By Nancy


"Mommy, Mommy, they’re here! They’re here!"

Her heart warmed at the sound of the 4-year-old’s excited announcement and she looked down lovingly at his animated face, his sparkling blue eyes pleading with her to go to the front door. "I just have to put this last bit of icing on your cake, Vincent, and … there, let’s go and welcome Aunt Caroline and Uncle Charles."

Tugging her hand as he half skipped, half danced the length of the hallway toward the entrance, he asked, "Do you think they brought the baby, Mommy, to see all the balloons and birthday decorations?"

Susan sighed with cheerful patience and explained for probably the tenth time, "Sweetheart, the baby is still in Aunt Caroline’s tummy. We won’t be able to see the baby for three more weeks, at least." If he was disappointed he didn’t have time to show it as the bell chimed once more through the brownstone. "Now, go hide behind the big chair, Honey, and then we can surprise Uncle Charles when you jump out." She reached to enjoy a fleeting touch of silken honey gold hair as her son dashed into the living room and ducked down in his favorite hiding place. It was a tradition, of sorts, that Uncle Charles would loudly lament the absence of little Vincent only to be shocked and surprised by his sudden appearance a few moments later. Of course, it also served to keep the child out of sight of any passersby while the door was opened to the street. Susan Alcott smiled at the spot where four years ago she’d found him on her front step, then her smile encompassed her dear friends and she welcomed them into her home.

"Where is the birthday boy, do you suppose?" Charles dramatically hunted around the room as he spoke. "All these presents and look at the decorations and no one here is having a birthday after all. Oh, dear. Aunt Caroline, we’ll have to take everything back tomor…"

"It’s my birthday, Uncle Charles. I’m four! I’m the birthday boy!" He’d forgotten to yell, "Boo!" as was the custom, instead presenting himself before his Uncle while holding up four fingers and talking all at once.

Caroline watched her husband scoop the little boy into his arms and swing him around before laughingly depositing him on the couch amidst the dozen or so brightly wrapped boxes. She caressed her belly lightly thinking what a wonderful father Charles Chandler was going to be to their baby. She could hardly wait the remaining few weeks, nine months had never loomed so long and this last one was going to be an eternity.

"Oh, I don’t know, Vincent. I think we should ask Aunt Caroline to sit down and maybe bring her some tea before we start on the presents." Susan was determined that Vincent should grow into a considerate, well- mannered adult and she believed it was not too early to start that training. She was pleased to see her son immediately go to his Aunt and gently ask if she wanted tea. Assured that only a seat was needed Vincent waited as she sat then looked at his mother for permission to begin opening gifts.

Charles came to the rescue. "Susan, I just can’t wait any longer to see what’s in those packages. Please, let Vincent open them now!"

At that moment everyone’s attention was caught by the sound of singing. The song was "Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you!" but the singer got no further as a flying child launched himself at his father.

"Daddy, Daddy! You’re home! And Aunt Caroline and Uncle Charles are here but they couldn’t bring the baby ‘cause it’s not ready to be born yet but they brought presents and I’m going to open them now!" Breathless, he hugged his father’s neck and kissed his cheek before being set once more on the carpeted floor.

Walking over to his wife, Peter smiled and dropped a kiss on her upturned lips. Then he shook hands and hugged Charles and kissed Caroline’s cheek. "How are we today?" he asked her.

"Oh, we are just fine, Doctor, but your son may not be for much longer if he is made to wait another second." She turned to the child, "Go ahead, dear. The baby wants to know what you got for your birthday," and she laughed as she urged him to begin.

The adults enjoyed the little boy’s surprise and pleasure until the very last wrapping was torn away. Caroline watched as he trotted from one to the other of them to give a hug and say thank you. When he got to her she held him a little longer, then framing his beautifully unique face in gentle hands she told him, "I think the baby wants to wish you a happy birthday, Vincent. I’m glad he – or she – is going to have a wonderful cousin like you."

"Is that what I’ll be, a cousin? I thought I was going to be a big brother."

Everyone smiled as Susan explained, "You’ll be more like a brother, I think, don’t you, Aunt Caroline?" and she winked.

"Oh, yes, of course. You’re going to help me take care of the baby and play with him – or her…"

Vincent rewarded her with another hug then resumed his place amidst his new toys.

It was sometime later in the evening that Caroline felt it. She paled, slightly fearful for a moment, then stood very still, now calmly eager for what was finally about to happen. The first pain was strong and she held tightly to the banister at the head of the stairs. She'd gone up to see that Vincent was sleeping and covered with his favorite Thunder Cats comforter. Susan was putting away the coffee things in the kitchen and the men were chatting in the den. As the contraction lessened she called down softly so as not to awaken Vincent. Charles came running taking two steps at a time and Peter was just behind him. Together they walked her into the guestroom and while Charles seated her on the edge of the bed and helped her remove her shoes Peter went back down to alert Susan and retrieve his medical bag.

The contractions were coming so frequently now as to be almost one long hard pain. With Charles hovering nervously, Peter kept up his reassuring chatter while keeping close check on Caroline. She was doing well, and Susan marveled at the control that her friend was able to maintain so as not to frighten her husband, who was definitely not doing nearly as well.

As a tiny head began to be visible Peter saw Charles doing a silent dissolve to the wooden floor! "Susan, Charles is…"

She tried to ease him down so that he wouldn’t strike his head on the furniture but he was a big man and she winced at the sound when he made contact with the edge of the night table. "Oh, " she exclaimed sympathetically but her husband simply said, "Get a wash rag…cold water to the forehead" all the while working with his patient.

"Caro, keep pushing. Push, that’s it. Again. Once more, now. A girl, Susan, it’s a girl! Look Caroline, you have a daughter!"

But Caroline was calling, "Charles, Charles… is he okay? Peter, what happened to Charles?" And when she saw Susan with the cold compress in hand lean down to where Charles lay sprawled, she looked about ready to pass out, too!


The small sleepy voice caught Peter by surprise – just one more in this amazing evening he thought, grinning at the new life in his hands. Wrapping the infant in a soft terry towel he said, "Vincent, come in. Will you help Daddy, please? Come over here." Motioning toward the overstuffed armchair in the corner he continued, "Now I need you to sit very still in this chair, hold the baby and don’t move, okay? " He placed the infant in his little son’s arms and reminded him, "Now don’t move, Son. Just be very still. You can talk to her. I think her name is going to be…Catherine." With those instructions Peter turned back to the bed to stop Caroline from trying to reach down to her softly moaning husband. "He’ll be fine, Caro. Now let me have a look at you…"

The adults did not hear Vincent whispering to the tiny bundle he held so carefully, "Hello, Baby Catherine. My name is Vincent and I am going to love you."

(Dedicated to the Miracle in my life!)