The next few months were busy but happy ones for the family. Olga, Tatiana, and Anastasia enjoyed comparing pregnancy symptoms and preparing for their babies' births together. For Alexandra, it brought back memories of her own five pregnancies, and she regaled her daughters with stories of events that had happened during those special times.
"You must have been so disappointed that I was a girl," Olga said. "I know how badly Papa wanted a son to inherit his kingdom."
"Your father was actually very nice about it," her mother told her. "He said that he was happy you were a girl, since a son would have belonged to Russia, but a daughter would belong to us."
"That was so sweet of him!" said Olga, who'd always been especially close to her father.
"I'll bet he didn't say it again after I was born," Tatiana commented wryly.
"You know how much we've always loved each and every one of you," Alexandra said softly, giving her a warm hug. She'd always felt especially close to her second daughter.
"I know that Papa actually cried after I was born," Anastasia put in.
"Yet now he wouldn't trade you for anything in the world," her mother assured her.
While her three sisters were preparing for motherhood, Maria was busy planning her wedding. Jules' family were Catholics, while Maria, of course, was Russian Orthodox, but Jules' parents never pressured her to convert. A question arose about bridesmaids. Maria, of course, wanted all three of her sisters to be bridesmaids, while Jules wanted his own sister, Giselle, to be included. In the end, they decided to let all four young women be bridesmaids. Alexei and three of Jules' friends were chosen as groomsmen. A couple of Jules' young cousins were chosen to be the ring bearer and the flower girl.
One day when Olga was not quite nine months pregnant, she and Pavel were taking a walk around their neighborhood when Olga suddenly stopped walking and winced in pain.
"Get me to a hospital," she told Pavel. "The baby's about to come, now!"
Pavel lost no time in rushing her back home and into the car, then driving to the hospital. Once there, he helped Olga out of the car and into the building. A doctor took one look at her and brought a wheelchair. She was wheeled into the labor and delivery department, and Pavel was left to pace endlessly in the waiting room for what seemed like hours.
At last he grew tired and lay down on the sofa for what he planned to be a short nap. He was soon deeply asleep and didn't awaken until he felt a nurse shaking him awake.
"Monsieur Voronov, wake up!" she called urgently. "You have a son!"
"What?" Pavel was instantly wide awake. "You mean the baby's already here? Is Olga all right?"
"Your wife and son are both fine," the nurse said with a smile. "You can go in and see them whenever you want."
Pavel practically ran into the room, where he saw Olga sitting in bed looking very tired but happy and holding a tiny bundle.
"Meet your new son, Pasha," she said with a weary smile.
Pavel carefully took the baby into his arms, folded the blanket back, and gazed into his new son's tiny face. The baby grimaced and flailed a tiny fist.
"He's beautiful!" Pavel exclaimed.
"I want to name him Nicholas, for my father," said Olga.
"That's fine with me," Pavel replied.
Olga and baby Nicholas had been in the hospital for two days when Tatiana was admitted in labor herself, and it was Dimitri's turn to pace the waiting room floor. Tatiana also gave birth to a son, whom she and Dimitri named Alexander.
"It looks as if boys may be just as plentiful in the second generation as girls were in the first," Alexandra commented to her husband as they were in the hospital visiting their new grandsons.
"We still have one more to go yet," Nicholas reminded her.
"You've never been more beautiful to me than when you're pregnant," Dimitri told Anastasia as he ran his hand over her rounded belly.
"I just wish that this baby would hurry up and get here," Anastasia grumbled. "I feel like I've been pregnant forever."
"She's stubborn like her Mama." Dimitri grinned.
"I am not stubborn," Anastasia retorted. "And anyway, how do you know it's a girl?"
"I just know, that's all." Dimitri winked at his wife. "Hurry up or we'll be late."
It was the day of Jules and Maria's wedding. They had postponed it for several weeks to give Olga and Tatiana time to recover from giving birth. Anastasia felt some twinges in her belly but decided to ignore them, as she'd had them before but they'd always gone away.
As Jules and Maria said their vows, Anastasia's cramps grew worse. She realized what was happening but, determined not to spoil Jules and Maria's special day, she bit her bottom lip and tried her best to ignore them.
The minister was just about to pronounce Jules and Maria husband and wife when suddenly Anastasia couldn't stand it anymore and let out a loud groan. Instantly, all eyes turned in her direction.
"Anya!" Dimitri cried, rushing to his wife.
"The baby!" Anastasia gasped. "It's coming, right now!"
Dimitri paled. "Come on, I'm taking you to the hospital," he mumbled, grabbing his wife's hand.
"There's no time for that!" Anastasia gasped.
Several guests lined chairs up in a row for her to lie down on, and Dimitri got ready to catch the baby. Within a few moments it was there, crying and flailing its arms and legs.
"It's a girl!" Dimitri exclaimed happily. Everyone cheered.
"I'm sorry I ruined your wedding, Maria," Anastasia said humbly.
"Oh, that's all right!" Maria exclaimed. "She's beautiful!"
Dimitri helped his wife and daughter into the car and drove them to the hospital. The minister hurriedly finished the ceremony, and then Jules and Maria left for their honeymoon.
Several hours later, Anastasia was resting comfortably in bed with her new daughter beside her in a crib and Dimitri sitting in a chair on the other side.
"Why didn't you say anything before, Anya?" Dimitri asked.
"I didn't want to interrupt Maria's wedding," Anastasia told him.
Dimitri laughed. "Well, that sort of ended up happening anyway, didn't it?"
Anastasia nodded guiltily.
"Never mind. The baby's here now, and Jules and Maria are finally married, so everything turned out fine anyway." He gazed tenderly at his wife. "I love you, Anya."
"I love you too, Mitya," Anastasia murmured. Dimitri put his arm around her, and she lay back against his chest as they both watched their new daughter sleep.