First Child

First Child

by VoyWriter

disclaimer: Paramount holds all rights to name and characters.
Please feel free to distribute this electronically intact and without revision.
Permission from the author is required to include it in any anthology or post it on
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email comments to VoyWriter@aol.com

“There it is,” Kes pointed out excitedly, adjusting the tricorder ever so slightly to
make the tiny heartbeat appear on the medical monitor.

Kathryn reached out and met her fingers to the screen while her other hand
splayed across her still flat belly.

She was filled with a wonderment that defied speech and a quiet joy bubbled
inside her.

Chakotay covered her hand with his own, protectively embracing her and their
child in a gesture so old as to be timeless.

He grinned broadly. “Are you ready for this?” he whispered.

“I’m scared to death,” she replied.

He laughed. “A little late, Kathryn,” and touched his lips to her forehead.

“The pregnancy is progressing normally,” the holodoctor reported as he checked
the detail of the scan. “It’s still very early, of course, but there’s no reason to
expect anything other than a full term healthy baby. I’m glad to see my advice
paid off. Practice does make perfect.”

“Oh, and congratulations,” he added.

“Oh yes!” Kes echoed, hugging them both. “Congratulations both of you. This is
wonderful.”

“I’d like to see you again next week,” the doctor advised. “By comparing today’s
readings with another set I should be able to pinpoint an exact due date.”

Janeway nodded. “All right, Doctor.” Due date. Dear god. She would have this
child. It would be born. It was all suddenly very, very real. Her eyes widened in
alarm.

“Kathryn?” Chakotay’s concerned voice reached her.

“I’m going to be a mother,” she said slowly, comprehension dawning.

He laughed. “Yes, I know,” and guided her into the corridor and toward the
turbolift.

“When we talked about this it all seemed so abstract,” she told him. “And
everything I read-”

“Which was everything in the ship’s entire library,” he said dryly. “Read aloud…”
he added.

She ignored the teasing comment and stepped into the turbolift. “All the books
kept saying what a miracle this is – and I thought, fine, nice trite statement. But it
is you know. And…” she was still talking when they reached the bridge.

“Well?” Tom Paris turned and demanded.

The rest of the bridge crew looked on expectantly.

Janeway raised an eyebrow and silently took the center seat. Chakotay leaned
against the upper railing.

“Status report, Lieutenant,” Janeway ordered evenly of Paris.

“Oh fine – go ahead and torture me,” Tom grumbled. “Just want a little
information here and we’re going to play games…”

Chakotay grinned, a match to Kathryn’s, and then he nodded and winked at her.

She took a breath. “We are officially pregnant,” she announced.

“Well, all right!” Tom pronounced gleefully.

“My congratulations,” Tuvok echoed.

“Wow! That’s great,” Harry managed, slightly awestruck.

Kathryn knelt before the toilet, a towel in hand. In just a week she had gone from
almost no morning sickness to constant nausea.

Chakotay rested a hand on her shoulder. “You ok?

She nodded weakly, looked at the toilet and threw up again. “I can’t believe there
is nothing the doctor can do about this.” she protested snappishly, willing her
stomach to stop heaving.

“One of us needs to get to the bridge,” Chakotay reminded her.

“Fine. You vomit. I’ll go.”

“Kathryn.”

“I’m sorry,” she said, rising and tossing the towel in the recoiling bin. “I’m ok. Go
ahead.” She hadn’t meant to snap. Her hormones were a disaster.

He nodded and pressed his mouth to her temple, touching his hand to her belly
before heading for the door of what a year before had become their quarters
instead of his.

“Have B’Elanna run a check on the port phaser bank,” she called after him. “I
noticed they were sluggish in the simulations yesterday.”

“Aye, Captain,” he called back. “Anything else?”

She felt another wave of nausea draw over her and left the question unanswered
as she dove for the bathroom.

***

“Kathryn, this problem with the phasers is going to take longer than we thought.
Can you reschedule with the doctor?” Chakotay asked, calling up to the bridge
from Engineering.

She’d made it up there an after he had and immediately sent him down to work
with Torres.

“Finish up,” she told him. “I’ll go ahead. This is just to confirm the due date. I
don’t think I need any hand holding quite yet.”

“If you’re sure…”

“Positive. We need those phasers back on line.”

***

The doctor rechecked the medical tricorder and then turned to Kes, shaking his
head. Her eyes filled and she took Janeway’s hand.

“What is it,” Kathryn demanded, instantly alarmed and visibly shaken by Kes’s
reaction.

“I’m sorry. We no longer can discern a heartbeat,” the doctor said gently. “It
appears that the baby is no longer viable. We can wait for your body to naturally
expel the pregnancy or I can give you something to speed the process.”

Kathryn sat up, her hand flattening over her belly. Her head swam. She pushed
her feet to the floor and felt her legs buckle. For the first time in her life, she
fainted.

She awoke to Chakotay, hip touching hers as he sat on the edge of the sickbay
bed, her hand firmly in his grip. His face was wet. He’d been crying she realized.

The doctor was explaining that this was not an uncommon outcome for early
pregnancy – that they could have more children. It was all absurd. Unreal. The
baby was still inside her – therefore it must still be alive.

Chakotay noticed she was awake. “Kathryn? The doctor sedated you.” He pulled
her hand to his face and caressed the knuckles, a sad loving gesture, that brought
tears to Kes’s eyes. She had watched him hear the news from the doctor, seen his
pain, could even feel it.

“We lost the baby,” Kathryn said flatly, a weariness to her voice that cut to the
bone.

“I know Kathryn. I’m sorry.” His voice broke and he drew in a quick breath.

She was numb. Exhausted. Still physically ill with morning sickness. None of this
was fair.

“The doctor wants to know if you want to let your body take care of this naturally
or if he should intervene,” Chakotay asked gently. He would make decision for
her if he could, to ease her pain if he could, but the choice was not his to make. It
was not his body that grew and nurtured and carried their child. He could not
decide it’s path.

Kathryn could not meet his gaze and manage the stoicism she needed – though did
not feel – to survive this. She turned her head to the waiting doctor.

“Do what you need to,” she directed him, and she willed her hand away from her
stomach just as Chakotay’s touched it protectively, one final futile effort.

The procedure was fast and with only slight cramping, relatively painless. The
doctor wanted to see her in 24 hours, but otherwise she was fit for light duty,
although he recommended bed rest.

“You may continue to feel the symptoms of pregnancy for several days,” the
doctor told her. “But it should ease after that and you should feel like your old
self again.”

“Doctor!” Kes hissed at the insensitivity.

“I am simply describing a normal biological process to a fellow scientist,” the
doctor declared, puzzled by Kes’s manner.

“This normal biological process was a child,” she trembled, her voice hushed and
reverent.

“It’s all right Kes,” Janeway appeared at her side, back in uniform. She patted the
younger woman’s shoulder. “The doctor’s right.”

“And as I was telling the Commander,: the doctor sniffed, “you are quite fit
Captain, and there is no reason you will not be able to conceive again and carry a
pregnancy to term.”

“Of course,” she replied automatically. “Thank you, Doctor.” “Commander,” she
turned to Chakotay, “I believe we both have duties…” She headed for the sickbay
door, reached it and crumbled. Chakotay was immediately at her side. He knelt
down and pulled her into his arms, rocking her while she wept – while they wept
together.

After a few moments, the doctor appeared, resting a hand on Chakotay’s shoulder.
“It was delayed shock. I’m sorry. I should have recognized it. And if I seemed
insensitive…”

Chakotay waved him off, a gesture combining forgiveness and dismissal.

“Please,” he said softly. And the doctor for once understood and left them their
privacy.

***

The crew took the news hard. It had been the ship’s child and them all expectant
aunts and uncles. No one knew, though, what to say, or how to act, save Tuvok,
who revealed to Janeway and Chakotay one late evening that he and his wife, too,
had lost a child. Their second. A son. Shortly after birth. He expressed his sorrow
at their loss, offering no other words of well meant, misplaced encouragement or
hope, knowing that time alone would ease their terrible grief.

They worked and ate and slept, mechanically at first, eventually reaching a point
where they were able to gather up the early baby gifts and pack them away in a
wooden box Chakotay had crafted to keep first shoes and first tooth – the data
padd with the tiny heartbeat imprinted on it, a stuffed lion from Tom, a traditional
Ocampan doll from Kes….

And then on the top they laid the pieces of their hopes and dreams for this child
which could not be puzzled back together and the slice of innocence and wonder
which would never again be regained.

Kathryn cried as Chakotay fixed the lid shut, so a mother’s tears sealed it as a
father’s hand closed it.

Another child was due in five months. Already Kathryn’s stomach was expanding
to make room, just as their hearts were opening to accept the new life. But despite
this warming love, there would never quite be the same boundless unabashed joy
as they had experienced in anticipation of their first child.

finis

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