A divorced pregnant woman almost dies to find love and serenity.
Peace Pipes and Pink Ribbons
Driving her Explorer over rough dirt roads, Angela knew her answers were here. The Hewitt family home was always safe and serene; the place to escape to when Angela needed solitude. The house itself was a log cabin over a hundred years old. Then there was the beauty of newly green hardwoods, intoxicating perfume of wildflowers, and sparkling springs.
The springs ran into a cove, known as Ocoee, for the Indians that once called it home. When she had played outside as a child, she thought she could smell peace pipes and hear deer skin drums from tribal ceremonies. Every time they would go to the public library she would find books about Native Americans. Angela knew Indian spirits remained in the roots of the trees and fertile dirt. Her parents laughed as she chattered about her connection to the tribe. Wasn't it possible that her trips to the ancient grounds, her feelings that the Great White Spirit watched over her, made her a part of it all? She found pieces of pottery buried in a cave near the springs as a child. Angela kept them; surely she shared secrets with the Great White Spirit.
Angela remembered the house when it had charm but was functional. There was a pot bellied stove for heat and a kitchen a little larger than the size of a large walk in closet. As a small child she would brave the elements to use an outhouse. There were only two small bedrooms with single beds and chests. Without realizing it, her nose crinkled, as she remembered the overwhelming fumes emitted by oil lamps that sat on the bed side tables, where she use to read. She had a treasure chest under the bed where she kept special gifts from the great outdoors. There were the pieces of pottery, a glass bottle with markings on it, glass from the sand by the ocean and a piece of deer skin.
Renovations on the home were started fifteen years ago. There was an addition of a large room the size of the original house. It was a delight. Windows faced the ocean, a cathedral ceiling had skylights, and a loft held stacked bookshelves. The floors were hardwood and covered with plush area rugs. A beige sofa and love seat were inviting with oversize pillows. The colors came from the rugs with bright turquoise, shades of blue, and mauve. Pottery complimented the room, all of it from Angela’s Mom, Mallory, who had a successful studio in Chicago. She also had unique pieces collected from going to Native American festivals or special ordered, fashioned by favorite artists.
The kitchen had new stainless steel appliances, cabinets were a high gloss white laminate and new granite counter tops were installed. A tasteful bathroom was added with a claw foot tub and skylight. The bedrooms were wallpapered and a window seat put in along with a walk in closet. They were still small but it was a nice face lift.
Angela was exhausted when she arrived about seven that evening. She brought in groceries, clothing, books, art supplies, electronics and journals. Amos Irwin, the elderly caretaker, had thoughtfully stacked firewood by the door. Rosie, his sweet wife, left her prize winning apple cinnamon coffee cake. She had potpourri simmering in an attempt to mask the musty smell.
Angela made Chamomile tea. She had been feeling tired and cold for the last couple of weeks. She noticed the wildflower bouquet on the coffee table with a few current magazines. Bless Rosie, this was better than a four star hotel. She laid down on the sofa snuggling under a beautiful old quilt. Soon she was dreaming about a cradle in the kitchen, the noise of it rocking back and forth on the wooden floor.
She woke to birds chirping and a lovely sunrise. She made a cup of orange hibiscus tea and then headed out the door wrapped in the quilt. It was cool but the scenery was exquisite. There was the vastness of blue water with cream-colored foam and the mist-filled air that woke her completely and made her feel alive.
She took her shoes off, walked down to the water and baptized her feet. The azure sky from God’s paint box reminded her the Great Spirit was here. Her tears came now. She had been holding them back for weeks.
At forty-two, Angela was eight weeks pregnant, and her husband was asking for a divorce. He did not know that she was pregnant.
She and Danny never wanted children. They discussed it before they married. Both were career driven and in their mid-thirties. Each had homes. She was a scientist at The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and had a town home there in Midtown. Danny was a corporate lawyer and had a loft in Brooklyn he wanted to keep after the marriage, despite his overhead. They had a combined income that allowed them to do what they wanted and still save. Their cars, boat, a jet-ski and motorcycles were paid for.
They liked their lives. Together was New York with dinner and Broadway shows. There were trips to Europe, gallery openings, and vacations at luxury resorts. Then they had their separate conventions and business concerns with colleagues.
It was a good life when they were together and apart. She loved her independence. That is what she told herself. The last time they had sex was two months ago at a convention in Las Vegas. She won three hundred at the slot machines. They had dinner sent up with lobster bisque, crab cakes, filet with bernaise sauce, and asparagus with hollandaise. They finished it off with caramelized creme brulee and espresso to celebrate. There was already strawberries and champagne by the outside hot tub. She felt a little giddy so when they finally crawled into their bed, it was the best sex ever. Angela had started to drift off.
Danny declared, “I want a divorce.” The tone of his voice was, “I want butter on my toast."
She sat up, shaking, surely she had heard him wrong.
“I have found someone that wants children. Her goal is to be a housewife, not compete with me."
Angela suddenly didn’t know this stranger. Their world, as she had understood it, was spinning out of control. She wasn't sure what to say.
"What are you talking about? We agreed we did not want children. When did you change your mind?"
On an emotional roller coaster, her voice increased in volume.
"Danny, how could you do this to me? Come up here, be romantic, make love, then ask for a divorce. No, not even ask! You demand one!"
He sat there, staring at her, like she had lost her mind.
Perhaps she had, her thoughts rushing.
'It was like he had no investment in the marriage. Where had she been when he had stopped caring and found someone else? Work had been crazy and she couldn't remember the last time they had made time for each other. But when she was working, it was always for their future. She didn't think of another man. The strong straight train track they had been on had split. Now he was traveling on his own with plans they had not even discussed. After all they worked for, it wasn't her that he wanted to move ahead with. She was so hurt. But he would not know that. Now she wanted to hurt back!'
She picked up his expensive linen shirt and tore it with her teeth. Then she lunged at him, raking her fingernails down his chest. He grabbed her hair. She pushed back away from him.
Her pride-she did care about that. Her words came out short and bitter.
"I don't want you anyway and don't want to hear your reasons."
So here she was; tired, confused and full of anxiety. She felt alone. She was praying for help to do the right thing as she walked on the beach. Suddenly, she felt something sharp under her foot. She reached down and picked up a luminous pink seashell, freshly washed up from the sea. It appeared fragile but was strong and perfect; something only the Universe could make.
She placed her hands protectively over her lower abdomen thinking of the innocent little one swimming inside. That was all that was important. Something beautiful had come out of this tragic end of a marriage. This was her baby.
She shouted to the wind, the sun and the sand.
“I am going to have a baby!”
Deciding to take a leave from her job, she began spending more and more time at the Cape house. She wasn’t avoiding people. She was fortunate enough to be able to savor this pregnancy. She had started sketching and now she was working on an acrylic of the seashore.
She shopped in town, did chores and saw Rosie and Amos for dinner. Rosie Francione was a wonderful Italian cook that made her own pasta. Angela was enjoying her simple life. Even with a divorce in the middle.
She had a serenity about her, a peace she had never felt. Rosie said it was the glow of pregnancy but it was more.
Attorneys worked out the details of the divorce and property. Danny found out about the pregnancy from her lawyer. Now that he knew about the baby, Danny wanted visitation rights and was going to pay child support. She was adamant that he not participate in the birth but she didn't have any reasons to keep him from his child.
Because of her age, she was considered a high-risk Mom. They did an
amniocentesis. Everything looked good. The ultrasound showed a healthy baby girl. Angela had chosen Isabella. Isabella means" strength and beauty".
Isabelle was very real now and deserved lovely things. A trip to town was necessary and lots of fun for Rosie and Angela. The tiny clothes had precious little girl figures, ribbons and bows. Isabelle would have a comforter and sheets decorated in white with yellow roses. The furniture was cherry. Exhausted from shopping, they had lunch at "The Cozy Teapot", a pot of fruit herbal tea, a variety of finger sandwiches, veggie chips and lemon and lime iced cookies. All packages and furniture were delivered to the beach house. She wanted to include a mural on one wall of the nursery of an ocean world with colorful fish and corals. She already had a salt water aquarium with anemones that danced with the water as clown fish swam through them.
Angela hired a highly recommended architect to plan a nursery that would blend with the house. The house had already been added to but the original cabin was still a part of it.
"This house is rare and unique; a one of a kind. You want to keep it for your daughter. I will make it more valuable and add to its beauty."
He promised to retain as much of the authenticity of the original cabin as he could. To pass safety codes, it needed new wiring, roof replacement, and they decided on another bathroom so the plumbing had to be replaced. The two bedrooms would be made into one beautiful master suite. Then the nursery had double doors and a skylight. It was her dream. She wanted a lot of light.
This would be a costly renovation. Angela decided to sell her place in Atlanta. When she went back to work, she could do a lot of work from home.
Every morning Angela walked on the beach for three or four miles. One day she was walking over some rocks and stumbled into a person.
Carl Ingles, was bent over tying his shoe laces. He was walking his cocker spaniel. Chuckles was off his leash and came flying at Angela.
"Hey, boy, calm down!"
"I am so sorry. I am so clumsy with the pregnancy. Heck, I am a total klutz anyway."
"Don't worry about it. I thought I was all alone out here. It is nice to see a friendly face."
The two fell into a comfortable pattern of walking together. Carl was a freelance writer who rented the home four miles from hers. It had belonged to a family whose children Angela used to play with.
"I was searching for a quiet place to write. This is perfect. Your husband isn't the beach walking type?"
"My husband is a soon to be ex and plans to be married again within the year."
"You can't mean it. You being pregnant, beautiful and intelligent!"
"Well, my positive qualities are lost on him, I guess."
"I am sorry. He is a fool."
"Guess what? I consider myself lucky and I am excited over having this baby alone."
They walked along. Carl couldn't imagine any man leaving her.
"So what are you writing about?"
He told her a short version of his loss.
"Actually I am here to heal. I lost my wife, Ruth. She died from a sudden aneurysm three months ago."
He stopped for a moment to acknowledge this loss with unashamed tears.
"She was baking a cake for my fiftieth birthday party. She had invited thirty people. I still can't believe it. The docs say she never felt a thing. I think they always say that. I wish we had children."
"I am so sorry. Seems we are both on a spiritual path, Carl. This is a good place for that. I have been coming here since I was a kid. There are curing powers here."
Later, when they went their separate ways, they agreed to meet the next morning to walk.
It was the beginning of a great friendship.
They began to cook for each other. Angela found out he was the much better cook. He was a sous chef and had worked at some great places to supplement his writing income.
They worked out a deal. Together they went to the market in town and bought fresh fish, vegetables and fruits plus the herbs. She would pay and he did the cooking. She felt like she had won the lottery. Carl was careful to watch her pregnancy diet.
Angela got up the nerve to ask him to be her Lamaze partner, Carl was excited and nervous. At first his hand trembled when he felt Angela’s tummy as the baby kicked. Soon he was singing lullabies to Isabella in a beautiful voice.
Rosie met Carl and approved. They even came over and joined them for dinner bringing dessert. The four of them would play Gin Rummy or Monopoly and had the greatest time. Occasionally, Angela's Mom came out and joined them. She had always had her own life and her daughter knew better than to count on her.
Since the construction work was going on at a fast pace at Angela's, Carl offered his home.
While Angela was still able to get around they even built sandcastles. While she could still lay on the beach, they watched the clouds and named them silly critters. At night, they watched constellations.
Then at seven and a half months, she developed both high blood pressure and gestational diabetes so Carl cooked according to a strict diet. He also checked her blood sugar and blood pressure. Carl had been a Medic during the war and also had finished two years of medical school until the money dried up. He wrote while she painted. In their silence, they were together. Angela was reading poetry to him when her water broke. They headed for the hospital that was thirty miles away.
It had rained the night before so the roads were wet. Carl was singing a lullaby he had composed when a car crossed over the center line and hit them. Angela heard the crash, the busting glass, her own screams; then total darkness.
Angela thought she was dreaming. There was a baby crying and sirens. People were all around. She kept asking for Carl. Over and over she called his name, then a comforting sleep came. It was shock from blood loss. Angela woke in a hospital bed with tubes everywhere. She was in so much pain that it hurt to think. She was in ICU and had a tube down her throat so she couldn't speak.
Carl explained to her that she and Isabella had almost died. When they were hit, the ambulance wasn't there. The baby was crowning with a great deal of blood and meconium so Carl delivered and then tried to keep her warm. Her color was blue from lack of oxygen. Then there was Angela's bleeding and he couldn't do anything for her but pray the EMT's would be there soon. Angela was as snow white as Isabella was dusky blue. He was sure he would lose both of his girls.
Isabella was rushed to her own Neonatal Intensive Care Unit since she had been born outside the hospital. A ventilator was necessary to give her lungs a rest. Her weight was less than three pounds.
Angela had a crushing blow to the abdomen. Her blood pressure was so low that they were trying to stabilize her prior to surgery. They ended up going in to remove the uterus and spleen. Angela had almost died at the scene and Carl was told she might not make it through surgery.
Carl was not a religious man but he went into the Chapel and prayed "The Lord's Prayer" over and over. He had finally found his love and wanted her to grow old with him. Carl and Angela had been teetering on the edge of feelings, and they had fallen off the cliff into a deep rich love.
Carl called Danny, who he had met once, to let him know his little girl might need her father. This broke Carl's heart.
Danny came to the hospital but spent little time there since his new wife was due in two months and required his uninterrupted attention. She called him constantly.
He looked in at his daughter like she was a pretty wrapped present. His eyes didn't light up and there wasn't any joy. It was a present he wasn't interested in unwrapping.
Danny just smiled at Carl.
"You certainly have your hands full!"
Carl smiled back.
This guy was quite a piece of work. Isabelle was his child and Angela had been his wife for years. It was like dumping puppies along the road.
He didn't deserve them but Carl laughed with him, a ridiculous "man-to-man" understanding. He wondered what Angela had ever seen in this man.
In the accident, Carl had been thrown and it was a miracle that he only had cuts, bruises and two simple fractures. One was his right ankle and the other was the left wrist. Somehow he had managed to get to Angela to deliver Isabella. He had light-weight casts that had to be on for several weeks.
Carl cut a path from Angela's bed to Isabella's isolette for the next two weeks. Angela was weaned off the vent after ten days. In spite of the surgery, Angela was up and walking with a walker in two weeks. She had a fulll cast for the compound break in her left leg. She was so strong.
Isabella inherited her Mom's strength. She lost a few ounces then was off and running , first with a tube feeding and then a bottle of formula. Angela was pumping her breasts so when she was off medications, she could breast feed. The premie specialist was pleased and couldn't see any brain dysfunction. Of course, they knew Isabella could develop learning disabilities from being premature and deprived of oxygen for a period of time.
In just two more days, Angela came home. They had a nurse come in to help until Carl could handle a still recovering Mom. She couldn't even go to the hospital to hold Isabella without support.
Angela had never asked much about the other driver until Isabella was discharged. He was only sixteen and occupied the cubicle two doors down from Angela in ICU. He had been very drunk and high on Ecstasy. He died one week after the accident. When she found out, she sent a Sympathy card to his Mom. Angela was concerned about how sad his mother must be.
Carl thought, 'This is one special woman and I am a lucky guy!'
Isabella came home after one month. She was drinking breast milk and raising her head. It looked like she was going to be normal, according to the specialist.
"Whatever "normal" is," Carl said.
They were just grateful to have her home.
Six months after the crash, a healed Carl and limping Angela stood barefoot on their beach with a minister.
Angela looked radiant in her antique lace dress, her auburn hair long and untamed in the wind. The rings were unique, two entwined hearts with a pearl to symbolize their union by the sea.
They also honored The Great Spirit with prayer. Angela’s Mom held Isabella who laughed and gurgled.
Chuckles ran after the bouquet.
And they danced,
to the symphony of seagulls
and waves of silver foam,
under shining stars
and a crescent moon.
By Kathie Stehr