Hello everyone! So here it is, the last chapter of Meredeth and Esposito's pregnancy journey but not to fret because the new one is coming up literally seconds after I post this one! Cheers and happy holidays!
'Adorable bundle of joy?'
Esposito smiled. 'Yes ma'am, all bundled up and ready to go home. Aren't you, Tessi?'
Meredeth smiled as she watched Esposito talk to his daughter in the bassinet after being dressed in her outdoor clothes. It was Sunday morning; Tessi was a whole two days old and had gotten the all-clear to go home and all three Espositos were looking forward to the tranquility.
On Friday, after Rosalita and Alejandro had finished their visit, Honey-Milk had come on shift and was running a mini-course on what to be paying attention for during the first days at home with the new baby, things for both mother and child. Meredeth was most concerned about bumping Tessi's healing belly-button but supposed it could be worse - they could have had a son who was healing from circumcision so there'd be two 'ouchies' to watch out for, she thought, using Dell's word.
Ryan and Dell had both stopped in again when Ryan was off shift and picking Dell up from the pre-school. Dell had sat on the bed beside Meredeth and with the patience of a Buddha in a lotus garden, watched her resting against Meredeth's chest. When they'd turned on a little soft music, some nice low Motown that Meredeth favoured, all of them watched in fascination as Dell had begun to hum along with the Temptations' 'My Girl' and finished off the song by giving her a gentle kiss on the hand.
'You my girl, Tessi,' he whispered loudly and the three adults had to hold back the laughter. 'See you soon.'
'Aw, my little guy's in love,' Ryan teased his son, scooping him off the bed. 'We have to head home. Time for dinner and blood sugar testing, right?'
'I'm big boy, I don' cuh-ry at nee-dells,' Dell informed Meredeth and Esposito.
'I know, you're a very brave little boy. Tessi thinks so too,' Meredeth said, tilting her head so it looked to Dell like Tessi was murmuring in Meredeth's ear. 'Yeah, she says you beat the sugar monster, didn't you.'
Ev-er-y day. Bye-bye Tessi.'
Ryan laughed, put Dell on his feet. 'I'll call you guys tomorrow, okay? You up for a short visit tomorrow night?'
'Yeah, we'll be home by then.'
Now it was time to take Tessi home to two-seventy-one West twenty-Fifth Street. Dressed in soft yoga pants and a warm sweater to guard against the miserable early April weather, Meredeth scooped Tessi up in her arms, in her infant sized rain-gear. Though the Nissan would be pulled right up to the entrance, she was taking no chances.
'Here.' Esposito, who'd disappeared momentarily, reappeared with the wheelchair. 'Easier to admire our little girl this way, and I'm sure you're still a little tender down there.'
'Not as much, I mean, the feeling of wanting to straddle a frozen turkey isn't as strong as it was.'
'Lovely talk,' Esposito teased her sweetly.
'When you've passed a bowling ball out of your ass, we'll see what comments you have, won't we, Tessi-boo?' Meredeth cooed with a smile at her daughter, Esposito watching them with pride. 'Yeah we will.'
They made it to Chelsea in relatively good time, as few people were out so early on Sunday morning. The city looked so different to her, now that she had a daughter. Places she'd walked past and taken for granted suddenly seemed fresh and exciting because she had another new person to explore them with. It was like when she'd moved into the Chelsea townhouse and Esposito had begun to learn about her local haunts; where her favourtie bagel place was, where she shopped, bought her groceries. That sense of rediscovery was heightened now that Tessi would be introduced to them.
Esposito took the bags into the house, then watched and recorded with the video camera as Meredeth took the car seat out of the Nissan and carried Tessi up the stairs of her home. 'This is my little girl's trip home from the hospital, and so far, so good. There's Mama, looking just beautiful,' he added, zooming in on the tired pride on his bride's face.
The words were barely out of her mouth before the gigantic dog came thundering down the stairs and when he saw the carrier in Meredeth's hand, he came to a skidding halt, sniffing at Tessi's feet. At first Meredeth wondered if she shouldn't choose a more appropriate time to introduce the baby and the dog, but when she heard the soft sweet coo that Tessi made when she felt Mommy or Daddy's heartbeat while Arturo did his canine inspection, she knew they would be fine.
She carried Tessi over to the coffee table, Arturo following and wagging his tail happily when Esposito gave him a hard hug around his thick neck. Once there Meredeth lifted her baby out of the carrier and slipped off the coat, and replacing it with the blanket that had been draped over her in the car. She put Tessi to her shoulder and breathed deeply.
They were home together, their little family.
Esposito watched his wife with great pride, thought of the morning when she'd come to the precinct and told him they'd made a life together. This was the moment he'd been looking forward to since hearing those words from Meredeth's mouth - to see her holding his baby against her body at home. The way she leaned back against the couch, curling her body so Tessi rested there comfortably, the way she made sure she was as steady as possible, she looked like an angel of motherhood.
'I love you.'
She smiled at him. 'I love you too.'
Tessi gave a gurgling noise and began to scrunch up her face in a hungry cry, and passing her to her daddy, Meredeth adjusted herself using one of the throw pillow to help balance Tessi when Esposito handed her back to nurse. Hearing that little noise Tessi made, a squeaky little suction as she ate, while Meredeth gently spoke to her and Arturo was watching with avid puppy interest, had Esposito's throat closing up.
This was his family. He was a family man now. Esposito had always considered himself someone who would do anything for his parents, and for Lili and Cam and Rosie, but now that he had his own child, he understood it. It was clearer to him now how Ryan could shut it off after a hard interrogation and be the sweet and goofy dad to Dell. He thought of his badge. He now had even more reason to serve and protect New York City - his daughter lived there now.
When Tessi had finished her mid-morning snack, Meredeth put her daughter on her knee and holding her neck gently so she would sit up straight, patted her back firmly. It was another technique she'd learned on her taking-home-baby course with Honey-Milk and made her feel particularly secure about it, though she couldn't explain why. She watched with a careful eye as Arturo sat down and watched Tessi as if trying to figure her out. The protective mixed-breed had known something was going on with Meredeth and he seemed to put it together that this was the little weirdo who'd been making his mistress get so big in the last nine months.
When she saw Tessi go very still Meredeth paused her pats and heard the healthy little burp before she screwed up her expression and let out a sneeze.
'Oh my goodness, a two-for-one,' Meredeth exclaimed on a laugh and Esposito was laughing too as Meredeth handed him his daughter.
'Hey, grab that bag with Dell's present, would you?' Esposito put Tessi, who was already starting to yawn, against his shoulder and he talked to her softly as all four of them went upstairs. 'I know, it's so busy being a little thing isn't it?'
He walked into the nursery and looked around, his heart glowing with fatherly pride. 'This is your room, my princess. We didn't know before you came out of Mommy if you'd be a prince or a princess so we decided you could be happy with all the sea creatures keeping you company,' he explained as he set her down in the gorgeous hand-made crib his parents had given Tessi as a Christmas gift. 'This is your bed, it was made by a friend of Daddy's and your abuela and abuelo gave it to Mommy and Daddy as a present when you were still very small inside Mommy.' He glanced up, saw Meredeth standing beside him and watching with pride. 'How am I doing so far, Mama?'
'Just fantastic, Daddy.'
'Hear that?' Esposito flicked his fingertip over Tessi's cheek. 'Your daddy's just as new to this as you but your mommy thinks we're both the best.'
As if to remind him that he was still there, Arturo had parked his butt beside the crib, watching Tessi carefully and gave Esposito an impatient snort before turning baleful eyes to Meredeth. 'And of course, your puppy Artie's here to look after you too. You two are going to be best friends, I can tell.'
'Oh, speaking of best friends.' Meredeth reached into the bag and pulled out the stuffed turtle. 'This is from Dell Ryan, that noisy one who kept on coming to visit you and calling you his baby. He's so excited to see you, he's already planning his first visit over here.'
She set it in the crib beside Tessi and melted a little when the sleepy infant reached out and grabbed it with her chubby fingers. 'Yeah, that's Crush, you'll like having him to keep you company to go to sleep beside.'
'Mommy and Daddy are right next door and we've got these spiffy things-' Esposito pointed to the baby monitor attached to the crib rail above her head '-so we know just what you need and when.'
'She says, Daddy, you noisy, I wanna get some rest, I've been busy this morning,' Meredeth said in the high-pitched tone she used when she was talking on behalf of her daughter. 'And Mommy smells, she needs a shower and a snack too.'
'I'm sure you do.' Esposito leaned over, kissed his daughter's cheek as she began to sigh in sleep. 'We'll see you in a few hours
'Have a good nap, baby girl.' Not to be outdone, Meredeth leaned in too, kissed the other cheek. 'Sleep well Tessiana my love.'
They went to leave and called for Arturo to follow them, but instead, he flopped down on the carpet right beside the crib, staring at the door as if to challenge anyone who came through that they'd have to get through him in order to get at his little girl. Since he was silent as a mouse and Tessi was resting soundly, they let the dog stay where we was while Meredeth went into the bedroom. She looked around and heaving a sigh began to weep a little. Leaning forward she rested her elbows on her knees and put her face in her hands as she let the last four days of emotion come flooding out.
Ever the good husband and knowing what is wife needed, Esposito sat down on the end of the bed beside her and held her as she sobbed. He felt her hand on his arm squeezing with just enough pressure to get him to ease back so she could look up at him.
'We're parents, Javi,' she said with a watery smile. 'That's our baby in our nursery. And she's perfect.'
'She is. And you are the best woman a man could ever ask for.'
'You're...you're...' Overcome, Meredeth's waterworks kicked in again. 'I love you so much.'
'I love you too, Mere. The proof of that is right next door. And here.' He picked up the chain that had her wedding rings around her neck. 'And here.' He tilted her chin up and gave her a whopping kiss on the lips. 'You want to shower together?'
'Yeah. I feel so gross and nasty and flabby with all this extra-ness now that the baby's out of my body but...I know you love me just as I am and I just want to stay near you right now.'
Esposito ran the shower as hot as they could both handle it, and once in their skins, he held her close under the spray of water, just like the first time they'd been naked together. He reached passed her for her soap and lathered it over her skin, helping her cleanse away three and a half days worth of sweat. She'd gotten to wash her hair in the sink of her hospital room but she hadn't had a proper rinse-down since Thursday morning so he knew her whimpers were partly the hormones still playing Russian roulette on her body and partly because the steamy water felt so good.
Once out and dried and in comfortable clothes, Meredeth hooked the baby monitor which looked like a walkie-talkie to the hem of her pants and she laid down on her own bed, ready for a rest. 'I feel so sluggy, you know?'
'The books said it'll take you a day or two after you're home to feel yourself again, kinda like that transition from morning sickness back to normal when you were pregnant.'
'I didn't get the morning sickness all that much. I got the fluid swelling and the low blood pressure and the rest of it. And okay, be honest, how were my hormones?'
'Truthfully, they weren't that bad.'
'Yeah. I've now seen Honey-Milk, my sister, Lanie and you all be pregnant and Lanie's hormones were hands-down the worst. She was so snappy, Ryan and I used your milkshake things as peace offerings on a daily basis. I sincerely thought you'd have a harder time with the weight gain than you did,' he told her. 'Towards the end you were really cranky, but the baby was over a week overdue so that was the reason mainly for that.' Esposito stretched out beside her, also in comfortable pants. 'What about me? Was I an overbearing nervous first-timer?'
'Not at all, you were awesome.'
'Nice.' Esposito sent her a grin that was foolishly proud at the edges. 'And just think. We've got a little girl we get to play with, and feed and dress up like a little doll.'
'Teach her to play video games and put on lipstick.'
'Take her to the Hamptons to Castle's for vacations and have everyone here for her first Christmas.'
'Birthday parties,' Meredeth sighed dreamily. Like Lanie, she was a big fan of birthday parties. 'With Disney princess theme or whatever she wants.'
'No clowns, though. I'm putting my foot down on that one.'
'Okay, no clowns.'
Esposito put his hand on Meredeth's hip and pulled her close so they made one unit napping on the bed while their baby slept next door, her puppy standing guard over the newest member of the family.