There is nothing comparable to having a child. Holding Anthony in my arms for the first time was an indescribable sensation. And when he blinked open those large eyes, still lacking any pigmentation so soon after birth…there is nothing like it.
“Hello sweet,” I whispered, even that barest breath moving his tufts of pale hair. “I’m your mother.”
I was relieved when we were able to bring Anthony home that day. However, I found a surprise waiting for me at home.
Shaye. She was back home after months of being missing. And she looked a bit heavier than normal.
I situated Anthony in his crib. I did have Shaye to thank for the nursery. Just before she had vanished, she had redecorated the quadruplets’ old nursery. She took into account my illogical want for a boy and used plenty of blue tones, but kept the overall theme of the room gender neutral.
Shaye and Mortimer had also shifted my bedroom furniture back upstairs, into Thomas’s old bedroom, so I could be closer to the nursery.
It was strange that first night, being back upstairs. The view from this side of the house was lovely. When in my right state of mind I don’t often comment on the aesthetic appeals of the outdoors. But Anthony was a fussy baby and needed me in his nursery most of the night before he fell asleep. And I didn’t mind.
This small being relied on me for so much. Now I understand how Thomas could push himself to go days without sleep to tend to the quadruplets’ every need. Because this tiny thing was worth it.
The next day I sat down to have a chat with Shaye. It was as I had deduced. She was pregnant. Almost 36 weeks. She didn’t look it though. Then again, Shaye often wore baggy clothing that hid her form.
Unlike myself, however, Shaye had known she was pregnant from day 1.
“I just felt it, y’know?” she drawled out.
“No,” I replied dryly.
“Look,” I tried again. “You will need to take better care of yourself. No more gallivanting into the mountains for months on end. The exertion could cause you to miscarry, which, at this stage, could be fatal. For you and the infant.”
Shaye raised one blonde eyebrow at me. “Chloe. I think I know a lot more than you do on this topic. I’ve helped deliver lots of babies.”
“Animals don’t count!” I exclaimed.
Shaye frowned. “Even if I hadn’t delivered four human babies before, it’s the same thing! My job as mid-wife is make sure both mommy and baby make it, doesn’t matter what species there are! Birth is one of those things that transcend race, species, and all that. It’s a beautiful thing.”
She sighed and patted her belly. “Besides, I just left to find out what my daughter’s name is.”
“What?” She spends five months in the woods…to get name inspiration?! “Wait, how do you know the gender?”
She grinned. “I just do! Just like you knew Little Red would be a boy!”
“Little Re–his name is Anthony.”
“Anthony,” Shaye drawled out, as if tasting every syllable. “Sounds good!”
I couldn’t deal with her.
But I did help her through the rest of her pregnancy. Not that Shaye needed it. Her pregnancy seemed to go the smoothest of all. She was never queasy, she was never tired, she was never sore. I envied her. Darlene did too. It was one of the first subjects we actually agreed upon: Shaye was a lucky woman.
In late June, Lucy finally gave birth to her and Glen’s first child. The infant was a good month overdue, and her doctor had been suggesting they induce labor. But, as Shaye said, nature eventually took its course, and we all welcomed Greg Steel into the family.
Shaye carried to full term. She’d predicted her baby would be born in time for Leisure Day in early July. And, damn her, she was right. Not too early, not too late, Shaye’s water broke when she was out in her garden. I, to my regret, had not been home. I had taken Anthony to meet his great aunt Agnes. Mortimer had said she’d been wanting to see the baby for a while.
I don’t know how long Shaye suffered by herself. I can’t even image giving birth without morphine!
With only her own herbs to help her, Shaye gave birth to Cloud Flower Mayfield in her garden on the evening of the 4th of July, just in time for Leisure Day. And the infant was a girl as well.
Cloud Flower’s crib had been set up in advance. Shaye and I had decided to keep the infants in the same nursery for now. It was easier to keep an eye on the needs of both infants at once that way.
With Cloud Flower’s birth, I set about finding the answer to my burning question.
“Shaye, who is Cloud Flower’s progenitor?”
“Her father. Who is her father?”
Shaye scratched her head.
“I don’t know,” she finally replied.
“What do you mean you don’t know?!” What has Shaye been doing?!
“Well, we all got together down by the beach for a bonfire. Pretty place, I’ll take you there sometime, it’s reeeeeeal pretty.”
“Oh, yeah! Well they were a lot of us, like ten. I brought some nectar, Tidus brought hotdogs, and Sky brought some moonshine and nobody does moonshine like Sky. But we were all hanging out and sharing the love, and I don’t know which of ’em is her dad. But duuuuuuuude…it was awesome.” She trailed off, that lazy half-smile slipping onto her face.
I slapped a hand over my own face. “So you were with several guys that night and you have no idea which one of them got you pregnant?” That’s so…Shaye.
“Nah, man! It was just free loving and good times. Why’d you keep hitting yourself?”
Shaye makes the most amazing faces. XD
New family photo:
Fun Fact: Greg (Lucy’s son) was born the day after Anthony, and Cloud Flower (Shaye’s daughter) was born the day after Greg.
Thanks for reading! ^_^