What A Difference A Year Makes
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Summary: Harm and Mac look back on the year of their lives following Hail and Farewell.
21 May 2005
"Harm, could you grab Abby for me, I'm getting uncomfortable and need to change positions, and I think it's time you practiced holding one, don't you?"
"Sure, piece of cake, no problem, I can do this, nothing to it."
"What's the matter Harm, nervous?" She chuckled.
"Me, nervous? You're kidding, Mac. Stand back and watch a pro at work here," he said with not an ounce of conviction. How hard can it be, really?
Mac turned to face Harm, and Harm reached out tentatively to grab Abby. He put one hand under her body and his other hand behind her neck for support, then pulled her in against his chest. A second later and Abby was tucked quietly in the crook of his arm. Sigh of relief. He grinned, "See, that wasn't so bad."
"Great, now all you have to do is change her diaper." She suggested.
"Change her, huh? I don't suppose there are operating instructions available for men somewhere laying around.
"Oh Harm, it'll be fine. Here, watch me. You take Abby and I'll take TK" and laid them down parallel to each other. Both babies are staring at them, wiggling and grabbing their toes, making small gurgling noises. "Okay, so you take the diaper tabs and rip them apart and pull the old diaper out from under the bottom. Then you take a new diaper, open the top and bottom flaps like so, and push the diaper up under the baby's bottom – the top of the tapes usually are lined up with the belly button."
"How's this?" He asked. "Well, good, but the diaper is upside down, you should fix that." And he did and showed it to her. "Good, that's better. Now take a baby wipe and wipe the area." She surveyed his technique, "You missed a spot there. Okay, now for a liberal sprinkling of powder, readjust the diaper, pull the tapes on one side and tape the front to the back together, then the same thing on the other side, then you're done."
Harm held up Abby and was pleased that the diaper actually stayed on, and on his first try. He showed Mac with a smile of satisfaction. "See, I do good work."
"You do, and by the time you start doing it for real, it'll only take you about a minute instead of ten. She rewarded him with a kiss. "You did good."
Mac woke up the following morning enveloped in Harm's arms. All she could think was that this was what she had been missing, and now they were finally home. God, they were good together, she had never felt more comfortable and at peace with anyone in her life, and sighed with contentment.
Mac rolled in bed so that she was facing Harm, she wanted to see his face. He stirred but didn't wake, and she laid there and watched him breathe....he looked so content. She could never get enough of him – enough kisses, smiles, touches, hugs, love.
She sure was feeling frisky this morning, she mused as she pulled the covers up to her eyes. Mac lay there watching Harm for about ten minutes, and giggling silently, decided to challenge herself to see if she could get really close to him without waking him. So she made it her mission – morning maneuvers you could call it - and decided on a covert full frontal assault. She nudged him gently so that he would roll onto his back....Check; she leaned over and slithered her left leg over his thighs.....Check; she leaned up on her right elbow and reached over with her left arm to cross over his stomach.....Check; then leaned up on her right hip and pulled herself on top – mission one accomplished, she thought with a sly smile, the Marine has landed.
Harm stirred briefly, but didn't waken. That's a shame, she was thinking, she didn't want him to miss out on all the fun. Okay, Mission two - reveille. Mac pulled herself up and started to nuzzle Harm's neck, and was rewarded with goose bumps. Good, she thought with a smile. She continued her assault, dropping light kisses and little licks on his lips, ear, neck, then down to his chest. She started to feel him harden underneath her and knew it wouldn't be long now.
His arms came about and wrapped themselves around her. "Mmmmm, Mac, what are you doing?" She smiled – Mission two accomplished. Shall we shoot for Mission three?
"Oh, don't mind me, I'm on a mission," as she played with the hair on his chest.
"And what's that?" he asked as he ran his hands up her back and down to her soft six.
"Operation Love Harm."
"Am I supposed to be an unwilling participant or can I join in? You know how well we work together, Mac, I could be a real asset," he said, raising his eyebrow.
"Operations such as these are frequently performed as a team, and your ahem, assets, will be fully utilized, but let there be no mistake, I'm giving the orders, mister."
"Whatever you say, Mac," he said with a grin and let her have her way with him.
Harriet and Bud came back after a time to relieve Harm and Mac. He helped her up and they held hands and went for a much-needed walk around the grounds. They came upon the food table, and Mac fixed Harm a plate of food, then prepared one for herself.
"Harm, that's her second helping you know. She only ate about ½ hour ago." Bud informed him as he was walking by.
Mac looked at the traitor and laughed, "You rat."
"That's okay, Bud, never keep a hungry, pregnant Marine away from her food.....not a pretty sight, my friend," as he put his arm around her waist.
"He loves me."
"Yes, I do," he stated and leaned to kiss her on the forehead.
"Harm, will you still love me if he turns out to be a meat eater like me?"
"Of course. But what if she turns out to be a vegetarian like me?"
"I guess I could live with that. I'll have to learn a whole new way of cooking with tofu." She laughed as she wrinkled her nose.
It had been a month since Harm and Mac started, well, you know. Even though they hadn't discussed it with the doctor, they figured since the odds of conception were so low, they wouldn't need protection. So when Mac missed her cycle she didn't think much of it at the time, it had happened before. But then she missed the next one also. "Uh oh, now what?" She thought. She made an immediate doctor appointment and was waiting there on the examining table clothed in that stupid gown. Please don't let it be anything bad, she begged silently.
The doctor came in and examined her, and collected a urine sample. She opened the door to hand the sample to her assistant with instructions to run this sample, stat.
The doctor patted her hand and told her not to be alarmed, she didn't think her condition had gotten any worse, and this was most likely not the cause of this recent miss. "So what do you think, doctor?" she asked, not really wanting to know.
"Well, we'll get confirmation here in a few minutes, but I'd say congratulations are in order, Colonel."
"Huh? What do you mean?" Then the light bulb went on. Mac sat there in disbelief, then a small smile started, then she started laughing and covered her face with her hands. Oh my God, she thought, a baby. "I'm pregnant?" she asked to be sure.
"I'd say so. About seven or eight weeks give or take. But the test will confirm." There was a knock at the door and the doctor was handed a piece of paper. She closed the door and turned around, and handed her the paper, "Positive. There you are."
Mac thanked the doctor, received instructions to follow up with a GYN specialist for a sonogram and walked away from the office in a daze. She made it home on autopilot and walked in the door to Harm's apartment to find the lights dimmed, candles on the table, and light music playing on the stereo. "Harm?"
"Hi, how did it go with the doctor?" he asked as he stepped down from his bedroom. He was wearing some nice slacks, a button-down shirt open at the collar, and a smile that made her melt.
"Good," she smiled back. "What's all this?" she waved at the décor and his dress.
"Oh, I don't know, I wanted to do something nice for you." He walked over to give her a hug. "Have a seat." He helped her into her chair. They ate in relative silence; they both had something on their minds. Harm was going to wait until after dinner, but he couldn't stand it any more. "Actually, there's something I want to tell you," he started.
"Is everything okay?"
"Good, there's something I want to tell you too," she said.
"Can I go first?"
"No, I can't wait, can I tell you first?
"Aw, Mac, I've been waiting all day and if I don't say it soon, I'm going to spontaneously combust."
She couldn't help but laugh. "Okay, okay, you win. I don't want you to turn to ash or anything."
"Mac, I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am to have you in my life. These last months have been the happiest of my life. I know this may seem too fast, but I just had to tell you how much I love you." He got down on one knee and pulled out a small velvet jewel box. Mac gasped and held her hands up to her face, then peered over her fingertips. "Say you'll marry me, Mac. Let me love you forever."
Harm opened the box and revealed a beautiful solitaire diamond set in white gold. He looked up at her and when she nodded, he slipped on her finger. "I love you Harm," she said as she started to cry.
"Happy tears?" he asked.
She laughed lightly and nodded, "Yeah, very happy," as she slid her arms around his neck and gave him a tight hug. Then she pulled back and covered her mouth with her hand and shook her head with a gleam in her eye.
"Remember the doctor said the odds of me conceiving were pretty long?"
"Yeah." He motioned for her to continue.
"Well, looks like you've got some pretty strong swimmers, Harm, maybe even a Seal team."
"Wow." He was elated.
"Yeah, wow." She was thrilled.
Harm and Mac had waited only long enough for the standard 3-day waiting period to end before marrying quietly in a civil ceremony before their friends. They decided to renew their vows in a nice ceremony with the works at a later date. With the baby coming, they wanted to focus all their energy on making arrangements and preparations. They sublet Harm's apartment and kept Mac's because it was bigger, and decided to wait on buying a house for the time being.
Mac had her up and down days, but surprisingly, most of them were good after the morning sickness subsided. She tried squeezing into her uniform until the very last minute, but finally gave it up – this was a battle she was willing to lose.
21 May 2005
It had been a festive day, but long, and Mac was exhausted. Luckily she had thought ahead and had gotten a ride earlier, so she didn't have to drive home. Harm walked her slowly to the car, his hand at the small of her back.
Harm opened the car door and Mac winced a little as she bent to get in.
"Yeah, just a little twinge, nothing to worry about. The baby's been kicking a lot today," she said and patted his hand.
They rode home with the radio off to Mac's profound relief. She was on sensory overload, too much stimulation (and food) for one day. They pulled up to the apartment and Harm turned off the ignition and turned to see that Mac was asleep.
"Mac, we're home. Come on, let's get you upstairs."
She stirred and gave him a smile, and rubbed his arm. "Do I have to?"
"Yes, that's an order. And I'll even throw in a back massage."
"You really know how to sweet talk a girl. You're on."
They took the elevator up and let themselves in, they changed clothes and Mac settled in for her massage. Harm was kneading her shoulders, "Have I ever told you what great hands you have?" she asked.
"Only every time I give you a massage," he laughed.
"Have I told you lately how much I love you?"
"As a matter of fact, yes, you have. I love you too."
"What is it Mac?" he said soothingly.
"I'm having a baby."
"I know. Me too." He smiled.
"No, I mean now."
He turned to face her, "Now as in Right Now?"
"I think so."
"Are you sure? Mac, why didn't you say something? Are you in pain? Talk to me, what's going on? This isn't funny you know." He was starting to panic.
"Maybe it's nothing." She reasoned. "It's been a long day and I probably did too much."
"No, it's not nothing. I don't think it's nothing. I have a feeling it's not nothing. Oh my God, we're having a baby." He said as he started to pace.
"Ouch," she said as she rubbed her belly. He ran over and put his hand over hers.
"It's too early, Mac, too early." He was rambling.
"I know, but the doctor warned us this could happen. It's probably nothing, we're probably worrying about nothing, it'll be fine."
"Let's get you to the hospital, just in case."
"What if it's a false alarm? Then I'll really feel stupid."
"It's not like that's never happened before," he stated.
"What, a false alarm, or me being stupid?" She asked with a smile.
"Just trying to lighten the mood."
"Let's go, better to be safe than sorry." And led her back to the car. Thankfully they had packed a bag for this and it came along for the ride.
They got to Bethesda hospital in record time, Harm drove as fast as he could without endangering anybody, and Mac silently thanked God Harm had looked into shortcuts. The pains were coming fairly steadily now. Harm had called the doctor and was advised to bring her in. He didn't want to take any chances since Mac was high risk.
As soon as they arrived, Mac was immediately put on a gurney and wheeled into the ER. She was hooked up to IV fluids, monitors, fetal monitors, and pulse ox readings were being taken continuously. Harm was allowed to stay as long as he stayed out of their way. They performed a sonogram and determined the baby was in the correct position. He had already dropped, although the water hadn't broken yet, and upon examination, Mac was about five centimeters dilated.
It was a tough call, the doctor said. Since the baby is so premature and somewhat underdeveloped in the lungs, Mac wasn't fully dilated, and her water had not broken, they could give her a medication to stop labor. In that case Mac in all likelihood would be able to go full term but would be on strict bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy.
Or they could wait it out for a couple more hours to see if anything develops. Perhaps a C-section might be necessary. So they ultimately decided to keep her overnight for observation.
Mac was taken to a room in the Maternity ward and got settled. She really didn't like hospitals, especially as a patient. She just wanted to go home. Harm sat in a chair by the bed and held her hand. "I'm tired, I want to go home. Do I have to stay? I'll be good, I'll stay in bed for as long as it takes, please can I go home?"
"Let's just take it easy, Mac. Overnight isn't too bad and it's the best place for you right now. I'll be right here with you the whole time." He said to soothe her.
"Come lay in bed with me?" Harm nodded and collapsed one of the side railings, then climbed up to lay with Mac. He kissed her forehead, then grabbed her hand and took it to lay on her belly, and he covered hers. She leaned back and tried to relax a little, when she felt something. She grabbed Harm's hand and put it over the spot. Harm waited, and then her stomach moved, he could feel something poking her and wondered if it was a foot or a hand. That was remarkable.
The next several hours were uneventful, but then Mac woke suddenly and nudged Harm. "Harm, wake up, something's happening." Harm jumped up and put his hand to her belly. He looked down and realized then, that Mac's water had broken and she was soaked. He reached over and hit the call button.
The nurse came walking in briskly and saw the mess, then checked Mac's vitals and her IVs, then checked quickly to see how she was dilating. The doctor waltzed in several minutes later and after consulting with the nurse, said, "Sorry Colonel, you're fully dilated, so we're going to take you up to delivery." He looked at Harm, "Commander, you're welcome to sit with her in the delivery room, just stay by her head, okay?"
"Just sit tight, Colonel, we're going to switch you to a dry gurney and change your gown to make you more comfortable."
Mac was wheeled upstairs and over the course of the last hour, her labor had intensified and now it's really starting to hurt. They hadn't even started Lamaze classes, so they had no idea how to breathe. She was panting hard and felt like she was going to pass out. She wanted to push.
Sensing her distress, Harm went over to one of the nurses and asked if there was someone who could help them, they didn't know what to do. There was a midwife named Kim on this floor tonight he was told, and she was brought in to lend a hand. When Mac's contractions started, Kim told Mac how to breathe and for how long, and when she could relax. They developed a rhythm, and everything was going well. Harm sighed with relief as he held tightly to Mac's hand.
The contractions were coming closer together, and the doctor stepped in to take a look. "The baby's crowning," he said. "Not much longer now, Colonel. Next time you have to push, give it all you've got."
Mac felt another contraction and this time she bore down with everything she had and let out a long scream, squeezing Harm's hand so tightly he thought she broke it. She finally let go and he shook it out. The next one hit and she pushed so hard but she was getting tired. "I can't do this any more." She panted.
"You're doing good, Colonel, the shoulders are just about out, one more good push, you can do it." The doctor encouraged her.
"Come on Mac, just one more and then it's all over."
That last contraction was a killer, but she pushed as hard as she could squeezing every ounce of her body into it, willing it to be over. And then relief. And a small cry.
Harm grabbed her hands, "Mac, guess what? We have a boy." He said with the biggest tearful grin she'd ever seen.
"Can I see him? Is he okay?" The doctors were busily cleaning him and suctioning him, Harm got to cut the cord. They wrapped the baby up briefly and put him on Mac's chest for her to see, then whisked him away for the standard tests. He would most likely stay to be evaluated for several days, maybe longer.
After four weeks in neonatal intensive care little Harmon Rabb III was strong enough to take home and was released from the hospital.
The hospital stay was a Godsend because they hadn't even been prepared for his arrival so soon. Harm and Mac spent the next several weeks putting together cribs and changing tables, picking out clothes, diapers, formula. And now they were ready. At least they thought so.
Harm and Mac walked hand in hand, Harm carrying the baby in the car seat, and strapped him in for the ride home.
Harm and Mac looked at each other and smiled. "This changes everything, doesn't it?" she asked.
"Yeah, but in the best way possible." He reached for her hand and leaned in for a kiss, "It'll be....perfect."