(The direct continuation of Tuscan Byways)


By Jo


Marshall stayed in the hospital for five days until Dr. Knauer was satisfied the nausea could

be controlled by oral medication instead of the IV. Once at home it took him another four

weeks to feel as though his energy level were anywhere near normal. He still tired somewhat

more easily than he liked and as Eden was then in the last month of her pregnancy, the two

of them took afternoon naps together.


He found that lying beside her like that was much more bearable than resting alone and his

fascination with her expanded belly seemed to grow daily. His connection with it was by touch

and he couldn't keep his hands off her roundedness. When no-name would kick, Marshall's

delight was boundless.



He found her middle quite the most marvelous thing he'd ever explored tactilely and that it

was not only Eden but also his child, served to double his pleasure.


"You are ripe," he said one afternoon in early September as they woke from their nap and

simply remained quietly in bed.


"Like a melon," she chuckled, "a giant, mutant watermelon."


Marshall smiled. "You are the most wondrous thing I've ever experienced. I can't stop gazing

at your stomach."



He, of course, 'gazed' by exploring with his fingertips and he wanted to gaze at her as much

as he could. His experience at the brink of liver failure had heightened, if possible, his need

to be connected to the whole process of the development of their baby.


He himself had been born very prematurely and every day added to Eden's pregnancy made

him sigh with relief. The larger her middle got, the happier he was.



He had always cherished Eden, but now all he wanted was to encircle her with himself, be

a barrier between her and any possible harm. And for her part, Eden loved it. That he was

there at all was, for her, a miracle, and would have been enough. But his cherishing made

her feel so loved, so taken care of.  He gave a great back massage, too.



Two days before her due date of September 14th, she announced she was losing her feet. Marshall cocked an eyebrow, unsure of what she meant.


She'd just gotten out of the shower and wasn't dressed yet. "I'm standing here," she said,

"and all I can see are my toe tips somewhere waaaaay down there poking out from under

Mount Baby."


"Mount Baby?" he chuckled.


"No-name is quite mountainous," she announced. "I think I'm more than ready for no-name

to make an appearance." She slipped on a white top.


"No-name will come when the time is right." The baby would not be premature. That much

was now assured.


The baby kicked hard, straight out. "Ahhh!"


"Are you all right?" Marshall asked quickly.


She walked over to where he was seated, taking his hand, pressing it just to the side of her

navel. "Wait a second."



He could feel it! The perfect outline of the bottom of a foot. His mouth dropped open. He

could even count the toes as the baby kept its foot pressed there for a while. He hadn't been

able to see the sonogram pictures like she had but this...this made everything, all of it, so

entirely real, more so than merely having his hands on her as the baby rolled or kicked.

This was the actual foot of his child.


"No-name has all five toes!" he said finally, a tone of utter astonishment in his voice.


"No-name is a line-backer," she sighed, "or a gymnastic champion."


"Perhaps karate?" he suggested as the foot was withdrawn.


"That would fit, yes."


September 14th came and went, as did the 15th. On the morning of the 16th she began to

feel a little strange. Never having given birth before, she wasn't sure what to expect of the

feelings in her own body, but there was a sense of pressure way down low. When Marshall

came out of the bathroom, she was waiting for him. "Mount Baby is waiting for your hands,"

she said softly.


He reached out toward her, then smiled at what his hands encountered.



"A bow?"


"Umm hmm. I think no-name wants to be born on September 16th. Time to unwrap the

mystery present."


"You...are you...?"


"Not yet, not really, but something's different."


He knelt in front of her and untied the bow, then kissed Mount Baby several times. "I love

you," he said to the baby, then tipped his head up, "and I love your mother."



Standing, he went behind her, putting his arms around her, curving his hands over her

middle so that when his thumbs touched, they made the shape of a heart. Eden put her own

hands atop his and they stood quietly like that for a long time.


Edith had been staying at the Sinclair house for the last two weeks. Marshall had invited her

there because of his concern that Eden would go into labor and there would be no one around

to drive them to the hospital.


About four that afternoon while all three of them were in the kitchen, Eden reached up to

a high shelf to get down a dish. "Ohhhh!"


"What? What is it, darling?"


"I'm...wet. I think my water's broken."


"It's time? It's really...time?" Marshall felt excited, flustered, worried, elated all at once.


Edith called the doctor and then Connie and Ryan's office. "Martha," Eden said as she

headed toward her bedroom to change clothes. "Let her know, too. The baby was made at

the inn."


Marshall followed Eden down the hall, getting her already-packed small bag out of the closet.

He paused while she was in the bathroom, his hand over his mouth. It was really happening.

This had been such a happy house, a family house, then it had all gone quiet. Eden had brought

love into it again, and now there would be a child...a family.


Eden came out of the bathroom and saw him standing there like that. "What are you thinking,



"I'm thinking of us, of how there will be three of us here. It just much."


She put her arms around him. "I know." And she did know. "I do feel like a present is about

to be unwrapped, darling. It's like Christmas morning, only better."


"And you, how are you right now?" he asked.


"Feels kind of like menstrual cramps is all. Nothing really big yet."


"Let's get you to the hospital before that happens, all right. I'll feel more at ease when you're



St. Clair Hospital was only five minutes from their home, and that was if you got stopped at all

the traffic lights.  Edith pulled up close to the new emergency entrance. Marshall was being

very attentive to Eden, who insisted she was perfectly able to walk inside.



It was a suburban hospital, not so large as the enormous ones downtown, but it had everything

needful, great doctors, and was constantly being updated and added on to so that it had

expanded greatly since its beginning in the early 1950's. Marshall had been born there but

before the maternity floor had been transformed into a state-of-the-art facility where a

woman gave birth in the same room in which she labored and that room was decorated like a

nice hotel suite.



(NOTE: The stone house you see in the trees in the upper right of the picture is on the back side of Virginia Manor, where Marshall's house is.

There's no access to that road between it and the hospital so you have to go out of the front of the neighborhood and around to get to it.

For 19 years I lived five minutes up that road and all 6 of my grandchildren were born in St. Clair, Kimberly being the only one to be born

before the new birthing floor was finished.)


Eden was put in a wheelchair, taken up to the 5th floor to the maternity area, and settled in

a large room with dusty rose-colored walls with a wide top border of full-blown cabbage

roses around it. She described it to Marshall. "You think the pink is a sign it's going to

be Cindy Lou Who?" she asked.


"Horatio might like roses," he countered. "You never know."


"Soon we will," she smiled, taking his hand as he sat in the large, padded chair pulled up to

the side of her bed.


Very carefully he reached out with his other hand, exploring. She had been hooked up to

several monitors, some of which were attached to her middle. Various machines made their

sounds, all way too familiar to his ears. Suddenly he felt considerably uncomfortable at the

fact they were attached to Eden. Things went wrong with delivering a child. He squeezed

her hand a bit tighter.


She saw the emotions flit across his face. "What's up?"


"Me? Oh, I...I'm just...."


"I'm going to be fine, darling. Don't waste a moment of this worrying about me, all right? It's

not like we're snowed into some cabin in the Yukon far from civilization. You know...."


Just then Sophie Pratner, her obstetrician came in the door. "Hello," she announced, knowing

Marshall couldn't see her. "Good afternoon, Marshall."


"Dr. Pratner." He recognized her voice. "I'm glad you're here."


Pratner set about examining Eden. "So, your water broke at home?"


"In the kitchen, yes."


"When it does that," Pratner chuckled, "it's always in some inconvenient place."


"That's...that's all right, then? That that was the first thing that happened?" Marshall asked.


"It's quite fine. When I had my first baby, mine broke when I shut a window at midnight

because a storm came up. Sometimes it breaks during labor, sometimes we have to break it

ourselves. But once it's broken, we're committed. Baby's going to come for sure."


Connie and Ryan came in and waited with them for a while, then took Edith out for

dinner. Later Ryan went to the house and took Wadsworth out for a bit.


During the rest of the afternoon and well up into the evening, Dr. Pratner came and went,

checking on Eden's progress. About eight, she said, "Ahhh! Almost there, Eden. You're

doing great."


Eden had had an epidural and so wasn't terribly uncomfortable. She'd considered natural

childbirth but only briefly, knowing that she'd make noise during it and that Marshall would

suffer at her cries more than she herself would. No, quiet and as gentle as possible. That was

best for them all.


By 8:30 the baby was crowning. Marshall was gowned and had gloves on. Pratner guided his

hand to feel the top of the baby's head. Eden, in the midst of pushing, smiled, looking at his

face, almost overwhelmed with love for him and for what this meant to him, to her. Secretly,

she rather had been hoping it was Horatio more than Cindy Lou Who. She wanted a tiny little Marshall. Then she had to push more and all thought was subsumed into her task at hand.


"Head's all the way out," Pratner announced, turning the baby slightly to deliver its

shoulders. The rest of the baby followed very quickly. Marshall, an arm around Eden's

shoulders almost stopped breathing, trying to listen to every sound.


"You have a son," Pratner said, grinning, her words followed by a loud cry.



Marshall's throat tightened and tears trickled down his cheeks. "Oh, my God," he finally

breathed and started to kiss all over Eden's face.  The baby, his and Eden's baby, was crying

and the sound was so beyond wonderful he wasn't sure how to process it. It was more. That

was it. It was simply...more...than he'd even thought.


Pratner lay the baby boy for a moment on Eden's stomach and every cell in his body slightly

vibrating, Marshall touched him, encountering a waving arm. When the baby's hand came

in contact with Marshall's, its fingers closed around one of his.  All he could do was make

small, unintelligible sounds down in his throat. He hadn't expected the baby to do that.



Eden looked at the hands of her two men, filled beyond measure with satisfaction, then touched

the baby's cheek herself. This was right, this was so very, very...right.