December 2, 2006
General Hospital: Nursery
He’d pictured this moment a thousand times in his head over the last few months. Every time he’d had an ultrasound with Robin and seen his daughter on that little screen, he’d picture watching her through the glass and he had been sure it would be the happiest moment of his life.
When Robin told him she was pregnant only six months ago, he’d approached the situation with thoughts of obligations and responsibilities. He didn’t really want to be a father, couldn’t really picture it in his head. But he’d been raised to do the right thing and he’d convinced Robin to marry him–though that had been as much for him as it had been for her.
As her stomach grew and he felt his child kick, something inside Patrick began to change and he started to wonder about being a father and what their child would be like. He wondered what it was about the experience that made Robin smile so often or radiate happiness. She was born to be a mother and he knew she’d be a good one. But he still couldn’t really visualize himself as a father, especially as the father of a daughter–a terrifying idea.
But that had changed after an ultrasound in September. It was the first ultrasound in which the baby was more than just a blob on a screen. They’d been able to confirm she was, in fact, a girl and she’d turned her tiny face towards the monitor and Patrick had been able to see his daughter for the first time. And in that moment, watching his baby, watching Robin coo and sniffle over their child, he wondered why he could have ever thought he’d be able to survive without a family.
He had helped Elizabeth paint a fairy tale in the nursery and he’d passed over a challenging surgery to move the furniture in. He’d even sat through the surprise baby shower Brenda, Maxie and Georgie threw for Robin. And Noah caught him more than once reading books about childcare in the lounge. He began to dream about her–what she’d look like, what her personality would be like.
She’d have Robin’s eyes, he’d decided. And Robin’s hair. He really wanted that. And her mother’s height. But maybe she’d have his mouth and his chin. She’d have his long fingers and Robin’s grace. Maybe she’d take dance lessons like her mother or maybe she’d play sports. He could coach a softball team, Patrick decided. His father had coached his Little League team and it had been a great experience for them.
And she’d grow up to be smart–he and Robin would always encourage her to do well in school and to do the best she could. He liked to think she’d carry on the family tradition and go into medicine but he’d love her even if she did something else. If she wanted to be a chef, or a teacher or even a lawyer. She would be gracious and she would have Robin’s dignity, her courage but he wanted her to have his confidence and his self-assurance.
She was never going to date, he’d decided that. Or not until she was thirty at least. She wouldn’t want to leave home after high school and they would have to practically push her to leave them. She’d love them so much she’d come home nearly every weekend and they’d never go ten years without speaking.
And maybe she’d want a sibling or two and Patrick could picture him and Robin having more children and of course, before he realized what he was doing, he’d dreamed of an entire family, each with their own quirks and personalities.
The more he pictured Madelyn Devane Drake, the more impatient he was for Robin’s scheduled cesarean section on January 29. Though her viral load had remained the same throughout the pregnancy and she could have risked a normal delivery, she was still nervous and opted for the safest method.
He had pictured the day of Maddy’s birth for months and it would always include him at Robin’s side, taking all the insults she could throw at him while holding her hand and helping her through the pain. He couldn’t wait for Steven to hand him his daughter so that he could give her to Robin. And he wanted to be able to stand the window of the nursery and point out to anyone who might walk by that that was his daughter there.
But it hadn’t unfolded that way. Instead, Robin had gone into premature labor. He’d rushed her to the hospital with Brenda and Elizabeth’s help. They’d been finishing up the nursery–adding stuffed animals and other things he couldn’t remember. Her contractions had been close together and there had barely been time to contact everyone much less prep her for surgery.
She’d made it into surgery and Patrick had been at her side, holding her hand as Steven had made the first incision. His daughter had been born but he couldn’t hold her as Steven hustled her over to the attending nurse who set Maddy into an incubator and wheeled her out of the room. Disappointed, Patrick had turned to Robin just as the monitors around her began beeping.
And everything had happened so fast after that. The monitors had begun beeping shrilly and Robin’s eyes had slid closed. There was suddenly blood and then Patrick had been all but shoved out of the room.
It had been a terrifying twenty minutes before Steven had emerged from the delivery room to tell Robin’s family and friends that the new mother had begun hemorrhaging during delivery and they had to take her up to surgery to repair the damage. She’d lost a lot of blood and was very weak. And then they’d wheeled the gurney past them, Robin lying so small and pale.
And then she was gone.
And now he stood in front of the NICU where his newborn daughter layin an incubator. She wasn’t in any danger and would be moved to a regular bed in a week or two. But she’d been born eight weeks early and it was better to be safer than sorry.
He felt someone step up to him and knew it was Elizabeth as everyone else was back in the waiting room, pacing and biting their nails. Patrick thought Robin would rather he stay with Maddy.
“I never told her I loved her,” Patrick said roughly.
“She knows,” Elizabeth murmured.
“How?” Patrick cleared his throat and dragged his hand through hair, keeping his eyes glued to his daughter. “I never told her, never even really hinted at it except that one time before the wedding. How could she know?”
“Because sometimes you don’t need the words,” she replied. “Do you think Robin loves you?”
He licked his lips. “I know she does,” he answered after a long moment. “But she still deserves the words.” He glanced at her. “You like to hear the words, don’t you?”
“They’re nice,” Elizabeth allowed. She touched the glass and smiled softly at the new Drake baby. “And yes, sometimes you need the words. If Jason had told me he loved me four years ago, things might have turned out differently. But he didn’t and we both suffered through unhappy marriages before we found each other again but it’s not like that for you and Robin. It’s nice to hear the words and I enjoy hearing them but as long as you know they’re true, you don’t always need to say them.” She touched his arm. “Patrick, if the worst happens, she knows you love her.”
“That’s not allowed to happen,” Patrick said firmly. “I’m not raising our daughter without her. So she’s going to be fine.” He only wished he felt as sure as he sounded.
“Then you can tell her every day for the rest of your lives that you love her,” Elizabeth told him. She tipped her head towards the glass. “She’s beautiful.”
“I didn’t get to hold her,” he said quietly. “For months, that’s all I pictured. Steven would hand her to me, and I would get to hold her. But instead, she’s in an incubator. And Robin hasn’t even seen her. How is that fair?”
“Give me one second,” Elizabeth said, holding up her index finger. She went to the doorway and called over the on duty nurse. After a brief discussion, during which Elizabeth went into the room, she reappeared with a set of protective yellow scrubs. “Put these on.”
In less than five minutes, the nurse had helped settle Maddy into his arms and directed him towards a nearby rocking chair. “You can have about ten minutes and then she has to be back,” the nurse cautioned him before giving him some privacy.
She was tinier than he’d pictured her but still as beautiful as he thought she’d be. She had a tiny thatch of dark hair that was close to his shade but he thought it might lighten to Robin’s hair. Her tiny hands were curled into fists and her eyes were closed. “So I’m your dad,” he said hesitantly.
Maddy didn’t show any signs of hearing him but he went on anyway. “Your mom and me, we’ve been waiting for you for a really long time. I’m sorry you haven’t met her yet, but you’re going to love her. Everyone does.”
“Ah,” he paused and cleared his throat, “I apologize in advance if I screw you up, okay? I don’t really have a lot of experience with this parenting thing and I spent about a decade being selfish and irresponsible. If your mom hadn’t come along, I might still be stuck in New York.” At this Maddy opened her tiny mouth in an ‘o’ shape and he grinned, feeling bolstered by the movement. “But your mom did crash into my life and she seems to know what she’s doing so I’m just going to follow her lead and hope for the best.”
“I don’t have a lot of deep thoughts,” Patrick continued. “I let your mom take care of that stuff. I don’t over analyze and I can be impulsive. It makes a good balance because your mother is one of the least spontaneous women I’ve ever met. And she likes to think something to death before she makes a decision. But she’s also the bravest woman I know. And the most gracious, compassionate and kind woman I know. You could do a lot worse for your family, Maddy. Your grandparents on her side are brave and smart and even a little clever but if you ever tell Grandpa Robert I said that, I’ll deny it. Your Grandpa Noah’s just as brave and he’s smart too. And he’s had lot of life experience. He’s made mistakes and he knows better than anyone how to pick the pieces back up and put them back together so if you ever have a problem you can’t go to me or your mother about, I’d recommend him.”
He blinked and took a deep breath. “There’s Uncle Mac and Aunt Felicia. They’ll always support you, no matter what you decide to do. And your uncle Mac is a cop, so he’ll be able to teach you how to protect yourself. Your cousins Georgie and Maxie know all about being a teenager and boys so I want you to stay far away from them. Your Aunt Brenda…” he hesitated. “She’s loyal. And she’ll always have your back. But she talks a lot, so I recommend bringing earplugs along. And there’s your Aunt Liz, she can teach you how to dream big but please don’t pick up on her taste in men, it’s atrocious and as far as I’m concerned, you’re going to a convent school.”
He brushed a knuckle down her cheek. “I can teach you how to hold a scalpel and how to repel really awful pick up lines and how to tell which guys aren’t good for you. But anything worth knowing is going to come from your mother, because she’ll teach you how to be strong, and how to keep going even when you don’t think you can win. And she’ll teach you how to love and how to care for other people. And about friendship and compassion. I know she’ll teach you because she taught me. And she gave me two of the most incredible gifts I’ve ever received in my life. Herself and you.” He leaned down and kissed Maddy’s forehead. “Welcome to the family, Madelyn. You were worth the wait.”
After he’d handed Maddy back to the nurse and saw her safely settled, he stepped out of the nursery and stripped off the yellow scrubs, balling them up and tossing them in a nearby trash bin.
“Thank you,” he told Elizabeth, hugging her. “That was better than performing my first surgery.”
“Nothing like holding your baby for the first time,” she remembered. She tipped her head in the direction of the waiting room. “Why don’t we head back and wait with the others?”