Summary: It was storming the night you were born.
Fandom: House, M.D.
Disclaimer: Not mine, still. Don't sue me, please.
Title, Author and URL of original story: Soon, Love, Soon, by hihoplastic.
Notes: Lyrics taken from Vienna Teng's "Lullabye for a Stormy Night", because the original used Vienna Teng as inspiration, which is part of what drew me to this piece in the first place. Thank you to my betas and everyone who listened to me panic and whine, especially Dee because she had a lot more faith in my ability to finish this than I did.
little child, be not afraid:
though rain pounds harshly against the glass
like an unwanted stranger, there is no danger
I am here tonight
“It was storming the night you were born.”
That’s what you'd tell him later. Later after a day of adventuring on sturdy toddler-legs, with sticky hands and pudding-pops and pockets drooping with mysterious treasures: when he is clean and tired and tucked between racecar sheets and he says, “tell the story again, mama, tell it again – how was I borned?”
And you will brush his curls away from his face, and smile, and begin: “It was storming the night you were born. There was thunder, and lightning, and a lot of rain.”
And his eyes – those dark, dark eyes – will widen, and he’ll say the only thing he can think of to say: Were you scared, mama? Were you scared of the storm?
And you’ll say “No, no, darling. The storm is just noises and lights and rain. I wasn’t afraid of the storm.”
This is what you’re thinking now. This is the image-stream that times its peaks and valleys against the cycles of pain; now, when the breaths cease to be tightly controlled and are ripped from your throat. You’re thinking of later, of a future yet to be born; a future that is being born. A future that will be born. A future in future tense.
little child, be not afraid
though thunder explodes and lightning flash
illuminates your tear-stained face
I am here tonight
There is a push, blinding pain, and something slick between your legs, and you feel … deflated, in an almost literal sense, but exhilarated. You’ve run a marathon before, in college, and the high is nothing like this.
A crack of thunder echoes outside, and the surgical drapes flash with reflected lightning.
Hands move, voices speak. You are too tired to make sense of them. You can only wait.
But there is no cry.
The room holds its breath, as if by abstaining they can leave enough behind for this new flame to catch.
Thunder echoes from the hills beyond.
And then there it is: a wail, thin, but unmistakably present and solid and real.
The room exhales, unfreezes. Shifts. The voice grows stronger, more confident. It’s catching on to the idea of being here, and right now it doesn’t sound impressed.
He is wrapped in a blanket and placed to your breast by a smiling nurse who doesn’t even scowl at House to get out of the way, and you get the first glimpse of your son.
Your son. Those words seem unreal, impossible even in the light of day, never mind on this stormy night where everything seems ghostly and strange.
His hair is thick – thicker than you were ever expecting, especially this early – it is dark curls plastered to his head. His eyes are squeezed shut against the blitzkrieg of lights of the room, and his fingers are impossibly tiny, clenched into angry fists.
You put him to your breast, ease the nipple into his mouth, and are almost overcome with how he knows what to do and the gentle yet insistent tug of breastfeeding.
and someday you'll know
that nature is so
the same rain that draws you near me
falls on rivers and land
on forests and sand
makes the beautiful world that you'll see
in the morning
He needs to be weighed and measured of course, all of those numbers that stack upon each other and quantify him as real in your part of the world; he is taken away for that and you feel, for the first time, what it is truly like to be split in two: to have your heart divided.
House breaks the silence. “Not as ugly as some kids I’ve seen.”
You take this as the compliment it is, smile weakly but fondly at him and store it away. You could never in a thousand years have predicted that he would still be there, even if the baby – Nathan – had been his flesh and blood instead of a faceless questionnaire’s.
“Yeah.” You say. “Yeah.”
for you know, once even I was a
little child, and I was afraid
but a gentle someone always came
to dry all my tears, trade sweet sleep for fears
and to give a kiss goodnight
It is not always that easy, of course. Nothing ever is. You learn quickly enough that mothering is no exception.
Breastfeeding once is one thing; breastfeeding every few hours, around the clock, is exhausting, nearly impossible as a single person; you switch to formula just to get some sleep and push the feelings of guilt down, down, down as far as you can until they’re small as you can make them. You learn to run board meetings with half an ear toward the nursery; the tiny perfect outfits that you put together with such care are relegated to picture days and special occasions. Nathan’s daily wear becomes one of many utilitarian sleep suits in a rainbow of colors – yes, on washday, even including pink.
But at night, when the moon is full and dark clouds hide the light piece by piece, when you are putting out buckets once again to catch errant drops of rain, you think back to that night and that storm, and you are glad. Always, always glad, in the end.
And one day he asks, after a long day of adventuring, once he is clean and tousle-headed between fresh-washed sheets (trains, not race cars), he asks you in his sleepy voice, “Mama, what was it like when I was borned?”
And you smile and tuck his hair behind his ears, and you say, “It was storming the night you were born. There was thunder, and lightning, and a lot of rain.”
And his eyes – those dark, dark eyes – widen, and he says: Were you scared, mama? Were you scared of the storm?
And what else can you say but the truth?
“No, no, darling. The storm is just noises and lights and rain. I wasn’t afraid of the storm.”