When Kaede's due date was set solidly around Chistmas time, the Saihara family had no choice but to accept that their first child would be born around the holidays, which was a fate Shuichi wouldn't have wished on anyone. Yes, they would save money on presents, but that also meant he wouldn't be able to spoil the little one like he truly wanted.
Kaede, on the other hand, was more excited about the prospect. A Christmas baby meant no shortage of cute clothes they could put them in and the well of ideas for photoshoots and the like ran deep.
Their baby was going to be a Christmas miracle. Or at least, that was the idea.
All of their friends had gone away for the holiday season, leaving them home alone and with no one to celebrate with but each other. Regularly, they would have jumped at the chance to go with Kaito and Maki to...wherever they were headed this year, but they stayed behind for the obvious reason of not wanting to be in a strange place when they should be welcoming their first child into their own. They were completely understanding, and Kaito even bid them farewell with, "I can't wait to meet the little tyke when we get back!"
Christmas came, but brought nothing else with it. All day, Kaede didn't feel a single thing out of place, and when the clock struck midnight, the confused couple started getting ready for bed without the trip to the hospital they were prepared for.
"Did something go wrong?" Kaede asked, the very idea putting her on the verge of tears.
Shuichi shook his head as he unwrapped his scarf from his neck. "No, I don't think so. Remember, due dates aren't an exact thing. It's not like turning in a paper at school was."
Kaede let out a high pitched whine, resting her hand on her swollen stomach. "I know, but I really wanted this to be our Christmas present!"
"I guess it just wasn't meant to be today," Shuichi said, slipping his coat off his shoulders and hanging it up. "Now let's get to bed. I've been anxious all day, and now I'm exhausted."
They started toward their bedroom, but Kaede wasn't ready to let it go quite yet. "If I'd known we were going to have to wait longer, I would have decided against keeping their gender a surprise."
Shuichi chuckled. "I guess that's just how it goes sometimes."
Kaede let out a small "hmph" and the couple went to bed.
The parents-to-be spent nearly the entire next week in uncertainty. Kaito and Maki came back from their trip, and at least one of them was high disappointed that he didn't get to meet his best friend's child. "I went and lost all my money on the slots, and now I can't even meet the little one to make myself feel better."
Shuichi raised an eyebrow, inwardly asking why Kaito would ever go there with his knowledge of his own luck. Kaede was even less impressed. "How do you think we feel? We were all ready for it, and nothing even happened!"
"I'm surprised," Maki said almost under her breath. "With how excited you were, I half expected you to induce labor so you could guarantee having it on Christmas.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't consider it," Kaede responded, completely ignoring the fact that Maki didn't actually...care. "But if it's meant to happen, I want to let it happen naturally, and clearly it wasn't meant to."
Maki shrugged. "Oh well. You'll get it next time."
Kaito leaned in closer, shifting his eyes to Kaede's belly. "You better come out of there fast, little one. If you stay in there much longer, your mom might just pop like a ball—ow!"
The sound of Maki smacking him upside the head echoed loudly, startling the baby into giving one or two hard kicks and turning its mother's laughter into pained sighs.
The baby was clearly aware they were overdue. They were just taking their sweet time.
New Year's Eve rolled around, and the couple were starting to get very nervous. They had no idea how overdue was enough to get worried about, but they couldn't go to the doctor's to ask on a day infamous for people getting completely trashed, because who knew how swamped they would be with stupid drunk people hurting themselves?
Opting to leave it another day or two, the couple decided to unwind (just a bit) and celebrate the new year with Kaito and Maki. Obviously neither Saihara was drinking, and Maki was notorious for being able to hold her liquor, which meant it was essentially a party with three sober people and a very drunk space man. While he regaled them with stories of their Christmas trip, being sure to slur as many words as possible, Kaede and Shuichi would constantly trade worried glances. It was hard to enjoy themselves with this inevitable visit to the doctor looming overhead.
Kaito could tell they were nervous and stumbled over, offering Shuichi a cup. "C'mon, bro," he said. "I know yer worried, but just take a drink and relax. The year's over! We'll worry about all that..." He held up a finger as if a very important thought had just occurred to him, but he ended up letting out a loud burp. "Next year," he finished with a grin."
Shuichi rolled his eyes and hesitantly took the cup. "I guess," he sighed.
He didn't drink enough to get toasty by any means, but the little bit he did have was thankfully enough to take at least a little of the edge off. Kaede couldn't drink, and therefore had no such luck. "When we learned we were pregnant, I kind of thought we would become parents before the year was over."
"It is what it is," Maki said, awkwardly patting her back. "It'll come when it wants to, and knowing you, you'll think any time is perfect."
She definitely couldn't argue with that. Those words buzzed around her head and helped her anxiety fade to the back of her mind. At one point, she thought, wouldn't it be funny if…? But her question could never resolve, because midnight was fast approaching and Kaito was starting to get rowdy. The classical music coming from the TV while they got ready for the big moment was definitely going a long way to soothe her nerves too.
The couple gathered together as the countdown on the TV came into the last minute. Shuichi wrapped his arm around Kaede and gave her a reassuring look. "This next year is going to be so big for us, you know that right?"
Amid Kaito's drunken countdown (and Maki smugly saying she was surprised he could even remember the order of the numbers,) Kaede smiled weakly. "Yeah...I wanted it to be this year though."
Shuichi deflated, the disappointment evident on his face as well. "I know..."
"But tomorrow, or...maybe the day after, we'll go see the doctor and make sure everything's okay."
"I love you no matter what, Kaede."
"I love you too."
The television (and Kaito) screamed, "Happy New Year!" into the heavens and, per tradition, The couples pulled each other closer and shared a kiss. Kaito and Maki's got...a little carried away, but Kaede broke away from Shuichi with a gasp shortly after their lips connected.
Once they were apart, Shuichi could see that her eyes had gone wide and her jaw was slack. "Kaede? What's wrong?" He asked, a grave seriousness in his voice.
Kaede grabbed his wrist and squeezed it tight, voice urgent as she said, "I think it's time. Oh god. Shuichi! The baby's coming!"
Maki was aware of what was happening, but she couldn't unstick herself from her drunken man before the Saiharas were gone. Their speed reminded her of the way characters would leave dust clouds behind them in old cartoons.
The next handful of hours was frantic, stressful, and more than a little bit scary, but they ended with the first sunrise of the year peeking through the hospital window's curtains and washing their newborn baby in its soft, peaceful glow.
They gave the healthy baby girl a name fitting the circumstances under which she was born, and Chiasa Saihara was allowed to leave with her mom the very next day.
They didn't get the Christmas baby they were hoping for, but the significance of her being born when she was, on the very first day of the year, couldn't be overlooked. Their new year's baby brought with her a brand new tradition of saying "Happy New Year...and happy birthday" and there was definitely no shortage of cute photoshoot ideas. Her timing wasn't what they expected, but it was just as perfect.
Which brings us to the most important lesson they learned from the experience.
No matter what, Maki is always right.