Status: Thank you for everything x

Footsteps for a Bride-to-Be

#3: "Baby Bliss"

April 6th, 2011

Mitchell Phelps, or Baby Phelps as people continued to call him, had thick brown hair like Michael's, but it didn't fully cover his head. His cheeks were puffy, the nose was prominently like mine, and the shape of his face was round - like mine - and had Michael's eyes and thin lips. I would say that he looked a lot more like me, though on the other hand, I didn't want to take the glory and bragging rights from his Father, who was very, very happy that he managed to guess the sex of the baby prior to birth. He also confessed that he didn't have a name for the baby and was going to name him Mitchell anyway. He only made it seem like he had a ridiculous name at the back of his head to run me off the track and tease me.
I'll admit that the first week was surprising for me and Michael because we - sort of - were clueless about being Parents, and because our baby was still so tiny that we were actually afraid of doing anything. Thank goodness for Debbie, she helped around for the first three days before my Mom took over the role. I was exhausted the first two days, but I caught up with my sleep and managed to maintain a good sleep schedule as I woke up roughly around the same time as Baby Phelps did, although he had moments where he would cry in the middle of the night. Michael and I took turns on that. And with my Mom around for most of the day until the end of the week, I felt a bit balanced and stress-free, but I knew that it wouldn't last long.
I also had some wedding planning to get started on.

5:45am - Our Love Nest

On some days, right on the dot of 5:45 in the morning, there would always be a cry at the other end of the baby monitor. That was one of those days, and I felt too tired to move out of bed. I spent most of my day rearranging the nursery room because I thought the spare bed should go back in again. I was thankful that Luke was around to help me out, since he and Janet and their baby came for a random visit.
I turned around to face Michael and gave him a nudge and mumbled, "Your turn, honey."
I had to nudge him once more because he didn't say anything, but he let out a grunt afterwards so that he made me know that he heard me the first time. He shuffled about for a bit before I felt the bed move and there was a cool air that followed. I couldn't help but take a peek as my husband-to-be stretched and rubbed his eyes while he dragged his feet across the carpet to the door. I got curious at what he did to make our three week old baby go back to sleep, since I had been asleep for most of the time from exhaustion, so I rolled out of bed and slowly followed after the half-asleep Olympian.
I saw Herman by the door, and he sat there and looked into the nursery room.
"Shh, Herm," I whispered as I gently pushed the door a bit to peek inside. The lamp was on, and there was Michael's shadow by the window. I kept pushing the door until it was wide enough to push my head in and look properly, and there I saw a sleeping Michael on the spare bed with Baby Phelps lying flat on his chest and a hand on the back of our son to keep him close. It was an adorable sight.
Michael was probably tired from training that day. I felt quite guilty asking him to get up every time our son woke up too early for me, but he always went without any fuss anyway. I snuck back to the bedroom to get my phone and rushed back to the nursery to snap a photo of the two and posted it onto his Facebook account. I captioned, "I can sometimes be a soft pillow for him."
I went back to bed right after with a big grin at my face.

An hour later, I woke up to the sound of Michael's voice talking. My eyes slowly opened and I looked around, but he wasn't even inside our room. The baby monitor was on and I realized that he must've been talking to the baby. I sat up and lifted the monitor to have a closer listen.
"You look more like your Mom," Michael started. "Don't tell her that I admit to that though, because then she's going to be teasing me a lot, and she's cheeky like that. I love your Mom, I'm jealous that you get to spend most of your day with her while I'm off being Michael Phelps."
I smiled and prepared to get out of bed to go to them, but I was stopped by what Michael said next.
"You're going to be my Best Man when I marry your Mom," He whispered. I then heard shuffling about and the footsteps, which I then rushed to put the baby monitor back on to the side table and tossed myself back under the blankets and pretended that I didn't hear anything. I closed my eyes tight and faced away from the door so that it wasn't obvious. The door croaked open and the footsteps moved from behind me to the other side of the bed. The blanket tossed and the bed shuffled, there was a sudden weight change at the other side and I slightly slid down towards him. I actually let out a giggle, and I couldn't help it because what I heard was so cute.
"He's your Best Man, huh?" I teased as I reopened my eyes and met with Michael's.
"You heard me?" He asked as he reached over and began to tickle me. His fingers wriggled about at my sides as my hands were pressed against his chest, trying to push him off.
"And you admitted that he looked like me!" I said in between my giggles as he finally stopped. I lay beneath him. His arms wrapped around me as our face were mere inches away. I gave him a mischievous smirk and slithered my hands up his chest and over his shoulders and onto his back. My fingers brushed through his bald head that he shaved the day after I got discharged from the Hospital. He and I actually have shorter hair, mine was cut along the height of my jaw and his was completely shaved off - along with his moustache and stubbles along his face.
"He does look like you, and the only thing on his face that's from me is the hair and the eyes, probably could take the lips too, but-" I cut him off by tugging him into a kiss. I parted and caressed his cheek and shook my head. He was about to lean in, but another cry came from the baby monitor and he leaned his head against the pillow beside my head. A defeated chuckle escaped his lips as he mumbled, "First, Herm steals your attention, then for a short time, I had you, but then now, I'm getting beaten by my own son."
I gave him a big hug before he rolled off of me and onto his back as his hand covered his face. I only giggled as he looked defeated. "You had me for five whole years before he was born, I think it would be time to share me, don't you think?" I teased as I pushed myself out of bed and made my way out.
I guess Michael wasn't ready to share me just yet, since what he said was actually true.

1:50pm - North Baltimore Aquatic Club

I fell into Michael's persuasion again. He didn't have training that day, but he had his commitments to the Make-a-Wish foundation and the children he taught how to swim. He hadn't appeared in any swimming sessions for the past three weeks as he had been too busy with Dad duties, so Derek or the other swimmers took over for him for a while. That day was his first day back and there was an event where everyone who trained in the Aquatic Club had to go to the even, and the first thing he ever wanted to do was show off his three week old son to all his swimming teammates. I asked him why that day in particular, considering that he had so many chances before, but he wouldn't tell me, which instantly triggered in my head that there was something going on again.
Ah, my over-suspecting persona was taking over again.

We arrived just before two in the afternoon. There were many cars that day and a few Parents had already seeped out through the doors. I looked at Michael curiously as he took the front parking spot that was reserved to him ever since he bought out the Aquatic Club.
"I'm kind of worried, what if either one of us slips?" I, obviously, was still a bit frightened of things that involved the baby. He only chuckled and replied, "I'll be extra careful."
"Are you saying you weren't careful all along?" I gasped, though there was a hint of sarcasm since he was the one who was extra careful whenever it came to the baby.
"Come on, Anne," He shook his head as he knew right away I was teasing him. We both took the car seat and he was the one who carried it with him and walked with haste. He was in a rush for some reason. I only followed and greeted the Parents who knew me, but we didn't take the front entrance and took the side on instead, which led to the mini-function room that parties or meetings were held.
"Michael, what are we- Oh!" I covered my mouth in surprise as there was the swimming team all gathered together and weren't really dressed for swimming, and the children were gathered around too. The first one I took notice of was Millie, who was already 13 and I haven't seen her in a long time after she was admitted into the Hospital late last year for her heart. There were tubes coming from her nose and she looked pale. I held back my tears as Millie came running to me and wrapped her arms around me tight. I embraced the young girl, whose secret I actually knew after her Mom called me.

Millie was expected to only live for another five months as the new heart was rejected by her body.

"You kept your promise, Roxanne!" The young girl exclaimed as she parted from me. "I didn't know you were coming today, but Michael said that you had a surprise for me too."
I realized then and there that the party was for Millie and it was the reason Michael forced me to tag along.
"Oh yes," I weakly smiled and brushed her blond hair behind her ear and held her hand. "Come, I'd like you to meet Baby Phelps," I introduced as we caught up to Michael, who lifted the baby out of the car seat and cradled into his arms. He took a seat on the nearest chair so that all the children could take a look, especially Millie. Her eyes sparkled at the sight of our baby, and she even had a little jump on the spot and clapped her hands together as she commented, "He looks like you!"
The Swim Team laughed, they all knew that Michael was a bit hurt from the comment after he bragged so much about how his son looked more like him. I laughed as the Olympian replied, "Hey, he looks like me."
All the children shook their heads.
"Poor Mike," One of the male swimmers called out as he came to me and congratulated me, so did the rest of the team. Lia and Derek were last, and they had been busy entertaining the Parents that they didn't have the chance to hear Millie's comment at all. Eventually, Baby Phelps was being carried around by the rest of the Swim Team, they each took turns holding the three week old baby in their arms, and a few were scared to do so due to the fact he was a bit too small for their liking.
"Anne's nose," Lia smiled as she tapped on Baby Phelps's nose while Derek held onto him. "Baby Mitchie has his Mommy's nose, poor Daddy!" She continued to tease, making sure that Michael heard it as he was only a few steps away while playing around with the children.
"Is my nose really that great?" I finally asked in confusion. I gripped on my nose and wriggled it about. "I wasn't aware that my nose was quite the attraction on my face," I added.
"You just have stronger genes, Monkey," Derek cleared his throat louder so that he continued to tease the Olympian, who finally reacted by standing up straight and yelled, "I'm not deaf, you know!"
We all laughed at his sour expression.
"Hey, Roxanne," I heard a younger voice call me. I turned to the side and saw Millie again. She had a bright and strong smile on her face, even though she probably knew as well as I did that she had only a limited time left. "I want to attend your wedding one day," She revealed.
I nearly choked on my saliva when she said that. I wasn't sure how to react, but I went down to her level and placed my hands on her shoulders. "Of course," I nodded. "Did Michael tell you that he finally asked me to marry him? It took him long, right?"
She gave a weak nod before she coughed rather sickly. "It was about time," She managed to say at the end before her Mom came along. "I can't wait for that day," She added as gave me one last hug. She was then taken away by her Mom. I waved to the two and pushed myself back up and faced Lia and Derek.
The couple had unsure looks.
"Are you sure that you should be promising those things to her?" My best friend asked. She was the one who was mainly assigned to hang around Millie, and she knew exactly what the girl was going through as she was the one the Mom confided in whenever I wasn't around.
I crossed my arms and stared down at my sleeping son. A small smile curved at the corner of my lips as I muttered, "I know it's bad, but did you see her eyes beam up when she and Mitch looked at each other?"
"I have to admit, Monkey, you sure know how to bring joy to people, especially the ones who need it most," Derek complimented as he then beckoned towards Michael. "Don't tell him I told you, but that guy's been a bit miserable during training, because he said that he's missing out on a few memories with you and Baby Phelps here. But when I saw him hold up and showing him off, he just beamed up as bright as Millie did when she saw Baby Phelps."
"Wow, you're being a bit sentimental here, Gorilla." I playfully tapped on his shoulder before I took the baby out of his grasp. I cradled the baby close to me and always smiled whenever I stared at the life that I brought into the world. "But you're right, I see him light up every time he gets home."
"Didn't you say that he was willing to change the nappy?" Lia laughed. "I can't imagine that!"
"Hey!" Michael exclaimed and appeared from behind me. I gave him a light bump on the hip to scold him as the baby flinched from his loud voice. He apologized before he turned to Lia and Derek and boasted, "I get up earlier than usual for him, and I gave him a bath for the first time on Monday, and I also changed his nappy a lot more than you know."
"Geez, Phelps, you've turned yourself into a full-time Dad."

Michael took his Daddy duties seriously, and I was thankful for that.


April 20, 2011

5:10pm - Debbie Phelps's Home

One month since I gave birth to Debbie's third Grandchild, but a first from Michael, she hosted dinner at her house to celebrate that quick one month that whisked on by. She wanted only the three of us to dine together plus Baby Phelps in his car seat. Hilary was supposedly joining us, but she had to cancel in the last minute due to an appointment to attend out of Baltimore. Lia and Derek were invited, but they were in New York for an interview for their upcoming couple promotion with Speedo swimwear.
We arrived earlier than expected. Well, Baby Phelps and I did, Michael said he would take the cab there because he was held up with an interview with a Sports Magazine at the Aquatic Club. Everyone was back on track with their life, and one month on, Michael merged back into his busy lifestyle, and that meant that I had a solo job as a stay-at-home Mom. I didn't quit being a journalist and writer for Fulton, but I took a maternity leave and yet I still wrote mini excerpts for my upcoming book idea.
Anyway, with the car seat at one hand and the baby bag slung over my shoulder, I had leaned towards the left more as my right hand tapped lightly on the door. I waited a few minutes before Debbie opened the door and greeted me with open arms. She wore her apron and the aroma inside her house smelled like Chicken. I loved - and recently - craved for chicken.

"Look at him, he's grown!" Debbie said as she lifted her Grandson from the car seat and shared eye contact with him. "He's got your looks, Anne, but he's got Michael's eyes."
"Yeah, and that's good thing. Michael's been complaining that the baby doesn't have any of his good looks," I explained as I place the baby's belongings on the side and took out the blanket that used to belong to me and lay it out on the floor. Debbie played around with Mitchell for a while before she placed him down on top of the blanket and watched the baby play around with the toy that dangled above him. She must've reminisced about her children too.
"Anne, how's the wedding planning going?" She suddenly questioned me as she rummaged through a box by the corner of the Living Room. She lifted up a photo album that was labelled, "Whitney's wedding", and handed it to me to take a look through. I had seen it before, but maybe she wanted me to seek out some inspiration. I hadn't really thought about the wedding yet, I've been completely out of it.
"I've been so busy with Mommy duties that I'd lost my thoughts about it," I replied in honesty as I flipped through the pages slowly and eyed every detail of the photographs. Whitney was beautiful in her white dress, her husband was charming in his tuxedo too, and the Phelps Family were formal and coordinated with their colours that I wanted it to go on when I would walk down the aisle.
"I have a friend who could help, though I think she's stopped planning weddings, but I'm sure she'll help out," She announced as she reached into the box and took out a card. "She helped out with Whitney's wedding too, and she's amazing. You should give her a call when you start planning," She added as she gave me the card. "But only when you and Michael are ready. You two are probably still overwhelmed with Baby Mitchell that you two haven't settled in with the idea of your wedding day."
I nodded towards her as she excused herself to head back to the kitchen. I leaned back and lay on the edge of the blanket and looked at the card, the number and name inked beautifully and stylishly on it that it made me wonder how much she was going to cost. The thought about weddings and planning had trailed over the price tag. I turned my head towards Baby Phelps, who was too busy being innocent and trying to reach for the toy above him that he didn't know how many things I needed to do.
"You're going to be my support when I start on planning my big day, okay?" I whispered to him. His head shifted a bit and we had a brief stare down before he got distracted with his toy again, and my attention went back to the Wedding Planner's card.

I supposed it was time to start planning, since it was probably long overdue, right?
♠ ♠ ♠
We gotta give Michael and Roxanne some time with their new baby. But let's be honest, I think this acted a bit like a filler. Haha, I'm sorry.
Wedding planning commences next chapter, promise!

Thanks for reading ^^