"It's a boy!"
All the energy she had been fighting to hold onto blew out with a sigh as she slumped back. She closed her eyes, then forced them back open. Not yet, can't sleep yet. All around doctors and nurses hustled, checking on the small bundle one held. Her fingers twitched and anxiety filled her chest. She wanted to see! Why were they taking so long? She looked at her husband, desperation in her voice.
"What's taking so long?"
Her husband stroked her damp hair from her face, trying to reassure her. "They're just making sure he's okay."
Finally the nurse brought the bundle over. She lifted her arms, eager despite the fatigue rolling through her. The bundled weight her arms down, even with the help of both the nurse and her husband. She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath and preparing herself. She knew there would be damage, the ultrasound had shown a cleft lip and palate but there was no way of knowing how bad it'd be until the baby was born.
Still love him. She assured herself and peeked one eye open. She gasped, unable to help it.
"Doctors say it's a little worse than they thought but it's easily fixed." Her husband started.
"He's beautiful." She whispered. She lifted her baby close, planting a kiss on his forehead. He waved a fist and a soft noise came from his mouth. She laughed at the noise, pride exploding.
"You need your rest." The nurse said after a moment, lifting the baby away.
She wanted to protest, but her arms had shaken badly as she cradled her baby and it was a fight to stay conscious. She slumped back, taking her husbands hand. "He's so beautiful." She repeated.
Her husband smiled. "Yeah. Now get some rest, we'll both be here when you wake."
She settled against the pillows, letting her eyes finally close. Her baby played before her eyes and a smile crept on her lips. She knew the road ahead would be long. There would be surgeries to fix his mouth and his nose that was barely there. Tests would have to be done as well. It would be terrifying but in that moment, as she drifted away, none of that mattered. All she felt was love and for now, that was enough.
On February 3rd 2011 Arik Daniel Dumas decided he couldn't wait four more weeks. He popped out with barely a nose on his face and a wonky upper lip. My older sister grinned like an idiot whenever she saw him. I couldn't stop looking at the pics my little sister sent me. Despite everything he's the cutest little guy in the world and already causing trouble. A long road is ahead but like every other journey it's one step at a time. He's got a great group of cheerleaders already and a big brother who has everything they'll do together already planned.
This Valentine's Day there's a new man in my life: my nephew Arik. I'm sending all my love to him, my big sister, her husband, my other nephew who shouldn't be forgotten either. Auntie Patty's rooting for you all. Happy Valentine's Day.