"Josh...Josh! Wake up!" His wife's urgent tone brings the off duty army doctor to consciousness quickly. He takes in her pale face, twisted in pain, and his eyes widen.
"The baby?" He gently places his hand over her frail, petite one covering her swollen belly. She breathes in as the contraction ends and lays back down.
"Yes. They're still far apart and not too painful. There's no reason I should've woken you up. Sorry. I was just..." The beautiful brunette' swords trail off as she brings her other hand to sandwich Josh's larger hand between her two small ones.
"Scared?" She shrugs, playing with his hand. He props himself up to look at her better. " Liz, honey, it's okay. It's okay to be scared. But everything's going to be fine. I love you."
"I love you too. But there's just so many things that could go wrong. The odds are stacked so high against—" Her words are cut off with a gasp. She clenches her jaw and grasps Josh's hand.
"Ten minutes, love. You okay?" Liz nods, eyes still wide with fear. She rubs a hand shakily over her stomach. It's really happening. Their baby is coming. "Look at me, Liz." She meets his eyes with a wide, vacant but searching gaze. "You can't focus on me, can you?" Liz offers a brief smile, though strained, loving how well her husband knows her. He gently puts her glasses on her face and she meets his eyes this time. "I'll be right here. Every step of the way. I won't leave you. We'll get through this together." He passes a hand gently over her swollen abdomen for what will soon be the last time. He feels her stomach tighten and Liz arches her back in response to the pain.
"They're getting worse. Oh, Josh. What am I going to do? I'm going to be a horrible mother." Liz looks to the man beside her, the love of her life, the one she never thought she'd find. He takes her hand with care.
"You're going to be an amazing mother. You may be scared, but I know you'll love this child, and care for him, and protect him." Her fingers tighten around his and her jaw tightens. The contractions are getting closer. "Liz, honey, how long have you been awake?"
"Um...a couple of hours." She ducks her head and avoids his eyes. Josh takes his free hand and turns her head to look at him.
"Liz, I love you. You don't have to be strong all the time. It's okay. Let me take care of you." Tears well in Liz's eyes as her husband allays some of her fear. Another contraction begins and she turns on her side, knees drawn up in a ball. One hand clutches Josh's desperately, one arm protectively guarding her baby.
"Nine minutes. Take care of me Josh. I love you too." The corners of her mouth peek up a little at the satisfied, relieved smile from Josh.
"You said you wanted to labor here for as long as you could before going to the hospital. Do you still want to do that?" Liz hesitates, then nods. However scared she may be, it'd be scarier at a hospital.
"Whatever I may say, don't give me drugs. I want to do this without." The fear previously in Liz's voice is covered nearly entirely by determination. Josh smiles as his beautiful wife's strength and determination. Others may call pregnant women fat or ugly, but to Josh, there is no more beautiful sight than the love of his life bearing their child. He rolls out of bed, searching for pants.
"Come on. Let's go for a walk. It'll help speed things up for you." Finding a pair of jeans he begins to slip one leg in before he hears Liz's breathless, strained tone.
"In a moment, maybe?" He rushes back to her side and takes her hand.
"Whenever you're ready, my love." He pressed a kiss to her forehead and leans back, stroking her hair.
"Okay. Let's go." Liz hurries to get dressed and ready before the next contraction hits. Eight minutes apart. One more contraction, a bathroom pit stop, and the couple are leaving the apartment. Josh locks the door behind them, putting the key in his pocket as he takes Liz's hand. Since waking, one of her hands has remained seemingly permenantly attached to her stomach. Josh smiles at the protectiveness but worries about her fear. He knows how many times he saw her father hit her mother when she was pregnant with Liz's siblings. He knows how her worst self-image is her stomach, even before the pregnancy. He knows how long it took for her to let even him touch her stomach, and how even now he's the only one besides her who can. He knows, and he understands. They travel the streets of NYC, watching the sunrise and thankful for Liz's sake that the early morning hour has few people out on the streets. An hour and a half into the walk, the contractions have intensified to the point Liz only remains standing if holding on to Josh.
"Thank you." She whispers to him, still clenching his muscular biceps as she tries to stand on her own feet. Between the fear and the intensity of the contractions, her legs are beginning to feel like Jello. Without asking, Josh scoops down and picks her up, carrying her back to their apartment. "No, Josh. I can do it. It's—oh God." She buries her head into his chest as another contraction overwhelms her.
"Breath, my love. Breath." Josh whispers into her ear, turning on to the street where their apartment is. He hears her breath hitch in and the hears the struggle to remain breathing normally. The contraction ends and she falls limp in his arms. She reaches a hand up to play with his rumbled blond hair, her other hand still clenched across her stomach. The contractions are four mintutes apart and Liz is wondering how much longer it will be. She gasps as she feels a pop and Josh's arm becomes soaked. He chuckles in response. "Well, we'd been wondering when that'd happen. Guess there's no time like the present." She buries her head in his chest again, this time from embarrassment. How many moms can say their water broke all over their husbands arm? Ew. Soon her mind is otherwise occupied as the next contraction hits even stronger. She stifles a cry of pain and Josh whispers words of comfort into her ear. Climbing the steps to they apartment, he sets Liz down to find his keys, keeping one arm protectively around her waist. They enter the apartment and he helps her to the couch. "Do you want to go to the hospital, or would you rather I check you and we see where we're at?" The perks of being married to a doctor.
"You. Please. I don't want to go to the hospital until necessary." Liz lays down on the couch and hikes her skirt up, somewhat akwardly as she's using one hand. Josh sheds his swearshirt and puts on gloves, then tugs off Liz's soaked underwear. He begins to check his wife's dilation and his eyes widen.
"Liz, honey, we should go." He snaps off he gloves and rushes to her side as another contraction hits. Three minutes.
"That...might not be a bad idea." Liz closes her eyes and breathes as the contraction subsides and Josh finds clean underwear and the hospital bag. One more contraction as he helps her with the underwear and they're rush to the car. Josh throws the car into drive and reaches over to hold Liz's hand as she moans in pain. "Oh...it hurts." She looks at him, her eyes eyes, tired, pained, and very fearful. The contractions are nearly constant now.
"We're over halfway there, love." Josh tries to mask his fear as Liz clings to his hand for dear life. She draws in a shaky breath.
"Josh, this baby's coming." Fear and pain are show clearly in her eyes and her voice.
"I know honey. That's why we're headed to the hospital."
"No, Josh, I need to push."
"What?" Josh frantically looks to his wife. She's serious.
"Pull over Josh! He's coming now!" She cries out in pain, releasing Josh's hand to wrap both arms around her stomach as she curls over. Josh pulls off the road into a gravel space, as if someone had put it there just for them. He throws the car in park and rushes around to the passenger side.
"Oh God. Oh Josh, it hurts. It burns. Can I push yet? Are you ready?"
"Yes, my love. I'm ready. Push nice and easy." Liz breathes in deep and then bears down with all her strength, sitting sideways on the seat with her legs spread apart. Josh squats in front of her, watching her progress and waiting to catch the baby. "That's it, love! I can see his head! Push!" Liz pushes as hard as she can, feeling as though she's being torn in two. Slowly, the baby's head emerges into Josh's waiting hands. Liz takes another deep breath and the baby's shoulders emerge one at a time. One last push, and the baby is out. Josh hands him gently to Liz and kisses her on the forehead. "Good job, beautiful. You did it! He's here!" Liz reaches into the glove box beside her and hands Josh a pair of scissors. He cuts the cord and finds the towel in the hospital bag to wrap the baby in.
"I did it. He's here. That was exhausting." Liz turns to face forward again and allows the baby to begin nursing for the first time.
"You're not going to, chew me out for it not going as planned?" Josh climbs back in the front seat and buckles in. Liz carefully buckles in, making sure not to get the baby.
"No. To be honest I was quite scared to go to the hospital. I'm much more comfortable with you." Josh blinks, taken aback at this rarely seen side of his wife. "Welcome to the world, Jacob Samuel Barton." Josh smiles and puts his arm around her shoulders. She smiles up at him, the almost perfect picture of an almost perfect family.