It was two weeks later and Alex and Caitlin waited to be seen by Dr. Coltraine. Caitlin was quiet as she stared down at her hands, which rested on her still pregnant stomach, as they waited for Melanie to join them in the exam room.

"I know you don't want to talk about this," Alex said, "but we need to be on the same page when Melanie comes in."

"About what?" Caitlin asked, though it was a pointless question. It was obvious that Alex wanted to talk about the baby that had decided to spend its entirety in her womb.

They had rushed to the hospital on that infamous Saturday afternoon two weeks ago with hopes they would be going home with a brand new member of the family in a few days.

But they had had no such luck. Caitlin's contractions, which had been coming fast and furious when they left the park, had started to slow as they made the mad dash to the medical center only to slow to a trickle of cramps, barely even noticeable to Caitlin, by the time they reached their destination.

Alex and Caitlin had left the medical center only an hour after having arrived. To say Caitlin was disappointed was an understatement, she was sorely disheartened. Alex was a bit more optimistic that the baby would be making his or her appearance soon enough.

But now two weeks had passed with hardly any contractions for Caitlin and she had resigned herself to being pregnant for the rest of her life, though she was anything but cheerful about it. On more than one occasion she had snapped at casual acquaintances who offered unwanted and unhelpful advice and the next person to ask in disbelief if she was really still pregnant was getting smacked.

And though she was tired of being pregnant and dying to meet their child, Caitlin had not wanted to discuss what her options were regarding the late arrival of their child.

"I think Melanie is going to suggest inducing labor," Alex told her. "And if she doesn't, I'm going to insist on it."

Caitlin frowned. She was not interested in artificial means of inducing labor and was surprised to hear that Alex was. "I don't know about that, Alex," she said slowly as she looked up from her hands. "I thought you preferred not to induce."

"That was two weeks ago, Caitlin. You weren't two weeks over your due date then. The one and only series of contractions you've had ended up being unproductive and you've barely had a contraction since then...unless you've not been telling me about the contractions." Caitlin didn't say anything, just shook her head. "I'm not comfortable with you going too much longer over your due date."

"I guess we'll just have to wait and see what Melanie says," Caitlin said noncommittally. She knew it was ridiculous to behave the way she was, but she feared that the baby had tried to get out when he or she still could, but now that he had failed, he was stuck where he was forever. It was irrational, she knew, but she couldn't keep her mind from jumping back to that conclusion.

Alex just gave her a look and shook his head. She had not said anything to him of this fear she had, so he only thought she was being stubborn.

[ ][ ][ ][ ]

"So," Melanie said once they were done with the physical portion of the exam. "Not many contractions since the day you visited the hospital?"

"I'm having one right now," Caitlin told her.

"That's to be expected. It's mostly likely from the cervical exam. But in general, you're not having regular contractions?"

"No," Caitlin said. "I have maybe five or ten a day, if that. They're very sporadic and usually occur after sex."

"So, you're still having sex?"

"Yes," Caitlin said feeling a bit affronted. Melanie didn't have to sound so surprised that she and Alex were still having sex, though nowhere near as often as they had been just two weeks ago. Their sex life had not suffered due to her prolonged state of pregnancy. Though, if she dwelled on it, Alex's desire probably stemmed from his knowledge that he wouldn't be getting any for at least six weeks once the baby she wouldn't dwell on it. "Alex finds me particularly desirable in this state."

"Okay, okay, Caitlin," Alex interjected. "That's not the point. You said she's made no all?" His attention had turned to Melanie now.

Caitlin frowned at that, too. She had been one centimeter dilated when they checked her at the hospital two weeks ago. And she had been one centimeter dilated when Melanie had checked her one week ago...and here she was still stuck at one centimeter.

"I'm afraid not," Melanie said. Alex and Caitlin exchanged a look. Alex looked as if he wanted to say something, and Caitlin knew exactly what that was.

"I, personally, would like to wait and let the baby come on its own...naturally," Caitlin said quickly. The comment received a coughing sound from Alex and Caitlin shot a furtive glance in his direction. She couldn't help but notice that he didn't look happy.

"I don't have a problem with waiting in..." Melanie started to say before Alex interrupted her.

"Waiting really isn't an option at this point," Alex interjected. Melanie turned toward Alex with a nod.

"I'm afraid I agree with Alex," Melanie told Caitlin.

"But...but you just said you didn't have a problem waiting," Caitlin exclaimed. "I mean, I thought I heard you say that, but I could be crazy..."

"Well, if Alex hadn't interrupted me," Melanie said as she gave Alex a small smile, "I was going to say that I don't have a problem waiting for a baby to come on its own, in general. But, Caitlin, you are two weeks over your due date. When you get to this point, I don't want to continue to wait. A number of concerns come to mind once you get to this stage in pregnancy."

"Concerns?" Caitlin echoed. She gave Alex a questioning look as he was nodding in agreement with the doctor. Alex hadn't shared that he was concerned with her prolonged pregnancy, so Caitlin had just assumed that he was getting impatient, but his insistence towards inducing was starting to make more sense. "What kinds of concerns?"

"One would be the size of the baby," Melanie told her.

Caitlin glanced down at her stomach with a frown. She knew that she was humongous in this advanced state of pregnancy, but Alex had assured her that the baby was a perfectly normal in size. Had he been lying the entire time? Apparently he had because Melanie was concerned with the size of the baby.

"You have nothing to worry about, Caitlin," Melanie told her. "It's just that we start to get concerned with the size of the baby the longer it stays inside the womb. The baby continues to grow and the longer we let you go over your due date, the risk of complications during delivery increases. We also get concerned with the health of the placenta at its advanced age."

"So, you're suggesting what, exactly?" Caitlin asked. She knew it was a ridiculous question. Melanie was obviously suggesting induction, but Caitlin wanted to hear her say that.

"We need to induce. You're not making any progress on your own. We've waited long enough for labor to start on its own. If you weren't as far over as you already are, I would let you go a bit longer, but it's time to step in. I'll have Leslie schedule you to go in tonight to get things started and we should have a baby before the weekend is over."

"I can't go in tonight," Caitlin exclaimed with surprise. While she knew that Melanie was going to suggest induction, she really hadn't expected her to suggest they go in that evening.

"Of course you can," Alex assured Caitlin. "Tonight is perfect."

"But we can't, Alex. We have Cayden's christening on Sunday. If we go to have the baby tonight, we won't be able to be there for Luke and Marie. And we have, too. We're the godparents. We cannot miss the christening."

"Why did they pick this weekend of all weekends?" Alex asked.

"I wasn't supposed to still be pregnant. The baby was supposed to have arrived two weeks ago." Caitlin turned back to Melanie. "So, obviously, tonight will not work."

"Luke and Marie will understand, Caitie," Alex told her.

"Maybe they will," she said noncommittally. "But it's been two weeks already. Are a few more days really going to make that much difference?"

"Here's what I'm going to do," Melanie told them. "I am going to go have Leslie find out what days are available this weekend. We may not even be able to start the induction tonight. I will be back in a few minutes once I know what our options are."

"What?" Caitlin asked Alex. "What is she talking about? The hospital will just turn people away?"

"Scheduled inductions, they will," he said absently. "They have to make sure they have enough rooms available for patients that go into labor're changing the subject. It's not going to work."

"Alex, I'm not trying to change the subject. Melanie changed the subject."

"And you went with it seamlessly." Alex stood and started pacing the room restlessly. He walked the length of the room several times before he stopped abruptly and turned back to Caitlin. "What are you thinking, Caitlin?" he asked.

Caitlin gave him a perplexed look. She was unsure of what he was asking. "I don't know what you mean."

"Something is bothering you, I can tell that, but I don't know what. Three weeks ago, you couldn't wait to have the baby and now, it's a fight to get you to agree to have the baby. I'm just confused, Caitlin. Tell me what you're thinking."

"I'm not fighting anything," Caitlin said softly. "I mean, I would love to have the baby. Or, well, actually, I would really like to just wave a wand, or push a button, or, um, I don't know close my eyes and wish real hard, and have the baby magically appear in my arms, but you know, that's not possible..." She would have gone on, but a laugh from Alex had her pausing and looking up in surprise.

"So, that's what this is about," he said with a laugh. "Now, I get it."

"I don't know exactly what there is to get," Caitlin said testily.

"You're scared, Caitlin. And that's perfectly normal."

"I'm not...well, of course I am," she exclaimed. "Who hell isn't scared about pushing a ginormous baby out of a...well, out of something not so ginormous? You, Alex, are a tight enough fit, so the baby..." Her eyes dropped and lingered over his belt buckle for a moment before dropping to her hands. Alex watched in interest as Caitlin held her hands out in front of her moving them further apart and then closer together until they were a few inches apart. "This, I mean, this would be you..." She trailed off as she cocked her head to the side and studied her hands before her eyes flickered over to his belt buckle.

She looked up in surprise when Alex took her hands in his. "I think I'm more like this," he said as he pulled her hands several inches further apart.

"I don't know," Caitlin said. Her words were drawn out and she sounded doubtful as her eyes flickered back and forth between her hands and Alex's crotch. "Are you sure?"


"Well, still, the baby is still way larger than you."

"I don't know if way larger is the right description, Caitlin."

"It's not a contest," Caitlin said with a laugh. "I'm not scared, Alex. I am a bit apprehensive, but that has nothing to do with why I want to wait. I really don't want to miss our godson's christening."

"Caitie, I get that you want to be there for Luke and Marie, but endangering the health of our baby isn't something I'm willing to agree to. They wouldn't want it either."

"Monday. I'm only asking to wait until Monday. Would that really endanger our baby?" Alex was quiet for a few moments, trying to decide what he wanted to say to Caitlin in response to her question. Finally, he just shook his head when he couldn't truthfully tell her it would be a danger to wait. "Then, Monday...please." She reached a hand out to Alex and took his hand in hers, squeezing it as she gave him a hopeful look.

Again, Alex just watched Caitlin without saying anything. "Sunday night," he finally said, giving her a counteroffer. "Sunday night is as long as I'm willing to wait."

"Sunday night is perfect."

[ ][ ][ ][ ]

Early Sunday morning, Alex awoke to an empty bed and found the bedroom still dark. He glanced over at the clock that sat on his bedside table and groaned when he saw that it was only a little after two-thirty in the morning. But where was Caitlin? He was accustomed to sleeping through the night, but usually, if he happened to wake up before the sun rose and his alarm went off, he didn't find himself in bed alone.

He sat up and looked towards the door to the bathroom that was adjacent to their room. The door was closed, but there was no light coming from under it. With his curiosity piqued, Alex climbed out of bed to find his wife.

He found her downstairs in the living room. She was asleep on the couch and she was hugging his pillow. He watched her for a moment, trying to figure out how she had taken his pillow without waking him, and why she had taken his in the first place. After a moment, he shook her gently. He hated waking her, but he need to know if something, anything, was wrong. He didn't often find Caitlin sleeping on the couch.

Caitlin woke quickly, but she was disoriented at first. "Hey, hey, what...what is it?" she mumbled. She looked up to find Alex kneeling in front of her.

"Are you okay?" he asked. She nodded. "What are you doing down here?"

Caitlin pushed herself to sitting and shrugged. "I don't know. I couldn't sleep earlier; couldn't get comfortable and I didn't want to wake you up tossing and turning. So, I came down here. There's nothing wrong, though. I'm fine."

"Good. It's always a bit weird for me to wake up in the middle of the night and not have you next to me. I'm glad you're feeling okay." Alex grabbed his pillow that lay forgotten on the couch. "This...this you're gonna have to explain. When did you become a pillow thief?"

"I'm not a pillow thief," she said with a laugh. "You weren't using it."

"Oh, I'm sure I was."

"You weren't. Do you remember me pulling it out from under your head?"

"No," he said slowly, drawing the word out. "But that doesn't mean you didn't do it. You were probably just sneaky about it."

Caitlin laughed. "I'm not sneaky and I wouldn't just take your pillow. You weren't using it and I needed it, so I took it." She took the pillow back from Alex and hugged it tightly.

"For what reason did you need my pillow?" He found her word choice to be an interesting one and Caitlin's reaction, a blushing silence and a shake of her head, only increased his interest. "Caitlin," he said, his voice taking on a teasing tone. "Tell me."

"It's stupid and you're gonna laugh; or you're gonna think I'm crazy..."

"I already think you're crazy, Caitie," he interrupted her teasingly. "You don't have to worry about that."

"Alex!" she exclaimed. "That's not very nice. You have to promise not to laugh if I tell you; and you can't think I'm any crazier than you already do."

"I promise."

Caitlin was quiet again and took a deep breath. Alex just waited patiently for her to speak. "Your smells like you and I like that."

"Smells like me?" he said with a frown. "Really? What does it smell like?"

"You," she repeated. "Your soap, and your shampoo, and your shaving cream, and that stuff you put on your face after you shave..."

"After shave?"

"Yeah, sure, that, and your detergent, and your cologne. just smells like you. I like that. And it's kind of relaxing."

"Oh...well, you know, the real thing would be relaxing, too, right?" Caitlin looked away, her cheeks flushed in embarrassment. "Caitlin?"

"Well, you'd think, but not exactly. You're kind of the reason I'm down here."

Alex just laughed in disbelief as he shook his head. "Yeah, I doubt that." But Caitlin didn't say anything, just looked down at her hands. "Really? I am?"

"Yes, really. You're not the only reason, Alex, but...mostly, the bed's uncomfortable. It makes my back hurt. And I know that sounds like I'm bitching and moaning, but it's true. The couch, well, the back of it, it gives some support, and my back doesn't hurt so much when I sleep down here."

"Okay, well, that does make sense. But how did I play a part in you ending up down here?"

"Alex, it's not a big deal. It's so not important."

"It is to me. I want to know, Caitie."

Caitlin looked at Alex for a moment, silent. Her lips were pursed with uncertainty and she wore a look of reluctance. "Alex..." she finally sighed. "Please don't get your feelings hurt, but..."

"When you preface it like that, I'm so optimistic," he interrupted sarcastically.

"Do you want to know or not?"

Alex nodded. "Yes. It can't be that bad...can it?"

"It's not bad at all, Alex. It's just, well, you were snoring."

Alex didn't say anything at first, but then he laughed. "I was not."

"How would you know? You were asleep. And you do snore...not that often, and it really isn't that loud, but oh my gosh, I cannot sleep when you do that."

"I don't snore," he stated again. "I think you were imagining it. Wait, I know. You were dreaming. It was a dream."

"Alex," Caitlin said with a laugh. "It wasn't a dream. You were snoring." Alex just shook his head once again and Caitlin nodded with a smile. "Alex, I love you to death, I do. But sometimes, when you're lying next to me in bed, snoring, it doesn't matter how much I love you; I just want to punch you in the face, hence the couch."

"Then I guess I'm glad you took these drastic measures. I prefer you sleeping on the couch to being punched in the face. I still don't believe I was actually snoring."

Caitlin laughed again. "Oh, you were. If you need proof, I recorded it."

"You did not." But of course she probably did. Caitlin had just professed to being crazy and recording him while he slept, well, that was just his opinion.

"I did; I needed the proof. I knew you wouldn't believe me. I'd be more than happy to let you listen."

"No, that's okay. You probably tampered with the evidence."

"Hey! That's mean. I would never..." Caitlin's protest was cut off by Alex's lips pressing against hers.

"Doesn't matter," Alex mumbled against Caitlin's mouth. "Come back to bed. You can lean against me and use me for support."

Caitlin shook her head as her hands moved to Alex's shoulders and she pushed him back gently. "It's really not you, or the snoring. It's the couch. It's just so much more comfortable right now."

"Okay," Alex finally said after a few moments of contemplation. "Can I join you?"

"You really don't have to."

"I know I don't have to, but I want to, Caitlin. I don't like not sleeping with you."

Caitlin smiled slowly upon hearing his words. "Do you think we can both fit?" She glanced down at the couch with a frown. The seat of the couch was of a normal width and Caitlin was especially wide at this moment. "It's gonna be a tight squeeze," she said after a moment. I'm kind of humongous at the moment."

"Caitie, you're beautiful."

"You're so sweet, Alex. You always know what to say. But I'm still humongous. If you want to try out this sleeping arrangement, I'm game...but I'm keeping the pillow."

[ ][ ][ ][ ]

Sunday afternoon, following Cayden's christening, the family and friends of Luke and Marie were gathering for a little celebration. It seemed a little bit unnecessary to Alex as Cayden was just 14 weeks old and had no idea that there was a party being thrown in his honor while he was passed around the room from one set of waiting arms to the next. But he couldn't deny that it was nice to get this one last chance to spend some time with friends before everything changed for him and Caitlin.

In order to make it easier on Caitlin, the party was being held at her and Alex's house. Marie and Luke would be staying after the party and getting the house back to normal while Caitlin and Alex went into the hospital for her scheduled induction that evening.

Caitlin should have been in a good mood that day, and she had been that morning and during the ceremony, but as it grew later in the day, she had started to feel off. She didn't want any company and she really just wanted the day to be over. But the party had only started an hour earlier and it was scheduled to run until five o'clock. As much as she wanted to ask everyone to leave, she knew couldn't do that, and because she was in a crap mood and would be a huge let down to everyone else, she had disappeared upstairs to get some time to herself.

Marie was the first to notice Caitlin was missing. She could tell something had been bothering her friend since they had arrived at the house and she was starting to rethink the decision to have the christening party here at Caitlin's house when it was obvious that Caitlin and Alex should have been spending this last opportunity for some time to themselves without the distraction of the party guests. But it was too late now, and while she knew that Caitlin probably just wanted some time alone, she still wanted to check on her to make sure there wasn't something she could do for her.

Marie stopped Alex as he came in from outside. "Have you seen Caitlin?" she asked.

"Actually, no," Alex said as he glanced around the room. Now that Marie mentioned it, he realized he hadn't seen Caitlin since they returned back from the church. He knew for sure she hadn't been outside. "Maybe she's upstairs," he offered as a suggestion.

"Do you care if I go up and check? I just want to make sure everything is okay. She seemed in a funny mood."

"Sure," Alex said with a nod. Marie was right. He, too, had noticed Caitlin's down mood and had chalked it up to nerves about the impending birth and the discomfort of late pregnancy. "I have to help Luke with the grill, but I'll be up in a bit, too. I have a surprise for her."

"Really? What?" Marie's interest was instantly piqued. It seemed sweet that Alex had something planned for Caitlin on this day.

"I can't tell you," Alex said mysteriously.

"Ooh, so secretive," she said with a smile. "I won't tell Caitlin."

Marie found Caitlin upstairs in her and Alex's bedroom. Caitlin sat on the edge of the bed and while she didn't look particularly upset at the moment, she was frowning.

She tapped lightly on the open door and gave Caitlin a smile when she looked up. "You okay?" Marie asked.

Caitlin returned the smile, but hers was sheepish in nature. "Oh, sure," Caitlin said with a light laugh. "I'm just having a hard time getting comfortable. Who knew pregnancy would be such a pain in the ass...literally."

Marie laughed in agreement. "It does happen. It's one of those things people don't talk about. Are you sure that's all that's bothering you? You just seem quiet today."

"Oh, you know, I'm just a bit nervous, is all. That's normal, right?"

"Of course," Marie told her. "Do you mind if I join you?" She still stood in the open doorway and didn't want to assume Caitlin wanted company, especially when she had disappeared off on her own to get away from the get-together going on downstairs.

"Absolutely not." Caitlin patted the bed next to her. "Sorry about taking off. I just didn't want to be a downer down there. I'm really not in the mood for a party today."

"I know. And I am so sorry that we pushed this onto you. I should have known that having the party here would be too much trouble."

"It's not that, Marie. It's not that at all. Like I said, it's just one of those days. Yesterday; this morning even, I was so excited about the party and getting to hold and cuddle Cayden all afternoon, but...things change so quickly, don't they? I'm sorry I'm being no fun."

" don't have to apologize for anything. I'm just appreciative that you were still willing to go through with today. About that, never again are you allowed to delay something important just for me and Luke. Alex told me you fought him on the date of the induction because of the christening."

"God, he's such a snitch," Caitlin exclaimed. "What is with him lately? He keeps tattling on me." Marie just smiled, but gave Caitlin a pointed look. "I didn't fight him per se, Marie. I did use today to my advantage. I was just kind of trying to stall the inevitable."

"Well, don't do that again. We could have easily postponed the christening."

"Please don't tell Alex that. He'll be mad if he knew that was a possibility."

"Why didn't you call me when the doctor wanted to induce you Friday night?"

"I don't know," Caitlin said with a sigh. "Or, well, it's as I told you. I was delaying the inevitable. The baby didn't want to come out anyway...a few more days wasn't going to hurt anything, Alex said so. And obviously it hasn't made a difference. I haven't gone into labor and this baby is never going to come."

"I have a theory about that, actually," Marie told her. Caitlin just gave her a curious look. "I know that the baby is being all mysterious and keeping you and Alex guessing as to whether it'll be a boy or girl, but I think you're having a girl."

"You do?" Caitlin's voice took on an edge of surprise and she glanced down at her stomach with a thoughtful glance. "Why?"

"Because it's just so typical of a girl to keep everyone waiting, isn't it? And why shouldn't she? She's just trying to make a fabulous entrance...fashionably late."

Caitlin laughed. "I don't know about that. Alex still thinks we're having a boy."

"Oh, no, he's wrong. It's a girl. He obviously wants a boy. What man doesn't? But he's wrong. I've always thought you'd have a girl. Even from that moment we found out you were expecting I knew it'd be a girl. So, now, our children are going to grow up together and I just know they'll be soul mates."

Again, Caitlin laughed. It was a nice thought that Marie had, even if it was impractical. "They can still be soul mates, even if it turns out to be a boy."

"I know...but it's a girl. I can tell these things. Even before they told me I was having a boy, I knew that's what I was having. So, I just know you're having a girl."

"I guess we'll find out tonight, or tomorrow, or whenever he..."

"Or she," Marie interrupted.

"Or she," Caitlin corrected. "We'll just have to wait until the baby decides to grace us with its presence. I kind of can't wait."

"You're being extremely patient considering the circumstances," Marie told her. "I have no idea how you can be so lackadaisical about the baby being this late."

"I don't know," Caitlin said. She started to speak again, but a high pitched wail carried from down stairs and had her pausing. "Is that Cayden?" she asked Marie.

Marie glanced down at her watch. "It sure is," she said, noting the time. "It's getting close to his feeding time. That's his warning cry. I better go check on him. You want come down?"

"In a few minutes," Caitlin told her. "I'll be down in a few minutes. Thanks for hanging out with me. I'm in a better mood."

"Good. I'm glad I could help." Another high pitched wail could be heard and Marie turned to the door. "See you downstairs."

[ ][ ][ ][ ]

Caitlin was alone in the bedroom for a few minutes before Alex joined her. She didn't hear him come into the room and she looked up in surprise when he joined her on the bed.

"How's it going?" he asked as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Feeling better?"

"I'm fine, Alex," Caitlin told him. She hadn't realized that her unpleasant mood had been that noticeable. "I mean, I am feeling better than I was a little while ago. Everybody should stop worrying about me."

"Unfortunately, everyone cares too much about you for that to happen. But, if you're feeling better then I guess I can't give you your surprise now." He feigned a frown.

"My surprise?" Caitlin glanced up at Alex. She was smiling and she regarded him with an amused look. She knew nothing of a surprise.

"I had something I wanted to give you, but...I was waiting for the right moment. If you don't need to be cheered up, then I'm not sure now is the right time to give it to you."

"No, no, I want it," Caitlin protested. She let the smile fall from her face and gave Alex a pout. "I still need to be cheered up." But then a fleeting thought popped into her head. "It's not sex is it?"

"No," Alex said with a laugh. "Unless that's what you want..."

Caitlin laughed, too. "No, I want what you were going to use to cheer me up. I don't want sex."

"I don't know. You seem to be in a pretty good mood right now. Right now doesn't seem like the right time."

"It is," Caitlin urged. She stood, with a small, helpful push from Alex, and turned to face him. She grabbed his hands in hers and pulled him to his feet. "Come on, I want it now."

"Those last words could so be taken out of context if anyone were to walk in right now," Alex said with a laugh, but then he turned serious. "You're sure? You really do need to be cheered up?"

"Yes!" Caitlin exclaimed. "I am in such a horrible mood right now. Only what you can give me can make me feel good again."

"There you go again with the double entendres. If you're sure..." he mused.

"Yes, let's please."

Alex took Caitlin by the hand and led her out of the bedroom only to stop in hall just outside the door to their bedroom. He took her by the shoulders and turned her slowly so she faced the door to the nursery. Caitlin gave him a quizzical look and then smiled slowly.

"What are you up to?" she asked. Alex had been adamant about Caitlin waiting to see the nursery until they brought the baby home from the hospital and as the baby was still currently camped out inside her, just wallowing the days away until he or she was evicted by force, Caitlin was a bit surprised by this development.

"I'm not up to anything," Alex told her, feigning a hurt tone. "You said you needed cheering up. I thought that checking out the nursery would do the trick, but if you're not interested..." He took her hand again and started down the hall away towards the steps.

"No!" Caitlin exclaimed. Her feet were planted and Alex had been putting on a good show, but she knew he wasn't really going downstairs. "I'm interested. So interested, you know that. You can't just offer this and then take it off the table."

"Are you sure?"

"Gosh, yes." Impatience edged into Caitlin's voice. "More than anything."

"Wait here," Alex told her. "Do not go into the room until I get back."

"What? Where are you going?" Caitlin called after Alex. He had already taken off down the hall.

"I'm going to get Michaela and Brittany. They put a lot of hard work into the nursery. They should be a part of the reveal. Is that okay with you?"

Caitlin nodded and waved Alex off. "Please hurry." She leaned against the wall opposite the door to the nursery and tried to curb her desire to just go into the room without waiting.

Alex returned with the girls a few minutes later.

"This is it, Caitie," Michaela exclaimed. "Are you ready?"

"I am so ready," Caitlin said. She reached for Alex's hand again and glanced from him to Brittany and then to Michaela as she waited for them to open the door.

"I really hope you like it," Brittany said. "We had so much fun doing this for you. I think I might have found my second calling."

"I'm going to love it, I know."

"Close your eyes," Michaela told her. "We want you to be completely surprised."

Caitlin did what Michaela asked and let her eyes close, though she was seriously tempted to sneak a peek as Alex and Brittany led her into the room. They walked into the room slowly and after a few steps, they stopped. Alex dropped her hand and stepped away from her.

"Go ahead, Caitlin," Brittany said. "Open your eyes."

Caitlin's eyes opened slowly and her mouth opened in surprise as she did a slow turn. She did another slow spin as she took in all the details before she stepped over to Brittany and hugged her tightly before doing the same to Michaela and then to Alex.

"It's perfect," she said. Her voice wavered and tears prickled in her eyes as she once again turned in a circle. "You guys are...this is just too much."

"You like it?" Alex asked softly, almost a whisper.

"I love it," she whispered back.

The room was decorated gorgeously. After much deliberation and quite a few disagreements, Michaela and Brittany had finally settled on a beach theme. It would work for a boy or a girl, which, since the gender of the baby was still up in the air, would work well. The walls were painted a periwinkle blue and a cream wainscoting ran along the bottom half of the wall. The girls had stenciled a coral reef mural on one wall. The floor had already had blond hardwood flooring and the center of the room was covered by a medium sized rug that resembled a beach towel. Carefully picked pictures graced the walls and a gauzy material hung in front of the windows.

"Oh my gosh," Caitlin exclaimed when her eyes fell on the furniture. "Is that what I think it is?" She turned to Alex, the question clear in her eyes.

"It is," he told her. "I know you wanted the cream colored wood, but Michaela and Brittany thought this would look better in the room." The furniture had been distressed to resemble driftwood that peppered the sandy beach where he had proposed, where they had been married, where they had just reaffirmed their love only a few months ago.

"Alex, you shouldn't have," Caitlin told him.

"I didn't. Your mother and father paid for the furniture...on your mother's insistence."

"Then they shouldn't have."

"Believe me, I know, but she knew how much you wanted it. And speaking of your mother, let me run and get her and Brianna. They wanted to see the room, too."

"This is so beautiful," Caitlin told Michaela and Brittany. "Thank you so much."

"Thank Alex," Brittany told him. "This was all his idea. If he hadn't asked us to do this, we never would have had a chance to do it. But, like I said, it was so much fun. And you really like it?"

"I love it. Oh, wow, look at that chair." Caitlin had just noticed the chair that sat in front of the windows. It was a rocking chair styled like an Adirondack beach chair. It matched the other furniture perfectly and there was even a beach umbrella positioned over the chair. "You thought of everything. Where did you get this?"

"Ryan made it," Michaela told her. "He actually had a big part in helping us pull this off. He put together all of the furniture, built the chair, installed the wainscoting, distressed the furniture...the list goes on and on. Who knew he was so crafty?"

"It's amazing," Caitlin said. She stepped forward, moving towards the chair to get a closer look, but she stopped suddenly and looked down with a frown. "Oh, that's..."

"Everything okay?" Brittany asked.

Michaela looked down, following Caitlin's gaze, and her eyes opened in surprise. "Gee, I knew this was a surprise and that you have a jumpy bladder, but Caitlin..."

"Oh, shit," Caitlin exclaimed as she looked down at the puddle forming at her feet, mortified by the warm liquid streaming down her leg.

"Michaela," Brittany exclaimed. "She didn't wet herself." She turned her attention to Caitlin. "I mean, you didn't, right?"

Caitlin didn't say anything, just shook her head as she continued to look down at the ever increasing puddle on the rug at her feet. "It's my...I think my water just broke," Caitlin finally said. Or at least that's what she thought it was. It wasn't the gush she had been expecting, but the clear liquid continued to trail down her leg in a continuous stream.

"Why does all this stuff always happen when I'm around?" Brittany exclaimed. "Okay, okay, let's not freak out."

Caitlin shook her head and pressed her eyes shut as hot tears formed, uncontrollable in this state of embarrassment. Alex had disappeared a few minutes earlier to find Maura and Brianna, but it seemed like he had been gone for ages.

"Maybe I should go get Alex," Brittany said as she left the room, calling his name as she went. Michaela and Caitlin could hear her as she made it further down the hall. "Alex...Brie...even Marie... or anyone present who has ever had a baby," she called. "We could use some help upstairs."

"How does it feel?" Michaela asked. She glanced at the puddle on the floor a bit wearily. "Is it weird?"

"It's...warm," Caitlin said gingerly. "And it doesn't stop. I've never had the experience of pissing my pants as an adult, but this is much like what I would imagine it to be like."

"Are you okay, Caitlin?" Alex asked as he entered the room a few minutes later. He came into the room to find Caitlin standing in a puddle of water with tears of embarrassment streaming down her face, and having missed Brittany's calls for help, he had not known what he was walking into. "What's wrong?"

Caitlin just nodded towards the floor and gestured towards the wet rug at her feet. Alex's eyes dropped to the floor.

"Oh..." he said slowly. "That's nothing to cry about," he told Caitlin. "This is actually going to make things a lot easier on you. Have contractions started?"

"No," Caitlin told him. "And I have no idea how this makes things easier."

"This is your body doing what it needs to do naturally. So, towels. Michaela, grab a few towels from the linen closet. Bring those in here and then can you go tell Maura and David that we're going to head to the hospital? Actually, just tell everyone."

Michaela disappeared from the room with a nod and returned quickly with the towels Alex had requested before disappearing once again.

"Can I help in anyway?" Marie asked as she came into the room followed by Brianna. Her eyes opened in surprise upon seeing Caitlin, whose face was a mess of mascara. "Are you okay? Obviously, that's a stupid question, but, really, are you okay?"

"Just incredibly embarrassed," Caitlin told her.

"Don't be embarrassed," Brianna and Marie said at the same time, getting a laugh from Caitlin.

"This is exciting," Marie told her. "You're having your baby."

"But the party," Caitlin said. She had yet to move from the spot she had been standing in when her water had broken for fear of dripping all over the floor.

"Fuck the party," Marie told her. "This is way more important. Tell me what you need."

"A diaper," Caitlin told her with a laugh.

"I don't think we have any of those," Marie said glancing around the room. "Not any that will fit you, anyway."

"Do you have any maxi pads?" Brianna asked. Caitlin nodded. "That should do the trick for now." She took the towels from Alex. "I'll go get the car ready. Is her bag ready?"

"It's in the car already," Alex told her. "And thanks, Brie. Here, Caitlin, you can get cleaned up and then we need to take off." He turned to Marie. "Go ahead and stay and enjoy the rest of the party. I'll get you the keys and you can lock up when you leave."

Maura joined them in the room then. "It's time, I hear," she said as she went over to Caitlin and gave her daughter a reassuring hug. While Alex took care of getting Marie what she needed to secure the house once the party was over, Maura helped Caitlin over to the bedroom to clean up a bit before they left for the hospital.

"The party will be over in an hour or so," Marie told Alex. "Can I come up to the hospital? I'd like to be there."

"That's up to Caitlin," Alex said as he handed Marie a key to the house. "But I don't think she'll mind. I'll call you once we get settled in to let you know what room she's in."

"Good luck," Marie said with a nod. Alex gave her a quick smile as he left the room to find Caitlin and Maura.

[ ][ ][ ][ ]

Caitlin didn't say much on the ride to the hospital and every time Alex glanced over at her she seemed to be contemplating something. About halfway to the hospital, she finally spoke.

"Can you tell me what to expect?" she asked him.

"Sure," Alex told her. "When we get there, we'll get set up in the room you'll be delivering in. Everything will take place in the same room. Your nurse will get the fetal monitor set up and they'll start your IV. You'll have some blood taken and the house doctor will do an initial exam so they can track your progress. Unless Melanie's already at the hospital, then she may do it. If I'm already at the hospital, I'll do an initial exam on a patient, but usually the house doctor will do it. And after that...well, it's not something I can routinely explain. It differs for everyone after that point."

"Do you think Melanie is already at the hospital?"

"I don't know, but maybe."

"What happens if you get called out during the delivery?"

"Nothing happens," Alex told her. "I won't be called out. Kyle is the doctor on call for the practice and I called him before we left to let him know that we were going in. He'll take care of anything that comes up for me. Don't worry about that, Caitlin."

"Even if you had a patient ready to deliver at the same hospital?"

"I'm not leaving your side for a moment, Caitlin."

"Good," she said with a smile, the relief she felt upon hearing that was evident and surprised her a bit.

[ ][ ][ ][ ]

Everything seemed to go just as Alex said it would. As soon as they arrived, Caitlin and Alex were taken to the delivery suite where their baby would be born. Caitlin changed into the hideous gown they required her to wear and her nurse, Maggie, one Alex worked with regularly, got the fetal monitoring started. Her IV was started and they took the blood Alex had talked about in the car, with a much better experience than the last time Caitlin had had her blood drawn.

And then the house doctor came in to examine her. The house doctor was a man slightly older than Alex and of Asian descent. He had a calming bedside manner, but English wasn't his first language and Caitlin was having a hard time understanding him because she couldn't focus. Alex seemed to know him and was having an easier time following what was going on.

"What?" Caitlin exclaimed after a moment. She could have sworn the words 'narrow outlet' had just passed the doctor's mouth.

"Narrow outlet," the doctor repeated.

"That means what?" she asked, glancing at Alex.

Alex just gave her a smile. "Don't worry, Caitlin. It's nothing to get overly upset about. He was just telling us that you're dilated to two centimeters and the fetal monitor is picking up small contractions. Things are going well."

"Oh, well, great," she said with a smile for Alex and the other doctor. "What does he mean by narrow outlet?" she asked Alex once they were alone in the room.

"Exactly what it sounds like," Alex told her. "You have a narrow pelvis."

"Oh...and that means what in terms of this baby coming out of me? It can come out of me, right?"

"Of course, Caitlin," Alex said with a laugh. "The baby is coming out of you, one way or another."

"Alex," she exclaimed. "You're not helping."

"Sorry," he told her. "It's nothing to worry about right now. We'll keep an eye on the situation, but the baby is of average size based on the last ultrasound you had. There's no need to get worked up about anything yet."

An hour later, Melanie popped into the room. Caitlin's contractions had been progressing in regularity and strength and Caitlin was optimistic that she would be delivering in no time.

"How's it going?" Melanie asked. "Are you feeling okay?" Caitlin nodded in assent. "And how are the contractions? Maggie said they were progressing as we'd like them to."

"They're not bad at this point," Caitlin told her. "And I feel fine for now."

"Great. The baby looks great on the monitor. You're doing wonderfully, Caitlin. So, I'll go ahead and see if you've made any progress since you got here and then we'll see how it goes for awhile." The exam was quick and a bit uncomfortable, but Caitlin was happy to hear that she had progressed to three centimeters, even though she had been expecting to hear a higher number. "You're doing great," Melanie repeated. "If you continue like this, you'll be having that baby soon enough." Melanie stuck around for a little bit longer chatting with Caitlin, Alex, and Maura, who had came back into the room after a short break in the waiting room, before finally taking off to check on another patient she had in the hospital. "I'll be back in a little bit to check on you again. If you need anything, let the nurses know and they'll get a hold of me."

"She seems nice," Maura commented once Melanie left the room.

"She's great," Caitlin said absently. "Is it weird that everyone and their mother have had their hands up my skirt today?"

"Caitlin," Maura exclaimed. "What are you talking about?"

"Melanie's the third person who's checked my progress. So has the house doctor, and Maggie, too. I guess I just didn't expect so many people to be so hands on."

"It's completely normal," Alex told her.

As if she had heard Caitlin say her name, Maggie came into the room. She adjusted the monitor that was strapped to Caitlin's stomach and checked her blood pressure and took her temperature.

"Everything looks great," she told Caitlin. "How are you doing? Can I get you anything to drink? Maybe some water, or a popsicle?

"No, I'm good," Caitlin told her. "Thanks, though."

"If you change your mind, let me know." Caitlin nodded with a smile and Maggie turned her attention to Alex. "Can I see you for a moment?" she asked.

"Uh, sure," he said, standing to follow Maggie.

They stopped just inside the door and Caitlin watched in interest as he talked to her. She couldn't hear everything, but she did hear the words 'patient', 'six centimeters', and 'unavailable.'"

Alex joined her a few minutes later and Caitlin regarded him with a curious look when he didn't say anything.

"What's going on?" Caitlin asked.

"It's nothing, Caitlin," he told her, but she continued to regard him with that questioning look and finally he sighed. "It's nothing," he repeated. "One of my patients came in, but like I told you on the way over here, I'm staying with you. You come first. All of my patients that were due around this time are aware that I may not be able to make their delivery."

"Oh..." Caitlin said simply. "But she's at six centimeters, so she should deliver before me, right?"

"Possibly," Alex said shortly. "That doesn't matter. I'm not leaving your side to deliver another baby."

"I didn't ask you to. I was just making a comment."

"Good. I was just making sure you know that I am here for you, Caitlin, and only you." He took her hand in hers and squeezed it tight. "You're doing great."

"That's easy to say now when all I've been doing is sitting here. The true test will be in a few hours. I hope you feel the same."

"You're doing great," he repeated. "You will do great. You can do this."

Caitlin nodded with a smile, but she wasn't so sure Alex really knew what he was talking about. She didn't feel quite as certain as he seemed to be, but she wasn't going to tell him that. His confidence, while maybe misplaced, was still reassuring.

Another hour passed quickly with Michaela, Brittany, Marie, and Brianna cycling in and out of the room. Maggie reappeared to check Caitlin's progress, and while Caitlin was certain she had made a ton of forward progress, she was disappointed to hear that none had been made and she was stuck at three centimeters.

"Don't get discouraged," Alex told her. "Most first labors are slow going. And your contractions are still weak compared to what they will be as you get further along."

"Okay," Caitlin said solemnly.

But another hour passed, and again Caitlin was still at three centimeters. And then another two hours passed with still no progress made.

"This is fine," Melanie told her after Caitlin passed another hour with no change. "This can and often does happen."

"But it's been four hours and nothing has happened. I'm not even having contractions anymore," Caitlin said. Her voice had started to waver and she looked down at her hands, afraid that she might burst into tears at any moment. Upon her water breaking, she had been certain that the baby would be ready to deliver within hours, and as silly and unrealistic as that had been, she couldn't help but be a bit discouraged. "You're not going to send me home, are you?"

"Of course not," Melanie assured her. "If your labor continues to stay stalled, we'll go ahead with the induction as planned."

"Oh, okay."

"I'm going to have Maggie check you in another two hours and we'll see where you're at then. We'll discuss options then. How does that sound?"

Caitlin glanced at Alex to see what he thought. She had no idea if that sounded okay to her or not because she really didn't know what was normal. He nodded.

"Great," she said. "That sounds great." Melanie left again and Caitlin turned to Alex. "I mean, I assume that's great," she said to Alex. "You seem okay with it."

"It's what I would do," he told her. "And this is perfect for you. You didn't want to induce, so if we can get things moving on their own, you can avoid that."

"And how do you suggest we get things moving again?"

"Well, first you need to relax," Alex told her. "That will help."

"I am relaxed."

"Sure, you are," he said with a smile. "You are wound so tight, Caitie. I know you are." He stood and leaned over her, letting his hands grip her shoulders, his fingers kneading gently. "Yeah, you are so tense. Here, scoot forward a bit."

"Why? What are you doing?" she asked with uncertainty as Alex put the arm rail on the bed down and climbed into the bed behind her.

"Relax," he whispered as he undid the back ties on the hospital gown she wore and dusted his lips down the back of her neck. He massaged her shoulders gently, his pressure increasing as Caitlin warmed to his touch. "This will help, I promise."

"Not sure how, but it feels amazing," she purred.

[ ][ ][ ][ ]

But Alex had been wrong and two hours later, Maggie found her to be still stuck at three centimeters.

"Let me call Dr. Coltraine, and I will be right back," Maggie told her and Alex.

"This is ridiculous," Caitlin exclaimed. "I knew labor took forever, but, gosh, I thought I'd at least be a little closer to the finish line by now."

"We're going to have this baby, Caitlin. Don't worry about that," Alex told her.

"I'm not. Or, not that worried," she added when Alex gave her a pointed look. "I just don't want the Pitocin."

"You don't have to start that yet," Alex told her. "You could still wait a few hours and see what happens. You could even go over night and see how things progress. This happens, Caitlin. And things change rapidly, so you may be stalled now, but in a couple of hours, that could be completely different."

Maggie returned a few minutes later. "Dr. Coltraine is on her way in. She wants to talk to you in person regarding your options. She should be here in about twenty minutes."

"Oh, well, great." Caitlin glanced over at Alex with uncertainty.

After talking to Melanie, it was decided to let Caitlin go a bit longer without medical intervention. Caitlin was set on delivering naturally without any medicinal aids and as long as the fetal monitor looked healthy, her blood pressure remained normal, and she wasn't running a fever, Melanie was content to let her go overnight. But they would start the Pitocin first thing in the morning if things remained the same or there was little change.

"Can we take a walk?" Caitlin asked.

Melanie had left a few minutes earlier and she was getting antsy in the room. They had taken a few short walks throughout the day, but her contractions had started up again since the last pelvic exam, though they were anything but regular and not particularly strong.

"Yeah," Alex told her. "Anything you want."

They took a short walk which seemed to help Caitlin's contractions, and while Caitlin wanted to keep walking after almost an hour, they returned to the room.

"I'm going get you some more water. Can I get you anything else?" Alex asked.

Marie was keeping Caitlin company now as Luke had taken Cayden home for the night. Brittany, Michaela, Brendan, Brianna, and Ryan, along with Maura and David were still out in the waiting room and Caitlin was getting ready to tell them to leave.

"We're good," she told him. "You should take a break, Alex," she told him. "You've been stuck in here with me all afternoon with no breather. Take a breather."

"I'm fine," he told her. "I'll be right back."

"You had another patient come in," Maggie told him when he approached the desk. "It's your second one today."

"Is there a full moon tonight?" he joked. It was a joke, but it just seemed perfect that he'd have multiple patients go into labor on a night when he couldn't be a part of any deliveries.

"I don't know," Maggie said with a smile. "It's been a crazy day. Had Caitlin's water not broken, the induction might have had to be moved."

"Which patient came in?" Alex asked.

"Danielle Winters. She's not been here too long, but she's making good progress. She should deliver before morning."

"And Kyle was called?"

"He was still here when she arrived. So, he's taking care of her."

Alex was just turning to leave to return to Caitlin when he all but walked into another man.

"Hey," the man exclaimed. "They said you were unavailable."

"What?" Alex asked.

"The nurse and the other doctor who saw my wife when she arrived said you were unavailable for the delivery."

Alex knew the man was familiar and he should probably know who he was, he just didn't focus as much on his patient's husbands, especially the ones that didn't come to many visits.

"Your Danielle's husband?" It was a tentative question, fueled by the information Maggie had just given him.

"Yes. Derek Winters. And you're her doctor. What gives? I get that you're not able to deliver her baby if you're stuck in another delivery or some other medical emergency, but here you are, standing around like you have nowhere else to be."

"Excuse me?" Alex asked. "That's not what's going on at all."

"Can you at least pop in and say hello or something? Maybe give an explanation as to why some doctor Danielle has never seen will be the one to deliver the baby?"

"You know, I'm here for a personal matter," Alex said. As bad as he felt for missing a patient's delivery, he wasn't going to risk missing Caitlin's because of that. "My wife..."

"Understands the demands of your profession, I'm sure."

"That's not what I was going to say...fine," Alex finally said. He'd do as the man asked, pop in and say hello, explain the situation to Danielle, and be back with Caitlin in no time.

"Alex?" Maggie asked. "Caitlin?"

"Can wait," Derek told her. "We're in room 408."

"Can you let her know I'll be right back?" Alex asked.

Maggie nodded with a frown. "Sure."

[ ][ ][ ][ ]

"Look who I found hanging at the nurse's desk."

"Dr. Mullen," Danielle exclaimed. She was in the throe of a hard contraction and it was all she got out upon seeing Alex. But it passed quickly and she smiled brightly. "They said you wouldn't be here. Dr. Addison said he would be delivering the baby. What's going on, Derek?"

"I told you, Dani. I found him up at the front desk shooting the shit with one of the nurses. He must love this place."

"I wouldn't go that far," Alex said with a smile. "I was actually here with..." He was cut off by Derek once again.

"With another patient," Derek interjected. "But now he's here to see you."

"How is everything going? Maggie said she expected you to deliver before the morning."

"Great," Danielle said as another contraction. "These...these...these are great," she finally got out. "Contractions are wonderful. I think the nurse said I was at seven centimeters."

Alex nodded as she talked, noting that it was all written in her chart. He was getting ready to say something else when Julie, the nurse taking care of Danielle, came into the room.

"Alex," she exclaimed. "What are you doing here? I thought Maggie said you were here with Caitlin."

"I am," he told her. "But..."

"I insisted he see Danielle," Derek interrupted yet again. Alex, with monumental control, controlled the eye roll he felt coming on. The man was beyond annoying and let no one get a word in. "He [i]is[/i] her doctor. He should be involved."

"Right," Julie said. "I was just surprised, is all. Maggie said you'd be tied up with Caitlin all night, but it's good you're here." She handed Danielle the glass of ice chips she had requested and went about checking her vitals before leaving once again.

"Who is this Caitlin all the nurses keep talking about?" Derek asked.

"My wife," Alex told him. "The one you said should understand the demands of my job. She's in labor, which is why you were told I was unavailable. I wasn't just at the nurse's station making small talk. I was getting something for my wife."

"Why are you even in here?" Danielle exclaimed. She shot Derek a pained look. "This is your fault," she told him. "I completely understand. Go. Go be with your wife. Derek, you ass."

"Thank you. I appreciate your understanding."

"And I apologize for my husband. He's a bit freaked out by all this. You're going to have to show me pictures when I come back to the office for my postpartum check up. But go...Dr. Addison, I'm fine with him."

[ ][ ][ ][ ]

"Oh, my gosh, Alex," Caitlin exclaimed. "Where have you been?" Alex had been gone longer than expected and while he had been gone, her contractions had picked back up. She was having one right now.

"I'm so sorry, Caitie," Alex told her. "I had another patient go into labor and I ran into her husband while I was up at the front desk and he dragged me to see his wife. I'm not leaving the room again."

"You don't have to apologize. I'm just really excited to tell you that things are finally picking up." She was smiling, though she was working through another contraction, and after a moment, she held up five fingers with another bright smile. "Five centimeters, baby."

"That's awesome," he told her. "You're doing awesome."

"She's doing amazing," Brianna said.

Marie had finally left when Caitlin insisted and as it was late and it had seemed like she was going to go all night with no progress, she had sent everyone else home, too. Maura and David were the only ones still in the waiting room and they made occasional appearances, but they were trying to give Caitlin some space.

[ ][ ][ ][ ]

Caitlin had been optimistic once she hit the five centimeter mark. After hours and hours with no progress she had started to get discouraged, but those two centimeters had seemed like a tremendous accomplishment. And as each hour passed, her contractions continued to get stronger, and more regular, and finally, ten hours after arriving at the hospital, it was finally time to deliver the baby.

She looked up at Alex with a hint of anxiety. "I...I...I don't know about this," she told him. "I really don't know."

"I'm right here. We'll do this together, Caitie. You can do this."

Caitlin bore down as another contraction rocked through her and she had the uncontrollable urge to push, but Melanie had told her to wait. She was breathing hard, her breathes coming in pants.

"I'm going to count to three and I want you to push as hard as you can," Melanie told her.

Brianna stood on one side of Caitlin, and held her hand. Alex stood on the other side, holding her hand as well. Caitlin nodded and looked up at them both.

"Okay, one...two...three...push," Melanie told her. "Great job. We're going to rest a moment and on my count, we'll do it again."

"Amazing, Caitlin," Alex told her. "You are doing wonderful."

"Here we and push..."

[ ][ ][ ][ ]

Two hours later, Caitlin and Alex were alone in her hospital room. It was just her, him, and their brand new baby daughter. They had been moved to the room where Caitlin would be staying until she was released to go home and now, in the early hours of the morning, Caitlin and Alex sat side by side in the hospital bed, both just reveling in the presence of their new child. Caitlin held her close, unwilling to let her go.

"Look at her," she exclaimed. She smiled up at Alex for a moment before she returned to watching the tiny baby she held in awe. "She's just so beautiful. I can't believe she's ours."

Alex was equally in awe. And Caitlin was right, their daughter, who had yet to be named, was simply the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. And he was finding it just as hard as Caitlin was to believe they had created her.

"She's amazing," he agreed. "You did amazing, Caitlin. She's perfect."

"It wasn't just me, Alex. I couldn't have done this without you. Thank you. Thank you so much."

"Hey," he exclaimed. Caitlin's eyes had gone glassy and she sniffled lightly. He cupped her chin and looked into her eyes. "Please don't do that. Your know what they do to me."

"I'm so sorry," Caitlin said with a half laugh half sob. "I can't help...I don't know, maybe it's still the hormones, or maybe this is how it is for everyone. But I love you so much, Alex. I never imagined I would love someone as much as I do you. And's instantaneous. I can't imagine life without her, and she's only been in it for two hours."

"I know exactly how you feel. It's the same for me."

"You can't imagine this, can you?" Caitlin asked Alex. She looked up at him earnestly. "I know I thought of this moment so many times before she arrived, and dreamed of it, but it's still nothing like I had pictured."

"It's better," Alex said. "I know."

Caitlin smiled upon hearing that Alex mirrored her emotions exactly. "She looks like you, you know." She was still looking down at the tiny baby that slept in her arms.

"Caitlin," he said with a laugh. "She's two hours old. She looks like...she looks like herself."

"She has your eyes," Caitlin disagreed.

"She's barely had them open, how can you tell?"

"I can tell," Caitlin said with a smile. She yawned then, covering her mouth, trying to hide it from Alex.

"You should sleep," he told her. "You have to be worn out."

"Oh, I am. I am so tired. But I don't want to sleep. I don't want to miss a moment with her." The baby squirmed in Caitlin's arms then, making a mewing sound, but she quickly settled back into sleep.

"Can I?" Alex asked as he leaned forward and held his hands out to Caitlin.

"You never have to ask," Caitlin told him. She handed their daughter to him carefully and watched as Alex readjusted the blanket that swaddled her before resting the baby against his shoulder, patting her back gently. Caitlin lay back against the bed with a sigh and let her head fall against his shoulder.

"Sleep, Caitie," he whispered. "We will be fine just like this. She's sleeping, too. You won't miss a thing."

"Okay," Caitlin murmured. "Wake me if..." She succumbed to sleep before she could finish her sentence and Alex smiled as he watched Caitlin sleep while his daughter slept against his chest.

A little while later, Dana, the postpartum nurse came to check on Caitlin and the baby. "How's she doing?" Dana asked Alex. "Or, how are they both doing? I see they're both sleeping."

"Amazing," Alex told her. "They're both amazing."

"Well, I will let them sleep. If you need anything, just buzz."

Alex nodded and his attention returned to the baby he held in his arms. He looked down at her, having shifted her so he held her cradled in his arms. She awoke with a sleepy yawn and Alex shifted her back to his shoulder.

"You are one lucky baby girl," he told her. "You have one very special mother who loves you unconditionally. And me, well, I'm just the luckiest man ever because I have you...because I have your mother."

"I'm the lucky one," Caitlin sighed sleepily as she snuggled against Alex. He moved his free arm and circled it around Caitlin, hugging her tightly. Caitlin's arm was draped around his waist and she moved her hand to rest over his that still lay on their daughter's back. "I have you...I have her...I have the both of you. I have everything I ever wanted. I couldn't want anything more."

The End

Author's note: I want to thank everyone for reading the story. This is the final chapter and I appreciate each and every reader and those who left comments and followed the story. Without the support, the story would never have become what it did. Thanks to everyone!