Lee Stetson/AKA: Daddy
January 8th, 1989
As I sit here rocking my newborn daughter, I can’t help but grin like a simpleton. Her little body is snuggled against my chest, and her head is resting against my shoulder. As I inhale her unique scent, the urge to run my lips delicately across her scalp is overwhelming. Her skin is so soft to the touch, and she smells like a baby: My baby that I love with all my heart. Reality still hasn’t kicked in completely, even after uttering those words over and over again. Unable to control myself any longer, I kiss the top of her head repeatedly. I can see that Jenny’s eyelids are finally closed which leaves me content in the fact that I was able to quiet her, without depending on Amanda to assist me. Amanda is very tired, and still weak from the birth. Though she won’t admit this me, I can read her like a book. It astounds me when she arises from the bed, only after two hours of sleep, hearing just the slightest whimper from either baby. Luckily, I was awake when Jenny began to stir. My amazing wife has blessed our family with two healthy babies, and I can’t begin to describe how wonderful I feel.
December 23rd, 1988
Anticipation coursed through my entire body as the holiday approached. As much as Amanda hated to admit it, she required help in her current condition. She was eight and a half months pregnant.
The decorations, the tree, and even the baking were only a few of the things that needed to be done. Dotty and the boys were troopers throughout the entire event, lending hands here and there as needed.
We had only been in our new Rockville home for six months, but Amanda successfully transformed it into a wonderful homey environment. With five bedrooms, Dotty and the boys had their own bedrooms, leaving one room for the new baby. Little did we know that we were to be blessed with two children at the time we purchased the house.
Our preparations for Christmas included hiding the gifts from our nosey teenagers. The only logical place we could find was in the attic. Even though Amanda still had two weeks to go until the babies were to arrive, I didn’t like the idea of her climbing the steps. Of course I didn’t win that argument, and she proceeded to help with the presents. When we went back into our room, I watched her wince as if in pain. Suddenly alarmed, I reached out to her. “Amanda, are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine, Lee. I’m just having a mild cramp, that’s all,” she tried to comfort me.
“I want you to sit down now, and take it easy,” I insisted.
“Lee, I’m fine, really,” she pleaded.
I shook my head back and forth in defeat and led her downstairs. We said goodnight to our family, and locked up for the night.
When I finished in the shower, I entered our bedroom and was amazed to find Amanda awake. Pillows were strategically aligned beneath her body in an effort to give her some comfort. I was bushed from the day’s events and couldn’t wait to hit the hay. I pulled down the comforter, and wrapped my arms around her. I rested my hands gently on her large abdomen, amazed at the activity going on inside. I felt strong hard pokes all over, and realized why Amanda still was awake.
“Does that hurt?” I asked wondering what the feeling was like coming from the inside.
She snuggled closer, running her hands atop of my own. “No, it doesn’t hurt right now. Sometimes the pressure hurts, when they are kicking me in the ribs, or my bladder, but most of the time it’s a wonderful sensation,” she enlightened me.
I kissed her on the cheek and whispered, “thank you,” before drifting off to sleep with her in my arms. As tired as I was, I was still acutely aware of every move Amanda made.
December 24th, 1988
As dawn approached, I knew Amanda didn’t have a restful night. She twisted and turned in her sleep, trying not to awake me in the process. ‘I wonder if she knows just how much I love her, and that I notice all the little things she does to comfort me? Does she realize how brave I know she is?’ I asked myself. Using my face, I gently moved the hair from the back of her neck, and placed soft kisses along her shoulder. I certainly didn’t want to disturb her, but I had to touch her.
I slid out of bed and tip toed down the stairs. The light filtered through the kitchen windows, illuminating the entire room. It was uncharacteristically cold for this time of year, and the weatherman predicted a white Christmas. As a looked out the kitchen window, I said a silent prayer for a white Christmas.
I quietly prepared scrambled eggs, toast, and orange juice. As I headed back upstairs, Jamie nearly knocked me over as he descended the stairs.
“Jamie!” I hollered, wincing as I realized just how loud I screamed.
“Sorry, Lee. I was just coming down to get some breakfast. I can smell it all the way from my room,” he replied.
I couldn’t help but smile. “Okay, I left the eggs on the counter. Sorry I yelled, but you scared the…. you startled me,” I quickly caught myself.
When I opened the bedroom door, I nearly dropped the tray at the sight in front of me. Amanda was curled up in a ball, holding her stomach.
“Amanda, what’s wrong?” I blurted out rather alarmed.
She straitened out after a moment and finally met my worried face. “I’m okay, Lee. I just had a contraction, but it’s nothing to get alarmed about,” she assured me, sensing the look of panic on my face.
“I’m not worried, just a little concerned,” I unsuccessfully tried to convince her.
“Lee, will you relax? I only had one contraction. It may not even be a contraction, so trust me I’m just fine. I’ll let you know if it’s the real thing,” she promised me. “Ahh, you made breakfast for me?” She changed the subject rather quickly.
My concerned expression dissipated when I saw the look of love and appreciation in her eyes. “Yes, this is for you, and I want you to stay in bed and enjoy it,” I insisted.
After the meal, Amanda wanted to get cleaned up. I assisted her into the bathroom, and ran a warm bath. I helped her into the tub, and then knelt down on the floor to offer some assistance. “Do you need any help?”
I felt her soft hand gently stroke my forearm. “Thank you honey, but I’m just fine. If I need anything, I’ll just give you a holler,” she replied graciously.
I left the bathroom door ajar and went to check on the boys. Jamie was finishing his breakfast, and Phillip hadn’t made it downstairs yet. Dotty emerged from the pantry, and gave me a hug and a kiss. She’s one of the most warm and loving people I know. It’s easy to see where Amanda gets it.
“Good morning, Mom,” I love calling her that.
Good morning, dear. How’s Amanda this morning?” She inquired.
I swirled around the idea of acting as if everything was fine, but my hesitation was noted in her eyes. This woman should have worked for IFF. She had a knack of reading people within moments, and I found that quality remarkable. “She had a contraction this morning, but she said it’s nothing to worry about,” I whispered, trying not to alarm Jamie.
“She what? Is her suitcase packed? Does she need any help upstairs?” She shot off the questions, quicker than I could possibly comprehend.
I was finally prepared to fill the shoes as the calm sensible one in the house. “No, she’s just fine. It was just one contraction, but I’ll go check on her in a few minutes.” I sounded better than I expected, and nearly smiled at the fact.
Dotty relaxed, and let out a deep breath. It looked as if she was about to say something when I heard Amanda’s voice calling me. Amanda normally responded in a calm voice, but something about her tone told me that something was wrong. I had to will myself not to charge up the stairs, alarming the rest of the family.
When I was out of sight, I ran into our bedroom to see what was going on. I opened the bathroom door to find Amanda standing in the tub. She wore a look of surprise on her face, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, wondering why she was standing in the tub with no water.
She smiled and placed her hand on my chest. “I don’t want you to get alarmed, but my water just broke.”
December 24th, 1988 12:45 p.m.
As I maneuvered the Jeep through downtown D.C., I mentally went over the checklist in my head, reassuring myself that I didn’t forget anything. I packed her suitcase in the trunk, called the Doctor, and told the rest of the family that we would call them when things progressed. Internally, I was a nervous wreck. My stomach was doing flip-flops, and I tried to hide my nerves by planting a perm-a-grin across my face. When I’d steal glances at her out of the corner of my eye, I watched her grip the seat as each contraction came. I fought the urge to floor it, not wanting to alarm her.
I pulled into the parking lot of Galilee General Hospital in record time. After getting cut off by a small brown sedan for a parking spot, I nearly leapt from the Jeep, with all intentions of flashing my badge. Reality quickly sank in, and I released the door handle to find another parking spot. Amanda sat beside me, smiling as if reading my thoughts.
I placed my right hand on her thigh, squeezing it gently. “How are you doing?”
“I’m hanging in there, Lee. How are you doing?” She countered, well aware of my emotional state.
“I’m doing good,” already regretting the statement before it left my lips. Why I thought I could convincingly lie to Amanda was beyond me. Maybe deep down, I wanted her to calm me down.
“Lee, come on now. This is me you’re talking too. You’re doing a great job honey, and I know you’re going to be a wonderful father,” she reassured me.
“I love you, Amanda!” It’s the only phrase that conveyed an ounce of what I was feeling at the moment.
I helped her inside to the admissions desk. My hand slapping down on the counter startled the nurse. “Can I help you?” She inquired not so graciously.
“I’m having a baby…I mean we’re having…. damn it, my wife here is having a baby,” I finally blurted out. ‘Boy do I sound like a complete idiot,’ I thought to myself.
The nurse stifled a laugh upon looking at my obvious frown. She then brought us a wheelchair as another contraction began. Amanda clutched onto the front of my shirt, and I wrapped my arms protectively around her body so she wouldn’t fall. I found myself breathing through the contraction with her. After it subsided, I carefully placed her in the wheelchair, and made a beeline for the elevator. I had to get her to the fourth floor, which seemed liked an eternity once the doors closed.
When the elevator doors opened, a nurse was waiting for us. ‘Thank god,’ I told myself. It was nice to see that we were expected.
Finally, we were settled into Amanda’s room. The atmosphere was very warm and inviting. The walls were decorated in pink and blue, and stenciled with baby blocks along the top trim. The nurse on duty helped Amanda change into a hospital gown, and climb into the bed.
“My name is Carol, and I’ll be here until 11:00 p.m. Dr. McCormick phoned in a little while ago, and informed us that she will be here shortly. I want to congratulate you now about the twins. I’m sure you’re both very excited,” she stated.
“We certainly are,” Amanda responded for both of us.
Carol shook both our hands before speaking again. “I’m sure you’re well aware of the situation. The Doctor asked us to do an ultrasound to see what position the babies are in before we go any further.”
We nodded in unison, both well aware that a c-section may be necessary. I took Amanda’s hand and squeezed it gently, trying to offer any kind of support I could. I didn’t know what was going on, and I didn’t want her to see how worried I really was, thinking about the possibility of surgery.
Carol returned a few minutes later, wheeling in a large machine. She lifted Amanda’s gown, and placed some obviously cold gel on her belly. She placed a small apparatus attached to a wire on her stomach and rolled it all over Amanda’s abdomen. After a moment, Carol smiled at the screen viewing one of our babies. My mouth fell open, as she pointed out the first baby. She told me that they were too large to see each one, but was happy to report that baby A was in the correct position for a vaginal delivery.
I let out a breath I didn’t even know I was holding. Things were looking better and better, until Amanda had a contraction. This one was painful. I could see it on her face as she gripped the handles to the bed; she struggled to breathe through that one. I noticed this contraction was longer than the previous one, making me wonder why any woman would agree to do this more than once in their lives. I caressed her cheek until her features softened, assuring me that she was okay.
After that contraction, Carol checked to see how far along Amanda had dilated. She told us that Amanda was two centimeters dilated, and was progressing nicely. ‘Everything is under control,’ I told myself. When Carol left the room, I turned to comfort my wife.
“Can I get you anything, or help you out,” I offered, not sure how I could actually be of any service to her now.
Her smile warmed me through and through. ‘How does she do that, without even trying?’ I asked myself.
“I just need you here by my side,” she stated, making me an even happier man.
The next several hours were strenuous on her part. I found myself breathing through each contraction with her, feeling somewhat exhausted after each one. Dotty and the boy’s came in periodically to see how everything was going and then they went into the lounge to give us some privacy. Amanda maintained a happy strong exterior, trying to be brave for all of us.
December 24th, 10:12 p.m.
Dr. McCormick stopped in periodically to check on Amanda’s progress. She was now eight centimeters dilated, and only two more to go. I had no idea what this meant, but it sure sounded like we were progressing.
When I turned to glance out the window, I saw a light dusting of snow on the ground. The flakes were small and steady, as I watched them tumble down beneath the streetlight. As I admired the sight before me, Amanda’s heavy breathing snapped me back to our present situation. She mouthed my name groggily, and I immediately went back to her.
“I’m right here, Amanda,” I whispered, while taking her hand in mine. Her warm brown trusting eyes locked with my own. I lifted her hand and placed a kiss upon her palm.
I took turns dabbing a cool cloth on her forehead, and feeding her ice chips. She looked so exhausted, her hair sweat soaked, and her body trembling. If I could have taken the pain away from Amanda, I would have happily traded places with her. I would rather go through any torturous situation as opposed to watching her suffer, and I didn’t see how I was of any comfort to her. She smiled in between contractions, squeezing my hand for emphasis. I smiled back, trying to encourage her to keep going. The contractions were nearly on top of one another, and I called for the nurse. “Can she have something for the pain?” I asked, thinking more about myself at the time. I couldn’t stand to see her like this, and I wanted to take it away.
“Of course she can, if she wants it. Would you like something for the pain, Mrs. Stetson?” Carol asked, wiping her forehead with the cloth.
“No, I’m trying to do this without medication,” Amanda gasped, nodding her head for emphasis.
“Okay, well just let me know if it’s too much. I’ll be happy to get you something for the discomfort,” Carol offered.
‘Discomfort? I hope she’s kidding. Amanda looks as if she’s being tortured, in severe pain,’ I thought to myself. Guilt overcame me when I thought about myself in Amanda’s position. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to go through anything like this, and survive.
“How are you doing, baby?” I whispered, while rubbing a cube of ice over her dry lips.
She nodded, not able to speak as the next contraction caused her to grip my hand very tightly. I could only imagine how terrible the pain had to be. I’ve seen Amanda go through a lot of painful events, but nothing compared to the torture I felt she was suffering at the present time. Beads of perspiration covered her face, and her hair was completely soaked.
At approximately 10:45 p.m., Doctor McCormick confirmed that it was now time to push. I heard Amanda let out an exhausted sigh of relief, and I interlocked our hands together. This was short lived, because Carol handed me some scrubs and instructed me to get changed. Reluctant to leave Amanda’s side, Carol informed me that she would be working a double shift, and wouldn’t leave her side while I was gone.
I quickly changed, and ran into the lounge to tell the family we were almost there. Dotty pulled me in for a hug and whispered in my ear, “I’m so proud of you, Lee.”
I was so elated that I kissed her cheek, and my tears wet her face. “Thank you Mom.”
I gave Phillip and Jamie a high five and ran back into the delivery room. When I entered the room, Dr. McCormick grinned and asked, “Are you ready to have these babies?”
“Push 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10,” I instructed, one hand wrapped around Amanda’s body, and the other grasping her hand for support. She pushed again for another 10 long seconds before her tired body collapsed against my arm. When I saw her trembling legs, I looked over at the nurse, wondering if everything was okay. The nurse must have seen my fears and came over to pat me on the back.
“Don’t worry, Mr. Stetson, she’s doing a wonderful job,” she soothed my fears.
“Do you hear that, Amanda? You’re doing a wonderful job,” I tried to reach her.
The only sound she was able to make at that time was, “uh huh.” I leaned over the bed and kissed her forehead. I had no idea if that’s what she needed at the moment, but it certainly helped me.
Over and over she managed to push with each contraction, and when I looked into the mirror at the foot of the bed, I saw a dark crop of hair appear and quickly disappear as Amanda stopped pushing. The Doctor and nurses continued their encouragement as Amanda continued to push each time.
“Okay, it looks like the next contraction should do it,” the Doctor stated.
Excitement, anticipation, and fear coursed throughout my veins as I realized that my child was ready to be born. I mouthed, “I love you,” to Amanda before the next contraction began.
As I watched our baby’s head emerge, Amanda let out a scream. Feeling her fingers wiggling in my hand, I finally released her hand. “Oh my God, Amanda,” I hollered, as our son entered the world. I looked at the screaming baby briefly, before turning back to my beautiful wife. I gathered her into my arms, and rested my head in the crook of her neck. The tears were now flowing freely as the blessed event overwhelmed me.
“You did it, baby,” I whispered over and over again, as I kissed her.
Her breathing was still labored, but she managed to speak between breaths. “Thank you, Lee, for this precious gift,” she gasped, while caressing my cheek.
“It’s a boy, born at 12:03 a.m.” Dr. McCormick announced, after suctioning out the baby’s nose and mouth. Nothing prepared me for the next event, and I looked up to see my screaming son. His entire body was red, and his little hands and feet were all wrinkly. His limbs trembled, and his bottom lip curled as the nurses cleaned him up. The process looked so planned, as each nurse had his or her own job to do. One weighed and measured, and another checked the baby’s vital statistics. After that was completed, they cleaned the baby, and took footprints.
“5lbs, 11 oz., and 20 inches long.” Nurse Carol reported his weight and height to us all.
“That’s a very good size for twins,” Dr. McCormick told us.
Carol laid the baby in Amanda’s arms. “Lee Mathew Stetson,” Amanda announced, as a tear fell down her cheek. “Oh, Lee, he’s beautiful,” she added.
My entire body was trembling, just watching Amanda hold our child. He was beautiful, and perfect in every way. I carefully inspected his body, checking for ten finger and ten toes. I knelt down beside the bed to place a kiss on his little forehead.
When Amanda gripped the side rail to her bed I looked up to see a look of discomfort in her eyes. I nearly forgot she had to do this again. Carol took Lee, ‘God I love the sound of that,’ out of Amanda’s arms and handed him to me. My body stiffened, not really sure how to handle a small infant until the moment she laid him in my arms. Amanda had successfully quieted him the moment she held him, so my job was easy. His tiny body fit perfectly in my arms, and I never wanted to let him go. His head was covered with a blue stocking cap, covering his dark hair, and his eyes were scrunched as if the light bothered him. I leaned down and placed butterfly kisses along his little cheek, and breathed in his unique baby scent.
I was reluctant to give him back to the nurse, but quickly obliged when I saw Amanda’s breathing become labored again. I leaned over the rail conveying words of encouragement. I wondered if she was ready to choke me by that point, but she seemed to listen intently, and it made me feel wanted and needed.
“Push, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10…breathe, and again,” these words were now familiar in my vocabulary. As Amanda’s tired body pushed with every ounce of strength she had left, the Doctor instructed me to look down and see the head of our second child. This time, I lifted Amanda’s body off the bed, and sat directly behind her, so I could support her body.
“Amanda, open your eyes,” I encouraged her to see our baby entering the world.
Amanda’s sobs of happiness echoed through the room, as Jennifer Emily Stetson entered the world screaming as if there was no tomorrow.
Dr. McCormick suctioned out her mouth and nose, and cut the cord. She happily announced, “It’s a girl, and time of birth is 12:10a.m.”
As I watched my beautiful baby girl come charging into the world, I knew from that moment on that I would live the rest of my life to make sure they were safe, happy and loved. I pushed Amanda’s hair from her face, and kissed her all over. “You did it, Amanda. I can’t tell you how wonderful you’ve made me feel,” I tried to convey my feelings, but I was all choked up. I laid her back down in the bed, and stood to keep an eye on Jennifer.
Amanda squeezed my hand, encouraging me back to her side. I leaned over and she wiped the tears of joy from my cheeks. “I love you, Lee,” she gasped between breaths.
“I love you too, Amanda,” I replied, caressing her cheek. I could feel her body trembling beneath the blanket, and I asked one of the nurses for another blanket. After all she had been through, Amanda deserved nothing but the best care.
Exhausted, Amanda closed her eyes while Carol was taking care of Jenny. I cautiously approached the scale to see her stats. “She’s 6lbs, 2 ounces, and she’s 19 inches long, Mr. Stetson. What’s her name?” Carol asked me.
“Jennifer Emily Stetson,” I announced, finally a proud new father.
“She’s beautiful, and healthy, as is Lee,” she happily replied.
After she was wrapped tightly in a pink blanket and matching cap, Carol handed me Jennifer. ‘My God, she is beautiful,’ I thought. She had full red lips, chubby cheeks, and when she opened her eyes, I saw Amanda in her. I carefully walked back around to Amanda’s side to show her our daughter.
“Oh, Amanda, look at her, she’s beautiful. She looks just like you,” I murmured.
Amanda mustered enough strength to lift her body slightly up to view our daughter. “Lee, she is beautiful,” Amanda responded groggily, before sinking back down into the bed.
I walked across the room, taking small steps, as if I was carrying the most fragile package in my life. After planting a kiss upon her cheek, I handed Jenny to Carol, and went back to Amanda’s bedside.
“You just relax and get some rest. I’m going to step out into the hallway and let the family know the good news,” I informed her, feeling a twinge of guilt for getting to be the one to spread the good news. Amanda had gone through those strenuous hours of labor, refusing anything for the pain, only thinking about our children. ‘Does she realize how much I love her and cherish her every day,’ I thought.
I walked through the halls, still wearing my green scrubs. Everything looked brighter, and I couldn’t do anything but smile from ear to ear. I glanced out the window to find the cars down below covered in snow. When I opened the door to the lounge, three excited faces were awaiting the news. Dotty immediately sensed my emotional state, and graciously helped me along.
“Well, what do we have Lee?” She asked, nearly shaking me to death with excitement.
“A boy and a girl, Lee and Jennifer,” I happily reported. “They are beautiful and healthy, and Amanda did a terrific job in there,” I added, trying to grasp the fact that I was actually a father.
After the hugs, and the high fives from the boys, Dotty looked into my eyes. “Congratulations Daddy, and Merry Christmas!”
From the time my parents died, Christmas had always been a day that I dreaded. A day that I would have worked, rather than celebrated. Now, it’s a day that has been changed forever. Not only do I have Amanda and our family to remind me how special the holiday season is, I also have two precious little miracles to celebrate this joyous day.
Once again, this woman brought me to tears. Just the sound of that word “Daddy,” warmed my heart. As I stumbled for words, all I could finally say was “thank you,” before pulling her in for a loving hug. I hadn’t realized it was actually Christmas day.
I whispered to Dotty. “All the gifts are hidden at home. I’d hate to have the boys go back home to an empty tree.”
“Relax Lee. I phoned Joe before we left the house. I left a key for him, and he offered to set everything up for you and Amanda.”
“You just took care of everything,” I teased. “Thanks again.”
“When do we get to see Mom and the babies?” Jamie asked.
“She just had them, worm brain! Probably not until later today,” Phillip replied.
“Do not call your brother names,” Dotty reprimanded. “I’m sure we’ll be able to see her in a little while.”
“Listen fellas, I’ll come out here and get you the moment the Doctor tells me it’s okay,” I informed them both.
When I opened the door to room 406, Amanda was resting comfortably. She wasn’t asleep, but she looked content. The nurses wheeled Lee and Jennifer to the nursery to give them a bath. I walked over to my wife’s side, and took her hands in mine. “Merry Christmas, Mommy,” I spoke softly, smiling into her warm brown eyes. “I love you, Amanda,” I added, pouring all the love and compassion from deep within my heart.
Amanda pulled me toward her awaiting lips for a kiss. “Merry Christmas to you too, Daddy” she whispered, “and I love you too, Lee.”
The sounds of those words were music to my ears. I had everything a man could ask for in life. A loving wife, a beautiful family, and a home, were only a few of the wonderful things I had attained in life. The Christmas holiday just made it even more special, and I would remember it every year on our children’s birthday. I realized at the very moment that reality wouldn’t sink in for awhile. I had nine months to absorb the fact, but nothing prepared me for the moment my children entered the world.
Disclaimer: These characters don’t belong to me. They belong to WB and Shoot The Moon Productions.
Timeline: This story is set a year and a half after the series ended. Their marriage is common knowledge.
Timeline: This story is set a year and a half after the series ended. Their marriage is common knowledge.