By TRACY J.
April 4, 1778
"Father!" Constance shouted from the doorway of her parents' bed chamber, "Father, the babe is coming!"
"The child is not due until the end of next month." Richard said as he walked into their bed chamber, stopping at he looked at his wife. He turned to the door and shouted, "McGuire! Fetch the doctor!" He turned to his nine year old daughter, "Constance, fetch Louise. Then join your brothers and sister."
As girl hurried from the room, Richard mvoed tot he bed and took his wife's hand, "The doctor is coming, dear."
She nodded, then moaned loudly.
Louise had been hired as a midwife the month before when they thought Elizabeth was going to lose the infant. She was to stay with Elizabeth in case she should have anymore problems with this pregnancy. In truth, doctor McBride believed Elizabeth would miscarry, so he wanted someone with her when it happened.
Louise came rushing into the bed chamber, "What is it, sir?!"
"The babe is coming!" Richard was frightened. His cousin gave birth a month before the infant was due, and the child was stillborn, and then Josephine died few days later. No! He thought, Not my Elizabeth! I cannot lose her!
"Sir," Louise motioned for Richard to join her just outside the door, "She needs you to be calm. She is frightened enough for all of us. I have done this before, sir."
"Do not let her die, Louise." Richard pleaded.
"I will do my best, sir." Louise told him, "But I need clean towels, a blanket, a basin of hot water, and a clean wash cloth. As quickly as you can get them." Richard nodded and hurried out of the room.
Louise turned around and walked to the bed, "Ma'am, I need to see where the babe is at. May I?"
"Oh, please!" Elizabeth groaned, "Do not let me lose this child!" Elizabeth had lost two children, one a miscarriage and the other stillborn, in the short span of two years. This was the first time in four years that they had tried again to have another child, and she just could not lose this one!
Elizabeth let out another wail and Louise moved the blanket. Oh, they can not wait for the doctor! This infant was already coming. Louise took a deep breath, "Push, ma'am."
The doctor came into the hall as Richard was starting for the stairs, "Doctor, this is too soon."
"Yes, it is, sir." The doctor caught Richard's arm, "I should at least prepare you."
Richard did not like the way the doctor said that.
"Sir," McBride said carefully, "most infants that come before the ninth month rarely survive. Even if the infant is alive, it could die within a month or so. And if the babe does live, there is a good chance it will be sickly as a child. There are so meny complications with an early birth. But, I don't believe the babe will live past one month. I thought you should know that."
Suddenly, they had heard a scream and both men ran up the stairs to the master bed chamber.
They ran into the room to find Elizabeth unconscious and Louise holding the tiny infant. But the babe was not crying. The cord was wrapped around the infant's neck and child was blue.
The doctor quickly cut the cord and unwrapped it. Then took the tiny infant and patted it's bottom.
When the infant did not stir, Louise quickly dropped to her knees and began to silently pray.
McBride lay the baby down and opened it's mouth to make certain the infant's airway was not blocked. Then he picked the child up again and rubbed the tiny chest. He patted the infant again, but the child did not stir.
Richard sank down onto the edge of the bunk and began to sob.
Dr. McBride patted the little bottom a bit harder and baby made a very small sound. "No no, little one. We want to hear a real cry." He gave the infant a few more hard pats until the baby took a shuddering breath and let out a loud cry. "That's what we wanted to hear, little one!" The doctor smiled.
Louise thanked God and got to her feet.
"Clean the child." The doctor handed the infant to her.
Richard turned his attention to his wife's shoulder and lightly shook her, "Elizabeth?"
The doctor walked over to the bed and examined her, "She is very weak and will need plenty of rest. I do not want her moving from this bed for at least a week."
"Thank you, Lord!" Richard breathed, then looked up at the doctor, "Thank you, Dr. McBride."
"You should thank Louise." McBride said, "She did very good well."
Richard stood and over to where Louise was cleaning the infant, "Thank you, Louise. And please take good care of this child. Elizabeth almost died for it."
"I know, sir." Louise looked down at the baby, who was trying to stuff his tiny fist into his mouth, "Oh, no, little one! That's not the way you do it." She took the little hand out of it's mouth and the infant started to fuss softly, moving his other hand across his face until he felt it on his mouth, then stuff that little fist in his mouth.
Laughing quietly, Louise pulled that little hand out and gently opened it, then put the tiny thumb to the child's mouth. The baby immediately latched onto it and began sucking. She cocked her head and grinning broadly, "You are such a precious little angel!"
"Babes that are born too soon...." Richard started.
"That is true, sir." Louise assured him, "But this babe is special and will not die. With God's help, we will not let it." She had helped deliver dozens for babies. But there was something about this child that just made her want to smile.
Elizabeth moaned and Richard hurried over to the bedside. She opened her eyes and whispered, "My babe. Where is my babe?"
The doctor picked up the infant, walked over to the bed, and put the child into it's mother's arms, "Here is your son, ma'am."
"Our son." Richard said softly, "He looks just like his mother."
"A boy?" Elizabeth laughed weakly with tears in her eyes, "It is a boy!"
"Yes, my love." Richard kissed his wife, then leaned down and kissed his new son's little forehead. The infant cooed softly and snuggled against his mother.
April 11, 1778
Elizabeth finished nursing the infant and put him in his crib. Richard slipped his arms around her waist and kissed her neck. When she turned toward him, he kissed her lips passionately. Breaking off the kiss, he said softly, "Thank you for giving me such a lovely boy."
"I am not the one you should thank." She told him, "God gave us this little angel."
"And you want him brought up in your faith." Richard stated. This had been a complaint of Elizabeth's since they were married. She was a Catholic. Richard was a Protestant. They had argued meny times on this subject, and Richard always allowed the children to be baptized in her faith, but made her and the children attend his church.
But this was different. This child was special and he knew, because of the troubled childbirth, she not only wanted the infant to be baptized in her religion, she wanted to have him raised in it as well. He knew how his family would feel about that. But after coming so close to losing her....
How could he deny her the only thing she asked for?
He looked into the beautiful, pleading eyes and smiled, "As you wish, my love." Then he kissed her again.
When their lips parted, she said softly, "Thank you, Richard. I know how hard this is for you."
"Almost losing you was hard." He said, "This is the least I could do."
She smiled that beautiful smile of hers and he kissed her again.
April 18, 1778
Elizabeth's and Richard's families and friends gathered for the christening. Although Richard's family was not at all pleased with his decision.
The priest turned to the infant's parents, "What name do you give the child?"
Because Richard allowed the child to be baptized in the Catholic church, Elizabeth agreed to let Richard name their son after Richard's father. Even though she hated his name.
Without telling Elizabeth, Richard decided to give the boy a shorter form of his father's name and her father's name as well. Ricahrd cleared his throat and announced, "The child's name is Archie Nicholas Alastair Kennedy."
Surprised, Elizabeth quickly looked up at her husband with tears in her eyes and a radiant smile.
Her father, Nicholas McShane, as just as suprised and proud as Lord Archibald Kennedy did.
"And who are the godparents?" The priest asked.
"James Kennedy." Richard introduced his brother and Elizabeth's twin sister, "And Eleanor Munro."
The godparents stepped forward and James took the infant in his arms. Little Archie cooed and James smiled down at him, caressing his soft cheek. He was so tiny, James only needed one arm to hold him.
After the christening, the families went to Kennedy manor to celebrate.
When little Archie finally fell asleep, Richard took the child up to the bed chambers they were going to use while they were at Kennedy Manor. As he lay the baby down in his crib, little Archie began to fuss.
Richard smiled at the child as he picked him up once more, "You are so tiny! Such a wee little laddie." He smiled at his little son, "You are my little laddie."
Richard sat down in the rocking chair he had his father's servants bring to their chambers and began to rock his small son. Little Archie snuggled against his father, put his tiny thumb in his mouth and closed his eyes.
Richard kissed his son's soft cherub cheek and rocked his baby boy to sleep.
The part about the cord was inspired by the birth of my youngest nephew. The cord had been wrapped around hiss neck three times, and he was blue and not breathing when he came out.
However, he did not come a month early. I had written that part before my sister told me about my nephew's birth. After hearing it, I decided to add that to this story.
I hope you enjoyed it. : )