Author Topic: Bringing Home Baby  (Read 257 times)

Rick Connors

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Bringing Home Baby
« on: November 19, 2020, 08:03:51 PM »
Wind howled over the sands of King's Cove, autumn well and truly in place and bringing with it wind and rain and the constant threat of storms. Two nights ago, a hasty exit from the Connors' house had heralded the arrival of a long-expected third to add to their family. Today, they were bringing her home, pulling up as close to the house as they could so the trip from the car to the safety beyond the front door would be as short as possible.

"I'll get the door and then I'll come back for you and the baby," Rick told his wife, as he put the car into park in front of the house. Living at the cove didn't always mean sunshine and warm weather. They weren't immune to the change of seasons, as much as Rick might wish otherwise.

Nali smiled, tired but thankfully all healed up and no longer aching. "All right, baby," she agreed. "I'll wrap her up in my coat while I'm waiting, that way we can just rush for it." She leaned over to kiss his jaw. "I love you, by the way. Not sure if I said it yet today."

He smiled as he leaned into her kiss, brushing her cheek with a thumb. "Only about half a dozen times," he told her with a soft smile. "I love you, too. You know that right?"

"Oh, I know," she promised affectionately, drawing in a long slow breath. "It's going to be real good to be home tonight, though. My own pajamas never sounded so good."

"Not to mention your own bed," Rick added, glancing over at the tiny pink bundle who had fallen asleep in the car seat behind them. "Such a little angel," he murmured quietly. "How'd we get so lucky?"

"Impatient sperm," was Nali's philosophical response, offered with a grin and a wink. "Let's get her properly home, shall we?"

"Sounds like a plan," Rick said. He turned to push open the door and step out of the car, startled a moment by the fact that his brother was already there. "Jack! What are you doing?"

"I'm here to help," Jack replied. "We all are."

A glance over at the porch revealed Jaz and Lena waving from inside Rick's own house. In the car, Nali rolled her eyes, busily lifting the newborn into her arms to tuck her close inside the warmth of her coat.

"Pop the trunk," Jack instructed, already starting that way to help Tommy unload the car.

"Looks like we have company," Rick warned as he did as his brother asked. "You okay?" he asked, looking over at Nali and the baby.

Carefully tucking the edges of her coat around baby Ivy, Nali smiled over at Rick. "I will be if you come around this side and get me to the house without falling over," she suggested, too used to family just stepping in to help to argue with their unexpected welcoming committee. They were just lucky her own family hadn't descended on their house.

"Will do!" Rick said, climbing out of the car to go around to her side and help her out of the car. He wound an arm around her, to shield her and the baby from the wind with his body as much as he could as he escorted her to the door.

: Lena and Jaz were ready and waiting to gather them inside, ushering the new parents into the warm kitchen to sit down while tea and coffee was produced and set in front of them, together with bowls of steaming soup and freshly baked bread.

"We may or may not have been planning this since we knocked on Monday and no one answered," Jaz admitted with a wink.

"It's a pleasant surprise," Rick said, making sure Nali and the baby were comfortably settled in the kitchen. "I wasn't really looking forward to cooking tonight." As much as he enjoyed it, he had more important things on his mind tonight. "I should go help unpack the car," he said, gesturing vaguely toward the door.

Lena put one hand on the top of his head, as though fully prepared to hold him into the seat. "They've got it," she insisted. "Eat food, drink stuff, relax. There's about two weeks of food in your freezer, and enough in your fridge to get you through the next four days without having to defrost anything."

Nali laughed, hugging the baby close even as she sipped her tea. "You got my Mom involved, huh?"

"That sounds like an order," Rick said with a grin. He didn't really mind. He knew he and Nali were going to need at least a few days - maybe weeks - to get used to having a newborn.

"Definitely an order," Jaz confirmed, flashing Nali a grin. "Yes, your mom and dad cooked it all. So you don't need to worry about unexpected chili peppers or anything like that."

Rick shrugged off his jacket before helping Nali with hers and hanging them both on hooks by the door. He could hear Jack and Tommy conversing with each other as they unpacked the car and brought things into the house. "We really do appreciate the help," he said, before turning back to the women.

"Well, you nearly gave Jack a heart attack skipping out on us after midnight without a note or a text," Jaz told him with a laugh. "I think this is his idea of revenge, which I totally support."

"Sorry, I was in kind of a panic myself!" Rick admitted. He was usually calm and cool, exactly the opposite of his half-brother, but Nali going into labor in the middle of the night had definitely tested his nerves.

"If this is revenge, I'm almost afraid to imagine what unequivocal support looks like," Nali commented. She was ignoring Lena for the time being, since the woman was hovering in just the right place to get a good look at Ivy without making it seem as though she really wanted a hug from the baby.

Rick finally sat down at the table, grateful for the help and looking just a little amused at Lena's not very subtle way of trying to get a look at the baby. "Do you want to take a peek?" he asked, stirring a little sugar and milk into his tea.

Lena looked like she was going to deny it for a moment before grinning. "I'd be lying if I said no," she admitted cheerfully. "I don't want to push my luck, though. She's so teeny."

"She won't break," Rick pointed out. Unless, of course, someone dropped her, but he didn't think that would happen. "Where's the rest of the gang?" he asked, looking around and not seeing any evidence of small children or pets.

Rick Connors

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Re: Bringing Home Baby
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2020, 08:04:10 PM »
"In theory, they are playing a board game in our house," Lena said in amusement. "I have no doubt they've started to randomly explore by now, though." She loved her boys, but they were very easily egged on by Jack and Jaz's girls.

"They're alone?" Rick said, brows arching upwards. "Then you're not staying," he said, making a pretty safe assumption.

"Everything's inside," Jack said, poking his head into the kitchen, almost as if on cue. "We're gonna go check on the kids. Congrats, you two. Get some rest and let us know when it's safe to visit."

"And there's our cue!" Jaz declared, taking hold of Lena before her cousin could give into the urge to settle in and insist on cuddling the newborn right this minute. She grinned at the new parents. "If you need us, we're right here. Have fun!" Lena yelped as she was dragged away at speed, leaving Nali giggling over her soup.

"Thank you!" Rick called, as the little group left, their voices heard fading as they retreated from the house. "Well, that was nice of them," he said, smiling over at Nali.

"I think we got lucky it wasn't my family," Nali said through her laughter. "You can bet they wouldn't have fed us, tucked us in, and left."

"I'm kind of surprised they're not here," Rick admitted. He adored Nali's family, but they were both a little too exhausted for all of them right now.

"Knowing Mom, she's made them all promise they won't let her pile them onto the carriage and come to visit until they have permission." She sighed happily, setting her spoon back into the now empty bowl. "Oh, I needed that."

"Better than hospital food, isn't it?" he asked, soaking up a bit of soup with his bread before taking a bite. He'd been grabbing quick meals in the hospital cafeteria the last few days, and nothing really substituted for a home-cooked meal, especially when Nali's mother was the one cooking it.

"So much better," she agreed, absently adjusting Ivy in her arms as the baby girl cooed and smacked her lips. "Oh, you want some too?" Dragging her finger along the curve of her bowl to sweep up a tiny amount of the residual soup, Nali offered it to the baby, who licked it up, made a face, and settled back to sleep.

Rick chuckled at the look on their little daughter's face. "I don't think she liked it," he said. That much was obvious. In truth, he would have been shocked if she had.

"She didn't cry," Nali pointed out cheerfully. "One little taste of soup won't do her any harm." She sighed contentedly. "Oh, it's so good to be home. Don't get me wrong, the nurses were great, but I can't exactly wander around in just a t-shirt in the hospital."

"There's no place like home," Rick replied. Rhy'Din hadn't always been home, but these days, there was no other place he'd rather be than here. "I'm sure she'll do her fair share of crying before long," he pointed out. Probably in the middle of the night when they were sleeping.

"I'm sure she will," Nali agreed, looking down at their - for now - contentedly sleeping little girl. "I can't quite believe it's real, you know?"

"I know the feeling," Rick said, following her gaze momentarily to the sleeping pink bundle in her arms. Not a day went by that he didn't thank the powers that be for this new life of his.

"I think it's your turn to cuddle," she said, easing Ivy gently over and into Rick's arms. "I need to check and see if they also made up bottles for us."

"Are you sure?" he said, as he cradled Ivy in his arms. "I can check. You should be resting," he told her, though he made no move to get up just yet. "I doubt those two forgot anything," he added, of Lena and Jasmine's help.

"I'm sure," Nali promised him, moving to stand and gather together their crockery. "Besides, I just spotted that brand new dishwasher and I want to play with it."

"Uh huh," Rick murmured, a smirk on his face, but he didn't bother to argue. He knew she was probably getting antsy after lying in a hospital bed for a few days.

Nali was never going to be someone who just rested when they could. She was a font of energy, even now, busily inspecting the little dishwasher now living on their kitchen counter before loading it. "I can hear you smirking, you know."

"Mmhm," he murmured further, neither confirming nor denying. "They adore you, you know," he said, regarding Lena and Jasmine again.

"I don't think it's just me," she countered gently, looking over at him. "I mean, you're family. I'm just the wife." Her smile gave away how little she actually believed that.

"You're family, too, Nali, and if it wasn't for you, I may have never met Jack," he pointed out, shifting a little to get comfortable in the chair as he gazed down at his daughter.

"If not for Lena, I never would have stalked you into the past," she reminded him in amusement, glancing into the fridge to check. They hadn't made any of the formula up, likely because they didn't know the ratios yet, but there was a space ready and waiting for the bottles, so she pulled out the packet and started to work on that.

"It's a good thing you did," he said, his attention fixed on the little bundle in his arms. He smiled as he offered her a finger and watched her curl her tiny fingers around his with a surprisingly strong grip. "She's beautiful, Nali," he murmured quietly, clearly in awe of their little miracle. It wasn't the first time he'd said so.

"How could she not be?" his wife said fondly. "Look how handsome her poppa is. Although I have to admit, I would adore her even if she was butt fugly."

"Right, because she doesn't look anything like you," he said, with obvious sarcasm. She could probably hear the smirk in his voice again. His gaze never left that of their daughter's, clearly entranced.

"Well, she'll look a little like me," Nali said, concentrating on measuring out formula and filling the bottles with sterilized water. "Hopefully she'll be taller than me, though."

Rick Connors

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Re: Bringing Home Baby
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2020, 08:04:27 PM »

"There's nothing wrong with your height, Nali," he assured her. In fact, he couldn't imagine her any other way, and he kind of liked the fact that she was so petite.

"I'm pixie sized," she said laughingly. "It wouldn't hurt her to be a little taller than me. She won't have to develop quite such a forceful personality to balance it out."

"I don't think we have to worry about that for a while yet," he said. The little preview they'd had of the future hadn't shown them what their daughter might look like as an adult, but it was certain she was going to be an adorable child. "So, when do you think we acquire a dog?" he asked, as that had been part of the vision, as well.

"Definitely after Christmas." Nali laughed, tucking the newly made up bottles into the refrigerator. "Neither one of us is going to be capable of handling a dog like that and a newborn at the same time. Let's wait until she can sit up by herself."

"Nali, do you think the future is set in stone?" he asked, though the simple fact that he was sitting here was answer enough to that question. He was supposed to have been killed in a drug bust gone wrong, and yet, here he was - alive and kicking.

"No," she said, and that was a predictable answer. "I think there's, like, a broad trend of things that could happen, and your decisions send you down one path or another. Nothing is certain."

"So, a dog isn't a given then," he said, even though their daughter was proof that there was at least some truth to what they'd been shown. "I mean, how do we find that dog?" he asked.

He wasn't sure they should live their lives trying to make that sneak peak at the future come true, or just let it happen.

"Maybe it'll find us," she said with a shrug and a smile. "Maybe it'll be in the shelter when we go and take a look, maybe one of our friends will tell us about their friend who has puppies. Any number of things could happen to bring our dog to us."

"I suppose so," Rick replied, frowning thoughtfully. Maybe he was thinking about this too hard. That's what happened when you were sleep deprived, he guessed. "When is it time for her next feeding?" he asked.

"I think we've got an hour or so before she wants more," Nali mused, looking down at the dozing baby. "She looks very content right there, though."

"She does, doesn't she?" he asked, smiling again. He still had to unpack, but that could probably wait until morning. "You know what they said - we should sleep when she sleeps."

"I'm too wired to sleep right now," she admitted ruefully. "After she feeds and poops, then I'll sleep. But you should, if you're tired."

"I can wait," he said. It was only an hour, after all. "Is there anything you need me to do before we hit the sack?" he asked, trying to be helpful.

"Keep being adorable?" She leaned down, brushing a kiss to his temple. "Maybe move to a more comfortable seat? Right now, our lives revolve around that little bundle there."

He smiled up at her, chuckling a little at her remark. "If I move to a more comfortable seat, I might fall asleep," he warned. He knew she had to be as tired as he was, probably more, and he wasn't about to give in just yet.

"I see no problem with that," she pointed out with a grin. "Better than having a numb bum because you're trying to keep a stiff upper lip for the baby." She gave his shoulder a gentle nudge. "C'mon, let's fall asleep on the couch waiting for her to wake us up."

He smiled, unable to argue with that. "You talked me into it," he said, as he got up from the chair. Thankfully, she had decided to bottle feed, so that he could do his fair share.

"Good." In his arms, Ivy wriggled, pulling his finger closer against her cheek as she yawned, unaware that she was the focus of their attention now and for the next however many years of her life. All she knew was that she was warm and comfortable, and that was what mattered.

"Such a little angel," Rick said, as he gazed down at their daughter who he clearly adored. He had never felt such an overwhelming feeling of love or need to protect in his life, except for his mother and Nali.

At his side, Nali was smiling with him, utterly charmed by this tiny little being who had arrived so unexpectedly soon and cemented her place in their hearts within moments of being born. "Fingers crossed she's more a Nick than a Noelle," she said impishly, drawing Rick over to the couch to curl up there with him and the baby.

"What's the matter with Noelle?" he asked as he settled himself on the couch with little Ivy in his arms. He just had to figure out how to grab a few zzz's without dropping or crushing her.

"She's a screamer, so I hear," Nali chuckled, curling her arms about Rick's shoulders and Ivy's bundled form, hugging both of them affectionately. "Is it wrong of me to be hoping for a baby that only cries when it's absolutely necessary?"

Rick chuckled. "I'm pretty sure every parent hopes for that," he said. And he was pretty sure every parent was disappointed, too. Even the most content babies were bound to cry sometimes.

"I can still remember what Merrilee was like when she arrived," Nali said, smiling at the memory. "Screaming with Infernal undertones is ... not pleasant."

"Well, so far, she seems pretty content," Rick said, though it had only been a few days. "She seemed like a pretty happy kid, don't you think?" he asked, referring to the peek they'd had of Future Ivy.

"She seemed like the best kind of handful," she agreed cheerfully, rubbing a hand through her hair. "I think waiting until she's old enough to understand yes and no before getting a dog is a good idea. We want them to get on with each other, after all."

"Or we could get a puppy and let them grow up together," he countered, adding, "But not right away." He thought they had their hands full for now, until they got this baby thing down pat.

"Like I said, let's survive Christmas first." She giggled, kissing his cheek tenderly as she settled by his side. "Wow, the sleepy comes on fast once you stop moving, doesn't it?"

Rick Connors

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Re: Bringing Home Baby
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2020, 08:04:46 PM »
He smiled, as she kissed his cheek and leaned against his side. "Yeah. Go ahead and get some rest, babe," he told her. "I want to just sit here and look at her for a while."

"I'll stay here," she murmured, nestling her cheek against his shoulder. "Not ready to be the only one in bed yet." No doubt she would get over that in next to no time, but right now, she wanted to be close to her little family.

"That's what I meant," he told her, as she nestled in beside him. He knew the quiet wouldn't last forever, but he also thought they should take advantage of it as long as they could.

"I don't want to miss anything," she admitted in a low tone, letting her eyes drift closed as she relaxed against his side comfortably.

"You won't. I promise," he told her. He imagined that feeling would fade as soon as the novelty wore off and they were exhausted from the endless tasks involved in caring for a newborn.

"Mmm." That was all he got before she drifted off to sleep against his shoulder, her hand falling from his arm and into his lap. Almost in the same moment, Ivy's eyes blinked open, pale blue looking up at her father in silent contemplation.

"Well, hello there, beautiful," Rick whispered, hoping not to disturb Nali - or Ivy, for that matter. He met his daughter's gaze, smiling softly at her pretty pout and the way her eyes seemed to search his. "Not hungry, are you? Your mama just fell asleep, but I can feed you, if you want."

Little fingers rippled their grip on his finger as her other hand opened and closed experimentally, her entire unfocused attention centered on Rick's face in innocent fascination.

He wondered if she recognized his voice; he had, after all, talked to her plenty of times when she was still in her mother's womb. Did she know he was her father? Did she have any idea how much they adored her? "Your mama and I love you very much. We've been waiting to meet you for months and months. We're gonna take such good care of you. At least, we're gonna try."

At three days old, it was unlikely Ivy understood anything he was saying to her. But the words didn't matter. His tone was soft and affectionate, and that was enough. The baby girl's mouth opened in an expression that might almost have been a smile, and she dragged his finger between her lips to suck on the tip.

He chuckled a little to himself as she tried to get his finger in her mouth. "I think you might like something else better," he whispered. With the baby in one arm, he reached over to tug an afghan over Nali. "I'm gonna go feed Ivy," he whispered, touching a kiss to her forehead before slowly and carefully sliding out from beside her.

There was a very soft sound of agreement from Nali as she snuggled deeper under the afghan, barely stirring from sleep despite being gently jostled. Ivy, denied her finger to suck, flailed her hands, trying to grab at Rick's fingers again if she could find them.

"Shh, it's okay. We don't want to wake your mama," he murmured to the baby as he made his way back to the kitchen and put a bottle on to warm. He offered her his finger in the meantime, but had a feeling that wouldn't satisfy her for very long.

It seemed to be enough for the baby girl for the time being, and it was certainly a strange sensation to have gums without teeth biting down on his finger almost thoughtfully. Maybe Nali would be a little put out to have missed this, but there would be plenty such moments for each of them over the weeks to come. Right now, Rick was sole parenting for the first time.

He didn't really know much about babies, except for what he'd learned in their parenting classes and what he'd seen firsthand at the Cove, but it seemed like mostly common sense and instinct to him. At least, he hoped so. And as much as he adored Nali, he couldn't deny he was enjoying this special moment of bonding with his daughter.

Ivy was certainly happy to be fed. Changing her diaper, however ... that was something she definitely objected to. Loudly. Loud enough, in fact, that she woke up her mother. Nali lifted her head, rubbing her eyes as she peered over at the struggle going on in the kitchen. "Everything okay, baby?"

"Yeah," Rick chuckled to himself. He had handled far more stressful situations than this. Hell, there had been times when he hadn't been sure he'd make it out of some things alive. A poopy diaper was not the end of the world. "She just doesn't like being undressed," he explained.

"Are you sure she's my kid?" was the sleepy answering call, utterly uncensored and fully self-aware. If she could, Nali would spend more time naked than dressed most days.

"Well, it's probably a little unsettling to have your bum stripped naked and wiped clean the first few times," Rick said, amusement apparent in his voice. "There, now, we're almost done," he side, the tone of his voice softening as he addressed his newborn daughter.

Still wailing, Ivy kicked, not shy about expressing her displeasure at having a cold backside. That newborn cry was always particularly piercing, but this was the first time they had been directly responsible for soothing it.

"I think we should probably get a baby wipes warmer," Rick said, chuckling again. Honestly, he wasn't going to get rattled by a kicking, screaming baby when he'd faced a lot worse in his day.

"She'll toughen up," Nali predicted, shuffling into the kitchen still wrapped in the afghan he had draped over her just a little while before. "A cold butt never hurt anyone."

"Yes, but it is probably a bit of a shock for a little person who is used to being all snug and cozy inside her mother's womb," he pointed out. He just about had the newborn diapered and recovered, and her cries of displeasure were starting to subside.

"I know, I'm just heartless when I'm woken up by loud noises." Her smile belied the inherent grumpiness of her comment, however, one hand slipping out of the folds of the afghan to boop Ivy's nose as the baby girl began to quiet.

"I think you may have to get used to that for a while," Rick said, an amused smirk on his face. After all, Ivy wasn't going to grow up overnight.

"I refuse," she countered cheerfully, wriggling her fingers to distract Ivy as Rick finally got the baby covered up once again. "I will never be at home to being woken up unexpectedly. I love sleeping too much."

Rick Connors

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Re: Bringing Home Baby
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2020, 08:05:04 PM »
"Remind me to never buy you an alarm clock," he teased, as he carefully raised their daughter up to rest against his shoulder.

"You are my alarm clock," Nali said with a smile. "I guess I slept through her dinner, huh?" Tucked against Rick's shoulder, Ivy quieted down near completely, nestling in with a sigh.

He rubbed her back gently, hoping to produce a burp or two, just like he'd been taught. "You're allowed. Besides, it gave me a chance to bond with my daughter. You don't get to have all the fun, you know," he teased, smiling back at his wife.

"Oh, would you like an in-depth description of all the fun we had getting her out of her cozy cocoon?" Nali countered laughingly. "I can get very descriptive with the right  motivation."

Rick chuckled again. "No, thanks. I have a pretty good idea what that was like," he told her. Back home, he might have been invited into the delivery room, but here in Rhy'Din, things were a little different. He had no complaints though. He hadn't really wanted to see his wife and daughter covered in blood.

"Are you going to get some sleep now?" she asked, tilting her head as she looked up at him. "The basket's probably set up in the bedroom, so we can just crawl into bed and she'll be close by."

"That would probably be a good idea," Rick replied. "Sleep when she sleeps, right?" he said, repeating something he'd said earlier, which was well-intended advice that had been given to them more than once.

She nodded, biting down on a yawn. "That's what everyone keeps telling us. Maybe we should test it." Because both of them getting up every time Ivy so much as squeaked for the last two days had not done much for their fatigue.

"Maybe we should take turns," he suggested. "At least, until we get into some kind of routine." But right now, they both desperately needed some sleep.

"Let's save that talk for later," she suggested, finally pulling the afghan off her shoulders to toss it over the back of the couch. "Time for sleepy byes for us."

"Sounds like a plan," he said. "Shall we?" he asked, gesturing with one hand in the general direction of the bedroom.

"We shall." With a tired grin, Nali shuffled in the direction of the bedroom, secure in the knowledge that Rick was slightly more awake than she was, and probably wouldn't bring the baby into the bed with them.

She was right in that, as he went first to the baby basket and carefully laid little Ivy down to sleep, stroking her cheek and whispering soothing words to settle her.

As Ivy wriggled, calming to the sound of her father's voice, Nali tipped herself face first onto the bed near the basket and just lay there for a few long moments, finally gathering the motivation to crawl up to the pillow and fight with the covers to get beneath them.

Once Rick thought Ivy was settled, he turned to check on Nali, smiling at her weary attempt to tuck herself in. He moved over to help her, tucking the covers up over her and leaning in to brush a kiss against her cheek. "Love you, Mrs. Connors."

"Mmm ... love you back." Even as she relaxed against the pillow, Nali's hand reached out to grip his collar, pulling him down into the bed with her. "Go to sleep, Mr. Connors."

He smirked again as he got pulled down into the bed. "Without brushing my teeth?" he teased, as if that was scandalous. It wouldn't hurt this once though, would it?

She raised an eyebrow in amusement. "I think your teeth can cope with four hours or less before being brushed," she mumbled. "I know mine can."

"Mmm," he murmured as he climbed under the covers beside her. "Don't blame me when I wake up with morning breath," he told her.

"I won't tell if you don't," she said, her words becoming slurred with sleep as she wriggled over to fit herself against his side. One thing he had definitely had to get used to since meeting her was being hugged to within an inch of his life every night.

"Go to sleep, Nali," he urged her again, happy to hold and be held for as long as she wanted - or at least, until one of them started snoring.

She wasn't arguing, letting herself drift off to sleep once more. It wasn't long before the only sounds he could hear were his wife and daughter breathing, and the howl of the wind outside their home. Not bad, for a man who wasn't even supposed to have lived this long.

Rick closed his eyes and surrendered to sleep at last with a smile on his face. He had cheated death and been given a second chance here in Rhy'Din. A new life, a better life - one that included a wife and a child - and he had no intentions of wasting it or taking it for granted.

And he was going to feel that way until at least the fourth night of three hours' sleep. Newborns are fun, right?