TO MY SISTER MEGHAN AND HER SON MILAN, THE REAL PRINCE PREEMIE
The King and Queen were expecting a boy. Prince Puppy would be their first child. He was considered a miracle because he was the only puppy in the Queen's womb. Prince Puppy hogged all the space inside her belly.
Weeks before Prince Puppy's birth, the King and Queen prepared for his arrival. A bassinette stuffed with the finest goose feathers was built. Little capes were sewn. Tiny booties were knit for the Prince by the Queen herself.
A majestic gold and diamond crown fit for a wee Prince's head was in the midst of creation. The crown was of utmost importance. Without it, the baby wouldn't be regarded as a Prince. Everything was going as planned.
One day, the Queen felt unusual movement in her belly. She knew something was wrong. The King and Queen headed out in their carriage to see the city doctor. Their heads were filled with worry.
Doctor Pup examined the Queen. He felt her belly. He performed an ultrasound to see Prince Puppy through pictures on a computer screen.
At long last, Doctor Pup spoke. "The baby will be here before his crown is built," he said.
The King and Queen gasped.
The Queen's puppy-dog eyes filled with tears.
The King placed his paw on the Queen's shoulder. He now looked at the doctor. "How soon will my son be born?"
Docor Pup sighed. "He will arrive tonight."
As the good doctor predicted, the Queen gave birth that evening at the hospital. Palace horns sounded, announcing the new pup's arrival. However, the King's subjects didn't rejoice.
Lady Yappy Puppykins — the owner of many fancy coffee shops — was gossiping as usual.
"Did you hear?" Lady Yappy Puppykins said to a local customer. "The King and Queen have a premature pup on their hands. The boy was born before his time. How can we call him a 'Prince' when he does not bear a crown?"
The unknown customer agreed.
Back at the hospital, the King paced back-and-forth. He'd just learned that he couldn't take his son and wife home. They'd be staying at the hospital. No doctor could tell him for how long. Never in the history of Puppy Kingdom had this happened. The King watched through a glass window as his son was placed into an incubator to keep warm. Tubes were tied to his son for feeding. The Queen was not speaking to anybody.
The King went home to a large, empty palace. He picked up his antique phone. He slowly dialed the Manager of the Kingdom's craftspeople.
"Is the Prince's crown complete yet?" the King asked.
"Sorry, your Majesty. It's nowhere near finished ..." the Manager answered.
The King slammed his phone receiver down in frustration.
The King lay down in bed. He tossed and turned. That's until he felt something poke him. It was the Queen's majestic knitting needles. The King was immediately hit with an idea.
Day-after-day, the King went to see the Queen and his son at the hospital. The Queen had no idea the King was planning a surprise. The King's happiness spread to the Queen, and soon she too was in merry spirits. They spent hours looking after their son in the hospital.
One morning, the Queen woke up in the hospital to a racket of noise. Newspaper and radio reporters were standing outside her door.
The Queen put on her robe. Then she walked to the special unit where the incubator for her son was kept. The King was standing behind the protective window. He signaled for the Queen to come join him and their son. She played along, all the while confused.
The King put his paw inside the Queen's paw. Together, he raised their arms. "We have an important announcement!" he exclaimed to the reporters who stood outside. Nurse Puppy Rose came bearing a sterling silver plate with a silver cover on top, keeping something from view.
The King took the plate and slowly unveiled what was hidden underneath. The King was holding a knit cap made of the finest Kingdom yarns. A single glittering gem stood proudly in the middle of the hat. The King went to his son, who lay in his incubator, and put the cap on him. He kissed him softly.