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Alternate Life Support

Authors: Kayleen
Categories: Alan/Sandra
Show Year: Y2
Rating: PG-13
Date: 2005
How does a man on Moonbase Alpha get pregnant? Alan Carter makes an unusual request to try to save the lives of Sahn and their unborn child. Meanwhile, the moon encounters a lush, livable planet - but will it stay that way?
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"Here. Are you comfortable?" Alan Carter asked his expectant wife Sandra as he propped a plastic crate under her feet as she sat in Command Center. He handed her a glass of peach-papaya juice.

"I'm fine, Alan. You really don't need to be so doting." Sahn smiled as she brushed a few strands of her short, black hair from her forehead. She liked the little extra attention, but sometimes thought he was over doing it.

Only a few Alphans remained on base when they came into range of a lush, livable planet. Their surveillance showed majestic mountains, spectacular forests, and gushing waterfalls that reminded them of Yellowstone National Park in the United States on their Earth. But so far, their studies showed that the planet's solar system path made it spend cycles of several years in sub-zero temperatures with all life frozen and dormant. They desperately hoped that further studies would prove that these periods were something they could live with and the planet could be a permanent home. A name was drawn from several suggestions and it was decided that for their permanent records, it would be called Planet Aldrin

The complications with Sandra Benes Carter's nearly-five-month pregnancy made Helena give her orders to stay on Alpha, at least until she could be sure there was little risk to her and her unborn baby. When Sahn was pregnant with her and Alan's two-year-old daughter, Samantha, she had a premature labor and was given bed rest and medication until she could carry her to full-term. Samantha was now a healthy and happy toddler. This pregnancy was much more complicated. Two weeks before, Helena gave Sahn a circlage to strengthen her cervix. Though the baby's development and heartbeat were still strong, Sahn experienced some cramping and slight bleeding. Alan had made a couple of trips to fly the Alphans, equipment and supplies down to the planet, but chose to spend his time on the moonbase with his daughter, wife, and unborn child. Helena and the other doctors made rotations to the planet's surface, but saw to it that Alpha's Medical Center was staffed at all times. Sahn's volleyball-sized belly made her wear a uniform a few sizes larger, but she still had not graduated to maternity wear.

"Verdeschi to Moonbase Alpha." Tony summoned.

Alan turned on the big screen. "So that's your campsite, Cobber?" he said when he saw Tony in moonbase-issue, light blue swim trunks and Maya in a matching bikini at their campsite.

"Isn't this incredible?" Tony spoke into his commlock. "Just look at this waterfall. The water's not too hot and not too cold. We're finding all kinds of trees with edible fruits and nuts." Tony did have some concern about telling how beautiful the planet was, knowing that Sahn couldn't go down there herself yet. But Sahn insisted on hearing their reports and remained hopeful that she could go there soon herself. She enjoyed seeing the others so excited and was also happy that they could gather resources from the planet to take to Alpha for their benefit.

Sahn grimaced as she rubbed her stomach.

"Are you okay?" Alan asked.

Sahn replied, "I think so. Just a little cramp"

"Looks like it didn't take you long to start having fun." Alan said to Tony. "Did you even get the soil samples from your quadrant?"

"Look at this plant growth!" Tony answered Alan. "Do we really need soil samples?"

"You know the rules." Alan replied. "What DO you have so far?"

"Well, the water's perfect." said Tony. "Great for a skinny dip."

"Please let me know before you do that, so I can turn off the screen." Alan chuckled. "What's the matter?" Tony laughed. "Too much breath-taking beauty for you to take in? I'll get the camera set up so you can get a panoramic view when we get back to work."

"Alan!" Sahn alerted him, doubling over in pain and clutching her abdomen.

"What's wrong?" Alan asked. "Is it a contraction?"

"It really hurts, but it doesn't feel like a contraction." Sahn replied.

"What does it feel like?"

"I don't know... like a sharp, stabbing pain... But not like a contraction."

Alan pushed a button on the console, "Medical Center. We need a medical crew here right away. It's Sahn." He put a hand on her stomach to see if he could feel anything unusual and to try to offer some comfort.

"Ow! That really hurts!" Sahn cried out when Alan touched her.

The medical crew arrived in Command Center in minutes. Sahn was quickly rushed to Medical Center on a gurney. By the time she was transferred to an examining table in Medical Center, her uniform was blood stained. Sahn breathed heavily and moaned. Alan stayed at her side and held her hand.

"Bring the O.B. kit and ultrasound machine." Helena ordered a nurse as another removed Sahn's clothing, put a gown on her, and prepared her for examination. Helena recorded Sahn's vital signs, felt around on her abdomen, and put on a fetal heart monitor. "Okay, Sahn. You need to put your knees up and feet in the stirrups." She said as she snapped on a pair of rubber gloves.

"It's going to be okay, Sweetheart. It's going to be okay." Alan repeated as he held and rubbed Sahn's hand.

Helena examined Sahn under the sheet. Sahn cried and tried to see Helena's eyes.

"What have you found out so far?" Sahn asked.

Helena answered, "I did feel something unusual in your abdomen. You also have some bleeding from your cervix, but the circlage is still intact.. Your pulse and blood pressure are in normal range, but a little high - probably from the pain. The baby's heartbeat is still strong." Helena pulled off the gloves. Sahn and Alan could see that they had blood on them. "You can put your knees back down." said Helena as she covered her with the sheet. "An ultrasound will tell us a lot more." She folded down the sheet to expose Sahn's belly. She applied a lubricant and slid the probe along her skin, watching the image on the screen.

Alan and Sahn focused on the monitor. They could see the baby's heart beating and limbs moving.

"Oh my God. This isn't looking good." Helena muttered. The trio's eyes all widened and their faces turned white.

"What is it?" The couple gasped.

"Oh my God." Helena repeated her mumble and pointed to the screen. "See this? There's some kind of growth we haven't seen in previous sonograms. It probably started from behind the uterus, but the baby blocked it so we didn't see it."

"Could it be a fibroid? Or cancer?" Sahn asked.

"I certainly hope it isn't cancer, but it has obviously grown very rapidly." Helena answered. "I want to get blood tests, a biopsy, and an M.R.I."

A nurse drew Sahn's blood and took a biopsy sample. Then Sahn was wheeled to another room for an M.R.I.

The next few hours that Alan and Sahn waited in Medical Center for her test results felt like the longest hours of their lives.

Helena finally arrived from the lab to report the news. She hesitated outside the door, holding back tears and gaining her composure. She gave the door a quick knock to keep from startling Alan and Sahn before she walked in.

Alan sat next to Sahn's bed. They both noticed Helena's pale expression and her eyes focused towards the floor.

"Helena?" Sahn asked, waiting for her eye contact. "What is it?"

"I'm afraid it's bad news." Helena spoke low and slowly as Alan and Sahn both gasped. She took a moment to find the words. "You have uterine cancer. And it's very aggressive and growing very rapidly. It has spread to your ovaries and small intestine. We couldn't even see it in your previous examinations because it has grown so fast." Her voice cracked slightly as she fought her tears.

Alan clutched Sahn's hand in both of his. "So what can be done?" he asked. His eyes widened and he felt a pit in his stomach.

"We have to operate right away if you're to have any chance at surviving at all." Helena spoke to Sahn. "You need a complete hysterectomy. We have to take out your uterus, ovaries, and tubes and try to take any tumor off your intestines. Then you'll need to have chemotherapy and radiation treatments."

Sahn and Alan both breathed heavily and teared up.

"The baby?" Sahn strained to breathe out the words.

"I'm sorry." Helena answered. "We can't wait to operate. And at this early, there's nothing we can do for the baby to survive."

"How long would it need?" Alan asked.

"About three or four weeks." answered Helena. "But in three or four weeks, the cancer would spread to the point where neither one of them will make it. We need to prep for surgery and operate right away." Alan and Sahn both sobbed. Helena put her hands on theirs and said, "I'm so... sorry. I'd give anything to not have to make you go through this." Helena gently squeezed their hands. "I need to get the O.R. ready. The nurses will prep you for surgery and I'll be back to fill you in on the procedure." She began to leave.

"Sure...Thanks, Helena." said Alan. He held Sahn as they both cried.

Alone in the corridor, Helena leaned against the wall outside the door, buried her face in her hands and sobbed.

A few hours after learning the devastating news, Alan found Helena in the medical supply room. "Helena, did you consider every possibility to save the baby?"

"Alan, I told you everything there is to know. If Sahn is going to survive, we have to operate immediately. There's just no way it can survive this early."

"But if you have to take her uterus and ovaries, there won't be another chance for us to have another child, even by surrogate. Did you think about a fetal transfer? I remember hearing about those in biology classes in university." said Alan.

"I assisted in a few of those during my residency. The chance of success is almost nil. Besides, all the women not on the medical staff for the operation are down on the planet. And it takes weeks or even months to prepare another woman's womb to accommodate the pregnancy. A surrogate would have to be in the right timing of her menstrual cycle, she'd have to be treated with hormones and the uterus would have to be made pliable... There just isn't the time."

"What about a man?"

"A man?" Helena asked.

"Yes. A man. Me." Alan answered. "It's from another case I remember hearing about in university. They said it happened only a couple of times in known history. A woman had a hysterectomy with her ovaries still intact. An egg was fertilized and the placenta attached to her colon. She actually carried a healthy baby to term. Because of that case, it was surmised that a man could also carry a child."

"I remember hearing about that." Helena responded. "You certainly paid attention in your biology classes. There were reports of a few women who had a pregnancy after a hysterectomy. The fetus implanted on a kidney or other organ. They were very dangerous and had to be terminated. There was the one case in the early eighties when the placenta attached to the mother's colon and the baby made it."

"And you wouldn't have to prepare a uterus if there isn't one." said Alan. "You could transplant the fetus in my body and attach it to my colon."

"Do you realize what you would go through?" Helena asked. "You'll have to go through hormone treatments that would cause all kinds of changes in your body. It's a major surgery with the chance of success being very slim. You'll have a lot of back and abdominal pain. Your other organs will be effected."

"I want to try it. If it can buy the baby a few more weeks." Alan begged.

"It's going to be very difficult for you."

"Hey. If Sahn has to go through this, I should be willing to go through it, too. It'll be harder for me to lose the baby and possibly Sahn, knowing that I didn't do everything I could."

Helena paused, looking at the floor with her hands on her hips. "Okay." She sighed, "Okay, let's try it. "We don't have anymore to lose, anyway."

"Thanks, Helena." Alan hugged her. "Bless you."

"Go to Medical Center and get ready. The rest of the medical staff isn't going to believe this."

Alan headed to Medical Center and Helena went to her medical library. She found all the books, medical journals, and disks she could about fetal transfer and post-hysterectomy pregnancy.

In the Medical Center pharmacy, Helena gathered the medications including the hormones needed for the operation. Then she prepared a syringe with the pregnancy concentration of hormones estrogen and progesterone, unzipped her sleeve and injected her arm. "Thank God I'm type O." she thought out loud.

Alan and Sahn spent the next several hours without eating or drinking in preparation for the surgery. Alan's ample body hair was shaved off his abdomen. Helena met with Doctors Bob Matthias, Ben Vincent, Edmund Spencer, and the nurses and anesthesiologist to discuss and plan the procedures. By early morning, they were ready to operate.

Alan and Sahn were placed in the operating room as closely together as possible. Helena cut open Alan as Dr. Bob Matthias cut open Sahn. As Helena cut through Alan's skin, connective tissues, and muscles, she said, "I hope I don't get morning sickness in the middle of this with all the hormones worked into my system."

"I'm getting ready to go to the uterine fundus." Dr. Matthias said to Helena.

"Thanks, Bob." Helena replied. "Ben, you can draw some blood now." Dr. Vincent inserted a needle into Helena's neck, drew out half a pint of her bright-red blood, and set it up in an infuser. Dr. Matthias cut a small opening near the top of the uterus and exposed a small section of the umbilical cord. Dr. Vincent inserted a needle to transfuse Helena's enriched blood into it. Then Dr. Matthias cut the uterus from Sahn's body and handed it over to Helena. Doctors Matthias and Spencer took Sahn a few feet away to continue her operation. Helena placed the uterus in Alan's abdominal cavity. She carefully opened it further, then detached and removed the placenta. Then she began to work on attaching it to Alan's transverse colon. She used a binocular magnifier and ultra-fine pointed instruments to connect the tiny blood vessels. After a few hours, she finished the pain-staking procedure. When she was confident that Alan's blood was flowing into the umbilical cord, she removed the needle that was transfusing her blood to the fetus. Then Helena carefully cut the cancer-laden uterus out from around the fluid-filled sac surrounding the baby. She held her breath as she slid away the uterus, hoping the sac would hold without its support. She checked and repaired any leakage and used some of Alan's body fat to pad and support the fetus in place. For a moment, she stood in awe, looking at the tiny baby, sucking its thumb with its other hand reaching out. After several grueling hours, she was satisfied with the placenta's attachment and the placement of the baby and began closing the incision. Doctors Spencer and Matthias completed Sahn's surgery shortly before Helena and Dr. Vincent finished Alan's.

"Excellent work, Doctor." Dr. Vincent exclaimed.

"Thanks, Ben." Helena replied. "It's still far from over, though."

The nurses started wheeling Alan out of the O.R. and into the recovery room. Helena let out a deep breath and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left the building!"

Sahn's eyes slowly opened in the recovery room. Helena sat at her bedside, holding her hand. Sahn wanted to wipe the oily feeling from her eyes, but didn't have the strength. Knowing that the anesthesia probably made Sahn unaware of any time lapse, Helena said, "We're all finished with the surgery. Everything went well. We had to take out your uterus, tubes, and ovaries and scrape some off your intestines, but we think we got all the tumor."

"Alan? The baby?" Sahn managed to whisper.

"So far, they're doing as well as can be expected." Helena answered. "The baby's hanging on and really seems to want to make it. Alan and the baby are both stable with good vital signs. You can get some rest, and we'll let you know of any changes."

Half an hour later, Alan awoke. Helena was at his side.

"How's Sahn?" Alan's voice was hoarse.

"She's fine." Helena answered. "It was pretty tough, but both surgeries went well. We think we got all of Sahn's tumor and in a few weeks, we'll start looking at chemo and radiation."

"And the baby?" he asked.

"Congratulations! You're pregnant!" Helena replied. "It's something that hasn't been done before, so we'll be playing a lot by ear."

Alan vomited what little fluid he had in his stomach. Helena was prepared with an emisis basin.

"Your skin hasn't had a chance to stretch yet, so it will put some pressure on your internal organs. You'll have some nausea and bowel irregularity. The hormone treatments will cause breast swelling, irritability, bloating, your facial hair will grow slower or even stop for a while. Your voice might even change." Helena continued.

"It's a boy, isn't it?" Alan asked softly.

"Yes, it's a boy." Helena smiled and rubbed his hand. You can sleep off the sedatives, but we'll eventually have to get you moving. The extra hormones put you at a greater risk for blood clots." Helena stood up.

"But we'll all be okay, won't we?" said Alan.

Helena turned to him, paused, and smiled. "We're all doing our best. You'll be okay."

The news of Sahn's condition and of her and Alan's surgeries quickly spread among the Alphans down on the planet. Everyone was astounded at the idea of a fetal transfer and what Alan was willing to go through. They all hoped and prayed for the Carter family's well-being and sent back their get-well wishes. Some also made arrangements to return to Alpha to visit and give them some much-needed company and emotional support.

Tony and Maya used a laser-saw to cut a two-feet-long, one-and-a-half-feet diameter log from the fallen tree they found near their campsite. Maya took pictures of it and ran a hand-held scanner over its surface. She looked at her scanner readings and studied the log's growth ring pattern.

"It seems like we keep hoping that something will tell us that this planet doesn't have such long frozen cycles, but everything keeps telling us that it does." Maya said to Tony, "Look at the growth pattern on this tree."

"How do you mean?" Tony asked.

"It's like nothing I've ever seen before." She answered. "My readings show that it's hundreds of years old, but it doesn't have nearly that many growth rings. It has patterns of little growth gradually building up to cycles of heavy, prosperous growth, then building back down again. Then it spent several years in dormancy and started the same pattern over again."

"Hey, look." Tony chuckled. "We've got a new friend."

He pointed to a terrier-sized animal that approached them. Its face resembled a wart hog, but it had thick, bear-like fur, in white with patches of brown. It had never seen humans before and hadn't learned to fear them. Tony and Maya giggled as it circled them and sniffed at their feet. It wandered around them, quietly grunting and continuously sniffing the ground. It jumped back with a start when Tony moved slightly, then stepped closer to them again. Its rodent-like paws picked up some wind-fallen nuts and stuffed them in its cheeks, making its face bulge. Then, it wandered away, still sniffing the ground.

"That was cute." Tony laughed. "I wonder if it would make a good pet."

"Apparently any animal life would be the kind that would hibernate and go into a suspended animation for long periods of time." Maya stated. Then her mind soon wandered elsewhere. "Has there been any more word on how Sahn and Alan are doing?"

"Not since John came back with more equipment. Helena might contact us with more news."

"We really should go back on the next equipment run and pay them a visit." said Maya. "That's really a lot for them to go through."

"You're right." Tony replied. "Let's do that."

Helena held on to Sahn's pajama-covered arm and Kami Ellerson held on to Alan's as they went on their post-surgical walk through the corridor. Kami made a few trips to the planet's surface, but was spending a great deal of time on Alpha to study the planet's orbit and distant readings from Alpha's equipment and mainframe. Ever since they left Earth's orbit, she frequently helped in Medical Center with physical therapy and serving and feeding patients' meals. The Alphan who benefited the most from her therapy was Tony when he was recovering from a skull fracture and other injuries from the Breakaway. His near-year-long recovery was also a valuable learning experience for her that carried on in helping other patients.

Alan wore an elastic brace around his waist that was looser in front to keep the baby from shifting inside him. The four took small, slow steps through the corridor. Alan suddenly stopped and put his hand on the right side of his stomach. "Whoa. I think I just got kicked." he chuckled.

"Really?" said Helena as she turned and put her hand on his stomach. "That's a good sign."

"Either that or I have a lot of gas." he replied.

They all stopped to feel his abdomen.

"He's active alright." said Helena.

"Just wait until he kicks your full bladder." Sahn smiled.

"Hey, I think I felt something, too." said Kami as she tossed back her blond hair. "But I bet that's just gas."

"Okay. Hands off the merchandise." Alan joked. "Let's get back to Medical Center."

Maya and Tony appeared from around the corner.

"Well, what have we here?" said Tony. "We were on our way to Medical Center to see you."

"It's good to see the two of you on your feet." added Maya. She and Tony greeted and hugged Sahn and Alan, then Kami and Helena. "So how are you doing?"

"Good, so far." replied Sahn "We all three made it through major surgery."

"Maybe the Doctor could tell you." said Alan.

"They're doing as well as we can hope for." said Helena. "This is all new to us, but these Carters are real survivors."

"Well, you both look great." Tony grinned. "It's great to see you doing well."

"Alan," Helena piped in, "we need to get you back to Medical Center, and Sahn, we need to get you to the lab for some blood work."

"How about I join you and Sahn in the lab," said Maya, "and Tony, you can visit with Alan in Medical Center."

"Sure." Tony answered.

Helena, Sahn, and Maya headed to the Medical lab while Kami, Alan, and Tony went to Medical Center. Kami helped Alan back into bed and raised the back so he was sitting up, then she went to Command Center to continue studying the planet.

Tony sat next to Alan's bed. "This really is quite an admirable thing you're doing, mate." He leaned back in his chair. "I can't think of any other guy on Alpha that would be willing to go through what you are." Tony continued to ramble. "Who would ever think we would need maternity uniforms with a fly?"

Alan put both hands over his face. Tony waited a moment, expecting him to say something. Then, Alan burst into tears.

"Hey, easy mate." Tony reassured, putting his hand on his arm. "Helena says you're doing well."

"I don't know if I can handle this." Alan sobbed.

"Sure you can, Alan. You're doing great. If anyone can pull this off, it's you." Tony fidgeted, unprepared for the emotional conversation.

"I don't know how much I can take. It's knowing what Sahn has to go through. I could lose both her and the baby. Samantha could end up an orphan. I don't know how I can go on with it." Alan continued, "I'm sore as hell from the surgery. I'm nauseated. No food has tasted good. I've been getting stuck like a pin cushion with hormone injections. I've grown breasts - and they're so sore they feel like they're going to pop! Even my balls have shrunk! Just look at them!" Alan began to lift his blanket.

Tony held down Alan's arm to stop him. "That's okay. I believe you." He knew that it was not like Alan to carry on this way and that it had to be the hormones affecting him. "Look, you won't have to go through this for long. And soon, you'll have your beautiful, baby boy in your arms."

"I'm sorry." Alan wiped his eyes. "I don't mean to carry on like this and make you feel uncomfortable. I don't know what's come over me."

"Hey, we can't make the ladies think that we can't handle something that they can." Tony smiled.

"Would you do it?" Alan asked him.

"Well..." Tony paused. "This really is quite an admirable thing that you're doing. I'm glad you and Sahn are doing well and that your baby has a chance." They both laughed.

"What kind of animal life have you found on the planet?" Sahn asked Maya in the Medical lab as Helena drew a blood sample from her arm.

"We came across some mammal types that would probably hibernate, then go into a suspended animation as the temperature dropped to absolute zero, then go into a hibernation stage again until the temperature went up." Maya answered. "There were also a lot of reptile and fish species that could become dormant for long periods. We didn't see any birds, but that doesn't mean there aren't any. The flying animals that we saw were bat-like mammals and reptiles."

"There must have been a lot of things you did for fun. George Krato said he missed rock climbing so much, I bet he couldn't wait to do some of that."

"Yes, I believe he did get a little rock climbing in." Maya smiled. "He said it was for research. I think there were plenty of couples like Shermeen and Eddie that took advantage of the chance to 'roll in the grass,' if you know what I mean." she giggled.

"Oh, I wouldn't doubt that." Sahn laughed. "I wouldn't blame anyone, either. But with the way I feel right now, I can't even imagine doing that myself."

Maya paused and looked at Sahn's eyes, "You know, I really am concerned with telling you all about the planet, knowing that you can't go down there yourself."

"Well, it is disappointing that I can't see it first hand." Sahn replied. "But it is something I must accept."

Helena looked up from Sahn's lab recordings on the computer screen, "Actually, in about a week or two, you may have enough strength to go down there yourself. It would be before you start your chemo. And the planet shouldn't be out of range for another three and a half weeks."

"Boy, I really don't know." said Sahn. "Alan wouldn't be able to go again, would he?"

"I don't want to take the chance with Alan." Helena shook her head.

"I'd hate to leave him and Samantha for that long." said Sahn.

"It wouldn't be for long." Helena answered. "And they should be fine here. Alan's been to the planet himself. I'm sure he'd understand."

"Oh, I don't know." Sahn sighed. "I'll have to talk to Alan first."

"You don't have to make the decision right now." said Helena.

Alan and Sahn laid on their sides while the little blond, brown-eyed Samantha Carter crawled around on the bed between them, putting space-suited dolls into toy moon buggies and flying miniature eagles.

"Uh-Oh! Here comes an asteroid!" Alan began to aim a wadded-up piece of aluminum foil at the moon buggy.

"No!" Samantha squealed. "Not a astroid!" She raced away her moon buggy. Alan brought the asteroid down with his hand, just missing it."

"Astroid not get me!" Samantha cheered.

Alan turned and winced slightly, feeling a slight pinch in the growing belly he had hanging over the waistband of his trousers. His incision was healing well and the baby showed some growth in a mere two and a half weeks. He re-shifted his weight to a more comfortable position.

"Koenig to Sahn." John summoned on their comm post.

Sahn went to the post to answer him, "Yes, Commander?"

"I'll have an eagle ready to take us down to the planet in about two hours. I'll just come and get you at your quarters then, okay?"

"Okay. I should be ready." Sahn replied. She went back to the bed and said to Alan, "Are you sure you'll be okay while I'm gone?"

"We'll be fine." he replied. "Go enjoy yourself. You won't find a better escort than John. He'll keep a close eye on you."

"I know. I just want to make sure you're all right. I don't want Samantha to be too much for you when she misses her mommy."

"If she gets to be too much trouble, I'll just call Helena or Kami. They're always good at quieting her down. If not, they're pretty patient when she's bawling."

"Well, I also don't want to be away if you or the baby have any complications." Sahn carried on.

"We'll be fine." Alan insisted. "We're both doing great. And you won't be gone that long."

"Yes." Sahn replied. "But I can't help but worry. I know how much you've worried about me."

Sahn sat in the cockpit as John piloted the eagle. "It sounded like there was no chance in settling the planet because of it's long frozen cycles lasting several years." she said to John. "Have you found out how long they last?"

"According to Kami's studies, about twenty years."

"Twenty years?! That must be pretty upsetting to everyone!"

"I don't think anyone really had their hopes up." John replied. "Everyone's studies showed that we probably couldn't stay. They just wanted to enjoy it while they had the chance."

"Does everyone know that it has such long frozen cycles and when we have to leave it?" Sahn asked.

"I'm sure everyone knows that they're pretty long, but just not exactly how long. I haven't formally announced when we have to leave yet. I'm sure everyone knows that we'll be out of range pretty soon, though."

One of the things that John and Sahn brought with them to the planet was a stone engraver. After they landed, they loaded it onto their buggy and set out to find the right size and type of stone. Along the way, John gave Sahn a guided tour of mountains, lakes, and streams. Other Alphans cheered and greeted Sahn when she and John arrived at their campsites. After a few hours, they found a granite-like boulder, approximately three and a half feet high and several feet around.

"Looks like this is the one." said John as he climbed out of the buggy.

"There's a flatter side that would be a good place to start." Sahn also stepped out. John took out the stone engraver and Sahn took a sheet of paper out of her pocket with the words they were to engrave. The two took turns cutting their message into the stone.

This planet was visited by a peaceful, human race from the planet Earth; intending no harm or hostility in the universe. In our year 1999, an accidental explosion sent our moon and 311 people inhabiting Moonbase Alpha hurling through space in an unknown trajectory. We arrived here approximately 11 of our years after leaving Earth's orbit. Our journey's direction and final destination are still unknown.

After her full day and trip back, a weary Sahn walked into her and Alan's dim quarters.

"Hey. Great to see you back, Sweetheart." Alan said quietly as he walked away from washing dinner dishes.

"Hi, Honey. How was Samantha?" Sahn asked.

"She was good. She's asleep right now. She was a little agitated at the times she's used to you being around, but she was fine."

"And you?"

"My leg is killing me, but I think I'm okay." replied Alan.

"Mommy!" Samantha awoke when she heard Sahn's voice and scampered over to her.

"Hi, Pumpkin. I missed you all day." said Sahn as she knelt down and hugged her.

"I love you, Mommy." Samantha said into Sahn's ear.

"I love you, too, Pumpkin." Sahn kissed Samantha's cheek. As she was on her knees, she got a closer look at Alan's leg. "Honey, your leg is swollen - a lot!"

"Yes, I know. Hurt's like hell, too." Alan replied. "I'll have Helena look at it in the morning when I go in for my check up."

Sahn stood up. "You're going to have her look at it NOW."

"Now?" said Alan.

"Yes, now!" Sahn demanded. "It could be serious."

"This time of night? I don't want to bother her if it's nothing."

"It's barely after eight p.m. She won't mind. And I think it could be serious." Sahn persisted, "You even said it hurt's like hell." She walked over to the comm post, "I'm calling Helena."

"Okay." Alan sat down. "She might say it can wait until morning when you call her."

Sahn pushed a button on the comm post. "Helena?"

Helena's face appeared on the screen. "Yes, Sahn."

"Alan's leg is hurting him and it's very swollen. I think he should see you right away."

"Absolutely." replied Helena. "It could be what I was afraid of. I'll meet you at your quarters. I'm on my way."

Helena arrived at Sahn and Alan's quarters in minutes with a medical supplies' case. She sat down across from Alan and examined his swollen leg he had propped up on the coffee table.

"I'll go and put Samantha to bed." said Sahn, holding the sleeping toddler with her head on Sahn's shoulder.

"It looks like what I was afraid of." said Helena. "With the hormone treatments and you healing from surgery, you have a blood clot."

"How serious is it?" Alan asked. Sahn listened carefully as she walked back into the room.

"It's very serious." answered Helena. "It could travel to your lungs and actually become fatal."

"He didn't want to bother you any more tonight, but I insisted that you check him right away." said Sahn as she sat down on the sofa next to Alan.

"It's no bother at all. I'm glad you called." Helena prepared a syringe. "You must have a high thresh-hold of pain, because that has to be unbearable. I'm going to give you an anti-coagulant." she unzipped his sleeve and injected his arm. Then she took an elastic tube out of her case. "I also want you to wear this on your leg to help the circulation along." she helped Alan roll the tube onto his leg. "I'll still see you at the scheduled time in the morning for your check-up and ultrasound.

Alan laid on the table in Medical Center with Sahn at his side as Helena examined him. She glided the ultra sound probe along his stomach.

"I'm seeing a strong heartbeat." said Helena as she focused on the screen. "He's grown well in the past few weeks. You did a good job taking care of him. He's kicking his feet. See that?" she pointed to the screen.

Sahn and Alan both smiled.

"I can feel it, too." said Alan. "Maybe he'll grow up to be a football player."

Helena studied the screen some more and wrote down some of her information before she turned off the machine. "Since having a man carry a baby like this is unknown territory, we don't want to keep him inside you any longer than we have to. Even though it's risky, we'll know more about how to handle a preemie if his lungs and brain have adequately developed. He'll need to be at least two pounds, and it looks like he's gotten that far. More will be even better."

"So, when are you talking about delivering?" Alan asked.

"I want to see the results of the amnio and we need to be sure the anti-coagulant won't interfere with the anesthesia. But so far, I think a good day for it will be five or six days from now." Helena answered.

"If you think that's best." Sahn replied.

"You're the doctor." said Alan.

"So, we'll plan for surgery Saturday unless the amnio or other tests say otherwise." Helena responded.

Suddenly, the Commander's face appeared on every screen on Alpha and in the eagles and on every comm lock. "Attention all Alphans. This is Commander John Koenig. As you all probably realize by now, Planet Aldrin has an elliptical solar orbit that brings it to sub-zero temperatures with all life becoming frozen and dormant. In six months, it will reach below freezing and begin a cycle of sub-zero temperatures. These cycles last approximately 20 years, making permanent settlement impossible. Our moon will be out of range in five days. We will immediately begin to return all equipment and supplies to Alpha and evacuate the planet. Koenig out." The Commander's face disappeared and the screens returned to their test patterns. A silence took over all of Alpha.

The following days brought a drastic change on the moonbase. The quiet, near-empty corridors were suddenly filled with scurrying Alphans returning equipment, supplies, and turning in information for permanent records. The hangars and launch pads were constantly abuzz with eagle traffic.

The day finally came when the moonbase was fully populated again. Although Alpha was again filled with people, it remained rather quiet. No one seemed to want or need to talk about the spectacular planet that renewed their hope and were heartbroken to leave. As everyone began to settle back in, Helena decided it was the best time to deliver Sahn and Alan's baby. Alan was scheduled for the first cesarean to be done on a man. His abdomen was shaved again and he waited in Medical Center to be prepped for surgery. He sat on a bed and leaned forward onto Sahn's shoulders as Dr. Vincent inserted a needle into his spine for an epidural anesthesia.

"This is about the time I'd be telling the patient to breathe through any contractions." joked Ben.

Alan chuckled and made quick, blowing breaths.

"Take it easy!" Ben laughed. "You're not in active labor yet!"

The lower half of Alan's body was numbed and he would remain conscious during the operation. Then, he was wheeled into the operating room. Sahn stayed at his side.

A sheet was propped vertically above Alan's chest to shield his view of the procedure. Sahn sat in a chair near his head and described what was going on.

"Ed just squirted some brown stuff on you. That'd be the antiseptic." Sahn told Alan.

"Scalpel." They heard Helena say.

"Helena's making the first cut." Sahn continued.

"Are you okay?" Alan asked.

"Am I okay?! You're the one getting cut open!" Sahn exclaimed.

"I wasn't sure if you could handle the cutting and blood."

"What?! After all we've been through? This is a walk in the park." Sahn responded. "Otherwise, it would be you here and me getting the cesarean."

Sahn kept watching the operation and gently stroked Alan's thin, blond hair.

"Okay, Alan. You might feel some tugging." Helena informed him as she reached into the incision and got a hold of the baby.

"There's his head!" Sahn told Alan. "Now Helena's getting his shoulders out."

At the exact moment an alarm beeped on the vitals' monitor, Alan's eyes closed and he was unconscious.

"Alan!" Sahn panicked. "Alan!"

In a split second, Helena pulled out the baby and handed him over to a nurse.

"Flat line." Shouted Ed.

Sahn felt faint and struggled to stay alert. A nurse rushed to her side and held her up. She moved Sahn in her chair away from the operating table and leaned her against a wall. In her dazed state, she could barely make out the words being shouted around her.

"Start chest compressions!"

"Seven migs eppy. Charge paddles... Clear!"

Alan's heart was shocked and his body jolted.

"Damn!" cursed Helena. "The worst I was afraid of... a pulmonary embolism."

Everything going on around Sahn was a blur.

"Charging paddles... Clear!"

Again, Alan's body jolted.

Helena looked up at the monitor. "Normal rhythm."

Everyone sighed in relief.

They went on to complete Alan's surgery and tend to the baby. Sahn became coherent as Helena approached her and Alan was wheeled from the operating room into recovery.

"Sahn." Helena put her arm around Sahn's shoulders. "We had a complication, but Alan's stable now. He's going to be fine. Your son is in the condition we expected. It's going to be tough, but we believe he'll do well."

"Helena..." Sahn stood up, fell into Helena's arms, and cried."

"It's okay, Sahn." Helena gently reassured her. "Everything's going to be okay."

Sahn waited for Alan to wake up in recovery. Slowly, his eyes opened and he smiled when we saw Sahn.

"So, how's our little boy." He asked her.

"Helena says he's stable. She's going to have us see him soon." Sahn answered.

When Alan became more alert, he was helped into a wheelchair and Helena led him and Sahn from the recovery room to Medical Center's Intensive Care. There they found their tiny son in an incubator. Both were speechless as they stared at him with tears streaming down their cheeks. Alan was struck at how he would be able to fit the baby's entire body in one hand. They were both happy and fearful. Happy that their baby was alive and had a chance, but fearful of what he still had to go through. They gently touched him, being careful not to disturb any tubes or wires. They each put a finger in his tiny hands and he curled his fingers around them. Sahn couldn't even remember having a doll that small. They decided to name him after someone who was a dear friend to both of them, Paul Morrow.

After Sahn and Alan spent some time alone with their son, Dr. Spencer came into the Intensive Care room with his wife, Chaplain Rachel Spencer for Paul's baptism. Tony, Maya, John, and Helena all came in to stand as witnesses.

"I baptize you, Paul Carter, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," said Chaplain Rachel as she poured water out of her cupped hand onto Paul's baseball-sized head.

The image of Helena standing behind Paul Carter in an isolette appeared on every screen on Alpha. "It's a boy!" said Helena. "Paul Carter was delivered from his father today at 16:05. We had a little bit of a scare, but both father and son are doing fine. Paul has a long way to go, but we're confident that he'll grow to be strong and healthy. He's very tiny, but already he's a big miracle."

Helena started to think about her next task - scheduling Sahn's radiation and chemo-therapy.

Alan sat with Sahn in Medical Center as she held and rocked tiny Paul while they waited for Sahn to start her chemo treatment. In the few weeks since his delivery, Paul was under close watch by the medical staff. He had a brief bout with a collapsed lung and jaundice, but came through even stronger. He still needed to further develop his sucking reflex and was fed with a feeding tube. Despite any setbacks, he gained a few ounces and showed promise of becoming healthy. Helena came in to let Sahn know she was ready for her treatment.

"Time for my nuke juice." said Sahn as she handed Paul over to Alan and stood up. "Funny how we've worked so hard to avoid being exposed to radiation, and now I have to step right into it."

"Take care, Honey. I love you." Alan gave Sahn a quick kiss and took her place in the rocker.

Sahn slowly walked to the room for her chemo treatment. Her feet felt like lead. She knew how sick and how miserable she'd feel from the treatment, but knew it was needed to survive. As hard as she tried during the treatment, she had a difficult time keeping her eyes off the chemo bag as it emptied into her blood stream.

That night, Alan did the best he could to try and comfort Sahn during her violent vomiting. He helped her to the bathroom, held her head, and put cold compresses to her forehead when needed. They both tried to get some rest between her vomiting spells. They had some concern with waking up Samantha, but she managed to stay in her bed through the night. Alan's heart ached at seeing Sahn suffer. She thought back to a friend she had as a teenager who had cancer and remembered her saying she would rather die than to go through chemo therapy again. Sahn prayed she would never come to that feeling.

The morning came when Sahn woke up with gobs of hair in front of her nose and mouth. As she washed her face, more locks fell into the sink. She sat down with Alan and Samantha for breakfast. As she brought a bite of fruit to her mouth, more of her tresses fell on her fork and plate. She looked at Alan and said, "It's time to get the clippers."

They finished their breakfast and Alan went to the next room and brought back an electric hair clippers.

Sahn sat in a chair as Alan buzzed of her black locks. "There," he said. "Sexier than that chick in Star Trek: The Motion Picture."

"I hated that movie." Sahn groaned.

"I thought it was okay until I saw Star Trek Two: The Wrath of Kahn." said Alan as he walk away. "That one was so good, the first one sucked in comparison."

"I agree with you on that one." Sahn replied as she turned to Samantha. Samantha stood still and stared wide-eyed at her newly-shorn mom. "See, Samantha. No more hair. Feel that." She smiled, took the toddler's little hand and put it too her head. Samantha gave an uneasy giggle, still not knowing what to think. Sahn noticed that Alan had been away in the bathroom for quite some time and spoke loudly, "What's taking you so long in there? Admiring yourself in the mirror?"

Alan emerged from the bathroom with every strand of his already thinning hair shaved off his head. "How's this? We make quite a pair, don't we?"

Sahn laughed, unable to say a word.

Then, little Samantha put her hands to her head and said, "Me! Me!"

"You want to be bald like Mommy and Daddy?" Alan chuckled.

"Yeah!" Samantha kept patting both hands on her head. "Me! Me!"

Alan lifted Samantha to a chair and carefully shaved off her hair, too. "There you go, Princess. Have a look." He carried her to the mirror. She laughed when she saw herself.

The picture taken in Medical Center of Sahn, Alan, Samantha, and baby Paul - all bald - became a favorite family portrait.

Sahn took a short nap after returning from rocking baby Paul to sleep in Medical Center. She woke up on the sofa feeling weak and with her stomach upset. Her joints and muscles ached. She looked in the mirror and barely recognized the grayish-yellow, bald head staring back at her. She was still tired, but didn't feel like sleeping any more. Alan and Samantha were at the small, four-liter aquarium, watching and feeding the goldfish Joanie and Chachi. Sahn thought maybe watching a funny or cheerful movie would pick her up and she looked over their video collection. THE SOUND OF MUSIC? - Loved it, but a little long for her current attention span. The PINK PANTHER movies? - Saw them dozens of times; maybe later. MY FAIR LADY? - Didn't really feel like that one, either. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET? - How did that get there? She continued thumbing through tapes and DVDs and stopped at WILLIE WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. A colorful, funny movie with cheerful music and Samantha would like it. Then she stopped and thought - Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka. Gene Wilder was married to Gilda Radner. Gilda Radner died of ovarian cancer. She looked over the video collection again. She saw a boxed set of Bonanza episodes. Michael Landon died of cancer. Then her eyes stopped at a Jack Benny collection. Jack Benny died of cancer. TRUE GRIT? - John Wayne died of cancer. "Stop it!" she mentally shouted to herself, then pulled out the next video and decided that would be the one. She looked at the title - Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. So she'll have the tune "Be Our Guest" stuck in her head for a while.

It was the early evening before her next treatment and Sahn rested on her side in her bed, staring at the wall. She reached the half-way point of her chemo therapy treatments and wondered how she could get through the next one. She was still bald, excessively thin, mal-nourished, and anemic. Just walking across a room was exhausting. She was constantly tired and achy. Alan walked into the room to see if he could do anything for her. They paused for a moment after Sahn sat up. She looked at the floor, avoiding his eye contact.

"Alan?" said Sahn. "I want you to help me with something, but I don't think you'll like the idea."

"I'll do what ever you want." Alan replied. "What is it?"

"In case I don't make it..."

"Sahn, please don't say that." Alan interrupted. "You know how important it is to think positive."

"Yes, I know, Alan." Sahn pleaded. "But we're just kidding ourselves if we pretend that the worst can't happen."

"But Sahn, I don't want to hear it. I'm not ready to lose you. I'm not ready to think about losing you."

"Alan..." Sahn gave him a stern look. "In case I don't make it..."

"Sahn, please!" Alan begged. "Please, don't give up."

"Alan..." she repeated firmly and spoke slowly, "In case I don't make it, I want to make a video. If I can't be there for Paul and Samantha, I want to still be able to tell them the most important things I want them to learn." Tears started to run down her cheek. "There are things I will want to say to them on their birthdays, when they get hurt, when they have their hearts broken, when a planet is found to settle, when they graduate from school, when they get married and have children of their own. I want to find a way to always be a mother to them. And if I can't be there..."

"You really want to do that?" asked Alan. He could no longer hold back his tears.

Sahn nodded. "I want Paul and Samantha to know all about me and what I want for them. The best way I can think of is to make a video that you can show them when the time is right."

"When do you want to start?" He hated to give in to her and sound like he was also losing hope.

"As soon as I'm on my feet after this treatment."

"Okay." Alan replied. "But I don't want this to mean you're giving up. You're going to be okay."

"I won't give up." Sahn tried to assure him.

"I'll get a video camera from the Records lab." said Alan as he slowly walked away.

Sahn laid back down, alone, staring at a small, porcelain koala on the night stand. She cleared her mind as she studied its details. She focused on its feet, moved up its belly, to its face, and to its eyes. Then a feeling of love blanketed over her. A feeling of self love. She thought about how much she loved Alan, Paul, Samantha, and all her friends on Alpha that became her extended family. And she thought about how much she loved herself. She didn't want to conquer her illness only for them, but for her. She knew they didn't want to lose her, but she realized she also didn't want to lose them. They gave her too much joy to let go of them yet. She decided she would keep fighting this disease no matter what. But she would also concentrate on the love and joy she had around her. As bad as she may feel, she would no longer focus on her misery and illness. She may die, but in the mean time, she would hang on to the love, joy, and friendship that was around her as much as she could. She would now take one day at a time and hold on to as much joy as she could from every moment.

"Okay, God." Sahn silently prayed, "I'm going to fight this disease. But from now on, the worrying is up to you."

When Alan returned, Sahn greeted him with a smile and an enthusiastic hug.

"Well, what's come over you?" Alan asked when he noticed her new-found energy.

"Oh..." Sahn smiled, "I just love you."

She still decided to make the video. However, she didn't make it in case she died, but also in case she lived. She recorded important things she wanted to tell Paul and Samantha, but she did it with the attitude that they may watch it together someday. Alan included himself in the video as part of a family journal.

The bag of fluid pumped into Sahn's blood stream in Medical Center. She tried not to think about the incessant vomiting to come.

Alan rocked baby Paul to sleep and put him in his bassinet. Paul grew from a tiny, two-and-a-half pounds to a much healthier five-and-a-half and would soon be clear to leave Medical Center. Alan went across the room to speak with Helena for a moment and took a small box from her. Then he went and sat down with Sahn and handed her the box.

"What's this?" Sahn asked when she looked inside. She found a ceramic cylinder and a small jar containing something that looked like tobacco.

"Marijuana." Alan answered.

"Where did it come from?"

"From Helena." Alan explained, "Torens smuggled some seeds on base from Earth. Some time after we left orbit, Security found him completely stoned. They took him to Medical Center to find out what he was on. Helena talked him into giving her his pot for medicinal purposes and she talked Security out of locking him up."
"I'm really supposed to smoke that?" Sahn asked.

"That's right. She said it could really help with the nausea and pain. She wanted to give it to you sooner, but she had to make sure she had enough grown and dried. She made the bong, too."

"Well..., I might try it, but I don't want to smoke it around Samantha, or anyone else. I don't like the idea of that smell circulating in our air supply, either."

"We'll find the right place." said Alan.

The Carter family finally had a reason to celebrate. The healthy, six-pound Paul was released from Medical Center. Tony and Maya hosted a party for the Carters in the Recreation Center for the occasion.. The room was decorated in pale blue streamers and balloons sculpted into giant pacifiers. The moonbase chef made finger sandwiches and decorated a cake with sugar rattles, pacifiers, and baby bracelets. Maya talked Tony out of serving his beer, so he served root beer instead. Nearly all the Alphans attended. The Carters were showered with gifts of handmade toys, blankets, diapers, and clothes. Tony held Samantha on his arm and Maya held Paul.

"I bet you're the best big sister." Tony said to Samantha, tapping an index finger on her chest. "He's a handsome, little bloke. Isn't he?"

"He's not a bloke." laughed Samantha, "He's a baby!"

Bill and Annette Fraser approached them.

"Okay, it's our turn to hold the baby." said Annette, taking Paul from Maya.

"Hi, ya Princess." Bill kissed Samantha's forehead. "How do you like your little brother?"

"We're gonna keep him!" Samantha answered with a grin.

"Yeah, he's a cute, little squirt." said Bill.

"He's not a squirt!" Samantha scolded, "He's a baby!"

Sahn was still sickly-looking, but happy. Her uniform was loose and she wore a pale-yellow baseball cap on her bald head. She and Alan occassionally showed guests their matching scars on their stomachs. They were grateful to everyone for caring so much about them, and especially to Tony and Maya for taking charge of the party.

Sahn waited with Alan in Medical Center for Helena to tell her what was in her future. Her chemo and radiation treatments were finally over. Her hair had grown back and was close to the length that she usually kept it. She had a thorough examination and a battery of tests and now it was time to find out the results. Sahn and Alan sat nervously as Helena went over her reports with them.

"There's one thing I want to get a better look at." Helena explained. "There's a spot on your kidney that I'm not too sure of. I think it's best if we open you up."

"Surgery?" Sahn's face turned pale.

"What do you think it is?" asked Alan.

"Truthfully, I don't know." said Helena. "I think it would be best if we do an exploratory surgery, get a look at it up close and find out what it is. Then we'll take it out while we're there."

"Could it be more cancer?" Sahn asked.

"I don't want to draw any conclusions yet." Helena answered. "About all I can tell you is that it's small and there doesn't seem to be any more. It may be serious, but it also may be nothing. What I do know is that after what you've been through, we need to find out exactly what it is and we should do it right away. We would need a biopsy anyway, so we might as well do an exploratory and take it out."

Sahn and Alan looked at each other, then at Helena.

"If you think that's best." said Sahn.

Helena felt so helpless, worried, and dumb-founded. She hoped she had said the right words to Sahn and Alan. She had already seen Sahn suffer so much. The spot on her kidney may be just a harmless mass, but the cancer may have spread. And cancer of the kidney doesn't respond to chemo therapy and radiation. The news she would learn form the exploratory surgery could either be very good or very tragic.

The surgery was over rather quickly and Sahn was up and alert by the next day. Alan pushed Sahn in her wheelchair to Helena's desk and sat in a chair beside her. Helena walked in, sat down with them, and smiled.

"Helena?!" said Sahn. She and Alan couldn't help but notice her smiling.

"Good news?" Alan asked.

"Yes." Helena continued to grin. "The spot on your kidney was just a harmless mass of dead cells. No more tumor was found inside you. The spot was probably a result of a combination of medications. According to your tests, blood work, and examinations, you are now cancer free."

Alan and Sahn both cheered and hugged each other. Sahn leaned her head back with both hands over her face. Tears of joy poured from their eyes as Sahn and Alan both gave Helena a firm hug.

"Tell me again how I was born." said the rambunctious five-year-old Paul as he climbed onto the sofa between his mom and dad. Sahn and Alan Carter were watching a Laurel and Hardy video while seven-year-old Samantha played with an erector set on the floor. "Tell me how I grew in both Mommy and Daddy's tummies and how I was so tiny..."

Copyright (c) 2005. Reprinted with permission.
Space:1999 is (c) 1976 by Carlton International Media.
All stories are the property of their respective authors.

Database last modified in 2018.

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