4 September 1889
John sat beside me throughout the whole birthing process. Even when the doctor had told him that the room needed to be cleared, he refused to let go of my hand. When I told him the pain was his entire fault, he only kissed my brow. He whispered reassuring words into my ear, telling me that everything would be alright.
And it was. John had been worried when the labour pains had first started, but after the doctor had arrived, he was surprisingly calm. Six hours after my labour pains had started, I held my new daughter in my arms. Her dark brown hair stuck up on her head and I smoothed it down as she slept. She was beautiful – perfect. John sat next to me on the bed, a wide smile on his face as he looked down at our daughter.
The doctor had left the room to inform everyone that the birth went smoothly and that both the baby and I were doing fine. Rebecca and Frank had been the first to arrive, followed by Jane, Ben and Phillip. They were currently in my sitting room, waiting to see the new addition to the family. John had informed me that notes had been sent to the rest of the Chattoway clan, informing them of the birth.
I looked up at John, who was still looking at the baby. When he finally looked at me, his eyes were sparkling. "I love you." John leaned in and gently kissed my lips.
When we broke away, I sighed. "I love you too." My eyes found their way back to our daughter. "What should we name her?"
John thought for a moment. "Sophia Josephine."
"It is lovely. Sophia Josephine, our beautiful little girl," I whispered.
The door opened and Isaac popped in his blonde head. He smiled when he saw us and the door opened further. Beatrice held onto his hand as they both entered the room. They went to the side of the bed where John sat and he helped them up. Isaac settled between us and Beatrice climbed onto John's lap.
"Isaac, Beatrice, meet your new sister, Sophia." I couldn't help but smile as I watched my two older children inspect their new sister.
Isaac looked up at me with a small line between his eyebrows. "Mama, I wanted a brother. This is a girl."
John and I both laughed at this. Isaac had made it clear throughout my pregnancy that he wanted a little brother because he already 'had a Beatrice'.
"It is a tad too late now, lad," John told him, ruffling his hair.
Isaac made a face, but reached out to touch Sophia's cheek nonetheless. "I guess she'll do."
Beatrice shifted herself on John's lap to get a better look at her new sister. "I like her."
There was a knock on the door and it opened once John called out.
"Come along, children, there are others who want to see the new little one," Jane said to Isaac and Beatrice as she entered the room. "Do you think you are alright to get out of bed, Charlotte?"
"After the third time giving birth, I feel although I could dance a jig," I said with a laugh.
John made a face and stood Beatrice on the floor while Isaac climbed off the bed. "Please do not, Charlotte, we will all be much safer if you do not." I passed him Sophia as Jane came to my side to help me stand.
"I shall help you dress," Jane informed me as she hauled me to my feet. I was sore, but I would be able to stand it long enough to get dressed and walk to the sitting room.
John left the room with the children, promising not to show Sophia off until I was ready to leave.
"She is beautiful, Charlotte." Jane told me as she helped me strip my nightgown and pull on my chemise. "I have never seen John look so in love."
While Jane picked out a dress, I unlaced my maternity corset. "I suppose Ben was the same way when Hugh was born."
"He was the proudest man in London. But I suppose every man is when their first child is born. Even James was after he accepted that fact that he would need to mature."
As Jane laced my corset, a strange thought hit me. What if John prefers Sophia over Isaac and Beatrice because they are not his? He had promised he would love them unconditionally, but that was before he had his own child.
"Charlotte, what is wrong? Did I pull too tight?" Jane asked, cutting through my thoughts.
"Hm? No, no, I am fine… just a thought."
"Would you care to share it?"
I sat down on the bed and carefully slid on my stockings. "What if John favours Sophia over Isaac and Bea?"
Jane laughed as she came over with my corset cover and petticoats. "He would never do that. He knows that you, Isaac and Bea are a packaged deal. John loves those children more than anything."
I nodded and stood. "I suppose you are right."
We finished dressing me and, with the help of Jane, I walked down the hall to the sitting room. Phillip stood when I entered, helping me over to the seat he had just vacated. Jane and the children followed behind me, and finally John entered with Sophia.
"Let me get a look at my granddaughter!" Rebecca said as she pushed past her husband. John passed Sophia to his mother. "Ah, what a beauty. She is the image of you, Charlotte."
Benjamin came to stand next to his mother-in-law to examine his new niece. He looked at John and shook his hand. "Wonderful work, John."
Phillip leaned on my armchair with a smile on his face. "Congratulations, cousin."
"Thank you, Phillip." I returned his smile. "You shall be the godfather for this one too, will you not?"
"I cannot refuse you, can I?"
I watched as Frank and Rebecca dotted over their new grandchild while talking to Isaac and Beatrice. Jane and Ben chatted happily with John, who watched Sophia with a smile on his face. My question from before came back and worry filled me. Jane had already assured me that John would not feel any different about Sophia as he did Isaac and Bea, but I wanted to hear John's answer. It would be terrible to ask him such a thing, but I needed to know.
Soon I yawned, causing Rebecca to give me a fond smile. "I believe it is time for us to take leave, Frank." She gave us all kisses, shooting a look to Jane and Ben.
"Yes, we shall be going now too." Jane gave me a tight hug before disappearing through the door with her parents, husband and Phillip.
John escorted me and Sophia back to our bedroom and took the children to the nursery while Emma helped me change back into my nightgown. I was just climbing into bed when the door opened and John stepped in.
He shrugged off his jacket and kicked off his shoes before crawling in next to me. It was only ten in the morning, but we were both tired from the birthing process. He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me to his chest.
"What is bothering you, my love?" John asked in a soft voice as he pushed a strand of hair from my forehead.
"Nothing, I am fine," I answered, burying my face in his chest so he couldn't see the lie on my face.
"No, I will not take that as an answer."
"Will you love Sophia more than Isaac and Beatrice?" I blurted out.
"Darling, of course not. The person I love the most out of our family is me… and as far as I know, you, Isaac, Beatrice and Sophia are now part of me and forever shall be."
And that is that, said the cat. We are all finished this story. I'm not going to lie, I want to cry. Finishing a story is like seeing your child grow up and leave. You feel sad, because you will miss it, but you are proud because you have actually finished it. I have never finished a real story before.
Now for my acknowlegments: I want to say thank you to everyone who stuck with this for nine months (fifteen months if you started with Charlotte's Story). You guys are truly, truly fantastic! Also, thank you to Farah for being such a wonderful beta. Oh! And to Terri, who spent countless study periods listening to me rant on about my story rather than doing her math. :)
The Sequel: I have about twenty and a half pages finished in a note book (you know, the little Hilroy ones that you use for cursive in little school?). I doubt I will be getting it up on FP anytime soon, but you never know.
With My Life Now finally finished, I will be writing and rewriting my other stories. I have am currently focusing most of my attention on two stories (one about knights and a Viking-ish story), but every once in a while I will go back to my other ones. I plan on (someday) rewriting The Legend of Luciana's Watch to make it an actual story. Also, I may work on my Adele's Tale.
If you go to my profile, you will find a link to my blog. At the top of it there is a tab that says Writing for the Soul, all of my story summaries are there, so if something catches your eye, just let me know and I might take a look at reopening one of them.
Again, thank you so very much!