Joshua and Clara expected their new child to be born in the afternoon, but Clara’s labour didn’t begin until it was after midnight! They were both exhausted and stressed out, because it was the hardest day of her entire pregnancy; she was violently ill and threw up more times than either of them could keep track of.
Joshua was worn right out from tending to their other infant, Maribeth, and cleaning or unclogging toilets between naps and working Skylar’s case. He just climbed the stairs back up the Master Suite on the top floor of the estate, when Clara informed him, “It’s finally time, Sweetness.” He freaked out a little, and she looked deeply worried.
Joshua frowned when he saw that she was afraid too, so she tried to lighten the mood. “Hey, this little one is going to make everything we went through worth repeating, I’m sure of it!” She patted her belly and gave him one of her bright smiles that always lifted his spirits.
“You’re right!” He yawned and stretched briefly, and the excitement started to sink in.
“I still think maybe it’s twins or something,” he stated as he rubbed her belly to feel the baby moving. “Hey! Why I don’t I feel anything?”
“It’s normal, the baby doesn’t move around a lot when he or she is ready to be delivered,” Clara explained. “Just wait and you’ll feel a contraction.”
After a few minutes, he did feel one. His eyes widened and he could only say, “Oh!” in complete awe. He hadn’t been able to participate in Maribeth’s birth, because it happened so fast, so Joshua was part of the birthing process for the first time.
“Please rub my back for me,” Clara requested, and he began massaging her shoulders.
“I’m happy to help you in every way I can,” he said. “But, shouldn’t we call for the shuttle now?”
“Not yet,” Clara replied. “We’re supposed to wait until the contractions are about ten minutes apart, right?”
Joshua agreed, “That’s what they said, but today has really been hard.” Clara decided to give the shuttle service a call, despite the instructions they’d been given.
“What did they say?” he asked when she ended the call.
“They said because my contractions are still about fifteen minutes apart that we should wait a little longer.” Seeing that Joshua was outraged, Clara added, “The nurse also said that since we have another infant coming with us that we should start getting her ready when my contractions start coming even a little quicker.”
“So they’ll come for us a little sooner, in other words?” He sat down and relaxed.
“Thanks for keeping it together,” she said. “I need you to keep me from losing it when we get in that shuttle!”
“I promise, I’ll keep you and Maribeth settled during the flight. It’s going to be a great memory for all of us.”
Soon Clara began breathing through a much harder contraction. When it passed, she calmly said, “All right, you go get our baby girl and I’ll call.”
Joshua got himself dressed in a hurry and raced down to their daughter’s room. He scooped up Maribeth and said, “It’s time for you to become a big sister! Can you believe it?” Maribeth let out an adorable baby’s laugh, obviously responding to her father’s excitement and happy face. To Joshua, it meant his daughter was a tiny genius. He bundled up his daughter and helped his wife down the stairs, and they left to visit the Space Station’s Medical Center.
At dawn in Willow Creek, the Randall children were enjoying some playtime before the grown-ups or their baby sister woke up. Iris was the first one awake and she rushed out to play on the spaceship jungle gym. Jack caught up with her a few minutes later.
“Hey Jack,” Iris acknowledged her brother in a soft voice. She didn’t know how he felt and didn’t want to upset him.
“Hey sis,” he responded.
She looked over and saw a smile on her brother’s face. “You excited about today?” she asked him.
“Yeah. I wish we didn’t have to go to school though,” he complained.
“Me too,” Iris agreed before jumping down from the wing of their pretend ship. “I’ve completed my repairs, Captain Jack, and she’s ready to fly.”
“Thanks, Number One,” Jack played along. “I think we’ve got just enough time for a quick patrol along the Neutral Zone.”
They climbed into the cockpit and played starship games for a few minutes. Then Jack suddenly blurted out, “I’m so happy that Dad and Daria are getting married!”
“Me too,” Iris agreed immediately. “I was worried that you would be mad or something.”
“No way,” Jack assured her. “I love our mom and I always thought she was the best mom in the whole wide world, but I really like Daria. I like the way she talks to me and helps me with things.”
Again, Iris replied, “Me too. She doesn’t just act like she cares what we’re interested in, she actually is interested.”
“Yeah…” Jack fell quiet for a moment when he thought about the difference. After a moment of deep thought, he asked his sister, “We know we love our real mom, but is it okay for us to call Daria ‘Mom’ now?”
“I guess we should ask her,” Iris suggested. “I hope she’ll say yes.”
“You’re right, we should ask her,” Jack agreed. “That’s a nice way to let her know how we feel about it too, actually.”
“You’re getting so smart these days,” Iris complimented him. Then she excused herself, saying, “I’ve got to go do something before school.” She ran inside and sat down with her mother’s book again.
The book wasn’t easy to read, and Iris learned to read it in short chunks so it wouldn’t make her feel sad. The words her mother left were confusing, but at the same time expressive, philosophical and deep.
“What is that?” Jack asked her as he came inside through the back door in the kitchen.
“Just extra reading for school,” Iris lied as she shut the book quickly.
“Come on, it’s time to go before we’re late!” Jack urged her.
She went to catch up with him and remembered the book. “Just a minute,” she said.
Iris quickly grabbed the book and stuffed it into her backpack, worried that a book like that could ruin the wedding–and that’s the last thing she would want!
After Iris and Jack left for school, Darren arranged the wedding ceremony, and Daria decided to call the closest person she had to a friend, Varvara Dragova.
“Hello, Varvara. I’m calling because Darren popped the question last night and we’re actually going to get married right away! I don’t know anyone else here, really, so I’d sure like it if you would come to my wedding. Not as press or anything, but you know, as a friend?”
“Oh congratulations, Daria! That’s really great news, and I wish I could be there for you on such a special occasion,” Varvara said. “Unfortunately, I have to decline, just because I’m in hiding right now.”
“Oh, that doesn’t sound good, but I understand,” Daria accepted the disappointment with grace. “I hope your situation will change soon though!”
Darren finished taking care of the baby, Lily, and got himself dressed up for the wedding just in time for his friends to arrive.