Disclaimer: I started writing this before the finale, then forgot about it, and just picked it up recently. Hence Arthur being home from the hospital before Joan gave birth. I hope you all enjoy it! (ps - the soundtrack for this story is "The Perfect Space" by The Avett Brothers)
Rain was pouring down outside, and Arthur awake at the ungodly hour of 5 am. He had only been home from the hospital for a few days, and he was still finding it hard to sleep. Joan tossed and turned less, and she was almost 9 months pregnant. But the one good thing about his current state of insomnia was that he could watch his wife sleep.
It had been so scary, knowing that Joan could've been dead when she didn't answer his call. He stroked her pale blonde hair and fought the urge to pull her into his arms, not wanting to ruin her rare moment of peaceful sleep.
Not more than two minutes later, she began to stir.
"Mhmm, hey," she said, cracking one eye open. She sounded uncomfortable as she pulled herself up. "Ughh, what time is it?"
"5:13 in the morning, sweetheart," Arthur said sympathetically, rubbing her back. Joan groaned and threw the covers off, sliding out of bed.
"Damn bladder," she mumbled as she waddled to the bathroom. Arthur chuckled to himself once he was sure she was out of earshot. An incoherent, pissed off Joan was slightly amusing.
He heard the toilet flush and quickly wiped the amused smile off his face. Joan appeared in the bathroom doorway, still looking beautiful despite her messy bedhead hair and one strap of her knee-length black silk maternity nightgown hanging off her shoulder.
"You're breathtaking," Arthur said softly, smiling at her. She smiled back, but then her face froze and her eyes widened.
"Joan?," Arthur almost immediately jumped out of bed. "Honey, are you okay?"
Joan stared at the floor. "I think my water just broke, Arthur."
Arthur jumped out of bed almost instantly, with the quick reflexes he learned years ago.
"Wow. Okay, let's get the overnight bag and get in the car, and you can call the hospital and Auggie and your sisters while I drive. How do you feel? Are your contractions starting yet?"
Joan smiled softly. "Arthur, sweetheart, I feel fine. It's okay."
He walked over to her and cupped her cheek in his hand. "I know, baby. But you know how worried I've been about this pregnancy, especially since your little episode last month."
Joan squeezed his hand. "I know, and I love you for it. But I am going to be fine, and the baby is going to be fine." She winced. "But let's get a move on, because this little guy might not feel like waiting around for his parents to have a moment."
"Already harshing the mood," Arthur muttered jokingly, a twinkle in his eye. Joan laughed, and she went to change into sweats and a pair of slippers while Arthur grabbed a sweatshirt and the go-bag Joan had packed last week from the closet.
"Ready to go?," he asked, taking Joan's hand. She nodded, resting her other hand on her stomach and smiling at her husband.
The drive to the hospital was relatively calm – Joan was in some pain, but in true Joan Campbell fashion, she just persevered, barely making a sound as she took deep breaths. She called Auggie, who was on the way to the airport in a cab to get Annie, and when he insisted they meet the Campbells at the hospital, Joan told him to just take Annie home.
"You can visit in a few days, Auggie. She's been through a lot, it's okay. Yes, send my best to her. Arthur too. Alright. Bye."
"Did you call your sisters?," Arthur asked, flipping on his turn signal and pulling into the hospital parking lot.
"I texted them. Lizzie is in California, so it's about 3 am, and she probably won't get the text for a while. Courtney and Janie know to call or text you once they get the messages, and knowing Janie, she'll want updates every hour."
Arthur chuckled. "She is your oldest sister, it's understandable."
Joan smiled. "I know. I just never realized how much of a production having a child is."
"Babe, you can't just stride into the hospital, pop out a kid, and leave a few hours later," Arthur said with a laugh as he parked the car and went to open her door for her. "Although knowing you, you'll try," he muttered under his breath. Luckily, Joan didn't hear him.
He helped her out of the car and they walked towards the hospital, ignoring the rain. She squeezed his hand and he smiled, appriaching the front desk.
"My wife is having a baby."
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…." Joan sang quietly, rocking her newborn son back and forth. "You make me happy when skies are gray…"
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine," Arthur joined in from the doorway to the nursery. Joan looked up at him and smiled.
"Please don't take my sunshine away," they finished together. Arthur kissed Joan's cheek and then the baby's forehead.
"Our bright spot of sunshine, in a gray and stormy world," Joan whispered, looking at the baby in awe. "I still can't believe it."
Mckenzie Theodore Campbell. Born on November 21, 2013 at 11:34 pm. Perfectly healthy, and already the proud owner of the same bright blue eyes his daddy posses.
"I can't believe you almost broke the hand on my good arm," Arthur whispered, stroking his son's cheek and winking at Joan. "I guess it's true what they say about labor hurting more than a kick in the crotch. And I still can't believe it took over 6 hours."
Joan laughed softly, not wanting to wake Mckenzie, who had just fallen asleep after three hours of soothing songs and bouncing around the nursery.
"It was all worth it," she sighed, unable to tear her loving eyes away from her son. She lowered him into the crib and then leaned against Arthur, letting out a happy murmur when he wrapped his arms around her.
"Mhhm. I'm exhausted and I just want to crawl into bed forever," she whispered. "But I also never want to leave his side."
"We can always put the playpen next to our bed. With a few extra blankets, he can sleep there just as comfortably."
"No, it's been three weeks. The books all say that when your baby sleeps, you need to sleep. It's normal to be hesitant about letting even a hallway stand between you and your child, but mothers need to practice separation, just like Mckenzie eventually will when he grows up."
Arthur's eyes widened. "Wow. Someone memorized all her baby books."
Joan nodded. "I wanted to be prepared. I never thought in a million years that we would get this chance, Arthur. I'm going to do it right."
Arthur smiled and kissed her head. "Let's go get some sleep, sweetheart. You're a wonderful mother, and you're allowed to be a little selfish."
Joan grinned, stepping away from Arthur and towards the crib. She leaned over the bars to place one more kiss on her son's face, and then took Arthur's hand, leading him out of the nursery doorway and down the hallway to their bedroom.
Joan woke up at 5:17 am and felt like something was off. 7 Full hours of sleep, and no noise from the baby monitor. Arthur was still fast asleep, lying on his side and facing her. Joan sat up, checked to make sure that the baby monitor was on, and then slid out of bed, pulling her gray jersey robe over her striped pajama pants and pink tank top and growing increasingly worried.
She practically ran down the hall to Mckenzie's room only to find that he was still sound asleep. She reached into the crib and lifted him into her arms as gently as possible, making sure not to wake him. Of course he was fine. People always said that new mothers were extra cautious and worried, but it made her feel a little silly for assuming that a three-week-old baby couldn't possibly sleep peacefully for more than five hours.
Not wanting to take any chances, Joan took Mckenzie back to her and Arthur's bedroom, placing him on the bed next to Arthur. She pulled the covers back over them, pulling Mckenzie back into her arms once she was comfortable. From a bird's eyes view, it was a beautiful image: Arthur lying on his left side, blissfully unaware that his son was right beside him. Joan lay on her right side, legs curled up in a fetal position and Mckenzie wrapped in her arms, resting between his mother and his father. They fit perfectly together, and as Joan fell back asleep, she was smiling.
She and Arthur were meant to have a son. It took much longer than she expected, but at the end of the day, Mckenzie completed their family. He fit perfectly in the space between his mom and his dad. Their wonderful miracle.