Music Anthology _ Inspired by the John Denver song
|The first day at Mom and Dad's helping them pack for a move, Dad and I completely filled a fifteen by twelve storage unit. The last things were javalined up and back just to get them in there. It was fun, we laughed a lot. And both were glad mom wasn’t there for the long-distance tossing of corner bookshelves, a couple of boxes and all her extra pillows.
Dad and I had a chance to talk while we did all the lugging of furniture.
“So, you never have said much about losing the twins a couple of months back…” Dad left the question hanging.
“A friend told me one doesn’t lose healthy children. I get that, it makes sense. Didn’t help though, Dad. I think it is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through.” The tears began. Again. Just couldn’t help it.
Dad swooped in, as he always has, and held me. Just held me. He didn’t mouth any empty platitudes. There really is nothing one can say that actually helps. His hug did more than I could say. My father has always understood me, ever when I didn’t understand myself.
We were exhausted after loading and then unloading the huge U-Haul dad had rented.
The next morning after basically camping out, I felt like total crap. Mom offered to make my favorite breakfast. I looked at her, felt green. “No, thanks, Mom. I’m really not hungry.”
She looked at me in total shock. Then she looked at me again. I felt as if I were under a microscope.
“Are you pregnant?”
“I, ah, no, don’t think so. “
“Well, we are getting a pregnancy test kit at the drugstore. I’ll send your dad right now.”
“Send me where? For What?” My dad always has perfect timing.
“I think Sarah’s pregnant,” answered Mom.
“And what does she think?” Dad asked, looking at me.
I shrugged. I didn’t have a clue.
So, Dad headed out to go buy a pregnancy kit, joked with the girl behind the counter that it was for his daughter and came home. “Don’t ever make me do that again, hon,” he told my mother. “I was so embarrassed. Do you know there are like ten different kinds? I didn’t know which to get,” he said, handing me a white pharmacy bag with three different tests in it.
Affirmed, confirmed and reconfirmed. I was absolutely preggers. “You never should have been moving all that stuff yesterday,” mom said, all worried. “You could have warned me!”
I didn’t know. In fact, as I’d lost twins six weeks before, the last thing I was thinking about was getting pregnant again. Wouldn’t have thought I could!
World’s easiest pregnancy. Spent the summer swimming, writing and playing with the two children I already had. We moved into a new apartment right before Christmas and I didn’t have to lift a finger. Mom and dad came to help us this time round. Dad was kind of worried about me. I overheard him talking to mom about not liking how my husband was treating me. I didn’t either, but now was not the time to even contemplate what was or was not going on. I was having this baby and that was all that mattered to me. I hadn’t lost this one as I had the twins. Everything that truly mattered was fine.
January 9th I was letting mom have kid time and I was down at a neighbor’s having coffee. We were just yacking and I was having trouble sitting comfortably because my back hurt. I decided to return home. I called my husband at work and told him I thought I was in labor.
“Now? You are in labor now? I told you I had the big meeting today, as in five minutes. I can’t leave work right now. Wait or something.” My husband was sounding most put out at my timing.
Two hours later, he came to take me to Bethesda Naval Hospital.. We arrived at the ER and I walked into chaos. A man was on a gurney with his intestines spilling to the floor.
“Take a seat, please."
“No. I am having a baby right now and unless you want it swimming in this man’s intestines… “
“Minutes later, as the orderly ran down the hallway to Labor and Delivery, my doctor leaped on the gurney and delivered my child as we burst through the doors to delivery.
I took one look at my baby and said, “Fix her.” No one had told me she was a she.
“She’s fine, said a nurse.” No. she wasn’t. She was shiny black.
“Fix her,” I said grabbing a hold of the nurse’s arm. She roughly shook me loose and handed my daughter off to another nurse. I was rolled off in one direction, my baby in another. Three hours later, they let my husband and I go to the nursery. I looked through the window. She wasn’t there. No Baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a bassinette. I rapped on the door. Then I banged on it. The nurse looked at me, spun on her heel, and walked off. I banged, Harder. Mad.
A doctor came out. “Where’s my daughter?” My voice was a barely controlled almost yell.
“Hasn’t somebody been to see you? Apparently not,” he replied looking at me. “You need to prepare yourself.”
“Your daughter is in very serious condition and has been moved to the neonatal critical care unit.”
Now I’m shouting. “Why? What’s wrong. I told them something was wrong! They said she was fine!”
“Your daughter was born with approximately five times the normal amount of red blood cells. That is why her skin looked black. She also was not registering any blood sugar.”
I’d slid down the wall to the floor. “What does that mean?”
“I’m afraid it means that your daughter has a five percent chance of surviving. If she survives, she has less than a five percent chance of being in anything other than a vegetative state.”
My mouth just hung open. “No. They said she was fine.” I repeated.
“I’m sorry,” the doctor said calmly. I sat there just shaking.
“I can’t deal with this.” My husband turned and left, walking quickly down the hall and around the corner. I wouldn’t see him again for a week.
“I want to see her.”
“A nurse will come to your room to let you know when they’ve finished her testing.”
I’m in my room. Alone. How could I call anyone? What could I say? I waited for hours. For them to say I could see her. For my husband to return, For something.
The nurse brought in another woman, my new roommate, who was the Iranian Ambassador’s wife. She overflowed her bed, had just had healthy eight-pound twin boys, and was screaming. Apparently, she wanted nothing to do with them, was refusing to see them. All I wanted was to get to my daughter. I couldn’t stay in that room. I went to the smoking lounge and set up camp.
In the lounge was an enormous saltwater fish tank. Literally, the size of the wall. No one else was in there. I moved a chair over next to the tank, and, for all intents and purposes, went swimming. It was filled with brightly colored tropical fish. Attached to the bottom was a mechanized set of three dolphins which periodically leapt out of the water, dived back in. Bubbles floated serenely to the top of the water from a mystical coral castle. On a rock, just out of the water, a mermaid sunned herself under fluorescent light.
Hours passed. I followed fish. I flew with dolphins. I conversed with that stupid mermaid. I cried. I sank. I still hadn’t even thought of my daughter by name. She was ‘my daughter’ or ‘my baby.’ It was if by not naming her, she was still in my womb with the fish, swimming around, kicking and splashing as she’d done for months. Still, it was peaceful, calming as just floating in the ocean would have been. Music played softly in the background. Calypso, a John Denver song that I’d always loved. It fit the fish tank and I came up for air to realize it was almost eleven at night.
The night nurse came in. “Here you are! We’ve been looking for you. We need to lock this room up for the evening.”
I shook my head. “No. I am not going back in my room with that cow who won’t so much as touch her babies, when I can’t even see mine, when I haven’t even held mine. No.” I folded my arms, sitting there bound and determined not to leave.
She looked at me for a moment. “Wait here, I’ll be right back.”
I’d been waiting for hours anyway. She came back, apologizing for delays and mix-ups. Said to follow her. A shower, sterile clothes. Then into a room of noise. Machines bleeped and buzzed, dinged, and tocked. The music of the CCICU; a symphony of sounds keeping track of tiny heartbeats, airflow, temperature. Of life.
There, in a room of crying babies, the quiet one slept peacefully. Pink and cream, peach and mauve. The nurse bundled all her wires and leads together, lifted and enfolded her in a soft cloud of pink, and handed me, my daughter.
Finally, I was able to hold this precious child. Her eyes blinked open. Large silver-grey-blue eyes stared at me. She had such a serious expression on her face. As if she were thinking she had far too much to do than to be in this noisy room of crying baby boys. She studied me every bit as much as I marveled at her. She wrapped tiny fingers around mine. Strong.
And I knew. Just knew, clear through. With absolutely no doubt. She was fine. She got her five percent of her five percent. I just stared right back at her. “Cara,” I said softly. “Your name is Cara and you are so beautiful. And loved. And,” I burst. Into tears. “So loved.”
The nurse nudged me. “They are ready to remove all her tubes and wires. They are going to give her some water therapy. Would you like to watch?”
Fifteen minutes later. Another room. Warm, humid. A small tank of body-temperature water. Set to her body temperature. A nurse held her, supporting her head and back but letting her arms and legs be free to move. Then rolled her over onto her stomach. Her eyes were wide and it was if she just cozied into the water.
“Look at her,” the nurse handling her exclaimed. “She’s a natural. A born dolphin you have here. Most infants take several times in the pool before they are this relaxed. “There. Hear that? She’s doing it again.”
Yes, I had heard it. Almost, but not possibly, it sounded like humming.
“She was doing that humming thing earlier. Babies don’t hum. But you daughter does!”
“I always was singing to her while I was pregnant. Or I had music playing. Yes, we got our five percent of five percent. Twelve hours old and she’s writing music,” I giggled. “Wish I could be inside her head to know what she’s singing about.”
Maybe it was about some of life’s ancient rhymes…
Two days before the moon was round
You felt the urge of sun's light beams
The muffled world of dolphin sound
Slipped down and back into your dreams
For nine full months that passed before
You learned of all of life's ancient rhymes
Then mother sensed a farther shore
And brought you forth into these times
So taste the air of your new world
And gently guide us to your mind
It knows the winds and sails unfurled
And holds to heart the dolphin kind
Welcome precious earthmade child
We met you first in your father's songs
And mother's smile and waters wild
It's in this place you now belong
I know you know of all these things
And feel the faith of a dolphin's sigh
For you were born on silver wings
To taste the high blown crystal sky
To sing one day to all of us
The songs you learned in dolphin lair
Giving hope to life as all we must
And teach us how their grace to share
Words and music by John Denver and Bob Samples