Half asleep, Emma rolled over, into the welcoming warmth of her husband. They didn’t sleep wrapped around each other. She got too hot that way. But Emma wanted to know he was there in the night. She reached out almost unconsciously to find him with her leg, her foot, sometimes her hand.
Often, she’d sleep on her side, facing away from him, one of her legs stretched out behind her, her ankle hooked over his. That small connection was enough. As she woke up a little more, she’d often roll over and press the front of her body to his back, wrap her arm around his waist, rub her nose against the skin near his shoulder blade. His body was so big and solid and warm. Sometimes she’d doze like that, and protest when the alarm went off and he got up.
He liked her in nightgowns more than pajamas. Sometimes she’d wake up to find his body pressed against the back of hers, his mouth on her neck, hands bunching her nightgown around her waist so he could find skin, pressing her bare bottom against him.
Sometimes, she made sure to go to bed early, so she could get up early and shower with him in the morning, because finding alone time with three children -- now four -- wasn’t easy.
This morning – no, it wasn’t even close to morning -- the warm weight against her body was the baby. She opened her eyes, and there was Rye, lying on his side facing her, smiling through the dim light. The baby was between them, fussing lightly, trying to shove her tiny fist into her mouth.
Emma smiled sleepily and said, “Hungry or just fussing?”
“Hungry, I think,” he said softly.
“What time is it?”
“A little after one.”
She’d fed the baby and gone to sleep around ten. “Three hours? Not bad.”
“Especially if she goes back to sleep after you feed her.”
He stretched his hand out and pressed it flat against the baby’s belly. She was in little white footie pajamas with tiny pink cats, and already seemed to have grown and changed so much.
“Lizzie, we’re home,” Emma whispered. “Isn’t this nice? So much better than that mean old hospital with all that noise, all those people interrupting us while we’re trying to sleep. And Daddy’s here.”
The baby turned her face toward Emma and studied her with big, dark eyes for a moment, then fussed some more, just enough to let them know she had needs that were not being met.
“Okay. I get it.” Emma pulled the bottom of her pajama top up to bare one breast, cupped it in one hand and rolled a little farther toward the baby. She nudged Lizzie’s cheek with her nipple and pressed her forearm against the other breast, so it didn’t start leaking.
Lizzie latched on eagerly, sucking so strongly Emma winced. Breathe, she reminded herself and tried to relax into the pain. A few more weeks, and her nipples would have toughened up -- something she had never imagined she’d want until she started breastfeeding her firstborn -- and this process would be all pleasure. Sweet, quiet, peaceful, cuddly time for her and the baby.
Rye leaned across the baby to kiss Emma’s cheek, then Lizzie’s head. Emma must have dozed, because the next thing she knew, Rye was calling softly to her, telling her twelve minutes had passed, time to switch sides. She felt like she barely opened her eyes, just pinched the baby’s cheeks together to get her to let go, then pulled up the other side of her top to bare her other breast.
She barely remembered Rye taking the baby from her, or pulling her top down and the covers up, so she could go back to sleep. He always took such good care of them, especially in the first few weeks, when the baby might be up three or four times a night.
With Lizzie, he picked her up from the little Moses basket beside their bed where she slept, brought her to Emma to eat, and burped the baby, changed her diaper and put her back to sleep.
The baby woke up again hungry sometime around four, but went back to sleep until six-thirty. Exhausting, but not bad for a newborn.
Before Emma even opened her eyes in the morning, she could hear her husband sweet-talking the baby, telling her how happy he was to have her and Emma home, how much he loved her eyes and her big, soft cheeks, having her little fingers curl around one of his and hold on tight.
Lizzie made ooh and ahh sounds at him, watching him intently and stretching, yawning, making him laugh. A few minutes later, a sleepy Jamie showed up in their room, like he had to make sure Emma was still there. She patted the spot beside her in the bed, and Jamie climbed up and crawled over to her. Emma tucked him in beside her, and tried her best to listen and respond every now and then as he chattered on about everything she’d missed while she was in the hospital. He asked her again why she couldn’t have had a boy, and why nobody thought Lizard was a good name for a baby.
It was morning, their first at home with their new baby, Emma, her husband and all four of their children finally under the same roof.
Life was very, very good.