Summary: The long-awaited Stetson baby makes its entrance into the world. Sequel to "The Longest Weekend."
Timeline: Written November 2000.
Feedback: Please try to direct comments to my personal email unless you think it's something of interest to the list. I'd love to hear what you think! It's only my second fanfic so any encouragement is thoroughly devoured. :-)
Disclaimer: The characters in this story belong to Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Productions. I do not own them and I'm making no money off this story. However, I did make up the plot to this story so that is mine. Please do not alter the story in any way.
It hardly seemed possible that she was days away from giving birth again. The thought almost frightened her until she spied two newborn baby outfits hanging from her closet doorknobs. One pink, one blue. Lee had hung them there weeks ago when they'd gone through the scare. Amanda had serious contractions at 31 weeks and the doctor had put her on bed rest. She'd managed to pass the time with books and the new television Lee put at the end of the dresser, but her restlessness was getting harder to hide. Now that the worry of her delivering early was over, she was too obtuse and uncomfortable to venture far from the bedroom. She thought back over the last two months. Poor Lee. This whole process has not been easy on him. Before leaving in the morning he'd make sure she was comfortable and made frequent lunchtime trips home to check on her and make sure she had a hot lunch. When he came home evenings, he made supper for the two of them. They'd had many dinners in bed since that January day. Billy sure has been understanding through it all she thought. Amanda had been off work and his best agent had been tied to the D.C. area and a 9 to 5 schedule for two months. Francine had gotten the key assignments leaving Lee to a lot of paperwork and computer research. It seemed everyone was getting antsy.
Amanda let the pages of her book fall back into place between the hard covers. The digital clock beside her glowed 9:30. Enough of the bed rest she told herself as she laid down the book and pulled the comforter away from her. Big or not, she was going to shower, dress, and work on the baby's room. It had been teasing her from her vantage point on the bed. As she watched the television conveniently set on her mirrored dresser, she could see the reflection of the baby's room across the hall. Over Christmas the furniture had been delivered and they'd gotten a good start on the decorating. Deciding on a baby animals theme, the nursery was now inhabited with stuffed creatures from the animal kingdom. In the crib sat a giraffe, lion, tiger, elephant, and monkey. The freshly washed linen hung over the side of the crib.
That will be my project for the day Amanda thought. I'll make the baby's bed and put away the gifts that have been sent. Content with this idea, Amanda made her way to the bathroom and within 20 minutes, found herself dressed and surprisingly hungry. With an unsteady grace, she made it safely down the stairs and was coming back up with a bowl of cereal in her hand when she heard the phone ring. She took a temporary detour into her bedroom and grabbed the phone on its fourth ring.
"Yes Lee, it's me," she sighed as she recognized her husband's voice.
"What took you so long to pick up the phone?"
Amanda bit her lip and replied softly. "I was coming up the stairs and it took me an extra minute to get to the phone." There was an obvious silence as Lee processed the information.
"I wish you'd stay upstairs until I got home. I'd feel better knowing you weren't traipsing up and down those things."
"I know Sweatheart, but I really am feeling fine. I got in the shower, I'm dressed, I just went downstairs to get a bowl of cereal before starting on the baby's room. I'm really in the mood to get that finished."
"I feel better about the surprise I have for you, then..." Lee continued mischievously. "T.P. just called. I need to meet him in D.C. at lunchtime so I won't be home until later..."
"Lee, what have you done?" Amanda asked with a hint of skepticism in her voice.
"I'll only give you a minor clue..." Lee let his sentence hang in the air for a moment before going on. "I just ran into a certain person's husband and this man's wife is heading over to visit with you today."
"Lee, that is a terrible clue. How am I supposed to guess from that?"
"You aren't supposed to guess...you are supposed to be surprised. I'll see you at home later for dinner, okay? In the meantime, enjoy your day."
Amanda stood motionless while Lee quipped a quick "good-bye" and the dial tone buzzed in her ear. That man! Well, she was going to be alone for the day except for a mystery guest. She plunked herself down onto her bed and let the clues Lee gave sink in. Married and it's someone whose husband Lee would have met today. Had to do with the Agency, probably. Oh, there was no use. It could be any number of people they'd met on cases through the years. She rose from her spot on the bed and walked towards the hallway. The ring of the phone sent her waddling back towards the nightstand.
"Hello?" she asked into the phone.
"Amanda? Hello darling!"
"Mother! Hi, I'm surprised to hear from you," Amanda said with a genuine laugh. Dotty had called every other day for the last two months.
"Very funny, dear."
"No really, you just called yesterday!" Amanda insisted.
"Well, that's true enough," Dotty agreed. "But I was thinking about you and wanted to be sure you were okay."
"I'm great, actually," Amanda admitted. "I have a little energy today so I'm going to finish up the baby's room."
"Ah, well, I can see that you are doing fine. Just, you know, a mother worrying." Amanda's eyes did a semi-roll as she recounted all the times her mother had been worried through the years. Some things never change.
"So, where are you at now?" Amanda questioned as she adjusted the flower arrangement on the stand.
"We left Jim and Barb's a few hours ago and just stopped to stretch our legs. We're at a rest stop near Fayetteville, North Carolina, just off I-95."
"So you'll be home tonight?" Amanda questioned.
"Oh dear, probably not," Dotty sighed. "I imagine we'll drive a few more hours and get close to Richmond...maybe spend the night there. Sarah and Max said they have an excellent dinner theater there, Bernardo's, so we thought we'd check it out. We should get into town tomorrow by noon."
"Well listen, there is nothing going on here. Why don't you give us a call when you get into town and maybe we can have supper?"
"Sounds good, dear. I have missed you."
"I've missed you, too, Mother. Tell Michael we said hello."
"I will...love you."
"Bye, Mother," Amanda said as the phone clicked in her ear. She let out a big sigh. Her mother was going to be back tomorrow. Dotty and Michael had been up for Christmas and New Years but that had been so long ago. With the last two months stretching on endlessly, it seemed years since she had the luxury of having Mother around. She glanced down to where her hand rested, feeling the reason Dotty and Michael were on their way home. The baby gave a World Cup- winning kick to her belly and squirmed around inside of her, pulling her out of her thoughts.
"Alright, let's go!" she mused with enthusiastic resolve, picked up
her cereal bowl, and made her way to the nursery down the hall.
Especially the last month it seemed that Lee came home every day with a baby gift that someone had dropped off at the office for him to take home. After they opened the gift and marveled at how amazingly cute it was, Lee would stash it in the nursery. Now an impressive pile of baby accessories had overtaken anything that stood still. She glanced around to see that the rocker, dresser, and changing table were stacked high. Puffs of blue and pink tissue paper broke up the solid stacks of white gift boxes.
She cleared off the rocking chair and started rummaging through the gifts. Sleepers, socks, bibs, overalls. She organized the essentials and made a pile of items to wash. She couldn't believe how unprepared she was. In the corner of the room sat one bag of newborn diapers. That was it. All the items before her had to be washed before they could be used. She noted the combination of blue and pink outfits. Deciding to wash the neutral sleepers and onesies, socks and bibs, she hung up the rest of the outfits in the closet and placed the other essentials in drawers. Now that the changing table was free of clutter, she unwrapped the diapers and placed them in the shelf and arranged the wipes, baby powder, and lotion.
"It's presentable, at least," she sighed as she inspected the room again. The boxes were stashed in a big garbage bag and the clothes to be washed sat ready in a laundry basket. Amanda glanced up at the clock. 11:45. The morning had gotten away from her. Grabbing the garbage bag and basket, she tossed the empty cereal bowl on top of the basket and headed downstairs. With a push the garbage bag tumbled down the stairs, she met it again at the foot of the stairs and tossed it down one more flight of stairs to the basement. Making her way through the kitchen to drop off her dirty bowl, she continued on to the utility room. She set the basket on the dryer and opened the washer lid.
"Ow," she gasped, bending over slightly in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort. Amanda stood frozen for a few seconds while the pain ran its course and then subsided. Slowly straightening herself out, she leaned against the washer.
"Oh, this cannot be happening," she said to no one in particular. Her eyes gazed down to her watch. "11:50," she sighed. "I'll just see if another one comes along before I get too worried."
"Lee's not going to be home, but that's alright, Amanda," she told herself in a soothing voice, "it was one little contraction, you have no reason to be upset." She stood there for a minute collecting herself. She chuckled as her own thoughts. "If this kid is on its way, it better have something to wear," Amanda said grabbing the detergent and tossing the basket's contents into the washer. With a turn of the knob, the washer came to life.
Amanda slowly made her way back up the stairs to her bedroom. She glanced around for other chores to finish while her laundry washed. After making several trips across the room, the bed was made and she heaved two denim bags on it. She had found these last fall when she was Christmas shopping. One larger duffel bag for her things and a smaller backpack for the baby's things. Amanda grabbed the baby outfits hanging on the closet knob, took them off the hangers, and folded them. Each outfit came with a little knit cap and matching booties. Amanda's bag had been packed since January and all that was left to add to the baby's bag was the baby book.
"Nursery!" Amanda exclaimed as she remembered where she had last seen it. Making her way across and down the hall, she stopped in the doorway of the nursery, viewing it orderly for the first time. The bed was made, the dressers cleared off, and the changing table stood ready and waiting for a wiggly bottom to hop on it. "Ah, there it is!" she said with a grin as she spied the book, lying next to the lamp on the dresser.
As she grabbed the book and turned around, a sensation overcame her back and abdomen. It grew stronger and stronger until her body slumped down to the floor in pain. She sat there, on the baby blue rug covering the nursery floor in front of the dresser. Eyes closed, she waited an eternity until the pain slowly floated away. "Oh my gosh, that was another one," she gasped. Her watch told her that it had been only 12 minutes since the first contraction. She wished with all her might that Lee's lunch with T.P. would be over soon. In the quietness of the house, she thought she heard a voice calling her above the slow hum of the washer.
"Amanda! Amanda?" Her mind focused on the sound of the voice. For a moment she thought it was Lee until it came closer and was unmistakably female.
"Amanda, where are you?" the voice called again. As the woman talked it sounded more and more familiar.
"In here, in the nursery!" she answered.
Amanda listened as she heard the footsteps come closer, pause, and then move towards her again. Finally, the voice of hope showed its face in the nursery doorway.
"Amanda, are you alright?"
"No!" Amanda gasped, responding to the earlier question without hesitation. The princess rushed over to where Amanda lay crouched on the floor. "Penny, what are you doing here?" she questioned.
"Rheza and I are in town on diplomatic business and I thought I'd come see you," Penny explained as she pushed some stray hairs out of Amanda's face. "I'm so glad I did! Amanda, you're in labor!"
Amanda let out a small laugh. "What was your first clue?"
"You mean besides the pool of water you're sitting in?" Penny asked.
Amanda looked down to the rug she was sitting on. It was now covered with clear amniotic fluid.
"Penny, my water broke," Amanda said, almost crying, as the full extent of what was happening finally registered. "And I just had another contraction."
"Amanda, it's okay. Where's Lee?"
"He's having lunch with a contact in D.C." she replied. "He was going to be home for dinner in a few hours."
"How can we contact him?" Penny asked matter-of-factly.
"Oh, um...." Amanda pushed her brain to function. "He should have his car phone on, or we could call Billy, he should be checking in with him soon."
"Okay, do you think you can stand up? We could get you changed and ready to go."
"I think I can make it up now," Amanda agreed as she grabbed hold of Penny's arms and lifted into the air. Standing, she looked down to the damp floor. "Oh Penny, the rug. I just finished cleaning this room..."
"Amanda, we have bigger worries here!" Penny laughed. However, when Amanda's expression did not change Penny reassured her. "Amanda, I'll put it in the washer myself if you'll come with me so we can get some help coming." Amanda nodded and led Penny to the master bedroom. As Amanda went to the dresser to get a new outfit, Penny picked up the phone. Amanda prattled off the number to Lee's car. As the number rang and rang, Penny shook her head.
"Amanda, there's no answer. What's the Agency's number?" After a few rings, a voice finally picked up.
Penny handed the phone to Amanda. "Sir! This is Amanda."
"Amanda! What's going on?"
"Sir...I need you to contact Lee for me...I've gone into labor and he's not in his car."
"Ya, he was meeting T.P."
"Well, I need him to call home immediately."
"I can send someone over if you need help," Billy offered.
"That's alright, Sir, a friend is here with me. I just really need Lee to call."
"I'll do it, Amanda. He should be checking in with me soon. You call me if you need anything, anything at all!"
"I will, thank you." The phone clicked off and buzzed as Penny took the receiver from Amanda.
"Amanda, do you think we can wait for Lee?" Penny asked. "How far apart are your contractions?"
Amanda examined her watch. "I had one at 11:50, and then one at 12:02. If history serves right, another one should be coming along here within five minutes."
Penny nodded. "Why don't we get you changed into some clean clothes and you can rest on the bed?" she offered. Grabbing the clothes Amanda had tossed on the bed, Penny helped her out of her clothes and into new ones, then settled Amanda with some pillows on top of the comforter.
Moments later another contraction gripped Amanda. She clenched to the pillow beside her until the wave passed. "Twelve-thirteen, they are staying about the same length apart for now so I think we're okay," Amanda said.
Penny took a seat next to Amanda on the bed. "Is there anything I can do?"
"Just keep trying Lee's phone, please."
"I will. And I think your washer is about to spin out so I'll take the rug and your clothes and start a new load for you. If I can remember how," Penny said with a giggle.
"Being a princess does have its privileges," Amanda sighed. Penny gave Amanda's hand one last squeeze before lifting off the bed.
Between contractions, Amanda lay still on the bed. Glancing to the quote-a-day calendar on the nightstand, she read the proverb for today, March 31, 1989. "May God stand between you and harm in all the places you must walk. Ancient Egyptian Blessing."
"That one's just for me," she thought out loud as she closed her eyes.
A quick gallop up the stairs and Penny was at Amanda's side.
"Are they getting stronger?"
"Stronger and closer together. I don't think we can wait around for Lee. The last few contractions have happened about a minute quicker than the one before. This last one came only nine minutes later."
"Okay, well, Lee is still not answering his phone. Why don't we call the Agency and tell them we're heading to the hospital?"
Amanda shook her head in agreement. Penny punched the right numbers on the phone and got Mr. Melrose again. Explaining why she was taking Amanda to the hospital, the line got quiet.
"I still have not heard from Lee. He's just out meeting some contacts, though. I should hear from him any time."
Penny glanced at the clock. It was nearly 1:10. "Let him know we will be at the hospital. We've got all her stuff...just have him bring himself soon."
Amanda watched as Penny nodded at Mr. Melrose's additional comments. At once she put the phone back on its cradle and gave Amanda a weak smile.
"Lee didn't call?" Amanda asked, knowing the answer.
"He expects to hear from him anytime."
"Oh Lee," Amanda said with aggravation. After all the lunches he'd rushed home to her, why did he choose today to gallivant all over D.C.?
"Well Penny, I'm glad Lee ran into Rheza this morning, otherwise I'd be going through this alone!" Amanda noted out loud. Penny tossed her a confused look.
"Amanda, Lee and Rheza haven't seen each other in five years."
"No, Lee called this morning and said you'd be coming by. He saw Rheza and Rheza told him..."
"Amanda, I just decided to come by on the spur of the moment. Rheza's in meetings all day and I was bored of shopping, so I had the chauffeur drop me off here. Rheza or those bodyguards don't even know..."
Amanda sat up in bed and interrupted her. "Penny, if you are not the one Lee was talking about, then who is supposed to be coming? Lee said he ran into someone's husband this morning, and that this man's wife would be coming to visit me at lunchtime."
"I don't know, but I guess they couldn't make it," Penny noted as she saw the clock display 1:15. "I guess you really are lucky I stopped by."
Amanda slowly nodded her head as she lay back into the pillow. "I'm also pretty glad that we kept in touch all these years." Amanda's smile faded when she came to a sudden realization. "Oh No! Penny, Lee has our only working car right now. If you didn't drive..."
"Amanda, I haven't driven in 10 years, they won't let me!" Penny reminded her. "Let me call Mr. Melrose and see if he can send a car," she suggested. Her words were punctuated, however, with a slamming noise coming from downstairs.
"What was that?" Amanda asked. Penny shrugged and went over to the window
to take a peek.
"Do you know a brown-haired lady with glasses?" she asked. "She's carrying
a big baby gift and heading towards the house."
"Can I help you?" Penny asked.
"Oh dear, I do have the right house, don't I? Is Amanda in?"
"Yes, she's here."
"I hope I'm not intruding, my husband did tell Lee I would be stopping by..."
"Emily?....Emily!" Amanda shouted from the top of the stairs.
"Amanda! So good to see you! This is a good time, isn't it?"
Amanda let out a gasp and leaned onto the banister for support. Dropping the gift on the floor, Emily herself gasped and headed up the stairs towards Amanda.
"Actually, Emily, I'm not doing so good," Amanda confided as she found the concern in Emily's face. "We were just about to head out to the hospital. My water broke an hour ago and my contractions are getting stronger."
"Well, dear, we must get you to the hospital now. Are your things ready?"
"She has the bags packed and ready to go in her room," Penny answered for Amanda, who was apparently still in a lot of pain. "We just can't seem to locate Lee. He's not answering his car phone and his boss hasn't heard from him."
Emily looked concerned for a moment before speaking up. "Let me call the hotel where my husband's meetings are at. Perhaps Lee went back there and they can pass along a message."
A relieved expression crossed over Amanda's face. Of course, Emily would find him. An even clearer thought came into mind. Emily had been her surprise. She was amazed that she hadn't guessed it before.
"I left a message at the hotel, dear, and as soon as anyone sees Lee they'll send him to your hospital, okay?" Amanda nodded. "In the meantime, let's get you into my car. We don't have time to wait around for him."
Penny grabbed the hospital bags and helped Amanda down the stairs. Emily left a note for Lee in case he should come home and joined the two ladies on the doorstep.
"Everything will be fine, Amanda," Emily consoled. "This baby only needs
one person to be born and we've got her taken care of." Amanda flashed
her a smile and moments later a car was tooling down Maplewood Drive towards
"C'mon, hurry up," he encouraged silently. This is something I definitely do not miss. Using pay phones whenever I need to check in!
Moments passed before one of the callers finished their conversation and hung up. Dashing over to the phone, he reached in his pocket for some change. After a thorough search all he was able to come up with was four pennies. Lee closed his eyes as he fought off a string of expletives. Hanging up the phone a bit hard, he made his way to the front desk.
"Excuse me, my name is Lee Stetson and I was wondering if you have change for a dollar. I need to make a phone call."
"Yes, Sir. I just need to go in the back room."
Lee nodded and pulled a dollar out of his wallet. The clerk took the dollar bill and disappeared in the back. Lee's eyes wandered around in boredom until he spied a familiar name noted on the message board.
"Hey! Excuse me!" Lee called. A man who had been printing out a receipt for a couple checking out let out an aggravated sigh and met Lee at the counter.
"Sir, can I help you?"
"Yes, you can help me. That message has my name on it."
"You are 'Lee Stetson'? What room are you in?"
"I'm not staying here, but some friends of mine are. Lord and Lady Farnsworth."
"Hmmm," the clerk sighed as he went over to the board and plucked the note off the wall. "Yes, the message is from Lady Farnsworth. Oh dear."
"What?" Lee questioned. "Gimme that," he said as he picked the note out of the man's hand. Lee's jaw dropped as the words sunk in. Amanda has gone into labor and I'm taking her to the hospital. Meet us there. Emily Farnsworth
Lee stood there for a moment. His feet felt like they were one with
the carpet below him. Okay, all I have to do is get to the hospital he
thought. He rushed through the lobby to his Corvette waiting in the circle.
As the ignition roared, he pulled the car into the street and was on his
way to Arlington Hospital.
"I'm sure he's on his way by now," Emily consoled. "Right now we need to concentrate on you." Amanda smiled as Emily took hold of her hand, careful not to disrupt the IV the nurses had just put in.
A nurse popped her head through the opened door. "Mrs. Stetson?"
"Hello, my name is Kelsey and I'll be your nurse until you go into delivery."
"Nice to meet you," Amanda said as she gestured to shake her hand. "You can call me Amanda."
"Great. Now Amanda, I wanted to discuss with you your plans for dealing with the pain you've been experiencing. We can start some meds now, or if you want to wait, that's fine. Many women go without any meds through their whole delivery."
Amanda nodded knowingly. "I'd like a little something to take the edge br>off. I'm really very uncomfortable already."
"That's fine, Amanda. If you find these meds are not adequate we can administer an epidural once you get to 3 or 4 centimeters. Let me go check on those meds and I'll be back in to check your progress in a few minutes."
"Thank you, Kelsey."
Emily smiled as Kelsey walked out of the room. "Now dear, don't you feel better?"
"I will," she sighed. "Where did Penny run off to?"
"I think she was going to call and let her husband know where she is," Emily explained.
"Yes, I'm sure he's wondering by now," Amanda said as she noticed the
time. "It's already after 2:00." Amanda just hoped her husband knew
where she was.
Lee Stetson grumbled as he turned off North George Mason Drive into
the hospital parking lot again. It was very full and he was already on
his third drive around the hospital before a spot opened up in the parking
lot. He slid the Corvette into place and barely remembered to grab his
keys before shutting the door. Minutes later he was inside the hospital
and to the elevators. "Labor and Delivery--3rd floor" the sign read. An
eternity later, the doors opened and the elevator whisked Lee away.
"Hello, my wife Amanda...Stetson...is here. What room?"
"Room 331, Mr. Stetson. The nurse is in with her now." Lee barely heard the nurse's comments as he shot off down the hall. Three twenty-five, twenty-seven, twenty-nine...he counted off in his head until the numbers 3-3-1 came into view.
"Amanda!" Lee almost hollered as he bolted though the door. And there she was. Emily and the nurse were standing on the far side of the bed looking at the strips the fetal monitor was spitting out while Amanda turned to see who shouted her name.
"Lee! Oh my gosh I thought you were never going to get here!" she exclaimed as Lee made his way to the side of her bed and planted a firm kiss on her lips and hugged as much of her as he could reach.
"I didn't think I was gonna make it either," Lee confessed. "I got Emily's note at the hotel and rushed over here."
"Thank goodness," Amanda grinned. "We've been calling you for hours...and Billy..."
"Oh no, Billy, I was supposed to call him..."
"Lee, I wouldn't worry," Emily interrupted. "We called him and let him know we were heading to the hospital. I don't think he's expecting to hear from you right away."
"When did all this happen?" Lee questioned.
"Well, it's a long story. I was in the baby's room around noon when my water broke and I had a horrible contraction. Thank goodness Penny came along when she did..."
"Yes, Penny, Princess Khan to you," Penny laughed as she shut the door behind her.
"Princess Khan," Lee said as he turned to see Penny before him.
"I stopped by to visit with your wife to find the poor dear in desperate need of some help."
"I'm so relieved you did...stop by," Lee said as a genuine smile spread across his face. "I called her this morning and things were fine. My car phone died on me...Oh Amanda, I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you, but how was I to know you'd..."
"Lee, I was not alone. Penny came along and then Emily stopped by and drove us here. Everything turned out fine."
"Uh, Amanda..." Emily said as she examined the strip. "I think you should have another contraction coming up."
"Ya, I was just....starting to feel it," Amanda agreed. She clenched her hand to the railing as the sensation went down her back.
"You should start to notice the medicine taking effect within half an hour," Kelsey explained as she hung the bag next to the IV fluid.
"Amanda? Are you alright?" Lee's smile left his face as he watched his wife go through a contraction for the first time.
"Okay...it's gone," Amanda announced. "That one wasn't so bad."
"Wasn't so bad?" Lee demanded. "Amanda..."
"Just let me know if this works for you," Kelsey continued. "You're at 4 centimeters so if you want an epidural you should get it in the next hour or so."
Amanda nodded as she relaxed back into the bed. "Thanks."
"You're welcome. I'll be back. Just buzz if you need me."
"I hate to do this Amanda," Penny began, "but Rheza and I have to make an appearance this afternoon in town. The limo will be downstairs any minute."
"Penny, thank you so much. You were my savior today," Amanda laughed.
"Well, you haven't gotten rid of me yet," she replied as she gave Amanda a hug. "I'll be back in the morning and I expect there to be a baby here for me to visit."
A chorus of "Bye, Penny," was echoed through the room as the slender brunette waved and disappeared through the door.
"Amanda, are you really okay? That contraction, well, I didn't expect them to be this bad."
"Oh Lee, this is the hard part," Amanda laughed. "Getting through the contractions until I can push. I'm fine...really. The meds should kick in here soon."
"Well, I'll leave you two alone for a bit while I call my husband," Emily said as she moved towards the door. "Lee, you can tell when a contraction is coming up by looking at the strip."
Lee nodded as he replaced Emily at the far side of the bed. He watched as the machine hummed and made curvy notations on the graphed paper. On top of the machine sat a monitor that beeped and displayed a number. One sixty...159...162...the numbers blinked in time with the needle below.
"Alone at last," Lee grinned as he leaned over the railing. Amanda reciprocated his kiss and smiled.
"Can you believe this is happening?" she sighed. "After all that worrying we made it to the 31st of March! All those hours in the bed were worth it, though, as long as this baby comes out healthy."
"Yeah. We're in the home stretch," Lee agreed. "We do, however, have one more order of business."
"Ya...we still have not agreed on a boy's name."
"I forgot," Amanda grinned mischievously.
"Oh you did not, you just hoped if I didn't bring it up you could name him Christopher."
"I love that name!" Amanda defended. "I said we could name him Christopher LEE."
"Uh huh, well," Lee began as he stroked her hand, "I like Christopher okay but I was really hoping that you had thought about Andrew."
"Andy, I don't like that name, Lee."
"Not Andy...Andrew," Lee emphasized.
"You know people will call him Andy. We have to like the full name and the nickname," Amanda reminded with a grimace as she felt another contraction coming on. "You know, considering I'm the one over here in all the pain you'd think I could get a little leniency here!"
"Okay, okay. I can live with Christopher," Lee sighed dramatically with a wink to Amanda.
"Oh you're just giving me a hard time to see me squirm," she teased.
"I like Christopher, really."
"Well, get used to it because....gosh..." Amanda winced as the remainder of the contraction floated away. "Oh this kid better get here soon."
"Should I get the nurse?"
"No, no, it's gone," she sighed. "I can tell the meds are starting to work because the sharp pain has diminished a bit."
"How much longer of this do you think we have?"
"Hard to tell," Amanda said as she glanced to the digital clocked mounted to the wall. "I've been in labor for three hours and I'm to 4 already. I suppose if this kid cooperates...well, we'd better not count on that," she teased.
"I know. I just meant that we might want to call Jamie and Philip...and your mother...just to let them know what's going on."
"Mother! Oh Lee! She called earlier. They're on the road and won't be home until tomorrow." Amanda was furious at herself that she blew off her mother this morning. "I don't even know how to get a hold of them. They're in Richmond tonight..."
"It's alright. Maybe they'll call."
"No, they're not going to. They're going to a show tonight at some dinner theater, Bernardo's or something, and I told her to call us when they got in tomorrow afternoon."
"Well, there's nothing we can do about that. She wouldn't make it here anyway."
"I know, I've just never had a baby without her."
Lee stroked Amanda's hand. It was no use trying to console her. This was one thing he could not fix. "Why don't we at least call Joe and Carrie's to let them know. Maybe the boys would want to come up after supper?"
"Yeah, they should know. I'll be fine. You go call."
Lee gave Amanda's hand one final squeeze as he stood up. "You yell if you need anything...I'll just be in the hall." Amanda smiled to him assuringly.
Lee Stetson gently let the door fall behind him as he headed back towards
the main reception desk. There was a row of pay phones next to the elevator.
It was there he found Emily still on the phone. He picked up the receiver
and remembered the events from earlier. He had no change to make the call
and had left his only dollar bill with the hotel clerk. Emily, not missing
a beat in her phone conversation, grabbed several quarters out of her handbag
and placed them in Lee's hand. No wonder this woman made such a great agent
Lee thought with a chuckle.
"Just upping the meds a bit," she casually commented as she adjusted a device on the tube. "I've checked her and we're up to 5 now."
"Great, Amanda," Emily encouraged. "This baby will be here before too long."
Amanda just smiled. "Emily, you are an optimist, but we do have 5 more to go!"
"Mr. Stetson, this might be a good time for you to get something to eat," Kelsey commented as she rounded the bed. "We like to have our fathers well fueled when it comes time for delivery."
Lee glanced at the clock that now read 3:56. "Amanda?"
"I'm fine. I'm going to try to rest a bit. You go get something to eat. Take Emily, she's probably hungry, too."
"If you're sure."
"Okay, we'll go down to the cafeteria. If you need us..."
"I'll be well taken care of, believe me. Take an hour to get some fresh air."
Lee and Emily shrugged their shoulders in unison as they motioned towards the door. Taking one more look at Amanda, Lee smiled and shut the door behind him.
Amanda relaxed in her bed. Kelsey drew the shades closed and turned
off the overhead lights in the room. "Try to get some rest, you'll be needing
it in the next few hours."
"Amanda?" Lee whispered as he appeared beside her.
"Lee, what took you so long?" she queried with a rub to her eyes.
"We came back and you were sleeping so I've been talking with Emily in the waiting room. How are you feeling?"
"A little nauseated, but mostly okay. These contractions are getting more intense--at least they are worse than I remembered. Have you seen Kelsey?"
"She'll be in soon. I just saw her down the hall."
"Oh, I'd really like her to get a little more action going into this thing," she said as she jiggled the tube of meds leading into her IV. "I had Philip without any meds and that's when I realized there was nothing heroic about pain."
Lee chuckled. "I don't know how you're doing it with so few meds," he confessed. "I think I would have them knock me out if I were going through this."
"It's tempting," Amanda mused as she spied the monitor. "Oh no, another one already?" She gasped and took Lee's hand in hers. Her face contorted as the cramp gripped her abdomen. "It can't be much longer, these are really getting serious."
"Let's see how we're doing," came the command as Kelsey whirled into the room and joined the conversation. "It's been an hour and a half since we checked you." Kelsey pulled back the sheets and examined Amanda. "A good 8 to 8 and a half," she smiled from the end of the bed. "Excellent."
"Oh, I was hoping for 10," Amanda admitted.
"You're doing terrific," Kelsey encouraged. "I think by 6:30 we could have you pushing."
"That would be great. I suppose it's too late to get me one of those epidurals?"
"Amanda, you're doing fine. I'll up these meds a bit and you'll be ready to push in no time." Kelsey twisted a knob before exiting the room and heading back down the hall.
"When are the boys getting here?" Amanda questioned once they were alone.
"When I called they weren't home yet. Fridays they have practice late. I talked to Carrie, though, and she is going to pick them up from school, swing by fast food, and bring them up."
"I forgot about practice. They didn't have it last week because of Good Friday."
Just then Emily reappeared in the doorway. "So, how are we doing, dear?"
"We're at 8," she announced. "Probably an hour and I can push." Emily smiled at the news and took a seat in the chair by the window.
"Amanda, I hope you don't mind me spending the afternoon here. Seems the hubby has been caught up in some meetings all day...I certainly don't mean to intrude on this family moment."
"Oh Emily, you are family, really," Amanda said as she reached for Emily's hand.
"That's sweet of you, dear, but I'll probably slip out to the waiting area when things get too exciting," she said with a laugh.
"That's fine. I'm just so thankful for you today. If you hadn't come along, well, getting here would have been a lot more stressful."
"Emily, you really saved the day," Lee added.
"That's what friends are for," Emily sighed. "A namesake would be nice, though," she teased.
"Emily was top on our list but it got knocked off last August," Lee said. "Joe and Carrie named their daughter Emily so..."
"We didn't think Jamie and Philip needed two sisters named Emily," Amanda finished.
There was a knock at the door and an unfamiliar nurse snuck her head around the door. "Excuse me, but there is a Mr. Melrose on the phone for Mr. Stetson."
Lee and Amanda exchanged smiles as Lee stood up. "I'll be right back."
Lee followed the nurse down the hallway towards the nurses' station where line 4 blinked.
"Lee, it's Billy."
"Hey, Billy. What's up?"
"That's what I was going to ask you."
"We're doing fine. Amanda's doing very well. We should have a baby here in a few hours."
"That's great. Normally, I'd wait to ask you this but..."
"But, you need to know what I got from T.P."
Lee and Billy exchanged information for a few minutes. What had T.P. said? Did Lee get anything out of his other contacts? And Lee, just so you know, Francine and I will be here working on this case for a few more hours, so..."
"I'll call the Agency as soon as anything happens."
"Great. We'll be hearing from you then?"
"Count on it."
"Tell Amanda we're rooting for her."
"I will, take care." Lee Stetson clicked the phone back into place,
shot the nurse a thankful smile, and headed back down towards Room 331.
"Emily?" Carrie asked as she exited the elevator.
"Yes!" Emily replied, setting her magazine down and standing up in time to meet the trio in the middle of the waiting area.
"Lee said there'd be someone named Emily down here to meet us."
"And here I am...so good to meet you. I'm Emily Farnsworth, an old friend of Lee and Amanda's," Emily explained.
Carried nodded. "Very nice to meet you, I'm Carrie King."
"And of course, Philip and Jamie. How are you two doing?"
"Fine," Jamie answered with a hint of concern in his voice. "Just a little tired from practice."
"Yeah, fine," Philip agreed. "How's Mom doing?"
"Well, very well. They moved her into the delivery room around 6:30 so we should be hearing something soon." Emily motioned for the three to sit down. The room was empty except for a television on mute and tattered magazines tossed about.
"I was so surprised to hear from Lee. The boys just talked to Amanda last night and there was no activity," Carrie said.
"Yes, she went into labor around noon so things are moving quickly," Emily noted. "I hear you have a new baby, too."
"Yes, her name is Emily Kathryn. She's almost eight months," Carrie explained as she reached for her purse. "I just got back her Easter pictures."
"Oh, isn't she precious," Emily sighed as she examined the photo. A blond baby with big blue eyes hugging a pink bunny smiled back at her. "She's not with you?"
"No, I wasn't sure how long we'd be so my sister took her for the night."
"Ah, I see."
"And Joe is out of town on business," Carrie continued.
"Well, I know when they wheeled Amanda out they took her to that room in the corner," Emily commented with a nod of her head. "So I've been keeping an eye on it."
"I don't think it will be too much longer."
"I agree," Emily chimed. "Should be any time..."
Amanda managed a nod as she rested momentarily between contractions. The pillow behind her held her head and she closed her eyes.
"You're doing great, just great," Lee coaxed from his position next to her. She never released her grip on his hand, just relaxing slightly as the cramp subsided. "Is this better?"
She forced a smile towards Lee as he patted her head with a blue cool washcloth. Was it her imagination or was this really happening? A year ago the idea of having a baby seemed so charming. She remembered the frustration of not conceiving and the excitement of knowing that, come Spring, they would have their own baby. A piece of Lee and a piece of her. She was becoming painfully aware that birth was something that sounded good in theory alone.
"Ah, here comes another one!" Amanda announced as she pulled herself forward. She pushed as Lee counted to 10 out loud for her.
"I see a head!" the doctor proclaimed--an announcement that sent the two nurses in the room, Debby and Sue, scurrying. One unbuckled the fetal monitor that had been strapped to Amanda's belly all afternoon and laid a crisp blue blanket in its place. The other nurse adjusted the mobile crib stationed in the corner of the room. Unfolding a clean receiving blanket and adjusting some instruments, she returned her attention to the scene before her.
"A head..." was all Lee could mutter. He smiled down at Amanda who was again regrouping from the pushing. She reciprocated his smile. Amazed. He was just amazed. Through hours of painful, cramping contractions she had endured.
He was almost overwhelmed at the fact that, as much as he'd grown to love Philip and Jamie, so much of their early lives were a loss for him. He'd only gained minimal insights after pouring through photo albums and listening to stories. The person he was now about to meet would be his son or daughter. Someone who was part of him. Instead of just watching this baby's life progress from outside a kitchen window, he'd be on the inside. Instead of merely watching, he'd be in the picture.
"Okay, the head's out! Amanda, stop pushing for a minute," the doctor ordered. Lee snapped back to the present moment as the doctor suctioned the baby's nose and mouth. Sounds of a whimper escaped.
"This one's feisty," the doctor warned with a chuckle. "Next contraction should be it, Amanda, but you need to give it all you've got."
Seconds later one final contraction swept over Amanda. With all the strength she had remaining, she pushed and gave birth to her third child.
"You want a boy or girl?" the doctor asked as he wiped down the squiggling baby.
"I'll take whatever you've got in your hands!" Amanda admitted.
Lee and Amanda watched as the doctor gave a laugh and then replied, "Just for a change of pace, how about a girl?"
"A girl? Really?" Lee exclaimed. "Amanda, did you hear that?"
"Yes, I heard," she said with a laugh. "I can hardly believe it."
"Well, believe it," the doctor said as he stood up and placed the wide-eyed baby on Amanda's chest. The baby let out a terrific scream and changed into a rosy shade of pink.
Amanda gently stroked the face of her newborn daughter as a nurse rubbed the tiny torso, legs, and arms of the baby with a cloth. The nurse smiled and gave a quick congratulations.
"So Daddy, what do you think of all this?" Amanda chuckled as she examined the two perfect hands delicately curled around her fingers.
Lee was speechless for a moment and then leaned down to kiss Amanda. "She's gorgeous," he replied as he swept his hand over the baby's head, "and she's all ours."
"She sure is," Amanda agreed as the nurse took hold of the baby and brought her over to the station in the corner for some routine checks.
"So, you're not disappointed that you didn't get your Christopher?" Lee teased.
"No way," she replied seriously as she watched the baby squirm. "I didn't realize how much I wanted a girl until I heard the doctor say she was here. You're not disappointed, are you?"
Lee tossed his gaze back to the crib where his daughter was displaying her temper. "I couldn't be happier. Of course, this upsets the balance of hormones in the house," he grinned mischievously.
"Well, don't count on balancing it out any time soon," Amanda replied as she grabbed Lee's hand. "I love you but, no more babies for a while!"
"I understand, completely!" Lee agreed with a squeeze of her hand. "How much do you think she weighs?"
"She felt 10 pounds," Amanda joked. "But I'm guessing 7 and a half pounds."
"Looks closer to 8 pounds to me," Sue chimed in. "Debby, what's the verdict?"
Debby placed the baby girl on the metal weighing table and watched as the numbers on the scale jumped around, finally deciding on 7 pounds, 10 ounces.
"Pretty good," Debby announced as she continued making notes on the birth form. "She's 20 inches long. Time of birth: 6:57."
"Listen...I think there are some people anxiously awaiting some news...."
"Oh, Emily!" Amanda exclaimed.
"And Philip, Jamie, Carrie, Billy, Francine..." Lee added as he counted off on his fingers.
"Give us about an hour and we'll have Amanda and the baby back in the room," Sue added.
"Go, I'll be fine, really," Amanda assured him.
"I'll be back soon. You keep an eye on my daughter while I'm gone."
"I will. Hurry back."
Lee tossed her a reassuring smile as he left her side and took one lingering
look at the baby.
"Lee!" Emily gasped as she saw him, still donning his hospital scrubs. Her three companions jumped at the sound and joined her. Within seconds, a very proud Lee stood before them.
"It's a girl...she's perfect..." Lee gushed as Emily embraced him. "Looks like you two have another sister," Lee said to Philip and Jamie.
They responded in unison. "Can we see her?"
"What's her name?"
"Yes, you can see her in a bit. They are still giving her the once over. About 8:15 the baby and Amanda should be back in room 331."
"So, Lee, you still haven't told us her name," Carrie insisted.
"Chelsea...Chelsea Marie Stetson..." Lee announced, unable to suppress a grin. "My mother's middle name was Marie." Lee filled them in on the rest of the vital statistics and assured them Amanda was doing fine.
"Listen, I'm going to make some phone calls real quick..." Lee explained.
"Well I say this baby is cause for celebration," Emily interrupted. "Why don't we use this time to celebrate over some good hospital ice cream. My treat." The response was an enthusiastic round of cheers from the boys and an appreciative grin from Carrie. "We'll be back up in a bit, Lee."
"Sounds good. Eat some ice cream for me!" Lee added as they stepped onto the elevators. Once they had disappeared, he picked up a payphone and dialed a familiar phone number to a building in Georgetown.
"IFF," came the non-committal greeting.
"Francine?" Lee questioned, caught off guard by the unfamiliar voice.
"I'm sorry, Ms. Desmond is in a meeting."
"How about Billy? This is Scarecrow calling."
"I believe they are both meeting with Dr. Smythe, Scarecrow. Can I take a message?"
"You sure can," he grinned and listened as there was a rustling of paper.
"Tell them that Chelsea Marie Stetson was born at 6:57 tonight, March
31. She weighs 7 pounds, 10 ounces and is 20 inches long. Amanda and Chelsea
are doing fine..."
"Okay to come in?" Emily asked as she poked her head around the corner.
"Hi...oh yes, come on," Lee said as he met the group half way. "I want you guys to meet her."
Amanda positioned the baby in her arms and pushed back the cap on Chelsea's head so they could see the hair she'd been blessed with.
"What do you think?" Amanda asked as she noticed Philip and Jamie moving in for inspection.
"She's...cool," Philip finally admitted.
"Ya, she's looking at me, too," Jamie noticed. On cue, Chelsea Stetson wiggled her gaze between her brothers as if to inspect their common features.
"She's really a doll, Amanda," Carrie sighed.
"Do you want to hold her?" Amanda asked Philip who was playing with the baby's long fingers. She lifted the bundle into his arms and he awkwardly cradled her.
"She's light," was his only comment. Philip handed the baby off to Jamie who held her with similar expertise.
"She sure is, but she'll grow," Lee added as he moved towards Amanda's side.
"I remember when baby Emily was this little," Jamie said.
"Yep, so do I," Amanda agreed as she recalled the night of Dotty's wedding. "Not too long and this one will be a big girl."
Amanda noticed Emily and Carrie standing back at the foot of the bed. She motioned them forward. "Would you two like to hold her?" she asked as Jamie place the baby back in her arms.
"Oh, I'd love to," Emily admitted. "But I was just thinking what a nice family picture this would make."
Lee smiled and handed the camera over to Emily. After crowding in as close to the bed as possible, the camera flashed, freezing the cherished moment on film.
"Now I'll hold her!" Emily laughed as she returned the camera to Lee. Emily captured the baby in her arms and brought the baby close to her face. "She's an angel, right out of heaven!" Emily observed. A knock on the door sent six pairs of eyes in that direction.
"Hope we're not interrupting anything..." In the doorway stood Billy Melrose and Francine Desmond.
"You got the message!" Lee said as he went over to shake hands with his coworkers.
"Oh, we got the message!" Billy replied. "After you gave Judy the
information, she dashed into our meeting with Dr. Smythe and the rest of the team and blurted out, 'Scarecrow had a baby!'"
"We decided an event like this was worthy of a visit," Francine agreed as she placed the spray of baby pink roses on the table next to Amanda. Tied to the vase was a balloon decorated with a bunny, attesting to the Easter holiday that had just passed. It announced, "It's a girl!" Francine peeked over the boys' shoulders to spy a look at her, Billy following suit.
"She's a pretty baby," Francine admitted.
Billy reached over and rubbed Chelsea's rosy cheeks with his finger. "May I?"
Amanda eagerly said yes and held the baby out to the arms of section chief Billy Melrose. She thought of the times she or Lee had been called into his office for reprimands or advice. Those memories almost seemed unreal as she watched him cradle the newborn in his arms. Despite the danger of the work Amanda and Lee enjoyed, she was comforted in the scene before her. A protection she'd known for close to six years was now her daughter's as well.
Unbeknownst to the rest of the admirers, Lee Stetson slipped out of the room. Closing the door gently behind him, he walked the length of the hallway towards the pay phones at the elevators. Picking up the phone, he inserted into it some of the change Emily had given him earlier in the evening. When an operator announced he had reached Information, he asked for the phone number of Bernardo's Dinner Theater in Richmond. He jotted down the number and thanked the operator. Clicking the lever, he inserted more change and waited as the phone made a connection.
His mind busily reviewed the events of the last few hours. It seemed unreal to think of how his world had changed. But it had. People all around him scurried about, unaware of this fact. While the rest of the world knew it was March 31, 1989, he knew it and would remember it as something else. It was Chelsea's first day.