Silence is Golden
Evan learned the hard way that it was not okay to dash in the door after his duty shift was over and loudly proclaim “Honey, I’m home! Come give me smoochies!”
He heard the baby begin to wail before he finished the last word. “Uh oh.” He checked his watch and groaned, he was really, really late. It was way past the baby’s usual bedtime.
His keri appeared in the doorway, holding their squirming and screeching daughter. David marched over to where Evan stood and passed her to him, his lips pressed in a grim line. He looked worn out; his hair was a mess, as if he’d been running his hands through it, a lot.
Evan started to apologize, but David held up a finger in warning. “No smoochies for you. It took me two hours to get her to sleep. It’s your turn. I suggest walking.” With that, David turned away and stomped to their bedroom.
“Shhh, shhh. Okay, okay, let’s walk. We’re walking, you like walking, don’t you sweetheart?” Evan cooed over the high-pitched wails as he started what promised to be a few hours of walking around their quarters to sooth the infant.
Slings are Awesome, for Some
David usually took the baby with him, his work environment was less structured, and none of the scientists in the greenhouse minded her being around. Eventually, when she started crawling and needed more room and supervision, she would have to go to the day nursery that was being arranged. But the Atlantis nursery wasn’t ready for operation, and David was in no way ready to hand his daughter over to strangers yet.
She was a snuggler. She did not like to be put down in her carrying basket. It always made her cry; she wanted to be held and burrowed right into the crook of David’s neck and cuddled there quietly. But it was difficult to do things one-handed while trying to balance a sleeping infant.
One morning when David was trying to get everything together to leave for work, Teyla stopped by; she needed something from the greenhouse to take over to the mainland and thought she could walk there with David. She held the baby while David ran around gathering what he needed for the day, he was grateful for the help and mentioned it to Teyla as they walking to the greenhouse.
Later that day, Teyla appeared and presented David with a bundle of soft fabric. She showed him how to wrap and tie it properly. With much giggling and maneuvering they settled the baby into it. It was odd at first, but he soon grew used to it.
He was able to keep the baby close and still get most of his work done. Of course, there were always people willing and eager to take her off his hands when he needed, but for the most part, after the introduction of the Athosian sling, she spent her days cuddled against his chest.
Evan was a little jealous, and tried taking the baby in her sling with him about four days after Teyla gave them the gift. But the mechanics of sitting at his desk with her cuddled against him just didn’t work. At least, it wouldn’t work without banging the baby’s head into the edge of the desk every time he reached for something. After doing that once, and spending twenty minutes wallowing in guilt as he rubbed the red spot on her head and soothed her crying, he realized it was a hopeless cause. He ended up bringing her to David in the Hydroponics Lab and regretfully conceded defeat in the battle for quality time at work.
Babies are Magnets
It started as soon as David started taking the baby to work with him. People would veer off their path to go over to him and look at the infant. At first, David didn’t mind showing her off at all; he was very proud. But when the constant interruptions started making him late for work, and he had to rearrange his schedule to leave earlier to account for all the times he would be stopped, he started to get a little irritated.
Mentioning it to Evan one day set his panor’eten off on a giggle fit, which annoyed David and started a cold shoulder and silent treatment that lasted an entire evening, until Evan finally apologized.
Evan took the baby for a day since he would be out of the office and moving around from room to room, attempting to help set up one of the civilian education and training centers. He came home and apologized profusely to David for mocking him. He had been unable to get any real work done due to the constant interruptions of people wanting to look at, touch or asking to hold the baby. He had to politely refuse a dozen requests by complete strangers that wanted to hold his baby.
That evening, Evan sat down and pulled up a map of Atlantis and found David a route to the greenhouses that bypassed the main thoroughfares. He flagged David’s security code to allow him access through two doors that he was previously unable to use. And, he apologized again for laughing at him, which made David happy; happy enough that he made a bowl of Evan’s favorite custard for dessert.
Always Count the Bottles
Since Evan was in the habit of getting up at the buttcrack of dawn to do PT with the marines, it was easier for him to adjust to getting up for the baby’s first feeding. He also set up the bottles for the rest of the day and put them in a cooler bag for David to take with him and made sure everything that needed to be in the diaper bag was in there.
After the baby was fed and burped and her diaper changed, he would put her back in her crib and get ready for work. It became routine for him to leave the two bags beside the door for David to take when he went out a few hours later.
When Evan fell sick and getting up for the baby’s early morning demand for milk was impossible, it fell to David to try to do Evan’s usual chores in addition to his own. By the end of the second day of covering for both of them, David was a little frazzled. He had to go back to their quarters a few times for supplies he had inadvertently left out of the diaper bag. Evan was huddled in bed, too miserable to take notice or mention the slip ups. In desperation, David started tossing what he needed into the baby’s unused basket-carrier, since he could see everything spread out in there easily, he didn’t forget as many things.
Luckily, after five days, Evan was back on his feet. He patted David’s shoulder when the baby alarm went off and mumbled that he would get the bottle.
With the baby snuggled over his shoulder, Evan went through his usual routine, growing quite perplexed to find the baby’s things spread to all corners of their quarters. He finally located the bulk of the changing stuff in the basket-carrier and the diaper bag under the sofa. From the looks of the debris trail, it seemed David might have thrown or kicked some things around while Evan had been out of it.
He unzipped the diaper bag and nearly fell over at the rank smell that hit him from within. The baby even noticed, rousing from her milk-induced coma and making a few squawks of protest. That might have been Evan’s imagination though; she was likely just reacting to his reactions. He took the bag to the dining table and dumped it out. “Ah, man, David!” he exclaimed quietly. It seemed David hadn’t emptied the bag after the last time he used it. The plastic zipper bag they used for the dirty diapers was there, with contents. There were also three dirty milk bottles, which turned out to be the source of the smell.
Evan had seen how ragged David was over the past few days, and had felt guilty for not doing his part, but he not been able to get out of bed. He couldn’t really be annoyed, David had done the best he could, under the circumstances, some things were bound to slip past, unnoticed.
The only thing he said to David, later that evening, was that he should always remember to count the bottles, just in case one got left in the diaper bag by accident. He left it at that.
Diapers Are Disgusting
At first, the baby just wet the cloth diapers and it wasn’t so bad. When she started to poop, David and Evan chuckled over the complaints they remembered friends and family making about poopy diapers. She produced tiny little poops that didn’t stink at all.
After a few weeks, nature, in her infinite humor, added odor to the poop and diaper duty got much worse. It didn’t help that Teyla, their Mommy Mentor, was highly amused by their distress over the situation. In her very calm and serene way, she scared the hell out of them by telling them the diaper stench would only get progressively worse with each change they made to their child’s diet.
Evan didn’t like the fact that David diapered the baby so tightly he couldn’t get a finger past the waistband. He felt the baby had to be uncomfortable, all bound up like that. So when he changed her, he always left it a little looser, to give her some room to be comfy. It seemed to be fine. The baby didn’t complain and Evan’s conscience was soothed, believing his child was comfortable, at least part of the time.
All was fine, until she got her first case of diarrhea and Evan learned the hard way that diapers need to be snug or else the poop squished out the sides, down out and through the baby’s romper and smeared all over the sheets, bumpers and rails of the crib. He also understood, belatedly, that the plastic-rubbery over-diaper things that he never used actually had a purpose.
When the baby started to visibly notice and react to them, when her eyes followed them or she turned towards the sound of their voices, it thrilled David and Evan.
When she started to smile, it made them giddy.
When she started to laugh in tiny little guttural giggles, the pair of them just melted.