After Goodwin and I hung up, I could tell the baby wasn't going to wait much longer. But for some reason, I wasn't scared anymore. I knew Goodwin was coming. He was dropping work for me. I knew he would, but hearing the worry in his voice reminded me that he did love me.
This isn't so bad, I told myself. I'm a doctor. I've helped deliver babies before. I can do this!
I could feel the Guardian smiling with approval as I began to go over all of the birthing techniques in my head. Whenever I struggled or seemed ready to succumb to fear again, the Guardian coached me through the process. I guess it had learned birthing lessons from my time as a doctor, because it was pretty good!
"If you ever decide to get a job outside of the Guardian business, you could definitely be a birthing doctor!" I exclaimed between contractions, and the Guardian chuckled.
I was in labor for much less time than I had been with Raven. Just as I heard Goodwin swing open the front door frantically, I gave birth to little Jay Bird.
As I stared at my little boy happily, Goodwin ran in.
"There was traffic," he cried. "I'm so sorry it took so long! But now let's get to the hospital, I'll carry you to the-"
He stopped, taking in the sight of me holding our new baby.
"Meet Jay," I said quietly. "Our son."
It was as though some kind of emotional barrier broke at that moment. Goodwin flew over, his face ecstatic. His eyes alternated between me and the baby, unable to get enough of either of us.
I walked to the nursery, Goodwin following closely behind. I placed Jay in Goodwin's arms, and as he fed him his first bottle I could feel Goodwin shaking with joy next to me.
"I love you," Goodwin said quietly. How long had it been since he'd told me that? "And I am so glad you're okay."
He kissed me tentatively, and I was amazed at my own happiness. That's when I knew everything would be fine again.
That night, Goodwin and I talked for hours. We decided that Goodwin would only work four days a week until Raven and Jay were older. The money wouldn't come in as fast, but we both knew we'd be happier, and that would make all the difference.
It had been a long day, and we were both tired. Goodwin fell asleep mid sentence, and I marveled at how relaxed he seemed. I couldn't remember the last time he hadn't huddled on his side of the bed, rigid and stressed even in his sleep- or spent the night at the station.
I fell asleep gazing at him, and when I woke up I felt more refreshed than I had been in a long time.
I heard Raven cry from the nursery. When I picked her up to give her a bottle I had a disconcerting thought: today was her birthday.
It was good I felt so well-rested, because I was going to need any happiness I could muster to get through the day. How could I have forgotten? The loneliness and then panic during Jay's birth must have driven it far from my mind.
Goodwin offered to stay home and celebrate with me and Raven, but I told him to go to the station. He would have to explain to his boss why he had run off early (not to mention his new work hours), and I didn't want to make that any harder for him. I also needed to be alone, so that if the worst happened I could compose myself before Goodwin came home.
I changed into the pink dress, even though I had no pregnancy I wanted to hide, because it gave me some sort of comfort. Then I took Raven to the kitchen and pulled the birthday cake out of the fridge. We stood in front of the cake for a few minutes, until I couldn't prolong the birthday any longer.
I blew out the candle on Raven's cake, and the world exploded in flame.
"What on earth?!" I cried, as the fire around the cake grew larger. "All I did was blow on the candle!"
But no one was there to hear me, and I cursed at myself for not letting my firefighter husband stay home. I had to act fast. I placed Raven on the floor, far away from the fire, and ran to get our emergency extinguisher.
For one terrible moment I panicked, unsure how to work the extinguisher. Then a memory of Goodwin explaining it to me clicked and I was able to get it going.
I fought the flames until they were completely gone. I sighed with relief. Wouldn't Goodwin be proud!
I turned to pick up Raven again, only to notice that she was already aging. The sparkles surrounded her, and when they dissipated she was a toddler with rusty red hair.
I almost fainted with happiness. I had no idea where the red hair had come from (maybe one of Justin's parents?), but it didn't matter. My first born was completely normal.
You'll be worrying about Jay soon, the Guardian said. Worrying about every child you have. Eventually one of them will have your hair. Why don't you accept that this is beyond your control?
I ignored the Guardian. It was still a long time till Jay's birthday, and I wasn't going to worry now. I was just thankful Raven was okay.
Raven yawned. I guess all the excitement of the fire had made her tired too. I carried Raven to her room, changed her into pajamas, and tied her hair into ribbons so I could see her face better. "So much like your father," I whispered. She had my eyes, but her nose was most definitely her father's, as were the stick-outty ears that I had once laughingly teased Justin about.
I hoped her looks were all she inherited from him.
Raven looked worried, and began to gurgle frantically, as though some awful idea had just occurred to her. I almost laughed at her scrunched little face. I had the feeling that Raven would be a big worrier as she grew older.
I decided that I would stay home with Raven and Jay for a little longer, then I would go back to work and we'd hire a babysitter. I missed my job so much some days, but I also loved spending time with Raven and Jay. Raven had only grown more adorable as a toddler, and with the passing days I was more and more enamored with my first born.
Her favorite toy was the shape set. She would spend hours trying to fit the cylinder in the square and triangular shaped holes.
For some reason she never bothered with the circular hole. I had the feeling that she knew exactly where the cylinder would fit; she was just sure sheer will power could change the shape. It was like she needed to make something new, do something no one had ever done before. I knew that this girl would always have a passion for inventing.
I started to teach Raven how to walk, taking advantage of being home alone to walk around in my underwear. Raven took to it so fast I was shocked. She couldn't quite walk by herself yet, but it was getting close.
Potty training, on the other hand, was much more of a task. Raven would sit on the potty, but she would always look at me, scared, like she didn't want to me to look at her while she went.
On a whim, I decided to leave the room for just a minute while she was on the potty. I peeked into the room and discovered that Raven had used it just fine when she thought she was alone. I wondered what it was that could make Raven so scared. I'd never known toddlers could have such an awareness of privacy.
Raven also loved to play with her teddy bear. She cuddled him all the time and even named him, "Mah Woo." Well, I think that was a name. She seemed to cry that out whenever she was with him. Raven loved to coo and mumble, but she had trouble learning actual words, and got so frustrated that Goodwin and I decided to wait before trying to teach her again.
But poor Raven worried about Mah Woo too. I often saw her touching his chest and looking nervous, as though she understood that there was such a thing as a heartbeat and that it could stop. She would look up at me with fearful eyes and I would explain that I was a doctor and that if Mah Woo was hurt I could help him. It was unnerving to see her smile after my explanations. A toddler couldn't possibly understand illness yet, right?
I talked to Goodwin about it one night before we went to sleep but he laughed, saying that I was imagining things. "Some toddlers are just smart," he told me. "And clearly our Raven is a little neurotic too."
I agreed with him but still felt a bit uneasy.
The next day was one of Goodwin's days off. Less work time each week had done wonders for his stress level, and I knew Goodwin's boss appreciated that he cared so much about his family. Despite working less I had a feeling that Goodwin was in for a raise soon.
Goodwin was so happy playing with Jay and Raven that I decided to spend some rare time outside of the house. I changed into a new outfit and got in our crummy sloppy jalopy, planning on going to the park to socialize a little and maybe practice some chess. For some reason, I had the strong desire to drive in the opposite direction. Well, why not? I turned the car around, figuring I might as well be impulsive for once.
I was so sure where to go that I felt as though someone was guiding me through the unfamiliar roads, illuminating each step of the journey in front of me. The Guardian assured me that it wasn't sending me anywhere, but it couldn't tell me anything beyond that, and the whole drive felt a bit odd.
At last, I pulled up in front of an old fashioned cottage, surrounded by a swampy pond. It appeared I was in the undeveloped outskirts of Twinbrook. I stepped out of the car, unsure what to expect. Was this a plot of my mother's? It didn't feel like anything bad was going to happen, but I no longer trusted myself to be the best judge of a situation.
Only way way to find out. I walked to the front door, just a little tense, and knocked quietly.
Sorry for the shortness of this chapter. It was actually becoming quite long so I decided to split what I had in half. I hope everyone's happy that Blue and Goodwin have settled their problems though!
For next chapter, expect to learn more about magic and hear a shocking truth (or two) that will shake Blue to the core.
If anyone is curious about Raven's traits (or Jay's, or those of any future children), check out the "Meet the Family," page, where it lists all of their traits for you.
Comments and criticism are greatly appreciated, as always :)