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Monday, March 14, 2005

TMOOD - Daniel's Birthday Continued

From P&P5 (aka odea5) - My first attempt (ever!) at writing, coming from a need to continue this story for all of us! Hope you enjoy it!

A Birthday

Martha thanked the doctor and closed the door. She turned just as Livy handed the baby to Ray. She noticed the warmth and tenderness between them. Martha brought her hand to her mouth as she heard Ray begin to softly sing a song to the baby that their own father had sung to them when they were young. She watched as Livy looked on, transfixed on Ray’s face as he gazed, crooned, and smiled at the baby all at the same time.

She found herself unable to look away as Ray slowly leaned in to kiss Livy, and gave thanks as she noticed Livy lean toward Ray to return his kiss. She knew then that Livy had at last found her way toward her feelings for Ray. Martha was grateful that Livy realized that she loved Ray before she returned to Denver and that she gave birth to the baby in Ray’s house – their house. It would help Ray to feel truly like the baby’s father.

As Livy and Ray parted, Ray gently kissed the baby’s head and Martha thought it would be safe to enter the room. “Ray, I bet this little boy and his new mama are hungry after all they’ve been through – why don’t you make up some sandwiches and heat that soup while I help Livy get started feeding the baby?”

Ray smiled at Martha and then at Livy. “I think that’s a good place for me,” he said as he got up to head toward the kitchen. He stopped to ask, “Livy, are you comfortable? Warm enough?” As Martha smiled and gently shook her head, Livy also smiled and assured Ray that she was both. “Give us about 20 minutes, hon,” Martha said softly to Ray as he moved toward the kitchen.

When Ray had left, Martha moved toward Livy on the sofa. “Are you ready to try feeding this little boy?” she asked with a smile. Livy nodded tentatively. Martha continued “Why don’t you let me hold him while you slide your arm and shoulder out of your nightgown? Once you get started, I’ll put the blanket around you so you don’t catch a chill. It will help cover you and the baby up so you can have some privacy – and in case Ray walks back in, it’ll also keep him from turning all shades of red!” Livy laughed and started to relax. When she was ready, Martha leaned over her with the baby, putting him into Livy’s arms at the proper angle.

“Just move him toward you,” Martha instructed. “When he feels you on his mouth, he’ll know just what to do.” Livy did as Martha suggested and gasped when the baby latched on and began to nurse. Her eyes widened with delight and then a little with alarm as she realized how powerful he was. Martha smiled and said, “I’ll bring you some special cream I always used when I nursed my babies – it’ll keep you from getting too sore.”

“I read that the baby won’t be getting milk right away, but will get something called colostrum,” Livy said to Martha while the baby continued to nurse. Martha nodded and said, “That’s right – you’ll know when the milk comes in a few days, but as long as you keep feeding him regularly, you shouldn’t become too uncomfortable.”

They sat in a companionable silence for a few minutes. Martha reminisced a bit about each of her own children when they were first born. After a bit Martha looked at her watch and noted that he had been nursing for about 10 minutes and suggested that Livy might want to move him to the other side. Martha took the baby briefly while Livy readjusted. Livy took the baby back and put him to her other side with only a little awkwardness and got him started there without any problem. She smiled down at him and stroked his head.

Martha then said, “After you finish I think I’ll be getting back to Hank and the kids before it gets dark out. Is there anything I can get you or do for you before I go, Livy?”

“No thank you, Martha. I don’t know what we would have done without you today!” Livy responded. After a moment she continued, “I never imagined this day would turn out as it did and I can’t imagine life without all of you.”

Martha smiled and patted her shoulder – “That’s what family is for, honey. When Ray took a wife, I got a new sister at the same time and a sister is something I always wanted. And now I’ve got a nephew, too!”

Just then the baby moved away from Livy and appeared to be dozing. Martha smiled and said, “He looks downright satisfied, he does.” Livy gazed on him and softly laughed as she stroked his head.

Ray walked in cautiously from the kitchen carrying a tray with some soup and a sandwich and a glass of milk on it. “Martha, do you want to eat with us?” he asked as he set the tray on a small table near Livy.

Martha replied, “No, honey – I told Livy that I want to get back before it gets dark. I can come by tomorrow if you’d like. You can telephone me if you need me sooner or if you want me to pick something up in town before I come.” She and Ray hugged and Ray thanked her for her help and support. Martha looked especially pleased as she looked at Ray and congratulated him on becoming a father. As she put on her coat, she said good bye to Livy and to her new nephew.

Ray walked Martha to the door and then returned to Livy and the baby. The baby was now sound asleep and Livy was struggling to return her arm into the sleeve of her nightgown. Ray leaned down to help and blushed as he saw Livy’s naked shoulder escape into her flannel gown.

“You must be hungry Livy, after all you’ve been through,” said Ray as he sat and offered to take the baby from her. “I can hold him while you eat.”

Livy smiled and handed the baby back to Ray and then lifted the bowl of soup. “You must be hungry too Ray,” she said as she began to eat.

“I had something in the kitchen while you were feeding the baby,” he replied. There was a pause as he looked down at the baby. “Have you thought about what you might name him?” Ray asked.

Livy slowly nodded and said, “I have though about it. If it is all right with you Ray, I’d like it if we named him Daniel.” Ray looked at her intently without saying anything. Livy, uncomfortable with both the silence and the intensity of his gaze continued, “Of course, he’d have to be Daniel Raymond for his daddy, too.”

Ray swallowed and nodded slightly and then said, “I’d like that very much Livy. Thank you.”

He looked down at the baby and as he stroked the baby’s head he murmured, “Hey Danny. You are a beautiful boy – just like your mama.” He peaked up to see Livy smiling at him. “You are beautiful, Livy,” he repeated.

“I can’t imagine what I look like right now -- I must look a wreck,” she exclaimed. “But thank you, Ray.”

“You must be tired after all you’ve been through,” Ray said, shaking is head in wonder.

Livy nodded and replied, “A part of me is exhausted while another part is exhilarated by this miracle.” She nodded toward the baby and smiled down at him.

Ray smiled and nodded, too. “He is a miracle. It’s a miracle to me that you are both in my life now,” he commented. He continued “But Livy, when you are ready to turn in, I can carry you up to your room,” he said.

Livy paused and then said, “Ray, it’s our room.” She paused again briefly and then continued hurriedly, “Of course, I’m in no condition to be with you uhm, as a wife, but it would be nice to have you near to me and Danny at night.”

Ray swallowed noticeably, but nodded slowly and gave a very slight smile. “I’d like that too Livy...if you are sure.”

“I’m sure, Ray. I don’t think I could bear to have you across the hall from me another night.”

“I feel the same,” he said softly.

She reached out her hand toward him and he took it. She smiled at him and said, “I love you, Ray Singleton. I don’t know how I came to deserve to be your wife and to be as happy as I am right now, but I’ll spend my life trying to be worthy of you.”

Ray frowned and said, “Livy, you don’t have to prove anything to me, certainly not your worth. I fell in love with you knowing about the circumstances that led you to be here. There is no shame in our relationship and I can’t have you feeling inferior and unworthy and always needing to prove something to me.”

She nodded slowly as she contemplated his comments. Then she said, “I felt so much shame at being sent away, knowing that my father was ashamed. On my first day here, I was unbelieving at your comment that this might all somehow be God’s will – all I had been told until that day that I had shamed God and brought shame to all around me. I could barely believe that anyone could see any good in the situation – it’s taken me months to see as you saw that Danny’s coming was a good thing – a blessing. I guess it will take me a bit longer to let go of the shame.”

She brightened and continued, “But, I’m feeling like a real mother now – I can’t wait to show everyone what a beautiful baby we have. And I hope that somehow, someday we can travel to Denver so my family and friends can see Danny and meet my sweet and handsome husband.”

Ray blushed and quickly rolled his eyes in embarrassment. He cleared his throat before he asked, “So, I guess Danny was satisfied with his dinner – he’s looking pretty content at the moment.”

Livy shrugged slightly and said, “He seemed to take to it just fine and Martha stayed with me to make sure I didn’t stop too soon. It’s so overwhelming, Ray. I am so afraid that I won’t know what to do next.”

“You are so good at whatever you do, Livy. You’ll figure it out. I may be able to help with some things – I remember some from when my brother, Danny, was a baby. And we always have Martha. After her three, she must know everything there is to know.”

Livy snuggled back into the sofa and rested her head on the pillow as she said, “I think you are right. She did tell me last week that we should be prepared to lose a lot of sleep in these early days – I should anyway. You’ll need to get your sleep so you can get your work done. If he wakes up tonight though maybe you can bring him to me to so I can feed him – it’s a little hard to walk just yet. Do you suppose I’ll be better tomorrow?”

Ray raised his eyebrows and said, “After what you went through it seems like you should give yourself a few days before you do much. Martha and Ruth can come over and take care of the house while you look after Danny and get your strength back.”

Livy nodded and smiled at the thought of Ruth. “I bet Danny will feel like he’s got a few mothers once they get here!”

Ray agreed, “I expect you’re right – Ruth about burst waiting for this new cousin of hers.” He noticed that Livy’s eyes were growing heavy. Ray was tired himself, having slept poorly the night before in anticipation of Livy leaving for Denver today and trying to think of what he should say to convince her to stay. He could hardly believe all that had happened that day – he never would have imagined when the day started so bleakly that it could end up this way.

He said softly, “Livy, let me take you upstairs. I’ll bring Danny up and put him in his cradle and I’ll be back for you.”

Livy, too tired to protest, simply nodded and watched Ray walk out cradling Danny so carefully in his arms. She heard Ray start to sing to him again as they made their way up the stairs.

A few minutes later Ray returned and walked to Livy at the couch. He sat down on the couch beside her and placed one hand on her cheek. As Livy tilted her head toward his hand he raised his other hand to the other cheek and slowly leaned in to kiss her. She met his kiss and put her arms around his waist as the kiss grew deeper. Ray moved his hands back into Livy’s thick curls as he continued to kiss her and Livy pulled her arms tighter. Suddenly Ray broke away and said, “I’m sorry Livy – this is no way to treat a woman who has just given birth. I’m acting like some kind of brute. I’m really sorry.”

Livy gave him a smile. “You don’t need to apologize Ray, I am your wife and I admit that I liked it just as well as you did. But we should probably both get some sleep or Danny will have two parents who are not lucid!”

Ray laughed at her comment and asking if she was ready, he lifted her from the couch and carried up the stairs and into their room. He had turned the blanket back when he came up with Danny and so was able to put her down on the bed and cover her in practically one motion. He looked over to the other side of the bed and then looked at her. Raising his eyebrows in a way so like Ray, he asked, “You’re sure?”

Livy nodded confidently. “We’ve been apart too long, Ray.”

He said, “I’ll be back” and turned to go into the bunk room he had shared with is brother, Danny, for so many years. There he changed into his night clothes and returned to the room he would share with Livy and with Danny for a while. He leaned over the cradle to check on Danny who slept peacefully. He turned to Livy to report on Danny and noticed that her eyes were closed. He quietly slipped under the blanket next to her. Livy turned as she felt his weight on the bed and gave him a sleepy smile. “I love you, Ray.”

He leaned over and kissed her and said, “I love you, too Livy. Good night.” He took her hand and settled back on the pillow, bringing her hand to his chest. He fell asleep, too.