Welcome to the World
Within an hour of arriving to the hospital Olivia was in a room and hooked up to an IV and a fetal monitor. The baby's heartbeat was strong and her contractions were steady. She was three centimeters dilated and progressing along normally.
Kathy stayed with her while she observed Lizzie pacing outside the room dialing her phone furiously. She kept watching the clock and listening for any sign that Elliot was at the hospital. Kathy gave her a sympathetic look every time she would check the time. She knew that Elliot missed the birth of Kathleen and almost missed the twins' because of work and she hoped that he wouldn't miss this one.
"Well well well, I hear someone's having a baby," Fin remarked making his way into the room and to her bedside. Kathy quietly excused herself.
"Fin, what are you doing here?" Olivia asked on the tail end of a contraction.
"Well I got the text from Lizzie saying that you were in labor. Where else would I be?"
He hugged her and kissed her forehead and she let the tears flow that she had been holding back. "He's not here Fin, what if he—"
"It's going to be ok. You know Stabler, he wouldn't miss this for the world."
She smiled at his attempt to keep the faith but then felt another contraction. "Oh shit-," she gritted through her teeth holding tightly to Fin's hand.
"Ok ok just breathe Liv," he tried to console her.
She got through the contraction and lay back against the pillow growing more exhausted by the minute. She was trying her best to stay calm and think positive, not wanting to cause any more stress to herself or the baby.
"Are you sure I'm not keeping you from work?"
Fin nodded and pulled a chair up next to the bed. "Nahh, Little Mikey's got things covered. He's so ready to prove himself that he's going above and beyond. Frankly it was getting a little crowded."
She was happy to hear about something work related to take her mind off of everything. "Little Mikey?" she laughed. "Please don't tell me you call him that to his face."
"You already know I do. He hates it but don't have the balls to say nothing."
Olivia took another deep breath through another smaller contraction. "Tell..me something else about work…just anything."
Fin hesitated for a minute checking to make sure she didn't need anything before he continued. "Well let's see. Something's up with Nick and Amanda, you know other than the usual. I think Nick mentioned something about going to California again for another visit and how much he likes it there and she's a little nervous that he's going to move there."
Olivia's scrunched her face in confusion. "Nick move to California? That's stupid. He wouldn't leave would he?"
"No I don't think so but you know how you women get when you are all attached to guy. Start overthinking everything," he replied making her smile. "Let's see Carisi and Little Mikey are becoming bosom buddies. Hanging out after work and all."
She rolled her eyes and smiled, "Oh god."
"Exactly. They have a lot in common I guess and I'm stilling trying to figure out if that's a good thing or bad thing," they both laughed.
"Are you guys missing me yet?" she asked with a slight smile silently hoping they did.
"You know the place isn't the same without you baby girl. We miss you but you will be back in no time. Just get this little one here safe and sound," he said touching her stomach just as another contraction came on.
"Damn it!" She gripped his hand and buried her face in the pillow on the verge of tears again as her stomach tightened. The contractions were getting more intense and she knew with each one that brought her closer to the birth.
"I'm going to fucking kill him when he gets here," she seethed when the contraction was over to Fin's enjoyment.
"What…. are you… grinning at?" she choked out between breaths.
"I have to admit Liv. I didn't take you for one of the typical women who curse the father during childbirth. What's next? You're going to say it's all his fault that you are going through this?"
She couldn't help but laugh a little. "No, I won't go there. I guess this one is on me."
He held up his hand to stop her. "I don't need the details."
She asked Fin to take the Semper Fi medal out of her bag and put it on a table in the room. She read the week before that it was a good idea to have something to focus on during contractions and she couldn't think of anything more perfect.
He stayed by her side for the next half hour while she continued to have contractions talking to her and holding her hand.
"Fin?" she asked in a soft voice.
"Thank you for being here."
"I wouldn't be anywhere else."
He left the room while the doctor checked her again.
"Ok Olivia looks like you are making good progress. You are almost five centimeters. If you want to get an epidural now is definitely the time," Dr. Wilder explained.
She was drained, in pain and didn't feel like thinking about anything. She put her hands over her face in frustration as the tears rolled down her face landing on her pillow.
"She's ready for the epidural."
She gasped at the familiar sound. Her tears abruptly stopped as she focused on the figure standing in the door. It was Elliot.
"Oh my god," she cried reaching for him and he was by her side in an instant. "You made it. I thought you were going to miss it."
He grabbed her face, placing kisses all over, dropping his forehead to hers.
"I'm so sorry I didn't get here sooner. There's no way I'm going to miss this," he cried pushing her hair out of her face and kissing her on the lips.
She buried her face in his shirt, drowning herself in his scent and the feel of him against her. "How in the hell did you get here so fast?"
"I wasn't going to let anything stop me from being here," he answered his voice thick with emotion.
Lizzie entered the room, tearing up at the exchange between the two. "I told you I would get him here Liv. You can relax now."
Elliot attempted to give Olivia a scolding look, "Don't tell me you haven't been a good patient."
"She's been just fine. Just missing you that's all and now that you are here we can get this show on the road. I'm going to get the anesthesiologist so we can get her epidural and get this little girl here," Dr. Wilder asserted leaving the room.
No one was allowed in the room while Olivia was given the epidural so Elliot spent his time catching up with everyone in the waiting room. Casey, Alex, Don, Munch and most of the kids showed up to lend their support and wait for Charlotte to make her arrival. Lucy stayed with Eli and Noah at home. Once the doctor gave them the word they all filed back into Olivia's room. Elliot was concerned that it was a little too much for her while she was in labor, but Olivia insisted on keeping everyone there. She had already spent so much of her life alone, she appreciated having such a large support system around.
"So how long does this whole process take?" Dickie complained looking at his watch. They had been at the hospital for a little over an hour.
"The miracle of childbirth takes time," Maureen added rubbing her own bump while lying back on the sofa in the room.
Lizzie slapped his arm. "Yeah quit being so impatient Dickwad. You're not going to die if you spend a few moments away from Lucy plus the rate you two are going it may not be long before she's here having a child of her own," she teased laughing at her own joke.
"The hell she is," Elliot retorted and everyone started to laugh except Dickie who slapped Lizzie back for instigating.
"Aww come on Stabler, we all know you are a fan of procreation. The amount of people in this room should prove that," Casey joked and Elliot rolled his eyes at her.
He turned his attention back to Olivia who was starting to have another contraction and held her hand through it. They were less intense since she had the epidural but still caused her some pain.
"Just breathe baby. It's almost over," he consoled her while looking at the machine monitoring her contractions and she focused on the medal.
"So I guess that came in handy hunh?" he asked with a smirk touching the medal he sent to her years ago.
She grinned back. "Yes it did in more ways than you know." She leaned up and took his bottom lip in hers giving him a tender kiss. Despite the laughter and talking in the room, they felt like the only two people there. She closed her eyes and rubbed her hands across the stubble on his chin.
"Have I told you how happy I am that you made it?" she whispered.
"Only a few times," he smiled and kissed her again. "I can't wait to hold her Liv. You are doing great."
"And there they go again," Dickie teased from across the room. "They keep this up and we will be right back here in another 9 months welcoming another sibling."
"That's actually 10 months and that's only because she has to wait 4-6 weeks," Alex added and everyone laughed again.
"The hell we are!" Olivia quipped mocking Elliot's words from before.
One of the machines started beeping and everyone stopped talking to see what was happening. Dr. Wilder and her nurse came into the room to check the monitor.
Elliot got nervous when he saw the look on her face. "What's going on?"
"It looks like there's an issue with the baby's heart rate. Olivia I need you to roll over on your back for me I want to make sure this is on firmly," she asserted helping her on her back.
She quickly obliged and everyone watched the monitor closely waiting for it to stop beeping.
"What happening?" Olivia asked starting to get worried. "It's on right so is her heart rate still down?"
Dr. Wilder gave her an impassive look. "It looks like it is, let me take a look. I'm going to need everyone to step out of the room please."
"Dad is the baby ok?" Lizzie panicked.
At the sound of her voice, Elliot went over to her as everyone walked out. "Honey everything is going to be fine."
Dickie's face suddenly grew serious and he saw Maureen's worried look as well. "Dick take care of your sisters. I'm going to let you guys know the second I know something ok?"
Fin gave him a reassuring nod as they all headed back to the waiting room.
Olivia writhed in pain as Dr. Wilder checked her and she went through another contraction.
"Doc give it to us straight what's going on?" Elliot asked holding Olivia's hand.
"The baby's heart rate dropped. She's not handling the contractions well. She could turn it around but Olivia just had another contraction and she isn't handling as well I would like."
Olivia started to cry quietly. "What do you suggest we do?"
"We could wait it out for a few more minutes and see if she bounces back or…we could do a C-section and get her out as soon as possible. It's your choice."
"Get her out," Olivia said with no hesitation.
"Liv—" Elliot tried to interject but she squeezed his hand in response.
"I'm not taking any chances. I want her out and safe. I don't want to wait," she explained to him before turning to the doctor. "Prep me for the C-section."
The doctor gave them both a small nod before heading out with the nurse to get everything prepared. Elliot knew why she wasn't taking any chances and a part of him felt guilty. He knew she didn't want to have surgery and wanted to deliver vaginally but she wasn't taking the risk because she was going to do everything in her power to make sure he didn't lose another child. He wanted to ask her again if she was sure but decided against it.
"Everything is going to be fine Liv," he reassured her rubbing her hair. "We are going to be holding our baby soon."
"What if they don't get her out—"
He silenced her with a kiss. "They are going to get her out."
Dr. Wilder entered the room with a few more nurses. "Ok Elliot you go with the nurse and get changed. Olivia we are going to take you to the Operating Room."
Elliot went to the waiting room for a minute to update everyone and let them know Olivia was having a C-section. Everyone relocated to the other waiting room close to the OR. Within minutes, he was in scrubs back at Olivia's side sitting next to her. He stroked her cheek while her bottom lip kept quivering.
"Ok Olivia we are about to start," the doctor asserted from behind her mask.
"Talk to me about something," she insisted to Elliot trying to calm her nerves.
He thought for a bit before coming up with the perfect thing to talk about. "So did I tell you that I was about to piss my pants when I saw you at that crime scene with Lizzie for the first time?"
She smiled briefly before cringing at the pressure she started to feel. "No…but I could kind of tell…".
He peeked around the curtain for a second before continuing. "Everything looks fine Liv," he guaranteed her. "So how could you tell?"
"You could barely get a word out. You sounded like rain man," she answered and they both chuckled softly. "So what were you thinking when you first saw me?"
"That you definitely filled out in all the right places," he winked at her.
"You are such an ass, if I could move I would hit you right…ahhh," she gasped.
"Lots of pressure Olivia," the doctor told her.
Olivia took deep breaths as the doctors started to tug at her.
"Keep…talking," she choked out.
"I also thought about how at that moment I was going to do everything in my power to make sure that you forgave me because I was never going to be out of your life again," he said getting emotional. "I love you Olivia."
"And here she..comes," the nurse announced with the blanket held out. Elliot stood up to see over the curtain and before Olivia could ask if everything was ok she heard it. She heard her daughter cry.
"It's a girl. Delivery time 7:49 pm. Here's a peek mom."
Olivia started sobbing gazing up at her child. She then looked over to Elliot whose eyes were fixated on the baby. "She's so beautiful Liv,"
"Is she ok?" she asked the nurse.
"She is perfect we are going to take her right over here and get her cleaned up and checked out. Dad do you want to come cut the umbilical cord?"
"Go. Go with her," she insisted.
While the nurses tended to the baby with Elliot next to the incubator she laid still on the operating table as the doctors worked to close her up. She shut her eyes and thanked God, the first time she can remember doing that in her life. While her faith in God or any kind of higher power had always been shaky because of the things she witnessed on a daily basis, she knew that having her daughter was a miracle.
Her daughter with Elliot.
She still couldn't quite believe it as she continued to listen to her cry in the background.
She heard the nurse calling out the stats. "She is 6 pounds 7 ounces, and 20 inches long. Lots of hair here Mom and some good lungs. Does she have a name?"
"Charlotte," she heard Elliot say softly.
"That's a beautiful name. Welcome to the world Charlotte. Here's your daddy," the nurse said holding the swaddled baby out to Elliot
He furiously wiped at his tears before taking his daughter in his arms. He rocked her slowly while she continued to whimper softly starting to settle down.
"Hi sweetheart. I'm your daddy," he whispered, a stray tear sliding down his cheek. "Let's go and meet your mommy."
Olivia sniffled seeing Elliot holding the baby and bringing her over.
He gently held the baby to her chest and she leaned over and kissed her daughter on the forehead.
"Oh my gosh, look at all this hair," she exclaimed laughing and crying at the same time.
"Clearly she doesn't get that from me," he kidded. "She's perfect. Thank you," he said and kissed her again on the lips.
Charlotte finally quieted down with both her parents close and slowly opened her eyes. That's when Olivia saw them. Those patented blue eyes that for years saw into her soul and read every emotion she was feeling without saying were now staring back at her. She had her father's eyes.
"I want to hold her too. Dad Dickie is hogging the baby," Eli whined. Dickie held Charlotte with Lucy and Lizzie close by fawning over her. It had been a couple of hours since Olivia was moved into a room, a pretty large one thankfully considering how many people were there to see them.
"Ok ok, everyone will get a turn," Elliot insisted standing behind Eli and putting his hand on his shoulder to soothe him. "You guys do know she is ours, she's not rented and she's not going anywhere. You have all the time in the world with her ok squirt?"
"Ok dad but he needs to hurry up," he huffed. Elliot stood close by while Charlotte was held by each of her siblings.
Meanwhile, Don pulled up a stool next to Olivia who was drinking water.
"I can't believe you are still here," she said yawning and he tucked her blanket close to her.
"I'm headed out. I wasn't going to leave until I had a chance to see my granddaughter," he began putting his hand over hers. "So..my little Olivia had a baby. Elliot's baby. Wow," he shook his head in disbelief with a tight smile and she chuckled back. "She's absolutely gorgeous but I wouldn't expect anything different."
"Yes she is and thank you for…just everything." He gave her a hug and gave Elliot a quick pat on the back before leaving.
The door opened again and Munch, Casey, Alex and Fin entered. Munch went over to see the baby who was starting to cry in Maureen's arms while Fin and the ladies went to check on Olivia.
"How you feeling baby girl?" Fin asked giving her a kiss on the cheek.
"Ask me in a few hours when the painkillers wear off," she joked. "Did you guys get a chance to see her?"
Casey gave her a hug as well. "Yeah we saw her when she was in the nursery. Elliot pointed her out. He stood there while they did all of the tests."
"Oh yeah he hasn't left her side for a minute," Alex added.
Olivia smiled glancing over to the other side of the room where Elliot was putting Charlotte in Munch's arms.
"We are going to get out of here and let you guys get some rest," Casey proposed motioning to Alex and Fin.
"If you need anything," Fin offered.
"I know, thank you and thank you again for earlier," she said holding his hand a bit longer. He winked at her and said goodbye to the children before leaving.
"Ok Benson, I'm not going to cry," Alex said but quickly lost the battle. "My niece is beautiful and you did great. I can't wait to spoil her but for now I'm going to let you get some sleep. Congrats mama." She kissed her on the forehead.
"Ill see you guys tomorrow?"
"Try to stop us," she winked and Casey spoke up. "Melinda got stuck on that bad accident downtown and she couldn't get away. She said she is going to be here first thing in the morning though. No matter what, accidents be damned."
Olivia laughed sleepily, "Ok."
Munch held the baby a little longer and then left shortly after offering his babysitting services to Olivia and Elliot when Charlotte learned to walk and talk. Lizzie came over to check on Olivia while holding a cranky Noah and everyone else was still holding the baby.
"Are you ok Liv? Are you hungry? I can go and get you something from downstairs."
She snuggled closer under the covers and had Lizzie carefully position Noah next to her. He was tired and annoyed that he couldn't lay on his mom like he wanted to because she was still sore from the surgery.
"I'm fine. Come here. Come sit."
Lizzie smiled and sat on the edge of the bed next to her. "So tell me. What do you think of your little sister?"
"She's lovely and so small," she marveled. "She obviously gets all that hair from you and she has eyes like all of us. She's definitely more calm out here than she was in your belly," she laughed. "She hasn't cried much or anything."
Olivia took her hand and held it while they watched Elliot take the baby back from Lucy's arm. "Thank you for getting your dad here on time. I know it was you that called the case agent."
Lizzie hesitated for a brief moment and then leaned down to give her a hug. "It was no problem. Look at him he's so happy. Thank you."
She eyed her dad again and saw his face lighting up holding her baby sister. "He has barely put her down since she's been born."
Olivia watched him in admiration. "No he hasn't."
The door opened and everyone was shocked to see Kathy walk in.
"Mom, you're here," Lizzie said surprised.
Kathy walked in timidly with balloons that said, "It's a girl" tied to a plant.
"I'm sorry to interrupt..I just..I just thought-"
"Would you like to hold Charlotte?" Olivia offered to Elliot's obvious astonishment.
Kathy held up her hand to protest, "Oh I shouldn't I just wanted to drop this off and I was going to take Eli home."
"Mom you should hold her. She smells good," Eli added beginning to yawn.
Elliot shook himself out of it, "Yeah Kath, here she is."
She sat the plant down and held her arms out nervously taking the baby into her arms rocking her a little as she started to stir. She walked the few steps over to Olivia and stood on one side of the bed and Elliot on the other. "Wow, she's absolutely perfect. She looks a lot like you Olivia."
"But she has the patented Stabler blue eyes," Maureen inserted waddling over and standing next to her mom.
"They told me about the middle name being Kathleen. I'm speechless. Thank you for doing that, Kathy said while continuing to gently rock Charlotte.
"You're welcome but it was my pleasure. It was the perfect middle name," Olivia assured her.
"Charlotte Kathleen Stabler. That's a big name for such a little girl," Kathy commented handing her to Olivia when she started to whimper. "Thanks for letting me holding her."
"Well I was one of the first to hold Eli when he was born so I figured you should be one of the first to hold her," she said reaching out to take Kathy's hand. "And thank you for getting us to the hospital."
"Anytime." Kathy gave her a polite smile and rounded up Eli who put up a fuss wanting to stay. She assured him that he would see the baby when she came home in a couple of days and he eventually gave in leaving with Kathy.
Elliot picked up Noah who was starting to get antsy in the bed next to Olivia. "What do you think of your sister champ?" he asked holding him close to the baby.
"Baby," he said again.
"Yes, the baby is no longer in Mommy's tummy," she explained. "Do you want to give her a kiss?
He nodded his head shyly and bent down and gave her a kiss on the forehead.
Charlotte started to cry and they could tell she was hungry.
"Ok guys it is pretty late and Olivia is going to feed the baby. It's time to call it a night and Noah is almost down for the count," Elliot announced. He helped Noah lean over to give Olivia a kiss and say goodbye before handing him over to Lucy. The kids begrudgingly obliged, gathering their belongings and saying goodbye to their sister.
They each gave Olivia a kiss on the cheek and left the room. "Bye Liv, call me if you need anything," Lizzie said before leaving the room last.
"I will. Thanks sweetie."
The nurse came in again quickly right after the kids left to check on them and take some vitals. The room was finally quiet and Olivia positioned herself accordingly to start breastfeeding the baby. Elliot helped her get comfortable and put a pillow under her arm to help her get the right leverage. It took a few minutes but Charlotte finally latched on and began to nurse.
"Does it hurt?" Elliot asked observing them both closely.
"A little," Olivia winced, "but it's just amazing. I can't believe she's here. I mean I feel like I was pregnant forever but..I can't believe she's here." She was overwhelmed with emotion watching her daughter nurse and basking in the tranquility she felt. The day felt like a whirlwind and as the clock neared midnight she thought about how much had happened in just one day and how they conceived one child while celebrating another
Elliot rubbed his hands down his face, obviously exhausted but his eyes never left the baby.
"What are you thinking about?" she asked him relaxing against her pillow.
"Actually I was thinking about Ken Turner."
"Ken Turner?" Olivia asked confused. "What in the world made you think of him?
He scooted in a little closer to her leaning over her legs to stroke Charlotte's brown hair while she continued to nurse.
"I don't think I ever told you this but when I was interrogating him he told me that he knew I wanted to bang you, watch you grow swollen with my child and that you would give me beautiful babies," he smirked. "I guess he was right."
She smirked back at him. "I guess he was."
Charlotte continued to nurse and they watched her in blissful silence, each consumed with the sight of her and taking in every moment. When she was finished, they both helped to change her and passed each other small smiles at their teamwork. Elliot got her bag and Olivia took out another nightgown, cap and a blanket. After she changed her into the new clothes, Elliot put Charlotte in his lap. Her little body rested against his knees while Olivia rested her head on his shoulders.
They couldn't help themselves playing with her fingers and toes, taking inventory of every little part of her and commenting on what looked her and what looked like him. She had Olivia's hair, lips and long fingers and toes. Her eyes and skin were like Elliot's and her unmistakable pout when she cried was very much Stabler. It was the same pout he had seen on all his kids and the memory overjoyed him.
"So you've had some time with her. What do you think?" she asked him.
"Ehh, I think we will keep her," he joked. She laughed softly and kissed his shoulder. "I think I have always worried about every single child of mine every second of every day, but if this little girl is half the woman her mommy is, I know she's going to be just fine."
He kissed her on the forehead and then on the lips before groaning.
"Mmmm, Six weeks. Six weeks," he repeated to her delight.
"Yes six weeks, no funny business," she clarified smiling but took his mouth against hers again. "I know it's going to be hard."
"Literally," he joked and she laughed but winced a little from the pain.
She started to yawn and was struggling to keep her eyes open.
"Liv, get some sleep. You've had quite a day," Elliot said picking up Charlotte and putting her over his shoulder.
"You're right, I'm exhausted I just want to take in every second with her," she admitted.
"Do you need any more pain meds, water or anything?"
"No, the nurse gave me a dose last time she was in here, I'm fine. I'm going to go ahead and go to sleep," she yawned again closing her eyes. "Will you lay with me?"
"Sure, let me put her in the bassinet."
He carefully pulled the hospital bassinet closer to the bed and grabbed the blanket from the bed wrapping it around Charlotte. He toed off his shoes and cuddled next to Olivia careful not to hurt her, still keeping his eye on the baby. It took him a moment to notice the writing on the blanket. It was the same one that Kathy had given Olivia at the wedding with "Kathleen" stitched in the front.
Olivia slept peacefully wrapped in him while Charlotte slept peacefully wrapped in a piece of her sister's memory. And for the second time since finding out about Olivia's pregnancy, Elliot looked up to the heavens and thanked Kathleen for watching out for the life of his wife and daughter.