The only feeling in Harriet’s entire lower body was that strange fuzzy feeling when your arm falls asleep, but she was still happy, maybe more happy than she’d been in her entire life. Uokalani was resting in her arms, eyes closed and lips pursed. Harriet wasn’t sure if she was sleeping or not.
“Tilt her up,” Andrew told her, hovering over them with a video camera. Harriet raised her arms, but he shook and head and she just raised her left arm instead, propping the little bundle up. “Yeah, that’s better.”
Harriet and Andrew were alone in the room—well, except Uokalani and Quinn, neither of which cared or really even acknowledged them. Everyone else had gone home an hour or so ago, or had at least found somewhere else to fall asleep. It was early in the morning still, just passed three, but Harriet couldn’t be more awake. Uokalani was perfect, totally perfect, and Harriet was having the time of her life just holding her and looking at her.
“You know,” Andrew said, pressing the zoom button and pointing it at the babies face. “It’s not too late to change her name.”
Harriet rolled her eyes. “I like Uokalani and so do you.”
“Yeah,” Andrew hesitated, “But I’m worried other people won’t.”
“She’ll be fine Andrew. People aren’t as cruel as they seem. We can call her Uoki if you want.”
Andrew sat on the foot of the bed and brought the camera closer to the baby and therefore Harriet’s almost exposed breast. She pulled the blanket up higher.
“I like Lani better.” He said softly, almost absently. “Whose nose do you think she has?”
“She’s three hours old.” Harriet laughed. “She looks like any baby doll you could buy at the store. Give her a while to marinate will you?”
Andrew looked at her with wide eyes. “Marinate?”
“I’m hungry, alright.” Harriet twitched her head, flipping back some hair that had fallen in her face. “Do you think the cafeteria has steak?”
“Cannibal.” Andrew accused, but his face then softened. “What about her middle name?”
Harriet’s heart clenched. “I don’t think I want it tl be Rydia.”
“Me either.” Andrew said. “I feel like…I Don’t know. Like we’d be giving her extra baggage. Like she has to live for her sister or something? If that makes sense.”
“Not really,” Harriet stroked Uokalani’s marble smooth cheek. “But I feel it too. Something else then, so she can be her own unique person.”
That’s what they had wished for at the fountain, wasn’t it?
When everyone had left, Nurse Sara had come to her, her gold-looking eyes sad. She told them that there had been some partially absorbed phalanges found in the placenta—Rydia’s hand. Left hand to be specific. It had hurt Harriet’s heart when she’d first come to the hospital with contractions to know that she would walk out again with only one baby, but the thought that she was getting a baby AT ALL had quickly made her forget. Until that. That had just left her sad. She’d thanked the sad-eyed nurse and held Uokalani close to her.
“What do you think then?” Andrew asked. “Not Daenerys.”
“Oh, stop that.” Harriet smiled. Andrew was just jealous that she’d managed to finish the book before him, especially while she was in labor. “I don’t know. What do you think?”
“Superior.” Quinn said from his place curled up on the hospital couch in the corner. He was reading a comic book and didn’t bother to look up as he spoke.
Andrew laughed. “Uokalani Superior Bapson. It’s perfect.”
Harriet said the name over a couple times in her head. “I like it.”
Andrew stopped laughing. “Wait—what?”
Harriet pet Lani’s soft hair. “It has a ring to it.”
“It has more than a ring to it,” Andrew frowned. “It’s insane. No, definitely not.”
Harriet favored him with a little smile, the one she used to tell Andrew to be quiet without saying it aloud, “Did you just spend twenty-four hours pushing her out? No, so hush now.”
“Harriet.” Andrew sang through his teeth. “Maybe we should decide this when you’re not on drugs?”
“I’m fine Andrew, but sure.” She smiled again. “Whatever you want.”
Andrew sighed and focused the camera on the baby again. “Here’s Uokalani Not-Superior Bapson, at about three hours old. Five pounds, six ounces, sixteen and a half inches. A verified shorty. Born at 12:03 on Valentine’s Day morning, 1997.”
The baby opened her mouth a little, just enough to reveal her little tongue. Harriet was hard pressed to hold back her tears. She couldn’t believe it. After so many years and so many losses, she was finally holding her baby in her arms. So she was a little small and seemed to be developing a little bit of jaundice, but it didn’t matter, any of it.
Harriet watched as her face started to twist up and before long she began to cry. They were the angry, tearless sobs of newborns, but Harriet began to panic nonetheless. Rarely in her line of work did she deal with babies, especially not when they were conscious. She’d gone to the mothering classes, but they didn’t teach her what to do any more than the birthing classes had prepared her for what she’d just endured.
“Don’t cry,” Harriet whispered and tried to rock her. “Please don’t cry.”
When her words did nothing to help, Harriet did the only thing she could think of. She sang.
“Nothing’s gonna harm you,
Not while I’m around.
Nothing’s gonna harm you, no sir,
Not while I’m around…”
Even lying in her new bassinet at home, Lani looked nothing less than pissed at the prospect of life. Andrew frowned and tried to pet her cheek into smiling, but it was to no avail. If a three day old could glare, she would have.
“She just got shoved into a weird, cold world and then dragged home through rush hour traffic and plopped in a crib.” Harriet said when Andrew commented on it. She crawled up next to him in bed and wrapped her arms around him, leaning her head on his shoulder. They watched the baby together. “You’d be upset too in that condition. Give her some time to adjust.”
With that, Harriet stood up and wandered off to the bathroom. Andrew sighed and reached into the crib to pick up the baby, but the second he went to raise her, she began to cry. He set her back down and cocked his head.
“You don’t like me at all, do you?” She stuck the tip of her tongue out and Andrew nodded. “I see. You’re going to have to get over it, cause Mama’s going to have to go back to work in a month and then it’s you and me kid.”
She started to scream. Harriet came flying out of the bathroom, still pulling up her pink polka dot pajama pants. She scooped up the baby and held her tight, glaring at Andrew.
“What did you do to her?”
“I—nothing.” Andrew threw up his hands. “She hates me!”
Harriet rolled her eyes and sat on the bed beside him, undoing the buttons on her pajama shirt. “Don’t be ridiculous. She doesn’t hate you. She’s just hungry and you don’t have breasts.”
Andrew grimaced as he watched Harriet guide the baby to her swollen, brown nipples. That had to hurt. Lani latched of fast enough. She was a pig, that one. She ate a lot, but was still losing weight. Everyone insisted it was normal, but it scared him. She was already too small to start with, why should she be losing more weight?
“I tried to give her a bottle earlier but she wouldn’t take it.”
Harriet let out a stressed sigh. “Please don’t take it to heart. She’s three days old, she’ll get over it.”
Andrew nodded and stood up, stretching his legs. He was excited to sleep in his own bed again instead of the hospital couch. Harriet had forgotten her lady bug at the hospital and Veronica was going out to get it so that they could get some rest. She was a good friend Veronica and had even come out of her shell enough to ask Andrew to change the channel on the TV the night before Harriet had gone into labor. Harriet was lucky to have her. As a kid Andrew used to pray to God to switch Em and Quinn, but as he’d gotten older they both realized that the closer friends you were, the harder it was to live with one another. They went to summer camp together a few times and those weeks spent sharing a bunk had nearly driven them to madness.
Em was gone now, back to his new home and the job he loved so much. Andrew couldn’t wait to be out there. While living under one roof was a bad idea, living together in the same town again was something Andrew needed. Somewhere to escape just for a few hours if he needed.
The baby started to scream again as she finished feeding and Harriet put her up on her shoulder to burp her. Andrew slumped back down on the bed, only to find that his shoes were still on. He pulled them off and laid down, reaching rub Harriet’s back as she patted the baby’s. Or at least he tried to.
Andrew was passed out cold on the bed, one of his shoes lying next to him. He looked pale and a little sweaty. Harriet groaned and went into the bathroom for a thermometer and stuck it in his mouth.
As she waited, she put away his shoes and hunted down thr breast pump she’d gotten a few weeks ago. She didn’t know if it was the formula Andrew was trying to give her or what, but in three days she hadn’t eaten once for him. Maybe even Lani knew something was wrong.
There was no fever, not once all night long, but he continued to sweat and fret throughout the night like he was having a bad dream. Uokalani remained relatively quiet, but she fussed occasionally which seemed to make Andrew’s dreams worse. Harriet wondered if maybe she needed to send him off to Em for a few weeks. He’d been so stressed lately from the baby and the house and the expanding business, but he was also stressed for no reason at all. He just over-thought things. A lot of things. He needed a couple weeks away from everything, he included. He just needed to go to Em and pass out for a few weeks before he crashed permanently. Only he couldn’t do that because they had a baby now and despite all her assurances, she needed help.
Harriet sat up cradling Lani in her arms for some time, just holding her, forcing herself to relax. She wasn’t sure why she was nervous, just that she was. If she were any other person, she’d be a mile down into the bottle by this point in time, but Harriet knew no good could come from drinking. So instead she sat up with her baby as he husband fought off demons in his sleep.
sorry about the delay. Finals week :(