The week between the birthday party and the wedding it seemed like everything that could go wrong DID go wrong! Tes was off at a dress fitting with Mom and the girls when the dishwasher broke and proceeded to flood the entire kitchen! I worked quickly to stop the outflow of sudsy water; the last thing we needed was a truck load of workers in here replacing all the hard wood flooring!
The wedding was just days away and we were all exhausted from the planning and last minute appointments involved so we'd gone to bed early that night. It turned out to be a good thing we did too because a couple hours later the whole house was woken up by a blaring alarm. We told the girls to stay in their room but Azula was just too curious; thankfully by the time she'd wandered downstairs, the robber was being cuffed by the cops.
"Daddy, who is that? Why are they here? Why is she wearing a mask?" The questions went on and on the whole way back upstairs and as I tucked her into bed.
"Go to sleep Azula." I said. It was after midnight and all I wanted to do was go back to bed.
"But Da-a-a-addy" she whined, not satisfied with my evasiveness.
"I'll answer your questions in the morning sweetie - just go to bed for now." I said hoping to delay her at least a few hours. In truth it only gave her time to think of even more questions but I tried to answer them all the following morning - over a hot cup of coffee.
As fate would have it, we were hit by yet another robber the night before the wedding! Two hits in one week? Seemed like they had us on a rotation or something!
The police came just as quickly as the night before and carted him off to join his friend in jail. Unfortunately it didn't ease Tes's mind. Beyond the stress of work and the wedding, now she was worried we were in a bad neighborhood or something. Fact was, we weren't really in a neighborhood at all! We were so far out from town it's a wonder to me they'd take the time to hit our house. I can only assume they thought the police would take so long to respond that they'd be long gone but they vastly underestimated the police in Barnacle Bay. Or the fact that the Taffity family and the police were on great terms.
After all that, my wedding day arrived and everything was perfect. Mom had sent me away from the house with Dad and Theodin while she and an army of people turned my backyard into a wedding wonderland. Like the proposal, we'd opted to exchange our rings and vows at sunset since the sun set right behind our house.
"Faromir Taffity, you are one of the best and strongest people I've ever known. You love without question, you give without doubt and your heart is as pure as gold - I am honored to have a place in that heart. I offer this ring as a symbol of my love and commitment to you and your beautiful daughters..." Tes smiled at each of them in turn. "Now and forever."
"Theresa Bartless, you are my strength - all my struggles have been with you at my side, even when I didn't realize it. You are glorious and we are the honored ones. We are honored to have you in our family." Azula and Katara were grinning and nodding so much I had to hold in a laugh. "I offer this ring as a symbol of my life and commitment to you, now and forever."
We stared into each other's eyes; I was in awe of her beauty - and that she had come back to me after all that had happened. I could hear those around us clapping a cheering but didn't have eyes for anyone but Tess in that moment.
"Well.....kiss her already!" Azula said with an exasperated tone.
Tes and I laughed. Then I listened to my daughter and kissed the bride.
There were dozens of guests to greet and mingle with, but our first priority was to the girls. They'd been perfect little bridesmaids - never even complaining as Mom had pulled and curled and sprayed their hair into perfect ringlets adorned with curls.
"Thank you both!" Tes said to them. "I couldn't have had better bridesmaids by my side you know."
Azula and Katara were taken by Mom and Dad for the night. Tes only had the weekend off from work so we didn't have the time to go on a full honeymoon. "I think I've seen enough of the world anyway." Tes had told me. "I'd be perfectly happy to stay in Barnacle Bay for a good long while."
Even though Tes had lived in the house as long as I had pretty much, I carried her over the threshold into our bedroom - a slight variation from tradition.
We used all the normal precautions, Tes was still in the midst of her residency and a baby would derail her career a bit - something neither of us wanted. Of course sometimes precautions fail....
We'd been married for a couple months and were having a normal family dinner. Tes had tried her hand a cooking spaghetti and it actually tasted good. I'm not saying she can't cook but, well she's not very good at it.
"So...I have a bit of news..." Tes said. She looked a little nervous and had mostly been picking at the meal she was so proud of.
"Really? Are we getting a dog?!" Katara asked hopefully. She loved the outdoors and the idea of a dog completed her ideas of the perfect yard.
"No we're not getting a dog." I replied. I looked at Tes curiously. "Are we?" I asked nervously.
"No." Tes said with a small laugh. "Actually we are getting a new family member though....in the form of a baby...." she said, not meeting anyone's eyes directly.
"You're....you mean....um...." I stammered over the words. "Baby? We're having a baby?" I finally managed to say, nearly choking on the food.
"Yes." Tes said slowly, "I know this wasn't...planned..." she started to explain.
"No it's fine! It's wonderful!" I said quickly, trying to ease the anxiety she must be feeling. "I'm thrilled!" I looked toward Katara and Azula. "Aren't we thrilled?"
Only Azula didn't look too excited about the idea...
"You're pregnant?" she asked, looking nearly emotionless as she said it.
"Yes sweetie, I'm pregnant. You're both going to have a little brother or sister." Tes said, looking over at me.
Azula didn't say much more about it. Tess and I both tried talking to her about it but she said it was "fine" and that she wanted a brother - although there didn't seem to be much feeling behind the sentiment.
She threw herself into her school work after that. She'd been tested not long before and placed in the gifted and talented classes apart from Katara. She always seemed to have more homework than Katara but she never seemed to mind. In fact I think she liked the extra work.
Katara would much rather go outside and play than do homework though so the arrangement seemed to suit their personalities.
Even once she was put on a limited work schedule, Tes worked as much as she could at home. She was determined not to let her pregnancy derail her residency track that much.
She was also determined to not let her pregnancy derail our status as "newlyweds". "Are you sure?" I asked, feeling a little nervous. Logically I knew I wouldn't hurt anything but things had gotten awkward the larger she got.
"Hon - I'm a doctor, just trust me." she said, pulling me closer to her. She kissed me so passionately I forgot all my hesitations.
I relished in every moment of this pregnancy - probably to Tes's annoyance. Katara and Azula had both come to me after they were born so I never really had a chance to experience any of the early moments with them.
"I'm not sure he can actually understand you Faromir." Tes said with a laugh while I talked to and listened to her belly.
"Maybe not, but he can hear me - he can know I'm here." I said. I put my hand against her belly and waited for the reassuring kick I knew was coming. "Isn't that right buddy?"
"Of course you're here - you're his daddy." she said. "His...we always say his! We should stop that, if it's a girl we might give her a complex." she joked.
"Thought you said he or she couldn't understand us..." I teased. She rolled her eyes at me in response. Truth was we both thought it was a boy - though we'd opted to wait for delivery. "There are few great surprises in life..." Tes had said when the topic came up.
It wasn't long though before we were going to find out. I was downstairs cooking dinner when I heard Tes gasp and shriek. I turned off the oven quickly and bolted up the stairs to find her wobbling toward the stairs, her hospital bag in hand. "Tes!"
"I think...." her eyes went wide as pain stopped her in her tracks for a minute. "It's time...for the baby."
I nodded several times and then took the bag from her and helped her down the stairs while calling for Katara and Azula. "Girls!" We were nearly to the front door when they finally came running. Katara starting hopping around with excitement when she saw what was going on and Azula looked momentarily annoyed before her face was wiped of all emotion again. "I'm going to call your grandma and have her come stay with you but she may not get her for thirty of forty minutes. Will you both be okay?"
Katara nodded vigorously, I'm not sure if she was excited about the baby or about the fact that I was entrusting them with just a big girl opportunity as staying home alone. Azula merely shrugged and flopped on the couch with a book. "There's cereal and a few other quick meals you can make if you get hungry before Grandma gets here." I said. I was about to rattled off more instructions when Tes's fingernails dug into my arm. "Okay - lock the doors behind us and don't let anyone but Grandma and Grandpa in!" I called out as Tes had to drag me to the car.
By the time we got to the hospital, Tes had worked out some sort of a rhythm to help her through the contractions. She rocked a bit in her seat, hummed and mostly tuned me out. The calm I'd felt at the house left me the closer we got to the hospital and I practically ran from the car to the doors of the hospital.
When I reached the door I realized I'd left behind one particularly important thing...Tes. She was still waddling her way to the hospital doors as I turned to look at her. "Thanks for that Hon.." she muttered. I don't think she was too mad at me. At least I hoped she wasn't...
Ten hours later, including an hour of pushing, Tes delivered a perfect eight pound baby boy who we named Zuko. He was born bald as could be so I couldn't even tell the color of his hair but he was perfect in every way as far as I was concerned. His hair could be green for all I cared.
We went home the next day and I'm sure I still had a goofy, joyful smile on my face. I was a daddy, again!
Excessive amounts of Tes lol
Labor is always fun for pics
Nice to know your doc can be calm eh?