Chapter Thirteen

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“Is that her?” Karen chirped, smiling broadly at the precious sight.

Stevie nodded and looked down at the baby with such love and pride in her eyes that it warmed both of the women’s hearts.

After the initial shock had worn off, Karen stepped into the lounge and took up a seat on the couch next to Stevie.

“Please don’t tell me you kidnapped her…” Karen joked.

Stevie would have raised her eyebrow and shot her an unamused glare, if it were not for the tiny bundle in her arms that she could not take her eyes off.

Brenda took that moment to give Karen a quick run-down on what had happened and what needed to be done going forward, all of which she jotted down in her agenda and had already begun making arrangements in her head.

Stevie sat silently as they talked, until her head suddenly shot up.

“The nursery!” she exclaimed, if her arms had been free, Karen knew she would be flapping around in a panic. “It’s not ready yet, I – I don’t have anything in the house for her and…”

“I thought that might be the case,” Brenda chuckled in amusement. “I have some supplies in the car for you. It’s not much, but it’ll certainly get you set up for tonight!”

“Brenda, you are an absolute angel!”

Stevie walked into the entryway and watched as Karen and Brenda brought everything inside: a car seat, a Moses basket, a baby bag stuffed with a few diapers, bottles and formula, and a couple of soft white onesies.

“I’ll call Karen to arrange a date for my first post-placement visit soon.”

“Thank you so much, Brenda, we look forward to it!” Stevie smiled, taking the baby’s hand between her fingers and waving it in her direction as she left the house.

“Oh, I almost forgot! Have you decided on a name for the little one yet?”

After taking one look back down at her, she nodded and smiled broadly.

“Her name is Lily,” her voice was giddy with excitement.

“Well that’s just beautiful,” Brenda cooed. “Goodbye, Lily!”

As the front door slowly shut and Stevie found herself standing in the hallway with a baby in her arms and no parents waiting around to take their child home with them, it finally hit her. She was hers.

“Are you going to stand in the hallway all day, staring at the baby?” Karen snickered, swinging her handbag over her shoulder.

“Yeah, maybe…” Stevie replied, only half-jokingly.

“Alright well, I’m just running out to the store, do you want me to pick you up anything?”

“Actually, Karen… I think we’ll be alright tonight,” she whispered. “Would you just pop by tomorrow around lunch time instead?”

“Are you sure? I mean, it’s your first night with her…”

“We’ll be fine, won’t we Lily?” Stevie smiled, stroking a finger across the baby’s cheek.

Satisfied that Stevie was confident enough to handle the situation, Karen picked up her things and made her way out of the house, closing the door quietly behind her as she went.

Finally alone with her baby, Stevie slowly walked around the house, bouncing Lily lightly and humming to her softly. She was slowly processing her new reality; it was something so wondrous and captivating that she hardly noticed the time fly by and before long, the sun had set and the house had a warm glow about it.

Lily began to wriggle in her arms and Stevie sensed that she was becoming restless. Before she had even had time to think, Lily broke out into an almighty cry that even startled Stevie a little.

“Uh oh, I think someone’s hungry…” she chuckled nervously, bouncing her a little against her chest as she walked into the kitchen to make up a bottle.

It was only then that she realised she did not even know how to do that.

With a crying baby propped up against her shoulder, Stevie squinted to make out the instructions on the side of the formula jar, before deciding to just trust her instincts. She heated the bottle and tested the temperature of the milk against her skin.

“I saw that in a movie once,” she whispered to Lily, watching as the baby instinctively closed her lips around the bottle and began feeding.

An odd sense of accomplishment washed over her and she felt truly proud of herself. After months and years of doubting whether she could ever be someone’s mother, all of those fears seemed to dissolve into the background. Of course she could do it. As she sat on the couch, gazing adoringly at her baby girl as she went through her bottle like a trooper, Stevie felt complete. Nothing in this world mattered more than the little person in her arms.

Bedtime rolled around soon after, and once Stevie had changed her first diaper, she put Lily into a clean onesie and rocked with her in the rocking chair. Sweet melodies filled the room; Lily was so peaceful that her presence even lulled Stevie into a sleep-like state.

When she was sure that Lily was fast asleep, Stevie slowly stood up and gently placed her in the Moses basket, tucking the soft pink blanket she had always had around her little body and kissing her head goodnight.

Stevie left the door ajar and also decided to leave her bedroom door open so she could listen out for her, despite having baby monitors set up in both rooms.

She had only just slipped into her nightgown when Lily opened her lungs and began wailing at the top of her voice.

Like any new mother, Stevie was hyper-alert and responsive to any call of their baby; she dropped what she was doing and ran into the nursery, swooping Lily up into her arms and rocking her comfortingly.

“Oh sweetheart, what’s the matter?” she cooed, stroking the soft hair on Lily’s head as she wept into Stevie’s shoulder. “You don’t like being left alone much at all, do you?”

She could feel the baby’s chest heaving against her own in her distress and it broke her heart.

“Sssshh, it’s okay baby, it’s okay... Mommy’s here…”

And there it was.

It had slipped out as if it were the most natural thing in the world; something that she thought she would never hear herself say, tumbling out of her in a wave of love and protection. Once it had been said, she could not stop saying it.

After no more than five minutes of cuddles and soft singing, Lily was drifting back off to sleep once again, and so Stevie laid her back down in the Moses basket and crept out of the room as quietly as she could.

This time, she had not even made it back to her room before the heart-wrenching sound of Lily’s cries tore through the silence of the house once more.

Stevie turned straight back around and again ran at full speed into the nursery to comfort her. She checked the time and saw that it had been a few hours since her last feed, so she decided to make up another bottle and sit with her in the rocking chair. After half an hour, Lily’s face was peaceful in sleep and Stevie was sure she would not wake up again.

But she had been wrong; it was almost as if Lily could sense Stevie’s presence and as soon as she was not near her, she would let out a scream at the top of her lungs.

Tired and exasperated, leaning over the Moses basket and trying to settle her inconsolable baby, Stevie suddenly had a thought. She scooped Lily up into her arms and made her way into her bedroom with her. Making use of the mountain of pillows that adorned her king-size bed, Stevie built them up behind her and lay back against them, gently stroking a hand over Lily’s back as she rested against Stevie’s chest.

“Sleep tight, sweet angel,” she whispered, watching as Lily slowly sailed away into the land of her dreams to the sound of Stevie’s heartbeat.

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A/N: Welcome back, lovely people! I hope you enjoyed Stevie and Lily's first quality time together.

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