67. Give Me Love

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Give me Love, Give me Love,
Give me peace on earth,
Give me light, Give me life,
Keep me free from birth

'Fucking hell,' Minnie breathes, and then clamps her hand over her mouth. 'Sorry,' she adds, sheepishly. 'Sorry, I'll have to watch swearing around the baby, won't I?'

I smile. 'I don't think it matters that much right now. I don't think she'll pick up on it this early.'

She. I could swear myself. It seems so odd, calling it a she. It's a girl. I was convinced it was going to be a boy. I've gone through the entire pregnancy referring to the bump as he, him, his. It never even occurred to me that it could be a girl. Maybe I was just hoping it would be a boy.

But I don't care. Not really. I'm just relieved she's alright. She seems alright. I keep asking the nursing staff to check her. They're getting fed up with me now, but I was panicking I was about to lose the baby at first, and it's hard to shake that off. Even when the ambulance man told me I was in labour, I thought it was because something was wrong. She's five and a half hours old now. I keep looking at the clock on the wall and working it out. Five and a half hours and so far, so good.

'Still, it's not a good habit, is it?' Minnie says, leaning over us again, tracing her finger over the baby's tiny hand. The baby ignores her, closing her eyes. 'It's horrible when you hear little kids effing and blinding everywhere. It's obscene.'

I laugh. 'You used to.'

'Yeah, well, I'm older and wiser now, aren't I?'

It felt like she was coming so fast. I thought I was going to give birth to her in the ambulance, but it took another two and a half hours. Minnie came to the hospital but they wouldn't let her into see me for ages. Now she's here, no one can get rid of her. They tried to make her go home when visiting hours ended but she refused. I think the nurses are a little afraid of her. There's a rather starchy, severe ward sister here and even she couldn't shift Minnie. I appreciate her being here, but I wouldn't mind if she went home now. I'm so exhausted, I hardly have enough energy to conduct a conversation.

'Do you want to hold her?' I ask, lifting her towards Minnie.

Minnie's eyes widen. 'What if I drop her?'

'You won't.' I offer her the baby and with a slight hesitation, she takes her from me awkwardly.

As she straightens up, cradling her in her right arm, the baby makes a quiet sort of gurgle noise. Minnie looks at me with a wide smile. 'I think she likes me,' she says, tucking the soft, white baby's blanket around her tiny form.

'Of course she does. You're her aunt. Aunt Minnie.'

Minnie pulls her face and laughs. 'Urgh, Aunt Minnie! That makes me sound about a hundred and four!' She sighs contentedly, quite comfortable holding the baby now as she sways her gently. 'She's fucking amazing, Han...' she says and grimaces as she catches herself again. 'Sorry! Sorry! I will get better. By the time she's learning to talk, I'll be like Mary bloody Poppins.'

I laugh and steal a look at the clock on the wall of the hospital room. Quarter to eight. Five hours and thirty-five minutes old.

'God, look at her...' Minnie says, with wonderment. 'She's just... marvellous, isn't she?'

'Marvellous?' I smile.

'And just like George. She has his eyes, his nose, his mouth. She's like a miniature version.' She glances up at me and grins. 'I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing?! Poor lass might end up with his big ears too! Ahh, don't worry, little one. They'll look better on you than they ever did on your daddy. They will. Yes, they will...'

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