Getting pregnant had been a breeze; it came as a surprise, despite the awkwardness Vicky succeeded on the first attempt; destiny smiled in favour of the couple, at least Ziva believed this. The months that followed were difficult; Vicky suffered, first and second trimester brought nausea, several days of stomach upsets and irritation with everything from furballs to her art. Vicky’s third trimester brought pain, back, breasts and neck, comforted by a craving for sweet pancakes ladened with maple syrup. They were walking, taking in the post-storm sea air; Vicky felt a contraction in her abdomen, she had another month until she was due, but the batter-loving baby decided otherwise.
Vicky growled at the nurses, her usual polite demeanour lost amongst the contracting pain and comment that she required patience; her body needed time to dilate. She sobbed as time ticked into hours; they monitored her, the beeping adding to her stress over this premature birth. The doctor assured her the baby would be fine, perhaps a lower weight, but strong like her mothers. Exhausted, Vicky pushed their daughter into the world, Ziva wept as she cut the umbilical cord, and the loud cry announced a change in life; her name was Milly.
Big green eyes, a hint of ginger hair, Ziva had to count the fingers and toes; she moved back to the bassinet to check she was there, the baby so quiet wriggled. Vicky rested, patting the empty space, hope that Ziva would lay, enjoy the silence and the view across the ocean. They had the sudden realisation the boxy storage room was inadequate for their baby girl, work and hospital appointments kept them busy for nine month, neither considered how the baby would require a bedroom. Building work was a headache; Vicky shared her vision of a spacious room, pinks, blues, yellows, a small balcony with large windows. Ziva looked alarmed, a balcony, and a toddler; Vicky curled, suppressing her laughter as Ziva’s concerns turned into a dramatic monologue of protection and added panic over the proximity to the ocean. The excitement of becoming parents hid the fears of “What If…?”, Milly deserved everything they could offer, but both wondered if they were enough?
Vicky’s concerns grew, Ziva’s birthday, the big six-zero was coming up, she had been busy learning motherhood, prioritising Milly above everything, including the animals. Patches and Asher hated the change, sofa relegation, an uneasy truce for cats and Fiona. Knowing an interesting new addition awaited their approval had them scratching the door. Abby bided her time; Vicky prepared Chocolate cake, hoping six lit candles would keep interested paws at bay. Undeterred, Abby inched closer, her whiskers twitched, the warmth of the flames, dripping wax, she followed her nose, tasting the sweet, creamy frosting.
Gone were the long hot summer days; the birthday plans seemed to have involved summoning storms, the cats hid, hissing when approached, and Fiona howled in response to every sky tearing rumble. Neither had experienced a similar storm, Vicky worried her efforts were in vain and the party cancelled. Vicky clutched the spoon, jumping at the thundering crack, mac and cheese splattered the floor, rain cascaded, the window cleaned, Ziva had been promising to do them but seemed distracted by Milly.
Huddled together, the families made their way into the house, Ziva handing towels, Vicky with steaming coffee and cocoa. Rylan grinned, peering towards the kitchen, knowing Vicky would have baked. He hoped as the older twin to take the first slice, hands-on shoulders Vicky guided him to the table, at least, he should indulge her savoury offerings.
Eliza sat alone, moving each time someone made a beeline for her. Ziva cornered her in the kitchen; there had been words, Eliza and Rylan on the porch, shivering as he lectured her on social interactions and watching her siblings. Her tense niece crumbled the cake slice, pressing fingers in soft icing, her face hard, as though she could see every molecule and attempted to move it with her mind. There would be a space for Eliza, should she want to escape during school holidays, plus Fiona would love Sparky, the two dogs could have run along the beach. Eliza tripped her cake, Ziva’s heart sank as it fell, the bin felt metaphoric for her niece’s mood. Rylan said Eliza wanted to stay home; this hurt Ziva; she hated seeing Eliza unhappy and unwilling to speak.