“Look at how small he is,” Brock remarks as he stares down at the sleeping baby in his arms. He’s holding his six-week-old nephew. He wanted to be here at the Forever After Lodge for the birth, but he wasn’t able to get time away.
Now he and Zoey are on vacation, visiting with me and Gray. The five of us are hanging out in our living room. Gray had a cabin custom built not far from the lodge. It gives us the chance to run the lodge but also space away from it to celebrate our new family.
My handsome husband even made sure that the new cabin has a beautiful writing nook. I haven’t been writing much the last few weeks but that’s to be expected. In time we’ll develop a routine with our Aaron and things will get easier. But for now, I’m treasuring these precious baby moments.
“He’s supposed to be this size,” I answer. The doctor tells me that our son is right on track for his growth. He’s a pretty happy baby and doesn’t cry a lot. When Gray suggested we name Aaron after his grandfather, I couldn’t stop smiling for a week. My dad would have loved him.
I lean my head against the couch cushion. Gray takes my hand and gives it a gentle squeeze. He’s sitting next to me, and his big frame makes me feel small and delicate, the way it always does.
When Aaron wraps his whole fist around Brock’s pinky finger, my big brother sends a panicked look Zoey’s way. She’s seven months pregnant and has that beautiful new mother glow already. “We’re not doing this.”
She rubs her stomach as she sits on the sofa across from me and chuckles. “I think it’s kind of late for that.”
“Well, you’ll just have to hold it in for a couple of years,” he insists, cradling our baby even closer. “Look at how breakable he is.”
“Being a dad is awesome,” Gray tells him. He has dark circles under his eyes now. I’m pretty sure they’re going to be there for the next eighteen years.
He always gets up in the middle of the night with me and Aaron. Even if I’m nursing and there’s nothing he can do, he’s still up with us. Sometimes, we just hold each other as Aaron nurses. Other times, we talk quietly about our plans for the future and what we want our family to look like one day.
In the mornings, Gray gets up and runs the lodge. His sisters help manage it, and they’ve taken a lot off of his plate. They stop by at least twice a week to restock the freezer with frozen casseroles. Then they sit with Aaron for a few hours so I can sleep or shower or just enjoy a hot cup of caffeine-free coffee. I’m so grateful to have their support, and I know Gray is too.
“It would be just as awesome in two years when my daughter is bigger and not fragile,” Brock argues, his voice a deep rumble.
“Wait until the first time your kid smiles at you,” Gray says. He glances at me, wonder filling his expression. Every day with Aaron, we feel like the two luckiest people on the planet. We were given a miracle.
“No, the soft grunts he makes,” I say. I love hearing him make those sounds as he feeds. He’s such a noisy eater.
“When you say something and he coos back,” Gray adds. His eyes mist over. They do that a lot now that he’s a father. Not that I blame him. We’re new parents and we’re delighted by this beautiful baby and overwhelmed by the sheer responsibility too.
“It’ll be fine,” Zoey puts a hand on her husband’s shoulder.
Aaron starts sniffling then, making those noises that indicate he’s ready for his mama to give him lunch.
I stand and gather him in my arms. He is tiny and there are moments when I think about how big the world is and how fragile he seems. But then I remind myself that he’s got a fierce mama on his side and a dad who would walk through hell for him. My boy is going to be just fine.
Walking into the bedroom, I smile at the stuffed black bear on the bed. I’ve started collecting them because they remind me of how I met my man.
I’ve already settled to feed Aaron when Gray comes in. At first, I was embarrassed for him to see me like this. But my husband has been so supportive. He was there when I struggled to get Aaron to latch on. He’s been there as I’ve learned to pump when I have to be away from him for a little bit. He’s reassured me again and again that there’s nothing he finds sexier than my body nourishing our baby.
“Are they gone?” I keep my voice low because Aaron’s eyes are drifting closed. He naps after his lunchtime feeding and I cherish these afternoon moments when he’s sleepy.
“Yeah, they went back to the lodge for a little while. I told them we’d text them if you were up for dinner,” he answers. Gray has had my back since we’ve had Aaron. He’s the one who tells our family if I’m too exhausted for a visit or if I’m up for company. I joke that he’s our bodyguard, but secretly I love it.
He joins me on the bed, careful not to jostle either of us. As soon as he’s close, I lean my head on his shoulder. “We have a beautiful family.”
My mountain man puts an arm around my hip, the simple touch grounding me. He presses a soft kiss to the top of my head. “I love you, my sweet girl.”
“I love you back,” I whisper. When I’m anxious and exhausted and scared on this parenting journey, all I have to do is lean into Gray. He’s my rock and shelter, the one person that’s always there for me.
If you want to see how Zoey mooned Brock when she first met him, you can read her story in Romancing the Sheriff (available now!).