RATING: PG with a *happy* tissue warning!
SETTING: Takes place 4 years after the show ended.
SYNOPSIS: Lee and Amanda welcome a new addition.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This story is a purely *emotional* look at the prospect of Lee and Amanda bringing a baby into their relationship. I am not arguing whether they would, or would not, have a baby, nor am I trying to explain how it would affect their lives. So, ignore all those questions for now, just read and enjoy! Thanks to my beta-readers for helping me polish this story - you know who you are!
The pain shoots through my back and sides, the muscles cramping tightly. Gasping, I try to breathe. Why does this have to get harder with age? Feeling the contraction subside, I relax momentarily, knowing the reprieve will be short-lived.
Feeling him squeeze my hand, I look up into his eyes. I know this is harder on him. I have been through this before, after all. Seeing his worry, I smile, trying to reassure him. He is so protective of me - he can't stand to see me in pain, even for this.
The tightening begins again. Focusing on the picture of the boys on the nightstand, I breathe, panting through the contraction. Leaning forward, I feel his hand pushing into the small of my back as he tries to ease my pain. Feeling the tension subside, I lie back to rest, knowing I'll need my strength later.
I am getting closer. I know this without all of the fancy tubes and wires and equipment. When did childbirth get so complicated? I'm aware that my age puts me at risk, and for Lee's sake I agreed to the monitors, but I refused the offer of drugs. I didn't need drugs with the boys. I can do this.
"Lee, the doctor called today," Amanda said, a mixture of emotions crossing her face.
"Oh? What did she say?" Lee asked, grasping his wife's hands tightly in his own.
"She said it's safe. I'm perfectly healthy and my hormone levels are fine. We can try for a baby anytime," she said, smiling as his face lit up.
"Well, Mrs. Stetson, no time like the present." He swooped her up in his arms and carried her, laughing, up the stairs to their bedroom.
She is so brave. How do women do this? I can see the agony cross her features, yet she doesn't complain. In between contractions, my eyes seem irretrievably drawn to the threep, threep, threep of the fetal monitor. To see my... our... baby's heartbeat on that little screen is mesmerizing.
I feel her squeeze my hand tightly, painfully, just as I see the peak of a new contraction displayed on the monitor. I have watched in fascination as the peaks have gotten higher and closer together. This is a long, hard one - I can't feel my fingers.
She relaxes, releasing her grip on my hand, and I shake the feeling back into my fingers. I glance again at the monitor. Threep, threep, threep. What does the baby feel, there inside her protective cocoon? Is she in a hurry to join us, or does she resist the inevitable descent into our world?
Returning my attention to Amanda, I offer her more ice chips. Eagerly she takes them, her parched lips relishing the moisture. She has never looked so beautiful. That she would do this for me, for us, astounds me.
"Lee, I need to stop at the drugstore on the way home. Do you mind?" she asked, trying to keep her features from revealing her excitement.
"Huh? Oh, sure, no problem," he replied absently.
"Lee?" she asked, disappointed at his reaction.
"What, Amanda?" He looked up from his computer screen, for the first time noticing her face. She looked excited, scared, happy and nervous, all at the same time. "What is it? Do you feel okay? Are you sick?"
"No, not sick. Just... late." This time apprehension won over, giving her features a worried look.
"Late? What - Oh, my God, Amanda! Do you mean what I think you mean? Are you - are we - pregnant?" He jumped up from his chair and rushed over to her, taking her into his arms in a crushing embrace. Pulling back, he looked into her tear-filled eyes, his own eyes also betraying a hint of moisture. Bending down, he kissed her tenderly.
Gaining control over her voice, she said, "Now, Lee, it's not certain yet. Let's not get carried away."
"I'm sorry, Amanda, I can't help it. I don't remember ever feeling this way before. You have made me so happy." Beaming down at her, he continued, "Let's go. I'm ready to stop at every drugstore between here and Arlington, if necessary."
Gasping, I feel the pain subside. Looking up at my husband, I tell him to go get the nurse. I remember this overwhelming urge to push. I will wait for the nurse to check me before I give in to the urge, but I'm not sure how much longer I can wait.
I wince at the slight pinch as the nurse examines me. I know what the nurse will say. The urge to push is so strong now... my body is ready. Nodding as the nurse tells me I can push with the next contraction, I look over at Lee. The worried expression on his face is almost comical.
Reaching out my hand, I pull him over to me. Kissing his hand, I look up, smiling my reassurance. I tell him everything is okay. The baby is strong, I am strong - we can do this. We will do this.
"Tick, tick, tick," the timer echoed in the confines of the room. Had ten minutes ever lasted so long? Sitting together on the bed, watching the timer, holding hands, they waited. No words seemed adequate.
Abruptly, the timer dinged. Jumping in unison, the two glanced nervously at each other.
"Do you want to look?" she asked.
"No, I think you should look," he replied.
"Why don't we both look?" she suggested, her liquefied limbs holding her captive.
"Um, okay. We'll both look," he acquiesced, his stomach vying for position in his chest. Standing, he pulled her to her feet.
Holding hands and creeping into the bathroom, they stopped in front of the sample-laden vanity. Looking at the neat row of specimen cups and indicator sticks, they stood, stunned, as the meaning of what they saw registered.
"Oh, my gosh - " Amanda gasped quietly.
"Oh, my God - " Lee blurted.
" - we're pregnant!" they exclaimed in unison.
Holding a damp cloth to her forehead, I'm amazed at her stamina. It seems like she's been pushing for hours. I glance at the clock and realize only fifteen minutes have passed. Seeing my gaze, the doctor chuckles and tells me to relax - we're almost there.
Threep, threep, threep. The fetal monitor registers a strong fetal heartbeat. The baby is holding up better than I am, I realize as I feel my racing pulse. The contractions are registering nearly on top of one another - each one giving Amanda another chance to push our daughter out into the world.
Hearing the doctor tell Amanda that it's time to push again, I shake myself out of my reverie. Reaching out to help support her back, I watch as she sits up, straining, sweat plastering her hair to her forehead as she prepares to push once more.
"Lee! Lee," Amanda whispered furiously.
"Hmm?" he mumbled drowsily.
"Lee, the baby's moving," she whispered, reaching across the bed for his hand. Pulling his hand over, she placed it on her abdomen, holding it in place as she waited to feel another kick. "There, did you feel it?"
"Oh, my gosh, Amanda! That's incredible," a fully alert Lee whispered excitedly. Leaving his hand in place, he waited breathlessly, until he felt another nudge against his palm. Grinning like a simpleton, he reached over and kissed his wife tenderly on the lips. "Mrs. Stetson, that is absolutely the most exciting thing I've ever felt in my life. Thank you."
Tears forming in her eyes, she smiled back at him. "You're going to make a wonderful daddy, Lee Stetson," she replied, snuggling against his chest as she drifted back to sleep.
The pain tears at my insides. I feel as if I'm trying to push out more than just a baby. I don't remember it hurting this much.
Pausing, I am vaguely aware of Lee's sounds of encouragement, but his words don't register. I must push again.
"There, do you see it? That's your baby, growing nicely," the ultrasound technician stated as she ran the probe over Amanda's swollen abdomen.
"Look, Lee, the baby's sucking its thumb!" Amanda exclaimed.
"Do you want to know the sex?" the technician asked.
"Oh, my, I don't know. Lee, what do you think?" She looked inquiringly at her husband.
"Well, I think I'd like to know, but only if you want to," he answered, grinning at her.
"Oh, why not? It's kind of exciting. I couldn't have known with the boys, I never had an ultrasound with them. And I've been so convinced that this one's a girl that it would be nice to know if I'm right. Better to find out now than after I've decorated the nursery all in yellow," she said, grinning back at him.
"Well, Mrs. Stetson," the technician said, "you have good instincts, this baby is definitely a girl."
"A girl, did you hear that, Daddy? A girl." Amanda sighed at the thought of her big, strong husband bouncing a baby girl on his knee. "Lee?" she asked again, turning her face from the ultrasound screen. Seeing the tears in his eyes, she smiled tenderly at him, squeezing his hand tightly.
I hear the doctor say the baby's head is crowning. Glancing into the mirror, I gasp as I see the top of the baby's head appear. Then, slightly alarmed, I watch the head disappear from view. I look questioningly at the doctor.
The doctor tells me not to worry, that this is normal. The next push should deliver the baby's head fully. Looking down at Amanda, I tell her we're almost there. She doesn't seem to hear me; I know she's near exhaustion.
"Well, Lee, don't you think it's time we discussed baby names?" Amanda asked, as they lay cuddled together in bed. The swelling of her abdomen was so disproportionate to her small frame that she seemed to be further along than her eight months.
"I think we should name her Amy," he replied.
Looking at her husband in surprise, she said, "I didn't know you'd even thought about this, Lee. When did you decide on Amy?"
"Well, I did some research into your name. Did you know 'Amanda' means 'one that must be loved' or 'lovable'?" he asked, pulling her more tightly into his embrace.
"I think Mother told me that, years ago. Why?"
"I looked for other names that mean the same thing. The name 'Amy' means 'beloved one', which is exactly how I feel about our daughter," he finished, caressing his wife's abdomen. "So, I think it fits. What do you think?"
"Oh, Lee, I like it very much. But what about the name I picked?"
"What name is that?" he asked.
"I thought it would be nice to name her after you." Seeing his skeptical look, she continued, "I really like the name 'Leanne' for a girl. What do you think?"
"Well, my 'lovable' one, how about we name her Amy Leanne?"
"Yes, I like that. I like that very much," she replied. Moving her hand down to her abdomen, she said, "There you have it, baby girl, Amy Leanne Stetson it is."
Push... 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10... Lee's voice counts. The baby's head is out. The doctor says to stop... Stop? I can't stop! Lee's voice says they need to suction the baby's nose. I understand... I stop.
Schloop, schloop goes the aspirator. I can push again, push... 1-2-3-4-5... the baby's shoulders are free... 6-7-8-9-10... the rest of the baby is free. The pain is gone. Finally. I'm tired, oh, so tired.
"Lee! Lee, I think it's time," she said, shaking her sleeping husband.
"Hmm, what, Amanda?" he mumbled, rolling over.
"Lee, it's time. Get up, please," she said, more urgently this time.
"What?" he asked, her words suddenly registering. "It's time! Oh, my God."
Amanda watched in amusement as her husband leapt out of bed, stumbled into his jeans, and practically fell as he pulled his shoes on. "Lee, we have plenty of time yet."
"Oh, no, Amanda. I'm not taking any chances. I don't want to have to deliver my baby in the car on the way to the hospital. Let's go," he said, picking up her overnight bag and practically dragging her from the room.
Laughing, she followed his frantic form as he rushed down the stairs ahead of her.
I watch in amazement as the tiny, bright red, bundle of baby comes into the world. Her tiny, angry screams reverberate in the small room. I smile, thinking how healthy she sounds.
Kissing Amanda on the forehead, I see her close her eyes in exhaustion. You did it, Amanda, you did it! Nervously I take the surgical scissors from the doctor, trying not to shake as I cut the umbilical cord. I watch the doctor deftly tie it off. Our baby is still screaming, quite angry at the world.
I watch as the team of doctors and nurses check my tiny daughter's Apgar scores. Wailing, squirming, and her skin a healthy pink, they give her a rating of eight. The nurse weighs and measures her. She is a strapping seven pounds, four ounces, and is twenty inches long. The nurse places her in a diaper, puts a pink knit cap on her head, wraps her in a blanket and places her on my wife's chest.
Opening her eyes, Amanda looks at the writhing, noisy bundle on her chest and smiles a heart-wrenching smile. God, how I love this woman. She asks the doctor if she can nurse the baby. Seeing the doctor's nod, she looks over at me, asking if I'll hold our daughter while she gets ready.
I nod, tears wetting my cheeks as the nurse transfers the baby to my arms. I look down at her - her wide-open mouth - her eyes squeezed shut - her tiny nose. Lifting her cap, I seee a mass of dark hair atop her slightly pointed head. Amazed, I feel her fingers close around mine. I count each one. I count her toes, too. I am astounded at the miniscule nails adorning each one. How does one cut such tiny nails?
Hearing Amanda say she is ready, I carefully hand our daughter to her. She deftly places the baby's open mouth over her exposed breast, the resulting quiet almost deafening. Smiling, I watch the baby make sucking movements with her jaw as her tiny mouth emits slight slurping noises. Looking at my beautiful wife, new tears brimming in my eyes, I say, "I love you, Amanda Stetson."
She looks at me, a smile of utter joy and contentment on her face as she says, "I love you, too, Lee Stetson. We did good."
"Yes, yes we did. We did very good." I look tenderly at
my suckling newborn baby girl. "Welcome to the world, Amy Leanne
Stetson," I tell her as the tears run unabashed down my cheeks. "I
love you, too."