It feels surreal when that tiny, squirming body is placed on my chest. For thirty-three weeks, four days and nineteen hours I have been wondering what her little face is going to look like and now she’s here. All seven pounds, four ounces of her is lying on my chest, looking up at me with a pissed off expression on her face. She’s definitely my daughter.
“Hi, gorgeous,” I whisper and kiss her head. She’s perfect. She’s got a ton of fluffy hair and her father’s nose. It’s going to take some time for Kara Michelle Northman to grow into that nose.
“She’s so beautiful, Sookie,” Eric whispers as he tugs the little pink blanket down to get a better look at her.
“She looks like you. I guess I’m going to have to stop calling you ugly,” I chuckle.
“Yes you are,” he smiles and kisses my head. “She looks like my mom actually. Karin was bound and determined to get back apparently.”
“Looks like,” I say. Kara seems so tiny now that I’m not pushing her out. I think she’s going to be my only baby, but that’s okay. One is enough. My arms are full.
“The grandpas are dying to get in here,” he chuckles. “I told them we want a little bit more time with her before they try to steal our little angel.”
“They can wait a few more minutes. At least Dad has Elyse to keep him occupied.” Elyse is my niece. Jessica was three months pregnant at the wedding. The baby was born three days before Thanksgiving. She’s just starting to walk now.
“They’re going to have the rest of their lives with her. We have every right to be selfish,” he agrees.
“You know Jess thinks she’s pregnant again?” I look up at him and wonder if Eric will be okay if this is it. It’s true we have EJ too, but he’s not always with us. His mom had a new baby last year too, another boy.
“That’s going to be interesting if she is. Elyse isn’t going to be too happy with that,” he chuckles.
“I told Jessica to tread lightly with that attachment parenting stuff. It’s actually impressive that Elyse is walking considering how much she’s carried around.” Different strokes for different folks, but it’s made Elyse extremely spoiled and demanding. At least she’s not an asshole like Tara’s twins.
“Well, now you’ve seen it enough times to know what not to do. Can I hold her?”
“Sure.” I pass him his daughter. It surprised me how not scared I was when I found out I was pregnant. I bawled my eyes out, but I was… elated. I was excited and nervous in the best way. I heard her heartbeat and that was it; I was hooked. I talked to her every day and as soon as I found out she was a girl I knew her name. Kara is a play on Karin and Michelle was my mom’s name. There was no debate from Eric and our dads were elated when we told them they were going to be grandpas… even though Eric and I aren’t married yet.
We’ve talked about it but decided we aren’t ready yet. We’re committed to each other and to our daughter. Eric’s name will be on the birth certificate and she’ll have his name. No matter what, Eric will always have access to Kara.
“Hey, beautiful,” Eric whispers as he looks down at her. He kisses her little head, making her squirm and snort. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so happy. “I’m so in love with her,” he tells me without looking away.
“She is pretty cute,” I agree. The damn hormones get the better of me and their cuteness has me crying. I’ve been a hot mess for the last five weeks. Eric came home from the bar three weeks ago to find me sobbing in EJ’s room because his closet was messy.
Eric doesn’t even bat an eyelash at my crying. He sits on the bed next me and leans over to kiss me.
“I’m so in love with you too,” he whispers. “Thank you for making me another tiny human.”
“Thank José Cuervo,” I chuckle. “Without him we wouldn’t have forgotten the condom.”
“I’ve already given my thanks to José,” he grins.
Our little pumpkin is the result of a surprise trip to Mexico that Eric planned. It was a quick weekend getaway kind of thing. We got completely trashed on tequila shots and icy cold beer while we floated around the pool at our resort. My boobs in a bikini plus tequila equaled a condomless quickie as soon as we got back to our room. Two days before Valentine’s Day I took a home test and there it was. I was pregnant.
“I’m just impressed that your swimmers were sober enough to make the right turns,” I laugh.
“They got excited they weren’t hindered,” he laughs with me.
It hurts to laugh but I can’t help it. In my delirium I’m seeing sperm in party hats. I’m ridiculous, I know.
My head rests against the pillows behind me and I close my eyes. I’m exhausted. More than anything I want to pass out and get some rest while I can. I know Dad’s excited about being a grandpa again but I would have preferred if they waited until we got home to come and see Kara.
I hear Eric talking quietly to Kara. He’s been doing this the whole pregnancy so she would know his voice when she was born. It’s sweet. Eric is sweet.
“Do you want to sleep, Sookie,” he asks me quietly and I feel his hand brushing my hair back.
“Mmm… Yeah. Our dads can come in and see Kara. I’ll sleep through it,” I say without opening my eyes.
“I’ll keep them quiet,” he promises. He kisses my head and then gets up from the bed.
I know I’m wiped out because I don’t even hear it when our family comes into the room.
It’s my daughter’s cries that wake me up some time later. Eric’s got Kara resting on his chest and he’s rubbing her back but I’m sure she’s hungry. The idea of breastfeeding makes me nervous but I’m going to try it. I’m certainly equipped for it. I went up three cup sizes during my pregnancy. It was like carting around bowling balls in my bra.
“She hungry?” I ask him.
“I think so. I didn’t want to bother you yet,” he replies.
“It’s okay. She needs to eat and I’m the all she can eat buffet,” I smile. It hurts like a motherfucker when I push myself up a little. Eric gets the little pillow someone brought in for feeding time and brings it to me. When he hands me our baby I see she’s been dressed on plushy, oatmeal colored sleeper she wasn’t in before.
“Once you’re done breastfeeding I’ll be able to feed her when I get home from work,” he tells me as he strokes her hair with his thumb.
“I have a breast pump, remember?” She’ll be able to feed from a bottle. In fact, she’s going to have to because I won’t always be available to feed her personally.
“Oh yeah,” he chuckles. “Let’s hope she’s hungry at three in the morning then.”
“I’m sure you’ll have plenty of chances to spend time with her in the middle of the night.” I adjust my nursing gown and it takes Kara a minute or so to get latched on but she gets it. What I’m not prepared for is how painful it is. Holy crap.
“I’ll kiss those better when you dry up,” Eric promises. “I’m sorry if she has my appetite.”
“I’m hoping she doesn’t.” I wince a few times as she feeds. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it but ouch. I can’t even think about anything sexual at the moment. I’m sure it’s frustrating for him. Then again, it was sex that jump started the labor, so it’s not like he’s been celibate for months on end.
“We’ll see. Cal only breastfed for a month because EJ didn’t want to stop,” he tells me. “It’s weird I almost forgot that new baby feeling. This is going to be strange for a while.”
“I don’t want to get in the habit of comfort feeding. Whether it’s the boob or formula, I don’t want to do that,” I tell him. “That’s what hugs and cuddles are for, not food.”
“That was her answer to his crying if he was dry,” he shrugs. “I’m more for cuddles too.”
“She can have comfort food when she’s old enough for Gran’s biscuits and mac ‘n cheese,” I smile. “How long was I sleeping?”
Kara was born at 5:22 this morning and it looks like the sun is starting to set. I’m not sure what time I passed out.
“About five hours. I had to kick the nurse out and remind her I know how to change a diaper,” he tells me.
“Marvelous,” I snort. “Please tell me you gave Kara a bottle while I was sleeping.”
“I did. I’m not into starving her,” he smiles. “She’s a good eater.”
“Yeah,” I wince, “She sure is. Lucky for her she’s freaking adorable. That helps.” I stroke her hair back. It’s so soft and like a honey blonde. I just hope it doesn’t all fall out. “I’m really glad I got her a little Halloween costume now.”
“Remember that time you were trying to convince me you’d be a bad mother? Do you still have any of those feelings?”
“Truthfully, I’d be lying if I said I’m not scared shitless that I’m going to screw her up but I don’t think I’m the only first time mom to feel that way. At the same time, as scared as I am, I feel like I’m holding my heart. I know that all I can do is the best I can with what I have and love her,” I answer.
“Good,” he smiles and leans over to kiss me. “That love is insane, isn’t it? I knew what to expect when I saw her so I wasn’t so taken off guard.”
“I don’t know about that, papa bear. I saw you crying,” I smile.
“It’s still overwhelming, but I expected it,” he clarifies.
“Uh huh.” He’s cute.
“Hush; sadly, it probably won’t be the only time she makes me cry. Especially if she has your wild streak.”
“Or my taste in men,” I snort. I can practically see inside his head, wondering if it would be illegal to force her into a chastity belt.
“If she ends up with anyone like your exes I’ll happily go to prison for murder. I just need you to promise to come see me for conjugal visits.”
“You only get those if we’re married, babe,” I remind him. I wince again when Kara inadvertently bites me. Fuck, if it hurts when it’s just gums it would be fucking murder with those tiny razor teeth babies cut.
“We’ll get married before she starts dating,” he shrugs. “I’m prepared for it.”
“Our marriage or Kara bringing home little punks that want to defile your baby?” I chuckle. Already he’s turning red.
“Our marriage. If I have any say she’s not dating until I die.”
“Don’t you plan on living forever?” I arch an eyebrow.
“Yep,” he grins as he reaches over to play with her hand. Her tiny fingers barely wrap around his.
I have to pull Kara away to switch sides. She gives me another one of those pissed off looks before latching on again. She’s absolutely my daughter.
Sookie telling me she was pregnant was one of the scariest days of our relationship. She was still adamant about not having kids when it happened. Mexico was fun, but I never expected to knock her up. Kara is however, the cutest newborn baby I’ve ever seen. She’s actually cuter than Eric was when he was born. I’ll never admit that to anyone.
We just got home from the hospital. I made sure to take all the back streets so it was acceptable to drive under the speed limit. When I park I make Sookie stay still while I walk around to get the baby out and open the car door for Sookie.
“Do you want her upstairs?” I ask as I help her out of the car. I can hold Kara in one hand, no problem.
“No, down here is fine. I have things to do.” Sookie slowly stands up and follows me into the house.
“Alright. Do you need me to do anything for you?” I offer.
“I don’t think so,” she says. Sookie sets her bag down on top of the dining room table and takes off her sweater.
“Get comfy and I’ll bring her to you.” Truthfully, I’ve been ready to hang out with Kara for months. I kinda want Sookie to go relax so I can have one on one time with my little girl.
“You take her. I have things to do. I have laundry to throw in and bottles to clean so I can pump,” she says.
“You do the bottles and I’ll do the laundry,” I offer. “You should nap after the bottles.” I know she’s going to be exhausted with a brand new baby relying on her for her meals. She needs to rest as much as possible.
“I’ll sleep when she does,” Sookie tells me. She unbuckles Kara’s car seat straps and carefully lifts her out of the seat. She kisses the baby’s head and takes her to the living room where the swing is set up.
“That’s going to be pretty soon,” I chuckle as Sookie slips Kara into the swing and turns it on.
“Probably. As soon as I get the bottles clean and some milk pumped I’ll take a nap.”
“Okay. While you’re getting that would you like me to make you a snack?” I don’t have much to do so I feel like I should cater to my woman.
“Oooh one of your grilled cheeses?”
“Of course,” I smile. I go into the kitchen and pull the cheese and butter from the fridge. “Ham?” I ask over my shoulder when I have the fridge open.
“Please!” Sookie replies and then I hear her feet on the stairs.
I pull the ham out of the fridge too. I get my favorite skillet out and turn the stove on for it to heat up. I can hear Sookie walking around overhead. She’s most likely in Kara’s room, going by her footsteps. Once the pan is hot I throw the ham in to allow it to get a little bit of color.
As the ham cooks I start thinking. We’ve talked about the marriage thing and both agreed we’re perfectly fine living in sin. She moved in with me as soon as her lease was up at her apartment. We’ve pretty much been inseparable since she moved in. I don’t need a certificate or a preacher to proclaim us one. She’s mine and I’m hers, that’s all that matters. That being said, Dad gave me Mom’s ring to give to Sookie if and when we decided to get married. It was his mother’s before that. It’s been in my family for decades.
I butter the bread and throw it in the pan, followed by the cheese — three kinds — and the then the ham on top of it so it starts to melt the cheese.
I’ve been keeping the ring in the safe at the bar. I brought it home with me when she called to tell me she’s in labor. Right now it’s sitting in my sock drawer, which is extremely cliché, but whatever.
Sookie’s grilled cheese is done so I slip it onto a plate and cut it.
“Babe! Your sandwich is ready!” I call over my shoulder. I’m sure she’ll hear me. Her feet on the stairs a moment later tells me she did.
“You make the best grilled cheese,” she says and kisses my cheek. It’s strange how she still looks pregnant even though she’s obviously not.
“Thanks,” I smile. “I’m glad you can eat a whole one now.” She’d taken to snacking at the end of the pregnancy since her stomach was so squished up.
“We’ll see this sucker is huge.” Sookie goes to the cabinet where the chips are and gets the tortilla chips. She hates tomatoes but scarfed down salsa like it was going out of style during the second trimester of her pregnancy.
“That’s what she said,” I mutter.
“Damn right she did.” Sookie sits down at the table. Just as she’s about to take a bite Kara starts fussing.
“Stay. I’ll get her.” I kiss Sookie’s head and then go to get my daughter. I pick her up from the swing and rub her back as I rest her against my chest. I know my heart beat is different than Sookie’s, but it seems to do the trick. It doesn’t take long to realize she’s wet. “I’m going to run up and change her,” I tell Sookie before running up the stairs.
When we get to her room I lay her on the changing table and unsnap her little onesie. As I work on changing her diaper I decide I’m going to give Sookie the ring today. I’ll let her know that if she wants to get married I’m fine with it. Sometimes I feel like she goes along with things because she thinks that’s how I feel about it. When she told me she thought she was pregnant she told me she’d been nervous since she still had it in her head I didn’t want any more kids.
Once the baby is dry I go grab the ring from my sock drawer and take it back downstairs with me. I put Kara back in her swing and go to find Sookie at the kitchen table.
“She’s comfy again,” I say as I take a seat in my normal chair.
“Good,” she replies. Sookie looks around me to have eyes on Kara.
I pull the ring from my pocket and set it on the table. I don’t say anything. I wait for her to notice it.
“What’s that?” Sookie asks casually.
“It’s my mother’s ring,” I answer.
“Why is it on our kitchen table?”
“Because Dad gave it to me to give to you, well, the woman I’d like to marry, if I get married. I want you to have it. You don’t have to wear it or anything, I’m just… it’s for you.”
Sookie wipes her hands on a napkin before she reaches for the ring box. She smiles when she opens it. The ring slides onto her finger and fits her perfectly, like it belongs there.
“It’s a beautiful ring, babe,” she says. “I’m thinking it might be a damn shame if I’m the only one here not a Northman.”
“I kinda agree,” I smile. “I didn’t want to push you. This is what I was talking about when I said I was ready for marriage.”
“Well as far as I know marriage only really happens one way,” she smiles back at me. “Plus I saw this in the safe at the bar like a month ago when I went to get the insurance stuff.”
I smile as I take her hand, threading my fingers with hers. “Sookie Stackhouse, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?” I ask. Not in the plan but it feels right.
“Well I already had your baby. Sure, why not. I kinda love you,” she answers.
“I kinda love you too,” I whisper and lean over to kiss her. “Thank you.”
“Finish your snack,” I tell her as I pull back.
“Yes sir. Go cuddle your baby. I know you’re dying to get your paws on her.”
“I am,” I chuckle.
I get up from the table, kissing her temple on the way. I go into the living room to get Kara from the swing. I hold her back so I can examine her perfect little face.
“Aren’t you happy Mommy agreed to take our name?” I whisper as we look at each other. She wiggles some, but doesn’t respond in any other way. Her little lips are moving and her tiny legs are scrunched up near her chest. She’s going to be tall, possibly taller than EJ. It’s strange to look into my own eyes on another person Eric looks like me, mostly, but he has Dad’s eyes and Callie’s nose. Kara is the spitting image of her namesake. I hope Sookie didn’t want Kara to look like her. Mom had strong features apparently.
I end up going to the couch and laying down. I settle Kara on my chest, rubbing her back lightly. My hand covers most of her little body. It’s weird to think that this time next year she could be walking, or damn close. In two years she’ll be going potty on her own and calling me dad. A few years after that she’ll be going to school and eventually moving out and getting married. It’s a scary, scary thought, her growing up. I’m going to have Sookie by my side to calm me down when she pisses me off or to hug me when she gets hurt. EJ and Kara are my world now. I have Sookie too that takes up the other chunk of my heart. My life is full. I’m happier than I’ve ever been and I have a feeling it’s only going to get better from here.