“No Place I’d Rather Be”
Two Weeks Later
Precinct - Late Thursday Morning
Amanda had just gotten back to the squad room after responding to a call when she felt her cell vibrate in her coat.
She removed her phone from the coat and then took it off and hung it up. She then plopped down at her desk and read the text message from Sonny.
Gina had to move her appointment from next week to today at 3p. I’m able to cut out of work early. Will Liv let you?
Amanda sighed as she set her cell down on her desk. Her and Sonny didn’t usually go to most of his sister’s doctor’s appointments. This was mainly in an effort to give Gina some space but because of the duo’s work schedules and the fact she lived close to an hour away on Long Island, it also wasn’t feasible to try and go to them all. However, this was an ultrasound and the one where they’d be finding out the sex. Amanda knew the baby was likely a boy, but finding out for sure and being able to see him or her in real-time on the monitor was something she had really been looking forward to.
But Fin and Velasco were up in Dannemora speaking with an inmate and Liv had a mandatory training scheduled all afternoon. Though Liv normally would let her leave for something like this, even if it was last minute, Amanda knew today was the one day she wouldn’t be able to because there would be no senior staff available to manage the squad room.
Amanda picked up her phone and texted back:
She can’t. I’m the only one that’s gonna be around this afternoon so I need to watch over the squad room and respond to calls.
Amanda waited for his response, which came quickly. He sent her a sad face emoji and then added:
I’ll make sure to take a video and get lots of photos. I’ll also have the tech write down the sex and put it in an envelope. You and I can find out together later tonight.
Amanda responded OK and then put her phone away. She appreciated that Sonny was doing his best to try and make up for the fact that she couldn’t be there, but it still sucked that she had to miss it.
She sighed as she turned her computer on and tried to focus her attention on work.
Sonny and Amanda’s Apartment - Thursday Evening
As Amanda entered into the apartment later that evening she was quickly bombarded by the girls.
“Guess what mom?” Jesse said to her excitedly. “We got to see the baby!”
Amanda’s eyes widened a bit in surprise and she quickly looked over at Sonny, who had hustled into the entryway after them.
“Sienna had an emergency and wasn’t gonna be able to watch the girls.” He whispered to her. “So I had to pick them up from school a little early and bring them with me.”
He then directed his attention toward Jesse and Billie and fixed his lips to tell them something but before he could Billie blurted out, “I’m so happy I’m gonna have a baby sister!”
Amanda’s jaw dropped in shock while Sonny instantly cringed.
“You weren’t supposed to say anything.” Jesse admonished.
Tears started to build up in Billie’s eyes.
“Billie, don’t cry. It’s OK.” Sonny tried to reassure her. He then said to the both of them. “Why don’t you two go and play in your room for a while.”
Both girls nodded and then quickly scurried off together down the hall.
“The baby’s a girl?” Amanda asked as she tried her best to maintain her composure.
Sonny nodded his head slowly. “Yes. Jesse and Billie found out on accident. The tech slipped up during the ultrasound. Anyways, I was never gonna have the girls lie about knowing. I just wanted to be the one to tell you about it first.”
“So I’m guessing Gina knows too?”
“Yeah.” He said, though quickly added. “But she’s not going to tell anyone. Not even my ma.”
A visibly upset Amanda dropped her things right where she stood and then headed into the living room and sat down on the couch. Sonny followed her.
“It was the one thing I wanted.” She said to him somberly. “The one thing you and I could find out together and keep between ourselves. The one thing that made me feel like this was our baby and not your sister’s.”
Sonny frowned and sat down next to her. “Amanda, she IS our baby. I—“
“I know she is.” She said, cutting him off. “But I feel like I’m always on the outside looking in. And it isn’t because of anything someone did. I’m not upset with you, Gina, or anyone else. Except for maybe that ultrasound technician. I’m just frustrated with the situation.”
Sonny took her hands into his. “What can I do? How can I help you feel better about all of this?”
Amanda shook her head. “There isn’t anything anyone can do, Sonny. It’s just something I’m gonna have to learn to live with until the baby gets here.”
She sighed as she got up from off the couch and headed toward their bedroom while Sonny remained seated on the sofa, deep in thought.
Five Days Later
Precinct - Tuesday Morning
Sonny entered into the fairly quiet squad room and, after seeing that Liv nor any of the detectives were in there he headed towards his former sergeant’s desk and placed a stack of DD5’s on top of it.
On his way out he thought he heard voices coming from the break room so he poked his head in and saw Fin and Velasco sitting down eating breakfast.
“Hey,” Sonny said as he walked in. “Fin, I left those DD5’s on your desk.”
“Amanda out on a call?” Sonny asked.
Velasco shook his head no. “Her and the Captain went to talk with the Cooper girls.”
“Speaking of Amanda,” Fin asked as he took a bite of his bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. “Is she OK? She’s been a little…”
“Snappy.” Velasco finished.
“She’s been having a tough time with the surrogacy.” Sonny said to them. “But I’ve been workin’ on ways to make her feel better about it all. I’m actually glad Amanda’s not here because I wanted to talk to you both about one of them.”
Sonny took a seat at the table next to Fin and the three continued their conversation.
Two and a Half Weeks Later
Liv’s Apartment - Saturday Evening
“I’m glad Liv invited us over for dinner.” Amanda said as her and Sonny made their way up the stairs to the floor her apartment was on. “I love the girls but we definitely need some adult only time.”
“Agreed.” Sonny said as he put the bottle of wine he was holding into his left hand and knocked on Liv’s door with his right.
The couple stood waiting for a short while before Liv finally answered.
“Sorry, I was on the phone with Noah.” She told them as she motioned for the two to come in.
Amanda shook her head and fixed her mouth to tell her it was fine, when as she entered inside she noticed a small group of people all gathered together in her Captain’s living room.
Amanda’s eyes grew wide as she looked around and saw, in addition to Sonny and Liv, her mom, dad, Fin, Phoebe, Velasco, Khaldun, Sienna, Kat and her girlfriend Celine.
She looked back and forth between her husband and Liv. “What is all this?”
“I got everyone together,” Sonny began as he handed Liv the wine bottle. “So we could celebrate you. You and the baby.”
He took her hands into his. “I know you told me a while back you really didn’t want to do a shower since this would be your third go around and you don’t have to think of it as one. Even though it looks like everyone brought gifts when I said not to.”
Sonny playfully rolled his eyes and glanced at the group.
“I just wanted you to have a day.” He said, staring deeply into his wife’s eyes. “One that wasn’t about anything or anyone else except honoring you and our daughter.”
She smiled softly, then asked, “But where’s your family?”
“My family would like to do somethin’ for you in the future, but I wanted to keep tonight small and intimate.”
Amanda grew teary-eyed as she looked around at everyone and then at Sonny. “I can’t believe you did this for me.”
She leaned up, gave him a quick kiss on the lips and then hugged him.
“I love you.” Amanda whispered in his ear.
“I love you too.” He whisper back.
They stood hugging for a long while before eventually remembering where they were and finally pulled away from each other. Sonny then headed off to chat with Fin and Phoebe while Amanda briefly spoke to her parents and then went to talk to Kat.
Later that Night…
“That’s everything,” Sonny said as he set the last of the baby gifts down on the floor in the half completed nursery in their apartment.
“I wish everyone didn’t get us so much.” Amanda said as she arranged all of the presents into one corner of the room.
“But out of all the gifts we did get I think my favorite is Velasco’s.” She laughed as she picked up the expensive looking baby sound machine and night light he bought.
Sonny smiled softly. “So you had a good time?”
“I did.” She told him grinning. “It definitely wasn’t the most traditional shower…sprinkle or whatever you want to call it, especially with the games Kat came up with for everyone to play, but it was a a lot of fun and much more my speed.”
She took her hands into his. “Thank you for tonight.”
Sonny nodded, but then added. “It’s not quite over. I’ve got somethin’ else for you.”
She eyed him curiously as he pulled his cellphone out of his pocket and began rummaging through it
“Now I made these to give to Gina,” he began. “But they’re for you and the baby.”
He hit something on his phone and once he did Amanda’s voice came blaring out.
”Alice was growing very tired listening to her sister read. Just as her eyes began to close she saw a white rabbit run by, looking at his pocket watch and talking to himself.”
Sonny hit pause as he noticed Amanda’s mouth open wide in surprise.
“That’s me reading ‘Alice in Wonderland’ to the girls last week.” Amanda said as she processed what she just heard. “You…recorded me?”
“I did.” Sonny confirmed. “I also got you reading ‘I Am Not a Chair,’ ‘Room on the Broom,’ and the baby’s favorite, according to Gina, ‘Frozen,’ just like her big sisters.”
“You’ve been secretly recording me reading to the girls and sent them to your sister for her to play to the baby?” She asked as she put two and two together.
Sonny nodded. “I have. So she’ll become familiar with your voice. But not just stories. The little moments too. Our daughter is hearing firsthand what an amazing mother she has comin’ her way.”
He picked another audio file and hit play.
”Mommy!” Billie came running up to her in the kitchen, crying. “I hit my elbow!”
Amanda could tell she banged it pretty good, but that it wasn’t scraped up and she would be OK. Still, she did her best to ease Billie’s fears and make her feel better.
Amanda bent down to her eye level and gently held Billie’s elbow.
“I’m sorry you hurt your elbow.” She said as she rubbed it softly. “Do you think a kiss will help?”
Billie nodded and sniffled. “Yes.”
Amanda kissed her elbow. “And how about a hug? Will that help?”
Billie smiled. “Yes.”
She pulled her daughter in for a big hug and squeezed her tightly.
“Does it feel better?” Amanda asked as she wiped her little girl’s tears away with her thumbs.
“Better.” Billie confirmed.
“Good.” Amanda said, hugging her again. “Why don’t you go back and play with Jesse.”
Amanda smiled at her. “Alright. Love you.”
“Love you too mommy.” Billie then hurried off toward her bedroom.
“I cant believe you managed to record that and everything else without me noticing.” A shocked Amanda told him, blinking back some tears.
“It wasn’t easy.” Sonny admitted, chuckling a bit. “But I got better at it as time went by. Spent the last three weeks capturing these moments.”
“Really?” Amanda asked, wiping her eyes.
He nodded and placed his hands on her hips. “I know this whole journey hasn’t been easy on you. That you really wanted to be the one to carry our child and that you’ve been feeling very much left out of the entire process. While I can’t change the way things ended up happening and I know a shower and these recordings don’t make up for what you’re not physically experiencing, I wanted to do my best to make you feel more at ease with it. For you to know that you matter and to remind you that our baby wouldn’t exist without you.”
Sonny pulled her in closer to him. “You’re gonna be the one she goes to when she wants a bedtime story read. When she hurts herself and needs a hug and kiss to feel better. And for so much more. Our daughter may not be growing inside of you, but in just a couple of months you’re going to scoop her up into your arms and she’s never gonna want to leave them.”
“You think?” Amanda asked hopefully.
“I do.” He told her confidently.
“You always know how to make feel better.” She rested her head on his chest. “Thank you. Thank you for being you.”
He gave Amanda a smile and wrapped his arms around her tightly.
Sonny and Amanda’s Apartment - Saturday Afternoon
While Amanda and Sonny spent those next couple of months preparing for the baby they also focused on spending as much time as possible with the girls. Their last summer as a family of four was spent camping, feeding animals at the zoo, running around Lego Land, and boogie boarding at the Jersey Shore.
They also spent a lot of time with both of their extended families and it was during the summer that Gina went from being the sister-in-law Amanda knew the least to the one she loved and appreciated most. Once Amanda grew more comfortable with the idea of the surrogacy, she was able to let her guard down more around her and the two grew a lot closer.
But as summer began to wind down, reality started to set in that there was going to be a new baby in the home very soon and the couple was excited.
“Car seat is ready to go.” Sonny said to Amanda as he entered into the apartment and joined her in the living room. “I still can’t believe she’s gonna be here tomorrow.”
“Same.” Amanda said as she set the baby’s bag down by the door. “Have you talked to Gina today? How is she doing?”
“She’s a little nervous.” Sonny admitted.
Amanda sighed as she and Sonny made their way to the couch and sat down. “I hate that your sister needs a C-section.”
“Agreed. But the baby’s breeched and they couldn’t turn her. Gina’s OK with it. She knew there was a possibility it could happen.”
“The one silver lining about it is that it’s scheduled and we know exactly when the baby’s coming. We don’t have to worry about one of us being caught up with work and then havin’ to rush out to Long Island.
“That’s true.” Amanda said agreeing. “So you ready?” She asked him grinning.
Sonny nodded and ran a hand through his gray hair. “I think so. I hope so.”
Amanda rested her head on his shoulder. “You’re already a great dad to Jesse and Billie. You will be with the new baby too. You’ll be a pro at the swaddling and bottle making in no time.”
He smiled, wrapped his arm around her and pulled Amanda in closer to him.
North Shore University Hospital - Sunday Morning
Sonny knocked on the outside of his sister’s hospital room door.
Amanda and Sonny, with flowers in tow, slowly entered.
Gina sat up in her bed and smiled softly. “You didn’t have to give me flowers.”
“You’re giving us a baby.” Amanda reminded her, chucking. “Flowers are the least we could do.”
Sonny set the flowers down on the nightstand beside Gina’s bed. “How ya feeling?”
“Large and uncomfortable.” Gina told the couple honestly as she placed her hand on her stomach and said to the baby. “You’ve been a great little roomie these past nine months girlie, but today your gettin’ evicted.”
Amanda and Sonny both looked at each other and laughed.
“They’re gonna be preppin’ me for surgery soon.” She told them “Have you decided who’s goin’ to go in? I’m fine with whoever.”
Amanda fixed her lips to respond, but Sonny answered before she could.
“What?” Amanda asked, looking confused. “I thought we agreed it would be you. I’ve gone through labor. This is your one and only chance to be in the room when your baby is being born.”
“I know,” Sonny began. “But the more and more I thought about it, the more and more I realized that the first person to meet our daughter should be her mother.”
“You’re sure?” She asked, biting her lip.
“Very.” He said confidently.
Amanda gave him a small smile and nodded. “OK.”
A little while later Gina, accompanied by Amanda, was brought into the operating room.
“You OK?” Amanda asked her sister-in-law a short time after the procedure started.
Gina nodded. “Yeah. I don’t really feel anything.”
Things moved quickly and before the two of them knew it, the doctor pulled the baby out. After the umbilical cord was cut and the baby was checked over to make sure she was OK, a nurse went to hand her over to Gina.
“No I’m just the aunt.” Gina said and then motioned toward Amanda. “She’s mom.”
The nurse nodded and carefully handed the wailing infant to Amanda who, once settled in her mother’s arms, slowly stopped crying.
“Oh my God.” Amanda said quietly as tears began to stream down her cheeks.
The little baby opened up her blue eyes and looked up at her.
As she held her, the fears that had once flooded Amanda’s mind early on when first considering surrogacy, like if she would love and feel connected to this baby in the same way she did with her older girls, instantly dissipated. Her heart felt so full.
Amanda gently rocked her daughter. “You’re beautiful.” She whispered to her. “And I love you. So so much.”
She turned toward her sister-in-law. “You’ll never know how much this means to me. Thank you. Thank you for taking such good care of her.”
Gina smiled and nodded.
Once the surgeon finished stitching Gina up and she was brought into recovery, Amanda settled in with the baby in another room and as soon as he was allowed to Sonny went to see them.
A big huge smile spread across his face as he entered and saw his wife cradling the newborn in her arms.
“Come meet your daughter.” She told him.
Amanda got up from the chair she was sitting in and carefully handed the sleeping baby to Sonny.
“She’s perfect.” Sonny said as he looked down at her, beaming with pride.
Just then, the little baby slowly opened up her eyes and stared up at him.
“Welcome to the world, Ruby.” He said smiling down at her. “I’m your dad.”
Sonny adjusted Ruby’s little hat and kissed her forehead. “I know we’re just now meetin’ but it feels like I’ve loved you since forever and I always will.”
He quietly held her for a little while longer before eventually handing his little girl back to his wife.
Amanda gently caressed Ruby’s cheek as she stared down at her. “It’s been a long, and at times emotionally draining, road. Filled with a lot of hope and a lot of heartache. But I’m happy we didn’t give up and that we kept on going. Because we finally got to this moment. To Ruby. And I’m so thankful for her.”
Sonny, who’s eyes were fixated on the baby, slowly nodded. “So am I. For so long our family felt incomplete. But now that Ruby is here it finally feels whole.”
“That it does.” Amanda said as she kissed her cheek. “That it does.”
He leaned into Amanda, connected his lips to hers for a kiss and the two shifted their gazes back to Ruby.
Three Months Later
Sonny and Amanda’s Apartment - Thursday Night
Sonny, who was busy loading up the dishwasher, stopped what he was doing when he heard a knock on the door. Though it was starting to get late, he was expecting Liv and that’s exactly who stood on the other side of the door when he answered it.
“Hey Liv,” He said as he motioned for her to come in.
“Sorry to be stopping by this late.” She said apologizing.
Sonny shook his head. “No it’s fine. All three girls are still awake. Jesse and Billie don’t have school tomorrow.”
He headed toward the living room coffee table, grabbed the stack of files she came for and handed them to her.
“Thank you.” Liv said as she flipped through the papers. She fixed her lips to say something else but stopped when she saw Amanda emerge from down the hall with Ruby in her arms.
“Look at her.” Liv said as she sat the files back down and slowly approached Amanda. She smiled at the little brown haired baby girl, who was fast asleep.
“Do you wanna hold her?” Amanda asked
Liv nodded and carefully scooped Ruby up into her arms. “She’s looking more and more like you now Carisi.”
“She does.” Sonny concurred. “Except for the nose. That’s a Rollins nose.”
The two women quietly chucked, made their way over to the couch and sat down.
Amanda, who saw the stack of files and had taken note of her Captain’s attire, said to her, “I’m sorry my being out on maternity leave has left y’all so short staffed and having to work late nights.”
Liv vigorously shook her head. “We’re fine Amanda. I don’t want you rushing back. Take all the time you need.”
Amanda smiled and then Liv turned to look over at Sonny. “How’s your sister doing?”
“Gina’s good.” He told her as he leaned up against the sofa. “Recovery went well.”
“You can’t even tell she had a baby three months ago.” Amanda said laughing softly.
“Does she miss Ruby?” Liv asked. “I imagine it must’ve been hard giving her up after carrying her for 9 months.”
Sonny contemplated the question for a while before responding. “She does but she told us it wasn’t hard to hand her over when the time came. Gina said it didn’t feel like she was giving her up, but that she was giving her back to us.”
“That’s quite a sister you got there Carisi.”
Sonny nodded his head, agreeing. “That she is.”
Liv was about to say something else when Ruby started to stir and her blue eyes slowly fluttered open.
As she looked up and saw she was no longer in her mother’s arms she began to cry.
“Looks like Ruby’s done with me.” Liv said laughing as she handed the baby back to Amanda.
“Don’t feel bad Liv.” Sonny told her. “She still hollers like that sometimes when I hold her too. Ruby merely tolerates me, Sienna, and the girls. Where she is right now is the only place she ever wants to be.”
Amanda playfully rolled her eyes at him, but deep down she knew he wasn’t exactly wrong. As soon as Ruby had settled back into her arms she instantly stopped crying.
Just then, Jesse came out of her and Billie’s bedroom and into the living room. “Sonny, can you help us? Billie accidentally hit something on the iPad and now Moana is speaking in French.”
Sonny laughed and nodded. “OK, let me see what I can do.” He followed Jesse down the hall.
Amanda and Liv sat together silently for a bit before the blonde said to her, “You were right about it all.”
“About what?” She asked her curiously.
“When you said I would be the only mother she will ever want. It’s true. She never wants to be away from me for very long. And when you told me I would love her in the same way I do her sisters. I do. As soon as Ruby was placed in my arms, the love and connection between us was there and it grows stronger each and everyday.”
Liv smiled softly and gave Amanda’s free hand a gentle squeeze.
She then sat up. “I wish I could visit with you two longer, but I gotta get back to the precinct. But we’ll catch up again soon.”
Amanda started to get up, but Liv motioned for her to stay. “I’ll see myself out.”
The blonde nodded and watched as she grabbed the files and quickly made her way out of the apartment.
Amanda redirected her attention back to her daughter as she grinned down at the baby and gently squeezed her cheeks.
Ruby’s eyes instantly lit up and she smiled brightly at her.
Amanda sat with her for a little while longer before eventually heading toward the door, locking it and then making her way to Ruby’s nursery to get her settled in for the night.