"Are you serious?" Hawkeye asked, his eyes wide with surprise. At Margaret's confirming nod he added. "How far apart are your contractions?"
"About five minutes." She replied wearily as her body finally began to relax.
"Five minutes!" He exclaimed in alarm. "When did they start?"
"I was awaken from my nape by the first one." She admitted a little sheepishly.
"That was about six hours ago!" Hawkeye exclaimed in surprise. "You've been in labor for six hours and you didn't say anything?"
"I didn't want to worry you." She told him seriously. "Besides I was hoping it was just a false alarm. But the contractions are definitely getting stronger and more intense."
"Let's get you to the hospital." Hawkeye commented as he rose and helped his wife to her feet. "Beth, Becky get your things. We have to take Mommy to the hospital."
"Is it time for Mommy to get the new baby?" Becky asked excitedly.
"That's right, Peanut." Her father nodded as he guided his wife out of the room. Looking back over his shoulder to their host he asked. "Where's the closest hospital, Radar?"
"You turn left at the end of the lane." Radar instructed. "At the second intersection you turn left and follow the road into town. The hospital is on the edge of town on your left, just after the big new funeral home."
"How convenient." Trapper remarked sarcastically. "In one door and out the other."
Hawkeye was too busy worrying about Margaret to hear the joke. "Are you ready Margaret?"
Margaret merely nodded and moved towards the front door. Suddenly she let out an incredible gasp of surprise and grabbed her husband's arm.
"What's wrong?" Hawkeye demanded immediately, his tone full of alarm.
"My water just broke." Margaret replied, looking at her husband anxiously.
"You'll never make it to the hospital in time, Hawk." BJ remarked, his eyes full of concern. "Things are progressing too fast."
"Okay, Margaret, lets get you upstairs." Hawkeye turned her around and helped her upstairs. When they reached the spare bedroom another contraction gripped Margaret. Grasping her husband's arm in pain she moaned audibly. "Take a deep breath." Hawkeye urged her. "Don't hold it in. Breathe."
"Don't tell me to breathe!" Margaret snapped, her tone sharp from pain. "Just get this baby out of me!"
"Right!" Hawkeye nodded quickly and then turned to the small crowd at the door and instructed. "Peg, can you go and get a basin of hot water?"
"Right away!" She exclaimed and quickly left the room.
"Patty, I need some clean sheets and towels." He continued to request.
"Back in a minute." Patty said as she ducked out the door.
"Radar, go and get my medical bag." Hawkeye instructed his friend anxiously. "It's in the trunk of the black rental car outside." Fishing into his pocket he tossed the younger man the keys.
"On my way!" Radar exclaimed as he ran downstairs.
Turning back to his wife he asked. "How are you doing?"
"Okay." Margaret replied, her breathing labored as she tried to relax from the last contraction.
Looking at the small group still hovering around the bedroom doorway BJ remarked. "Colonel, why don't you direct these people to the waiting room." He grabbed the bedspread and blanket off the bed as he added. "There's a lovely assortment of old magazines to read." Gently he helped Hawkeye ease Margaret onto the bed.
"Come on, everyone let's go." Potter said as he herded the group out of the room and downstairs. "Let's let these folks do their jobs."
"Anything you want me to do, son?" Daniel asked anxiously as he looked at his son and daughter-in-law.
"Yeah, keep an eye on the girls for us, Dad." Hawkeye replied. "We're kind of busy at the moment."
Daniel smiled and nodded. "Don't worry about a thing. They're in good hands." Moving to Margaret's side he quickly planted a kiss on the top of her head. "You'll be just fine, Margaret." He assured her. "You have one of the best doctors at your disposal."
"I know." She smiled at her husband proudly.
"He ought to be since I taught him everything I know." Daniel quipped lightly, shooting his son a teasing look. Hawkeye gave his father a playful punch in the arm. Turning back to Margaret Daniel touched her face lightly and said. "I love you, angel."
"I love you too, Dad." She returned then pressed her lips against his hand.
"I'll be downstairs if you need me." He assured her as he left the room. Margaret smiled softly at him before he went.
"How are you doing?" Hawkeye asked after his father had left.
"I'm okay." She assured him, her voice strained from pain.
"Another contraction?" He asked with concern. Unable to speak she merely nodded her head. Reaching over to smooth the hair off her forehead he comforted. "Don't worry, honey, this will be over very soon."
Before Margaret was able to reply, Patty rushed into the room, her arms full of linens. Setting them down on the dresser she quickly grabbed the top item and handed it to Hawkeye. "This is one of my old maternity nightgowns if Margaret would like to change." She hastily explained before heading for the door. "I'll go see what's holding up the others." Before Hawkeye could respond she was gone.
"I'll go find Radar and your medical bag while you help Margaret change." BJ commented as he moved towards the door. "I'll be back in a minute."
"Thanks BJ." Margaret gave him a grateful smile.
"No problem." Her friend smiled back and then closed the door behind him.
"Okay, let's get you changed and then we'll see how things are coming along." Hawkeye remarked to his wife as he carefully helped her change out of her clothes and into Patty's nightgown.
Just as they finished there was a knock at the door.
"Come in." Hawkeye invited as he helped Margaret lay back against the pillows again.
"How's it going, son?" Potter asked as he entered the room followed by all the other doctors.
"Fine Colonel." Hawkeye quickly replied. "One or two more contractions and I think Margaret should be ready to push."
"Good!" Sherman exclaimed enthusiastically. "That means we won't have to wait very long to meet the newest edition to the 4077th family."
"I told you that you were going to be the life of the party, Margaret." BJ told his friend teasingly.
Margaret's only response was a loud groan which caused Hawk to rush to her side. He held her hand during the contraction, brushing her damp hair off her forehead.
"It's okay, Margaret." He said soothingly, his tone reassuring. "This will all be over very soon."
"Can I push yet?" She asked breathlessly as the contraction passed.
Hawkeye moved to check her progress and then nodded. "I think so." He looked at her and asked. "Are you ready to meet our new baby?"
Margaret nodded her head as she took a deep breath, getting herself ready for the work ahead.
"Where's the hot water?" Hawkeye suddenly asked anxiously as he looked at the dresser where the linens were sitting. "I need to wash my hands."
"Hawk, the bathroom is right next door." BJ reminded his anxious friend.
"Oh, yeah." Hawkeye replied and pushed his way through the group standing in the doorway of the bedroom.
Upon reaching the bathroom he quickly scrubbed his hands, preparing physically and mentally to deliver his new baby into the world. Even though he had delivered numerous babies in the past, he had never before delivered one of his own children. Both Becky and Beth had been delivered by Margaret's obstetrician while he paced nervously in the waiting room. The very thought of delivering this baby was causing his stomach to flop nervously and his hands to shake.
BJ, who had followed his friend into the bathroom, noted the other man's anxiety and volunteered. "Hawk, why don't you let Trapper and I take care of the delivery."
"Nonsense." Hawkeye stubbornly dismissed. "I'm a doctor. I've delivered hundreds of babies over the years..."
"But never your own." BJ pointed out. Hawkeye's eyes met those of his friend's. The look in them betrayed his fear. Clasping his bestfriend on the shoulder BJ added in a reassuring tone. "Everything will be just fine. Trapper and I have also delivered hundreds of babies in our time. Why don't you go and help Margaret. She's going to need your encouragement and support. This won't be an easy delivery without any painkillers."
Hawkeye hesitated for a moment before nodding his consent. Trapper and BJ both smiled at their friend and then started to scrub. Leaving them in the bathroom Hawkeye returned to the spare room and Margaret.
When he entered he saw Potter sitting beside her, holding her hand and speaking softly to her as she went through another contraction. When the pain subsided Margaret flopped back against the pillows, her expression weary from pain. Noticing Hawkeye standing in the doorway, Potter leaned forward and kissed Margaret affectionately on the forehead and then moved so that Hawkeye could sit beside her.
Running a tender hand over her hair he asked gently. "How are you now?"
"I'm ready to get this beach ball out of me!" She exclaimed anxiously.
Hawkeye smiled softly. "Well, we'll just see what we can do about that." He told her as his buddies reentered the room. Nodding towards them he said. "Beej and Trapper are going to look after the delivery."
"What are you going to do?" Margaret asked in a panicky tone as she squeezed his hand tightly.
"Don't worry, sweetheart." He assured her as he leaned forward to brush a kiss on her damp forehead. "I'm not going anywhere."