‘How can someone so tiny be so bossy?’ Morgan whispers as he squeezes in next to Tessa on the couch.
‘How can someone with such a tiny tummy need to be fed so often and for so long?!’ she laughs, momentarily resting her head on his shoulder. She can only do so for a quick second because breastfeeding takes such incredible concentration - it’s completely taken her by surprise. She definitely hasn’t arrived at the part where she can breastfeed and simultaneously do something else - and by something else she only means watch TV or read.
‘Totally,’ Morgan replies with genuine incredulity. ‘I’m kinda embarrassed to admit that I didn’t really believe the lactation nurse when she said Elle would need to be fed every three hours and it could take up to an hour each time’.
This makes her laugh again. But harder. Which in turn makes everything hurt - her swollen boobs and her stitched together stomach muscles ache as she moves.
‘Oh my God, me too! I think I was in denial. I thought our baby wouldn’t be so silly, that she’d be one of those other babies that immediately stretched out to four hourly feeds and only took fifteen minutes time on each breast’.
News flash: their baby is not that baby. Their baby is being fed every three hours and taking twenty five minutes on each breast. Which, after burping, changing and settling is leaving only one and half hours between the end of one feed and the start of the next. It’s completely brutal.
‘We’re the cliched clueless new parents,’ he sighs. ‘But we’re also happy, clueless new parents, right?’ he checks in with her. The way he asks the question is so genuine, and a little unsure, and it kinda breaks her heart. She is so in love with Morgan. And Elle. (She’d almost convinced him to call her Eleanor but they’d settled on Elle instead. In hindsight, she likes Elle much better).
‘So happy,’ she states firmly.
Morgan kisses the side of her head, slowly and firmly, and she knows exactly how he’d kiss her on the mouth, if he could reach it right now.
‘I just wanna make sure your OK,’ he whispers against her head. ‘It’s been a little dramatic around here of late’.
‘I’m OK,’ she promises. ‘I’m beyond tired, my stomach muscles feel like I’ve done two thousand sit-ups, my c-section wound is a little sore on my right hand side plus my nipples sting so badly when she takes those first few sucks that it makes my toes curl over. But I’m OK. ‘Cause, just look at her, Morgan,’ she runs her finger down the bridge of their baby’s nose, ‘She’s incredible’.
Morgan sighs and it finally makes her turn her head to look at him. She’d been steadfastly concentrating on Elle’s little mouth this whole time, making sure her lips were curled back and the attachment was right. He’s looking exhausted but he’s also giving her such an awe-filled expression it gives flight to a swarm of butterflies in her stomach. ‘You’re both incredible. It still seems a little otherworldly. But then it’s 3am and for the sixth night in a row I’m walking around trying to cuddle her to sleep. And it feels very real’.
‘My nipples are finding it very fucking real too,’ she deadpans.
Morgan laughs as he moves in to give her a kiss on the mouth. She misses kissing him. There hasn’t been as much of that as usual over the past twelve days since Elle was born. They’ve been disgustingly tired and, to be honest, they’ve both been a bit ‘touched out’ given all the baby cuddling that’s been required. They’ve each been seeking some alone time to recharge and reset. They’ve talked about it and are both on the same page.
‘You’ve been a champ, TJ,’ he nuzzles his head against her shoulder.
Their gorgeous girl slips off her boob, sleepy and sated, milk sliding out of her mouth and down her adorable little chin.
‘Elle is such a guts, she is seriously full to the gills with milk. She doesn’t know how to stop,’ she says with wonder.
Morgan wordlessly takes Elle from her arms and confidently sits her on his knee, propping her up with one hand under her chin and gently patting her back in an attempt to elicit a burp. She looks so tiny in his huge hands and he’s started talking softly to her about how clever she was for eating all her lunch. Ugh, her heart. The two of them together are just sublime.
‘Watching you like this, right now? You’re so ridiculously attractive to me Morgan Rielly’.
‘More than when I’m roughing up opposition players on the rink, Mrs Rielly?’ he winks. ‘I know you’re into that’.
It’s true. She is.
‘Yes. Much, much more than that’.
‘Do I need to prepare a defensive move in case you accidentally knock our baby out of my arms in unexpected sneaky kissing attack?’
She swat’s Morgan’s arm and rolls her eyes.
‘Nope. Just stay with our sweet girl while I have a long, hot shower,’ she gingerly manoeuvres herself to a standing position. She can feel her stomach muscles getting better each day but there’s still a very long way to go. Morgan places a steadying hand on her hip and she turns to give both him and Elle a quick kiss to their brows.
‘Daddy’s got you, my littlest love. I’ll be back soon’.
She grabs a few stray water glasses off the coffee table and deposits them on to the kitchen counter. Breastfeeding is thirsty work. The thirst hits you without warning and it’s all encompassing. Nobody had told her and she wasn’t expecting it.
She takes a moment to watch Morgan with their new baby. He’s laid back on the couch and has Elle placed on his chest, resting one hand under her cute little butt. The forefinger of his other hand stroking her cheek. She’s wide awake, her face tilted up to his, staring at her Daddy. He’s still talking to her, giving her a running commentary on how he’s turned on the TV and that they’re going to watch the sports highlights together.
Confident that they’re both settled she grabs her phone from the counter and heads off to shower. She’s finally going to give her hair a really good wash. Maybe. If she can be bothered.
‘We’re so lucky. Your Mommy is the best,’ she hears Morgan tell Elle as she walks towards their bedroom.