Disclaimer: I do not own the characters from Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. The rights to those characters and to the show belong to the creators of the show, to CBS, The Sullivan Company and to A&E.
A Change for Katie
By, Ashley J.
Five-year-old Katherine Sully watched from the hallway as her father stood behind her mother and slowly brushed out her long, chestnut-colored locks. It hadn't been too long ago that her parents and a few of their good friends had rescued her safely from a grieving family in Mexico, and now, things were getting exciting once again. But this time, things were exciting in a good way!
"Katie!" Brian scolded as he stepped out of his bedroom with a lantern in his hands. "What did Ma and Pa tell you about spyin'?" Katie nearly jumped out of her nightgown. She clutched Annie tightly to her body, and Brian thought for sure the girl was going to cry out in fright.
"Brian! You scared me!" she hissed.
"Sorry Katie," he replied. She was still jumpy from time to time after the traumatizing experience she'd been put through. She'd been separated from her parents for a long time, and she was just now becoming readjusted to living life normally again. Brian slowly shut Michaela and Sully's door, trying not to disturb them. He picked his little sister up and carried her down the hall to her bedroom. Once he'd plopped her down into her bed, he pulled the covers around her tightly.
"Will mama and poppy still love me?" Katie asked. Brian looked down at his little sister with understanding in his eyes. Though he'd been about eleven when Katie had come along, he knew all too well what it was like to adjust to having a new baby in the house.
"Sure they will," he promised. "Ma and Pa love us all the same. They love Colleen and Matthew just as much as they love us, and Colleen is livin' in Boston, while Matthew's in Denver. Nothin' is gonna change that, alright?"
"You promise they won't stop lovin' me?" Katie asked.
"I promise," Brian said, grinning at his adorable little sister. He tickled her, and she giggled with delight. He kissed her forehead. "G'nite, Katie."
"Annie wants a kiss." She practically shoved her beloved doll into Brian's face. He sighed, knowing that Katie was the only person he'd ever kiss a baby doll for. He gave Annie a kiss on the nose. "Good night." The girl closed her eyes, and Brian blew out the lamp at her bedside. As he retreated down the hall toward his room, he thought about just how lucky the family was to have Katie as a part of it. Family life had never been the same since she'd come along, and there were rarely ever any more quiet nights around the fireplace anymore. Instead, there were more bedtime stories and more games. Brian loved helping out with his little sister, and soon, he would have a new sibling to help care for.
Meanwhile, Sully finished brushing his wife's hair, and helped her stand from her seat. Her hands moved to her swollen belly, and she cast her husband an appreciative glance.
"I like brushin' your hair." He smiled and leaned in to kiss her. She groaned. "And I thought you liked kissin'." He backed off a bit.
"Oh, I'm sorry," she said with a chuckle. "The baby kicked."
"That's a good thing, remember?"
"I know. It is a good thing, but you'll have to tell that to my insides when they stop aching." Sully grinned.
"Not much longer now."
"I still can't believe it," she whispered as she sat down on the edge of the bed. She scooted back, and Sully sat down on a stool and drew Michaela's feet into his lap. He began to rub them, and she let out a content sigh. "I didn't think this would happen again after the miscarriage."
"But it did," Sully reminded her.
"That's pretty clear," she replied with a slight smile, rubbing her very large belly. The joy in her eyes was obvious, and Sully thought his wife was glowing with beauty just like when she was pregnant with Katie.
The pregnancy had come as a complete surprise. Shortly after returning from Mexico with Katie, Michaela had begun experiencing symptoms. At first, she'd thought that she was ill from the trip; possibly from the horrid conditions at the prison she'd been locked in. But, she was soon proven wrong when her waist began to expand and her monthly never came.
She was frightened, because she was nearly out of her childbearing years. There were always risks, and she was worried about something going wrong at the birth, but luckily Colleen and Andrew were arriving by train in the morning. They would be there to assist with the birth, and Michaela wanted Sully there as well, because this wasn't anything new to him. He'd helped deliver Katie, and she knew she'd feel better if he was nearby. Michaela didn't want to take any chances, so she hoped she wouldn't have to take any overnight trips out into the woods with her due date so close.
Once Michaela's foot massage was complete, she felt ready to get some sleep. It would take her a few minutes to find a comfortable position, but for the past week, the baby had been quite content to let its mother sleep on her right side.
As they settled into bed, Sully reached over to rub Michaela's back like he had been doing mostly every night since her back had started aching.
"You sleep in tomorrow mornin'," he whispered. "I'll ride into town and meet Andrew and Colleen at the train station." Michaela nodded.
"I only wish Matthew could be here. I know he's busy, but it would be nice for him to be here for the birth." Sully smiled to himself, and before he went to sleep, he snuggled up close to Michaela's back and laced their fingers together so they could hold one another through the night.
Brian sighed as he washed the breakfast dishes. Sully had just gone off to meet Colleen and Andrew at the train station, and Katie was "helping" her brother with the dishes. Michaela was sitting in front of the fire on this cold afternoon, trying to patch up Katie's old christening gown. She had meant to do this task months ago, but she'd been terribly busy with patients and helping Sully with a budget they were surely going to need once baby number two arrived.
Katie watched with a disgusted look upon her face as Brian washed the rest of the grease off of the last plate. He looked down at her.
"What? It's just grease."
"Oh, that don't bother me," she replied.
"Doesn't," Michaela corrected her from across the room. Katie sighed. Brian grinned.
"You burned breakfast again, Brian." Katie put her hand on her hip and wagged her finger at Brian as if she were his mother.
"Point that finger somewhere else, Katie," he replied. "You're the one who was supposed to tell me when the bacon started to sizzle while I was mixin' up the biscuits."
"Ya burned them too," Katie replied. Brian loved his sister, but sometimes she acted like a know-it-all. Well, she was five and smart for her age, but she didn't have to point out his every mistake did she? He often wondered if his mother was that way as a child. A young Michaela Quinn, now there would have been something to see!
"Ma? Can you give Katie some extra chores or somethin'?" Brian asked. "She won't leave me alone."
"Katie, weren't you supposed to help Brian with the dishes?" Katie hadn't lifted a finger, really.
"Sorry mama," she whispered.
"Well, why don't you go sweep off the front porch?"
"But, I'm too little."
"You're not too little," Brian replied. "I was sweepin' off porches when I was shorter than you."
"I ain't short!"
"I'm not," Michaela corrected again.
"I'm not short," Katie corrected herself. Brian rolled his eyes. There was no use arguing with a stubborn five-year-old. She definitely took after her mother in the respect that she never gave up on anything.
"I'm gonna go clean out the stables."
"Didn't you do that yesterday, Brian?" Michaela wondered.
"Yeah, but Katie won't go anywhere near the horse biscuits," Brian replied. Michaela grinned and winked at her son as he hurried out the door. Katie found Annie resting on the kitchen table and scooped her up into her arms.
"Mama, do I have to sweep off the porch?"
"Make sure you put your coat on," Michaela replied. Katie put Annie down onto the table again and stomped over to find her coat. "Katie?"
"Come here." Katie brought her coat over to Michaela's chair. Michaela knew this was going to happen. She and Sully were trying to get Katie used to doing more chores, seeing as a new baby was coming, but their efforts weren't paying off in the way they'd hoped. Michaela put the christening gown aside, and took Katie's hand.
"Am I in trouble?"
"Why would you be in trouble, sweetheart?" Katie shrugged. "You're not in trouble." Katie looked away. "What's wrong?"
"You and poppy don't love me anymore." Michaela felt her heart skip a beat and a lump form in her throat.
"Katie? What put that idea into your head?"
"You have a new baby now," she replied, pointing to her mother's bulging belly. Michaela sighed softly and squeezed her little girl's hand gently.
"Sweetheart, just because a new baby is coming doesn't mean your father and I love you any less. We love you just as much as we have since the day we found out we were going to have you."
"Poppy's giving my cradle to the new baby."
"But you're a big girl now, Katie. You don't need that cradle."
"But it's mine!" Michaela sighed. "It's no fair!" Katie stormed up the stairs, and Michaela would have gone after her, but running wasn't in the cards for her in her condition. She figured that giving Katie a few minutes to cool down would be best, and when Sully returned home, they would go talk with her together.
The door opened, and Brian walked inside.
"Forgot my hat," he explained. He looked around. "Where's Katie?"
"She's upset with me." Brian shut the door behind himself and walked over to sit in the chair across from his mother.
"Why's she upset?"
"She thinks Sully and I don't love her anymore." Brian sighed.
"She said the same thing last night."
"She did?" Michaela wondered, studying her son's face curiously. Brian nodded.
"I caught her out in the hallway after her bedtime, and I took her back to bed. But, I told her you both loved her just the same. Guess she didn't believe me."
"Perhaps she's jealous. She's upset that we're using her old cradle for the new baby. The only reason we're using it is because we want to pass it down to our grandchildren."
"Katie's too young to understand that though," Brian replied. "Seriously ma, she gets mad if she doesn't get the same size piece of pie as me at dessert." Michaela nodded, knowing her son was right.
"When your father returns, we'll go upstairs and talk to her."
"Mind if I give it a try first?"
"Be my guest." Brian stood and started up the stairs to see his little sister. It wasn't long before he returned. "What happened?"
"She was sittin' in your room by the cradle, and she had her doll in it. She said it was Annie's cradle now, not the new baby's."
About a half an hour later, Michaela could hear the wagon, followed by a separate horse, pulling up to the homestead. Brian helped her stand, and they walked out onto the porch. Sully was just walking up to the porch as Andrew was helping Colleen down from the wagon.
"Ma!" Colleen exclaimed, rushing up to hug her mother. The two embraced tightly, and Michaela noticed Matthew dismounting his horse.
"I'm so glad you're here, Colleen," she said with a smile. As they pulled apart, Matthew came up to hug his mother next. "What a surprise!"
"We've had it planned for weeks," Matthew pointed out. "I was able to take the next few days off to come up here. How are ya?"
"I'm better now," she replied. All of her children were home for once!
Andrew was the next to hug Michaela, and as everyone filed inside, Michaela put her hand upon Sully's arm.
"We need to talk."
"What about her?" He looked around for any sign of his little girl playing.
"She's convinced we don't love her anymore because of the new baby."
"That's crazy," Sully replied, shaking his head.
"Not to her, Sully. She's just a little girl, and she's scared that she's losing her parents' love."
"That ain't ever gonna happen."
"We need to talk with her. She's up in our room playing with the cradle. She doesn't want the baby to have it." Sully nodded in understanding, and took his wife's hand. They went inside and immediately started for the stairs.
"Brian, why don't you put the kettle on? Your father and I will be back down stairs as soon as we settle a small matter with Katie."
"Okay ma," Brian replied with a nod. Michaela slowly made her way up the stairs, and Sully followed protectively behind her with his hand on his pregnant wife's back.
As soon as they walked into their room, they found Katie curled up on their bed with her thumb in her mouth. Sully sighed. Katie had stopped sucking her thumb three years ago.
"Katherine Elizabeth Sully," he said sternly. She sat up on the bed but kept her thumb in her mouth.
"Katie, what are you doing?"
"If I stay a baby can I keep my cradle?" Sully and Michaela sat down on the bed on either side of their daughter. Sully pulled his daughter into his lap and gently pulled her arm away so she wouldn't suck her thumb.
"Katie, ya can't stay a baby."
"Why not, poppy?"
"'Cause everybody's gotta grow up. Brian grew up, Colleen grew up, and so did Matthew."
"Not me," Katie insisted.
"Yes you," Michaela said with a nod. "Sweetheart, you're always going to be our special little girl. Your father and I love you more and more each day."
"Not when the baby gets here," Katie replied sadly.
"What makes you think that?"
"That's all you talk about. You always talk about the baby."
"Well, Katie, that's because the baby's going to be here any day," Michaela explained. "We're trying to get everything ready for when it happens. We didn't meant to upset you." Katie crossed her arms.
"We do love you, Katie. That won't change no matter what happens," Sully replied, kissing the top of his daughter's head.
"I wish you would believe us," Michaela whispered.
"I never get to help."
"I wanted to help mama with the baby blanket, but she said I needed practice first."
"Well that's true, sweetheart," Michaela replied. I didn't know you wanted to help that much." Katie sighed. Michaela looked at Sully, getting an idea. "Well, when the baby comes, I'm going to need some help around here. Would you like to help me take care of the baby?" Katie's eyes widened.
"You're the big sister," Sully added. Katie seemed to brighten even more. She was suddenly beginning to realize that she wasn't just going to not be the baby anymore, but she was going to be somebody's big sister. She looked up to Colleen, so perhaps this baby would look up to her.
"I am!" she exclaimed. She looked over toward her cradle. "Can the cradle be my present to the baby?" Michaela and Sully grinned at one another.
"It's gonna be a big change. You sure you're up to it, Miss Katie?" Sully asked.
"I am, poppy," she promised.
"Alright. The cradle will be your gift to the baby," Michaela replied, kissing her little girl on the forehead. "Are you ready to be a big sister?" Katie nodded eagerly, and Sully stood with her in his arms.
"Alright. Guess who's downstairs waitin' to see ya?"
"Who?" Katie wondered. "The baby!" Michaela laughed.
"No sweetheart, the baby isn't here yet."
"Colleen, Andrew, and Matthew are home." Katie's eyes went wide, and she scrambled out of her father's arms. She started out of the room and into the hallway, and Michaela called after to her, warning her not to run down the stairs. Sully turned back to Michaela. "Ya think she's gonna be alright?"
"I think so," Michaela replied softly. "She'll understand all of this better when she's older, but I think it's important that we start treating her like a big sister now, so when the baby comes, she'll be better prepared. Sully nodded in agreement and held his hand out to his wife.
"Ready to go downstairs?" She nodded and took his hand. As she was standing up, she felt a contraction and gripped Sully's hand.
"Michaela!" At that moment, Michaela sat back down on the bed and waited for the pain to pass.
Most of the town of Colorado Springs was gathered outside of the clinic while Colleen, Andrew, and Sully stayed inside with Michaela. Brian sat next to Matthew, and Katie sat on her oldest brother's lap with Annie tucked under one arm. She was rather excited that her role of big sister was going to kick in right sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, inside of the clinic, Michaela was a bit more comfortable than she had been at Katie's birth, as she was lying on the exam table rather than against a tree. Her labor was progressing rapidly, and she was already pushing after three hours of contractions.
Sully was standing behind her with his arms helping her sit a little, while Colleen assisted Andrew with the baby's delivery.
"Alright Michaela, the baby's head is almost out. I need one more push, and the hardest part is over." Michaela reached over her shoulder, gripped Sully's shirt, and bore down as hard as she could.
"Come on, ma!" Colleen urged. "You're almost there!" Michaela could feel the baby beginning to move out of her, but the pain was growing more and more intense.
"Ahhh! Sully!" she screamed. "I can't!"
"Yes you can. Come on, Michaela. You're the strongest person I know." He felt his heart began to race as his child came closer to being born. He hated seeing Michaela in so much pain, but she would soon be holding their child in her arms for the first time.
The door flew open, and Katie ran in.
"Katie no!" Brian called. Katie could only hear her mother screaming, but couldn't see anything with the canvas screen set out. Matthew was right behind his brother. Sully looked around the screen.
"Who's hurting mama!" Katie asked.
"Matthew, Brian," Colleen said quickly, "take her outside."
"Let her stay," Michaela whispered hoarsely as another contraction came. Sully motioned for the boys to shut the door. Matthew picked up Katie and he stood beside Brian, waiting to hear the baby's first cries.
"The head's out," Andrew declared a moment later. Michaela exhaled sharply, and Colleen saw that the cord was around the baby's neck loosely, but the face was pink. She took the scissors and cut it quickly, and a moment later, Michaela gave one last push. A healthy baby boy slid into the word, took his first breath, and let out a tremendous cry. Katie's eyes went wide.
"What's that!" she asked.
"It's a boy!" Andrew announced. Michaela began to sob with joy as soon as Andrew handed the baby to her. Sully felt breathless and as light as air as he looked at his son for the first time. His son.
Colleen moved around to see her brothers and sister.
"We have a brother," she said with a grin. Tears were glistening in her eyes.
"Can we see the baby yet?" Brian asked. Katie's eyes went wide.
"How'd the baby get here!" Matthew laughed.
"You ain't that much of a big girl yet, Katie," Brian replied.
"Why don't you three wait outside for a few minutes?" Andrew asked.
"C'mon Katie." Matthew carried her out, and Brian followed. Andrew was now cleaning the baby off, and Sully was kissing Michaela softly. Both were crying, and Michaela couldn't believe she'd given birth to a son. She'd dreamed of this moment for so long, and she'd felt that the child she miscarried had been a boy. They'd been given a second chance to have a son, and Michaela felt so thankful to God that he'd given her the opportunities to give birth to a daughter and then a son.
"I love you so much," Sully whispered, wiping Michaela's forehead with a damp cloth.
"I love you," she cried, sniffling. Andrew handed the baby to Colleen, and she was overcome with emotion.
"Hi little one. I'm your big sister!" The baby continued to cry, and when Colleen placed him in Michaela's arms, the baby opened his eyes and looked up at her.
"Hello little one," she whispered. "Look at you. You're so beautiful!" Sully reached down to stroke his son's cheek with his finger.
"Hey son," he whispered. "I'm your pa."
"Go to papa," Michaela whispered. She slowly handed the baby over to Sully.
"Hey," Sully said quietly as he rocked his son back and forth. "We've been waitin' a long time to meet you." Michaela nodded.
"Yes. A very long time."
A little while later, Michaela was lying in a bed in one of the recovery rooms with little Joshua Michael Sully in her arms. He had just had his first feeding and was sleeping soundly.
Sully was sitting in a chair next to the bed, and he couldn't take his eyes off of his wife and son.
"My goodness," Michaela whispered as the baby yawned in his sleep.
"You're incredible," Sully whispered.
"He is, isn't he?"
"'Course he is, but I was talkin' about you." Michaela smiled at her husband. "How are ya feelin'?"
"Good. Holding him in my arms makes it all official. I don't have to worry about over doing anything. Now there is a whole new set of worries to think about. It's a little scary."
"But we've done this before," Sully replied. Michaela nodded.
"We can do it again, I know." A knock came to the door, and Andrew walked in with Colleen.
"Are you up for some visitors?"
"Of course," Michaela replied. Katie came running in.
"Shh, we have to be quiet, Katie," Sully pointed out, taking his daughter into his lap. Matthew and Brian came in and shut the door. The family surrounded Michaela's bed, and everyone was in awe of the new little Sully.
"I'm a big sister now, right poppy?" Katie asked. Sully nodded and kissed her cheek.
"That's right sweetheart."
"What's the baby's name?" Brian wondered. Michaela smiled brightly.
"Joshua Michael Sully."
"Joshua," Katie said softly. "Mama, can I hold Joshua?" Sully looked unsure of it, but Michaela only nodded.
"Yes you may," she replied. Sully put Katie on the bed next to her mother, and Michaela slowly put the baby in her youngest daughter's arms.
"Make sure you support his head," Colleen pointed out.
"I know what I'm doin'," Katie pointed out. "I hold Annie all the time." Brian chuckled to himself, and Matthew laughed as well. Katie's focus shifted back to the baby. "Hi Joshua. I'm your big sister. I'm gonna take good care of you." She kissed the top of his head, and tears sprang to Michaela's eyes again. She had gotten everything she'd ever wanted. She had a wonderful, loving husband, five amazing children, and they were all together for this very special occasion. She couldn't think of anything she wanted more.
As Katie held her little brother, something new began within her. A new sense of responsibility arose, and she decided that she would be the best big sister she could be and protect her little brother, much like her big brothers had protected her.
"I'm not the baby anymore, Joshua. You are. That means you can't do much, but don't worry, I'll teach ya everything you gotta know." The touching scene played out for the rest of the afternoon, and the Sully family was forever changed once again.