SwampDaughter’s birthday was last weekend, so we went out to celebrate. The SwampDaughter family came over, we left the men at home, and SwampDaughter, SwampBaby Zoe, and Mom and I went out to celebrate by eating at a Mexican restaurant (her favorite food this pregnancy!) and going shopping.
SwampDaughter was tired. Her nose and feet were notably swollen. She’d been working eleven days in a row without a day off until her grandfather’s funeral that Thursday which was a hot, hot day. When she got home, she went to do the grocery shopping, and checked her blood pressure at the grocery store. It was elevated again. Her first pregnancy, she had had severe preeclampsia in the last week and had an emergency C-section. The next two pregnancies were uneventful. Mom and I were concerned that with Zoe and then this little boy following so closely, SwampDaughter’s body did not have a chance to completely recover.
Tuesday evening, SwampMan and I got home late. We hadn’t wanted to venture out in Beryl to return library books that were due, so we went out Tuesday afternoon after work into the residual rainstorms still lingering in the area, then decided to dine out before returning home to the feeding chores. I went back to change into my feeding clothes while SwampMan checked messages on the answering machine. “You need to listen to the messages!” he said urgently. “I can’t understand what SwampDaughter is saying because she’s crying.”
I listened to the message. Through sobbing, I heard “I went for my doctor’s appointment today. They couldn’t find a heartbeat. They sent me for an ultrasound. They couldn’t find a heartbeat. They sent me back to the doctor’s office. The baby is dead, and I have to go to the hospital early tomorrow morning.”
I called immediately to find out what we could do, but they had already made arrangements for the children to be cared for during the day by people from their church. I hung up the phone, my heart breaking for SwampDaughter. I knew she would be crying all night. SwampMan and I spent a sleepless night, too, worried about SwampDaughter, and grieving for the tiny grandson who had departed life before we held him.
I went to work the next day. “Why are you HERE?” the people asked. “How can you even function?” Well, SwampDaughter and SwampSon-in-law need space and time to grieve. Labor induction takes awhile. In the meantime, it is best that I stay occupied. I called at noon, and nothing much was happening. They were inducing labor very slowly because she’d had three C-sections.
SwampMan and I headed to the hospital after I did a cursory feeding that afternoon/evening. The hospital is a little over an hour away from our house. We sat with poor SwampDaughter while son-in-law retrieved the children who would be going to our house. Luckily we had a bag at our house stuffed full of play clothes that they had left the last time they spent the weekend.
Dylan fell asleep on the way home. We couldn’t wake him no matter how hard we tried. When he goes to sleep, he is OUT for the evening. I talked to Mommy about 10 p.m. The contractions were really getting strong now, so I figured the baby would be born in the wee hours of the morning. Zoe and Jacob stayed awake until after midnight. I got up at 5:30 a.m. and found Dylan gazing at his sleeping brother with confusion. “Where’s Mommy?” he asked. “Don’t you remember? She’s at the hospital. You’re staying with us until she gets better.”
I took Jacob and Zoe with me for both of them are quiet children and would not disrupt the graduation ceremonies going on at my school. Dylan, on the other hand, went with papa because papa has nails, wood, and hammers in his classroom. Dylan would be fine there. He would NOT be fine at my school.
I got the kids breakfast at school. Zoe was not impressed by school breakfast and would not eat. I don’t blame her. It was the end of the school year, and not much was left in the pantry. I tried to feed her a blueberry muffin, but it must have been nasty because she made a face and spit it out. She clung to her sippy cup of chocolate milk while I put Jacob in an empty classroom in front of a computer. “The bathroom is over there. I’ll be gone about three hours. If you need anything, there are people in the classroom next door, but don’t bother them!” I instructed.
Zoe, despite not eating breakfast and being two hours past her naptime, was absolutely quiet during the graduation ceremonies at our school. Tears streamed down my face with pride because of the children that were going on to the next stage of their life. Tears also streamed down my face because this would never happen for the little grandson.
I left at half day after the graduation. Zoe and Jacob needed food, and I needed to take Jacob to his awards ceremony at his school at 2:00. I got lunch for them at McDonald’s. Zoe was asleep. Jacob was very quiet. Too quiet.
“Jacob, what’s wrong? Does your baby brother dying bother you a little bit because you haven’t seen him, or does it bother you a lot?” Jacob considered. “It bothers me a lot. I would like to see him.”
We went to the hospital first to see Mommy and Daddy, for the baby had been born at 1:20 a.m. Zoe woke up and ate some french fries. Daddy had wanted to take Jacob to his awards ceremony, but he had to help check Mommy out of the hospital at that time. Jacob and I left Zoe with daddy, who really needed to hold onto her. He was having a very bad time. I think the bad time might be compounded by the happy birthings going on in all the rooms around theirs, and the sight of little pink babies wrapped tightly in blankets that were out sleeping peacefully in their little baby cribs at the nursing station instead of being sequestered in a separate room behind glass.
Jacob and I went to his awards ceremony, then went to their house to await Mommy and Daddy, who arrived shortly thereafter with Zoe. I told SwampDaughter that Jacob was suffering the loss of his brother, and wanted to see the baby. SwampDaughter cried. She said she had pictures. She couldn’t look at them yet. The hospital had offered to let her sit with the dead baby and hold him, but she just couldn’t.
SwampDaughter asked if it was possible to keep Dylan another night. “Sure!” I said enthusiastically. On the way home, I called SwampMan. “We get to have Dylan another night, but Jacob needs to be in school tomorrow, so they kept him and Zoe.” I reported to SwampMan. “How did Dylan do in school today?” SwampMan groaned theatrically. “What does that mean?” I asked. He groaned loudly again. “Was he really bad today?”
“No, he was just being Dylan!” SwampMan assured me. Oh. That was okay then. SwampMan deals with middle school and high school knotheads all day long. A little now 5-year-old boy should be no problem. Right?
When SwampMan and Dylan got home from school yesterday, I told Dylan he needed to go get his clothes. He looked at me. He pulled his shirt hem out. “Are you NOT noticing what I am wearing?” he asked in a voice that one would use to somebody of significantly inferior understanding. I could feel my eyebrows disappearing into my hairline. “You better get your narrow little BEEhind into that house this instant and get your clothes packed up so that you can go see Mommy!” I ordered. SwampMan was snickering. “Has he been like that all day?” I demanded.
“Oh, yeah. He told the boys that they were hammering like girls and that they needed to carry Justin Bieber purses.”
Dylan had been telling us since he arrived that he really wanted some sweet and sour chicken from the Chinese Restaurant. It had to have the alicious sauce. AND fortune cookies. SwampMan told me that he wanted to go to good Chinese restaurant where you could dine in. He named the place he wanted to go. It has been there forever, but the area was seedy when we used to go. Now the area is significant for daylight robberies and murder. “Uh, that’s pretty scary now!” I told him. “Oh, come on. It’s day. How bad could it be?” he asked. Well, when we got there, SwampMan drove slowly through the parking lot looking for a good parking place. A guy on bicycle rode past us, looked intently at our vehicle, then came riding past again, looking inside as though scouting for weapons and/or valuables. As he came back around for the third ride by, we noticed that the youths that had been leaning against the side of the building further down had straightened up and were purposefully heading toward the parking spaces we were checking out. Sheesh. We drove on.
We looked and looked for a place that met SwampMan’s criteria for Fine Dining, but ended up getting Dylan his sweet and sour chicken (with alicious sauce and fortune cookie) from a take out place and bringing it to his house to eat. We left, went to a restaurant where we didn’t have to look over our shoulder to see whether thugs were sneaking up on us to rob us, and then headed home. The house was strangely quiet without the chattering of little boys.
Should we have left the children there, or taken them home? I think a quiet, hushed house would be worse for Mommy and Daddy. We will see.