This is how it should have been...
Rita struggled to roll over and lay on her back, shifting herself so that the rest of her stomach would easily follow her movements. As she lay wide awake, just staring at the ceiling, the baby within her tried to find still more room to stretch in it's increasingly cramped living quarters. This time, Rita could feel it's tiny foot find it's way under her rib cage, which made even the simple act of breathing hurt. She placed her hand there, giving the area a gentle caress in hopes of persuading her little angel to move its foot, and let mommy rest comfortably for a little while. Her little angel responded with quite a powerful kick, but at least it did move its foot. Now Rita felt the top of her stomach swell as the baby moved. She felt the tiny foot poking against her stomach wall, and she cupped it with her hand. Soon the baby moved again, and they were playing their first game together. Catch me if you can, it seemed to be teasing. She loved trying to feel the different parts of her baby through her stomach, a foot here, a knee there, sometimes a hand or an elbow... never had she imagined that carrying a child within her would be so magical, but it was. Even in times like these, when she desperately wanted to sleep.
"It really is quite normal,” her doctor had told her. "When you’re awake and active, your movements sort of rock, or lulled your baby to sleep. During your moments of rest, the baby is awake and experimenting with all its latest moves. Absolutely nothing to worry about, Mrs. Lorenzo," he had told her. Easy for him to say, she thought. He got to sleep at night. She didn't.
She decided that sleep was out of the question for the time being, and struggled to sit up. Her movements woke Chris out of a sound sleep, but she felt no sympathy for him.
"Sammy... .you okay?” He asked as he sat up. “Do you have to go to the bathroom again?" he asked sweetly, concerned that she was up at this hour.
Feeling slightly guilty for the hard feelings that had just briefly passed through her, she nodded at him and put her hand on his shoulder to use as leverage in getting up. "I'm fine, Chris. No, not the bathroom this time... our little Lorenzo here just thinks it's playtime again. “ She sighed wearily. "I do hope this child understands the concept of day and night, once it's born. “
Chris watched her as she stood up, if not gracefully, at least with stability. "Do you want me to keep you company? I'll warm you up some milk, maybe that will calm down our little night owl. “
"No, it's all right. You have to get up early for work .Go back to sleep. I'll just go down and read for a while. “ She walked around to the other side of the bed and sat by him , leaning over for a kiss. "I love you for offering though. Thanks, Sam. “
Chris sat up and kissed her on the forehead. "Well, I love you too. “ He patted her belly, then pressed his mouth against it before saying aloud, "Hey you little squirt in there, no more playing b-ball in the middle of the night, got that? You’re keeping Mommy awake. “
Rita laughed. "She’s got it Sam... which is why she is practicing ballet instead.”
"Ha! Still convinced it's a girl, are you Sammy? Nope... I know this little bambino is a boy, and in another three weeks, he will prove me right. I'm telling you Sammy, all those "darling little dresses" you and Fran bought, are gonna have to go back. “
Rita gave him a gentle shove. "We'll just see who will be running back to the store after the baby is born. It will be you, exchanging that basketball for toe shoes!"
"Hey... just hold on a sec... why couldn't our daughter play b-ball?" Chris asked.
"Because you wouldn't like it after a while, Chris. You know how you get when those of the female persuasion beat you!"
"Ha! Go down and read your book, will ya, little Miss Smarty pants? I am going back to sleep. “
He gave her another kiss, and helped her to rise again. "Oh, and Sammy... please don't eat any more of that Strawberry pie either. Remember what Fran told you... babies always get more active after the mommy eats sweets. “
"Yeah, yeah... I'm not too sure if that's true or not, but don't worry Sam, I will leave the last piece for you. “
"Very generous of you, sunshine, especially since you ate the rest of it. “
Rita gave him a look, before picking up the throw pillow that sat on the chair by the door and tossed it at her husband. "Goodnight Christopher!"
Chris shielded himself, laughing. He took the pillow, rolled over, and tucked it under his head. "Ha! Night Sammy. Love you. “
"Love you too, Sam," Rita said as she opened the door and left the room.
A few hours later, Chris entered the living room, and found his wife asleep on the couch. He thought of awakening her and sending her to their bed for a more comfortable rest, but she looked so peaceful, and she was finally sleeping soundly, that he didn't want to take the chance. He took the book off her chest, and covered her with an afghan then leaned over and gave her a soft kiss. She moaned softly, but never awoke.
Before he left for work twenty minutes later, he stood at the door and checked on his wife one last time. He was glad that she was finally able to get some sleep. Smiling, he gazed at her swollen stomach, and once again became overwhelmed by all the love her felt for her. Man, he thought... Rita is my wife, and we are going to have a baby together... I am happier then I've ever been in my whole life and it is because of her.
She was due in less then a month now, and as the pregnancy progressed into the third trimester, it had become harder on her. She was a small woman, and lately carrying around the extra twenty-five pounds she had gained, wore her out. Being easily exhausted, along with the slower pace that came along with her growing belly, was something Rita was definitely not used to. Going from the thrill of chasing and catching criminals to feeling satisfied when she was able to put on her own shoes was quite a lifestyle change for Rita Lee Lance. She loved carrying their baby within her, but being pregnant was something she had to learn to love. She had not been her old self in quite awhile.
In the beginning of the pregnancy, she had often been sick. She worked through each day bearing the nausea then coming home only to fall fast asleep. Then when she’d just begun to feel better, her pregnancy had started to show, and Chris found himself constantly obsessed with her safety. She was his world, and he lived in dread of all the things that could possibly happen to her or to the baby she was carrying. He wondered how he could bring up his fears to Rita without making it seem like he was back to being his old Neanderthal self. Thankfully, it was Cap who had been the one to take the matter into his own hands, easing not only Chris's fears, but his own as well, by promoting Rita to lieutenant. Rita had been ecstatic over the promotion, and she too realized that it was in the best interest of the baby. She settled into her new routine of overseeing the other detectives, and watching Chris go off with his new partner every day. It hadn't been an easy change for either of them, but it was a necessary one, and they both knew it. To ease the boredom of her new desk job, she often found herself dreaming of the day she and Chris would bring their newborn baby home for the first time. She was deliriously happy and contented, despite how hard it could have been seeing Chris working with his new partner, Holly Rawlins. She often comforted herself with the thought that she was the one going home with Chris each night.
All her hopeful thoughts and wishes about their future together were brought to a sudden halt the day Chris had been shot by Montoya, and life once again reminded her of its harsh realities. Not even newlywed for a month yet, and she had almost become a young widow. She wouldn't admit it, but Chris knew a vicious fear had been firmly planted within her that day. She had abruptly quit the force, refusing to even talk about it with him, or anyone else. It was only her nightmares that gave him a clue as to what was going on within her. She was terrified of him going back to work, but she knew that she couldn't stop him if that was what he wanted to do.
In the month since he had returned to work, her nightmares had increased, though she never seemed aware herself that she was having them. They weren’t his only reminder of her restless spirit though. Her anxiety worsened if he was late coming home, or he was assigned to a case that involved drugs or seemed especially dangerous in any sort of way. He wished he could make her as happy and contented with their life as he was. Maybe when the baby came, she would feel more at ease, he thought.
Chris arrived in the shop ahead of time, wanting to read the toxicology report he had requested a rush on the day before. Yesterday had been a difficult day for him… in more ways than one. He and his new partner, Holly Rawlins, had been called out on a case in which a seventeen year old girl named Amy Spelling had been found dead, most likely of an overdose. It had upset him to see such a young and pretty girl, who could have had so much going for her, with needle marks covering both her arms. Her ex-boyfriend had insisted that she had been clean for over three months now. The problem was that he had also mentioned that the night before they had broken up due to an argument about her missing a few counseling session, because she didn't think she needed them anymore. Chris's guess was that the argument had caused her to relapse. Her fingerprints were all over the syringe that had been used. Reading over the report now, he made a notation in Amy Spelling’s file and set it aside on the pile of papers he would hand over to Cap for an opinion on later that day. This was another case he knew he couldn't share with his ex-partner, and he missed that. She was still his best friend, and he would have liked to confide in her about how he was feeling. Unfortunately, there were drugs involved, and that was a forbidden topic these days in their home.
Just as he was rising to get a cup of coffee, George Donavan walked in, carrying his briefcase in one hand and a file in another.
"Hey Lorenzo... where the hell is your partner? She was supposed to meet me twenty minutes ago for her court appearance... she's late again! I had the judge grant me an hour recess, but he isn't too impressed with me right now. Is she here yet?"
"Sorry George, I haven't seen her, but I just arrived about fifteen minutes ago myself." He held out a styrofoam cup to the assistant district attorney "You want a cup?"
"Did you make it?" George asked hesitantly.
"No, I think Gracie did. You want one or not?"
"Of course then."
Chris poured another cup of the steaming black liquid then placed it in front of George, who had taken a seat at the desk sitting across from Chris's. "So, Lorenzo... how're things going? You glad to be back?"
Chris shrugged his shoulders half-heartedly. “In some ways, yes...in others, it's not the same anymore. Guess the old days are a thing of the past George.”
George nodded. "Yeah... I guess they are. So how is Rita feeling these days? She should be delivering anytime now, huh?"
"Three more weeks. I can't wait!" Chris beamed excitedly. "Man... I never thought things would come to this, you know? I mean, Rita is going to be a mother... not only that, but she's going to be the mother to my child. I am a happy man, George. My life is perfect!"
George patted Chris on his back. "I couldn't be happier for you both... but before I say another word, I'd better get going. “
"Hey! What's that supposed to mean?" asked Chris.
"Oh... never mind me, Lorenzo. Let's just say in about another four or five weeks, you'll know.” George let off a chuckle "Boy, will you know!"
Chris stared after his friend, wondering just what he had meant.
When Chris arrived home later that evening, he found Rita making their dinner. She had her back to him, softly humming to the radio, completely unaware that he’d come home .He snuck up to her and encircled her with his arms, his fingers barely touching each other around her waist. It shocked him a bit to think of how much she’d grown in the last month or so.
"Hey, Momma... how you feeling?" he asked her, as he snuggled his chin into her neck and breathed in her soft scent. His hand rubbed over her tummy.
Rita leaned back into his embrace. “Much better. I finally slept... until Fran called and woke me. She took me to lunch and then we went shopping. I have to show you the things we bought for the baby.” Rita sighed contentedly in his arms.
Chris's hand was still rubbing her stomach, hoping to feel a movement from the baby. He felt instead the top of Rita's pants unbuttoned and left opened. He could feel they would no longer close.
Giving them a tug, he chuckled "I think you should stop buying the baby all these things, and buy yourself some more maternity clothes instead. You're busting out of these, Sammy.” That was his mistake. He knew it the moment he saw her turn around,the hurt showing in her eyes.
"I'm due in another three weeks, Chris. I thought it would be a waste to buy more clothes for myself. I'm not going to be this fat forever you know!" She slammed down the spoon she had been holding, and fled the kitchen, leaving Chris to stand there and wonder how it was he was always saying the wrong things to her, things he didn't even mean to imply. He heard their bedroom door slam.
Looking down at the pot she had been stirring, he saw that she had been making a parmesan sauce. He turned off the burner and shoved the pot to the back of the stove.
When he opened the door to their bedroom, he found her staring out the window, wiping some tears from her face.
"Sammy... what is it? I 'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you.”
"You called me fat, Chris!"
"I never said you were fat... I just thought maybe it was time for some new clothes. “
Rita turned to him, as she looked down at her bulging stomach. “Look at me Chris...I'm freaking HUGE! I went to get dressed in my blue jumper today, and it wouldn't fit me! So I just put these pants on with a long blouse and then Fran and I went shopping. I was trying on maternity clothes... and all these beautiful skinny woman with their flat stomachs and small butts were looking at me... I just felt so... so ... so...”
"Pregnant?" Chris offered, smiling at her.
Rita stopped trying to find the word to describe how she felt. She smiled sheepishly at her husband. “Yeah... pregnant...”
"Well, Sammy...I guess I should be the one to tell you, it's about time you find out anyway now.” He breathed in a sigh "Rita...you are almost eight and a half months pregnant. Any day now, you are going to have a baby.”
For a moment, Rita just stared quietly at her husband, before bursting into laughter, "No, no... We are going to have a baby!" she walked over to him and encircled her arms around his neck, planting a kiss on his cheek. Chris wiped some hair from her eyes and ran his finger along her jaw line as locked her eyes with his own.
"Yes, we are, my dear... but it is you carrying our baby... and I don't see huge, Sammy... I see a gorgeous woman carrying this beautiful life within her...and every day that goes by I watch your stomach grow and see that life becoming more and more perfect. I see my life becoming more and more perfect ... Rita, I love you so much... I am sorry if you thought I was calling you fat. You know I would never hurt you like that. “
He felt her sigh deeply. "I know... I was being pretty silly I guess... I'm sorry. I don't know what got into me. “She leaned her head onto his chest.
"Don't be sorry, Sunshine... I know you’re all hormonal and everything" At his words, Rita tried to give him a sucker punch to the stomach, but he quickly backed away, and she missed... “Ha!" He teased her. Rita pretended to pout, and as usual, that did him in. Sucker punch or not, she had him whipped. He went back over to her and took her in his arms again, understanding that this wasn't just about how big or unattractive she thought she was. He had learned to expect these little moments of hormonal hell in his father-to-be-book.
"It won't be much longer now, Sammy" he heard himself tell her, "Soon our baby will be here.”
As if to confirm itself, the baby gave a hearty kick, and even Chris felt it. “Whoa... that's my boy!" he said proudly. The baby responded with yet another hard kick, and Chris heard Rita slightly gasp. He leaned down and spoke to his child.
"Hey slugger..take it easy in there fellow... it isn't time yet... but it will be very soon“
He laughed as he heard a bit of the old Rita he knew: "Thank God for that. “ he heard her say into his chest.
"Fran... we're about to leave here now... probably be there in about twenty minutes... No, not at all... She thinks I'm taking her to lunch. No really, don't worry, ...she has no idea what's up, I promise you. Oh... Fran, she coming down the stairs, I have to go... see ya!" Chris no sooner ended his conversation, when Rita walked into the room. She came over to Chris and turned her back to him. “Could you clasp the hook for me? I can't quite reach it.”
Chris took the silver clasp that was sewn on the back of her maternity dress, and clasped it together. When he was finished he wrapped his arms around her, and kissed her in the back of her neck. “Hmmm...you smell good... and you look great. I'll have the prettiest lunch date in the restaurant.”
"It's okay Chris... I actually like this dress on me, but thank you for being so sweet.“
"That's me," Chris gave her the famous Lorenzo grin.
Rita giggled. “So who was on the phone? I didn't hear it ring?"
"Oh... that's because it didn't... I called Cap... We have to make a quick stop by his place because I forgot to give him some papers I was supposed to fill out.”
"What kind of papers?" asked Rita.
"Oh, it is just an evaluation form... asking me if I'm happy being partnered with Holly... but it's due first thing tomorrow morning, and I forgot about it." Chris turned his wife to face him, then leaned down and kissed her on her nose. “And since I am going to be a little late because of your doctors appointment , I told him I'd bring it by on our way. “
"And are you?" Rita asked him.
"Am I what?" Chris asked confused.
"Are you happy being Holly’s partner?"
Chris shrugged. "Well, as partners go, she'll do. It's hard to accept the rest when you've already had the best. Ha!" Chris laughed.
"Chris!" Rita giggled with him, but was secretly pleased with his response anyway.
"You ready Sam, we really have to get going now. “
"Oh. Well, let me just quick feed the fish before we go...I just realized I forgot to yesterday.”
"Sammy... we're only going to lunch, not on a weeks vacation. You can do it later, when we get home.” Chris said, as he watched her walk over to the fish tank. He quickly glanced at his watch, remembering the time.
"It will only take a min...Oh no!!!"
Chris hurried over to her. “What is it Sammy, are you in pain?" he asked anxiously. Rita turned into him, hiding her face on his chest, apparently very upset.
"The fish, Chris...look... they have ick!"
Chris looked at the tank, then back at his wife. He had no idea what it was she was talking about, and he was very confused. Did she say her fish were sick? "Ah, Rita, they're not sick...look, they are just fine, swimming around happy as clams. Ha!" He laughed at his own joke, but Rita only nodded her head, and now he could see her wipe away a few tears.
"No, Chris...Ick...it's a fish disease... my fish have it. I have to get them some medicine now.”
"So we'll get it then, Sammy... it's not a problem" Chris told her.
"Chris! Don't you get it? I can't even take care of my fish right... how the hell am I going to take care of our baby? I don't know anything about babies... and we are going to have one? What were we thinking... we aren't ready to raise a child, Chris!" Rita burst into tears, as she tried to do what she could at the time with her fish tank.
Chris caught her by her shoulders, and turned her to face him" Rita... it'll be fine. We'll be fine. Our baby will be fine! We are not the first parents who have no idea how to raise a child. I don't think there are many first time parents who do... but they learn as they go, and so will we.”
"But Chris...neither one of us has much of an example to look back on... what if we make some horrible mistakes?"
"Rita… will you love this baby?"
"Of course, Christopher... I love our baby so much already... but that's why I'm so afraid now. Our baby deserves the best start in life... and what if we can't give that to him or her? Already we can't give our baby grandparents and aunts and uncles... most new parents at least have their families to help them. I just really wish I had a mother right now, you know?"
Chris shook his head, trying very hard not to let his amusement with his wife’s newest hormone attack show. “I know Sammy... but believe me, we can do this... all our baby will need most from us is our love... which it already has... what we don't know now will come to us... I promise you...I won't let you forget to feed our baby or change it's diaper... and I'm sure if I do, the baby will be kind enough to remind us, don't you think?"
"Yeah...I guess so" Rita nodded her head. “It's still a little scary though. Maybe we should hire a baby nurse. “
"No, Sammy...no baby nurses. You and me."
Rita smiled at him. “You and me...and baby makes three.”
"Come in with me Sam...Fran told me to tell you she saw something online for the baby and printed it out...she wants your opinion before she orders it. “
"Oh Chris...tell her no...She's done enough already. “
"Ha...Rita...you do realize what you just said, don't you? We are talking about Franny here... I've already told her that... .but I just got the same old answer from her...that she's the godmother and it is only natural for her to want to buy things for her godbaby. Now you come in and tell her yourself... maybe she'll listen to you.” Chris came around to her side and opened the door. He helped her out and led her up the walk to Cap and Fran's house.
"She doesn't listen to me either. Our child is going to be spoiled rotten at this rate, you know that, don't you?" Rita said, as Chris rang the doorbell.
A minute later the door was opened, and Fran greeted them. “Oh hi kids. Heschy is in his office waiting for you Chris...he's working on his stamp collection. Just go right on back" She took Rita’s elbow and led her into the entry hall. “Oh, doll, how are you feeling... only a week to go now!" She continued on before Rita could answer. “I'm so glad you came also... I have something to show you...it's adorable! I printed it out to show you...follow me doll, it's in here. “ Fran said as she led Rita into her living room.
"Surprise!!!!!!!" came the shouts of many familiar voices. As Rita entered the room, she was definitely surprised. Woman jumped at her from every corner, nook and cranny that could hide them. In the center of the room was a gliding rocking chair with a huge yellow ribbon on it and above it was a decorated umbrella, with streamers of yellow, green, blue and pink hanging from it, and little plastic baby bottles and rattles glued on top. Aside the chair sat a huge pile of brightly wrapped gifts with many different baby themes on the paper. Rita couldn't believe what she was seeing. Her friends had thrown her a baby shower.
Fran escorted her over to the gliding chair, and lowered her into it, as friends began to seat themselves all around her. Karen Crane came up and pinned a diaper corsage onto her blouse, while Rita giggled.
For the next hour and a half, Cap and Chris heard the "ohhhs" and "ahhhs", coming from the living room. The "how sweets" and "how adorable" and "how precious" were spoken more times then any man would care to hear, but the fits of laughter and squeals were what really annoyed them. The woman were having quite a good time in there and they felt they were missing out.
"How come men don't get a baby shower?" asked Chris. Cap glared at him over the top of his glasses. “Lorenzo... you really worry me sometimes. “he said.
Chris shrugged his shoulders, and grinned.
Finally, Fran came in to invite them both for a piece of cake… and to join the rest of the party. Rita was in seventh heaven showing Chris all the gifts she had opened for the baby. She showed him the rocking glider chair from Fran and Cap, a car seat/baby carrier, a baby swing, and an infant bath tub, along with the many adorable outfits . Karen Crane had set up a trust fund for the baby’s education, insisting that it was the least she could do for her dear friend, Donald Fontanel’s grandchild. She had known Rita all her life, and after Donald's death she had always kept an eye on his daughter, wishing she could do more for her, but knowing it was best for Rita not to bring her into the Crane family as it was. Now, however, she was thrilled to have the opportunity to be apart of Rita's life . She had come to love Chris just as much as her little Rita, and she was thrilled for the happiness they had finally found with each other. She had seen their love for each other from the moment she had first seen them together. At one time, her and Donald Fontana had looked at each other in the same way... but that was a long time ago, and fate had other plans for them.
It seemed as if Holly had bought out the entire baby store, giving Rita a huge basket of baby essentials. Taylor was enjoying testing out the baby monitors she’d purchased with Chris. While they played, Rita and Fran marveled at the bassinet that detached it from its base for easy carrying around that came from Diana.
The best surprise of the day came from Chris. He handed Rita a small package and when she opened it, she looked up at him, her eyes shinning with tears, remembering back to the day she had finally agreed to marry Chris. They had been laying on the couch and she had been snuggled in his arms. All that week, he had been trying to convince her to marry him. She’d had a lot of reservations, the biggest being the baby she’d just learned she was carrying. Unknown to her though, Chris had dedicated a song to her on the radio earlier that evening. It was that night that she had finally overcome all the doubts and fears she had about their relationship up to then.
Now clutching the CD, Rita smiled at Chris, and asked Fran if she could use the stereo.
Hey you, you're a child in my head
You haven't walked yet
Your first words have yet to be said
But I swear you'll be blessed
I know you're still just a dream
your eyes might be green
Or the bluest that I've ever seen
Anyway you'll be blessed
And you, you'll be blessed
You'll have the best
I promise you that
I'll pick a star from the sky
Pull your name from a hat
I promise you that, promise you that, promise you that
You'll be blessed
I need you before I'm too old
To have and to hold
To walk with you and watch you grow
And know that you're blessed
As the song played, Chris came up behind his wife and wrapped his arms around her belly, as he caressed it tenderly. Rita leaned back into the comfort of his arms and smiled. They were in a world of their own. The others watched and smiled at the two, then went back to what they were doing and continued their conversation. Everyone there knew Chris and Rita... none of this was new to them.
Later, after everyone had wished Chris and Rita their best wishes and went home, Cap and Chris loaded up both their cars heaped with gifts and took them back to the Lorenzo home, while Rita stayed to wait for Chris' return. She tried to help Karen and Fran clean up, but neither would hear of it and insisted she do nothing but relax. Finally Rita just gave in and sat on Fran’s sofa as she listened to Karen and Fran chat. She was a little tired. Closing her eyes for just a minute, she never heard Cap and Chris return an hour later.
Chris sat in the kitchen with Karen, Cap and Fran, accepting their offer of coffee while giving Rita a little more to rest.
"I want to thank you both so much for what you did today... I know that it really meant a lot to Rita... and to me as well... it's like we have families... and Rita’s been missing that lately.”
"Oh Chris... are you kidding me? We have been planning this from almost the moment you both told us you were expecting... I've said this before Chris...you and Rita are the children Hesch and I never had. I mean that. Isn't that right, Heschy?"
"Of course it is... I couldn't ask for a better daughter then Rita.” Cap joked as he grinned at Chris.
"And I have always loved Rita... and now you Chris... I guess I already thought of all of us as family.” Karen reached out to touch his hand.
Chris smiled. “We do too... I guess Rita just has had a lot on her mind ... but what you've done for her today will remind her of that...so thank you.”
"Oh...well don't think we did it out of pure selflessness, Chris...we do have ulterior motives too you know... ..I expect to be asked to baby-sit and be invited to every single birthday party. “ Karen told him.
"Same goes for me... ... and I don't want to hear any more whining if I choose to spoil my god-child.” Fran ordered.
They talked for awhile longer and just as Chris decided to go and wake up his wife, she entered the kitchen.
"Chris... I... I think it's time. “
"I know Rita...it's getting late... I was just about to wake you, and take you home.” Chris replied.
"No... we can't go home, Chris...I mean it's time... the baby is coming... we have to get to the hospital.” Rita winced as she spoke.
Cap jumped up and was by her side in a second to support her as she gripped her stomach. Only one second later, Chris was on her other side. “No Sammy... that can't be it... you’re not due for another week yet.”
Cap, Fran and Karen all looked at each other. Finally Cap spoke up, shaking his head. “ Lorenzo... Get your wife to the hospital...now...Now!" he shouted as he usually did when he was issuing orders at work.
Within seconds, Chris was leading Rita out the door, trying to convince her that she shouldn't be feeling contractions yet.
"We'll follow you in our car!" shouted Cap after them, seeing Rita's pleading face as she gave them one last look. Cap was sure that if Chris had his way, Rita would find herself sitting in their driveway, begging her husband to take her to the hospital.
Perhaps if they had all listened to him, they could have all been home and sound asleep by now, Chris thought. He knew it was too early for Rita to deliver, and now, after they had been at the hospital for about two hours, Rita was being sent home. The doctor had explained she was just having some serious braxton-hicks contractions, and that though it could seem like labor at times, it really wasn't. Her uterus was just preparing itself for labor, which could come at any time now. Then a thought struck him.
"Any time now" her doctor had said... Anytime now... Chris thought, as he drove home, with Rita asleep in the font seat beside him. Anytime... It could have been tonight though... He could have become a daddy tonight.
The next morning, Rita had what was to hopefully be her final checkup before the baby was born. Chris never tired of hearing the baby's strong, fast and steady heartbeat. Neither did Rita. All was well with the baby, her doctor assured her ,then asked her how she slept the night before, after the false labor episode.
"She slept fine...I'm the one who was afraid to fall asleep in case the real time came. Kind of made me a little jumpy, I guess.” Chris grinned.
"Well, it shouldn't be much longer now. You are already two centimeters dilated, and I don't expect to see you here next week for another checkup, but we'll go ahead and schedule an appointment anyway, just in case. “
Rita’s due date came and went, much to Chris' disappointment. Beings a Sunday only made it worse for Rita because Chris never left her side, and she felt his eyes watching her expectantly all day long. She had awaken that morning with a feeling of trepidation, and that night she was shamefully grateful that she hadn't went into labor. And that was the way she continued to feel as each day came and then went, while Chris grew more and more impatient for their baby’s arrival.
Rita spent most of these last days with a sudden burst of unexplainable energy that she hadn't felt in nine months. She used it to her advantage and cleaned every inch of their home spotless. She put away the last of all the baby shower gifts, and made up the crib and bassinet. And when she had everything to her satisfaction, she found herself cleaning things she had never given thought to before, which especially amused Chris. He couldn’t figure out why she cared if all his work tools in their garage were properly put away and organized. But she did. He was relieved when she awoke the morning of her doctors appointment with a backache and not feeling very well. At least he wouldn't have to tie her down to get her to take it easy and rest that day.
Of course the doctor had been wrong about probably not needing the appointment they had made for that day. Chris and Rita found themselves yet again with empty arms and a full belly when they went in for the next checkup. Both looked more weary this time, as Rita was only getting small stretches of sleep and Chris was frustrated that the due date had come and went and then some.
"Hey doc... the baby's late! It should have been here three days ago!" Chris complained.
"Christopher," Rita sighed wearily. “I already told you... that is just a guess... the baby will come whenever it's ready.” she told him, as she rubbed the huge mound of her belly.
"The heartbeat is still good and strong. Why don't we check to see if you've dilated anymore?” the doctor said. Chris held Rita’s hand as the doctor checked her progress.
"Well, well, Mrs. Lorenzo... I can't give you an exact time, but I'd say you will be having this baby within another day. You've dilated another two centimeters. Are you feeling uncomfortable now?" he asked her.
Rita nodded yes. “I've been having some more of those braxton hicks contractions all night again.”
"That's because you’re in early labor now, Mrs. Lorenzo. Go on home, get your things ready, and then wait... maybe taking a walk would help to speed things along. I expect I'll be seeing you probably sometime tonight, or tomorrow now.”
"Really?" asked Chris and Rita at the same time.
“Really" the doctor smiled at them. I'd be willing to bet that this time tomorrow you'll be holding your baby.”
Chris and Rita went straight home, each in their own silent daze. Several weeks earlier they had packed her overnight bag for the hospital, along with an outfit and soft sweater to bring their baby home in .Now though, Rita took everything out again, and repacked it, lost in her own thoughts as she did. When she finished, she found Chris in the nursery that they had painstakingly made into the most perfect paradise any baby would be proud to live in. He was standing there staring into the empty crib, playing with a small stuffed lamb that he had wound up to play Jesus Loves Me.
"Wow, Sammy! It's really gonna happen, isn't it? We are actually going to have a baby!"
Rita smiled, then came to stand beside him as he stared into the crib. She reached up and rubbed his shoulders.
"Well, Sam... I guess it's time I told you... This belly of mine... it isn't because I've been eating all that strawberry pie. She leaned closer to him and whispered into his ear. "Someone told me recently that I am pregnant. You’re going to be a daddy, Sam!"
Chris laughed as he reached around her, then goosing her. “All right Miss Smarty Pants!"
They spent the remainder of that day just waiting. Chris had suggested they take a walk, as the doctor had told them to, but Rita was feeling groggy and didn't want to. Chris called Cap and told him he was taking the day off and explained why, and they spent the day attempting to keep their minds focused on other things, like reading the newspaper and then a game of scrabble. Neither of them could really focus on the game very well, and so they resigned themselves to simply watching a Twilight Zone marathon that Chris had found on TV. Rita watched a few episodes with him, but soon fell asleep. When she awoke, she saw that Chris too had fallen asleep on the opposite end of the couch. It was almost eleven o' clock at night now, but she was feeling antsy and had a strange pressure, with some cramping.
She got up, planning to go to the bathroom, and just as she stood, her water broke. This time she knew she was in labor for real. She was terrified. Their baby was coming. Just then she doubled over with a pain that literally took her breath away. “Chris!" she called to wake him. She took another deep breath and focused on getting through the pain, before calling out for her husband again. “Chris!"
Chris woke, at first a bit dazed, but within seconds he understood what was happening. He saw Rita doubled over, trying to breathe through a contraction, and jumped up next to her. “Okay Sam, looks like our baby is finally on it's way now. Remember to breathe through it. That's it. You’re doing good.” He guided her to sit back down. When the pain stopped, he jumped up. "Alright, Sammy. You sit here, and I'll be right back.” He dashed off and a minute later, he was back with her bag. “I called your doctor, and he said to bring you to the hospital now.”
He helped a petrified Rita stand. “Wait...I have to go to the bathroom first. “she said.
While Rita went to the bathroom, Chris called Cap, and told them they were on their way to the hospital. He heard Cap whisper to Franny, and then a shrill scream of excitement on the other end. He knew he would soon be seeing them. Fran would insist on coming to the hospital, and Cap would pretend to be disgruntled about his sleep being disturbed, but it would all just be an act. Chris knew he wouldn't want to be anywhere else either. Not when their godchild was about to make its entrance into the world.
He hung up the phone and went to check on Rita.
"Sammy! What are you doing?" he asked as he saw her changing clothes.
I just wanted to freshen up...I'll be ready in a second.”
"Sam, you’re having... never mind...” he gave up, seeing the fear on her face. "I'm going to take your overnight bag to the car. I'll be right back.” he told her.
"No! Chris... don't... not yet... I just have a few last minute things I need to pack first... okay?"
Chris raised his eyebrows, but nodded yes. Just then Rita doubled over again. “Oh!" she cried.
"Another one?" he looked at his watch. Ten minutes had passed since the last contraction.
"Okay honey... breathe... that's it.” He supported her as she leaned on him and did the breathing they had learned in Lamaze. “Okay... that's good... see, we can do this, Sammy.”
Rita gave him a look he couldn't quite understand, but attributed it to the pain she was in. When the pain had subsided, Chris informed her. “We better get going, Sammy. Don't worry about packing the last minute things. If you need anything later, I'll bring it to you, alright?"
"No, Chris...I'm fine now. I'll just be a few more minutes, and we have time. First births always take a long time. Right? "Her voice pleaded with him to say yes.
"Not always, Sammy... you’re a cop, you know that.” Chris chuckled, as he helped her to gather the few things she insisted on taking and added them to her bag.
"Chris... maybe you should change your clothes too before we go. “Rita told him, now noticing how wrinkled his shirt was from being slept in.
Chris looked down at what he was wearing. He shrugged, realizing this was an issue she would win anyway, so why even bother to argue about it. Holly was right, he was so whipped.
Rita picked up the bag and began to leave the room. “Leave it Sammy. I'll get it" he told her.
Just as she put the bag on the bed, she was hit with another contraction. Chris was quickly at her side, helping her through it. When it had subsided, he went back to finish getting dressed. Pulling on a blue, short sleeve polo shirt, he searched the room, only to find Rita had already left the room. Quickly he put on a clean pair of pants, and hurried downstairs after her. He was a bit startled to find her washing up the few dishes that had been sitting in the sink from their dinner.
"Let's go Sammy. That last contraction came at nine minutes...their getting closer now.”
Rita nodded her head. “You don't need to tell me that, Chris. Just one more minute, then we'll go, ok?"
Chris decided to take the bag out to the car. He saw the car seat for the baby and decided to strap in the backseat awhile. When he came back, he found Rita in the living room, running a dust cloth over the furniture. At the same time she was clutching her stomach and breathing her Lamaze again.
"Rita... Now! Let's go!" he went over to her and placed his hands on her shoulder to guide her out the door.
He finally had her seated in the car, and was walking over to the driver’s side. "Chris!" she called out suddenly. Panicking that something was wrong, he was at her side in a second. “What is it, Rita? Another contraction already?"
"No... we forgot the camcorder! It's in the closet... you have to go in and get it!"
"Sammy... I'll make videos of our baby after it's born... you said you didn't want to be taped during the labor anyway, remember?"
"Well... maybe I do... I don't know for sure... go get it just in case. Please?"
Chris couldn't resist the pleading look on her face. “I'll be back. You stay right here...and don't move.”
Rita nodded her head and smiled. Chris had no sooner gone into the house when she remembered he would need to grab the 35 millimeter camera as well. She shrugged at his words. Well, they did need that camera too. She opened the door and got out .As she approached the door to their home, Chris met her on the other side. “Ritaaaaa!"
"We need the other camera too, sorry Sam. “ she smiled sweetly at him, just before her face turned to anguish, and another contraction came.
"We also need to get you to the hospital, Sam.” He waited out the contraction with her, then grabbed the camera and walked her back to the car.
Never in his life had he been so glad to back out of that driveway.
By the time they had gotten to the hospital, Fran and Cap were already there, waiting for them.
"I thought maybe I needed to issue an APB out for you two. What's the matter with you, Lorenzo? Your wife’s in labor and you take your time bringing her to the hospital?" Cap gestured over to Rita now "After that last incident, I should have known you'd fall to pieces. Now Lorenzo... you've got to gather yourself together!" Cap used the same tone with Chris as he did at work, hoping it would help Chris to gather his wits.
Chris ignored him, and guided Rita over to the nurses’ station. Fran went and got a wheelchair for Rita. She’d three more contractions on the way to the hospital, and Chris who was timing them realized that they were now eight minutes apart.
After they had checked in, Rita was taken to her birthing suite. Chris was in awe as he looked around the cozy comfortable room. It looked very cozy. This was where their baby would first come into the world... and spend its first hours of life right here with them.
Rita was given a gown to change into, and Chris helped her into her robe. Soon a nurse came and hooked her up to a machine that would allow them to see Rita contractions as they happened.
Afterwards, Rita’s doctor came in smiling. “Well look at who it is. I had a feeling I'd be seeing you two tonight. Let's see how far you’re dilated now, Mrs. Lorenzo.”
As her doctor was checking her, another contraction came. “Look, Rita! You’re having another contraction!" Chris beamed, as he told her.
Rita breathed through the pain, giving Chris another one of those looks he had seen from her earlier.
The doctor laughed at seeing her face. “Mr. Lorenzo...in my experience, I've learned it's not necessary to tell the mom-to-be that bit of news.”
"Oh... sorry, Sam...guess I didn't need to tell you that, huh?" Chris grinned sheepishly.
When it was over, she began crying. “Chris, I don't want to do this. I changed my mind. It's really starting to hurt now.”
Chris hugged his wife, who now seemed so vulnerable, almost child-like. He wished he could ease her pain. He hated to see her hurting, even if it was for a good reason.
"Well, Mrs. Lorenzo...you’re about 6 centimeters now. I know we discussed a natural birth, but I'm not going to hold you to that. If you'd like, I can give you some Demerol for the pain.
"How about it, Sammy?" Chris asked, letting her know that it was fine with him.
Rita balked at the suggestion, and it was enough to cause her to collect herself again, and get back in control of her situation. “No! I'm fine now. “ She took in a deep breath. “I can do this, I know I can.”
The next two hours went pretty much the same. Rita would have a contraction and Chris would help her to breathe through it. Her pain was becoming worse, and she would grab for Chris' hand when a contraction struck. "Ouch, Rita! Take it easy. There are bones in there.” he whined a few times. He couldn't believe the strength with which his wife was squeezing his hand. He joked that he would need to remind her of this newfound strength the next time she came to him to open a stuck jar lid. Rita however did not find any of his attempts at humor funny. At times she became so irritated with her husband that she would demand him to leave the room, only to cry for him to come back a minute or so later. When she began hyperventilating, she didn't like the way Chris was coaching her on how to breathe the right way. It seemed to her that with the pain she was in, she was lucky to be breathing at all. She even picked a fight with her doctor because he had gone off to deliver someone else's baby while she was made to wait. After he had come back to check on Rita’s progress he found himself trying to explain to her that she just wasn't ready to deliver yet. Rita remained unforgiving.
As the hours grew, Rita became disoriented. During her brief periods of rest between contractions she would immediately fall asleep, only to be rudely wakened when another one began. At times she wouldn't make any sense to Chris, while it all seemed to make perfect sense to her.
"Chris... I think I changed my mind... please don't be mad... I just don't want to have a baby anymore. I can't do this...” she cried to him, begging for him to understand.
Chris smiled "Rita, honey... it's way too late to change your mind now. Our baby is inside of you trying to come out now.”
"But it hurts so much, Chris... really, I can't do it. You shouldn't make me," she whined.
"Yes you can, Sammy... you are strong... you are the most strongest person I know... and you are already doing it, Sam.”
"No... I think maybe it's hurting so much because it's too early. I want to take a walk now, ok?" She tried to get out of the bed, but Chris stopped her.
"No Sammy... you can't go anywhere now... our baby is almost here... just a little while longer now, ok?" He tried to reason with her. Rita laid back in bed, as another contraction came . At it's peak, she began crying. “Chris...don't leave me!"
Chris took her hand. “I'm right here, Sammy...I'm not going anywhere.” he assured her. She held tight to his hand, even after the wave of pain left. She was calmed with that until a new contraction peaked. “Chris... what if I die like my mother did...I'm so scared!"
Chris was the one who squeezed her hand now. “No, Sammy...you’re not going to die... everything is fine, trust me. “ He said looking into her eyes. He saw that she wasn't breathing again as she was supposed to be. "Now breathe Rita... that's it... do it with me... “he told her calmly as he paced her breathing with his own.
Finally the contraction began to subside again, and she closed her eyes to rest. Chris wiped her forehead with a cool cloth. “Sammy...you are so incredibly amazing to me. I love you so much, know that?"
Rita nodded her head, as a tear rolled down her cheek. “I love you too, Chris.”
Most of the time though, when she wasn't experiencing a contraction, Rita seemed lost within herself, and time had no meaning for her anymore. Chris sat beside her, softly reassuring her when she needed it, and just holding her hand or giving her massages when he felt she just needed quiet. He rubbed her belly when he felt it become hard and tense and breathed along with her to keep her going.
By now she had been in labor for about seven hours .Her labor nurse came in to check Rita’s progress often, and admired the way Chris took care of her. She had just entered the room again when a contraction came and Rita began to squirm around, trying to find another position on the bed. “Chris...please get it out now...get it out now... I'm so cold...get it out... please somebody help me get it out...” she began to moan.
Chris saw Rita’s legs begin to tremble and she was crying again. For the first time now, he began to worry for her, and he was afraid.
"Don't worry, Mr. Lorenzo" the nurse told him noticing his expression as he watched his wife. “She is in what we call transition now. It's time to get the doctor.”
The nurse went for the doctor, then came back. “He'll be here soon" she told Chris. She went over to Rita and leaned in to her. “Rita... Rita, open your eyes now, come on.” she ordered her patient.
Chris took Rita’s hand and she opened her eyes. “That's good. Now I want you to keep them open and focus on something... that's it. Mr. Lorenzo... keep contact with her eyes, and keep breathing with her.
Chris locked his eyes with his wife’s and together they reconfirmed with each other the bond they shared. They would get through this together. Deep inside her, he could see that his Rita was there with him and understanding what was happening. He smiled at her.
When the doctor came into the room, Chris got behind Rita and cradled her in his arms as she was told it was time to push. He gave her ice chips and cooled her forehead in her moments of rest, constantly telling her what a good job she was doing and how proud he was of her. Only one moment of doubt came to her mind when she worried that maybe she was too small to deliver the baby, but the doctor assured her she was making excellent progress and had no reason to worry.
"Just a few more pushes now Rita.”
Rita took in a gulp of breath and leaned forward as Chris held her from behind. “One... two... three... push!"
Rita pushed with all her strength. She fell back exhausted into Chris' arms, and he wiped her brow and kissed her. “You’re doing great, sunshine.”
"Okay. I see the head crowning. Push again, Rita," her doctor told her.
Rita tried to push with all her might, but gave up, and let herself fall back . “Wait ... I need a rest first.”
"No time for that now, Rita. We have a baby here who wants to meet it's mommy. Let's go, sweetheart.” her doctor told her.
Chris lifted her up to a sitting position. “You’re doing great sunshine. It's almost over now. You can do this.”
Rita gathered her strength and pushed with all that she had.
"Ahhh... look at that... we have the head out... will you take a look at this face...what a beauty. Looks just like you, Rita!" her doctor told her.
Chris leaned over to take a peak and saw his child's head between his wife’s' legs. He was in complete awe at what he was seeing, and didn't tear his eyes away until he heard the doctors speak to Rita again.
"Alright, Rita... let's get this child in your arms where it belongs now... one more push. “
Chris looked into Rita’s eyes, seeing her exhaustion. “Sammy... it's almost over now, I promise you. Just one more push and our baby will be here.”
Rita nodded yes, and again took in some breath. Chris lifted her shoulders and held her as she gave her last effort to deliver their baby. It was over fast, and she fell back against her husband, exhausted and gulping in air.
Chris watched as the doctor held the baby, sucking out it's mucus with a nose syringe. A second later the sound of a squealing baby pierced the chorus of ohhhs and ahhhs that were coming from the nurses all around.
"Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo! You have a beautiful little daughter! I knew that was the face of an angel "
"It's a girl? It's a girl Rita! We have a baby girl!”
Rita was crying and reaching out for her baby. The doctor laid their little girl on her mother’s chest, and within seconds she had found her way to Rita’s breast and was suckling, already contented with her new surroundings.
"She's like a little kitten.” Chris said as he watched his daughter amazed by her. “Look how she just snuggled right there!"
He was tenderly stroking his daughter with one hand, while his other was holding her tiny hand in his, She responding to him by wrapping her tiny fist around his finger, all the while, never turning from her mother’s breast.
"We made a daughter, Sam,” Rita said, staring in awe of the tiny infant that was in her arms just as much as her husband was.
It was Chris' turn to cry now as he gazed down at his wife and child. This was what he had been willing to give up his life for. And in his eyes, Rita had just done the same thing. And all the pain they had both suffered was for this very moment. It had all been worth it.
"Thank you so much, Sammy... She's so beautiful, and you are so amazing. I love you, ...I love you both so much.” he told her, his tears flowing freely down his cheeks. Rita held their baby in one arm, and wiped his tears with the other.
Half an hour later, the baby had to be taken to the nursery to be cleaned up, weighed and measured. and Rita was allowed to take a shower. Rita already hated having to hand her baby over to the nurse, and cried as the nurse left the room. Chris understood what she was feeling, because he felt the same way. He kissed her and told her he would go and make sure all was well with the baby and tell Cap and Fran the good news. Rita was helped by a nurse to take a shower, and when she came out, her bed was freshly changed, and she felt much better.
She laid back down on the bed, waiting for Chris to come and the nurse to bring her baby back to her. She was a little tired. She closed her eyes and without meaning to,and fell sound asleep. When Chris entered her room again ten minutes later, he chuckled to himself. Leaning down, he kissed her, but let her rest.
Cap and Fran had seen the baby through the nursery windows, and then had left, telling Chris they were going home to get some sleep and would come back later that night. Chris looked out the window, realizing for the first time that it was morning now, a new day, and it was his daughter’s birthday! He watched people scurrying about outside. Did they have any idea that a new life had just entered the world? They went about their day as usual, getting their bagels and coffee at the deli across the street, before they headed into work, and they had no idea that the most wonderful thing had just happened! Samantha Rose Lorenzo had just been born!
Chris went home to get some rest. He was exhausted himself, but when he tried to lie down, a million thoughts paraded through his head. Chris called Holly, George and Donnie, and a few other friends before realizing he needed to also call his parents and tell them. Secretly he wished he could tell the news to his mother in person. He would love to see the look on her face when she found out she was now a grandmother.
After calling his parents, he laid back down and closed his eyes as he thought about his daughter... Wow! His daughter...he had a daughter...he was a father... this was really weird. It certainly took some getting used to! He finally fell asleep, dozing as he dreamed about his daughter, already imagining what she would look like a year from now, then two and three and five and ten. She always looked just like Rita, and he couldn't be more thrilled until he got to her teen years... He awoke, when in his dream, she reached age sixteen. Whoa, Lorenzo! She was just born...let's not get that far ahead, he told himself.
He sat up, and rubbed his eyes to wake up more. Picking up the phone, he dialed Holly's number.
"Hey Holly! Rita had the baby this morning! It's a girl! Samantha Rose Lorenzo. 6 pounds 3 ounces, and 18 inches long... arrived at 8;36 am!" he told his friend.
"Chris?! I already know that... But congrats again anyway. Tell Rita I have a gift for the baby.”
"You know? How... ? Did Cap already call you!"
"No, you did.”
"I called you already ? Really? You pulling my leg here, partner?"
"No... you called me around noon. What you don't remember?"
"Ha! Guess not...I was pretty beat. Well anyway, I gotta get back to the hospital. Rita is probably wondering where I am.”
"Yep...you are so whipped, Lorenzo. Now you'll have two woman to answer to, you realize that, don't you?"
"Probably so, but let me tell you something Miss Rawlins, from this whipped boys mouth, to your ears, it feels good! Ha!" He laughed as he hung up the phone, and got ready to see the two most important people in his life.
"But we just had her... and they are letting us take her home already? Isn't that too soon... I mean she's so small... and... and... “
"Rita...we'll be okay... you'll see" Chris told his nervous wife later that night, as he held his tiny daughter in his arms. The doctor had just been in and told them they would be discharged tomorrow.
Rita played with the little teddy bear that Chris had bought at the gift store downstairs before coming up. She wasn't as convinced as her husband about everything, though she wished she was. She was usually the one to give assurances, not need them. She wasn't the same person she had been just a year ago, and that was a little frightening, but what bothered her more was that she had no idea why.
The next day, Chris picked up his wife and newborn baby daughter from the hospital. Rita had Samantha dressed in a tiny white sleeper which had Thank heaven for little girls embroidered in pink on it, with a pattern of tiny delicate rosebuds on it. Chris laughed when he saw what his daughter was wearing. “You really were that confident that she was a girl, huh?" he asked.
Rita smiled sheepishly, before pulling out another little white sleeper. It was exactly like the one Samantha wore, but instead it said Thank heaven for little boys, embroidered in blue and had a little moon with three stars pattern on it.
Chris smiled, shaking his finger at his wife. “Ah-ha Miss Smarty Pants...got ya!"
Rita laughed. “Yeah well... we are parents now... we have to be prepared for anything. Isn't that right, sweetheart" Rita cooed as she placed a kiss on her baby's temple. Chris saw a look of apprehension pass across her face.
Chris watched his wife with their daughter. “Sammy...you’re going to be a great mom.”
If only Rita could believe it herself. As they were waiting for their discharge, she had grown more and more nervous. She couldn't believe how much her life had changed in the matter of a year. Before it was just the two of them, and now they were three. She wasn't ready for this!
She was a mother now! A mother who knew nothing about taking care of a newborn and raising a child...how could the hospital just allow them to take Samantha home, just like that? They weren’t ready for this... were they? And yet looking at her precious daughter, she knew that Samantha was the most incredible miracle of her life, and she would do anything for her. As much it scared her to take Samantha home with them, the thought of not having this baby in her life scared her a whole lot more.
Rita looked up at her husband and smiled her appreciation at his words. He always seemed to know what was on her mind.
It was obvious to all those around that they were new parents when Chris pulled up to the hospital and failed the nurse’s car seat test. She told him he didn't have it secured quite right. Chris struggled to fix the problem while Rita sat in the chair holding the baby, and the nurse stood by waiting, and growing more impatient with each failed attempt of his. Finally he had the seat in perfectly. He took his daughter away from the contentment of her mother’s arms to place her in the seat, much to Samantha's dismay. Immediately she began to protest with tiny cries.
Chris helped Rita into the back seat beside Samantha He felt like a chauffeur driving up front by himself, and joked with Rita about it all the way home. Samantha fussed for awhile, then fell asleep. When they arrived home, Chris stood staring at his daughter, trying to figure out how to disconnect the carrier from the base, so they wouldn't have to wake her up.
"Guess we should have practiced with all this baby stuff, huh Sam?" Rita said.
When they opened the door, Chris and Rita were greeted by Cap and Franny. Immediately Fran rushed over to Chris who was carrying the baby in the carrier. It was only after she had the baby tucked snuggly under her chin that she acknowledged the presence of the baby’s parents. Cap, however went over to Rita and embraced her with a hug. “Welcome home mommy!"
"Thank you, Cap!" Rita giggled as she watched Franny fuss over Samantha.
"Oh dears, I made you some lunch. And there is some frozen yogurt in the freezer for desert. Oh, and Rita ...I want you to drink plenty of juice. I stocked your fridge with all sorts... it's good for feeding the baby...” She gazed down at the baby in her arms and was suddenly talking two pitches higher then usual. "Isn't that right, you little precious darling... Mommy has to take good care of herself, doesn't she.”
Rita rolled her eyes, but nodded her head to agree with Franny, "Yes, Fran...they told me the same thing in the hospital...don't worry...I will drink all my juice, mom. “ Rita stressed the word, laughing.
At the sound of the word mom, Franny looked up, a wistful look in her eye. “Oh I only wish that was true, Rita.” Her face softened as she gazed down on the baby again. “That would make me this little angels grandmother.”
Rita saw the look on Franny's face and was immediately touched. “Oh Fran…” Rita looked over to Chris who read her mind, and nodded his approval to her. "Fran, Cap...she does need another set of grandparents... If you'd like to take on that role as well as being her godparents... we would love that...and I think she would too. “ Rita said as she walked over to Franny and her baby. “Look how content she is in your arms, Grandma.”
"Oh Rita... really? Oh , we would love that so much, wouldn't we Heschy... oh, here you take her...I need a tissue now.” Fran said as she handed Samantha back to her mother.
Rita no sooner had the baby in her arms, when Cap was taking her out. “Hey...let me hold my granddaughter, now. “ He looked at Rita as he held the baby against his chest. “You need to go and eat your lunch now...So go! I will look after my granddaughter awhile.”
Chris laughed as he walked to Rita’s side. "See Sammy...and you were so worried. Look how easy being a parent is gonna be!" he said as he led her to the table. “Ha!"
The rest of the day went easy. Visitors came and went, all to welcome the new family home, and fuss over the baby. It seemed that the only time either of them could hold their own daughter in their arms is when Chris would take her away from someone and help Rita get settled in the peacefulness of the nursery for Samantha’s feedings. Rita relished those peaceful quiet moments, as she sat in the rocking chair and softly hummed and fed her daughter, She couldn't get enough of caressing her daughters satiny cheeks or gently touching her soft fine hair. She thought Samantha was the perfect combination of her and Chris. She had Chris' dark hair and her eyes seemed to hold a hint of blue in them already... but her facial features were her mothers .She was a beautiful baby... perfect in every way, thought Rita. She couldn't believe how lucky she was. She had Chris and now Samantha. This was what life was all about.
After she had finished feeding the baby, she would change her and carry her back out into the living room to join their guest. This last time she left to feed the baby, Rita had taken longer then she usually did, and so Chris went to see what was keeping her. He chuckled as he saw his wife sound asleep on the chair, and even in her sleep, she kept a firm hold of her daughter who was snuggled up under her chin, just like a kitten.
He gently took the baby from her arms and laid her in the bassinet , kissing his little girl goodnight. “Goodnight, kitten.” he whispered to her. Then he returned to the rocking chair and lifted his wife from it. She awoke slightly, smiled at seeing him, and allowed herself to fall back to sleep. He carried her across the hall to their room, where he laid her in their bed and tucked her in. The day was over for his two sleeping beauties he thought. Now he had to go and let his guests know.
After everyone had left, including Fran and Cap who stayed to straighten up, Chris realized how tired he was too. He went to the baby’s room and just watched her sleep for awhile, before deciding to move her bassinet into their room. It would make it a lot easier for them to hear her when she awoke anyway, he decided.
He must have been more tired then he thought, because he didn't hear the baby cry two hours later. Rita woke and saw her baby next to her bedside. She lifted Samantha and carried her into the nursery so they wouldn't wake Chris. She fed the baby, who seemed wide awake now, and very interested at looking at her mother. Rita talked softly to her and played with her for awhile, then she changed her diaper and brought her back to their room, where she laid her down in her bassinet again. For a short moment Samantha began to fuss, but Rita quickly wound up the little lamb and the music began to play, catching her daughters attention, and quieting her. Three minutes later, Samantha was sound asleep again. Rita stood there watching over her baby, not realizing that Chris had been watching her, until he stood up and came over, wrapping his arms around her. Together they gazed down at their beautiful sleeping daughter.
Chris turned to face Rita. “Thank you so much Sammy. This right here… right now," He choked on his words, the thoughts he wanted to say to her. Rita saw the tears well up in his eyes. "I almost missed this, Sammy.” he was finally able to say.
"I know, Sam.” she replied back, just as suddenly serious. She had been thinking those same thoughts herself. They came together in a fierce embrace and for the next few minutes no words needed to be spoken as they stood over Samantha’s' bassinet and just held onto each other.
The next two days went pretty much the same, giving both Chris and Rita the false impression that they had everything under control. Samantha was such an easy baby to care for, and aside from waking up at night to feed her, the ease of their lives hadn't been greatly affected by their daughter’s arrival.
When Samantha was five days old, Chris returned to work, and Rita was on her own. She fed, and dressed the baby, then wondered how to get her own shower. She wasn't comfortable leaving Samantha alone while she was in the shower, but she couldn't bring the baby into the bathroom where it would get too steamy. If she had thought of it, she would have showered while Chris was still home. Oh well, she decided...she compromised by bringing the baby in her carrier and setting her on the floor by the bathroom door, which she kept open. She had just poured the shampoo into her hair, when she heard the baby cry. Quickly she rinsed it as she talked soothingly to her daughter. Well, that would have to do, she decided. A quick wash was better then nothing...and at least her hair was clean... if not conditioned.
After getting herself dressed, Rita took the baby with her to the kitchen and tried to wash up the breakfast dishes. Again Samantha fussed.
"What is it, sweetheart...are you trying to tell mommy you want some attention...is that it?” Rita cooed as she took her daughter from the baby seat. She had just put her over her shoulder when Samantha spit up on her. “Oh... now mommy has to go and change again, you silly little girl. “
Rita went to change her shirt, and realized that neither her or Chris had done any laundry in a few days with the excitement of the baby and all. She gathered the laundry as she carried the baby in one arm, a basket in another. She placed the baby in her seat while she put the laundry into the washer and started the machine, feeling quite proud of herself and very much a Super mom.
The baby was falling asleep, so Rita laid her down and took a quick break for her breakfast, and then remembered that the baby would also have some laundry already. She went to gather it and finished just as Samantha awoke to be fed.
Rita fed the baby, changed her, and then it was time to take the load from the washer and put it into the dryer, and she started up the baby’s laundry. She held her daughter who was again demanding attention while she tried to straighten up the rest of the house. There were baby things everywhere. How did they get all of this, she wondered. Soon the baby fell back to sleep, and she tried to organize some of the baby gifts.
An hour passed before she knew it, and the baby woke again, wanting to be fed and needing another change. Afterwards, Rita sat down with her on the couch to take a break. She decided to lie down for a small nap. She hadn't slept too well the past few nights, and it was catching up on her.
That was the way Chris found his family when he got home. Rita was sound asleep on the couch, with the baby on her chest, sleeping just as soundly. He went to the kitchen and took out a frozen dinner from the freezer. Then he heard the baby begin to cry, and Rita walking up the stairs, whispering soothing sounds to her. He followed her up to the nursery, where he saw her changing the baby, and then her own shirt, because the baby had spit up again.
"Hey Sammy...how was your day?" he asked her.
"It was fine. I did some laundry. “ She spoke, as if this was quite an accomplishment.
Chris nodded his head. “Yeah...I saw. I took out the load in the dryer and put the other load in for ya. I also threw in one of Franny’s' frozen meals for our dinner. “
"Oh! I'm sorry Chris...I can't believe it's that time already...Where did the day go? I must have spent half of it feeding the baby. “
Chris chuckled. “Well...in ten minutes you can take some time out to feed yourself. I'll take my little kitten here, and give her one of those relief bottles the hospital sent home with us. “
"No! No, Chris... really... I'd rather feed her myself... it's much better for her...besides, if I don't, I'm likely to explode.”
"Fine Sammy... but you know they said it wouldn't hurt her once a day if you need the break.”
"I know... but I don't want to ...I like feeding her, Sam.”
Chris took a step closer to her, to give her a hug, but she backed away. “Not now, Chris.”
"I just wanted a hug, Sam.” Chris sulked.
"Chris, I feel icky and I smell like baby puke... it's not you. “Rita tried to explain when she saw his pout.
"Baby puke doesn't bother me Sam, but if it will make you feel better, go on, take a shower and I'll keep an eye on the dinner and the baby, alright?"
Rita smiled, wanting so much to hug her husband, but still refraining from doing so. “Thanks Sam...I owe you one.” she called as she headed for the bathroom.
"You sure do" Chris yelled after her. “A hug for starters would be nice!"
His yelling caused the baby to begin to fuss. He went over to pick her up and saw that she had again spit up all over herself.
"Hey little kitten... what's going on here... Oh.. shhh.. it's okay... daddy will clean you all up now.”
He gently took off her sleeper and went to the kitchen to throw it on the washer for the time being, then remembered seeing the load of her baby things that he had thrown into the dryer earlier. He opened it and grabbed a sleeper. Making sure it was dry, he happily made his way back over to the bassinet. He wiped the baby up with the wipes, then put on the clean sleeper. The baby began crying, and already Chris had learned that this was a hungry cry. He tried to calm her down while still trying to match up the snaps on her outfit. Just then Rita came down. The shower had done wonders to her mood and she felt much better. She walked over to Chris, silently laughing as she watched him try to snap up the sleeper.
"Did she spit up again?" she asked.
"Hey Sammy... these snaps don't match up... where'd you get this thing, anyway ?"
"It's the one you bought, Chris... see the basketballs on it?" she pointed it to him.”
"Ha...so I did... but how do you get it on?"
"Here, like this... say Samantha, tell daddy... ... how does he expect to dress you when he still needs help from Mommy to dress himself.”
Chris shrugged, grinning the smile that he knew always made Rita’s heart melt. Samantha however continued to fuss, and was about to go into a full blown out cry because they were delaying her feeding. She didn't find her parents teasing each other at all funny.
Rita finished dressing the baby, then went to the couch and settled herself to feed the baby.
That night, after eating dinner, they watched a little TV, then decided to head to bed. They no sooner settled themselves when Samantha began to cry again. Rita got up to check on her.
"Chris!" she screamed out his name.
Chris was next to her within a few seconds. “What is it, Sammy?"
"Look... she spit up again... Chris, she's been doing that all day... a lot.”
"I think that is normal, Sammy. “
"No, I don't think spitting up as much as she does is normal... it can't be... I want to call her doctor, ok.”
Chris looked at his daughter, and the mess she had again made all over herself. What did he know about babies? If Rita was worried, then it would be best to call. “Okay, Sammy. I'll call him.” Ten minutes later, the three of them were on their way to the pediatricians office.
The doctor had met Chris and Rita when they had still been expecting, and now his appointment book told him that the baby’s first visit with him had been scheduled in three more days. He knew they were first time parents, and as he looked over the baby, he also knew he had guessed right. First time parents always tended to over react. In his ten years of practice he had seen his share of anxious new parents, and he knew now was no different.
"Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo... Samantha has actually gained another two ounces since she left the hospital... If she was spitting up and loosing weight, I'd be concerned, but she has actually gained. My guess is that she is just being a little piggy and gulping it down too fast... she's giving herself an upset tummy.”
"That's all... I mean, all the spitting up is really fine then?" asked Rita nervously.
"Well, maybe you could try and get her to slow down some while eating, it might help... but as messy as it can be, as long as she is gaining weight, there is nothing to worry about. I think in time she'll begin to settle down on her own. Remember, this is all new to her as well.”
Breathing a sigh of relief, the new family went back home, and aside from the usual baby calls, they had a peaceful night.
This time Rita had Chris watch over Samantha before he left for work, so she could take her shower. She had just gotten out when Chris kissed her goodbye, because he had to go. Rita fed the baby, then laid her down in her bassinet so she could get dressed. After dressing herself, she went to change the baby .Her umbilical cord was drying up and about to fall off soon. Rita was giving her daughter a sponge bath when she noticed the strange red marks all over her tiny body. The baby seemed to be especially sensitive as Rita washed her up with the lukewarm water. She dried her off and rubbed in some baby lotion, which only made Samantha cry harder.
Rita picked up the baby and paced around the room, getting more upset herself as she heard her baby crying. What was that rash, she wondered...it couldn't be diaper rash. She had been so careful and, besides, this rash looked raw, and it covered most of Samantha’s small body, except her face. She decided to call Fran, but got no answer. There was only one thing to do now. She called the baby’s doctor again, who told her to bring her right in.
Rita quickly dressed Samantha in a little pink sleeper and a sweater, and put her in her car seat. She was at the doctor’s office several moments later, still trying to calm down her crying daughter.
She had called Chris on the way, and now he rushed into the doctor’s office as well.
"What is it Sammy... what's wrong?" he asked anxiously.
"Chris...look. “ Rita unzipped the baby’s sleeper, and unsnapped the onesy underneath. She lifted up the T-shirt to show the bright red marks all over his daughter. “It hurts her, Chris.” Rita told him, with tears welling in her eyes.
"Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo.” a nurse called, leading them to a back examining room.
After the doctor examined the baby, he put a salve on her. “I think it's a reaction to something new on her skin... maybe a different lotion, or baby soap perhaps?"
Rita shook her head "No, everything is the same as it's been since we brought her home.”
"Hmm...and when was that again? "
"Five days ago. “Chris told him.
"What about her laundry? What kind of soap are you using for her clothes.” asked the doctor.
"Tide. Oh... maybe that could be it. I just washed a load of her laundry yesterday...and then she wore that sleeper...” Rita cut herself off.
"It just might be that, Mrs. Lorenzo. Babies have very sensitive skin. You will need to use a less harsh detergent for Samantha’s laundry, her clothes, her bedding, anything that will touch her skin. Try any of the commercial baby detergents, or you can go to a health food store. Some of them sell natural detergent and other personal items. You want to look for something that is very mild. The Tide is most likely what caused this rash, but she'll be fine now that we know the cause. I'll write you a prescription for her. Rub it on gently three times a day, and in about two or three days it should disappear. By then you'll be bringing her in for her first immunizations, so I'll take a look at it then. I'd normally give her the shots now since your here already, but with her rash and us needing to watch her for any reactions, it's better we wait until this clears up first. In the meantime, it looks like her cord will be off by tonight... if she seems too uncomfortable, it wouldn't hurt to put her in a baby bath with some Aveeno. It will help to soothe her.”
"Thanks doc," Chris stuck out his hand, to shake the doctors hand, while he brought his other up to rest on Rita’s shoulder. Rita dressed her daughter, who was becoming fussy, then bounced her slightly in her arms to calm her down. Within moments the baby fell asleep, sucking on a pacifier.
Rita was silent on the way out of the doctors office, and Chris could tell she was upset. “Rita, do you want me to go to the grocery store to pick up the baby detergent now?" he asked her.
Rita nodded. “I should have realized not to use our detergent on her things... I never even gave it a thought.”
"Well, it's not your fault, so don't blame yourself. Samantha will be fine .We are learning as we go, Sam. It's the best we can do. “
Rita nodded her head in agreement, but Chris saw that she still had tears welled up in her eyes. "Yeah...well, I just wish that our mistakes wouldn't affect her in any way, you know?"
"I know Sammy...I know. “ Chris said seriously, as he took her hand. “You go home with her and try to get some rest. I'll pick up this stuff and drop it off before I go back in to the shop, ok?"
Rita nodded, before leaning in for a goodbye kiss. “Thanks. See ya in a bit.”
Chris watched her walk to her car. Rita had always been one to remain calm, cool, and collected, always the one in control of the situations around her. Loosing her usual demeanor while giving birth was one thing, but it worried him now.
As predicted, Samantha’s umbilical cord fell off that night... and to celebrate they decided to give Samantha her very first bath.
Samantha didn't seem quite as enthused about the new experience as her parents did. The moment her daddy had gently immersed her in the water she began to let her feelings about the whole situation known to all. Rita stood by, snapping some pictures, and then went to get a newly washed baby towel out of the dryer. She had just turned around to see her husband pick up his wet and screaming daughter from her tub. Her little arms and legs were flailing in the air, and her face was bright red with her cries while Chris held her at arms length.
"Chris... You...” she was about to tell him not to hold the baby like that when Fran walked into the kitchen. She had let herself in because no one had heard the doorbell ringing, though she could heard the baby crying.
Chris turned at the sound of her voice, his arms stretched way out holding the poor baby who was screaming even harder now.
"Christopher! You shouldn't hold her like that, she's scared to death!" Fran rushed over to take the towel from Rita, then took the baby from Chris and wrapped her in the towel. Immediately she began to quiet down.
"I was only holding her for Rita to take her, Fran. She was soaking wet.”
Fran calmed the baby down. “Christopher...I've seen you have water balloon battles at the shop, and get soaked, and now your concerned with getting your shirt a little wet? Oh ... Shh... there, there, Samantha. Daddy was just being a silly, yes he was... but it's okay now. Grandma is here. Shh, yes she is... Grandma is gonna make everything all better now...yes she is.”
Chris looked over at Rita, raising his eyebrows at her with his unspoken thoughts. At least somebody wasn't having any problems taking on her new role in life.
The rash cleared up fast, and two days later, it was time for Rita to take Samantha back to the doctor for her first set of booster shots. Fran went with her, since Chris was working a new case. Samantha cried as the needle entered her leg, and her mother cried right along with her. Shortly after the baby’s ordeal, she began to settle down in her mother’s arms, where she spent the remainder of the day because Rita felt so bad for her.
When Chris came home, he instantly felt her mood. “Hey ...how'd it go today?" he asked her, taking the baby from her arms.
"Everything went fine. She cried a little.”
"And how did Mom do... let me guess... she took it harder then baby, is that right?"
Rita made a face at him. “Well... it wasn't really all that easy, Chris. I mean there she was lying in my arms, and I had to hold her leg still... I couldn't help wondering if she was thinking why her own mommy was letting them hurt her, you know? I just felt so guilty.”
"Awe, Sammy" Chris took her into a hug. “ Sweetheart, you know the immunizations are for her own good. You don't want her to get really sick, right?"
"Of course not. Look, Sam...I know you’re right here, "she said, pointing to her head, “but here," she pointed to her heart now, " it doesn't feel that way. Here, it goes against all that is within me, all that I feel for her. I never imagined that it would be like this, that this love would be so consuming ,so ... so overwhelming...it's wonderful and incredible, and yet it is pretty damn frightening too... She's a little over a week old, and yet every day, I love her even more then the last...though it feels I couldn't possibly love her anymore then I already do. She's apart of me... she's my life, Chris... as much as I love you, it's so different with her ... We are connected to each other in a way I don't understand yet... except that she's my baby, and I'm her mommy... and it tears me apart when she is hurting. I want to protect her from hurting, not be the cause of it.”
"And you were protecting her Sammy...even if it did hurt her. Don't you see though...even though it was hard for you, you did it anyway because you want what's best for her, and I think that is a really good thing.Sammy, you are a good mother. Believe that.” Chris pulled his wife into his arms. A thought occurred to him then. “You know... .I think you just stumbled on one of life’s little lessons here. I think we just learned exactly what being a parent is all about.”
Rita looked questioningly at him. “And that is?"
"That it's us against them." He joked.
Rita leaned back, looking into Chris's eyes. “If that's true, then we've got a long road ahead of us, don't we Sam?"
Chris laughed, as he tightened the hug he had her in, and she returned it. “The rest of our lives, Sam...the rest of our lives.”
The End........for now.
As usual, the characters in this story don't belong to me...because if they did, this would have been their story. Instead, I borrowed them from USA’s show, Silk Stalkings. I thank their real creator for giving us all such wonderful characters especially with Chris, Rita, Fran, and Cap, plus the many other not mentioned. They are truly unforgettable.
I would also like to mention the use of Elton John’s song, You'll Be Blessed. It is a song I am sure touched many hearts.
This is a story which I am dedicating to all the fans out there who refuse to accept the terrible ending USA gave us for Chris and Rita. I would like to thank "the L girls"
Lorry, the one I was separated from at birth. “hey sis!"
Linda, my partner who just happens to be a genius and will one day rule the world (I'd get on her good side now while you can...)Also thanks to Linda for being my editor too. Now see...I can write a story without angst! (a rash doesn't count does it?)LOL
Linda here… Ok, ok, I’ll stop ragging on you for your angst filled masterpieces because you’re always kind enough to warn me when not to read, LOL. And as for ruling the world, I wish!
Lia, who was the first nice person I met on line..(and I've met a lot since then!) Hmmm... when IS your next story coming? hehehe
Thanks go to all of them for their encouragement, and everything else that comes with being their friend... and also another friend, Lis, who is another "L", but a true friend as well, even if she still hasn't asked me to be in her wedding... though I have to fly half way across the world to attend it... hehehe...
Last, but not least, thanks should go to my own two daughters who are constantly challenging my parental skills. Many of the experiences in this story were our own,and I thank them and my husband for borrowing them for the use of this story.
I do have a lot more planned for Chris , Rita and Samantha, but only if you like this first of the series. So please let me know with your feedback. Thanks for taking time to read my story.