Chip Morton was having a wonderful dream! He and his wife, Matty, were on a beach in the tropics with the soft waves lapping at the shore and palm trees gently swaying in the gentle moving air They were sitting there enjoying the soft breezes, and the warm sunlight, and laughing with an air of carefree nonchalance. They were on a well deserved vacation.
And then there was a soft voice, calling his name, with gentle urgency. "Chip…Chip wake up…please!" and someone was gently shaking him.
"Chip, please, honey, wake up!" Matty’s voice held a note that was peculiar, and it made Chip take notice.
"Nothing’s wrong. In fact, there is something about to be very right!" She smiled at him in the darkness of their bedroom. "It’s time." She held her bulging stomach. "Our little one is about to make his or her appearance."
Chip literally jumped out of the bed and stood there in total shock. "Now?!"
He looked at his watch, "But it’s 0200!"
She touched his arm, and said tolerantly, "Babies don’t come by our clocks, Chip. They have their own time table!"
"Well, what do we do? What should I do? Did you call the doctor? Where should we go?" he walked around to her ‘side’ of the bed…"Are you ok? Should you be standing up…" he looked at the puddle of liquid on the floor. "What happened? Did you spell something. Here sit down on the bed. I’ll take a shower…No, I’ll just shave… no… I’ll take a shower and shave…Maybe I’ll just get dressed… What about you?"
Matty was laughing at the total chaos in the mind of the Seaview’s usually unflappable XO.
"We have to get to the Med Center.
Did you call? Should I call…Maybe I should take a shower…"
She reached out and put her hand on his arm. "Whoa, Sailor!" She sat him down on the bed. She kissed him on the cheek, and softly whispered, "Fatherhood is about to become a reality, my dear. Now calm down!"
Chip looked at his wife, and let out a huge sigh. "Guess I lost it a little, huh?"
She grinned back "Just a little…" she said. "Now, let’s get this show on the road, Commander. I want to clean this up here and get dressed. Then get over to the Med Center."
"No, no labor. Not yet. Just the water breaking." She moved to the linen closet, and he was right behind her.
"Just a minute!" He wrapped his arms around her enlarged waist. "Do you realize that this is the last time that we’ll be here, alone, as Chip and Matty. The next time we are here, it will really be the three of us."
"Yes, I do… Are you ready for that?"
"Not at all!"
"Nope! But I’m sure that we’ll do the best we can! I can guarantee this little one lots and lots of love!!!
"That‘s for sure!"
He kissed her warmly, and then asked, "You called the Med Center?"
"Yes. Dr. Sanakalaya is waiting for us there." He reached for several towels and told her, "I’ll clean this up, you go change. . . . and check the bag to see if we have everything we need."
She nodded, and headed toward the bathroom. He took the towels, and quickly cleaned up the floor. When Matty came out of the bathroom, dressed in a long and loose gown, Chip smiled. "You look beautiful, Mrs. Morton. I love you!"
He took her into his arms and held her. "I love you too, Chip! So much, and I’m so excited and so frightened right now!"
"It will be fine, Angel… just fine!" He ran his hand over her stomach, and let it rest there for a few moments. "This little one won’t give us any trouble!"
"I hope not, Sailor." She laughed, nervously. "You’d better get showered and dressed. I’d like to get there soon."
"Ok, it’ll take me five minutes."
She lowered herself into the chair , and closed her eyes. ‘Little One, you’re going be making your appearance soon…it’s been a long road. I’m sorry that your beginning was so scary…but you’re so wanted, and so loved, and I can’t wait to meet you in person. I wonder who you are going to look like? I do hope it’s like your Daddy. He has the most wonderful eyes, and the most charming smile. And his laugh… well, you’ll soon see. He’s a wonderful husband, and I know he’s going to be a wonderful father. In just a little while, little one… just a little while…’
She felt a hand on her shoulder, and she turned and looked into those wonderful clear blue eyes…
"Let’s go, Mommy!"
She nodded, and he helped her to her feet, and reached down to grab the bag for the trip to the Med Center. "Your chariot awaits, m’lady… shall we …?" With a courtly bow, he extended his arm to her.
She smiled at him, took his arm, and they went down the stairs to the car…
In five minutes, they were at the Med Center. Chip gently eased Matty from the Jeep, and helped her into the door of the Center. There was corpsman waiting at the door, and Matty smiled to see that it was Frank Lerner. As she settled into the chair, Will Jamison joined them. Leading Chip away from Matty, he said to him,
"Park the Jeep, Chip."
Morton gave Will a blank look. "Look out the door, Chip. The Jeep is running, the doors are wide open, and you’re in the fire zone! Go park the Jeep."
"Matty isn’t going anywhere, Chip. She’ll be here. Go. . . park. . . the . . . Jeep."
Chip went out the door and to the truck, driving it off to the parking lot. Lee Crane came up behind the doctor, accompanied by Harriman Nelson.
"Looks like our Exec is in for quite an event. I think he’s going to need some lengthy support. This is something that he’s not prepared for in any way!"
Nelson clapped the Seaview’s Captain on the shoulder. "I think this is something that only you can help him with, Lee. You’re the only one with experience with this. Jamie and I haven’t been so blessed!" Nelson said, a tinge of regret in his resonant voice.
Lee nodded. His memories of the birth of his son were, at the very most, bittersweet. Robert was nearly two and a half years old. And Cathy was gone for less than two years. It still hurt so much to think of Cathy, to remember, and to think of all that they had shared, and all he had lost… and all Robert had lost! He remembered back to the day Robert had been born… Oh yes, Chip was in for quite a time! He smiled sadly at the memory. Nelson’s hand went to Lee’s shoulder. He knew that his Captain was reliving some very painful memories.
"Easy, Lad," he said quietly. Lee nodded.
"I’m all right, sir. This is a big day for Chip and Matty. Too much happiness for me to be melancholy. Don’t worry about me, Admiral. Look, here’s Chip now."
Chip Morton came through the doors of the Med Facility on a dead run, and out of breath. His friends reached out to stop him.
"Easy, Chip. Just slow down a bit"
"But I’ve got to get to Matty. She needs for me…"
Jamison took his arm. "She needs for you to calm down, Commander. This is a perfectly normal happening! Women have babies all the time… They need time to get her ready…We’ll all go and get coffee, and then I’ll take you to her myself!"
Lee’s arm went around Morton’s shoulder, "No ‘buts’, buddy! This is an order from your commanding officer! To the Cafeteria! Now, Mr. Morton!"
Chip knew he wouldn’t win this go round with the three men, so he acquiesced and went with them, hoping that he wouldn’t be away from Matty for too long!
Matty was feeling quite comfortable. Surprisingly so. The nurse had helped her change, and then helped her into the bed. They had attached the monitors to her stomach, and allowed her to settle in. She got out a portable CD player that she had brought along with some of hers and Chip’s favorite Jazz CDs, put on the music and just lay back to listen.
When the Seaview men arrived at the room, Matty was sitting in the bed, eyes closed, listening to the music, unaware of their arrival. The three men hung back, while Chip went into the room and gently kissed his wife. She opened her eyes and smiled at him. He laid his hand on her stomach.
"How are you doing, Angel?"
She sighed, "All right. The Doctor was in, and the water has broken, but, ‘we’ aren’t having any contractions…" She saw the three men standing in the doorway and motioned them in… smiling… "Come on in, you three. Don’t stand in the doorway!"
The three men moved into the room, and Lee came next to the bed first. In a gentle voice, he asked her," How’s it going?"
She smiled warmly at the Captain, knowing how much hurt he must be feeling and how hard it was for him right now, to be here with all the memories that must be crashing upon him… "Love and Loyalty, no matter what…Little one…remember that!" Her hand caressed her stomach, and she held Lee’s hand tightly for a moment.
"I’m waiting patiently for this Little One to make their arrival! Seems to have gotten started and then stalled a bit… Jamie, could you find Dr. S. for me?"
Jamison hurried out of the room, and Nelson moved next to Crane. "Is there anything that we can do for you, Matty?"
"No, sir. Just look after the Exec, he’s a little beside himself!" She smiled at her husband and held onto his hand tightly. That gesture betrayed all of her anxieties to the two men standing at the side or the bed.
"Don’t worry about Chip, Matty. He’s going to do fine!" Nelson chuckled.
She laughed, along with her husband and said to Crane and Nelson, "You wouldn’t have believed that if you had seen him at the house. It was a picture that I wish that I could have taken!"
Nelson quirked an eyebrow at Morton, and Crane just grinned broadly…"So, our stalwart XO has an Achilles’ Heel. I’ll have to remember that some time!"
Chip just gave Lee the withering look that he used to make the crew shake over a mistake in front of the Exec. Lee continued to grin at his friend, "Won’t work on me, Morton." He laughed and continued, "You couldn’t get to me at the Academy, and you still can’t!"
"You’re sworn to secrecy, Lee! Not one word!"
"We’ll see, Chip…we’ll see!"
Jamison came into the room at that time with a tiny Indian lady. Dr. Nirmala Sanakayala was a Colombia trained Ob-Gyn who had just come into the Institute to do some research on multiple births, in humans, that Lucius Emory was trying to tie into his work with his dolphins. She came right over to the bed side, and took a long look at her patient.
"Matty, my dear, is there any change?"
Matty shifted and shook her head to the negative. The doctor looked at the men in the room and, with a small smile on her face, said in her soft voice, "If all of you gentlemen will leave, I would like to examine my patient. Dr. Jamison, if you would please stay..."
Chip kissed Matty lightly on the forehead. "I’ll be outside…"
"Don’t worry, Sailor! I’ll be right here!"
Outside the door, Chip paced the hall, as Nelson and Crane stood nearby. "Lee, what if…?"
"Chip, she’s ok. The doctor, let me correct that , the doctors, know what they are doing. Like Jamie said, Matty isn’t the first woman to have a baby!"
"But she’s my wife, and this is our first baby!"
Lee put an arm over his friend’s shoulder… "Trust me on this one, pal! It’s ok! Jamie would let you know right away if there was a problem."
At that moment, Dr. Sanakayala and Jamison came out of Matty’s room. There was a look of mild concern on both their faces, and Jamie motioned Chip to join them. Crane and Nelson stood off a slight distance, and waited until the doctors finished talking to Chip. He then came over to the two of them, a serious expression written on his face.
"They said that Matty isn’t having any contractions, so that they want to start her on some medication to see if they can get the contractions to start. Dr. S. says that there is a twelve hour window for her labor to begin. If it doesn’t, then she’ll have to have a Cesarean."
"What did Matty say to all of that?"
"Just to make sure the baby is ok." His face clouded, "After this baby’s rough start, all we both want is for Matty and the baby to be safe."
"That’s what the Doctors want too, Chip! Why don’t you go in and see Matty?"
He nodded and went into the room, leaving Nelson and Crane standing in the hallway. Nelson nodded toward Crane, and the two of them went down the hall to the waiting area.
A very worried Chip Morton looked at his wife. She was a complete contrast to him, looking the picture of ease and serenity.
"What’s wrong?" he demanded.
"Nothing’s wrong. We’ve just come to a bit of a stopping point, and we have to move from there. I’m not having any contractions and I should be. So the Doctor has ordered an IV drip of pitocin to see if we can get this show on the road. . . And then if we don’t get labor, then they do the section!"
"Are you ok with this, Angel?"
She reached out for her husband. He encircled her with his arms, and she laid her head on his shoulder.
"I think so, Sailor. All I want is for the baby to be ok."
He kissed her, and then said, "And all I want is for the two of you to be ok."
"We will be, Chip. Jamie said that this isn’t that uncommon a problem. Dr. S. said the same thing. And a section isn’t that bad a thing…lots of women have them!"
She shivered slightly, and he held her a little more tightly, and she relaxed into his arms. "I am a little frightened, Chip. What if…?"
He stroked her hair, softly, and murmured, "No ‘what ifs’, Angel. Everything is going to be fine, just fine. We’ve got the best doctors we can. Everything about the baby is fine… I love you, and the baby. We’ve been through so much. This is going to be fine. I’m sure…" he kissed her again, and the nurse came into the room.
"Mrs. Morton, we have to set up the IV. Commander, if you’ll wait outside for a few minutes."
Chip nodded, squeezed Matty’s hand and left. In the hall, he leaned against the wall, and slid downward until he was sitting on the floor, his head resting on his arms. Lee found him that way moments later. Instinctively, Crane joined him on the floor, elbowing him in the side.
"Is this a private party or can anyone join in?"
Chip looked at his best friend, and Lee saw all the fear for his wife and child in those usually inscrutable blue eyes. He reached out to Chip, as the Exec said in a barely audible voice, "I’m scared, Lee."
Crane’s response was immediate. "I know."
"Matty has been through so much, with the Sergeant at the cabin, and now a complication…"
Lee carefully placed a hand on the Exec’s shoulder. "You know, it seems to me that the things that most people take for granted in their daily lives are never without problems in our lives…even the arrivals of our children."
He paused, and his amber eyes took on a far off look. "You weren’t here when Robert was born. You and the Admiral had the boat off on a charting mission. I was still landbound after the job that Dr. Atler had done on my back…" He winced at the memory of the pain, and the long months of recovery and therapy. "Cathy went into labor at 0130. Hard labor, they said. She’d been having pains all the day before, and didn’t let me know…" his voice softened, "She was like that, you know. Didn’t want to let people get anxious or upset. Especially me! Anyway, we got here at 0200. Robert was born at 0400. I can’t tell you how the incredible the whole thing felt,… how I felt when I held him that first time, how it still feels each time I look at him… How much I miss…" The two friends looked at one another, the unspoken words between them saying more than spoken words could. Lee clapped Chip on the shoulder.
"Come on, pal. Your wife needs you! I’ll be out here, with the O.O.M. if you need a break!" They rose, and Morton went into the room to be with Matty. Lee shoved his hands into his pockets, and slowly walked down the hall, towards the cafeteria.
Admiral Nelson came towards him, and seeing the set of the Captain’s body, asked him, "Is everything all right, Lee?"
"Hmmnh, Oh, yes, sir. Just remembering, and missing her right now."
Nelson was silent, and then he commented, "I understand, lad…need some time alone?"
Lee shook his head, "No, sir…If I’m alone, I’ll just feel worse. And this is a day for Chip and Matty to celebrate. I don’t want to spoil that with my I’m ok." He flashed a grin at the older man. "Let’s go and keep Chip and Matty company, it could be a long time before we all get to meet this young one!"
Matty sighed heavily. As the monitor beeped again, and the wave of pain came crashing upon her, she bit down and counted, squeezing Chip’s hand with an equal intensity. As the contraction wound down, her breathing relaxed, and she took a deep breath, anticipating the next wave.
Chip wiped her forehead with a soft cloth. She smiled weakly at him. Six hours of playing with the pitocin was wearing on her. When the drug was in the IV, the contractions were frequent and strong… but when the drug was stopped, the contractions stopped completely. Her level of frustration was increasing rapidly. It seemed as if there was little progression in the delivery. Her baby didn’t seem to be anxious to be born… ‘Come on, Little One, make up your mind… do you want to meet us or not?’ She stroked her hardened stomach. She looked at Chip, who was also showing the strain of the last six hours. As the next contraction began, she again squeezed his hand as they counted, and did the breathing patterns, together.
The contraction ended, and they relaxed again. The door opened and Jamison, and Dr. S. came into the room. The Indian lady went right to her patient. Softly she asked, "Matty, how are you doing? Have we made any progress?"
Matty shook her head ‘NO’ as another contraction began.
Sanakayala turned to Chip. "Commander, I am going to check your wife, would you please leave the room for a few moments? Perhaps you could see your friends and get some coffee?"
Chip nodded reluctantly to the doctor, and looked to Matty for assurance.
"Go ahead, Sailor. It’s a ‘girl’ thing!"
He smiled at her, kissed her on the forehead, and then left the room. "Be right back, Angel!"
Chip paced the hallway again, with Lee and Nelson standing close by. Nelson went over to the Exec, in an attempt to say a few words of encouragement, however, he found himself at a loss for words since this was something he knew nothing about. He simply clapped Chip on the shoulder, in an effort to reassure him, and then went back to stand beside Lee.
In spite of his promises to himself, Lee Crane was getting more and more depressed. He couldn’t help but to think of Cathy. Remembering her, and the birth of Robert was opening wider wounds that had not yet truly begun to heal. He was trying hard to be happy and upbeat for Chip and Matty. He really was! It was just that Cathy was so close, here in the birthing room…He could close his eyes and see her on that day…the sparkle in her eyes as she held Robert for the first time… "Look, Lee. Isn’t he perfect? Didn’t I tell you that our baby would be a son? I knew It!!" Robert had started to cry, and a nurse had come in and helped her to begin to nurse the baby. He stood back, at that moment, and watched her, with the baby. His wife,… his son… What a wonderful gift that God had given him! After all that they’d been through, what a wonderful gift!!"… and then she was gone! The time without her had passed so slowly for him, but so quickly for Robert. He was such an inquisitive child! His mother said he was always into something. He needed a mother…but Lee wasn’t ready for that yet…maybe he would never be. He stood there watching Chip pacing, knowing he should do or say something to support his friend, but he was feeling so low, that he was afraid he’d say the wrong thing, at this point!
He looked down the corridor, and saw two women walking toward them. Shaking his head, and smiling slightly, he turned and advanced toward them. As he passed Nelson and Morton, he took each man by the arm, and turned them toward the two.
Karen and Caitlin Davis came towards the three men, smiling. Karen went right to Chip, "How’s Matty?" she asked as she hugged the Exec warmly. Both women, dressed in NIMR sweats, had hurriedly come as soon as they had gotten the call. Nelson came up behind her, and slid his arm possessively around her waist. She leaned into him, and his grip tightened slightly. She looked at him and smiled softly, her head leaning on his shoulder as she looked to Morton.
"I’m waiting for the doctors to finish checking Matty. We’re having a little difficulty."
Karen quirked an eyebrow, "Problem?"
"No labor. When they give Matty the pitocin, the contractions come hard and regular. As soon as they stop the drug, the contractions stop."
"Then a section is in the offing?"
"That’s what they’re telling me…"
She put a hand on his arm. "Don’t worry, Chip…You won’t miss anything! They won't let you! They let fathers in for sections today!… And don’t worry about Matty. She’ll do fine! The both of them will! I remember I thought I might have to have a ‘C’ because Caitlin was three weeks early. But she’ll do fine, Chip. The doctors know best here" She then grinned a bit as she studied his face. "Hmmm, I think you're the one they need to worry about here. Think you can handle a little blood, Commander? It may get a little strange in there."
She glanced over at Lee who was standing aside, a dark expression on his face. She watched as her daughter went over to the Seaview’s Captain and began to talk softly to him. Crane’s expression seemed to lighten a bit as he continued to talk to Caitlin.
‘Looks like he could use some cheering up. This is got to be hard on him considering it hasn't been that long . . .’
She then looked back at Morton, "Chip, do you want some coffee, or something. I know that Matty can’t have anything but those blasted ice chips. I remember that so well! Caitlin’s father, Robert, was sitting on the couch eating a sandwich, and all I could have were the damn ice chips…and the smell of his hot roast beef sandwich and fries was driving me crazy!" She smiled at Chip… "C’mon, Commander, let me buy my dive team second a cup of coffee." She linked one arm in his, and then turned around to Nelson, winked, and offered, "Admiral, would you care to join us" . . . then without waiting for his reply, she linked her other arm in his, and led the two men toward the coffee shop.
Lee looked up from his talk with Caitlin, as the trio walked down the corridor of the Med Facility. Caitlin was regaling him with tales of some of the pranks that several of the fraternities had pulled during Frat week on the campus of Virginia Tech. He in turn was able to share a few of the pranks that he and Chip had pulled at the Academy. The two of them spent some time in a companionable discussion of pranks and pranking at college, so by the time that Morton, Nelson and Karen had returned to the hallway, they were laughing so hard that they were both holding their sides. Karen looked at her daughter, and then the Seaview’s Captain, and smiled to herself. Caitlin had found a way to make Lee forget his pain, at least for a little while and laugh, and that was a good thing.
Caitlin looked up at Morton and suddenly laughed even harder. Chip turned and cast a questioning look at his friend. "Lee?"
"I was just telling Caitlin about the time, when we were ‘firsties’ that you had gotten into the laundry, and switched a few things on Jenkins and Hopkins…"
"Lee, you didn’t…."
Caitlin was trying to catch her breath, "Oh, yes, he did!" Tears were forming in her eyes.
"Lee Crane, you swore that you’d never…"
"Now, who’s Caitlin going to tell? And besides, the two of them never found out!"
Just then, the doctors came out of the birthing room, and headed for Chip. Jamison stood aside, as the Ob-Gyn spoke softly to the Exec…he nodded seriously and she swiftly walked away. Chip went immediately to the birthing room, and Jamison came over to the small group.
"Jamie?" Lee asked, as the doctor said hello to Karen and Caitlin.
"Nirmala has talked to Matty, and they’ve decided to go ahead with the section. Neither one of them feel that waiting any longer will change things. The baby is higher up in the birth canal than when she came in. And Matty is getting tired. Six hours of labor, and then no labor, and so on is wearing on her. To be quite frank, at 36, this isn’t easy… We’ll do the section in 30 minutes or so. It’ll take that long to get the OR set up. You all can go in and see her, if you want. She, and Chip could probably use some ‘bucking’ up."
Nelson and company nodded and went into the room…
Minutes earlier, Chip rushed into the room. Matty didn’t say a word, and just opened her arms to him. He wrapped his arms around her, and she let out a shuddering sigh, and hugged him tightly.
"That’s better, my love… much better." She settled herself back into the bed, and he continued to hold her. "this is the better course, Chip…we both know that."
"Yep…Are you ok with it?"
"As long as the baby is ok, then I’m ok with it. It’ll just take me a little longer to get back to work, and to the boat… eight weeks instead of six,"
"So," he said, nonchalantly, "It’ll take longer…it’s not as if you don’t have an ‘in’ with the Senior Staff."
She smiled at him warmly. " Have I told you lately how much I love you, Chip Morton?"
"Mmnn, not in the last ten minutes, Matty Morton."
"Well, I love you! And I’m so very excited, and so very frightened, and I know that it will be alright, won’t it?" she asked him tremulously.
He held her tightly, and stroked her hair. "Yes," he said reassuringly, "It will be alright. I have it on the best authority, Doc Jamison!"
At that moment, Nelson, Crane, Karen and Caitlin knocked and came into the room. Karen Davis moved right to Matty’s side, and took the younger woman into her arms. Neither spoke a word. After a few moments, they broke apart.
Karen nodded. "You’re welcome." She smiled down at Matty, "Sometimes, they just don’t understand."
Matty returned the smile, and reached for Chip’s hand, as he sat next to her on the bed. "So I guess you all know that we’re going to have this baby in less than an hour?" She saw Caitlin standing next to Lee near the foot of the bed, "Caitlin, Did you come out for a long weekend?"
"Actually, it’s mid-semester break. I have a week off, and there were a couple of things that Mom and I wanted to do… I didn’t think that I’d be here for the big event!" She grinned, "No need to tell you two that I’ll be available for babysitting when I’m home!"
"Thanks. If you give this little one as much care and love as you’ve been giving to Robert, when you have him, I’m sure we’ll take you up on that offer."
Caitlin’s face flushed slightly, but the color passed quickly, and the only one to really take notice was Karen. Interesting . . .
Frank Lerner came into the room, and handed Chip a package, with a wide grin. "Mr. Morton, these are the scrubs that you need to put on to go into the OR with the Commander. Admiral, Skipper, Captain, Miss Davis, I believe that all of you know where the waiting room is…We have to get the Commander ready for the OR, and Mr. Morton has to get changed. You’ll have to go now."
Lee shook his head slightly at the Corpsman’s manner of ordering them about. If he wasn’t so good at what he did, sometimes Lee wished he could transfer the man off the boat. He was worse than Jamie…He always got his own way!
Each in turn gave Matty a kiss and shook hands with Chip. When Lee went to shake hands, on impulse, he grabbed Morton and gave him a hug. "Good Luck…" He said hoarsely. He then turned on his heel and left. Chip stared after him for a moment, and Matty reached out and took her husband’s hand.
"He’s trying so hard, Chip." She swallowed hard. "I feel so badly for him, he wants us to be happy and he wants to share the happiness, but it’s not happening! We have to let him know that it’s ok…And that we love him, no matter how he’s feeling!"
Chip hugged her once again… "Lee doesn’t know how lucky he is to have you for a friend, Matty…but I do! And I’ll be sure to let him know after this baby is born!"
Just then Frank, a nurse and the two doctors came into the room. "Ready, Matty?" Sanakalaya asked her.
"As ready as I can be…Chip …"
"Will follow us in a few minutes. Frank will wait for him and bring him into the OR when we are ready."
Efficiently, the monitors, IV and other paraphernalia were stowed, and the bed and its occupant were moved out of the room. Chip kissed Matty one more time, and she settled back into the bed, talking softly to the Ob-Gyn as she was moved to the OR. Chip stood in the empty room, holding the scrubs, staring blankly at the closed door. After a minute, Lerner tapped him on the shoulder.
"Mr. Morton, sir…"
Chip snapped alert. "Yes?"
"The Scrubs, sir?"
"Oh!… yes….where do I …"
He gestured towards a door… "In there, sir…"
Chip nodded, and went into the restroom, were he stripped and quickly changed into the scrubs. When he came out, he was still looking slightly bewildered, and Frank took his arm, almost leading him, "This way, Mr. Morton…"
In the OR, Frank led chip through the doors to the operating suite, stopping only for the two of them to don gowns and masks. He guided the Exec to the head of the operating table. A stool stood next to Matty’s head. A drape was placed at about the level of her chest so that they could not see the doctors at work. Matty was laughing slightly as Chip sat next to her. One arm was strapped to an IV board, with several lines leading into one. Her other arm lay at her other side. Chip raised an eyebrow at her as he sat. She looked at him and said softly…
"The Anesthesiologist wanted me to raise my knees and curl into a ball so he could give me the epidural! I told him to try it when he was nine months pregnant and about to deliver! Neither one of us could stop laughing when he realized what he was asking me! I told him I hadn’t seen my knees in four months, and asked him what they looked like… He said they weren’t bad!"
Chip grinned at her, beneath the mask. The doctor called over the drape, "Matty, are you ready? Once we begin, your baby will be born in about five to seven minutes."
"Yes, I’m ready…" she asked Chip softly, "How about you, Sailor?"
"If you are, I am," was the reply. She held Chip’s hand tightly as the doctors began the procedure, several times asking her how she was feeling. She continued to reassure them that she was not feeling a thing!
Then, Jamison’s voice announced, "Chip, …Matty, it’s a girl!"
Morton pulled the mask from his face, leaned forward, and kissed Matty.
"Congratulations, Angel! You’re a Mom!"
"Congratulations, Sailor! You are a Dad!"
The nurse came around the drape, and
took Chip by the arm. "Commander, come with me." He rose, and followed her to
the area at the end of the room. There, being measured, weighed and cleaned off,
was his daughter. He stood there in awe. ‘His daughter! She was so small! So
very tiny!" Jamison clapped a hand on his shoulder.
"Amazing, isn’t it, Chip?"
He nodded, still too stunned by the emotions overflowing his consciousness to speak. The nurses finished with the baby and, after diapering her and wrapping her in a blanket, handed her to her father.
Gingerly, he ran a finger over the baby’s forehead, touching the soft, blonde down of hair. He couldn’t help the tears that were falling from his eyes.
‘What a miracle! ‘ The baby girl reached with flailing fists, and found his finger, and clutched and gripped it. She opened her eyes and stared all knowing into his face. Her blue eyes, flecked with turquoise, stared deep into his soul. At that moment, she claimed as her own, her father’s heart and soul in a way that only a daughter can. He smiled at her, through tears of wonderment, and would have sworn that she smiled back at him. Slowly he walked toward Matty, and almost reverently handed her the baby.
She wrapped her free arm around the baby, and Chip leaned over and wrapped his arms around the both of them. Matty looked up at him , and then at the baby.
"She’s perfect!" she whispered in wonder.
"Like her mother!" he added quietly. The two of them continued to touch and hold the baby, full of the wonderment of new parents, until the little one opened her mouth and yawned widely. The nurse was standing behind them, and touched Chip on the shoulder.
"Commander, why don’t you come with me while we take your daughter to the nursery. The doctors need about 45 minutes to finish up with your wife."
Gingerly, Chip handed the baby to the nurse, who laid her in the isolette, and started to wheel her out of the OR. Chip kissed Matty and stroked her forehead.
"I love you!"
"I know…I love you, too!’
"You can meet her in the Recovery Room, Chip…Go on, now, go with your daughter."
Slightly reluctantly, Chip followed the nurse, and Matty lay back, and waited for the doctor to finish closing the incision…
There was a crowd at the window of the nursery when Girl, Morton was placed it the isolette near the window. Not only Lee Crane and Harriman Nelson, and Karen and Caitlin Davis, but Chief Sharkey, the senior ratings, Bob O’Brien, Sparks, and a number of the Seaview Crew not on duty at the boat. A cheer went up from the enlisted men, causing the Senior Staff to smile, and when Chip appeared in the room, many thumbs up were signaled and further cheers went up. He looked put the window and grinned at the large crowd. After looking in at the baby once more, he left to go to Matty’s side in the Recovery Room, while the members of the crowd pushed forward to see the tiny baby girl.
Chip walked into the quiet of the Recovery Room, and to Matty’s bedside. Her eyes were closed, and she looked like she was sleeping. He took her hand in his, leaned over and kissed her lightly on the forehead.
"Mmmmnn,…hi! yourself, Daddy!" she smiled, "She’s beautiful, isn’t she?"
"Just like her mother…How are you feeling, Angel?"
"Just tired,… and very, very happy. Thank you, Chip, for our little girl!"
"Thank you!" He kissed her tenderly, and still holding her hand tightly, asked her, "Do you still feel the same about her name?"
"Yes, do you?"
"Now more than ever… She looks like it will fit her fine!"
"When they move me to our room, we’ll tell her, and then we’ll tell everyone else…"
Eight weeks later, a very large, and very happy group of people stood in the baptistery of the Mission Church of Santa Barbara. The priest and minister stood at the font, as a baby girl, swathed in layers of ribbon and lace was held over it. Water was poured over her head, and the priest intoned the age old words of Baptism. Going against tradition, the baby girl had two Godfathers, and one Godmother. Lee Crane and Karen Davis were not a surprise to those that knew the couple, but the civilian, one Alexander Gillette, was. Only those closest to the couple knew the reason that Gillette was there in such a place of honor. All assembled smiled as the baby remained serene, and received her name, and the parents and Godparents beamed, as Alexandra Victoria Morton was officially named, and accepted into the warm family of the Nelson Institute.
There would be adventures to come, and dangers to face, but for now all was calm, and happiness was paramount.
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