A/N: I am completely unashamed that I poached this chapter title from myself. Moving on! :D
Despite the welcome revelation that Susie was finally pregnant, life continued as normal
After all, there were still fruits and vegetables to harvest, plants to tend to and bills to pay. The only difference was that I could not seem to stop smiling, a big, happy grin that threatened to split my face in half. After about a week, my jaw ached, but I couldn’t care less.
We were going to be parents, and nothing could dampen my mood.
For the first couple of months, Susie was constantly sick.
She could barely get through a couple of hours without vomiting, let alone get a decent night’s sleep.
But she didn’t complain.
Even when she had spent the morning curled up on the sofa, feeling too queasy to move, she kept smiling. This is what she wanted – what we wanted – and she didn’t think that any price was too great.
Besides, she had me waiting on her hand and foot. Luxury!
I did worry about her, of course, but it was hard to panic much when her happiness was so infectious.
But I’m terrified.
On good days, we would stay up talking well into the night, watching the stars. It was as though we were dating again, and all of the anxiety and pain of the last few years was absorbed into the heavens.
Each day, I was reminded just how much I loved my wife.
As her pregnancy progressed, Susie decided to take a break from fronting Sienna Dreams. Isaac and Sugar were, of course, very supportive, and let her know that there was always a place for her in the band if she wanted to return.
Susie did not stop making music completely, however. When I came in from gardening, I often found her in the main room, composing soft songs on her guitar and singing to the gentle swell of her stomach. I liked to just watch and listen, not wanting to interrupt this private moment between her and the bump.
I knew the baby, when he or she came, would be mummy’s number one fan.
We spent long afternoons reading books about pregnancy and raising children, wanting to be as prepared as we possibly could.
Far from reassuring me and quashing any doubts or anxieties I might have had, these reading sessions served only to add to them.
Did you know that sometimes women need RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY after giving birth?! I wish I didn’t.
When I wasn’t terrifying myself with the complexities of childbirth, I was actually quite excited. I liked to chat to the bump, although Susie was pretty sure the baby hadn’t yet developed ears. I didn’t care.
Babies don’t need ears.
It made Susie laugh, at least.
Now that the sickness had passed (mostly), we still managed to find time to be intimate. It was nice, occasionally, to forget about the impending new life and get lost in each other. Just the two of us.
We both knew that, once the baby was born, such moments would be few and far between.
And we intended to make the most of them.
* * *
Susie’s family were regular visitors to our house throughout her pregnancy.
It was perhaps inevitable, therefore, that Mr Moss would corner me in the garden to make sure that I would live up to my duties as a husband and father.
“You do right by Susannah and that baby or, I swear, you will no longer have the equipment to bring more children into this world. Am I clear?”
Suffice to say, if I had been planning on abandoning my wife and child, I would be a very stupid man. And I may be a little stupid, but I’m not that stupid.
Susie, at least, enjoyed the visits from her family.
Mrs Moss could barely contain her excitement. As far as she was concerned, the more grandchildren she had to spoil and pamper, the better.
Speaking of spoiling, every time she came over, she brought a new batch of homemade cookies with her. She always gave me the express instruction that I deliver them to Jamie and his family as soon as possible. According to Jamie, she also took a batch whenever her and Mr Moss went to visit him and Jenna.
They must have cookies coming out of their ears!
It went without saying that Mia was also very excited about becoming an auntie. It seemed that every time she came by, she had a new silly face to make at the bump.
We were very grateful to Mia for all she had done for us. Without her help, Susie may never have become pregnant. I think, over the past few months, Susie and Mia have become much closer than they have ever been – that’s what Susie tells me, anyway.
Mia told me that, apparently, Susie used to bully her when they were little girls. It baffles me. Susie’s such a sweet-natured woman.
At least they are good friends now, I suppose.
Other regular visitors were Jamie and Jenna, and their children. It was obvious to anyone that saw them that Jamie and Jenna were still very much in love.
In fact, sometimes, they couldn’t keep their hands off each other!
Jeff, of course, was an old hand at pregnancy, having already survived the birth of the twins. He liked to offer Susie and myself little pieces of advice he’d heard people give Jenna. Some bits of advice, however, were so weird we wondered where he’d got them from.
For example, he was adamant that Susie eat lots and lots of apples. The reason for this, he said, was that he wanted another boy to play with and eating apples meant a boy would be born.
This was obviously incorrect, but Susie humoured him by eating one of the apples I had just brought in from the garden.
Jeff also was intent on making sure that Arthur and Morgana were as prepared as he was for the incoming new baby.
“So, when the baby comes, we have to be very quiet when it’s asleep so we don’t wake it up. Okay?”
I wasn’t sure his coaching had much success, but it was the thought that counted.
As for myself, I used the visits of the Hart clan to attempt to brush up on my parenting skills.
I was agonisingly worried that I would not be a good parent, that our child would hate me or that I’d pick it up and drop it on its head. Playing with Arthur and Morgana, for a little while, alleviated those fears.
It helped, of course, that they both seemed to love me.
One afternoon, Jenna had decided to treat Susie to an impromptu spa trip, so Jamie and I took the kids down to the local park for a few hours. It did them good to get out of the house now and again, and the park was one of the few places we could get them to go without a single complaint.
It was at the park that I finally was able to give voice to the insecurities that were eating me up inside. Jamie listened in silence, nodding occasionally, his expression contemplative.
“And, worst of all, what if it doesn’t love me? What do I do then?” I finished, looking away from him to the children playing happily in the sandpit.
Far from making me feel better, airing my anxieties had only seemed to make them stronger.
“Gabe, babies don’t love or hate. Not at first. At first, they need food, warmth and shelter. They look to the people who give that to them, and that will grow into love. All the night time feeds, the hours and hours of crying, the nappy changes… it becomes worth it the first time your baby looks up at you and smiles. That is love.”
“But what if it doesn’t happen like that?”
“You can only do your best. No more, no less. And, trust me, Gabe… your best is more than enough.”
The rest of the afternoon passed in a much more carefree fashion.
Jamie had managed to lay to rest some of my more pressing fears (like he always did), but I won’t pretend I was entirely worry free.
It was the fact that Jamie believed in me, more than anything else, that started to give me a belief in myself.
If Jamie believes in me, surely there is something to believe in?
I know that if I can be half the father that Jamie is, I will be doing a fantastic job.
I think I can do this.
* * *
As Susie’s belly continued to grow, I made sure that she knew how much I loved her. Some days she felt intensely unattractive, like a gigantic whale, and it was my job to show her how wrong she was.
She is still the most beautiful thing I have ever laid eyes on.
I bought her yellow flowers because they reminded me of sunshine, like she did.
Soon, the house was overrun, but I don’t think she minded.
Of course, I made sure our bump got love too.
Towards the end of Susie’s pregnancy, Jamie, Isaac and Mr Moss came over to help me convert Jamie’s old bedroom into a nursery for the baby.
Susie insisted on a neutral green tone, as we were keeping the gender of the baby a secret until its birth. It was also fitting, as it was in-keeping with the Moss tradition we had followed on our wedding day.
Susie also insisted on a wallpaper with bees on, which she said was adorable. I disagreed. Bees are not adorable. They are WINGED DEATH. That STINGS.
The poor little baby is going to be TERRIFIED.
I tried to tell this to Susie but she just thought I was just being silly.
Those bees aren’t smiling. They’re SMIRKING. Lulling everyone into a false sense of security.
I’M ON TO YOU, BEES!
* * *
I can’t believe I’m a father.
My hands are literally shaking so much I can barely write. From a mixture of excitement and terror, I assure you.
Susie gave birth to a healthy baby boy in the early hours of this morning, and we were able to bring him home about an hour ago. Susie is with him now, watching him sleep. I think she’s crying, so I’ll give her some time to herself.
We called our son Farrow Seeley Nesaren. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
I don’t think Genesis is quite sure what to make of him.
I’m not really sure what to make of him either, to be honest.
He’s like a soft, pink worm, with a fluff of blond hair and big, innocent blue eyes. He gurgles when he’s happy and cries when he’s sad. When he cries, it makes my heart hurt. He has ten little fingers and ten little toes, and one perfect little nose.
I’m terrified that I’ll drop him, or hurt him, or cuddle him just a bit too hard.
But, one thing’s for sure… I love him already.
Susie’s a natural at parenting. She always seems to know what Farrow needs, sometimes getting to him before he opens his mouth to cry.
Our little boy has changed her. She floats around the house now, almost glowing with happiness. I haven’t seen so much joy in her face, in her eyes, since the moment we said ‘I do’.
Our family is complete.
* * *
When people tell you about parenting, they tell you about the good parts.
The look on your son’s face when you wake him up in the morning. The feel of his soft weight in your arms. The reward of his disarming smile.
They don’t tell you about the lack of sleep, the blessing of a few hours here and there. They don’t tell you how, after about an hour of crying, you will be ready to cry yourself.
They don’t tell you how exhausting parenting is.
Utterly amazing, but… exhausting.
* * *
Time flies. You often forget how fast.
Genesis is so big now. So big, she can rest her front paws on my shoulders when I crouch down.
She is playful, energetic and gentle.
Our family wouldn’t be the same with her.
Of course, Genesis is not the only one getting bigger.
Farrow is sprouting up like a weed. It seems like only yesterday he was a tiny wriggling human wrapped in blankets, and now he’s crawling around causing all sorts of havoc.
Genesis is very protective of him, like he’s her own puppy.
She’s very patient with him, even when he grabs ‘lovingly’ at her face.
I’m almost sad our baby is growing up, though I won’t miss the sleepless nights.
* * *
It became clear very quickly that Farrow was a mummy’s boy. He would cry and wail if Susie was out of his sight for too long, though most of the time he was quite content to be in his own company. He also had inherited Susie’s love of music, and would try and strum at the guitar whilst it sat in its stand.
For his first birthday, we bought him a toy xylophone, which speedily became his most beloved toy.
Most of the time, Farrow was completely angelic.
Other times, well… not so much.
Luckily for him, he had both Susie and I wrapped completely around his little finger. Even Grandad Moss couldn’t remain stern with the little guy for long.
It wasn’t that we didn’t punish him when he really deserved it (we’ve taken away his xylophone a couple of times, to tantrums and a storm of tears), it was more he could wriggle out of minor transgressions with relative ease.
Particularly where his grandparents were concerned.
Genesis knew how to get her own way as well. Even when she tracked mud and rainwater into the house, Susie couldn’t resist giving her a belly rub and a treat.
And I wasn’t much better.
Sometimes, I wondered if she and Farrow were trading tricks.
Before his birth, I’d been terrified that Farrow wouldn’t love me, but all those fears came to nothing.
He was a mummy’s boy, sure, but it was clear that he adored me.
And, despite all of my worries, I haven’t dropped him once.
It looks as though I’m an okay father after all.
The nerves and insecurities throughout Susie’s pregnancy had almost driven me insane, but we made it through all right. We’d survived it.
And I wouldn’t trade my little Farrow for all the money in the world.
* * *
“Gabe, I have something to tell you.”
“Is it about Farrow?”
“Well… not exactly.”
“I’m pregnant again.”
* * *