Like a Dream
by Sue Kite
|This story came to me while I
was in Utah last fall when my daughter, Danielle had her baby. I
found myself mesmerized as I watched through the nursery window while my
son-in-law, Chris watched Hannah being taken care of by the nurse and
then when he helped bathe her. So for this reason, I dedicate this story
to Chris, Danielle and Hannah. (10/04/07)
This one has no particular place in the timeline of my Voyage universe, except after all my bachelor ones. LOL
Even as the insistent voice of the woman next to me continued to speak, I gazed raptly at the miracle beneath my fingers. So tiny! They said she really wasn’t, but even at almost nine pounds, she seemed to be.
"Captain, I realize you are in command of the largest, most powerful, and technologically advanced submarine in the world, but you don’t have to treat her like one of your torpedoes. You don’t have to be afraid of her."
My finger still hovered a micro millimeter above her rosy pink chest. "I’m not afraid of a torpedo. I simply have respect for its power," I muttered. I wondered at my reticence to do anything but stare at this new little life.
"Your first?" the nurse asked with a smile. I nodded. "Then consider your daughter like a very small torpedo. Respect her for the power she has on your life, but don’t fear her."
I was amazed at such a profound statement, but I didn’t say anything. Deftly, the nurse picked up my wondrous little girl, legs and arms still kicking at the indignities she had suffered in the short hour of her life, and carried her over to the sink. "Her first bath, and you get to help, Daddy," she said with a smile. "You’ll need to be able to do it occasionally, you know."
Again, I nodded, wondering briefly how my wife was. Shouldn’t she be in here doing this? Of course not! Not after that surgery she’d been through. Meekly I followed and was again caught up in the rapture of this new life. The nurse turned on the water, baby on one arm while she adjusted the flow and temperature of the stream from the faucet with her free hand. Would I ever become this dexterous with the baby? The instructions continued even as my gaze never wavered from my child. Her eyes were screwed tightly shut, but her mouth was open, alternately whimpering, crying out in shrill protest as someone’s cold fingers touched her skin, or just moving her perfectly formed lips.
After her body had been gently bathed, the nurse dried her and wrapped her up tightly in a soft, warm blanket. Now I understood the ‘swaddling’ part of swaddling clothes. The baby calmed down quickly. "You hold her like this," the nurse said, handing my girl to me and patiently positioning my right hand so that I was supporting her head. Her back lay along my arm and I could feel her slight movements, the warmth of her little body even through the blanket. She acted perfectly all right being wrapped up like some human burrito. "A little closer to your body. Now, just hold her head a little way under the water, only the crown mind you, and gently scrub her head with this sponge."
A soft little sponge that apparently had soap in it already appeared in my hand, and I gingerly scrubbed her thick, black hair. I couldn’t believe how much she had. Then I realized just how much like her mother she looked. A beautiful lady. My beautiful little lady’s mouth opened and it sounded almost like a kitten, then she settled down, apparently enjoying the warm water. The nurse said a crown. Yes, a little princess. I felt her form waver in my gaze and I had to blink to regain control of myself. I quickly finished her shampoo and rinsed the suds off. The nurse had a warmed fluffy, little towel ready and gently rubbed her hair dry while I continued to hold my precious baby. My baby. What a wonderful sound. Our baby. I couldn’t believe, for a brief moment, that I had a daughter, someone who was a part of my wife and me. How did it go? Flesh of our flesh….
"Bring her back to the basinet, please. There is another test we need to run and then she’ll be ready to have a good rest before you both go to see your wife."
Again, I was speechless. Then a passing thought—Chip would love this. Me speechless.
The nurse uncovered the baby again, and swabbed her heel. Why couldn’t they do that all at once? The cold solution, probably alcohol, started the healthy lungs going again. I didn’t blame her. Poking, pushing, prodding, temperatures, blood samples, shots—yeah, a sickbay by any other name. I felt intense empathy for this little daughter of mine. I wanted to simply snatch her up and run.
Now there was a buzzing that had first been sporadic and seemingly part of the hospital background noise, but was now becoming very insistent. As I watched over my little one at the mercy of this female CMO, the constant buzz began to annoy me. "What is…." I began, but was cut off.
"Maybe you’d better say something to all those people outside the nursery." She smiled and added. "How many men do you have on that submarine of yours?"
"About a…." I looked up and gulped. Not only was the admiral there along with Chip and his wife, but I could also see faces jostling each other in the little bit of remaining space at the nursery windows. Jamie, Sharkey, O’Brien, the secretarial pool at the Institute, Kowalski, Patterson, Riley. I was totally taken aback.
"Push the button there on the wall," the nurse said, laughing softly. "And calm that unruly mob."
I did and the voices were like a tidal wave. "Congratulations, Skipper! How big is she? Exactly when was she born?" I figured that was Kowalski’s baby pool question. "What’s her name? Why did they do that to her?" Why indeed, I asked myself. "Can we see her up close? How’s your wife? When can we see her?" And it went on and on. Finally, with a glare from Chip and another one from the admiral, there was silence. I answered each of the questions that were answerable with a fact or two and ignored the rest. When I ran out of steam, the Admiral leaned toward the intercom and spoke. As usual, it was something that took me totally by surprise.
"Lad, you certainly know how to celebrate an anniversary. Can I assume that we’ll be taking a rain check on that dinner we had planned?"
I couldn’t figure what he meant at first, then it dawned on me . . . this was the fourth of the month. It was my first wedding anniversary. Our baby had been born on our first anniversary. Suddenly the congratulations erupted anew causing the baby to jerk in alarm. The nurse finished the tests and re-wrapped my little one in another warm blanket. Then I had her in my arms and the rest of the world began to disappear again. The noise from outside subsided to muted sighs and whispered praise. My wife and I had no parents to fuss over our children, but I could see that my daughter would have all the love and spoiling she would ever need. I leaned forward and whispered in her ear, "Welcome to the world, little one." She moved her head slightly, sighed and lay quietly in my arms.
There was really nothing more that I needed to celebrate any kind of anniversary. This was enough.