his arm around my waist. I’m still in my pajamas. The cute going-home outfit I had packed for myself—leggings and a sweater—isn’t working. I can’t breastfeed in the sweater, and feel dumb for not thinking about that when I picked it out. And the leggings are too revealing for the mesh undies and giant pads needed after pushing out a seven-pound babe.
Live and learn?
“Yeah. I think this is worse than labor.”
“You’ll heal and forget all about the pain.”
“Hah, maybe.” I bend my head down and kiss Ella. She’s in her cute going-home outfit at least. She looks like a little wrinkled peanut, but she’s the cutest little wrinkled peanut that ever existed.
Noah’s mom said she looks like him as a baby, and texted over pictures from his baby book. There is no denying this is his child.
The nurse comes back in with our discharge papers, and helps up get Ella into the carseat. She cries for her too, which is a little reassuring. At least it’s not just me. The nurse is young and pretty and it’s probably the huge hormone shift and lack of sleep that makes me think she’s hitting on Noah. Not that I can blame her.
Everything is loaded and ready to go home. I’m excited to leave the hospital and get back to my own house, but scared not to have help at the call of a button.
Noah clicks the carseat in place and helps me into the back. Ella’s fast asleep, looking peaceful and adorable in a little pink dress with striped leggings and a matching bow.
“Are you warm enough?” Noah asks, slowly pulling out of the parking lot. It’s misting and cold out today, typical for the end of November.
“We’re good.” I look up and meet his eyes in the rearview mirror. We are good. Noah, Ella, and myself. Good. Right now, life is pretty damn good.
“Lay down, Lauren,” Noah tells me. “I got her.”
We’ve been home as a family of three for approximately two hours and I’m already having a panic attack. I grind my teeth together and nod, but don’t even attempt to move out of the living room.
“Lauren,” Noah repeats, a little stern. “You need sleep.”
“I know. I’m just … anxious.”
“Everything is fine. You just fed her; she’ll be good for two hours and if she wakes up I’ll bring her to you.”
I nod, staring at the wonderful man across from me. His sky-blue eyes light up when he looks down at our daughter, smiling without even thinking about it. Ella, so small in his tattooed muscular arms, is wrapped in a soft purple blanket, snuggled and sound asleep.
“Go rest,” he orders again. “Your parents will be over in three hours with dinner. Sleep until then.”
I blink, and some sense comes to me. “Okay. Thanks, Noah.”
“No need to thank me. I want some daddy-daughter time.” He flicks his eyes to me, still smiling. “She’ll be okay, I promise.”
I nod again, and slowly turn and go into my bedroom. The dogs follow me, and I close them in with me. Just one less thing to worry about. Though they’ve been fine. Vader got a little pushy wanting to sniff everything, but after both him and Sasha did their initial investigating, they lost interest in the little crying thing in Mommy’s arms.
Noah has been surprisingly calm. Well, maybe it’s only a surprise compared to me freaking out. I assumed I’d be nervous, but I didn’t expect to feel so much panic and have every possible bad situation run through my head at a million miles per hour.
I tuck myself in bed, irrationally thinking of ways Ella could drown and worrying about it. Vader jumps up next to me, and I carefully snuggle up next to him. It still hurts to move and I’m terrified of ripping out my stitches. I worry away an hour of sleep, then finally pass out from sheer exhaustion.